New releases 5/8/18

Top Hits
Gook (drama, Justin Chon. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Set on the first day of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Justin Chon’s ‘Gook’ takes place in Paramount, Calif., southeast of what was then called South Central Los Angeles. The rundown neighborhood is just far enough from the first sparks of the uprising that the characters can believe the flames and looting won’t reach them. The verdict of the Rodney King trial is on everyone’s minds, of course, but it exists, initially, in the background, on TV and radio broadcasts. Shot in black and white, the movie centers on two Korean-American brothers, Eli [Mr. Chon] and Daniel [David So], who run their dead father’s shoe store.” Read more…)

Fifty Shades Freed (erotic drama/romance, Dakota Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Previously on ‘One Bruise at a Time’ [a.k.a. the first two ‘Fifty Shades’ outings]: Ana and Christian (Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan), our slap-and-tickle surrogates, bonded through bondage and a shared affection for flattering lighting. Now, with ‘Fifty Shades Freed,’ we’ve reached what the publicity notes are pleased to call ‘the climactic chapter’ of this titillation trilogy based on the heavy-breathing novels of E.L. James. If another sequel shows up, though, I’m going to have to use my safe word.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Fifty Shades Freed

New Foreign DVDs
The Insult (Lebanon, drama, Adel Karam. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Insult,’ Lebanon’s official Oscar candidate, is about how a trivial, personal conflict explodes into something much larger, a drama that consumes a city and a nation. You could also put it the other way around. The film, directed by Ziad Doueiri [‘West Beirut,’ ‘The Attack’], reveals how large-scale social divisions infect even the most banal daily interactions.” Read more…)

Before We Vanish (Japan, scifi, Masami Nagasawa. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “When will they ever learn? The aliens, I mean, who can’t seem to resist the impulse to invade Earth and wipe out humanity. ‘Before We Vanish,’ Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s witty science-fiction chin-scratcher — less a horror movie than a series of musings on potentially horrifying ideas — addresses the question literally. It concerns a reconnaissance squad of space travelers sent to do fieldwork in our ways and habits, with particular emphasis on our mental concepts.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Moonrise (1948, Criterion Collection film noir, Dane Clark. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.W.’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Except for an occasional bit of forced play acting, Dane Clark’s Danny Hawkins is a restrained but haunted youth plagued by memories and desperately striving for a latent manhood. Gail Russewll makes a convincingly compassionate heroine and Allyn Joslyn a thoroughly human, if unlettered, sheriff.” Read more…)

New Television
Dear White People: Season 1 (comedy/race relations, Logan Browning. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 85.)

New Documentaries
Equal Means Equal (women’s rights, Equal Rights Amendment, Gloria Steinem. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Helen T. Verongos’ Times review: “Both the House and the Senate approved the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. But then it fell three states short of ratification. Today it is largely forgotten, a reality that the filmmaker Kamala Lopez hopes to change. Her fact-packed new documentary, ‘Equal Means Equal,’ features legal experts, ordinary women and top-line feminists [including Eleanor Smeal and Gloria Steinem], who are still making a case for the amendment decades later.” Read more…)

In Search of Israeli Cuisine (food, Israel, travelogue. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 69. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘In Search of Israeli Cuisine’ starts out seeming as if it might be indistinguishable from any of the countless globe-hopping foodie shows on television. As it goes along, though, this documentary by Roger Sherman at least touches on issues like culinary appropriation and national identity as defined through food. When it’s not being overly promotional, it can be interesting.” Read more…)

It’s Not Yet Dark (movie-making, disability, technology, Simon Fitzmaurice. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 69. From Helen T. Verongos’ New York Times review: “Painful to watch and uncomfortably intimate at times, perhaps by design, ‘It’s Not Yet Dark’ could have been very dark indeed. This documentary takes us into the mind and body of a young Irish filmmaker, Simon Fitzmaurice, who wakes each morning closer to total paralysis.” Read more…)

Finding Oscar (Guatemala history, human rights, war, justice. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 69. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times treview: “The film, directed by Ryan Suffern, at times plays out like a thriller as witnesses come forward and skeletons are exhumed. Mr. Suffern’s pacing is energized but respectful, and his script, written with Mark Monroe, smartly summarizes events of the time. Despite recounting brutality, ‘Finding Oscar’ manages to generate some hope as human-rights workers, prosecutors and forensic scientists seek justice for victims of these war crimes. What starts out as a study of savagery becomes a lesson in determination.” Read more…)