New releases 1/3/17

Top Hits
American_HoneyAmerican Honey (New York Times Critic’s Pick, drama, Sasha Lane. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 79. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “On the shelf of essential cultural products whose names begin with the word ‘American,’ Andrea Arnold’s new film [her fourth feature and the first set in the United States] might find a spot between Grant Wood’s ‘Gothic’ and Green Day’s ‘Idiot.’ This is not solely a matter of alphabetical order. ‘American Honey,’ which takes its title from a song by Lady Antebellum, is a roaming, rambling road picture propelled by sex, hip-hop and close-ups of insects. It probes the murk and terror beneath the surface of contemporary life, and illuminates the vital role of ignorance, poor judgment and wishful thinking in our national character.” Read more…)

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (comedy, Jennifer Saunders. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’ opens with Edina Monsoon [Jennifer Saunders] and her bestie, Patsy Stone [Joanna Lumley], blundering into a fashion show. While ordinary latecomers might try a discreet entrance, bobbing and weaving as they scamper for seats, the constitutionally unmindful Eddy and Patsy stumble onto the catwalk, creating a distraction that forces everyone’s attention on them. What seems like mere table-setting — Eddy galumphing among the gazelles — is a sly declaration of intent in a happily self-conscious feature-length goof.” Read more…)

Blair Witch (horror, James Allen McCune. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 47. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It’s a lot of suffering with very little payoff. In 1999, ‘The Blair Witch Project’ was a milestone of low-budget, found-footage horror. In the years since, technology has advanced, but the basic grammar of the genre remains the same. Unexpected sounds, sudden cuts and things jumping into the frame are guaranteed to startle the audience. And Mr. Wingard does, from time to time, but without summoning the deeper dread or the sharper wit that might make this movie anything more than an elementary exercise.” Read more…)

Operation_AvalancheOperation Avalanche (thriller, Matt Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Turning lack of sophistication into a virtue is a skill that the filmmaking hyphenate Matt Johnson has in abundance. Three years ago, he directed and starred in his first feature, ‘The Dirties,’ a shrewd commentary on the warped relationship between image and reality. Now he and his prime collaborator, Owen Williams, are back to poke that beast some more with ‘Operation Avalanche,’ a Cold War comedy-thriller pulsing with paranoia.” Read more…)

Denial (Holocaust denial legal drama, Rachel Weisz. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 64. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “No courtroom fireworks detonate in ‘Denial,’ a sober, methodical recounting of a 1996 libel suit brought by David Irving, a discredited British historian, against Deborah E. Lipstadt, author of the 1993 book ‘Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.’ The absence of an emotional catharsis in the film, efficiently directed by Mick Jackson [‘The Bodyguard,’ ‘Temple Grandin’] from a screenplay by the British playwright David Hare, leaves a frustrating emptiness at its center. You wonder if the material would have been more effective as a courtroom procedural adapted for the stage. All of the trial testimony comes from court transcripts.” Read more…)

Mr. Pig (drama, Danny Glover. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%.)

New British
Shetland: Season 3 (detective series, Douglas Henshall)

New Documentaries
Projections of America (cinema history, propaganda, World War II)