New releases 10/3/17

Top Hits
A Ghost Story (drama/fantasy, Casey Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes 92%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “For perfectly good reasons, the literature of grief dwells on the experiences of the living, the survivors who grapple with the pain of loss and the puzzle of absence. But maybe the dead have feelings, too. That, when you think about it, is the premise of a great many ghost stories, and also of ‘A Ghost Story,’ David Lowery’s ingenious and affecting new film.” Read more…)

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (action, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes 29%. Metacritic: 39. New York Times reviewer A.O. Scott did not like this movie: “This review will be short and dismissive. The movie under consideration — “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” — is, by contrasts, long and punishing. Its pleasures are so meager, its delight in its own inventions so forced and false, that it becomes almost the perfect opposite of entertainment.” Read more…)

Realive (sci-fi, Tom Hughes. Rotten Tomatoes 83%. Metacritic: 59. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “Like a ‘Black Mirror’ episode combined with a philosophy seminar, ‘Realive’ has plenty of brains. Yet it has a heart, too, and that adds a surprising amount of emotion to this above-average science-fiction film. Set in the past, present and future, all story lines center on Marc (Tom Hughes). His life is charted from his first breath (the movie’s opening shows an actual birth, up close) through scenes of his childhood before moving to a time near today, when he’s diagnosed with terminal cancer. Marc decides to cryo-freeze his body in hopes of later being cured, leading to his reanimation — or rebirth, if you will — in 2084. It’s no surprise that his plans have unexpected consequences.” Read more…)

The Wizard of Lies (Bernie Madoff financial skullduggery, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes 72%. Metacritic: 67. From Noel Murray’s New York Times television review: “Putting its own prestige TV stamp on a portrait of a casually destructive billionaire, HBO brings us the original movie ‘The Wizard of Lies,’ a little over a year after ABC aired its own mini-series ‘Madoff.’ Both tell the story of the convicted Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff, with ’70s acting icons in the lead: Richard Dreyfuss for the network, Robert De Niro for premium cable. But the two take very different approaches to the life of a man who admitted to running an elaborate Ponzi scheme. ‘The Wizard of Lies’ doesn’t try to be as comprehensive as ‘Madoff.’ It’s more about who Madoff is than about what he did.” Read more…)

The Survivalist (dystopia thriller, Martin McCann. Rotten Tomatoes 97%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis”s Times review: “Impressively lean and rigidly controlled, ‘The Survivalist’ achieves, at times, the primitive allure of a silent movie. And that’s not simply because of the characters’ reticence (the entirety of the dialogue could probably fit on a single page), but because the film’s Irish writer and director, Stephen Fingleton, has an intensity of purpose that infects his characters’ every move and gesture.” Read more…)

House of Cards: Season 5 (political drama series, Kevin Spacey. Rotten Tomatoes 71%. Metacritic: 60.)

New Foreign DVDs
A Woman’s Life (France, period drama, Judith Chemla. Rotten Tomatoes 76%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “A Woman’s Life” — a more literal translation of the French title would just be ‘A Life’ — is the new film by Stéphane Brizé. Based on a novel by Guy de Maupassant, it traces the fluctuating fortunes of Jeanne Le Perthuis des Vauds (Judith Chemla), an aristocratic landowner in 19th-century France, through marriage and motherhood. In some ways, the movie is a striking departure from Mr. Brizé’s previous feature, ‘The Measure of a Man,’ which starred Vincent Lindon as a displaced worker buffeted by the disruptions of 21st-century capitalism. But in spite of their obvious differences of gender, class and period, the two protagonists share a common plight, and Mr. Brizé’s interest in them is rigorously consistent. He is concerned, above all, with individual dignity, and the forces that conspire to undermine it.” Read more…)

13 Minutes (Germany, WWII-era drama, Christian Friedel. Rotten Tomatoes 76%. Metacritic: 58. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York times review: “A charming hedonist becomes an unlikely would-be assassin in ’13 Minutes,’ a respectful but labored biopic of a village carpenter whose 1939 plot to blow up the Führer was foiled by bad timing. Though ruthlessly romanticized and swimming in Holocaust-drama clichés — like the pallidly venomous Nazi interrogator — the story of how Georg Elser [an endearing Christian Friedel] transformed from mischievous ladies’ man to determined bomb maker is worth the telling. And for a while, it’s even quite gripping as we watch Elser painstakingly plant his intricate device in a vast beer hall in Munich where Hitler is to speak.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Painted Veil (1934, drama, Greta Garbo. From Andre Sennwald’s 1934 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Pettish folk, out of an evident spirit of wish-fulfillment, are forever discovering that Greta Garbo has outlived her fame. They are knaves and blackguards and they should be pilloried in the middle of Times Square. She continues handsomely to be the world’s greatest cinema actress in the Oriental triangle drama, ‘The Painted Veil,’ which begins an engagement at the Capitol this morning. Tracing its ancestry to Somerset Maugham’s novel, which it resembles only in the casual surface qualities of the narrative, Miss Garbo’s new film is a conventional, hard-working passion-film which manages to be both expert in its manufacture and insincere in its emotions. Since it allows Miss Garbo to triumph once more over the emotional rubber-stamps that the studios arrange for her, we must not be ungenerous about “The Painted Veil.” Richard Boleslawski has made a visual treat of it, and Herbert Marshall and George Brent head an excellent group of subsidiary players.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Connection (1961, drama, Warren Finnerty. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther panned “The Connection” upon its 1962 theatrical release [requires log-in]: “Outside of the notoriety that ‘The Connection’ has because it is the center of a contention over the legality of censorship in this state, there is little about it to warrant the clamorous interest of the average moviegoer or to distinguish it as a significant piece of cinematic art.” [Read more…]
But time has treated Shirley Clarke’s indie drama about jazz musician junkies well. Milestone Films has been busy restoring Clarke’s catalog and released “The Connection” on DVD. Steve Boone on RogerEbert.com writes, “It’s amazing, the realities that can co-exist in the same moment in time. While Shirley Clarke was filming ‘The Connection,’a New York independent film that captures the blistering intelligence and roiling emotions of jazz and the cold sweat of heroin addiction, Hollywood was churning out virgin cocktails like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ Clarke was on a whole ‘nother level. Milestone Films is putting out new DVD’s and Blu-rays of “The Connection” so pristine that we can’t miss the genius this time around. Clarke’s raging, tickling lyricism [edited by her own hand] brings out the explosive honesty and stealthy compassion in Jack Gelber’s screenplay [adapted from his own stage play]. There is an indictment of a whole way of life stitched in there, and I’m not talking about the junkie way of life. I’m talking about the square, judgmental, blinders-on way of life that was Hollywood’s specialty at the time.”)

New TV
House of Cards: Season 5