New releases 11/29/16

Top Hits
dont_breatheDon’t Breathe (horror, Jane Levy. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 71. From Anita Gates’ New York Times review: “People who go to see movies like ‘Don’t Breathe’ — some of them, anyway — tend to laugh when people are killed onscreen. And when people believed to be dead open their eyes. Even I laughed when the watchdog, which the three attractive young thieves had drugged into slumber, appeared in the hallway, growling. Ha! Guess he woke up, dudes.” Read more…)

Pete’s Dragon (family/fantasy, Bryce Dallas Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The director David Lowery’s independent film pedigree [his previous feature was the accomplished, although self-serious, outlaw romance ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’] suggests that he would apply a singular perspective to this material. But “Pete’s Dragon” is largely as impersonal as it is fleet.” Read more…)

Soundbreaking (music production, Beatles. Metacritic: 78. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “The performer is often only the public face of a well-known song; its body is formed in the studio. That part of the creative process is explored in the richly detailed PBS series ‘Soundbreaking: Stories From the Cutting Edge of Recorded Music,’ an eight-parter that begins Monday, Nov. 14.” Read more…)

bfgThe BFG (Roald Dahl family/fantasy, Ruby Barnhill. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 646. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The BFG’ — it stands for ‘big friendly giant’ — is a small, friendly movie, an attempt to reconcile the scale and dazzle of modern filmmaking with the quiet, mischievous charm of Roald Dahl’s book. Directed by Steven Spielberg and written by his frequent collaborator Melissa Mathison [who died in November], it chronicles the relationship between the title character [Mark Rylance] and a young orphan named Sophie [Ruby Barnhill].” Read more…)

Dough (comedy, Jonathan Pryce. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 46. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Take an aging white Jewish baker, add a young black Muslim immigrant, and what do you have? The ingredients for a pleasant but pat story in which bridges are built across religious, racial and generational divides in a way that happens far more often in feel-good movies than in real life.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Pete’s Dragon
The BFG

New British
Brief Encounters: Season 1 (British dramedy series, Penelope Wilton. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “It’s 1982, and times are hard in England. How does a woman help shore up the family finances? In the delicious British dramedy ‘Brief Encounters’ … the answer for several entrepreneurs is selling lingerie and sex toys to repressed women at Tupperware-like parties. The six-episode series may feel more 1950s than 1980s, but the results are often hilarious.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Soundbreaking (music production, Beatles)
Alex de Renzy: Three Documentaries (drugs, sex industry, early 1970s cinema verite)

New Music
Soundbreaking (music production, Beatles)

New Children’s DVDs
Pete’s Dragon (family/fantasy, Bryce Dallas Howard)
The BFG (Roald Dahl family/fantasy, Ruby Barnhill)

New releases 11/22/16

Top Hits
war_dogsWar Dogs (comedy, drama, Jonah Hill. Rotten Tomatoes 60%. Metacritic  57. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “‘Based on a true story,’ the movie ‘War Dogs’ says, and indeed it is. Which proves conclusively that truth is stranger than fiction. The film, a comic drama, is about two school chums who are reacquainted in their 20s and, improbably, become arms suppliers to the United States military. One of them, David [Miles Teller], is a reluctant recruit into a business begun by the other, Efraim [Jonah Hill], who has discovered a world of Pentagon contracts just waiting for bids.” Read more…)

Kubo and the Two Strings (animated feature, Charlize Theron [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes 97%. Metacritic  84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The action is gorgeously fluid, the idiosyncratic 3-D visual conceits [including floating eyeballs undersea] are startling, and the story and its metaphors resolve in unexpected and moving ways. The director, Travis Knight, has put together a picture that hits a lot of all-ages-entertainment sweet spots while avoiding hackneyed conventions, and ends up delivering what feels like a sincere family-friendly message. The movie’s blend of stop-motion animation for the main action with computer-generated backgrounds is seamless, creating what is the most visually intoxicating of all Laika’s movies.” Read more…)

hell_high_waterHell or High Water (crime drama, Chris Pine. Rotten Tomatoes 98%. Metacritic  88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’s Times review: “If there’s such a thing as an easygoing thriller, then ‘Hell or High Water’ is it. The stakes may be steep, but the characters can seem more nonchalant than nervous. Maybe it’s as simple as the heat: In the roasted landscape of West Texas, where this cops-and-robbers tale plays out, nothing moves faster than it has to.” Read more…)

Mechanic: Resurrection (action, Jason Statham. Rotten Tomatoes 26%. Metacritic  38. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “The German director Dennis Gansel, making his Hollywood debut, lacks the glossy flair of earlier Statham directors like Mr. West and Louis Leterrier [‘The Transporter’]. If not for Mr. Jones, ‘Resurrection,’ while competently edited, would be devoid of humor, an area where Mr. Statham has shown promise in the past. [See: the Melissa McCarthy vehicle ‘Spy.’] \Mostly, the movie suggests the action equivalent of 1970s European soft-core, all diffuse sun-drenched exteriors populated by attractive stars on an exotic working vacation.” Read more…)

Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog doc, impact of digital technology. Rotten Tomatoes 92%. Metacritic  76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World’ is Werner Herzog’s documentary about the internet. For some readers, that sentence will be sufficient. One of our most intellectually ambitious filmmakers — a self-professed seeker of ecstatic truths, a tireless foot soldier of cinema — tackles what he calls ‘one of the greatest revolutions’ humanity has experienced. The combination of Mr. Herzog’s doggedly curious sensibility and the mysteries of the digital universe seems both improbable and irresistible.” Read more…)

beatles_eight_days_a_weekThe Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years (Ron Howard-directed concerts documentary. Rotten Tomatoes 95%. Metacritic  72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Sure, they were great, but it’s possible to get too much of the Beatles, isn’t it? Nah. Ron Howard’s new documentary, ‘The Breatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years,’ is 90 percent familiar and a bit hagiographic as well, but just try watching it without smiling.” Read more…)

Hands of Stone (Roberto Duran boxing bio-pic, Edgar Ramirez. Rotten Tomatoes 45%. Metacritic  54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Robert De Niro redefined film acting by subjecting himself to a reported 60-pound weight gain to play a gone-to-seed version of Jake LaMotta, the middleweight boxer, in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film, ‘Raging Bull.’ Mr. De Niro, lithe, lean and lethal as LaMotta in his prime, became a bloated, bulbous ball of hostility and confusion for LaMotta’s post-boxing life. [He won a best actor Oscar for his pains.] But as much as ‘Raging Bull’ is an exacting portrait of an athlete and his sport, it is not a “boxing movie.’ ‘Hands of Stone,” in which Mr. De Niro plays Ray Arcel, the American trainer who worked with the Panamanian boxer Roberto Durán in the 1970s and early ’80s, is absolutely a boxing movie. A corny and sometimes clumsy one, it scatters pleasures here and there, Mr. De Niro’s alert performance among them.” Read more…)

Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (action/comedy, Lily James. Rotten Tomatoes 42%. Metacritic  45. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As it turns out, fighting zombies does nothing to improve on the original Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen’s heroine from ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ In ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,’ a character claiming to be Elizabeth Bennet [Lily James], wields swords and other deadly blades, fires guns and occasionally flashes a leg in order to stomp on a zombie head. Battling the undead keeps her, friends and family safe from the flesh-eating hordes, but the character has been so radically transformed from Austen’s that Elizabeth already feels like a goner.” Read more…)

The Childhood of a Leader (costume drama, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes 89%. Metacritic  68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Family and fascism march in lock step in ‘The Childhood of a Leader.’ A visually sumptuous, slow-boil freakout set in France in the aftermath of World War I, it hinges on an unruly boy, Prescott [Tom Sweet], who goes to battle with his authoritarian parents as his American father [Liam Cunningham] is helping negotiate the peace terms with Germany. Having arrived as part of President Woodrow Wilson’s political retinue, the unnamed father has moved into a sprawling, dilapidated farmhouse. There, he and his European wife [also nameless, and played by Bérénice Bejo] settle into their own uneasy peace, one increasingly disturbed by their eccentric son.” Read more…)

Unexpected (comedy, Cobie Smulders. Rotten Tomatoes 66%. Metacritic  65. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “There is barely a false note in Kris Swanberg’s intelligent, well-mannered drama ‘Unexpected,’ which tells parallel stories of two unforeseen pregnancies.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Mechanic: Resurrection
Hell Or High Water
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years

New Foreign DVDs
Mia Madre (Italy, comedy/drama, John Turturro. Rotten Tomatoes 88%. Metacritic  70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Love, death, cinema — they’re all there in ‘Mia Madre,’ bumping up against one another beautifully. It’s the story of a movie director, Margherita [Margherita Buy], who, while shooting a difficult movie about labor strife, learns that her mother, Ada [Giulia Lazzarini], may be dying. Yet even as tragedy surges, flooding scenes and tear ducts, Margherita’s featured performer, an outsize American star named Barry [John Turturro], enters laughing, bellowing, acting. The Italian director Nanni Moretti knows how to turn on the waterworks, but he also knows about that burlesque called life.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Red Dust (1932, drama/comedy, Clark Gable, Jean Harlow. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From M.H.’s 1932 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The dialogue is not especially bright or strong, but some of the lines spoken by Vantine, who is impersonated by Jean Harlow, aroused laughter from the audience. Miss Harlow’s presence in the picture apparently attracted a host of other platinum blondes, for on all sides there were in the seats girls with straw-colored hair. Miss Harlow’s performance suits the part. Mr. Gable is efficient in his rôle. Miss Astor offers a striking contrast to Miss Harlow. Tully Marshall makes the most of a minor rôle, as does Gene Raymond, who appears as Willis.” Read more…)

New British
Janet King: Series 2
Poldark: Season 2

New Documentaries
lo_and_beholdLo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World (Werner Herzog doc, impact of digital technology. Rotten Tomatoes 92%. Metacritic  76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World’ is Werner Herzog’s documentary about the internet. For some readers, that sentence will be sufficient. One of our most intellectually ambitious filmmakers — a self-professed seeker of ecstatic truths, a tireless foot soldier of cinema — tackles what he calls ‘one of the greatest revolutions’ humanity has experienced. The combination of Mr. Herzog’s doggedly curious sensibility and the mysteries of the digital universe seems both improbable and irresistible.” Read more…)

When Two Worlds Collide (economics, environment, indigenous activism. Rotten Tomatoes 90%. Metacritic  71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘When Two Worlds Collide,’ a documentary directed by the first-time feature filmmakers Heidi Brandenburg and Matthew Orzel, chronicles a conflict that resulted in one particularly effective piece of civil disobedience — a move by indigenous protesters to cut off commercial trucking routes — before it deteriorated into violence and death.” Read more…)

Chicken People (chicken raising, competitions. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Metacritic  81.A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Helen T. Verongos’ Times review: “They hold grudges. They have best friends. They aren’t big on foreplay, and you can revive them with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if they choke during a shampoo. They are chickens: the ones with perfect combs, pedicured toes and gleaming feathers that compete on the show circuit. ‘Chicken People,’ directed by Nicole Lucas Haimes, looks at dozens of devotees of these fair fowl. The hens and roosters in this documentary are pampered royalty, and their caretakers find fulfillment in the pursuit of perfection.” Read more…)

New Music
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years (Ron Howard-directed concerts documentary. Rotten Tomatoes 95%. Metacritic  72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Sure, they were great, but it’s possible to get too much of the Beatles, isn’t it? Nah. Ron Howard’s new documentary, ‘The Breatles: Eight Days a Week—The Touring Years,’ is 90 percent familiar and a bit hagiographic as well, but just try watching it without smiling.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Kubo and the Two Strings (animated feature, Charlize Theron [voice])
Call of the Wild (1992, Jack London adventure tale, Ricky Schroeder)

New releases 11/15/16

Top Hits
finding_doryFinding Dory (Pixar animated feature, Ellen DeGeneres. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Now Dory has her own movie, imaginatively called ‘Finding Dory,’ a merchandising opportunity for Disney and a welcome end-of-the-school-year diversion for parents and children. While it may not join the top tier of Pixar features, ‘Dory,’ directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus Ma’Lane, is certainly the best non-‘Toy Story’ sequel the studio has produced. That may sound like faint praise given the startling mediocrity of “Monsters University’ and ‘Cars 2,’ but what ‘Dory’ lacks in dazzling originality it more than makes up for in warmth, charm and good humor.” Read more…)

Fort Tilden (New York Times Critic’s Pick, comedy, Clare McNulty. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Andy Webster’s Times review: “Take the potty-mouthed, woman-centric millennial sensibility of HBO’s ‘Girls,’ turn down the drama and turn up the comic amorality, and you have ‘Fort Tilden,’ the highly amusing debut feature from Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers. Rarely has a movie so humorously illustrated the meaning of ‘frenemy.'” Read more…)

Game of Thrones: Season 6 (HBO fantasy series, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 73.)

New Blu-Ray
Finding Dory (regular Blu-Ray & 3D Blu-Ray)

New Foreign DVDs
Summertime (France, lesbian romance, Cecile de France. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Delphine and Carole meet in Paris in the early ’70s, a time of post-’68 agitation and fertile ground for French filmmakers mining their nation’s recent history for resonant stories. Catherine Corsini’s ‘Summertime,’ with the clarity of hindsight and a deep reservoir of empathy, examines the commingling of the personal and the political from a fresh angle. This is a film about the struggle for sexual freedom and women’s rights, and also about the power of region, class and custom in the lives of its characters.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
macbethMacbeth (1948, Orson Welles Shakespeare adaptation. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Orson Welles’ sprotean film production of William Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth,’ cut, re-cut, re-recorded and oft exhibited far and wide in the past three years, finally obtained a local haven at the Trans-Lux Sixtieth Street yesterday and turned out to be less of a vagary than its history might lead one to expect. As a matter of fact, this final rendering, which Mr. Welles directed and in which he stars, may not possess the searching insight and the dramatic clarity that one might desire but it has a great deal in its favor in the way of feudal spectacle and nightmare mood.” Read more…)

Pimpernel Smith (1941, World War II-era drama/thriller, Leslie Howard. From T.S.’s 1942 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Having saved a good many heads from the French revolutionary guillotine in the film of a few years back, the Scarlet Pimpernel is back in a new disguise. ‘Mister V’ [now called ‘Pimpernel Smith’] is what he calls himself in the new arrival at the Rivoli, and this time he is a crotchety, vacant-minded archaeologist smuggling deserving souls out of the reach of the Nazi terror. Out of his adventures amid the gutterals and brown shirts, Leslie Howard as producer, director and leading player has created an uneven but decidedly exciting melodrama. Perhaps Mister V’s exploits sometimes have a familiar ring, No matter, [‘Pimpernel Smith’] is still a pulse-quickening variation on a dangerous theme. Singapore may fall, but the British can still make melodramas to chill the veins.” Read more…)

New British
Capital (mini-series, satire/drama, Toby Jones)
The Living and the Dead: Season 1 (supernatural series, Colin Morgan)
The Syndicate: All or Nothing (comedy/drama series, Kay Mellor)

New Television
Better Call Saul: Season 2 (drama series, Bob Odenkirk. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 85.)
Game of Thrones: Season 6 (fantasy series, Peter Dinklage)
Looking: The Complete Series & the Movie (HBO series, gay life in San Francisco. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 77.)

New Gay & Lesbian
Summertime (France, lesbian romance, Cecile de France)
Looking: The Complete Series & the Movie

New Children’s DVDs
Finding Dory (Pixar animated feature, Ellen DeGeneres)

New releases 11/8/16

Top Hits
indignationIndignation (drama, Logan Lerman. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Times review: “‘Indignation’ might be dismissed as a small, exquisite period piece, but it is so precisely rendered that it gets deeply under your skin. There are a lot of words, and every one counts. You feel the social pressures bearing down on characters who, in accordance with the reticence of the times, tend to withhold their emotions and suffer in silence.” Read more…)

Morris From America (coming of age story, Craig Robinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Morris From America,’ Chad Hartigan’s charming new film, begins with a father-son discussion of hip-hop, an argument about beats, flows and hooks. It’s partly an affectionate intergenerational dispute; 13-year-old Morris [Markees Christmas] is skeptical of his father’s old-school dogma, while his dad, Curtis [Craig Robinson], dismisses his son’s taste as too pop. The conversation also provides a clue about the movie’s own strategies. It’s a pop confection with a rough, honest texture, real but not raw and suffused with an infectious sweetness that lingers after the final shot.” Read more…)

sausage_partySausage Party (adult animated feature comedy, Bill Hader. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. Believe it or not, a New York Times Critic’s Pick! From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The opening barrage of profanity serves as a tactical warning to parents who might have wandered in with their kids on the assumption that this was a cute little cartoon about the secret lives of groceries. Which it is, actually. But if you do bring the little ones — not that I condone it! — you may have to answer questions not only about what all those veggies and snacks are doing during the extended supermarket orgy scene, but also about the existence of God. In adult company, you might find yourself debating whether the film is a Christopher Hitchens-style atheist polemic or a more pragmatic, William Jamesian exploration of the varieties of religious experience. I won’t spoil that one for you.” Read more…)

Phantom Boy (animated feature, Fred Armisen [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review:”The 2010 animated film ‘A Cat in Paris’ was a nifty enough confection to have been nominated for an Academy Award; ‘Phantom Boy’ is the second effort from its directors, Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, and it’s not nearly as nifty, alas.” Read more…)

Anne of Green Gables (new version, Ella Valentine. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66.)

New Blu-Ray
Taxi Driver

New Foreign DVDs
loloLolo (France, romance/comedy, Julie Delpy. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 50. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “With ‘Lolo,’ Julie Delpy [‘2 Days in New York’] makes a much simpler addition to her prickly, idiosyncratic comedies, which have doubled as a frank running commentary on life [as with her roles in Richard Linklater’s films]. In Ms. Delpy’s broadest effort yet — which she directs, and wrote with Eugénie Grandval — she plays a Paris fashionista who dotes on a snooty son and finds their clingy bond getting in the way of a rejuvenating romance.” Read more…)

Tikkun (Israel, drama, Aharon Traitel. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review:”A heady, sometimes headlong blend of fable and nightmare, with overtones of David Lynch and Franz Kafka and arresting wide-screen black-and-white images, Avishai Sivan’s second feature, ‘Tikkun,’ is the latest evidence of the vitality of Israeli cinema, which has recently been moving away from politics-inflected realism in wilder, more allegorical directions. It is set within the insular world of Jerusalem’s Hasidic Jews, and also in a dream world of the director’s own devising, a place where faith, skepticism and lust entwine in disturbing and surprising ways.” Read more…)

New British
Janet King: Series 1

New Television
Outlander: Season 1 Vol. 2

New Documentaries
Rockaway: Before and After (urban life, history, ecology)

New Children’s DVDs
Anne of Green Gables (new version, Ella Valentine)

New releases 11/1/16

Top Hits
star_trek_beyondStar Trek Beyond (sci-fi/action, Chris Pine. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 68. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “So you can understand why [Captain] James T. [Kirk], a good soldier and also a bit of a loose cannon, might want to break out of the rut, and the title of the latest movie, ‘Star Trek Beyond,’ teases the audience with the promise of novelty and risk. It’s not necessarily a criticism to note that not much materializes. Directed by the action maven Justin Lin from a script by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, the film answers the question ‘Beyond what?’ with a diffident ‘Well, nothing, really. Don’t worry!’ It should have been called ‘Star Trek Within’ in honor of its determination to color inside the lines, obeying the ironclad conventions of brand and genre. Which is not, in itself, a bad thing. Not every wheel needs reinventing, and one of the abiding pleasures of ‘Star Trek,’ in its old and newer iterations, lies in its balance of stubborn consistency and canny inventiveness.” Read more…)

Bad Moms (comedy, Mila Kunis. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Are women trending? I guess they are! Suddenly, they seem to be just everywhere, onscreen and offscreen, in comic-book flicks, in childhood-destroying comedies and even in the presidential race. The latest big-screen evidence that women are hot [kind of], and not simply in a frat-boy way, is ‘Bad Moms,’ a funny, giddy, sentimental laugh-in from Jon Lucas and Scott Moore, who wrote the 2009 hit comedy ‘The Hangover.'” Read more…)

Nine Lives (family comedy, Kevin Spacey. Rotten Tomatoes: 11%. Metacritic: 11. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner and Christopher Walken at least chose to be in ‘Nine Lives.’ The cast member you really feel bad for is the cat. It presumably was forced into the job by its manager, or agent, or whatever. Its résumé may never recover.” Read more…)

anthropoidAnthropoid (World War II drama/thriller, Cillian Murphy. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 59. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Andy Webster’s Times review: “It takes Sean Ellis’s World War II thriller ‘Anthropoid’ a while to build steam, but once it does, hang on. An account of the true Czech-British mission to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich — the principal architect of the Final Solution, and often called the Butcher of Prague — the film follows Jozef Gabcik [Cillian Murphy] and Jan Kubis [Jamie Dornan], who parachute into Nazi-occupied territory near Prague in December 1941. They soon learn how untrustworthy certain locals can be. But a connection is made with an underground contact [Toby Jones] who aids their endeavor, as well as a Resistance leader [Marcin Dorocinski] who fears devastating reprisals if the goal is met.” Read more…)

The Sea of Trees (drama, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 10%. Metacritic: 23. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘The Sea of Trees’ is another name for the Aokigahara forest in Japan, such a popular spot for suicides that some believe that the spirits of the dead linger there to trap unwary wanderers. Or perhaps to snare incautious filmmakers, as it’s also the setting for Gus Van Sant’s movie of the same name, a numinous meditation on grief that’s more likely to inspire laughter than tears.” Read more…)

Imperium (thriller, Daniel Radcliffe. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “Daniel Radcliffe might seem a long way from Hogwarts in ‘Imperium,’ a bleak movie about an F.B.I. agent’s undercover foray into the world of neo-Nazis, but then again, maybe not. In the child-friendly ‘Harry Potter’ films, Harry was perpetually doing battle against the wizarding world’s version of racism and a toxic hatred that seemed to grip those around him like a disease. The difference is that in ‘Imperium’ his character, Nate Foster, doesn’t have magic to fall back on.” Read more…)

The Young Messiah (family/religious, Adam Graves-Neal. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 33. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “Limping into theaters this weekend was yet another entry in the current avalanche of religious-themed movies: Cyrus Nowrasteh’s ‘The Young Messiah,’ which imagines the life of Jesus at age 7. Adapted from Anne Rice’s 2005 best seller ‘Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt’ [the reverent script is by Mr. Nowrasteh and his wife, Betsy Giffen Nowrasteh], and devoid of dramatic tension, the film hits New Testament basics as it depicts the flight of Joseph, Mary and their son from Alexandria, in Egypt, to Nazareth and eventually to Jerusalem.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Star Trek Beyond
Anthropoid
Bad Moms

New Foreign DVDs
no_home_movieNo Home Movie (Belgium, Chantal Akerman documentary/memoir. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The last time the filmmaker Chantal Akerman appears in ‘No Home Movie’ she’s tying her shoelaces. Seated on a bed in a dark, sparsely furnished room with a single window, she doesn’t say anything. She just ties her shoes, draws the curtains and exits, letting the shot linger on the empty room. Her mother, Natalia, has been failing and Ms. Akerman’s melancholy hangs over the scene like funeral crepe. The first time I watched it, her heavy silence was painful to see; the second time, watching had turned into raw feeling because Ms. Akerman is now gone.” Read more…)

Ugly, Dirty & Bad (Italy, comedy, Nino Manfredi)

New British
The Battle of the Sexes (comedy, 1960, Peter Sellers. From A.H. Weiler’s 1960 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Since James Thurber’s heroes are startled and confused by the twentieth century’s uncommonly confident woman, docile dogs and even the spring’s first crocus, it has been debatable whether they could be shifted without damage from prose to pictures. That delicate trick has been turned fairly neatly in the British-made ‘The Battle of the Sexes,’ which began at the Murray Hill Theatre yesterday.” Read more…)
The Durrells in Corfu: Season 1 (feel-good Brit series, Keeley Hawes)

New Documentaries
gleasonGleason (sports, football, terminal illness,family dynamics, Steve Gleason. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In a 2006 football game against the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason made a bold headlong leap that blocked a punt. The recovery of that ball led to a touchdown for the Saints, and Gleason and his team, representing the city that had been so terribly battered by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, became national symbols of indomitability. A major theme of ‘Gleason,’ a documentary directed by Clay Tweel about that athlete and philanthropist, is that indomitability is no walk in the park: In 2011, the retired footbsll player learned he had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S. [The physicist Stephen Hawking also has what is commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.]” Read more…)
Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (bio, modern art history, Peggy Guggenheim. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Daniel M. Gold’s Times review: “‘ Peggy Guggenheim: art Addict,’ Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s sleek, entertaining portrait of the collector and gallerist who assembled one of the great troves of Modern art, cannot be accused of hagiography. From curators to historians to biographers, art world denizens describe Guggenheim’s flaws and failings: She had no formal training; she used art to promote herself; she was a narcissist. And that’s just in the first five minutes.” Read more…)

Close To You: Remembering the Carpenters (music bio, Karen Carpenter)

New releases 10/25/16

Top Hits
captain_fantasticCaptain Fantastic (drama/comedy, Viggo Mortensen.  Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ new York Times review: “A story of love and extremes, the pleasurably freewheeling ‘Captain Fantastic’ centers on a family that has found its bliss in splendid, unplugged isolation. Somewhere in deepest Oregon, amid the tall pines and soaring mountains, young and old hunt and holler and drop lines from Noam Chomsky. The clan’s father isn’t a superhero, but because he’s played by Viggo Mortensen he’s the next best thing. Mr. Mortensen, whose intensity has the sting of possession, has a way of making you believe his characters can do whatever they set their minds to: fly, leap over buildings, save the world.” Read more…)

Papa: Hemingway in Cuba (historical drama, Giovanni Ribisi.  Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 37. From Helen T. Verongos’ New York Times review: “Ultimately, however, ‘Papa,’ based on an autobiographical screenplay, goes soft at its center. Adrian Sparks, white-bearded and bearish in the title role, lacks the dynamism and bombast we expect. Ms. Richardson comforts and coaxes and exasperatedly, bitingly demeans, but she and Mr. Sparks play past each other instead of engaging.” Read more…)

Lights Out (horror, Teresa Palmer.  Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic:58. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Using his 2013 micro-movie as a jumping-off point, the Swedish director David F. Sandberg extracts maximum frights from the simplest of conceits: Diana materializes in darkness and vanishes in light. Whipping up an eerie blend of haunted-house thriller and supernatural-stalker story, he proves less adept at managing Eric Heisserer’s overly detailed screenplay than at choreographing visual scares.” Read more…)

Mr. Church (drama, Eddie Murphy.  Rotten Tomatoes: 15%. Metacritic: 37.)

New Blu-Ray
Captain Fantastic
Through the Looking Glass

New Foreign DVDs
The Executioner (Spain, 1963, drama/black humor, Criterion collection, Nino Manfredi)

Beck: Episodes 10-12 (Sweden, detective series, Peter Haber)

New Television
Outlander: Season 2 (historical drama series. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%.)

New Documentaries
Limo Ride (cult non-fiction, romp/buddy movie)

New releases 10/18/16

Top Hits
cafe_societyCafé Society (Woody Allen romance, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “There’s no point in growing misty-eyed. ‘Café Society’ is not ‘Radio Days’ or ‘Bulets Over Broadway.’ We can live with that. I’m happy to report that it’s not ‘The Curse of the Jade Scorpion’ or ‘Magic in the Moonlight,’ either. Which is to say that it’s neither another example of bad, late Woody Allen nor much in the way of a return to form. It is, overall, an amusing little picture, with some inspired moments and some sour notes, a handful of interesting performances and the hint, now and then, of an idea.” Read more…)

Our Kind of Traitor (thriller, Ewan McGregor. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The director Susanna White makes a lot of strange choices, including the dark, fussy visuals best described as stained-glass noir. As an Expressionist choice, it doesn’t make much sense. Then again, neither does much of ‘Our Kind of Traitor,’ which has loads of twists and all the ritualistic pessimism you expect, but none of the political and moral outrage that might have elevated this genre story into a [author John] le Carré one.” Read more…)

Independence Day: Resurgence (sci-fi action, Liam Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 32. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The lackluster, at times abysmal writing wouldn’t much matter if ‘Resurgence’ popped visually or featured a charismatic star who could lift a movie as effortlessly as Will Smith did in the first feature. Mr. Smith, unfortunately, declined to appear in the sequel, leaving his two co-stars from ‘Independence Day,’ Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum, to give it that old school try alongside veterans like Judd Hirsch and Brent Spiner, far and away the movie’s most valuable player. All deliver professional, winking performances, but they’re also stranded in an overly crowded cast that gives too much time to younger performers who, for the most part, slide right off the screen.” Read more…)

night_ofThe Night Of (acclaimed HBO crime/legal drama, John Turturro. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 90. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times television review: “‘The Night Of,’ the tense and exquisite limited series on HBO, beginning on Sunday, is also a deeply detailed procedural, but with a difference. It has more in common philosophically with the podcast ‘Serial’ [whose first subject, Adnan Syed, was just granted a new trial]; Netflix’s ‘Making a Murderer’; and this year’s two O.J. Simpson series — true-crime stories that suggest that who is locked up, for what, is largely a matter of resources and random fate.” Read more…)

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Disney family whimsy, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 34. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The best and maybe the only way to appreciate ‘Alice Through the Looking Glass’ is to surrender to its mad digital excess and be whirled around through time and space in a world of grotesque overabundance. This sequel to Tim Burton’s ‘Alice in Wonderland,’ directed by James Bobin [‘The Muppets’], is so cluttered with an unwieldy mixture of Victoriana and special-effects gadgetry that every nook and cranny is crammed with stuff. There’s more to gape at than the eye can take in.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Café Society

New Foreign DVDs
Beck: Episodes 4-9 (Sweden, detective series, Peter Haber)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
gassssGas-s-s-s (1970, Roger Corman-directed sci-fi/comedy, Cindy Williams. From Vicent Canby’s 19712 New York timrs review [requires log-in]: “To the extent that Roger Croman’s ‘Gas’ is an end-of-the-world movie, you might—if you were taking leave of your right senses—describe it as both his ‘Weekend’ and his ‘Shame,’ although it’s far less funny than Godard and a good deal more pretentious than Bergman. According to the Corman vision, which has actually become less poetic since ‘Attack of the Crab Monsters’ in 1957, a strange nerve gas turns everyone who is over 25 into an instant ancient, thus leaving the world to the young people, who lose no time in repeating the mistakes of their elders.” Read more…)

Little Fauss and Big Halsy (1970, adventure/drama, Robert Redford, Michael J. Pollard. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. From Vincent Canby’s 1970 New York times review [requires log-in]: “There are points of interest in ‘Little Fauss and Big Halsy,’ which opened yesterday at Cinema I, but most have to do with issues beside, behind, and, I guess, beneath the film. It is not so much a bike movie, or a movie about contemporary life styles, as you might believe from the ads, as another in a continuing series of betrayed male relationships that seems central to the screen career [‘The Leather Boys,’ ‘The Ipcress File,’ ‘The Lawyer,’ etc.) of Sidney J. Furie.” Read more…)

Neighbors (1981, comedy, John Belushi. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. From Janet Maslin’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Thomas Berger’s darkly funny novel ‘Neighbors’ certainly wasn’t tailor-made for John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, but casting them in the film version was a good idea. Mr. Belushi makes a stolid and suspicious Earl Keese, a man whose life becomes a shambles when the wrong people move next door. And Mr. Aykroyd is a suitably menacing choice for Vic [called Harry in the novel], the brassy new neighbor who, for no reason that is ever explained, does everything in his power to drive Earl wild.” Read more…)

New British
Royal Wives at War (docudrama based on 1936 abdication crisis, Emma Davies)

New Television
The Night Of (acclaimed HBO crime/legal drama, John Turturro. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 90.)

New releases 10/11/16

Top Hits
Ghostbusters (action/comedy remake, Leslie Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Sliding into theaters on a river of slime and an endless supply of good vibes, the new, cheerfully silly ‘Ghostbusters’ is that rarest of big-studio offerings — a movie that is a lot of enjoyable, disposable fun. And enjoy it while you can because this doesn’t happen often, even in summer, which is supposed to be our season of collective moviegoing happiness. The season when everyone jumps onboard (whee!) and agrees that, yes, this great goof is exactly what you were thinking when you wondered why they didn’t make summer movies like they used to.” Read more…)

The Infiltrator (fact-based thriller, Bryan Cranston. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 66. From Stephen Holden’s new York Times review: “‘The Infiltrator’ is still a good yarn that, when it catches its breath, allows Mr. Cranston to convey the same ambivalence and cunning he brought to ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘All the Way,’ the HBO biopic of President Lyndon B. Johnson adapted from the Broadway play that won Mr. Cranston a Tony for best actor. Even when playing a nice upstanding guy, Mr. Cranston’s approach is complicated.” Read more…)

Blood Father (action, Mel Gibson. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Jean-Francois] Richet directed the 2005 remake of John Carpenter’s exploitation thriller ‘Assault on Precinct 13,’ which in turn was modeled on Howard Hawks’s ‘Rio Bravo.’ Mr. Richet clearly loves this hard-boiled material as much as he does old films. ‘Blood Father’ is a tight, blunt 88 minutes of hard talk, fired bullets and spit-shined genre conventions. In short order it flips into a road movie when John and Lydia are forced to flee, a narrative turn that allows Mr. Richet to root around in a sandbox filled with the usual classic playthings: cool rides, ribbons of lost highway, the motel that becomes a deathtrap, the spooky deserts haunted by the ghosts of film cowboys and Indians past.” Read more…)

The Legend of Tarzan (jungle action, Christoph Waltz. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 44. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Legend of Tarzan’ has a whole lot of fun, big-screen things going for it — adventure, romance, natural landscapes, digital animals and oceans of rippling handsome man-muscle. Its sweep and easy pleasures come from its old-fashioned escapades — it’s one long dash through the jungle by foot, train, boat and swinging vine — but what makes it more enjoyable than other recycled stories of this type is that the filmmakers have given Tarzan a thoughtful, imperfect makeover. That must have been tough given the origin story’s white supremacy problems.” Read more…)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand, adventure/drama, Sam Neill. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ takes a troika of familiar story types — the plucky kid, the crusty geezer, the nurturing bosom — and strips them of cliché. Charming and funny, it is a drama masquerading as a comedy about an unloved boy whom nobody wants until someone says, Yes, I’ll love him. Much of the humor comes from the child, who’s at once a pip and a gloriously expressive ambassador for the director Taika Waititi’s cleareyed take on human nature and movies. Mr. Waititi knows that we love to cry at sad and bad times, but he also knows that people in pain need to get on with their lives.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Legend of Tarzan
Ghostbusters (remake)

New Foreign DVDs
Les Cowboys (France, western/drama, François Damiens. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Directing for the first time, the prolific screenwriter Thomas Bidegain creates an oblique yet mesmerizing drama, his economical script [written with Noé Debré] allowing the movie’s observant camera and sprawling locations to tell their own story. Visual bread crumbs — like a red neckerchief and silently watchful shots of Kid, Kelly’s little brother — lead us like clues to a mystery stretching from a document forger in Antwerp to Yemen and beyond. And as time passes and the twin towers of the World Trade Center fall, Alain’s bitter fixation transfers to Kid, now known as Georges [Finnegan Oldfield] and doing medical relief work in Pakistan.” Read more…)

4 Adventures of Reinette & Mirabelle (France, 1987, Eric Rohmer-directed comedy/romance, Joëlle Miquel. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Caryn James’ 1989 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As if making a joke about the famous talkiness of his films, Eric Rohmer’s latest work begins and ends with silence – or at least the idea of silence. In the first of the connected episodes in ‘Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle,’ the voluble Reinette treasures silence so much she wakes her friend Mirabelle before dawn to hear ‘the blue hour,’ which is not an hour but a second, not a sound but a brief silence between darkness and light, when the night birds stop singing and the day birds have not yet begun. Mr. Rohmer and his characters are always searching for such perfect moments, which are not epiphanies but luxurious experiences in their own right.” Read more…)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand, adventure/drama, Sam Neill, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60.)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Brave New World (1998, drama/sci-fi based on Aldous Huxley novel, Leonard Nimoy. From Caryn James’ 1998 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “It is a terrific challenge, of course, to adapt Huxley’s vision of a technocratic future, without free will or individualism. So much of his forecast has already come true. He saw babies being hatched in test tubes, invented a Prozac-like happy drug called Soma and envisioned the mass media as a form of social conditioning. But ‘Brave New World’ has to be viscerally, not just conceptually, threatening. The film fails to deal coherently with what is frightening about modern life and why. Despite the presence of high-tech sets, it reduces Huxley’s wide sociopolitical fantasy to a world in which love is an alien concept and mother and father are literally dirty words. In its family-oriented emphasis, it is a typically mushy movie-of-the-week.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Women He’s Undressed (Hollywood costumer Orry-Kelly, cinema history. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. From Luke Buckmaster’s Guardian review: “The life of [Hollywood costume designer] Orry-Kelly is a story that needed to be told, and [director Gillian] Armstrong stocks up a lovingly rendered homage-cum-investigation with oodles of verve and panache. Women He’s Undressed has a spritzy and celebratory feel, as if the audience have popped the cork on an old bottle of fine champagne and are seated front row at the world’s most fabulous wake.” Read more…)

sherpaSherpa (mountain climbing, Nepalese guides, avalanche. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 93. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “What is the moral justification ‘for you to play what is essentially a game of Russian roulette’ with someone’s life? It’s a brutal question posed by a journalist against the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Everest. It’s also one that nags at you throughout ‘Sherpa,’ an exceptionally absorbing documentary.” Read more…)

Hillary’s America (politics, conservatism, Dinesh D’Souza. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 2. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The new movie by the conservative author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza, ‘Hillary’s America,’ directed and written with Bruce Schooley, opens with an animated montage of a map of the United States going up in flames in various spots. A close-up image of Hillary Clinton caps the scene. The film then recounts Mr. D’Souza’s own guilty plea to violating federal campaign finance laws. He was set up, he insists. “If you make a film criticizing the most powerful man in the world,” he says, referring to his 2012 documentary, ‘2016: Obama’s America,’ ‘expect the empire to strike back.'” Read more…)

Life, Animated (autism, mental health, animation, Disney. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The disparity between what we want for our children and what they might achieve can be especially painful for parents of autistic youngsters. Yet you’d barely know that from Roger Ross Williams’ relentlessly cheerful documentary, ‘Life, Animated.’ Like the Disney movie clips that flood its frames, this too-tentative look at how a bound mind found freedom in animation leaves us in little doubt of a happy ending.” Read more…)

New releases 10/4/16

Top Hits
Into the Forest (apocalyptic drama, Ellen Page. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Set once upon a time in the apocalypse, ‘Into the Forest’ begins and ends with the volume turned down. A lot of contemporary doomsday flicks make a lot of noise, pummeling subwoofers and eardrums with screams, gunfire and the usual big bangs. For this dystopian fantasy, the Canadian director Patricia Rozema has gone for a singularly subdued mood and soundscape, which makes certain story sense given that power outages will soon silence most of the machines. About all that remains audible is the natural world’s whirring and buzzing, mixed in with some sisterly sniping.” Read more…)

Swiss Army Man (adventure/comedy, Paul Dano. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 64. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Weird and wonderful, disgusting and demented, ‘Swiss Army Man’ is about how one man’s dead body nudges another man back to life. Impossible to categorize, this stunningly original mix of the macabre and the magical combines comedy, tragedy, fantasy and love story into an utterly singular package that’s beholden to no rules but its own. As such, it demands complete surrender to a vision that veers from bewitching to irritating, sometimes within the same scene. Pay no attention to the frayed and porous plot; pull on a loose thread, and the spell will unravel.” Read more…)

The Purge: Election Year (horror/sci-fi, Frank Grillo. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Purge’ is a scrappy little franchise — three movies so far — built on a solid premise. In a dystopian future (the only kind we get these days), the American government has decreed that one night a year will be given over to lawlessness. Otherwise responsible citizens can unleash their blood lust in an orgy of mayhem without consequences. The films, written and directed by James DeMonaco and produced under the Blumhouse indie-horror label, are self-aware enough to know that they serve a similar function. While the stated moral may be that violence is terrible, the visceral message is that it’s a lot of fun, and Mr. DeMonaco is an able, if not always terribly original, painter of nightmarish, sanguinary tableaus.” Read more…)

X-Men: Apocalypse (comic book action, Jennifer Lawrence. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The bombast of the opening sequence — which ends with the pyramid sabotaged into collapse, obliging the movie’s eventual mutant villain to cool his heels for about five millenniums — leaves no doubt that the viewer is in for more of the superhero same old, same old. Directed by Bryan Singer, ‘X-Men: Apocalypse,’ the ninth film in the X-Men franchise, indeed hews hard to all the genre verities. Including, as its title more than implies, an end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it threat.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
X-Men: Apocalypse
The Purge: Election Year

New Foreign DVDs
The Wailing (Korea, supernatural thriller, Woo-hee Chun. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘The Wailing’ is an expansive and often excruciating horror film from South Korea. It is the work of the director Na Hong-jin, whose 2009 debut feature, the action thriller ‘The Chaser,’ made a huge impression not least for its almost staggering flouting of genre convention. ‘The Wailing,’ about demonic possession, is similarly uncompromising.” Read more…)

Beck (Sweden, detective series, Peter Haber)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Trial (1963, drama based on Kafka novel, Anthony Perkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1963  New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Whatever Franz Kafka was laboriously attempting to say about the tyranny of modern social systems in his novel, ‘The Trial’ is still thoroughly fuzzy and hard to fathom in the film Orson Welles has finally made from the 40-year-old novel. “The Trial” opened at the Guild and the new R.K.O. 23d Street Theatre yesterday. Evidently it is something quite horrisic about the brutal, relentless way in which the law as a social institution reaches out and enmeshes men in its complex and calculating clutches until it crushes them to death. At least, that is what this viewer gathers from the crazy and symbolistic stuff that Mr. Welles and an excellent cast of actors have regurgitated on the screen.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Tab Hunter Confidential (cinema history, gay & lesbian, Tab Hunter. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Jeffrey Scwarz’s documentary portrait ‘Tab Hunter Confidential’ is as mild-mannered and blandly likable as its subject, the blond screen heartthrob who in the 1950s embodied the quintessential pretty boy next door. Mr. Hunter, now 84, was seemingly every teenage girl’s dream date. Gay and closeted, he was protected from exposure by Warner Bros., the studio to which he was under contract. The biggest career mistake of his life, he recalls, was securing his release from Warner, a decision he soon regretted when his movie career all but died.” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian
Tab Hunter Confidential (cinema history, gay & lesbian, Tab Hunter. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Jeffrey Scwarz’s documentary portrait ‘Tab Hunter Confidential’ is as mild-mannered and blandly likable as its subject, the blond screen heartthrob who in the 1950s embodied the quintessential pretty boy next door. Mr. Hunter, now 84, was seemingly every teenage girl’s dream date. Gay and closeted, he was protected from exposure by Warner Bros., the studio to which he was under contract. The biggest career mistake of his life, he recalls, was securing his release from Warner, a decision he soon regretted when his movie career all but died.” Read more…)

New releases 9/27/16

Top Hits
central_intelligenceCentral Intelligence (action/comedy, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 52. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “To call ‘Central Intelligence’ juvenile is to miss the larger point — namely, that juvenile was most likely the goal. A majority of studio comedies have been written at an eighth-grade level or lower for so long that it’s astonishing how resilient our hope for greater sophistication is.” Read more…)

Warcraft (fantasy action, Travis Fimmel. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 32. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Probably the best way to experience ‘Warcraft,’ a generally amusing and sometimes visually arresting absurdity, is stoned. If watching the big screen through a cannabis cloud isn’t your idea of a good movie time, though, I suggest that you do what I did and just go with the incoherent flow. You may not grasp who the Bluto-like creatures with simian arms and woolly mammoth tusks are or why they seem permanently engorged with rage. But there’s more to movies than narrative coherency, as anyone who has sampled the cinema of Michael Bay or certain art films well knows.” Read more…)

The Shallows (shark thriller, Blake Lively. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “For all its skills, the shark turns out to be a pretty thin hook on which to hang a less-than-90-minute movie. Since ‘The Shallows’ is a star vehicle for the attractive and statuesque Ms. Lively, the suspense here is somewhat circumscribed. So the movie also applies gruesome special effects. There’s some self-surgery, and the shark finds several reluctant snacks to munch on.” Read more…)

The Neon Demon (horror, Elle Fanning. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s new York Times review: “Mr. Refn’s early movies [1996’s ‘Pusher,’ 1999’s ‘Bleeder’] showed him to be a gifted if willfully outré genre director. But in recent years, and especially in this film, his work looks like that of a technically adept, emotionally stunted adolescent who’s not nearly as bright as he thinks he is, and who is desperate to elicit the concern of his parents.” Read more…)

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (comedy, Andy Samberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 68. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,’ a feature-length fake documentary that sends up everyone from Justin Bieber to Justin Timberlake, does not so much break ground as provide welcome fan service. [Mr. Timberlake has a small role as the main character’s personal chef.] The Lonely Island [Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer] may be best in small doses, but there is just about enough goofiness here to fill an hour and a half. The performances and videos are the best part, of course — inspired and inventive beats and ballads that have sufficient musical integrity to make them credible jokes. And the film’s structure, which evokes the shiny, breathless vacuity of ‘all-access’ promotional documentaries like ‘Katy Perry: Part of Me,’ does not crowd the riffing and noodling with too much plot or sentiment.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Warcraft

New Foreign DVDs
The Innocents (France, postwar drama, Lou de Laâge. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Much of Anne Fontaine’s blistering film ‘The Innocents’ is set within the walls of a Polish convent in December 1945, just after the end of World War II. What at first appears to be an austere, holy retreat from surrounding horrors is revealed to be a savagely violated sanctuary awash in fear, trauma and shame. The snow-covered, forested landscape of the convent is photographed to suggest an ominous frontier that offers no refuge from marauding outsiders.” Read more…)

Kamikaze ’89 (Germany, dystopian action, Rainer Werner Fassbinder. From Vincent Canby’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The late Rainer Werner Fassbinder appeared in a number of his own films, mostly in small roles, though he was the star of his ‘Fox and His Friends,’ and his performance in ‘Katzelmacher,’ one of his earliest and most characteristic works, was a key to that film’s success. Now he is the main reason to see Wolf Gremm’s ‘Kamikaze ’89,’ in which he stars as Jansen, a taciturn, tough but humane police lieutenant in a futuristic Germany. The time is 1989, when Germany has become the richest of nations and all economic, social and political problems have been solved. To emphasize his own nonconformist tendencies, Jansen, from start to finish, wears a memorably awful, simulated leopard-skin suit and a bright red shirt.” Read more…)

New TV
Mr. Robot: Season 1 (cyber-thriller, Rami Malek. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 79.)

New Documentaries
city_goldCity of Gold (food, ethnicity, culture, Jonathan Gold. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Criticism is criticism,’ says Jonathan Gold, who writes about food for The Los Angeles Times. ‘An aria is like a well-cooked potato.’ To which I can only say: Amen. Creative inspiration can be found in a great variety of human pursuits, and criticism is the name we give to the act of identifying and sharing it. A painting is, in that respect, like a poem. A well-written book is like a well-built shelf. A newspaper column is like a documentary film. ‘City of Gold,’ directed by Laura Gabbert, is an affectionate portrait of Mr. Gold, a genial walrus of a man with a graying ginger mane and a gentle, gaptoothed smile. The film accompanies him in his green pickup truck as he patrols the streets of Los Angeles, pointing out the best places to find fiery Southern Thai stews and sublime Oaxacan moles.” Read more…)

Eat That Question: Frank Zappa In His Own Words (music, bio, culture, Frank Zappa. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “The film, a documentary about this iconoclastic musician and composer, is rich in archival footage that shows Zappa being interviewed by broadcast journalists of all sorts. Most clearly don’t understand his music or his persona, and as they earnestly try to fit him into their Interviewing 101 boxes, he underscores news-media absurdities merely by playing it straight rather than bursting out laughing.” Read more…)