3 Movies Like A Man of Reason (2023)

Staff & contributors

, 2023

Made on a clearly lower budget but with enthusiasm and love for the craft overflowing from every frame, Junta Yamaguchi's River gets clean and wholesome comedy—that's still plenty memorable—out of a terrific ensemble of actors, all of whom get to display a full range of expression for their increasingly exasperated characters. It's smart, economical filmmaking that's still dazzlingly put together, as each two-minute loop is done in a single unbroken shot that feels different with every reset. Yamaguchi is highly aware of how quickly this gimmick might overstay its welcome, so he allows the film's emotional landscape to open up considerably with every cycle. As the hell of this situation starts to chip away at the characters, the film also becomes more urgent and more soulful, leading the story down unexpected paths and inviting us to think beyond the pattern it sets up for itself.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Gota Ishida, Haruki Nakagawa, Kazunari Tosa, Manami Honjo, Masashi Suwa, Munenori Nagano, Riko Fujitani, Saori, Shiori Kubo, Takashi Sumita, Yoshifumi Sakai, Yoshimasa Kondô, Yuki Torigoe

Director: Junta Yamaguchi

Nanpakal Nerathu Mayakkam might not immediately make sense to audiences new to director Lijo Jose Pellissery, but it’s still an interesting film that depicts Tamil culture. Also known as Like an Afternoon Dream, the contemplative bilingual film is centered around a prejudiced Malayali tour guide who wakes up as another man, specifically someone fluent in Tamil, and walks into the nearby village. Through vignettes focused on the village inhabitants, the film slowly unravels the dynamics between each of the villagers, flitting back to the tour bus on occasion to see how they’re faring. While some of the comedy goes over viewer’s heads, especially for people unfamiliar with the state, the slow-paced film feels like a fond memory from Pellissery. The film doesn’t explain anything at all, in the same way strange dreams refuse to do.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Actor: 'Poo' Ram, Ashokan, Ashwanth Ashokkumar, G. M. Kumar, Mammootty, Namo Narayanan, Rajesh Sharma, Ramachandran Durairaj, Ramya Pandian, Ramya Suvi, Thennavan

Director: Lijo Jose Pellissery

The filmmakers behind this direct sequel to the Indigenous action thriller Sayen clearly learned from the mistakes of that first film: all the emotion that was missing then finds a new home here, as the titular protagonist finally gets to grieve what she's lost, in a way that's touchingly close to her cultural beliefs. Desert Road also ups the action considerably, this time borrowing liberally from desert-set films like Mad Max—the sun-drenched expanses of sand are somehow much more beautiful than the forests of the first movie. And Rallen Montenegro continues to refine this character's emotional depth.

Still, partially as a result of the fact that the first installment gave this sequel little to work with, Desert Road can't help but feel more ordinary and more distant from real-world struggles touched upon previously. The actual thrills in this thriller plot aren't particularly intriguing, as several subplots mash together without as much effect on the main plot as intended. At the end of the day, this still seems like it's been made with the action movie template in mind first, rather than having the story and characters lead the style of the storytelling.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Actor: Alfredo Castro, Álvaro Espinoza, Claudio Riveros, Claudio Troncoso, Enrique Arce, Eyal Meyer, Felipe Contreras, Francisca Gavilán, Jorge López, Katalina Sanchez, Mario Bustos, Nicolás de Terán, Rallén Montenegro, Roberto García Ruiz

Director: Alexander Witt