New releases 3/5/19

Top Hits

The Favourite (costume historical drama, Olivia Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “For Shakespeare and the Classical Greek dramatists, the doings of real and imaginary rulers — affairs of state and of the flesh, both of which figure prominently here — were most often the stuff of tragedy. [Yorgos] Lanthimos, a Greek director who has been based in London for the past few years, makes no real distinction between pathos and mirth. His first English-language film, ‘The Lobster,’ was by turns ghastly and hilarious, a cruel dystopian allegory of discipline and desire. The next, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer,’ was mostly just ghastly. ‘The Favourite,’ with a profane, erudite script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, is a farce with teeth, a costume drama with sharp political instincts and an aggressive sense of the absurd.” Read more…)

Ben Is Back (drama, Lucas Hedges. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “When the title character shows up early in ‘Ben Is Back’ — just before Christmas, at his family’s big house in a suburban town north of New York City — the mood tilts from domestic drama toward domestic horror. Even after the menacing, hooded figure skulking around near the driveway is recognized as a son and brother [played by Lucas Hedges], the queasy feeling of terror doesn’t quite abate. Ben, unexpectedly home from rehab, scares almost everyone. The rest of ‘Ben Is Back,’ written and directed by Peter Hedges [father of Lucas], sustains and intensifies that clammy, anxious feeling.” Read more…)

Creed II (sports drama, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Creed II’ affirms two great truths of our pop-cultural moment: that Michael B. Jordan is currently the ascendant American male movie star and that the revived, revised ‘Rocky’ franchise — focused on the trials and triumphs of Adonis Creed, Rocky Balboa’s protégé and the son of his long-departed friend and rival — is the only heroic Hollywood multi-sequel narrative worth caring about.” Read more…)

Instant Family (comedy, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Instant Family’ is a sweet-natured movie with exemplary intentions. Directed and co-written by Sean Anders [known for more studiously raucous familial comedies like the ‘Daddy’s Home’ movies], it draws from his experience of adopting children from foster care with his wife. The story line imparts information about the plight of kids in the foster system and positive messages about adopting.” Read more…)

Vox Lux (drama/music, Natalie Portman. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Vox Lux’ is an audacious story about a survivor who becomes a star, and a deeply satisfying, narratively ambitious jolt of a movie. Written and directed by Brady Corbet, it uses Celeste — an ordinary American girl who through a mass murder becomes extraordinary — as a means to explore contemporary spectacle. Corbet is especially interested in celebrity and terrorism, which he positions [without much of a stretch] as powerful, reciprocal forces in the flux of life.” Read more…)

New Blu-Rays

Macunaíma (1969, Brazil, anarchic comedy from Brazil’s avant-garde Cinema Novo movement. From A.O. Scott’s 2004 New York Times review of the film’s screening as part of the New York Film Festival [requires log-in]: “Connoisseurs might detect a touch of Felliniesque rococo, but this magical-realist mock-epic commingles more comfortably in less exalted company, with the films of John Waters and Russ Meyers, perhaps, or with lost episodes of ‘The Monkees.’ Which is not to say that the film, adapted from a 1928 novel by Mário de Andrade [no relation to the director] is lacking in seriousness. Underneath it all is a meditation on the riddles of Brazilian identity and the agonies of Brazilian politics. In 1969, Brazil was in the grip of a military dictatorship, and ‘Macunaíma,’ one of whose minor characters is a sexy urban guerilla, hums with a joyful and pointed anti-authoritarian spirit.” Read more…)

The Favourite
Ben Is Back
Creed II
Videodrome
Dumbo

New Foreign

Burning (Republic of Korea, drama, Ah-in Yoo. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Desire, ravenous and ineffable, shudders through ‘Burning,’ the latest from the great South Korean director Lee Chang-dong. Set in the present, the movie involves the complicated, increasingly fraught relationships among three characters whose lives are tragically engulfed as desire gives way to rage. The story has the quality of a mystery thriller — somebody goes missing, somebody else tries to figure out why — one accompanied by the drumbeat of politics.” Read more…)

Cosmos (France, drama, Jonathan Genet. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Cosmos,’ Andrzej Zulawski’s first film since 2000, is both a comeback and a swan song. Mr. Zulawski, 75 when he died in February, was an important figure in the history of Polish cinema and in the emergence of a borderless, cosmopolitan European style of filmmaking during the Cold War and after. His last work pays tribute to his roots and to his subsequent wanderings. Based on a novel of the same name by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, this French-Portuguese co-production is a witty and energetic — if also somewhat labored — mélange of languages, tones and ideas.” Read more…)

Of Fathers and Sons (Syria, immersive documentary on ISIS. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “For ‘Of Fathers and Sons,’ the Berlin-based director Talal Derki spent more than two years in his native Syria making a documentary about a radical jihadist family. By presenting himself as a war photographer sympathetic to the cause, Derki gained the trust of Abu Osama, a founder of the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

Solarbabies (1986, sci-fi, Jason Patric. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Solarbabies’ was made by Mel Brooks’s Brooksfilms, at what might have been large expense on location in Spain. The cast includes Richard Jordan, as a snarling futuristic policeman, and a lot of new teen-age actors who, in circumstances like this, tend to look exactly alike. The one exception is the pre-teen Lukas Haas, who played the little boy in ‘Witness.'” Read more…)

New TV Series

House of Cards: The Final Season (political drama sans Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Documentaries

Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics (psychedelic drugs, science, self-examination, Shane Mauss)
Of Fathers and Sons (Syria, immersive documentary on ISIS)

New Music DVDs

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra Live (jazz, Duke Ellington, 1973)

New releases 2/26/19

Top Hits

Mary Queen of Scots (historical costume drama, Saoirse Ronan. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Is there room for two queens on a single island? In a single movie? The answers, according to “Mary Queen of Scots,” are “not quite” and “almost.” The monarchs in question are Mary, played by Saoirse Ronan, and her cousin Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie. The history books cast them as bitter rivals, but the film imagines them as long-distance frenemies.” Read more…)

Ralph Breaks the Internet (animated feature, John C. Reilly [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ might look like just another adorable, funny animated family film, but it also connects to our current reality in ways that are downright bone-chilling. This sequel to the 2012 Disney hit ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ — which was set in the virtual world of arcade games, and whose affable lug of a hero was an 8-bit video game villain trying to break free from a lifetime of mindless destruction — sends its protagonists out into the broader internet, where they discover all the pandering, cruelty, addictive behavior and viral shamelessness that we’ve come to associate with online culture.” Read more…)

The Happy Prince (historical drama/bio-pic, Rupert Everett. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A mopey yet gorgeous-looking wallow in the final years of the literary giant Oscar Wilde, “The Happy Prince” staggers around Europe with one eye on the grave and the other on the kinds of sorry mischief an unrepentant hedonist like Wilde could get up to.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs

Trauma (Chile, horror, Catalina Martin)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

The Midnight Man (1974, mystery, Burt Lancaster. From Michael Barrett at Pop Matters on the recent Kino Lorber DVD release: “Excavated from the Universal vaults and finally released on disc is The Midnight Man (1974), the second and last film directed by its star, Burt Lancaster. His first effort as director-producer-star, The Kentuckian (1955), was a rich, vigorous work of western Americana, violent yet optimistic. This second film, made 20 years later, reflects a wearier outlook of disillusion and regret within the trappings of gumshoe noir. Vietnam and Watergate aren’t mentioned; the only reference to contemporary issues is a college kid’s comment on the generation gap. Still, the zeitgeist of disenchantment and malaise over “the system” hangs around the movie’s neck like a dead Maltese falcon.” Read more…)

To Sleep With Anger (1990, drama, Danny Glover. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. From Vincent Canby’s 1990 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘To Sleep With Anger’ initially pretends to be commonplace, but that is an illusion. It’s a very entertaining, complex film, a comedy of unusual substance that also manages to keep the audience in suspense as to when the comedy might dissolve into some kind of vicious melodrama.” Read more…)

New British DVDs

Mystery Road: Series 1 (Australian mystery series, Judy Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times review: “And while [actor Aaron] Pedersen would be reason enough to watch the moody, flavorful, handsomely photographed show, the thing that really sets “Mystery Road” apart is the actress who signed on to play the outback sergeant Emma James: the great Judy Davis, playing a police officer for the first time in her career and starring in an Australian TV series for the first time in nearly 40 years.” Read more…)

New TV Series

The Good Fight: Season 2 (legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 70.)

New Documentaries

Shakespeare Uncovered: Series 3 (the stories behind the plays, literary analysis)

New releases 2/19/19

Top Hits

A Star Is Born (musical, Lady Gaga. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘A Star Is Born’ is such a great Hollywood myth that it’s no wonder Hollywood keeps telling it. Whatever the era, the director or the headliners, it relates the story of two lovers on dramatically differing paths: a famous man who’s furiously racing to the bottom [Bradley Cooper in this movie] and a woman [Lady Gaga] who’s soaring to the top. This latest and fourth version is a gorgeous heartbreaker [bring tissues]. Like its finest antecedents, it wrings tears from its romance and thrills from a steadfast belief in old-fashioned, big-feeling cinema. That it’s also a perverse fantasy about men, women, love and sacrifice makes it all the better.” Read more…)

Overlord (action/zombies, Jovan Adepo. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 60. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “The director Julius Avery’s “Overlord” begins with a spectacular parachute drop amid a firestorm of vomiting soldiers, burning airplanes and flying body parts, and it ends with an equally spectacular (and occasionally cathartic) pandemonium of exploding Nazis, geysers of blood and assorted creative impalements. In between, however, it delivers a fairly predictable, though still quite violent, action-horror hybrid about a small group of American soldiers behind enemy lines.” Read more…)

Robin Hood (action/adventure, Taron Egerton. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 32. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There have been a lot of movies made from the Robin Hood legend, and the 1938 ‘Adventures of Robin Hood,’ directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, remains the best. Its 100 or so minutes just breeze by; although packed with conflicts and cliffhangers, there’s no sense of strain about it. To contrast, ‘Robin Hood,’ directed by Otto Bathurst from a script by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, huffs and puffs right off the bat, expending a lot of energy to tell you this isn’t your father’s, or your grandfather’s, Robin Hood movie.” Read more…)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (bio/comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Lee Israel may be the single most interesting movie character you will encounter this year, which is not to say that she’s altogether pleasant company. She would most likely feel the same way about you, minus the “interesting” part, unless you happen to be a cat or Dorothy Parker. It has been a while since a world-class, life-size misanthrope like Lee has commanded the screen — not another brooding narcissist or a showily difficult cable TV antihero, but a smart, cranky human recognizably made of flesh and blood. Also whiskey, bile and typewriter ink.” Read more…)

The Snowman (thriller, Michael Fassbender. Rotten Tomatoes: 7%. Metacritic: 23. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There are a couple of mysteries swirling through ‘The Snowman,’ a leaden, clotted, exasperating mess. This ostensible whodunit involves a serial killer who’s preying on women, leaving behind carefully arranged body parts and a childlike snowman as a kind of elaborate signature. The greater puzzle, though, is how an enterprise studded with so much talent — starting with the director Tomas Alfredson [‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’] and including the star Michael Fassbender — has led to such a grim, thrill-free thriller, one without a twitch of real feeling and next to no elementary story sense.” Read more…)

Bel Canto (drama/music, Julianne Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “And there’s the rub: “Bel Canto” is so dismissive of the outside world — and the background of its guerrilla leader [Tenoch Huerta, making much of the little he’s given] — that it’s politically and ideologically barren. Only one idea interests the director, Paul Weitz [adapting Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel with Anthony Weintraub]: the power of music to transcend difference and locate our common humanity.” Read more…)

Blu-Ray

Robin Hood
A Star Is Born
Overlord

New Foreign DVDs

Death In Venice (Italy, 1971, dir. by Luchino Visconti, drama, Dirk Bogarde. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From Vincent Canby’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Luchino Visconti, now in his mid sixties, is neither a stupid nor frivolous film director, but his special talent for a kind of [and I mean this in praise] epic vulgarity, which allowed him to transform and transcend melodramatic excesses in movies like ‘Rocco and His Brothers’ and ‘The Damned,’ has led him to make a series of wrong decisions with ‘Death in Venice,’ including his initial decision to attempt the movie in the first place.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Good Sam (1948, dark comedy, Gary Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Now that Leo McCarey has been piously patted on the head for making such sweet and hearty pictures as ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’ and ‘Going My Way,’ this erstwhile Hollywood lampooner has apparently had an impish urge to stick out his tongue, rather slyly, at the nation of sanctimony. At least it appears that he has wriggled uncomfortably under the pats, fearful that someone might take him for a better little boy than he is. And the evidence of his embarrassment is his latest production, “Good Sam,” a mischievous sort of satire” Read more…)

New Documentaries

Maria By Callas (biography, music, opera, Maria Callas. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Toward the end of ‘Maria by Callas,’ the legendary opera singer [1923-1977] describes the music she interprets as ‘the only language I really know.’ That description is belied by this documentary, a compendium of interviews, performances and writings from Callas in which she proves an eloquent narrator of her own life.” Read more…)

New releases 2/12/19

Top Hits

Bohemian Rhapsody (bio-pic, Rami Malek. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 49.)

The Front Runner (true politics drama, Hugh Jackman. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 61.)
Nobody’s Fool (comedy, Tiffany Haddish. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 39.)
Here and Now (drama, Sarah Jessica Parker. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 45.)
Hunter Killer (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 43.)
The Sisters Brothers (comedy, John C. Reilly. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 78.)

Blu-Ray

Bohemian Rhapsody
Crimewave

New Foreign DVDs

Shoplifters (Japan, drama, Lily Franky. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 93.)

At Eternity’s Gate (Switzerland, bio/drama, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 78.)
The Guilty (Denmark, thriller, Jakob Credergren. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 83.)
No Date, No Signature (Iran, drama, Amir Aghaee. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Bright Leaf (1950, drama, Gary Cooper)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

Crimewave (1986, comedy, Bruce Campbell)

New TV

American Vandal: Season 1 (comedy/true-crime satire, Tyler Alvarez. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 75.)

New Documentaries

Itzhak (biography, music, Itzhak Perlman. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 69.)
After Auschwitz (Holocaust, post-trauma, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 74.)

New releases 2/5/19

Top Hits

Widows (thriller, Viola Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 84. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Widows’ is a heist movie in a somber mood, a thriller not entirely comfortable with thrills. Though it has plenty of mayhem and a plot that twists, buckles and swerves, this movie, directed by Steve McQueen [‘Hunger,’ ‘Shame,’ ’12 Years a Slave’] from a script he wrote with Gillian Flynn [‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Sharp Objects’], moves at a slow, contemplative pace, driven by grief, dread and desperation rather than the more familiar motives of greed, ambition and rebellion.” Read more…)

Lu Over the Wall (animated feature, Shota Shimoda [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 62. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The film’s director, Masaaki Yuasa, uses Lu’s powers to manipulate the narrative at will. Unfortunately, as a result, Lu sometimes feels more like a cynical plot device than a character. The problem is only amplified by the animation itself. The character renderings feel more rushed than the rich, warm backgrounds.” Read more…)

The Girl In the Spider’s Web (thriller, Claire Foy. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 43. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In the latest and emptiest [Lisbeth] Salander screen vehicle, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web,’ the dragon [tattoo] perches on Salander’s back, its wings fanned and mouth open, like a hungry baby bird. The dragon looks as if it paused in midflight to catch a worm or pose for a coat of arms. It’s as blankly ornamental as the rest of the movie, which stars Claire Foy as a preposterously jacked-up version of the renegade hacker. Salander is still typing furiously and retains a taste for black clothes and vengeance, but her running and gunning now suggest a Goth cosplaying James Bond.” Read more…)

My Dinner With Hervé (bio-pic/drama, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 68. From Troy Patterson’s The New Yorker review: “[Actor Peter] Dinklage catches the character’s anger, self-pity, and, most importantly, his exuberant recklessness, as when vaingloriously yapping at Montalbán [Andy Garcia], pulling a knife to seek the representation of an agent [David Strathairn], and indulging in a red-carpet wrestling match with Billy Barty, who had scolded the upstart to show some class. ‘My Dinner with Hervé’ cannot make a straight-faced claim that Villechaize was an important actor or significant cultural figure, so its own significance depends on the star’s charisma, which lends the proceedings a simple poignance.” Read more…)

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (CGI animated feature, Benedict Cumberbatch [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Grousing about pointless remakes is a critical activity so frequently practiced that it’s become a form of conventional wisdom. As such, I try to resist the reflex. However, I am flummoxed by ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,”’a computer-animated iteration of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ The book was an instant classic in 1957 and still sells oodles today.” Read more…)

A Private War (war/drama, Rosamund Pike. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic:76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “In the press notes for his first narrative feature, ‘A Private War,’ the nonfiction filmmaker Matthew Heineman states that he didn’t want to make this gently fictionalized portrait of the war correspondent Marie Colvin into a biopic. And he hasn’t: what he has made is a deeply distressing, authentically moving psychological study of unswerving obsession.” Read more…)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (adventure/family, Keira Knightley. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 39. From Aisha Harris’ New Yortk Times review: ” As with ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the Grinch, every generation gets its own version of ‘The Nutcracker,’ it seems. The latest incarnation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story is Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,’ a hokey oddity that glissades along with a few charms and a pleasant score by James Newton Howard heavily incorporating themes from Tchaikovsky’s ballet [though there’s little dancing].” Read more…)

The Delinquent Season (Ireland, drama, Cillian Murphy. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Although ‘The Delinquent Season’ is the kind of provocative marital drama that’s been in shorter supply in recent years, it maintains a vitality and timelessness that should appeal to anyone who’s ever found themselves at an unexpected crossroads in a long-term romantic relationship. Mark O’Rowe, making an auspicious feature directing debut [he also wrote], has crafted a highly intelligent, even-handed look at two suburban Dublin married couples — Jim [Cillian Murphy] and Danielle [Eva Birthistle], Yvonne [Catherine Walker] and Chris [Andrew Scott] — who are initially united by the wives’ friendship. But one night, when a shocking outburst by Chris reveals a potential fissure between him and Yvonne, it sets off a series of life-changing events.” Read more…)

A Boy Called Sailboat (comedy/drama, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%.)

New Blu-Ray
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
The Girl In the Spider’s Web
Widows
Blade Runner: The Final Cut

New Foreign DVDs
La Vérité (France, 1960. Drama, Brigitte Bardot. From  Bosley Crowther’s 1961 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “The truth about a so-called ‘crime of passion’ is what French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is supposedly trying to fathom in his new film. ‘The Truth’ [‘La Verité’]. But a viewer might easily get the notion that what he is really out to do is crowd the screen with the scorching sensuality of his star performer, Brigitte Bardot. For never has this famous Gallic siren been so frankly and ferociously employed as a symbol of sexual intemperance and rebellion as she is in this film” Read more…)

El Angel (Argentina, crime drama, Lorenzo Ferro. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 61. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’ always wanted to be a gangster. In ‘El Angel,’ wanting is beside the point. Introducing himself, Carlitos [Lorenzo Ferro] explains that it was his destiny to be a thief. Luis Ortega’s 1970s-set crime feature is inspired by the real-life killer Carlos Robledo Puch, who has served more than 45 years in prison in Argentina.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
She-Devil (1989, comedy, Meryl Streep. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. From Vincent Canby’s 1989 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Watching Meryl Streep at work in Susan Seidelman’s ‘She-Devil’ is to behold a magnificent illusionist at work. Miss Streep dives into this thimble-sized comedy and makes one believe – at least, while she is on the screen – that it is an Olympic-sized swimming pool of wit.” Read more…)

Cult of Chucky (1994, horror, Fiona Dourif. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69.)

New British DVDs
Happy Valley: Season 2 (police procedural Sarah Lancashire. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)
Diamonds for Breakfast (1968, heist, Marcello Mastroianni)

New Documentary DVDs
Letters from Baghdad (bio, Mideast history, British history, Tilda Swinton [narrator]. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Letters from Baghdada: The True Story of Gertrude Bell and Iraq,’ directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, is an experiment in documentary form — an unfortunate choice that perhaps looked good on paper. Bell was born into a wealthy British family in 1868, and was an avid traveler from an early age. This movie focuses on her time in the Middle East during the early 20th century and her role in drawing the modern borders of Iraq, which the United States and other countries have expended a good deal of blood and treasure to maintain and defend.” Read more…)

New releases 1/29/19

Top Hits
The Wife (drama, Glenn Close. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Wife’ pulls off the not inconsiderable feat of spinning a fundamentally literary premise into an intelligent screen drama that unfolds with real juice and suspense. Adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel, the film pivots on the marriage between a celebrated author, Joe Castleman [Jonathan Pryce], and his wife, Joan [Glenn Close], whose symbiotic relationship has had profound implications for his success.” Read more…)

Madeline’s Madeline (drama, Helen Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “One of the assumptions of this seductive, disturbing, exasperating movie — the third feature written and directed by Josephine Decker [after ‘Butter on the Latch’ and ‘Thou Wast Mild and Lovely’] — is that conventional distinctions don’t necessarily apply. Between fantasy and reality, certainly, but also between authenticity and artifice, theater and therapy, art and life. Madeline herself, a New York teenager played with bracing conviction by Helena Howard, is not much interested in separating those things. This is partly a sign of adolescent confusion, possibly a symptom of mental instability and very much a matter of creative principle, for both Madeline and Ms. Decker.” Read more…)

Boy Erased (drama, Lucas Hedges. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Boy Erased,” adapted by Joel Edgerton from Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same title, is the second film this year to tackle the subject of conversion therapy, a technique that is a mix of religious dogma and dubious science whose cruelty and ineffectiveness have been amply documented. Like ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post,’ directed by Desiree Akhavan and based on a young-adult novel by Emily Danforth, Edgerton’s film is set in the recent past, but its eye is very much on the present.” Read more…)

The Better Angels (historical drama, Jason Clarke. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 53. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Terrence] Malick didn’t make this movie, although it was a project that he was once interested in directing; rather, he has helped shepherd it into existence, giving his blessing by serving as a producer. ‘The Better Angels’ was written and directed by A. J. Edwards, who has worked on several of Mr. Malick’s recent titles, including ‘The New World,’ and has now for reasons that are at once understandable and baffling made his own Malickian movie.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Old Man & the Gun

New Foreign DVDs
Araby (Brazil, drama, Murilo Caliari. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Araby’ is set in southeast Brazil, and its dialogue is in Portuguese. But the first words heard in it are in English. As a handsome teen, the movie’s presumed protagonist, bicycles down a stretch of thruway untroubled by auto traffic, the beautiful, moving 1965 folk ballad ‘Blues Run the Game,’ by Jackson C. Frank, plays on the soundtrack. ‘Wherever I have gone,’ Frank sings, ‘the blues are all the same.’ And this movie, written and directed by João Dumans and Affonso Uchôa, sees ‘the blues’ as a universal language and condition.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Jamestown: Seasons 1 & 2 (colonial period drama, Sophie Rundle)

New TV
Kidding: Season 1 (comedy/drama, Jim Carrey. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 68.)

New Documentary DVDs
Studio 54: The Documentary (cultural history, disco, decadence, Ian Schrager. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Does the world really need another cinematic retrospective on New York night life in the late 1970s? Depends on whom you ask. I went in to ‘Studio 54,’ a new documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer, thinking definitely not. But the movie won me over. In part because Ian Schrager, who partnered with Steve Rubell to open the legendary and notorious nightclub in 1977 — and who with Rubell was sentenced to prison for tax evasion in 1980 — appears as the film’s primary interviewee.” Read more…)

The Workers Cup (sports, global economy, exploitation. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 67. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “A sports documentary with a minor in economics, ‘The Workers Cup’ also adds a pinch of philosophy into its bittersweet story of migrant laborers who form a team to play soccer in and around the same stadiums they are building. Those laborers hail from among the world’s poorest areas — Africa, Bangladesh, India — and they have come to Qatar as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup. Foreign workers make up a large majority of the population yet, by law, many are confined to isolated camps.” Read more…)

New releases 1/22/19

Top Hits
The Hate U Give (drama, Amandla Stanberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 81. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “The messy thing about relevancy is that sometimes it means not enough has changed for the better. One way to reckon with this fact is through art — which is why, as more black artists have gotten behind the camera and entered the writers’ room, the police brutality narrative has almost become a genre unto itself. Some recent works, like ‘Queen Sugar,’ the TV series created by Ava DuVernay, and Solange Knowles’s 2016 album, ‘A Seat at the Table,’ have been better than others at exploring the psychological toll of that brutality with care and nuance. Mr. Tillman’s ‘The Hate U Give’ [with a screenplay by Audrey Wells] lies somewhere in the middle.” Read more…)

First Man (true life space drama, Ryan Gosling. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 84. From A.O. Scott’s New York Timers review: “A clip of [a pivotal John F. Kennedy] speech appears near the end of ‘First Man,’ Damien Chazelle’s sweeping and intimate new film, which takes the conquest of difficulty as both theme and inspiration. Retelling the story of the American space program from the early ’60s to the Apollo 11 mission through the lens of Armstrong’s professional and personal life, Chazelle [drawing on James R. Hansen’s biography] unfurls a chronicle of setbacks, obstacles and tragedies on the way to eventual triumph.” Read more…)

Johnny English Strikes Again (comedy, Rowan Atkinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 39. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “On the evidence, Rowan Atkinson’s secret agent character, Johnny English, has grown slightly less bumbling over the years, and so has the series. ‘Johnny English Strikes Again’ has a few more laughs and far fewer cringes [and stereotypes] than the two films that preceded it.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Hate U Give
First Man
The Road Warrior
Best F(r)iends 1 & 2 (comedy/drama, Tommy Wiseau)

New Foreign DVDs
I Am Not A Witch (UK/Zambia, feminist satire, Maggie Mulubwa. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 80. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘I Am Not a Witch’ a grimly absurdist debut feature from the Zambian-born, Welsh-raised director Rungano Nyoni, opens with a scene that uncomfortably implicates its own gawking audience. Tourists disembark from a vehicle. In a fixed shot, the camera pivots to show us what they’re there to see: a ‘witch camp’ in modern Zambia. The ‘witches,’ to all appearances, are merely women living in what looks like an outdoor farm prison, attached to ribbons that restrict them to a certain radius. The movie tells the story of an orphan, Shula [Maggie Mulubwa], who will soon share their fate after she’s accused of witchcraft, as a scapegoat for not very much.” Read more…)

The Apparition (France, drama, Vincent Lindon. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The Apparition’ sounds like the title of a horror movie, and this is not a case where the United States distributors of this French film have goosed up the original language title, which was, yes, ‘L’apparition.’ There are several points in the movie during which the viewer can see the story line veer into genre territory, as when some of the characters, a disparate group convened for an investigation, discuss the possibility of working with an exorcist. But the movie, directed by Xavier Giannoli, in fact aims for tragedy (which it nearly achieves) and enigmatic spirituality [and here’s where there’s a problem].” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Unashamed (1932, pre-Code courtroom drama, Robert Young)

New TV
Girls: Season 5 (HBO comedy, Lena Dunham. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 73.)

New Documentary DVDs
Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (bio, comedy, Robin Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 78. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “Despite its title, ‘Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind’ is a straightforward, conventionally assembled documentary biography of an eccentric, decidedly idiosyncratic comedian and actor. At times that’s a limitation, but overall it’s a good thing. Simply watching Williams in action is probably more interesting than any concerted effort to get inside his head or dissect or approximate his method.” Read more…)

Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable (bio, art, photography, Garry Winogrand. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable’ gives the prolific street photographer — a label he disdained but could never shake — the ‘American Masters’ treatment. Informative but not overwhelming, it blends biography and appreciative analysis in 90 brisk, packed minutes. Visual artists are especially good subjects for this kind of documentary, and still images like Winogrand’s — mostly black-and-white, full of latent drama and arrested kineticism — lend themselves to cinematic contemplation.” Read more…)

New releases 1/15/19

Top Hits
The Old Man & The Gun (comedy/drama, Robert Redford. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 80. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The proper compliment to give ‘The Old Man & The Gun’ is that it treats Mr. Redford with the respect he deserves. A charismatic minimalist from the start, he has lately — in the haunting ‘All is Lost’ and the mild-mannered ‘Our Souls at Night’ — offered a series of master classes in understatement. At a time when bluster, bragging and histrionic displays of self-pity are apparently the defining characteristics of American manhood, it’s nice to be reminded of the virtues of discretion and quiet.” Read more…)

Goosebumps 2 (fantasy/horror/comedy, Wendi McLendon-Covey. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 53. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “In spite of its spooky source material, the movie is more of a family fantasy than a thriller. If children once stole the original ‘Goosebumps’ books from libraries to hide the source of their nightmares from their parents, ‘Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween’ feels slightly supervisory — a movie to leave playing in the background of a child’s birthday party. The movie is not all medicine with no sugar. Most of the set-piece sequences use extensive computer-generated imagery, but the director, Ari Sandel, also makes room for practical effects and real-life set dressing in his depiction of possessed Wardenclyffe.” Read more…)

Tea With the Dames (documentary, acting, theater, Dame Judi Dench. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The women of this film’s title are not just any dames. Friends and colleagues Eileen Atkins, Judi Dench, Joan Plowright and Maggie Smith are actors both legendary and still active [although Ms. Plowright, at 88 the eldest of the group, has been largely sidelined by blindness]. For the simple idea of sitting them all at a table and turning on a couple of movie cameras, the director Roger Michell should get a royal commendation himself.” Read more…)

The Bookshop (drama, Emily Mortimer. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 62. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The Spanish director Isabel Coixet might have been the best thing to happen to ‘The Bookshop,’ a gently disruptive adaptation of the 1978 novel by the English writer Penelope Fitzgerald. A more conventional filmmaker might have nudged this scathing attack on class entitlement in the romantic-comedy direction that early scenes seem to tease. Instead, Ms. Coixet highlights the undertow of subtle savagery in her genteel material, giving its picturesque setting — an English coastal village in 1959 — a more sinister, cynical cast.” Read more…)

Halloween (horror classic remake, Jamie Lee Curtis. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 67. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “It’s been four decades since Michael Myers and his fright mask first gave us the willies in John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween,’ which makes him 61 — and, if David Gordon Green’s same-name sequel is to be believed, still in possession of a ramrod spine, pile-driver fists and non-arthritic knees. The meals at Smith’s Grove Sanitarium, where he’s been cooling his heels all these years, must be unusually nutritious. On the other hand, Laurie Strode [Jamie Lee Curtis], the feisty Illinois babysitter who once eluded Michael’s stalk-and-slash spree, has aged more credibly than her nutjob nemesis.” Read more…)

The Party’s Just Beginning (drama, Karen Gillan. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The last time I saw Karen Gillan on a movie screen, in the blockbuster ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,’ she was playing a human incarnation of a video game character who was both bombshell and martial arts master. She also kicks up a storm in the opening minutes of ‘The Party’s Just Beginning,’ albeit in a much more glum context. Freestyle-monologuing in a pub on what seems to be karaoke night, she energetically advertises herself as a potential cult leader while fellow drinkers profanely heckle her.” Read more…)

After Everything (comedy/drama, Jeremy Allen White. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 67. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “As a cancer drama, ‘After Everything’ is refreshingly mundane, focusing less on the high stakes of illness than on how two young people talk to each other in sickness and in health. Its matter-of-fact tone is carried through to all of its lived-in performances, including welcome cameos by Marisa Tomei and Gina Gershon. But the film’s successes rest largely on its lead actors.” Read more…)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare update, Rachel Leigh Cook. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 67.)

New Blu-Ray
Halloween

New Foreign DVDs
24 Frames (Iran, Abbas Kiarostami drama/documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Images become cinema in ’24 Frames,’ the last movie from the Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami [1940-2016]. “I always wonder to what extent the artist aims to depict the reality of a scene,” he reveals in the opening text. ‘Painters capture only one frame of reality and nothing before or after it.’ This wondering led him to digitally transform 24 still images into short, visually and thematically linked sequences that make up this alternately charming and frustrating labor of love, which he worked on during the final three years of his life.” Read more…)

The Last Suit (Argentina, drama, Miguel Ángel Solá. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 63. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “An unfortunately contrived Holocaust drama that labors under the delusion that the subject matter lends itself to uplift, ‘The Last Suit’ concerns Abraham Bursztein [Miguel Ángel Solá], a Jew who was born in Poland but has lived in Argentina since the war. Instead of following through on his daughters’ plans and moving to a retirement home from his house of 50 years, he absconds on a sudden trip to Lodz, Poland, to keep a promise to a close boyhood friend.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Olancho (Honduras, music, drug violence)

New releases 1/8/19

Top Hits
Mid90s (drama, Sunny Suljic. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “No matter how old you were, where you lived or how many T-shirts and mixtapes you owned, it’s unlikely that you remember the mid-1990s as well — as obsessively, as nostalgically, as literally — as ‘Mid90s’ does. Written and directed by Jonah Hill, this film wants to be less a period piece than a time capsule, an immersion in the sights and sound of a pop-cultural moment.” Read more…)

What They Had (drama, Hilary Swank. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review, apparently dissenting from the positive critical consensus: “Programmatic and groaningly trite, “What They Had,” the debut feature from Elizabeth Chomko, would be impossible to swallow without its star-studded cast. Even so, it requires all their considerable skills to stop this soapy family drama from sliding into complete banality.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Mid90s

New Foreign DVDs
The Death of Louis XIV (France, period drama, Jean-Pierre Leaud. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Actor Jean-Pierre] Léaud, who has been a star of French cinema for most of his life [at 13, he created the character of Antoine Doinel in François Truffaut’s 1959 classic, ‘The 400 Blows’], clearly knows something about living in a kind of box, and he plays [King] Louis as a tired but majestic wreck. He’s riveting, and a little alarming.” Read more…)

Memoir of War (France, WWII drama, Melanie Thierry. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Marguerite Duras [who died in 1996 at 81 and was well known for the novel ‘The Lover’] was an unconventional writer, and by all accounts she lived life unconventionally as well. ‘Memoir of War,’ adapted from her 1985 book that was in part derived from her diaries of occupied France in World War II, depicts the writer as a young woman [Mélanie Thierry] emotionally rived by loss. But she is determined to hold on to her identity as she awaits a reunion with a husband who might not be coming home.” Read more…)

A Paris Education (France, drama, Adranic Manet. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 52. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Tines review: “In ‘A Paris Education,’ the snobs outnumber the cobblestones. One of the film’s many self-reflexive sequences sees Étienne explaining his artistic inadequacies to his roommate and conquest, Valentina [Jenna Thiam]. She smiles, and, in the film’s best shot, begins to lean into a kiss that hints at the kinetic energy that is lacking in both Étienne’s life and this movie. Desire and amusement light Valentina’s eyes before she teasingly passes her final judgment, remarking, ‘Étienne Tinan is a navel gazer.'” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Come To the Stable (1949, inspiring drama, Celeste Holm. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The gentle but dauntless persistence of two Roman Catholic nuns in procuring land and resources for a new children’s hospital is the nub of the sentiment and humor that have been rather copiously crammed by Twentieth Century-Fox into ‘Come to the Stable,’ which opened at the Rivoli last night. Likewise, the verve with which these sisters indulge in intense activities, such as driving a jeep and playing tennis, is the cause for much pointed merriment.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Sunday In New York (1963, rom-com, Jane Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review: “For an hour and a half, our virtuous heroine weighs her standards of morality against the flagrant hypocrisy of her older brother and the strong allure of an attractive young man. Down to New York to ask her brother whether she should or should not give in to the candid propositions of an Albany suitor, she finds herself not only deceived by the piety of her tomcat brother but conveniently importuned by this attractive young fellow she happens to run into—to ‘meet cute,’ as they say—on a Fifth Avenue bus.” Read more…)

Zandy’s Bride (1974, western, Gene Hackman. From Howard Thompson’s 1974 New York Times review prequires log-in]: “What promises to be an engrossing character study of a lovely, lonely mail-order wife and her adaptation to a crude, pioneer huband tapers off episodically and disappointingly in ‘Zandy’s Bride.’ It does so despite an intelligent performance by Liv Ullmann, whose luminous eyes light up the screen every minute, and the steady, watchful direction of Jan Troell, who has impressively rooted his first California film in a wild sweep of the Big Sur area. But for simple, sustained impact and depth, the new picture can’t touch Mr. Troell’s two superb pioneer dramas, ‘The Emigrants’ and ‘The New Land,’ filmed in his and Miss Ullmann’s native Scandinavia.” Read more…)

New TV
Castle Rock: Season 1 (Psychological horror-series based on Stephen King stories. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 66. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times television review: “‘Castle Rock’ is an original work [(writer Stephen) King is a producer] that borrows from [King’s] oeuvre. And while the series is ostensibly created for obsessive and newbie alike, the first episodes — heavy on atmosphere but weak on character — feel like the creators expecting affection for his past creations to do a lot of the work.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Kusama: Infinity (art, bio, Yayoi Kusama. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 71. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “It may seem strange for a movie to argue that an artist who at various times has been called the world’s most popular and has set a record for the highest amount paid for a work by a living female artist is somehow undervalued. But ‘Kusama — Infinity,’ a documentary from Heather Lenz, makes a convincing case that the art world and the general public are still catching up with the influence of Yayoi Kusama, the painter, sculptor and performance artist perhaps most widely known for her mirrored ‘Infinity’ rooms.” Read more…)

Far From the Tree (family struggles, parents and children. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New Yok Times review: “At an hour and a half, the often-inspiring documentary ‘Far From the Tree’ plays like a companion piece to or a preview for Andrew Solomon’s best-selling 2012 book, which, with notes, runs more than 1,000 pages. But its goal is similar: The director, Rachel Dretzin, and Mr. Solomon, a professor of clinical psychology who is both a producer and an on-camera presence here, set out to explore families in which parents and children differ profoundly, whether because of innate factors [Down syndrome, dwarfism] or divergences [the film introduces us to a mother and father whose son was convicted of murder].” Read more…)

The Alps (nature, adventure, mountain climbing, MacGillivray Freeman. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New releases 1/1/19

Top Hits
Bad Times at the El Royale (thriller, Jeff Bridges. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Characters enter the ominous digs in ‘Bad Times at the El Royale,’ but they don’t always exit. This is hardly news. As the title suggests, El Royale — a motor lodge with pretensions of grandeur, which seems like an apt metaphor for this movie — isn’t a place for a good night’s sleep. It’s a spot for intrigue, desperation, swinging tunes and bloodletting.” Read more…)

Night School (comedy, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 43. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In ‘Night School,’ Kevin Hart plays a student in an adult education class, and Tiffany Haddish plays his teacher. Just by writing that sentence, I’m afraid I may have raised expectations too high. But now maybe I’ve lowered them too far. Not that this ragged comedy, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, is bad, exactly. It proposes a concept — summed up in the title — and follows it to a logical conclusion.” Read more…)

Trouble (comedy/drama, Angelica Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A great many indignities are heaped on Bill Pullman’s character, Ben, in ‘Trouble,’ including pneumonia, a collapsed lung and a bullet to the chest. This last is delivered by his sister, Maggie [Anjelica Huston], though she’s not the only relative who wishes him ill: another tries to smother him with a pillow. Family, it seems, is not Ben’s forte.” Read more…)

1985 (drama, Cory Michael Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The AIDS crisis, which will remain a global crisis until a definitive cure for the disease is found, is no longer at the foreground of our culture. The film ‘1985’ is a moving cinematic sketch of a HIV-infected man living through the height of the plague.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Bad Times at the El Royale
Night School

New Foreign DVDs
The Captain (Germany, WWII drama/fascism, Max Hubacher. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘The Captain,’ Robert Schwentke’s harrowing World War II psychodrama, isn’t what you would call enjoyable, exactly. More accurately, it compels our attention with a remorseless, gripping single-mindedness, presenting Nazism as a communicable disease that smothers conscience, paralyzes resistance and extinguishes all shreds of humanity.” Read more…)

Scaffolding (Israel, drama, Asher Lax. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The protagonist of ‘Scaffolding,’ an Israeli coming-of-age film, isn’t really ready to come of age — not that he seems to know it. At school, the bullheaded 17-year-old Asher Lax [played by an actor named Asher Lax] challenges authority, disobeys instructions and shows not even the slightest semblance of politesse to his classmates.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969, western, Robert Redford. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)

New Documentary DVDs
Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (music, bio, Joan Jett. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Too many people do not think of the rocker Joan Jett as an important artist, and I doubt Ms. Jett thinks of herself quite that way either. ‘Bad Reputation,’ a documentary on her life and work directed by Kevin Kerslake [the title comes from one of Ms. Jett’s hits], convincingly makes the case that she is very much that. And that she is a feminist heroine as well.” Read more…)

Love, Gilda (bio, comedy, Gilda Radner. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 74. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “In the late 1970s, hardly anyone was as funny as Gilda Radner. As one of the first and brightest stars of “Saturday Night Live,” she played a critical role in establishing the foundation of the most important comedy showcase on television. By the 1980s, she faded from public view and at the age of 42, died from cancer. ‘Love, Gilda’ is a very affectionate reminder of her brief and brilliant career, a heartfelt love letter whose title might be more accurate without the comma.” Read more…)

The Pension Gamble (economics, politics, Wall Street)
Matanga Maya M.I.A. (bio, music, world music M.I.A.)

New Children’s DVDs
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood