New releases 8/4/20

Top Hits
Working Man (drama, Peter Gerety. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 72. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “An unconventional labor story, the movie doesn’t bask in the triumph of rebellion; instead, it’s an introspective portrait of men for whom working is a replacement for living. It’s also a coming-of-age film about the second adolescence of men at retirement age who must find a way to define themselves when the structure of work has been stripped away. The writer-director, Robert Jury, pairs Allery’s crumbling sense of self with images from the town’s decaying infrastructure, lingering on rusted fences and the boxy utilitarian homes of laborers without work.” Read more…)

Four Kids and It (family feature, Matthew Goode. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 42. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “If a raggedy sand troll that grants children wishes feels like something out of a classic bedtime story, well, it is. The original conceit, by E. Nesbit, was published in 1902 as “Five Children and It,” and the children’s author Jacqueline Wilson updated the story in 2012 with “Four Children and It” to be about a blended family. Andy de Emmony’s film adapts the latter but has made the household mixed race, added teen angst and wrapped it all into a dull, family-friendly package.” Read more…)

Dolittle (family CGI feature, Robert Downey Jr.. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 26. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “At some point during its troubled gestation, the movie once known as ‘The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle’ was renamed ‘Dolittle.’ Was ‘voyage’ too fusty, ‘doctor’ too fancy? Whatever the case, it’s too bad that the rest of this movie couldn’t have been ditched as well, or at least dramatically shortened. A dreary, overextended yawn, this is the latest movie to feature John Dolittle, the doctor turned horse whisperer that Hugh Lofting, a British-born civil engineer, invented during World War I in letters to his children from the front.” Read more…)

Blu-Ray
Dolittle

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics III:
My Name Is Julia Ross (1945, film noir, Nina Foch. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1945 New York Times [requires log-in]: “The director and scenarist of the Ambassador’s new mystery, ‘My Name Is Julia Ross,’ deserve a B-plus for effort at least. It is quite evident that they strived earnestly to whip up excitement and suspense, but somehow that electrifying quality which distinguishes good melodrama is lacking in this transcription of the Anthony Gilbert novel, ‘The Woman in Red.’” Read more…)

The Burglar (1957, film noir, Dan Duryea. From Dave Kehr’s 2006 New York Times review of a Jayne Mansfield DVD collection: “Although Mansfield turned in a credible, naturalistic performance in Paul Wendkos’s late film noir ‘The Burglar’ [an independent production filmed before ‘The Girl Can’t Help It,’ but not released until after the latter film had become a hit], audiences were unable to see beyond her burlesque persona.” Read more…)

Drive A Crooked Road (1954, film noir, Mickey Rooney. From Scott Foundas’ 2014 Chicago Tribune appreciation of Mickey Rooney’s film noir performances in the wake of Rooney’s passing: “The movie’s ad copy — ‘Why Would a Dame Like Her Go for a Guy Like Me?’— effectively summed it up. Expertly directed by Richard Quine [a frequent Rooney collaborator] from a crackling script by the young Blake Edwards, ‘Drive A Crooked Road’ turns on Rooney’s diminutive stature and equally deflated sense of self, casting him as a decent but self-loathing loner who allows himself to be duped by Foster’s transparent charms—and it reveals a darkness in the actor that no movie quite had before.” Read more…)

Tight Spot (1955, film noir, Ginger Rogers. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From H.H.T.’s 1955 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Tight Spot’ is a pretty good little melodrama, the kind you keep rooting for, as generally happened when Lenard Kantor’s ‘Dead Pigeon’ appeared on Broadway a while back. Like its source, this Columbia version, co-starring Ginger Rogers, Brian Keith and Edward G. Robinson and produced by Lewis J. Rachmil, depicts the menaced protection of a woman material witness. Primarily confined to a hotel suite, like the play, and almost as verbose, the new arrival with the Palace’s stage bill still shapes up as a respectable, if unstriking, entry.” Read more…)

The Mob (1951, film noir, Broderick Crawford. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Queen of Blood (1966, sci-fi, John Saxon. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. From Renata Adler’s 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Queen of Blood,’ which also opened at the Lyric, has a much more lively plot. A sickly greenish Martian woman [Florence Marly], who is rescued from a space crash by earth astronauts [John Saxon, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper], turns out to thrive on blood, lay eggs in aspic and be a hemophiliac in chlorophyll. ‘Perhaps she was a sort of royalty where she came from,’ one of the earthmen says pensively after the lady has just consumed her first member of the crew. ‘Besides, how can we expect her to conform to our standards of behavior?’” Read more…)

Agnes Varda in California:
Uncle Yanco/Black Panthers (1967/1968, documentaries. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “Conceived and filmed over a long weekend, ‘Uncle Yanco’ was something of a lark; Ms. Varda’s second documentary, the 28-minute ‘Black Panthers’ [1968], was a scoop. Shot mainly in Oakland during the summer of 1968, it is a casually electrifying account of Black Panther Party rallies and demonstrations. The Panthers’ physical bearing and political analysis made them the big story that season on the Bay Area left.” Read more…)

Lions Love (… And Lies) (1969, comedy/drama, Viva. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “Ostensibly a meditation on Hollywood stardom, ‘Lions Love’ is bracketed by performances of “The Beard,” Michael McClure’s scandalous dialogue between Jean Harlow and Billy the Kid, and features a number of transplanted New Yorkers as movie-land hopefuls. These include the Warhol Factory’s reigning chatterbox Viva and the two creators of ‘Hair,’ James Rado and Gerome Ragni, a show that had just made the leap from downtown to Broadway.” Read more…)

Mur Murs/Documenteur (1980/1981, documentary on public art/drama. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “‘Documenteur,’ described in its titles as “an emotion picture,” cast Sabine Mamou, the editor of ‘Mur Murs,’ and 7-year-old Mathieu Demy, Ms. Varda’s son, as a marginally employed mother and her child. A minimally plotted mood piece, it evokes Ms. Varda’s frustration at being unable to work on the movie she came to make… ‘Mur Murs’ ranks with Thom Andersen’s compilation film ‘Los Angeles Plays Itself’ as a photographic monument of what, thanks to the movies, may be the world’s most photographed city.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Annie: A Royal Adventure (1995, family adventure, Ashley Johnson. From John J. O’Connor’s 1995 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “In a weekend cluttered with television movies, the best turns out to be a silly lark about an ageless 12-year-old in her trademark red dress. Little Orphan Annie is back, this time in ‘Annie: A Royal Adventure,’ a non-musical tonight at 8 on ABC. It will delight youngsters and even amuse adults who haven’t gone completely sour.” Read more…)

New releases 7/28/20

Top Hits
Light from Light (drama, Marin Ireland. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “A movie about the supernatural with Jim Gaffigan in a starring role could go either way — horror or comedy — but ‘Light From Light’ refuses to be either. Even the setting, with spooky fog over the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, is offset by a gentle, plucky score. In the film, Richard [Gaffigan], a recent widower who thinks his wife is trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave, calls on a paranormal investigator, Shelia [Marin Ireland], to help.” Read more…)

Resistance (World War II drama, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Dousing us alternately in treacle and ice water, Jonathan Jakubowicz’s World War II drama, ‘Resistance,’ strains to find a cohesive tone. Outlining the true story of how the young Marcel Marceau, the renowned French actor and mime, helped Jewish orphans survive Nazi-occupied France, the movie aims to wrestle uplift from tragedy.” Read more…)

Capone (gangster bio-pic, Tom Hardy. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 46. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Buying into ‘Capone,’ a freehanded take on the final year of Al Capone’s life, requires accepting Tom Hardy’s grotesque performance as the notorious Chicago gangster. Hardy embodies Capone during the post-prison period when he deteriorated in Miami Beach, demented from neurosyphilis.” Read more…)

The Other Lamb (drama/horror, Raffey Cassidy. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Photographed like a dream and experienced like a nightmare, the religious cult at the center of ‘The Other Lamb’ looks idyllic on the outside, but, like the bird’s carcass stumbled upon by the film’s heroine, is teeming with maggots inside. Most of this rot emanates from the leader, a Messiah-like figure known as the Shepherd and played by Michiel Huisman with arrogant stillness and burning glances. The recipient of these is usually Selah [Raffey Cassidy], an auburn-haired beauty and his favorite daughter.” Read more…)

Scoob! (animated Scooby-Doo feature, Will Forte [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 43. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “At the beginning of ‘Scoob!,’ the latest Scooby-Doo reboot, directed by Tony Cervone, Velma [voiced by Gina Rodriguez] announces that it’s time for the gang ‘to take on bigger cases, scarier villains and creepier mysteries.’ It sounds less like an opportunity than a threat.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Whistlers (Romania, comedy/crime, Catrinel Marlon. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Until now, the films of Corneliu Porumboiu have been austere, rigorously linear and leavened with understated, fatalistic humor. Set in the everyday drabness of Bucharest or other, even less glamorous Romanian cities, they turn the grievances, frustrations and hopes of ordinary people into deadpan philosophical case studies… Except that ‘The Whistlers,’ Porumboiu’s newest film, is nothing like what I’ve just described. The chronology is splintered, the colors are bright, the plot intricate. There are picturesque non-Romanian settings and music on the soundtrack, starting with Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger.’ All of it in the service of a thriller involving a hard-boiled cop, a femme fatale and an international crew of gangsters.” Read more…)

Balloon (Germany, Cold War-era drama, Friedrich Mücke. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “There is nothing objectionable about Michael Bully Herbig’s glossy political thriller, ‘Balloon,’ but there’s nothing particularly exciting about it, either. A true-life tale of how two families narrowly escaped from communist East Germany in 1979 in a homemade hot-air balloon, the movie adopts a path so dramatically familiar we can almost predict each twist and fake-out.” Read more…)

Confidence (Hungary, 1980, post-World War II drama, Ildikó Bánsági. From Janet Maslin’s 1980 New York Times review [Requires log-in]: “At the start of ‘Confidence,’ a terse, forceful Hungarian film with a World War II setting, a woman, Kata [Ildiko Bansagi] is told that her husband has gone into hiding, and that she must assume a new identity. She is given the name of a new man, Janos Biro [Peter Andorai], with whom she must live. They will pretend to be husband and wife, and rent a room from a family whose son is off at war.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The System aka The Girl-Getters (1964, drama, Oliver Reed. From Howard Thompson’s 1966 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Girl-Getters,’ a new British drama, graphically examines—up to a point—the clusters of youngsters who each summer throng the English seaside resorts, thirsting for sex, thrills and fun. As a study of contemporary youth at bay, this American International presentation certainly has its moments, amusing to poignant. But it can’t hold a candle to ‘The Leather Jacket Boys,’ the Rita Tushingham vehicle, to cite what remains probably the best British drama of restless youth in several seasons.” Read more…)

Deadwater Fell (noir crime drama/mystery, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 73. From The Guardian’s TV review: “‘Deadwater Fell’ is basically ‘Broadchurch’ in Scotland. David Tennant is a doctor rather than a policeman, and at the centre of a crime rather than investigating it, and he’s letting his freckles show, but switch your mind to its Broadchurch setting and you will not be disappointed. You may even rejoice that, possibly alone among all things in this bleak and benighted year of no apparent Lord at all 2020, the Tennant TV imprimatur continues to deliver what we need.” Read more…)

New TV
The Outsider (HBO mini-series based on Stephen King book, Jason Bateman. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 69. From Mike Hale’s New York Times TV review: “Presumably the writer Richard Price and the actor and producer Jason Bateman, two of the main forces behind the 10-episode adaptation of ‘The Outsider’ that begins Sunday on HBO, liked the book [by Stephen King]. You have to wonder, though. Based on the first six episodes, they’ve gloomed it up and slowed it down, keeping much of the basic story but making something radically different in tone and atmosphere. It’s ‘The Outsider’ dipped in noir sauce and coated in HBO-prestige bread crumbs.” Read more…)

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10 (comedy, Larry David, pretty pretty pretty good. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78.)

New Documentaries
You Don’t Nomi (cinema history, pop culture, Showgirls. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Is Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Showgirls’ misogynistic sleaze, a midnight-movie laughfest or a suave satire to which the world is still catching up? ‘You Don’t Nomi,’ a documentary from Jeffrey McHale, puts those perspectives into a breezy dialogue bound to irk all sides part of the time. [Somehow, a few commentators here can watch Verhoeven’s merciless sendup of power and enterprise — filled with graceful Steadicam work by Larry McConkey, of the ‘Goodfellas’ Copacabana shot — and find it wanting.] But McHale’s rundown is consistently entertaining.” Read more…)

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (cinema history, literature, storytelling, ideas. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)

Accidental Studio (cinema history, George Harrison, Monty Python. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “There’s a glow of nostalgia and sadness around this heartfelt, if patched together, documentary tribute to HandMade Films. It has new interviews with many of the surviving players, but also disconcertingly cobbles together quite a bit of old archive material. HandMade was the buccaneeringly brilliant but relatively short-lived indie Brit production company founded on an extraordinary impulse by George Harrison, in partnership with his business manager Denis O’Brien.” Read more…)

New releases 7/21/20

Top Hits
Sorry We Missed You (Ken Loach-directed social drama, Kris Hitchen. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Wesley Morris’ Times review: “I’ll never forget the pleading that goes on in ‘Sorry We Missed You.’ It’s desperate but futile. Life goes on, they say. So does the global marketplace. If you order a shower curtain or diapers or a new phone, you probably need it yesterday. Ken Loach’s brutally moving agitprop drama demands a thought be spared for the anonymous souls who drop this stuff off. That shower curtain might be the death of them.” Read more…)

Come to Daddy (comedy, horror, Elijah Wood. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64%. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “More than one set of male genitals appears to be savaged in ‘Come to Daddy’[others, happily, are displayed without penalty], but not until the midpoint of this dementedly comic thriller do we recognize the means of reproduction as its driving force. Of course, any movie that features the line ‘Semen contains more protein and nutrients than an ear,’ and opens with paired quotations from Shakespeare and Beyoncé, might not be entirely on the level.” Read more…)

Hope Gap (drama/romance, Annette Bening. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 58. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “The dramatic portrait of a crumbling marriage or relationship often lends itself to intense performance, allowing actors to spar with one another while playing out heightened, if not uncommon, circumstances. Usually this involves harsh words, yelling, crying, thrown objects. This is true of Edward [Bill Nighy] and Grace [Annette Bening], the central couple in the writer and director William Nicholson’s intimate, sometimes engaging ‘Hope Gap.’” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Wild Goose Lake (China, crime/drama, Ge Hu. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This movie doesn’t recycle film noir conventions so much as contrive — with a genuine sense of discovery — to locate these conventions in a realistic contemporary context. The economic impoverishment of its principals is a key motivating factor; there’s a strong implication that it steered Zhou into criminality, while Liu’s matter-of-fact approach to prostitution [revealed in a ‘love’ scene that begins with notes of tenderness and ends with blunt retching] carries a near-tragic resignation.” Read more…)

The Great Buddha+ (Taiwan, comedy/drama, Cres Chuang. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 80. From A.O. Scott’s capsule New York Times review: “Using a moody, noirish monochrome palette [punctuated with garish swatches of color video] and mordant, monotone voice-over narration [interrupted by stretches of deadpan dialogue], Huang Hsin-yao composes a dark satire of corruption and class resentment in Taiwan.” Read more…)

Corpus Christi (Poland, drama, Bartosz Bielenia. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “If the Oscar-winning “Parasite” feels like it has the potential to change the landscape for subtitled films in the United States, ‘Corpus Christi,’ which lost to ‘Parasite’ in the best international feature category, plays like more of a throwback to a time when subtitles signified stark seriousness. Shot in a grim, desaturated palette, this Polish film, directed by Jan Komasa, addresses big issues of conscience and morality. The symbolism (a simple sawmill worker becomes a carpenter-Christ figure) is blunt; the drama is straightforward.” Read more…)

Leto (Russia, music bio-pic/drama, Teo Yoo. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Drawing loosely from the lives of the Soviet rock musicians Viktor Tsoi and Mike Naumenko, ‘Leto’ plays less like a biopic than a loving compilation of fictionalized, fan-inspired notes. Set in the underground music scene of a pre-perestroika, early 1980s Leningrad, the featherlight plot [by the director, Kirill Serebrennikov, and several others] drifts hither and yon. Caught at the crossroads of rock, punk and New Wave, Mike [Roman Bilyk] and his band inhale Bowie and Iggy Pop, spitting out their own compositions in a cavernous club where lyrics must be preapproved by a Party official.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Merry Widow (1925, silent opera directed by Erich von Stroheim, John Gilbert. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1925 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This picture is one of strong passions, and it is in many respects ably directed. There are points where it would have been better for Mr. von Stroheim to have an iron hand over him. You see the arrival of Monteblanc’s royalty, and the next scene shows you a few pigs. This is a true Stroheim touch. He wishes to give you continual contrasts, and should a splendidly uniformed Prince in white, red and gold fall, it is not on a dry pavement but in some convenient pool of the blackest mire.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Only When I Laugh (1981, Neil Simon comedy, Marsha Mason. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review p[requires log-in]: “Using reportedly no more than 15 lines from ‘The Gingerbread Lady,’ his 1970 Broadway failure, Neil Simon has written what seems to be a new, upbeat, often funny and, on at least one occasion, harrowing comedy about an alcoholic, ‘Only When I Laugh.’ His troubled heroine is Georgia Hines, a Broadway actress given to bad relationships with men and a dependency on the bottle that has very nearly wrecked her career.” Read more…)

Bye Bye Birdie (1995, musical, Jason Alexander. From John J. O’Connor’s 1995 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “In fact, this is a swell production, going back to the show’s original innocence, which was lost in the film version starring a sex-kittenish Ann-Margret. This version, directed by Gene Saks, captures the sweet looniness of an era in which nymphets shrieked hysterically for their pop idols. The only threats these teen-agers face are fretting parents, one of whom indignantly wails, ‘You dare say puberty in front of your own father!’” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Shoah (Claude Lanzmann-directed Holocaust documentary, Criterion Collection. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This is the extraordinary accomplishment of ‘Shoah’ [in Hebrew, ‘Annihilation’], [director Claude] Lanzmann’s huge, almost nine-and-a-half hour oral history of the Holocaust, which is unlike any other Holocaust film ever made. This isn’t a conventional documentary composed of newsreel footage from the archives. The images of ‘Shoah’ prompt no preconditioned responses. Everything is of the present – the faces of the ‘witnesses’ as well as the tranquil, neatly tended landscapes that once were the death camps.” Read more…)

Dateline – Saigon (Vietnam War, journalism, government lies, David Halberstam. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The documentary ‘Dateline-Saigon’ reconstructs the early rumblings of the Vietnam War — mainly from 1961 through 1964 — through the eyes of five print reporters who were on assignment in Saigon. Professionally, they were rivals… But in the film’s telling, they nevertheless forged a kind of brotherhood, competing for stories as they began to question the United States government’s official narrative.” Read more…)

New releases 7/14/20

New Foreign DVDs
Bacurau (Brazil, adventure/horror, Bárbara Colen. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The town in the shocker ‘Bacurau’ is fictional, a bit magical, at once ordinary and otherworldly. It’s filled with faces that have life etched in them, which helps deepen the realism. And while the story is set in the near future, it looks like the present: the charming landscapes, laughing children, crowing roosters, the grinning balladeer with a guitar. Then, the guns come out, history rushes in and a ghost pops by. [It smiles.] In the wild world of ‘Bacurau,’ queasy humor meets razor-sharp politics and rivers of blood.” Read more…)

Beanpole (Russia, drama/war, Viktoria Miroshnichenko. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “This is only the second feature from the sensationally talented Russian director Kantemir Balagov [who was born in 1991], and it’s a gut punch. It’s also a brilliantly told, deeply moving story about love — in all its manifestations, perversity and obstinacy — one that starts to take shape when Beanpole’s friend Masha [a fantastic Vasilisa Perelygina] returns to Leningrad, medals pinned to her uniform. Inside Beanpole’s claustrophobic flat, with its peeling paint and stained wallpaper, they circle each other, trying to find equilibrium where there is none.” Read more…)

Attenberg (Greece, 2010, drama, Ariane Labed. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 73. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Movies and literature do not lack for coming-of-age stories about young women in odd circumstances, but ‘Attenberg,’ Athina Rachel Tsangari’s new film, belongs in its own category. With an eccentric, beguiling blend of detachment and empathy — the camera sometimes lurking like a spy, sometimes trailing along like a shy, devoted friend — Ms. Tsangari observes the curious activities of Marina, a 23-year-old in the midst of an identity crisis that feels both highly idiosyncratic and weirdly familiar.” Read more…)

Mädchen in Uniform (1931, Germany, romance/lesbian—banned by the Nazis, Emilia Unda. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1931 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The widely discussed German language picture, ‘Mädchen in Uniform’ [‘Girls in Uniform’], which won glowing praise and enjoyed remarkable success in Berlin, Paris and London, finally was presented, with subtitles in English, at the Criterion last night. The New York State Board of Censors at first frowned upon the suggestion in this film of the “Captive” theme, but recently they reconsidered their refusal to grant it a license. It is a beautiful, tender and really artistic cinematic work.” Read more…

In a recent appreciation upon the release of ‘Mädchen In Uniform’ in this restored Kino version, New York Times critic J. Hoberman called it “a classic account of forbidden love in a girl’s boarding school [and] both an expression of anti-fascism and a lesbian coming-out story.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Marty (1955, drama/romance, Ernest Borgnine. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1955 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “No matter what the movie people may say or think about television, they have it to thank for ‘Marty,’ which came to the Sutton yesterday. This neat little character study of a lonely fellow and a lonely girl who find each other in the prowling mob at a Bronx dance hall and get together despite their families and their friends was originally done as a TV drama, and its present transposition to the screen has been accomplished by its TV director, Delbert Mann, as his first film achievement. The transfer is well worth a tribute, for ‘Marty’ makes a warm and winning film, full of the sort of candid comment on plain, drab people that seldom reaches the screen. And Ernest Borgnine as the fellow and Betsy Blair as the girl—not to mention three or four others — give performances that burn into the mind.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Me, Natalie (1969, comedy/drama, Patty Duke. From Vincent Canby’s 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Stanley Shapiro is the writer who was in large part responsible for the films [‘Pillow Talk,’ ‘That Touch of Mink’] that turned Doris Day into one of the most profitable iron maidens in Hollywood history. In ‘Me, Natalie,’ which opened yesterday at the Fine Arts, Shapiro continues to display an almost Richardsonian [Samuel] concern for virginity. No longer, however, does he regard it as some fragile but foolproof weapon for blackmail. To Natalie [Patty Duke], a rather elderly looking Brooklyn teen-ager, it is a symbol of her physical ugliness—of upper front teeth that are slightly bucked and a nose that could delight only Cyrano de Bergerac.” Read more…)

New releases 7/7/20

Top Hits
Trolls World Tour (animated feature, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 51. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “But it is dangerous to over-read ‘Trolls World Tour,’ which celebrates musical diversity — pushing back against pop music’s appropriation of African-American artists’ innovations — and whose multiculturalism is clearly intended in a spirit of inclusiveness and good humor. While the genre-bridging premise affords the film more variety and verve than its sugary predecessor, the movie, directed by Walt Dohrn, still gives you the sensation of being barricaded in a karaoke lounge where all the attendees have snorted Sweet Tarts.” Read more…)

The Vanishing (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “As it turns out, it will be gold, not silver, that turns their heads in ‘The Vanishing,’ a middling good-guys-gone-bad thriller [and no relation to George Sluizer’s ingenious 1991 shocker]. Inspired by the Flannan Isles mystery of 1900, when three keepers disappeared without trace, Joe Bone and Celyn Jones’s script takes pains to differentiate the three leads.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
And Then We Danced (Republic of Georgia, romance, Levan Gelbakhiani. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Tbilisi, where this movie, written and directed by Levan Akin, is set and was shot, looks like a pleasant place to live, but also like a land out of time. The young members of the Georgian dance group all smoke like chimneys, and their world, and the world around them, has seriously retrograde ideas about human relations. This means trouble for Merab, who has more than a socially unacceptable new love on his plate: his family is struggling in poverty.” Read more…)

Come and See (Soviet Union, 1985, WW II drama, Aleksey Kravchenko. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. From Walter Goodman’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In episodes that shift, sometimes subtly, sometimes startlingly, from down-in-the-mud realism to a dreamlike state, a boy named Florya endures the German invasion. His family is slaughtered; a friend, a beautiful young woman who wants only love and babies, is raped; he joins the partisans, is captured and nearly killed. He is our witness to the savagery of the Nazi onslaught against the peoples of Eastern Europe.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The War of the Worlds (1953, sci-fi w/ George Pal special FX, Criterion Collection, Gene Barry. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 78. From A.W.’s 1953 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There’s no point in smugly rusticating behind the protection of the hydrogen bomb and jet planes. Those Martians, first reported in 1898 by H. G. Wells and terrifyingly revived for radio listeners by Orson Welles some forty years later, descended, with an assist from Paramount, on the Mayfair yesterday via ‘The War of the Worlds.’ Now it’s either a mad dash for the hills or to the theatre. And, after calm deliberation, it would appear that the movies is the better bet. Make no mistake about it, science-fiction, like comic books, is a part of our culture, and George Pal, who produced this latest amalgam of fact and fantasy, is no tyro in this field. Like his previous sorties into interplanetary space—‘Destination Moon’ and ‘When Worlds Collide’—‘The War of the Worlds’ is, for all of its improbabilities, an imaginatively conceived, professionally turned adventure, which makes excellent use of Technicolor, special effects by a crew of experts and impressively drawn backgrounds.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Ganja & Hess (1973, drama/horror, Duane Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From A.H. Weiler’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As a black-oriented, contemporary horror study, ‘Ganja & Hess,’ which arrived at the Playboy yesterday, is dedicated to what is obviously meant to be a serious theme. The artistry for which it strives, however, is largely vitiated by a confusingly vague mélange of symbolism, violence and sex.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Slay the Dragon (American politics, voting rights,gerrymandering. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 73. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Slay the Dragon’ begins with a subject that might seem counterintuitive for a documentary on gerrymandering: the Flint, Mich., water crisis. The movie lays out a timeline of state legislative actions that led to the decision that contaminated the city’s water supply. It persuasively argues that the crisis never would have happened without gerrymandering, which had allowed legislators to shield themselves from voters’ wrath.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Go Go Mania (1965 British music revue, The Beatles & more. From an unsigned 1965 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Go Go Mania’ starts off strong with a fast sample of The Beatles, and never quite recovers. The boys from Britain may be losing ground with the adolescent set, but they are still the class act in rock ‘n’ roll.They don’t have much chance to go go in the opening and closing snippets of yesterday’s film bill at the Palace, but they are there in color, which is something. The other acts on hand are equally hirsute, British and on the beat.” Read more…)

New releases 6/30/20

Top Hits
The Current War (drama, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 55. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “A bucket of Oscar bait that’s been sitting around for some two years, ‘The Current War’ may still find an audience. And it should: The film certainly doesn’t reek of failure. But as its energetic early scenes give way to a sluggish second half, you start to sense how much better this good-enough movie might have been.” Read more…)

The Etruscan Smile (drama, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 54. From Katie Walsh’ Los Angeles Times review: “Brian Cox brings his Scottish brogue to ‘The Etruscan Smile’ as Rory MacNeil, a role that Cox was seemingly born to play: a rough and wild man from the Hebrides off of Scotland, who gets in touch with his softer side when he’s forced to rekindle a relationship with his estranged son in San Francisco. Cox of HBO’s ‘Succession’ is the glue that holds together this maudlin picture, directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis, and written by Michael McGowan, Michal Lali Kagan and Sarah Bellwood, based on a novel by Jose Luis Sampedro.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Deerskin (France, comedy, Jean Dujardin. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A demented fetish comedy that escalates to startlingly nonchalant violence, ‘Deerskin’ [written and directed by Quentin Dupieux] flickers tantalizingly between awful and awesome. In the first category is Georges’s irrational quest to ensure that his beloved jacket be the only one left in the world; in the second is his sly dexterity in enlisting help to achieve this deranged goal.” Read more…)

Paracelsus (Germany, 1943, biography/drama dir. by G.W. Pabst, Werner Krauss. From Vincent Canby’s 1974 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[G.W. Pabst’s] best films, including the silent ‘Joyless Street’ with Greta Garbo and ‘The Threepenny Opera’ [1931], are rather uproarious amalgams of stark realism, wild melodrama and pure poetry. Lots of elements in his films look dated today but also there is usually, something that looks totally new and surprising. ‘Paracelsus,’ considering when it was made [1943] and under what conditions, is a remarkably interesting film, though full of not especially well disguised propaganda.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Beecham House (period drama series, Tom Bateman. Metacritic: 44. From Lucy Mangan’s Guardian review: “Sometimes you just want to gather actors to your breast, crush them close and whisper in their ears that all of this will be over soon. So it is with ITV’s new six-part drama ‘Beecham House’ The first two parts play over consecutive nights – the second episode is on Monday night – which is the equivalent of ripping off a plaster quickly. The remaining parts are to be shown over the following Sunday nights, to let some air get to the wound and hope it heals. Basically, it’s Downton Abbey relocated to late-18th-century Delhi, covering the adventures of John Beecham; the man, the chest, the legend.” Read more…)

Miss Fisher & The Crypt of Tears (mystery, Essie Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 65.)

New releases 6/23/20

Top Hits
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (drama, Sidney Flanigan. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A low-key knockout, ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ tells a seldom-told story about abortion. And it does so without cant, speeches, inflamed emotions and — most powerfully — without apology. At its most obvious, it follows a 17-year-old as she tries to terminate her pregnancy. It’s a seemingly simple objective that proves [no surprise given the battles over abortion] logistically difficult, forcing her to marshal her modest resources and navigate perilous twists and turns. Here, a woman’s right to self-determination has become the stuff of a new and radical heroic journey.” Read more…)

Burden (drama/race, Forest Whitaker. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Never underestimate the power of love — and the mind-blowing kindness of a by-the-book preacher — to lead a man to salvation. At least, that’s the message of ‘Burden,’ the third recent movie [after last year’s ‘Best of Enemies’ and ‘Skin’ a few months later] to feature a Klan member being coaxed into the light.” Read more…)

Extra Ordinary (comedy/fantasy, Maeve Higgins. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 72. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Nothing in ‘Extra Ordinary,’ a comedy from Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, suggests that ghosts have gravitated specifically toward Ireland. But they have a way of finding Rose [the comedian Maeve Higgins], a driving instructor who does her best to deny her knack for communicating with them. It’s complicated: Her father [Risteard Cooper] hosted a video series on supernatural occurrences, and she was his partner in all things paranormal. Then he died in a freak accident involving a dog and a haunted pothole, an incident for which Rose blames herself.” Read more…)

The Last Full Measure (drama/war, Christopher Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The movie is written and directed, with undeniable sincerity, by Todd Robinson. While its story mechanics are creaky, the valor of [Air Force medic William] Pitsenbarger is evoked cogently, in well-executed battle sequences. And not one soul in the stellar cast, which also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and, in one of his last screen roles, Peter Fonda, chooses to phone it in.” Read more…)

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find (crime/thriller, Sarah Bolger. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like the vibrator that facilitates a turning point for its owner in ‘A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,’ this remorseless revenge story is a particularly blunt implement. Yet the director, Abner Pastoll, finds a measure of delicacy and nuance in the telling: Working from a script [by Ronan Blaney] that’s a minor miracle of austerity and pacing, he layers gangland grift, domestic drama and female fury into a satisfying lasagna of mounting violence.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, drama/romance, Noémie Merlant. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 51. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times article: “What follows is a subtle and thrilling love story, at once unsentimental in its realistic assessment of women’s circumstances and almost utopian in its celebration of the freedom that is nonetheless available to them. Céline Sciamma, the writer and director — her previous features include ‘Waterlilies’ and ‘Girlhood’ — practices a feminism without dogma or illusion. She takes as given the constraints facing Héloïse and Marianne and the burdens of inequality that affect Sophie [Luana Bajrami], a young household servant, but resists the temptations of melodrama or didacticism.” Read more…)

Detective Montalbano: Ep. 35 & 36 (Italy, detective series, Luca Zingaretti)

New Documentaries
The Ghost of Peter Sellers (cinema history, biography, Peter Sellers. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 74. From Todd McCarthy’s Hollywood Reporter review: “The excruciating experience of making a film that never should have been put before the cameras is revisited in ghastly, jaw-dropping detail in The Ghost of Peter Sellers. While viewers will inwardly gasp and cringe at the unseaworthiness of the comic pirate saga that was produced only because the then-red hot Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan were involved, for Peter Medak, the director of the unreleased 1973 farce and of this unvarnished look at its production 45 years later, this can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it documentary feels like both a mea culpa and a purge of lingering ghosts.” Read more…)

New releases 6/16/20

Top Hits
Wildlife (drama, Criterion collection, Carey Mulligan. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Wildlife’ is a domestic drama both sad and terrifying. The entire cast does exceptional work [(Ed) Oxenbould is an exciting find], but the movie is anchored by [actress Carey] Mulligan, who gives the best performance of any I’ve seen in film this year. The stiff simulation of determined cheer with which Jeanette often speaks has a vehemence to it, particularly in the sibilants she pronounces. Her physical bearing is also striking: In this role, Mulligan can say more by just tensing her neck than most actors can with a lengthy, impassioned soliloquy.” Read more…)

Bad Boys for Life (Action comedy, Will Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The comedic chemistry of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith has to do a lot of heavy lifting in ‘Bad Boys for Life,’ the third buddy-cop action movie to feature the pair as maverick Miami detectives. They get the job done — delivering a mildly enjoyable movie that committed fans of the franchise will rate a lot higher — but they have to hack through a lot of by-the-numbers plotting and indolent characterizations to get there.” Read more…)

South Mountain (drama, Talia Balsam. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Talia Balsam is a paragon of acting talent who doesn’t get nearly as many opportunities to fully stand out as she ought. So it’s probable that ‘South Mountain,’ a relatively rare starring vehicle for Balsam, would be worth seeing even if it were not so sharply observed and well-constructed. Fortunately, we are not obliged to split any differences here.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Bad Boys for Life

New Foreign DVDs
One Cut of the Dead (Japan, horror, Takayuki Hamatsu. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Elisabeth Vincentelli’s Times review: “The mood is oddly goofy, though, and the cut-free gambit is a lot less grim than in Sam Mendes’s ‘1917,’ which aims for the same breathless effect on a much larger scale and in a much somber way. But the trick is actually more narratively justified in this inventive low-budget Japanese comedy, which quickly turns out to be an uproarious backstage farce about the perils of live television rather than a mere zombie spoof.” Read more…)

Young Ahmed (Belgium, Dardennes Brothers-directed drama, Idir Ben Atti. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 65. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Young Ahmed’ is suspenseful and economical, with a clear sense of what’s at stake, but something crucial — perhaps a deeper insight into the character or the contradictions that ensnare him — is missing. This film feels thinner and more schematic than Dardenne masterpieces like ‘Rosetta,’ ‘L’Enfant’ or ‘Two Days, One Night,’ as if the story had been molded from a set of arguments and assumptions rather than chiseled from the hard stone of reality.” Read more…)

15 Years (Israel, gay & lesbian drama, Oded Leopold. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “Yoav becomes such an oppressive presence that it is difficult to empathize with him. ’15 Years’ is overstuffed with symbolism about his existential woes, but the narrative would have been better served by mirroring the film’s sleek, minimalistic shots, with more understated depictions of anxiety.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Show Boat (1936, musical, Criterion Collection, Paul Robeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1936 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It is, of course, the music that makes ‘Show Boat,’ but James Whale, who directed the picture, has had the perception to hold to its melodic qualities without losing sight of the cinema’s insistent need for action. Here is one of the few musical shows which is not merely a screened concert. The picture has a rhythmic pace and a balanced continuity of movement which is as exceptional as it is welcome.” Read more…)

The Cameraman (1928, Buster Keaton silent comedy, Criterion Collection, Buster Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Secret Ceremony (1968, Joseph Losey-directed drama/thriller, Elizabeth Taylor. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. From Renata Adler’s 1968 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Secret Ceremony,’ which opened yesterday at the Sutton and New Embassy Theaters, is Joseph Losey’s best film in years—incomparably better than ‘Accident.’ The opulent, lacquered decadence works well this time, with Mia Farrow as a rich, mad orphan, whose mother Elizabeth Taylor pretends to be and, in effect, becomes. Robert Mitchum is good as Miss Farrow’s stepfather, in a relationship as violent and complicated as relationships in movies like ‘Accident’ and ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’ tend to be.” Read more…)

An Unmarried Woman (1978, drama, Criterion Collection, Jill Clayburgh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. From Vincent Canby’s 1978 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As [actress Jill] Clayburgh plays this scene [wherein her husband tells her that he is leaving her], one has a vision of all the immutable things that can be destroyed in less than a minute, from landscapes and ships and reputations to perfect marriages. The scene is beautifully written by Mr. Mazursky. It is high comedy of a sharp, bitter kind, and Michael Murphy is fine as the weasel husband named Martin, but Miss Clayburgh is nothing less than extraordinary in what is the performance of the year to date.” Read more…)

Connecting Rooms (1970, drama, Bette Davis)

New Documentaries
Rewind (autobiography, child abuse. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Early in ‘Rewind,’ a documentary directed by Sasha Joseph Neulinger, the filmmaker’s father, Henry, says that people historically shot home movies to remember happy occasions, not to capture bad ones. That appears to have been the case in the Neulinger clan. But in ‘Rewind,’ the filmmaker draws on an impressive cache of home videotapes to call attention to what lay beyond the frame: a pattern of sexual abuse by multiple members of his extended family.” Read more…)

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (biography, movie criticism, culture, Pauline Kael. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 68. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unlike its subject, the documentary ‘What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael’ merely feints toward criticism. A numbing torrent of largely unidentified film clips and poorly labeled commentary, Rob Garver’s overstuffed tribute to the life and work of America’s best-known — and most written about — film critic is at times barely coherent.” Read more…)

When Lambs Become Lions (wildlife conservation, poaching, ivory trade. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Ivory poaching is a practice no one could possibly approve of: To further endanger the elephant species by killing individual animals is immoral. Some will tell you this isn’t just conventional wisdom; it’s a bedrock truth. Maddeningly, the ivory trade exists nevertheless. So the documentarian Jon Kasbe gave himself a particularly daunting challenge when he set out to make ‘When Lambs Become Lions,’ a picture about ivory poaching told largely from the perspective of those who do it.” Read more…)

Nova: Cuba’s Cancer Hope (health, politics)

New releases 6/9/20

Top Hits
Emma (Jane Austen adaptation, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Your first instinct while watching ‘Emma’ may be to lick the screen [or perhaps blanch]. This latest adaptation of Jane Austen has been candied up with the sort of palette you see in certain old-fashioned confectionaries and in fussy Georgian-era restorations. With a rosy blush in her cheeks, her satiny ribbons and bows, Emma [Anya Taylor-Joy] herself looks as lovingly adorned and tempting as a Christmas delectable, though whether she bears any relation to Austen’s Emma is another matter.” Read more…)

Call of the Wild (wilderness adventure, Harrison Ford. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 47. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “’The Call of the Wild,’ Jack London’s gripping 1903 novel, tells the story of a California house dog who discovers his inner wolf. The latest movie adaptation, directed by Chris Sanders, is, strictly speaking, the saga of a human performer who channels his inner pooch. Buck, the heroic St. Bernard-Scotch shepherd mix of the book, is now a computer-generated creation.” Read more…)

Vivarium (thriller, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, from a script by Garret Shanley, “Vivarium” depicts Gemma and Tom becoming increasingly unglued, tormented by a tidy little boy who can speak in each of their voices. He has other irritating traits, too. The movie expands upon its echoes of the classic TV series “The Prisoner” with admirable purposefulness.” Read more…)

1BR (thriller, Nicole Brydon Bloom. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Drawing on a fascination with cults and utopian communities, the director and writer, David Marmor, has created a mildly entertaining survival story whose depiction of psychological indoctrination far outstrips its generic dips into torture.” Read more…)

Premature (drama/romance, Zora Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Premature’ isn’t original, but it feels that way. A tender, naturalistic romance set in Harlem, this sophomore feature from Rashaad Ernesto Green takes a slight story and packs it with attitude and feeling. Every moment rings true, the vividly textured locations and knockabout relationships more visited than created.” Read more…)

Standing Up, Falling Down (comedy/drama, Billy Crystal. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 70. From Michael Rechstaffen’s Los Angeles Times review: “A throwback buddy movie that would have been no stranger to 1980s cinemas, Matt Ratner’s ‘Standing Up, Falling Down’ shows how a well-worn premise need not impact enjoyment when there’s a terrific cast and crisp writing at your disposal.” Read more…)

Ride Like a Girl (bio/drama/sport, Teresa Palmer. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 44. From John DeFore’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A sense of inevitability hovers over ‘Ride Like a Girl,’ despite the film hinging on an underdog theme: It’s about one of the family’s daughters, after all, and girls don’t win the Melbourne Cup. Making her debut as director with a true story from her native Australia, actor Rachel Griffiths gives the pic a workmanlike, generic feel that would play well on family-centric cable channels. Horse lovers will be the moviegoers most vulnerable to its modest charms.” Read more…)

Buffaloed (comedy, Zoe Deutsch. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 61. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Simultaneously rowdy and slick, ‘Buffaloed’ is exuberantly paced and entirely dependent on [actress Zoey] Deutch’s moxie and pell-mell performance. Brian Sacca’s script is zippily entertaining as Peg starts her own shop and hires a misfit crew of money-grabbers whose success ignites an interagency war.” Read more…)

Driveways (drama, Brian Dennehy. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Slow and sweet and unassuming, ‘Driveways,’ the second feature from the Korean-American director Andrew Ahn, tackles major themes in a minor key. And with little to mark its quiet accumulation of life-changing events, this small-town character study is perpetually in danger of drifting past without pulling you in. Which would be a shame, as its performances are among the most affecting I’ve seen in quite a while.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Lodge (horror, Richard Armitage. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “You’ll want nothing so much as a woolly sweater when you see ‘The Lodge,’ a film so wintry in tone and setting that no movie-theater thermostat will banish its chill. Even so, the directors, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala [the Austrian pair who made ‘Goodnight Mommy’ in 2015], have coaxed only a disappointingly timorous horrorscape from that marvelously glacial mood. There’s no denying their competence — they have style to burn — and their cinematographer, Thimios Bakatakis, is a wonder at painting dark and dread-filled interiors and ominously snow-blanketed surroundings.” Read more…)

Call of the Wild

New Foreign DVDs
My 20th Century (Hungary, 1989, comedy/drama, Dorota Segda. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review upon the film’s re-release last year: “‘My 20th Century’ — a first feature by Ildiko Enyedi, made in the waning days of Hungarian Communism — looked back to the last fin-de-siècle even as it heralded a new beginning. The movie, revived at the Museum of the Moving Image in a shimmering new digital restoration, was among the most acclaimed debuts of its day, winner of the Camera d’Or for best first film at the same 1989 Cannes Film Festival where another debut, Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Sex, Lies, and Videotape,’ won the Palme d’Or. Vincent Canby, who reviewed ‘My 20th Century’ in The New York Times [and later named it as one of the 10 best movies of 1990], called it ‘wondrous’ and ‘even more impressive when one realizes that it is the first feature by Miss Enyedi.’” Read more…)

The Young Karl Marx (German, bio-pic, August Diehl. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 62. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The history of the world may be the history of class struggle, but the history of class struggle — at least the decisive chapter chronicled in ‘The Young Karl Marx’ — turns out to be a buddy movie. Marx [August Diehl], a scruffy journalist, and his sidekick Friedrich Engels [Stefan Konarske], a renegade rich kid, meet in Cologne, Germany, in 1844 and overcome some initial wariness by bonding over their shared contempt for the Young Hegelians… By the time the revolutions of 1848 are ready to happen, Marx and Engels are the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the European left, rock stars for an age of revolution. Scrupulously faithful to the biographical record, ‘The Young Karl Marx,’ directed by Raoul Peck [from a script he wrote with Pascal Bonitzer], is both intellectually serious and engagingly free-spirited.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Pool of London (1951, Basil Dearden-directed British film noir, Earl Cameron. From Bosley Crowther’s 1951 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Basil Dearden with a sharpness in action and photography that suggests actuality, ‘Pool of London’ has the flavor of the dockside, or saloons and cheap music halls, and it possesses the movement and vigor of a well-constructed melodrama that thrives on ‘chase.’ As it turns, it is stronger in action, thanks to direction, to the script and to an excellent performance by Mr. Colleano, who is at his best when he is frightened and on the run.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Advocate (human rights, Israel/Palestine, Lea Tsemel. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The lawyer Lea Tsemel is a contentious figure in Israel. She is known for representing Palestinian defendants, especially in cases in which Israeli sentiment appears starkly stacked against her, such as those that involve violent attacks. Depending on your perspective, Tsemel is either a principled believer in the concept of presumed innocence or an apologist for bloodshed. To judge from ‘Advocate,’ an engrossing, largely pro-Tsemel profile from Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, the truth may be a little of each.” Read more…)

Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records (reggae, music, Jamaican & British culture. From Stephen Dalton’s Hollywood Reporter review: “Commissioned by Trojan’s current parent company BMG to commemorate the label’s 50th anniversary, ‘Rudeboy’ is a visually slick, celebratory affair directed by Nicolas Jack Davies, previously best known for making longform videos with the folk-pop band Mumford and Sons. Aimed squarely at a general audience, the film contains little that fans of the label, or reggae music in general, will not already know. All the same, this love letter to one of Britain’s first multicultural pop movements is an effortlessly enjoyable viewing experience with a rich, sunny, consistently uplifting soundtrack.” Read more…)

New releases 3/24-5/26/20

Top Hits
The Gentlemen (action comedy, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 51.)
Little Women (Louisa May Alcott adaptation, Saiorse Ronan. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 91.)
Birds of Prey (comic book action, Margot Robbie. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 60.)
The Invisible Man (psychological thriller, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 72.)
Onward (Pixar animated feature, Chris Pratt [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 61.)
Sonic the Hedgehog (family action adventure, Jim Carrey. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 47.)
Ordinary Love (drama/romance, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 73.)
Greed (comedy/drama, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 52.)
The Photograph (drama/romance, LaKeith Stansfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 62.)
Like A Boss (comedy, Tiffany Haddish. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 33.)
The Assistant (drama, Julia Garner. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 79.)

Gretel & Hansel (fantasy/horror, Sophia Lillis. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 64.)
Every Secret Thing (mystery/drama, Diane Lane. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 46.)
Underwater (sci-fi thriller, Kristen Stewart. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 48.)
Guns Akimbo (action comedy, Daniel Radcliffe. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 43.)
The Way Back (drama, Ben Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 68.)
Cats (acclaimed musical, James Corden. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 32.)
Just Mercy (true-life drama, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 68.)

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker (action/sci-fi, John Boyega. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 53.)
Sadie (drama, Sophia Mitri Schloss. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Blu-Ray
Emma (Jane Austen adaptation, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71.)
Wildlife (drama, Carey Mulligan. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80.)
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Vivarium
The Gentlemen
Birds of Prey
Onward
Sonic the Hedgehog
The Invisible Man

New Foreign DVDs
The Traitor (Italy, Mafia drama, Pierfrancesco Favino. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 64.)

End of the Century (Spain, gay romance, Juan Barberini. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 80.)
Duet for Cannibals (Sweden, directed by Susan Sontag, psychological serio-comedy, Adriana Asti. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Dance, Girl, Dance (1940, Criterion Collection, feminist backstage melodrama, Lucille Ball. Rotten Tomatoes: 80.)
The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933, horror classic, Fay Wray)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Great Escape (1963, war drama, Criterion Collection, Steve McQueen. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 86.)

Jenny (1969, drama/romance, Marlo Thomas, Alan Alda)
Scorsese Shorts (1963-74, short films by Martin Scorsese)

New Documentaries
Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson & The Band (music,bio, The Band. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 62.)
Rembrandt’s J’Accuse (dir. by Peter Greenaway, history, art history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76.)
I Wish I Knew (China, history, urbanism. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 83.)
Amazon Empire: The Rise & Reign of Jeff Bezos (commerce, bio, monoply, economics, bio)
The Venerable W (dir. by Barbet Schroder, human rights, Myanmar, genocide. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79.)

What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali (sports, bio, Muhammad Ali. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 85.)
Citizen K (Russian politics, corruption, Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 76.)