New releases 8/1/17

Top Hits
Colossal (action/fantasy/comedy, Anne Hathaway. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Except that … frankly, I’m reluctant to say, though the movie is, to some extent, spoiler-proofed by its loose, make-it-up-as-we-go-along structure. A giant, lizardlike creature — a kaiju, if you insist — is terrorizing Seoul, halfway around the world from wherever Oscar and Gloria are. Eventually, it will battle a giant robot. What this has to do with two self-absorbed Americans is at first baffling, then intriguing, and finally obvious. Which doesn’t ruin anything. We learned back in ninth-grade English that monsters are metaphors, and it’s an insight that never gets old.” Read more…)

Going In Style (comedy, Michael Caine. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 50. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Call it the old-dudes-acting-up genre. It’s always good for a pleasant, nontaxing romp, and that’s precisely what the caper film ‘Going In Style’ delivers.” Read more…)

The Circle (thriller/drama, Emma Watson. Rotten Tomatoes: 15%. Metacritic: 43. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Credit ‘The Circle’ with ambition, at least. This film, directed by James Ponsoldt, is an adaptation of Dave Eggers’ 2013 novel, and the two collaborated on the screenplay. Mr. Eggers’s book is both a satire and a cautionary tale, grafting surveillance-state mechanisms to a faux-progressive vision with pronounced cult leanings — a lot of its ‘join us’ vibe feels passed down from Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers,’ a tale set, like the one here, in the San Francisco Bay Area.” Read more…)

The Lovers (drama, Debra Winger. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 76. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If all middle-aged marrieds were having as much sex as Mary and Michael [Debra Winger and Tracy Letts] in ‘The Lovers,’ then the ratings for ‘NCIS’ would go into a tailspin. Yet the extracurricular bonking that they gingerly enjoy — she with a needy writer [Aidan Gillen] and he with a neurotic ballet dancer [Melora Walters] — appears to bring only marginally more pleasure than their sclerotic union.” Read more…)

The Drowning (psychological thriller, Josh Charles. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 43. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The term ‘psychological thriller’ is often applied, with varying degrees of aspiration or hope, I suppose, to movies that have very little to do with either category. The psychological component is frequently the one more egregiously lacking. ‘The Drowning,’ directed by Bette Gordon from Stephen Molton and Frank Pugliese’s adaptation of Pat Barker’s 2001 novel, ‘Border Crossing,’ distinguishes itself by applying a depth of psychological observation that yields a genuinely unsettling vision.” Read more…)

Buster’s Mal Heart (thriller, Rami Malek. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 63. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Filmed with an alienating elegance by Shaheen Seth, ‘Buster’s Mal Heart’ is about the making of a madman. It also aspires, with less success, to philosophically query the void at the center of modern life and Christianity’s failure to fill it. Religious homilies and paranoid exhortations spill from television sets where cartoons of men trapped in endlessly whirring machines dance dishearteningly. And if the story is too tricky to realize its themes or welcome the impatient, it also contains enough empathy to humanize a character who’s part man, part spiritual symbol.” Read more…)

No Pay, Nudity (drama/comedy, Gabriel Byrne. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. From a capsule New York Times review by Neil Genzlinger: “The title of the year award goes to ‘No Pay, Nudity,’ a bittersweet movie about actors, aging and unemployment that didn’t have a New York theatrical release even though plenty of New Yorkers would identify with it… Backstage stories about young actors in search of their first big break are common, but this film, directed by Lee Wilkof [the original stage Seymour in ‘Little Shop of Horrors’], considers the other end of the spectrum: older actors who find that the work has dried up. Gabriel Byrne does heartstring-tugging work as the central figure, and he’s surrounded by a cast of other well-known stars, including Donna Murphy, Frances Conroy, Boyd Gaines and a wonderful Nathan Lane.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Colossal

New Foreign
Amnesia (France, drama, Marthe Keller. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Inner peace and reconciliation — as well as historical memory and its burden — are at the heart of Barbet Schroeder’s drama ‘Amnesia.’ The story is simple, the emotions complex. It takes a while for the true depth of all the complicated, confusing feelings to surface, partly because the movie’s most interesting character, the German-born Martha [Marthe Keller], has done a good job of barricading off part of her being.” Read more…)

Wondrous Boccaccio (Italy, comedy/drama, Lello Arena. From New York Times critic J. Hoberman’s capsule DVD reviews: “The Taviani brothers tackle Boccaccio’s ‘Decameron’ in this visually sumptuous adaptation of five stories. Never released here, the movie was included in the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, cited by the Times critic Stephen Holden among the festival’s most notable offerings.”)

Un Padre No Tan Padre aka From Dad To Worse (Spain, comedy, family comedy, Hector Bonilla. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%.)

New Television
Big Little Lies (HBO series, Reese Witherspoon. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75.)

New Documentaries
Eva Hesse (artist bio, Eva Hesse. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Eva Hesse,’ Marcie Begleiter’s conscientious and moving documentary, tells the full story of its subject’s tragically foreshortened life, but it focuses on those years of artistic emergence, a period of rapid development and furious productivity, with few parallels in the history of art. Hesse herself is both a ubiquitous presence in the film and something of a specter — an animating spirit and a ghost haunting the frames.” Read more…)

Obit (culture, journalism, The New York Times, Bruce Weber. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Gene Seymour’s Times review: “Somehow — and this may be the movie’s most impressive feat — ‘Obit’ shapes the tension and tedium of the writing process itself into engaging narrative drama as it lets us watch the veteran writer Bruce Weber assemble a 2014 obituary of William P. Wilson, a media consultant who provided vital cosmetic and staging tips to the 1960 Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy before his first televised debate with Richard M. Nixon.” Read more…)

Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (making of album, Elton John)

New Music
Classic Albums: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (making of album, Elton John)