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M. Leary


Five Films Not to Miss

And worth the effort of tracking down.

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1. Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas)

About a family trying to decide what to do with their deceased mothers's crammed provincial manor, Assayas' engrossing film questions the role of art and memory in an increasingly globalized France. This lyrical meditation on family, identity, and the historical gravity of fine art collecting comes full circle in a surprisingly gratifying way.

2. The Sun (Alexander Sokurov)

This genre-bending look at Hirohito hours before the World War II surrender of Japan to General MacArthur's forces moves at Sokurov's thoughtful pace through the confines of the imperial bunker, the enigma of fallen empires, and a growing, almost mythic sense of doom that explodes in abstract animation. The last of three similar biopics, The Sun yet again marks Sokurov as one of Russia's most incisive historians.

3. Munyurangabo (Isaac Lee Chung)

Isaac Lee Chung's directorial debut about two Rwandan boys set on revenge is a masterpiece of natural cinematography, African social realism, and the seemingly impossible politics of forgiveness. Though the film was shot rather quickly, every frame is so thoughtfully composed that it is hard to believe this is Chung's first feature-length work.

4. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson)

Anderson's intensely painstaking stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic is a stunning example of what happens when auteurs get their hands on the right equipment and an appropriately anarchic soundtrack. True to the spirit of Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox speaks more to adults than to children. How can you pass up a film that has Willem Dafoe voice a rat straight out of West Side Story?

5. Lake Tahoe (Fernando Eimbcke)

Punctuated by short blackouts which grow more intimate and enthralling as the film goes on, Lake Tahoe is a graciously minimal look at a day in the life of a small family that has recently lost their father. We follow these blackouts through context-related songs and sounds until the end of the film, which tracks its titular McGuffin to a sadly affirming conclusion. Lake Tahoe is a wonderfully centrifugal elegy.

M. Leary is co-editor of Filmwell.

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