New releases 1/9/17

Top Hits
It (horror, Stephen King adaptation, Bill Skargård. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Late in the summer of 1989, the marquee of the downtown movie theater in Derry, Me., advertises ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street 5.’ This is an accurate period detail, and also a declaration of kinship, if not outright homage. ‘It,’ Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of the novel by Stephen King, belongs in the same tradition of small-town terror as Wes Craven’s “Nightmare” franchise, though the question of influence has a certain chicken-and-egg quality. Pennywise the clown, the designated predator in ‘It,’ [played by Bill Skarsgard] is, like Freddy Krueger, an avatar of deep childhood fears. And like Freddy, he’s also the literal, lethal manifestation of the evil of the world. As such, he has the potential to spawn endless sequels. He’ll be back.” Read more…)

Brad’s Status (drama, Ben Stiller. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In ‘Brad’s Status,’ Mike White’s astute, cringy and ultimately kindhearted new film, [actor Ben] Stiller[‘s character] undergoes a midlife crisis that has less to do with restlessness or lust than with a dreadful loss of perspective. Brad, who runs a small nonprofit, lives in a handsome Craftsman-style house on a leafy Sacramento block. His wife, Melanie [Jenna Fischer], who works in state government, is patient and devoted. Troy [Austin Abrams], a rising high school senior, is an excellent student, a gifted musician and an all-around good kid. Brad lives in a soft pocket of the American dream. He should be counting his blessings, or at least checking his privilege. Instead, he dreams of the greener grass where his old college pals frolic, consumed with envy for their gilded, fast-track lives.” Read more…)

Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House (biopic/political thriller/Watergate, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 49. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Mark Felt’ is a sharp portrait set against a blurry background, a history lesson that won’t help you on the test. It is possible to savor the crags and shadows of Mr. Neeson’s performance without quite grasping why Mr. Landesman thinks the story is worthy of such somber, serious and sustained attention. Both the internal politics of the F.B.I. in the aftermath of J. Edgar Hoover’s death and the larger political and social dramas of the late ’60s and early ’70s are invoked, but neither the national nor the institutional stakes are illuminated with sufficient clarity or force.” Read more…)

Bitch (feminist comedy, Marianna Palka. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 55. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Like the great Mary Chapin Carpenter song ‘He Thinks He’ll Keep Her,’ ‘Bitch” is about a woman who has reached the end of her leash. A satirical scream of rage against patriarchal prerogatives, this feminist horror-comedy, written and directed by [director and star Marianna] Palka, has a vicious edge that can stifle your laughter. So when Jill takes to her basement, snarling and covered in her own feces, her belief that she’s the dog her family seems to think she is comes across as more tragic than funny.” Read more…)

Hollow in the Land (thriller, Dianna Agron. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 54. From Monica Castillo’s New York Times review: “[Lead character] Alison [actress Dianna Agron] closely resembles Jennifer Lawrence’s character in ‘Winter’s Bone,’ another self-sufficient young woman whose family and community turn against her. This movie is not as tense, but it gets close thanks to Ms. Agron’s resolute performance and the movie’s hostile small town setting.” Read more…)

Breathe (drama/romance, Andrew Garfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Living with polio seems like jolly good fun in ‘Breathe,’ an aggressively tasteful and rigorously cheerful biopic of the English disability-rights pioneer Robin Cavendish [Andrew Garfield] and his devoted wife, Diana [Claire Foy]. After contracting the disease in the 1950s at the age of 28, Cavendish, paralyzed from the neck down and expected to live only a few months, not only beat those odds by almost 40 years, but regained his independence. He was also instrumental in helping other severely disabled patients regain theirs, collaborating with his friend Teddy [Hugh Bonneville], an amateur inventor, to design a wheelchair with a built-in ventilator and traveling to Europe to promote its use.” Read more…)

Marshall (biopic/drama, Chad Boseman. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Daris’ New York Times review: “Some biopics go for sweeping and exhaustive, trying to cram an entire life into a tidy two hours or so. ‘Marshall’ smartly opts for modest. With economy, a bit of gauzy nostalgia and likable performances, it revisits an early episode from the life of Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights lawyer who became the first African-American to hold a seat on the Supreme Court. From the 1940s to the early ’60s, he argued 32 cases before the court, winning most. ‘Sometimes history takes things into its own hands,’ Marshall once said, but he also regularly gave history a shove.” Read more…)

The Foreigner (action thriller, Jackie Chan. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 55. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Jackie Chan built a career on playing cheerful martial-arts warriors. In his new movie, ‘The Foreigner,’ which he also helped produce, he loses his joie de vivre soon after the opening credits. Here he plays a single father named Quon, who, as the movie opens, is seen dropping off his daughter at a boutique in London so she can buy a dress for a dance. Then a terrorist bombing blows the block to smithereens and turns Quon into an aspiring avenger. After facing roadblocks with the local authorities, he trains his sights on Liam Hennessy [Pierce Brosnan], an Irish political operative who, Quon is convinced, knows something about the “authentic I.R.A.” that is claiming responsibility for the bombing.” Read more…)

How to Be a Latin Lover (comedy, Eugenio Derbez. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The Mexican actor and comedian Eugenio Derbez is a superstar in his own country and in Hispanic communities in the United States, but he is virtually unknown to non-Hispanic viewers. [He has been seen, in small roles, in the likes of ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua’ and Adam Sandler’s ‘Jack and Jill,’ neither exactly a star-making vehicle.] ‘How to Be a Latin Lover,’ which bids to introduce him to a wider audience in the United States, is surprisingly deft in mixing Mr. Derbez’s broad but accomplished style with more ostensibly hip-absurdist Anglo modes of humor. Body-function jokes are, of course, a universal comedic language, and they’re here, too, although not as abundant as you might have expected.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
It
The Foreigner

New Foreign
Woodpeckers (Dominican Republic, Jean Jean. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Andy Webster’s Times review: “José María Cabral’s arresting drama ‘Woodpeckers [Carpinteros]’ could be called love in a pressure cooker, but that would be understating its vivid textures and palpable vitality. The film was shot on location in the Dominican Republic’s Najayo and La Victoria prisons, where the stifling claustrophobia of those settings infuses every frame.” Read more…)

New British
And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie adaptation, Vera Claythorne)

New Documentaries
The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (photography, music, social history, Eugene Smith. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Times review: “‘The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith,’ a fascinating documentary directed by Sara Fishko, tells the story of [photographer W. Eugene] Smith’s peculiar endeavor [obsessively documenting his jazz musician neighbors] and pays conscientious tribute to the man’s artistry. It also tells several other discrete stories within the larger narrative.” Read more…)

Spinning Plates (restaurants, food culture. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 65. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Joseph Levy’s ordinary documentary ‘Spinning Plates’ rotates among the challenges faced by the proprietors of three restaurants: the 150-year-old Breitbach’s Country Dining, in Balltown, Iowa; a struggling roadside Mexican joint in Tucson; and the chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago, which has three Michelin stars.” Read more…)

New Music
The Jazz Loft According to W. Eugene Smith (photography, music, social history, Eugene Smith)

New releases 1/2/18

Top Hits
American Made (historical-based thriller, Tom Cruise. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 65. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Written by Gary Spinelli, ‘American Made’ goes down easily, especially if you don’t let the historical record with its real-world stakes bother you. [actor Tom] Cruise’s brisk, ingratiating performance — all smiles, hard-charging physicality and beads of sweat — does a lot to soften the edges. But [director Doug] Liman doesn’t press Mr. Cruise to dig into the character, and the actor mostly hurdles forward in a movie that never gets around to asking what makes Barry run and why.” Read more…)

Lucky (drama, Harry Dean Stanton. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Nothing much happens in ‘Lucky,’ and then everything does. That doesn’t mean this leisurely portrait of its title character, a cantankerous old coot [Harry Dean Stanton, in one of his last roles], is any more eventful at the end than at the beginning. Rather, the accumulation of spot-on performances and long-familiar faces, small-town routines and dusty-worn locations, finally coalesces into a picture that’s greater than the sum of its oft-clichéd parts.” Read more…)

Flatliners (supernatural thriller, Ellen Page. Rotten Tomatoes: 5%. Metacritic: 27. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Remakes — especially of beloved classics — run the risk of alienating sentimental moviegoers. With ‘Flatliners,’ Columbia Pictures takes a bold, innovative step to address this issue. It’s startling in its simplicity. The well-known 1990 movie being remade here is something other than beloved, or classic. Rather it is remembered as a widely-derided post-Brat Pack ensemble piece. [And while the movie was indeed largely derided, The New York Times gave it a positive review, as did the critic Roger Ebert.] The potential for accusations of sacrilege is minimal.” Read more…)

Battle of the Sexes (sports/feminism drama based on true event, Emma Stone. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metcritic: 73. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Every so often an exceptionally capable woman has to prove her worth by competing against a clown. That’s one of the durable truisms of ‘Battle of the Sexes,’ a glib, enjoyable fictionalization of the 1973 exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. She was 29 and one of the top female tennis players in the world. He was 55 and had been a world champion before she was born. She was a feminist symbol and the first female athlete to win more than $100,000 in a single year; he was a self-avowed male chauvinist pig who liked to gamble big. It was a man vs. woman match made for maximum public-relations gimmickry but also a deadly serious referendum on equality on and off the court.” Read more…)

Una (drama, Rooney Mara. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 62. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This movie begins with a shot of a girl in her early teens, sitting outside a house, then going into the yard next door, turning a corner, and seeing … something. In a matching cut, Rooney Mara, playing the same character years later, stands in a dark room with strangers as strobe lights flash and a synthetic percussion track throbs. Regardless of what the director, Benedict Andrews, intends, the aggregate effect is ‘Something bad happened to this person and now she’s into EDM.’ The Scottish playwright David Harrower adapted his two-character play ‘Blackbird’ for the screen, substantially changing it to include flashbacks.” Read more…)

Jeepers Creepers 3 (horror, Meg Foster)

New Blu-Ray
American Made
D.O.A.: A Right of Passage

New Foreign
The Teacher (Czech Republic, drama, Zuzana Mauréry. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s new York Times review: “‘The Teacher’ is a foray into Slovak-language filmmaking by the industrious Czech director Jan Hrebejk, and for the occasion, he and his regular screenwriter, Petr Jarchovsky, have chosen a premise that sets up a dark satire about governance and human nature. Set in Bratislava in 1983, when Czechoslovakia was under Communist rule, the movie centers on a new teacher, Maria Drazdechova [Zuzana Maurery], who, upon meeting her students, asks for their parents’ lines of work. Using the children’s grades as leverage, Maria plans to blackmail the parents into favors.” Read more…)

The Women’s Balcony (Israel, comedy, Evelin Hagoel. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Nicole Herrington’s Times review: “‘Don’t you want us there?’ an Israeli woman asks her husband in ‘The Women’s Balcony,’ a charming exercise in gender politics as experienced via religion. The wife, Ettie [Evelin Hagoel], has just learned that their newly rebuilt Orthodox Jewish synagogue no longer has a separate section for women — which essentially means they have been barred from the gender-segregated services. The slight is a punch in the gut, but it also starts a revolution.” Read more…)

Lost in Paris (France, comedy, Fiona Gordon. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 74. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In ‘Lost in Paris,’ the married directors and stars Fiona Gordon and Dominique Abel show a grace for physical comedy and pretzel-like pas de deux. If their fourth feature [their first three, including ‘L’Iceberg’ and ‘The Fairy,’ were directed with Bruno Romy] is mild by design, their style — equal parts Jacques Tati, Jerry Lewis, Wes Anderson and ‘Wallace & Gromit’ — isn’t easy to pull off.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Modern Girls (1986, comedy, Virginia Madsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. From Janet Maslin’s 1986 New York Times review [requires login]: “The three heroines of ‘Modern Girls’ aren’t nearly as modern as the three heroines of ‘How to Marry a Millionaire,’ who at least knew what they wanted and how to get it. In ‘Modern Girls,’ Cece and Margo and Kelly hold pointless daytime jobs and live from one night of Los Angeles club-hopping to the next. They dress up in junk-laden outfits that even Madonna might consider obvious, then go out to drink and take drugs and make themselves idly available to whichever men happen to strike their fancy. But there’s no sex in the movie – the possibilities for it are so omnipresent that the idea isn’t even interesting. In any case, it certainly took nerve to attach a ”Modern” to this.” Read more…)

New British
Last Tango in Halifax: Holiday Special

New Documentaries
D.O.A.: A Right of Passage (punk rock, Sex Pistols. From Janet Maslin’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘D.O.A.,’ which opens today at the Waverly, is as much of a ‘Woodstock’ as punk may ever inspire. In fact, it’s probably closer than punk fans might want it to be. In the hands of Lech Kowalski, the director, the techniques – show the band, show the audience, show random people, interview a few and show the band again – remain the same. But the music has changed considerably, as have the crowds, though not exactly for the better. ‘D.O.A.,’ which means to be outrageous and is mostly ugly and sad, gives the distinct impression that punk is as misunderstood by those who like it as by those who don’t.” Read more…)

Chavela (Mexican music, feminism, LGBTQ pride, Chavela Vargas. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Those looking to learn the basic outlines of the life of the singer Chavela Vargas could do worse than watch ‘Chavela,’ but this plodding documentary from Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi rarely transcends simple biography. While the film includes footage of Ms. Vargas onstage and recordings of her music, it doesn’t convey the power of her artistry, giving the viewer a sense of why, to paraphrase the musician Miguel Bosé from the film, listeners might believe that she could die from being overwhelmed in the middle of a song. [Separately, we learn that may have been her wish.]” Read more…)

New Music
Chavela (Mexican music, feminism, LGBTQ pride, Chavela Vargas)
D.O.A.: A Right of Passage (punk rock, Sex Pistols)

New releases 12/26/17

Top Hits
Stronger (drama based on 2015 Boston bombing, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 76. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Stronger,’ the new movie directed by David Gordon Green, harks back to his work in the first decade of this century. His ‘All the Real Girls’ [2003] and ‘Snow Angels’ [2007] brought acute, cleareyed, compassionate consideration to trauma and tragedy as they affect intimate relationships. Unlike those pictures, though, ‘Stronger’ carries a separate weight. It’s also about an actual galvanic event in recent American history.” Read more…)

The Mountain Between Us (action/drama, Idris Elba & Kate Winslet. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 48. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review. Spoiler alert—she didn’t like it that much: “To watch the magnetic Idris Elba trudge through a monumental dud like ‘The Mountain Between Us’ is almost physically painful. Paired with an aloof Kate Winslet — with whom he has less chemistry than he did with Wood Harris, who played his business partner on ‘The Wire’ — he works very hard to appear oblivious to the script’s many idiocies. He does not succeed.” Read more…)

England Is Mine (bio/dram, Jack Lowden as Morrissey before The Smiths. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 45. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “With its bleak, yearning tone and defiantly cloudy color palette, ‘England Is Mine’ has a pleasingly granular feel for its era and location. But its imagining of Morrissey as a self-pitying narcissist, a curiously passive intellectual who can’t get out of his own way, soaks the movie in a wearying inertia. While we’re all waiting for greatness to find him, though, three hardy women are around to nudge things along: A punkish artist [Jessica Brown Findlay], a hectoring best mate [Katherine Pearce] and his empathetic Mum [Simone Kirby], whose support for her sulky son never wavers.” Read more…)

Manhunt: Unabomber (drama/thriller, Sam Worthington. Metacritic: 71. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times Critic’s Notebook article on this Discovery Channel mini-series: “During its recent rather frivolous annual shark-themed programming stunt, the Discovery Channel was heavily promoting as laudable a series as TV has offered this summer: ‘Manhunt: Unabomber,’ an eight-parter that begins on Tuesday night… It is a gripping and sophisticated account of how James R. Fitzgerald [Sam Worthington], then a newly minted F.B.I. profiler, upended a lot of the bureau’s assumptions in pursuing the suspect who became known in popular lore as the Unabomber [Mr. Bettany]. The supporting cast includes Chris Noth as Fitzgerald’s supervisor and Jane Lynch as Janet Reno, the attorney general in the mid-1990s.” Read more…)

Killing Gunther (action/comedy, Taran Killam. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 53.)

New Blu-Ray
The Mountain Between Us

New Foreign
4 Days in France (France, gay romance, Pascal Servo. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Some of this story is mildly whimsical, and there are ramps into some kind of magical realism [a blizzard at the French-Italian border is a little far-fetched]. There are a lot of shots from behind a car windshield. These are more allied with Vincent Gallo’s ‘The Brown Bunny’ than with Monte Hellman’s more lyrical ‘Two-Lane Blacktop.’ While Mr. Reybaud has exemplary artistic confidence and an interesting vision, this is a movie that in many ways defines or justifies the “not for everybody” critical hedge.” Read more…)

New British
Acceptable Risk (legal drama/thriller, Elaine Cassidy)

New Music
England Is Mine (bio/dram, Jack Lowden as Morrissey before The Smiths)

New releases 12/19/17

Top Hits
Dunkirk (World War II drama, Fionn Whitehead. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times revew: “One of the most indelible images in ‘Dunkirk,’ Christopher Nolan’s brilliant new film, is of a British plane in flames. The movie recounts an early, harrowing campaign in World War II that took place months after Germany invaded Poland and weeks after Hitler’s forces started rolling into the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The plane, having glided to a stop, has been defiantly set ablaze by the pilot to avoid its being captured. It’s an image of unambiguous defeat but also an emblem of resistance and a portent of the ghastly conflagrations still to come. It’s a characteristically complex and condensed vision of war in a movie that is insistently humanizing despite its monumentality, a balance that is as much a political choice as an aesthetic one. And ‘Dunkirk’ is big — in subject, reach, emotion and image.” Read more…)

Victoria & Abdul (period historical drama, Judi Dench. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This is the second movie in 20 years in which Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria. And this is the second movie in 20 years in which Queen Victoria, played by Judi Dench, has a life-enhancing relationship with a man not of her station. This movie, ‘Victoria and Abdul,’ directed by Stephen Frears from a script by Lee Hall, goes 1997’s ‘Mrs. Brown’ one better in the Relevant to Contemporary Concerns department by depicting a friendship between the second-longest-reigning monarch of England and an Indian Muslim.” Read more…)

Tulip Fever (periods drama,. Alicia Vikander. Rotten Tomatoes: 9%. Metacritic: 38. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, took the extraordinary step of defending the movie in advance with a column for Deadline Hollywood, though it is laced with passive-aggressive barbs like ‘I know this film’s not perfect, very few are, but it’s a perfectly good time in a movie theater.’ Plenty of movies fit that description — and considering the hoopla, the most disappointing thing about ‘Tulip Fever,’ directed by Justin Chadwick [‘The Other Boleyn Girl’] and set in 17th-century Amsterdam, is that it’s neither a secret masterpiece nor a laughable disaster.” Read more…)

Mother! (psychological thriller, Jennifer Lawrence. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: Though this extravagant conversation piece of a movie, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, feints toward psychological thriller territory and spends a delicious half-hour or so in the realm of domestic farce, it plants its flag defiantly on the wind-swept peak of religious [and ecological] allegory.” Read more…)

The Trip To Spain (culinary comedy, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ new York Times review, with Catsoulis dussenting from the generally positive critical consensus: “Like ‘The Trip’ in 2011 and ‘The Trip to Italy’ three years later, this latest cushy assignment sends the lads — once again playing Steve [Coogan] and Rob [Brydon], mildly fictionalized versions of themselves — tootling around a randomly chosen region, sampling menus and trading banter. I hesitate to say jokes, because, unlike the bounce and zing of the first movie, the tone here is more sober and the humor more strained.” Read more…)

Solace (thriller, Anthony Hopkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 36. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Solace’ was filmed before either of its primary leads, Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, had become highly visible fixtures on two of this fall’s most hyped television shows. And after seeing Mr. Morgan strut and slaughter as the latest big bad on ‘The Walking Dead,’ and Mr. Hopkins sneak and scheme as the spider at the center of ‘Westworld,’ accepting them as this movie’s white-hat heroes is quite the challenge.” Read more…)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (action, Taron Egerton. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times revew: “‘Kill Elton John!’ is a line you’re unlikely to hear in the average spy caper, but ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ aims far above average. Like its 2015 predecessor, this latest visit with the British agents-cum-Savile Row tailors swings for the fences without caring whose head — or torso, or dignity — is shredded en route. Even if it belongs to Sir Elton.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Dunkirk
Victoria & Abdul
Mother
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Etoile (1989, drama, Jennifer Connelly)

New Documentaries
Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary (philosophy, bio, hallucinogens, Ram Dass. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenishsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary,’ directed by Gay Dillingham, charts the relationship between Mr. Leary [who died in 1996] and Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert — onetime Harvard professors who advocated for their own forms of expanded consciousness. Mr. Leary conducted experiments with psilocybin [a component of psychoactive mushrooms] and LSD. Mr. Alpert later went to India, grew spiritual and became Ram Dass.” Read more…)

Mully (bio, inspiration, poverty. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “‘Mully’ isn’t much in the way of cinema. But its courageous subject makes this documentary’s shortcomings easier to overlook. Charles Mully was born in Kenya and abandoned by his family at 6; he later stole and begged on the streets. Through the generosity of strangers, hard work and some prayer, he not only found a job but became wealthy by running several companies, including a bus service and oil and gas ventures. To the surprise of his wife and eight children, Mr. Mully one day decided to give up business and devote his resources to Nairobi’s orphans.” Read more…)

New releases 12/12/17

Top Hits
Detroit (historical drama, John Boyega. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 78. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Detroit’ is set mainly during the rioting that convulsed that city in the summer of 1967, and in it ‘them’ is most often used — along with cognates like ‘those people’ and ‘you people’ — by white soldiers and police officers to refer to African-American citizens. [Nearly every white character with a speaking role wears a uniform of some kind.] Occasionally things go in the other direction, with ‘they’ referring to the white authorities, but the reversal doesn’t indicate any kind of symmetry. The movie, which paints a sometimes muddled picture of a chaotic and contested moment in history, is admirably clear in this regard. It understands and strives to dramatize racism not as a matter of bad personal attitudes or equal and opposite prejudices, but rather as a structuring fact of American life, an apparatus of power, exclusion and control wielded against ‘them.'” Read more…)

Princess Cyd (gay & lesbian/drama/romance, Jessie Pinnick. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. From April Wolfe’s Village Voice revew: “In his tranquil drama ‘Princess Cyd,’ director Stephen Cone seems to be asking the question: What if a movie featured a girl who lived through unthinkable trauma and somehow became the most well-adjusted kid on the planet? The answer is that the story would float along like a feather in the wind — a nice counter to heavier grief dramas — but also never achieve the heights it could if that feather were attached to the hard-working wing of an actual bird. But enough of the ornithology metaphors.” Read more…)

American Assassin (action thriller, Michael Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 45. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The movie, directed by Michael Cuesta from a script by a team of blue-chip writers [Stephen Schiff and Michael Finch are credited, along with Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz], shows more skill than personality. There are fights and chases, punctuated by tense meetings and bouts of intense laptop and cellphone use. We hop from one camera-friendly hot spot to another before settling in Rome for the final round of fights and chases.” Read more…)

Game of Thrones: Season 7 (HBO fantasy series, Emilia Clarke. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 77.)

New Blu-Ray
Detroit
Stranger Things: Season 1
Endless Poetry

New Foreign DVDs
The Unknown Girl (Belgium, Dardennes Broters-directed drama, Adèle Haenel. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Unknown Girl,’ the latest film by the Belgian writer-directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is about the consequences of trying to do the right thing. By a logic at once elusive and meticulous, it is also, therefore, about the consequences of inaction. Moral indifference is an easy path, and it leads to other, graver sins, including cruelty and dishonesty. But the harder road of decency has its own traps and byways, as a young doctor named Jenny Davin discovers.” Read more…)

Karl Marx City (Germany, documentary, political repression, surveillance, German history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Karl Marx City,’ Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s unsettling new documentary, is a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales. The volumes currently crowding bookstore front tables — George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ Sinclair Lewis’s ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ — offer time-tested prophecies and autopsies of dictatorship. ‘Karl Marx City’ supplements their theories and speculations with everyday facts about life in the supposed workers’ paradise of the German Democratic Republic.” Read more…)

Ma’ Rosa (Philippines, drama, Jaclyn Jose. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 62. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “The Filipino director Brillante Mendoza is one of Cannes’ established auteur film-makers, and his new movie here, entitled ‘Ma’Rosa,’ returns us to the themes of his violent shocker Kinatay from 2009 — the cynicism and corruption of the police and the city authorities, the casual violence and the desperation of the ruled-over who must make what accommodation they can with those in power. It is a tough social realist slice of life at ground level in Manila, unfolding in what feels like real time: violent, though perhaps less so than in that notorious earlier movie and with a droll habit of transcribing the banal conversations of police officers as they deal what they consider to be their paperwork. I wonder if Mendoza hasn’t taken something from the new Romanian cinema, with its similar satire of the red-tape world.” Read more…)

Endless Poetry (Chile, Alejandro Jodorowsky-directed drama/surrealism, Adan Jodorowsky. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 78. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Alejandro Jodorowsky has had a long and productive life. In addition to directing midnight-movie classics like ‘El Topo’ and ‘The Holy Mountain,’ he has composed music and written many books. He is an expert on the tarot and psychotherapy. But in his two recent autobiographical films — ‘The Dance of Reality’ and now ‘Endless Poetry’ — Mr. Jodorowsky, at 88, shows the irrepressible energy of a man who is just getting started.” Read more…)

Black Coal, Thin Ice (China, thriller, Fan Liao. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Scott Foundas’ Variety review: “The spirits of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain course through ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice,’ a bleak but powerful, carefully controlled detective thriller in which — as with all the best noirs — there are no real heroes or villains, only various states of compromise. A most curious hybrid of genre movie and art film, drenched in neon and wintry industrial bleakness, this third feature by the gifted mainland Chinese director Diao Yinan reps a significant advance in scale and craftsmanship over his festival favorites ‘Uniform’ [2003] and ‘Night Train’ [2007], with the potential to penetrate modestly further into the commercial sector.” Read more…)

New British
Doc Martin: Series 8 (comedy/drama series, Martin Clunes)

New Television
Game of Thrones: Season 7 (HBO fantasy series, Emilia Clarke)
Stranger Things: Season 1 (fantasy/horror series, Winona Ryder. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 76.)

New Documentaries
Karl Marx City (political repression, surveillance, German history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Karl Marx City,’ Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s unsettling new documentary, is a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales. The volumes currently crowding bookstore front tables — George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ Sinclair Lewis’s ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ — offer time-tested prophecies and autopsies of dictatorship. ‘Karl Marx City’ supplements their theories and speculations with everyday facts about life in the supposed workers’ paradise of the German Democratic Republic.” Read more…)

Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back (art, provocation, Maurizio Cattelan. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 70. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “‘I think he’s one of the greatest artists that we have today — but he could also be the worst,’ a collector says in ‘Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back.’ It’s one of several bits of hyperbole in a documentary that works best when it stops overanalyzing its subject and instead focuses on his mischievous art.” Read more…)

New releases 12/5/17

Top Hits
Marjorie Prime (near-future speculative drama, Jon Hamm. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Most fictions about artificial intelligence are not, of course, about artificial intelligence. They use the topic as a metaphor, a scale on which to weigh and measure the assets and liabilities of humanity itself. ‘Marjorie Prime,’ a new film written and directed by Michael Almereyda, adapted from Jordan Harrison’s acclaimed play, is an alternately stately and brisk story in which the metaphor poses questions about mortality, loss and who our imagined ‘best selves’ might turn out to actually be once they’re released from our own assessment.” Read more…)

Despicable Me 3 (animated feature, Steve Carell [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 49. From Andy Webster’s New York times review: “The latest animated ‘Despicable Me’ outing shows signs of wear even as its energy level escalates. This time, the reformed villain Gru [voiced by Steve Carell] is in domestic bliss with his fellow secret agent Lucy [Kristen Wiig] and the three orphans — cute Agnes, mischievous Edith and bespectacled Margo — when he and Lucy are dismissed from the Anti-Villain League for letting a bad guy, Balthazar Bratt [Trey Parker], escape.” Read more…)

Better Watch Out (home invasion holiday horror, Olivia DeJonge. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 66. From Noel Murray’s Los Angeles Times review: “In the long, sordid history of the ‘Christmas horror’ sub-genre, there’s never been a movie quite like ‘Better Watch Out,’ a consistently surprising and unusually well-acted thriller, which says pertinent things about suburbia, holiday entertainment and toxic masculinity.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Despicable Me 3

New Foreign DVDs
Of Horses and Men (Iceland, comic vignettes, Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 74. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Set among hearty horse owners in ever-photogenic Iceland, Benedikt Erlingsson’s dryly witty ‘Of Horses and Men’ is like an animal documentary, but about people. Life revolves around mares and stallions in the film’s windswept terrain, but the animals’ orblike eyes direct us to the many follies of their owners, who are driven by petty desires and, occasionally, courage.” Read more…)

New British
Dickensian (period series based on Dickens characters)

New Television
Fargo: Season 3

New Documentaries
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (bio, gay rights, cultural history, Armistead Maupin. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. fRom Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘I’m a writer who is gay,’ the novelist Armistead Maupin says in ‘The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin.’ ‘I’m not a gay writer. I write about heterosexuals as well.’ This fond documentary portrait, directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, makes it clear that Mr. Maupin’s mastery of assorted perspectives is his gift, evident in his masterpiece, ‘Tales of the City,’ a love letter to San Francisco comprising multiple characters. And yet the film offers an enlightening glimpse into how the gay experience informed Mr. Maupin’s art.” Read more…)

A Gray State (politics, conspiracy, paranoia. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 75. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, David Crowley began work on a spectacularly ambitious feature film called ‘Gray State.’ As we learn in the new documentary ‘A Gray State,’ Mr. Crowley’s movie was supposed to be a dystopian thriller designed as a warning against authoritarian control. Mr. Crowley made a concept trailer that appeared online in 2012 and garnered a huge following. But despite signs of progress, the film never happened. Mr. Crowley was found dead in January 2015, along with his wife and daughter, in what police concluded was a double homicide and suicide: He had shot his family and then himself. Perhaps because Mr. Crowley was drawn to the paranoid fringe [he is shown meeting and watching Alex Jones], the deaths became a cause for conspiracy theorists.” Read more…)

New releases 11/28/17

Top Hits
Logan_LuckyLogan Lucky (action, Daniel Craig. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Logan Lucky,’ Steven Soderbergh’s gravity-defying, ridiculously entertaining new film — one that ends a blessedly brief retirement from big-screen directing — concerns itself with a desperate attempt to even the odds. It’s a caper movie, a modern-day Robin Hood tale organized around an elaborate, improbable but curiously plausible heist. A gang that includes a wounded veteran, an unemployed former coal miner, a hairdresser and other motley members of the noncoastal nonelite conspires to knock over a Nascar race sponsored by Coca-Cola. The event sucks a lot of cash from people like them, and the thieves quite literally set out to suck it right back up.” Read more…)

Crown Heights (drama, Lakeith Stanfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “This story inspired a gripping, enraging episode of ‘This American Life,’ and ‘Crown Heights,’ written and directed by Matt Ruskin, tries to adhere both to the factual record and a careful, detail-focused documentary ethos. Like its protagonist, sensitively and shrewdly played by Lakeith Stanfield, the film is soft-spoken and thoughtful, with sweet, lyrical touches that alleviate some of the grimness without blunting the cruelty and injustice of what happened.” Read more…)

Woodshock (drama, Kirsten Dunst. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 38. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unlike their spring 2018 fashion collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s first foray into moviemaking, ‘Woodshock,’ is depressingly dull and terminally inarticulate. Oh, it’s pretty enough, in the superficially embellished style of a perfume ad or fashion video — the gifted Finnish cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg virtually empties his bag of tricks. But it’s more lacking in substance than a yard of silk chiffon.” Read more…)

LeapLeap! (animated feature, Elle Fanning [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 48. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “Nit-picking will get you nowhere with the target audience of ‘Leap!,’ an animated movie for tweens — they’re unlikely to care about critical quibbles. As for the adults who’ll get dragged to the theater: You’ve seen it all before, though it’s pleasant enough to watch again.” Read more…)

The Ottoman Lieutenant (historical drama/romance, Michael Huisman. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 26. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Forbidden love! Two men fighting over a woman! Panoramic horse rides though golden meadows while danger lurks! The film, written by Jeff Stockwell and directed by Joseph Ruben, has all the elements of a type of female fantasy that has seemed out of step since the 1950s. It aims to be an epic in the ‘Doctor Zhivago’ mold, but somehow the crashing score and picture-postcard images only diminish the world-shaking events swirling around this romantic triangle.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Logan Lucky
Leap
Disconnected (1984, cult/slasher, directed by Gorman Bechard, Vinegar Syndrome 2K restoration)

New Foreign DVDs
ClashClash (Egypt, drama, Nelly Karim. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 78. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Sitting through ‘Clash’ is largely a miserable experience, and that’s deliberate. The movie is set in the aftermath of the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Directed by Mohamed Diab from a script he wrote with his brother Khaled Diab, “Clash” begins in the back of an empty police truck.” Read more…)

Machines (India, documentary, work conditions, textiles. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Following in the footsteps of other documentaries from the last decade and a half — including ‘Behemoth,’ ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ and ‘Workingman’s Death’ — Rahul Jain’s ‘Machines’ casts an unflinching eye on dire poverty, trafficking in the disjunction between surreal, aesthetically striking images and sounds and the squalor those images depict… ‘Machines’ is at its strongest when interviewing the workers, who aren’t named and who, the film not so subtly implies, have become cogs in the machinery themselves.” Read more…)

Daguerréotypes (France, Agnes Varda-directed documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
SouthernerThe Southerner (1945, Jean Renoir-directed drama, Zachary Scott. From Bosley Crowther’s 1945 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The poor, white sharecropper, probably as unfashionable a subject for screen treatment as could be contemplated, has been given forthright, sympathetic and seemingly honest expression in ‘The Southerner.’ For the drama, which came to the Globe on Saturday, has invested its persevering farm family not only with the blights of poverty, pellagra and crop-destroying storm but also with dignity, humility, indigenous humor and a vestige of hope. Essentially the story of one man’s overpowering love of the good earth in the face of bitter adversity and despite the prospects of a different, easier way of life, ‘The Southerner’ is a worthy addition to the year’s roster of fine films.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Cop-Out (1967, drama, James Mason)
Disconnected (1984, cult/slasher, directed by Gorman Bechard—his first film, Vinegar Syndrome 2K restoration)

New Television
Fargo: Season 3

New Documentaries
Called_Him_Morgan 2I Called Him Morgan (jazz. Bio, Lee Morgan. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 90. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In February 1972, in the midst of a blizzard, the jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan died after being shot in a Manhattan nightclub by his common-law wife, Helen. The shooting was tragic and traumatic for those who were there — one of Morgan’s band mates stayed away from New York for many years after — but for the rest of the world, it has the qualities of a sad, strange, faded tabloid story. ‘I Called Him Morgan,’ a suave and poignant documentary by Kasper Collin, dusts off the details of Morgan’s life and death and brushes away the sensationalism, too. This is not a lurid true-crime tale of jealousy and drug addiction, but a delicate human drama about love, ambition and the glories of music.” Read more…)

Watermark (documentary, art, water uses, environment. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “So goes much of ‘Watermark,’ Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s second investigation [after ‘Manufactured Landscapes’ in 2007] into the impact of human beings on the natural world. Driven by the question “How does water shape us, and then how do we shape water?,” Ms. Baichwal and Mr. Burtynsky, a photographer noted for his large-scale industrial panoramas, travel across 10 countries and countless human activities, seeking an answer. From the denatured Colorado River delta to abalone fisheries along China’s Fujian coast, the filmmakers find a species in thrall to H2O and largely heedless of the consequences of its unnatural manipulation.” Read more…)

Machines (India, documentary, work conditions, textiles. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Following in the footsteps of other documentaries from the last decade and a half — including ‘Behemoth,’ ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ and ‘Workingman’s Death’ — Rahul Jain’s ‘Machines’ casts an unflinching eye on dire poverty, trafficking in the disjunction between surreal, aesthetically striking images and sounds and the squalor those images depict… ‘Machines’ is at its strongest when interviewing the workers, who aren’t named and who, the film not so subtly implies, have become cogs in the machinery themselves.” Read more…)

No Gods, No Masters (political history, anarchism, Sacco & Vanzetti)
Who Is Lydia Loveless (music bio, Lydia Loveless, by local filmmaker Gorman Bechard)
Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall & the NAACP (civil rights, American history, bio, Thurgood Marshall)

New Children’s DVDs
Leap! (animated feature, Elle Fanning [voice])

New releases 11/28/17

Top Hits
Logan Lucky (action, Daniel Craig. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Logan Lucky,’ Steven Soderbergh’s gravity-defying, ridiculously entertaining new film — one that ends a blessedly brief retirement from big-screen directing — concerns itself with a desperate attempt to even the odds. It’s a caper movie, a modern-day Robin Hood tale organized around an elaborate, improbable but curiously plausible heist. A gang that includes a wounded veteran, an unemployed former coal miner, a hairdresser and other motley members of the noncoastal nonelite conspires to knock over a Nascar race sponsored by Coca-Cola. The event sucks a lot of cash from people like them, and the thieves quite literally set out to suck it right back up.” Read more…)

Crown Heights (drama, Lakeith Stanfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “This story inspired a gripping, enraging episode of ‘This American Life,’ and ‘Crown Heights,’ written and directed by Matt Ruskin, tries to adhere both to the factual record and a careful, detail-focused documentary ethos. Like its protagonist, sensitively and shrewdly played by Lakeith Stanfield, the film is soft-spoken and thoughtful, with sweet, lyrical touches that alleviate some of the grimness without blunting the cruelty and injustice of what happened.” Read more…)

Woodshock (drama, Kirsten Dunst. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 38. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unlike their spring 2018 fashion collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s first foray into moviemaking, ‘Woodshock,’ is depressingly dull and terminally inarticulate. Oh, it’s pretty enough, in the superficially embellished style of a perfume ad or fashion video — the gifted Finnish cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg virtually empties his bag of tricks. But it’s more lacking in substance than a yard of silk chiffon.” Read more…)

Leap! (animated feature, Elle Fanning [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 48. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “Nit-picking will get you nowhere with the target audience of ‘Leap!,’ an animated movie for tweens — they’re unlikely to care about critical quibbles. As for the adults who’ll get dragged to the theater: You’ve seen it all before, though it’s pleasant enough to watch again.” Read more…)

The Ottoman Lieutenant (historical drama/romance, Michael Huisman. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 26. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Forbidden love! Two men fighting over a woman! Panoramic horse rides though golden meadows while danger lurks! The film, written by Jeff Stockwell and directed by Joseph Ruben, has all the elements of a type of female fantasy that has seemed out of step since the 1950s. It aims to be an epic in the ‘Doctor Zhivago’ mold, but somehow the crashing score and picture-postcard images only diminish the world-shaking events swirling around this romantic triangle.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Logan Lucky
Leap
Disconnected (1984, cult/slasher, directed by Gorman Bechard, Vinegar Syndrome 2K restoration)

New Foreign DVDs
Clash (Egypt, drama, Nelly Karim. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 78. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Sitting through ‘Clash’ is largely a miserable experience, and that’s deliberate. The movie is set in the aftermath of the 2013 overthrow of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Directed by Mohamed Diab from a script he wrote with his brother Khaled Diab, “Clash” begins in the back of an empty police truck.” Read more…)

Machines (India, documentary, work conditions, textiles. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Following in the footsteps of other documentaries from the last decade and a half — including ‘Behemoth,’ ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ and ‘Workingman’s Death’ — Rahul Jain’s ‘Machines’ casts an unflinching eye on dire poverty, trafficking in the disjunction between surreal, aesthetically striking images and sounds and the squalor those images depict… ‘Machines’ is at its strongest when interviewing the workers, who aren’t named and who, the film not so subtly implies, have become cogs in the machinery themselves.” Read more…)

Daguerréotypes (France, Agnes Varda-directed documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Southerner (1945, Jean Renoir-directed drama, Zachary Scott. From Bosley Crowther’s 1945 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The poor, white sharecropper, probably as unfashionable a subject for screen treatment as could be contemplated, has been given forthright, sympathetic and seemingly honest expression in ‘The Southerner.’ For the drama, which came to the Globe on Saturday, has invested its persevering farm family not only with the blights of poverty, pellagra and crop-destroying storm but also with dignity, humility, indigenous humor and a vestige of hope. Essentially the story of one man’s overpowering love of the good earth in the face of bitter adversity and despite the prospects of a different, easier way of life, ‘The Southerner’ is a worthy addition to the year’s roster of fine films.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Cop-Out (1967, drama, James Mason)
Disconnected (1984, cult/slasher, directed by Gorman Bechard—his first film, Vinegar Syndrome 2K restoration)

New Television
Fargo: Season 3

New Documentaries
I Called Him Morgan (jazz. Bio, Lee Morgan. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 90. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In February 1972, in the midst of a blizzard, the jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan died after being shot in a Manhattan nightclub by his common-law wife, Helen. The shooting was tragic and traumatic for those who were there — one of Morgan’s band mates stayed away from New York for many years after — but for the rest of the world, it has the qualities of a sad, strange, faded tabloid story. ‘I Called Him Morgan,’ a suave and poignant documentary by Kasper Collin, dusts off the details of Morgan’s life and death and brushes away the sensationalism, too. This is not a lurid true-crime tale of jealousy and drug addiction, but a delicate human drama about love, ambition and the glories of music.” Read more…)

Watermark (documentary, art, water uses, environment. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “So goes much of ‘Watermark,’ Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky’s second investigation [after ‘Manufactured Landscapes’ in 2007] into the impact of human beings on the natural world. Driven by the question “How does water shape us, and then how do we shape water?,” Ms. Baichwal and Mr. Burtynsky, a photographer noted for his large-scale industrial panoramas, travel across 10 countries and countless human activities, seeking an answer. From the denatured Colorado River delta to abalone fisheries along China’s Fujian coast, the filmmakers find a species in thrall to H2O and largely heedless of the consequences of its unnatural manipulation.” Read more…)

Machines (India, documentary, work conditions, textiles. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Following in the footsteps of other documentaries from the last decade and a half — including ‘Behemoth,’ ‘Darwin’s Nightmare’ and ‘Workingman’s Death’ — Rahul Jain’s ‘Machines’ casts an unflinching eye on dire poverty, trafficking in the disjunction between surreal, aesthetically striking images and sounds and the squalor those images depict… ‘Machines’ is at its strongest when interviewing the workers, who aren’t named and who, the film not so subtly implies, have become cogs in the machinery themselves.” Read more…)

No Gods, No Masters (political history, anarchism, Sacco & Vanzetti)
Who Is Lydia Loveless (music bio, Lydia Loveless, by local filmmaker Gorman Bechard)
Mr. Civil Rights: Thurgood Marshall & the NAACP (civil rights, American history, bio, Thurgood Marshall)

New Children’s DVDs
Leap! (animated feature, Elle Fanning [voice])

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…)

New releases 11/14/17

Top Hits
Wind River (thriller, Jeremy Renner. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Taylor Sheridan, the screenwriter of last year’s socially conscious crime drama ‘Hell or High Water,’ proves an undeniably strong director with his second effort in that job, ‘Wind River.’ The movie opens on a breathtaking night sky and snow-capped mountains, with a young woman running over a long stretch of open land. ‘There’s a meadow in my perfect world,’ a female voice says. The juxtaposition of the imagery and the poetics make for a peculiar opening. Eventually it all makes tragic sense.” Read more…)

Atomic Blonde (action, Charlize Theron. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Atomic Blonde’ is going to make an excellent highlight reel. It already is one, in a manner of speaking, given that its strengths are lavishly violent, inventively choreographed fights that have been glued together by nonsense and Charlize Theron. The nonsense involves spies chasing secrets in Berlin just before the fall of the wall, which may suggest John le Carré but plays closer to a dumb and dumber take on Boris and Natasha. Mostly, the movie is an excuse to watch a beautiful, deviously clever female avatar as she is stripped naked, dolled up and repeatedly beaten down only to rise again.” Read more…)

The Secret Scripture (drama, Vanessa Redgrave, Rooney Mara. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 37.)

New Foreign DVDs
Aquarius (Brazil, drama, Sonia Braga. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Aquarius’ is a marvelous and surprising act of portraiture, a long, unhurried encounter with a single, complicated person. And that is enough to make it a captivating film, an experience well worth seeking out. But there is also, as I’ve suggested, more going on than the everyday experiences of a modern matriarch. Clara’s particularity is precisely what makes her such a resonant and representative figure, because it’s her idiosyncratic spirit that is threatened by the sterility and greed represented by her mercenary antagonists.” Read more…)

Zoology (Russia, fantasy/drama, Natalya Plavenkova. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Universal Cult Horror Collection: House of Horrors, Murders In the Zoo, The Mad Doctor of Market Street, The Mad Ghoul, The Strange Case of Doctor RX
The Classic Sci-Fi Ultimate Collection Vol. 2: Dr. Cyclops, Cult of the Cobra, The Land Unknown, The Deadly Mantis, The Leech Woman

New British
Churchill (biopic, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 44. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Winston Churchill the character has appeared in dozens of films, TV movies and mini-series over the years, and the portraits always hew to the gruff British bulldog conception of this 20th-century leader. ‘Churchill,’ a new movie directed by Jonathan Teplitzky from a script by Alex von Tunzelmann, is laudable in its effort to shine a light on the Churchill who struggled in private with crippling depression — ‘the black dog,’ he called it. His accuracy-in-metaphor was such that sufferers of subsequent generations have frequently adopted the term. The movie’s ambition is the good news. The bad news is that it is a hash, choosing to jumble the historical record and frame a Churchill bout with depression against the D-Day invasion of France by Allied forces.” Read more…)

Murder On the Orient Express (Agatha Christie mystery, David Suchet)

New Television
Billions: Season 2

New Documentaries
Kedi (street cats of Istanbul. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Kedi’ [‘Feline’], a frequently enchanting documentary directed by Ceyda Torun, showcases some of these feline personalities and the humans who look after them. There’s a good deal of projection in the verbal accounts of the animals’ lives, but the movie, with its mobile camera low to the ground or looking down at cat-navigated rooftops, doesn’t do much to contradict the indirect anthropomorphizing. There’s a lot of action at piers and fish markets.” Read more…)

Whose Streets (activism, racism, Ferguson, militarized policing. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 81. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times revciew: “‘Whose Streets?,’ a documentary about the unrest and activism in Ferguson, Mo., in the wake of the 2014 police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, is choppy, sometimes unfocused, and in every respect the opposite of slick. Its directors, Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis, are novice filmmakers, true; but I also suspect this movie’s form is deliberate, part of its message. This is direct and frequently powerful filmmaking that doesn’t much care about meeting my aesthetic standards.” Read more…)

Spy In the Wild (nature, animal behavior. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
Hamilton: Building America (American history, Alexander Hamilton, Ron Chernow)