New releases 11/21/17

Top Hits
Brigsby Bear (comedy, Kyle Mooney. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The absurd and absurdly charming ‘Brigsby Bear’ sounds, well, unbearable. It’s the story of a young man who, after decades of being shut away from the world, splashes down in it like a space alien. There are reasons for his re-entry, though that’s getting ahead of the story, which uses a queasy crime as a jumping-off point to spin a largely sweet, often very funny fairy tale about the perils and the sustaining pleasures of obsessive fandom. Mostly, it is an account of one man’s great, mad love, one that’s mocked, tested and deemed near-pathological — a familiar plight for many superfans.” Read more…)

Beach Rats (drama, Gay & lesbian, Harris Dickinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “‘I don’t really know what I like,’ Frankie [Harris Dickinson] says to a man he meets on a gay hookup site in ‘Beach Rats.’ He repeats variations on that phrase throughout the film, and part of what’s refreshing about Eliza Hittman’s sophomore feature is that the character’s confusion isn’t limited to coming out.” Read more…)

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (action, Samuel L. Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 47. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Hitman’s Bodyguard,’ directed by Patrick Hughes [‘The Expendables 3’] and written by Tom O’Connor, is not a good movie, but, in fairness, it doesn’t try to be. It occupies its genre niche — the exuberantly violent Euro-action movie-star-paycheck action comedy — without excessive cynicism or annoying pretension. The stars banter and bicker and wax sentimental about the badass women in their lives [Salma Hayek and Élodie Yung] until the time arrives for the next shootout or car chase or suite of explosions.” Read more…)

Good Time (crime thriller, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 80. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Nick and Connie Nikas are brothers, like Josh and Benny Safdie, the directors of ‘Good Time.’ Nick — played by Benny Safdie — is mentally disabled, while Connie [Robert Pattinson] might charitably be described as an idiot. Motivated by a volatile mix of desperation and bravado, he involves Nick in a poorly planned, haphazardly executed bank robbery. You can bet money on a disastrous outcome, though you might not foresee the precise sequence of mayhem and farce that unfolds on the streets of Queens over a single freezing night. The caper includes an after-hours visit to an amusement park, a soda bottle full of LSD, a case of mistaken identity and plenty of chases, beatings and narrow escapes.” Read more…)

Valerian & the City of a Thousand Planets (sci-fi action, Dane DeHaan. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 51. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,’ [actor Dane] DeHaan’s latest eyebrow-raiser — speaking of which, it also stars Cara Delevingne, perhaps the supreme superciliary celebrity of our time — is a bit harder to describe. It was written and directed by Luc Besson [‘The Fifth Element,’ ‘Arthur and the Invisibles’] a fact that promises greater emphasis on visual panache than on feeling or coherence. That promise is faithfully kept, but there is so much more going on. To say that ‘Valerian’ is a science-fiction epic doesn’t quite do it justice. Imagine crushing a DVD of ‘The Phantom Menace’ into a fine powder, tossing in some Adderall and Ecstasy and a pinch of cayenne pepper and snorting the resulting mixture while wearing a virtual reality helmet in a Las Vegas karaoke bar.” Read more…)

Birth of the Dragon (martial arts/bio-pic, Philip Wan-Lung. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 35. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The milieu from which Bruce Lee emerged to become the world’s first martial-arts superstar — both as a film performer and a proponent-teacher — was probably as fascinating as the man himself. The screenwriters Stephen J. Rivele and Christopher Wilkinson and the director George Nolfi only intermittently manage to breathe credible cinematic life into that milieu in ‘Birth of the Dragon,’ which is set in late ’60s San Francisco, where, the movie tells us, Lee taught kung fu. [It was actually Oakland.]” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
After Love (Belgium, drama, Cédric Kahn. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 66. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The Belgian director Joachim Lafosse’s ‘After Love’ is an irritating movie about irritating people. The married Boris and Marie are breaking up but for economic reasons are still sharing the same living space [to which the entire movie is confined; good thing there’s an outdoor patio]. They have lovely twin daughters in front of whom they mostly argue — vehemently and with little regard for how these displays will affect the girls.” Read more…)

Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe (Germany, historic drama, Josef Hader. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75. From Glenn Kenny’s New York times review: “‘Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe,’ a handsome, scrupulously serious film directed by Maria Schrader from a script she wrote with Jan Schomburg, hardly deals at all with Zweig’s writing. But the movie does grapple with his thought, particularly his position on a writer’s proper place in tumultuous times. The movie begins at a PEN conference in Buenos Aires, where a fellow writer confronts Zweig about his refusal to condemn Hitler and Germany. ‘Every gesture of resistance which is void of either risk or impact is nothing but a cry for recognition,’ Zweig insists.” Read more…)

My Journey Through French Cinema (France, documentary, Bertrand Tavernier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’ delivers what it promises. Even so, its explanatory title doesn’t begin to convey just how exhilarating or inspiring a documentary this truly is, and how excellent a trip this well-respected French director takes you on. Deep, thoughtful, immersive, specific yet also wide-reaching, it is an exploration of French cinema by one of its own, a cinephile whose formative movie love evolved into a directing career that includes titles like ‘Coup de Torchon,’ ‘Life and Nothing But’ and ‘Captain Conan.'” Read more…)

Harmonium (Japan, drama, Kanji Furutachi. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘For me, family is an absurdity,’ the director Koji Fukada says in the publicity materials for ‘Harmonium,’ a rigorously grim drama that glides, slowly and inexorably, toward proving his point. Yet the atmosphere of dread that Mr. Fukada tends with such ruthless precision — and more than a little sadism — depends not on creepy camera moves or other visual trickery. Instead, this chilly tale of violent secrets and unvoiced misery relies heavily on the skill of actors who seem to know that one false move could tip the whole enterprise into comedy.” Read more…)

The Villainess (Republic of Korea, action, Kim Ok-Vin. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 64. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “As directed by Jung Byung-gil, a former stuntman, the film mirrors the experience of playing a video game. The camera whips to each new target with the assurance of someone who knows all the combinations, and has instinctive, practiced access to every code and cheat. The only sign of conscious, unautomated humanity is the sound of the protagonist’s ragged breathing — an acknowledgment of the exhaustion that comes when a human being is pushed to become an action avatar.” Read more…)

New British
The Fall: Series 3

New Documentaries
In Pursuit of Silence (contemporary life. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 70. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘In Pursuit of Silence’ isn’t what you would call a well-rounded or intellectually rigorous documentary — it’s too messianic for that — but it is an interesting one. Partly inspired by George Prochnik’s 2010 book of the same title, this elegant sermon by Patrick Shen on why we should dial down the racket of our daily lives will make you consider turning off and tuning out.” Read more…)

My Journey Through French Cinema (France, documentary, Bertrand Tavernier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Bertrand Tavernier’s ‘My Journey Through French Cinema’ delivers what it promises. Even so, its explanatory title doesn’t begin to convey just how exhilarating or inspiring a documentary this truly is, and how excellent a trip this well-respected French director takes you on. Deep, thoughtful, immersive, specific yet also wide-reaching, it is an exploration of French cinema by one of its own, a cinephile whose formative movie love evolved into a directing career that includes titles like ‘Coup de Torchon,’ ‘Life and Nothing But’ and ‘Captain Conan.'” Read more…)

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