After Life (dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda): Until now my only experience with Kore-eda had been seeing I Wish—a film of which I was not exactly fond—back in 2012. So I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle grace of After Life, a fantasy set at a country house where the recently deceased spend a week choosing a single memory to take with them into eternity. I knew the premise of this film going in (I remember reading Roger Ebert’s review when it first came out in 1999) but I wasn’t prepared for its quiet profundity. The film’s vision of an afterlife in which we continue to endure waiting rooms, power outages, workplace quarrels and romantic longing is almost comic in its banality. It’s about cinema, too: once the memories have been chosen, they are re-enacted and filmed. Kore-eda suggests both that memory functions like cinematic spectatorship and that movies are themselves preserved objects of personal or cultural memory. The most ingenious thing about After Life is that it takes a potentially grating “high concept” premise and grounds it in a gentle and touching naturalism.