New Releases – 8/2/22

Top Hits

Let Them All Talk (Comedy, Meryl Streep, Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 72)

“Yet “Let Them All Talk” offers enough surprises of tone, pleasures of mood, and piquantly composed images to carry the film through with a sort of visual music, compensating for the dramatic thinness without overcoming it.” Read more…

No Sudden Move (Drama, Don Cheadle, Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 76)

“No Sudden Move,” from a script by Ed Solomon (who wrote all three “Bill & Ted” movies), is for the most part a tight and twisty against-the-clock crime caper with an obvious debt to Elmore Leonard (and a family resemblance to Soderbergh’s great Detroit-set thriller “Out of Sight”). It also has things to say — at times a little too speechily — about race, real estate, capitalism and power.” Read more…

New Foreign

Fire in the Mountains (India, Vinamrata Rai; Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, IMDb: 7/10, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“…Its criticisms of patriarchal authority, bureaucratic corruption and superstition in rural India are sharp and unsparing, but its political themes are embedded in a humanism that is at once expansive and specific. The characters don’t deliver a message; their lives are the message.”  Read more…

A Tale of Love and Desire (France/Tunisia, drama, Sami Outalbali; Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, IMDb: 6.8/10)

“Intellectually rich even if jumbled, “Tale” plays like a spiritual continuation of Bouzid’s 2015 debut, “As I Open My Eyes,” in the prominence of Arab music, its political undertones related to the Arab Spring, and because it also focuses on a defiant young woman named Farah with vaguely similar characteristics. Both pieces convey a yearning for an individual and collective freedom that begins with control over one’s own body as a means of expression.” Read more…

New Documentary

Fanny: The Right to Rock (documentary, feat. Bonnie Raitt; Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, IMDb: 7.6/10)

“What the movie showcases best from its subjects, then, is the humor and ease of women who have survived a lifetime of setbacks and strife. Fanny has already proven itself — what’s left is for us to enjoy its growing catalog.” Read more…

Marx Can Wait (documentary, Italy; Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, IMDb: 7.6/10, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“Sometime in the late 1960s, Camillo Bellocchio confided in his twin brother, Marco, that he was unhappy with the way his life was going. Marco, already a well-known filmmaker and a committed leftist, counseled Camillo, who was managing a gym, to throw himself into radical politics and seek solace in the “historical optimism” of the revolutionary proletariat. Camillo doubted that his anguish could be healed through political engagement. “Marx can wait,” he told his brother. Not long after, Camillo died by suicide. He was 29.” Read more…

The Torch (documentary, Buddy Guy; Rotten Tomatoes: 77%, IMDb: 6.6/10, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“Directed by Jim Farrell, “The Torch” takes an unusual tack. It’s as much about Guy’s sense of mission as it is about his stunning musicianship. It begins with Guy on acoustic guitar, singing of how his mother identified him as a blues man when he was only 2 years old. Then we’re at Guy’s Chicago nightclub, Legends, following a young man into the club. He appears to be a fan, but he’s there to play. He’s Quinn Sullivan, a youthful protégé of Guy’s. He’s one of several musicians to whom Guy is passing the torch of the movie’s title.” Read more…

New 4K Ultra HD & Blu-Ray

Boogie Nights (1997, drama, Mark Wahlberg; Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh, IMDb: 7.9/10) Blu-ray

From Janet Maslin’s 1997 NYT review: “Everything about “Boogie Nights” is interestingly unexpected, even the few seconds of darkness before the film’s neon title blasts onto the screen. The director, Paul Thomas Anderson, whose display of talent is as big and exuberant as skywriting, seems to mean this as a way of telling viewers to brace themselves. Good advice.” Read more…

Raging Bull (Criterion Collection, drama, Robert DeNiro; Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 89) 4K Ultra HD

From Vincent Canby’s 1980 NYT review: “Taking as his starting point the troubled life of Jake La Motta, the tough New York City kid who slugged his way to the world middleweight boxing championship in 1948 and then went on to lose almost everything, Martin Scorsese (”Mean Streets,” ”Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” ”Taxi Driver”) has made his most ambitious film as well as his finest. Though ”Raging Bull” has only three principal characters, it is a big film, its territory being the landscape of the soul.” Read more…

New TV

The Art of Crime/L’Art du Crime: First Five Seasons (French tv crime series, Philippe Duclos; IMDb: 7.1/10)

“…the real draw, other than the art, is Paris. How they got to shoot inside the Louvre (because if that’s not the actual Louvre then Hollywood needs to bang down the door of the production designers) must be a modern miracle. And the shots in the Garnier Opera House are stunning. The setting in the Loire valley’s Amboise Castle made me want to hop on a plane right away. The cinematography throughout the series is stunning. Each season seemed to use a different team.

There is nothing hard hitting about “The Art of the Crime;” it’s just an enjoyable puzzle for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.” Read more…

Unpregnant (HBO, dramedy, Haley Lu Richardson; Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh, IMDb: 6.1/10)

“Unpregnant,” directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg, never quite reaches the sharp comic style of those other raucous movies, but it distinguishes itself in its destination. As the girls navigate their journey, it’s easy to read their absurd snafus as a metaphor for the obstacles to women’s health care.” Read more…

 

New Cult

Blood Bath aka Track of the Vampire (1966, horror, William Campbell; IMDb: 5.2/10)

“Okay, technically Corman didn’t direct it but Corman’s aura is all over the film and it’s such a fun curiosity that it’s hard not to completely adore the film even in its most awful moments.

In the film, William Campbell stars as Sordi, a painter who invites models to his bell tower studio where he kills them, covers them in wax and paints their portraits. There’s a storyline involving reincarnation, both his and that of Dorean (Lori Saunders). He kills a friend of Dorean’s, Daisy (Playboy Playmate Marissa Mathes), and Daisy’s sister (Sandra Knight). Indie horror icon Sid Haig is even here as one of a group of artists who come to the rescue. As one might expect given Corman’s involvement, there’s a bit of a twist in how everything actually plays out.

While certainly not anywhere near the best film to have Corman’s name attached to it, Blood Bath is still an awful lot of fun and a quality B-movie. ” Read more…

New Releases 7/26/22

Top Hits

Dual (Sci-Fi, Karen Gillan; Rotten Tomatoes: 73%, Metacritic: 62)

“The movie follows Sarah (Karen Gillan), who learns that she suffers from an unidentified, rare and incurable illness. Considering her loved ones, Sarah pays for a clone and begins priming her to fill her shoes. But dual identities are tricky. It turns out that Sarah’s double is less a sponge for her sensibilities than a lovelier, livelier foil, and even once Sarah goes into remission, her boyfriend (Beulah Koale) and mother (Maija Paunio) inexplicably snub her for the substitute.” Read more…

Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (Marvel Universe, Benedict Cumberbatch; Rotten Tomatoes: 74%)

“But as so often happens in the Marvel Cinematic Weltanschauung — often enough to keep even skeptics from giving up on the enterprise entirely — there is an inkling of something more interesting, in this case a Sam Raimi movie.
Raimi is one of the pioneers of 21st-century movie superheroism. His Spider-Man trilogy from the early 2000s still feels relatively fresh and fun. He is also a master of horror, the creator back in the 1980s of the peerlessly ghoulish, funny and profound “Evil Dead” series. And the best parts of “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” are the sequences that traffic in zombiism, witchcraft and other dark genre arts.” Read more…

The Lost City (Action/Adventure/Comedy, Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh)

“For the most part, “The Lost City” delivers exactly what it promises: A couple of highly polished avatars quipping and hitting their marks while occasionally being upstaged by their second bananas (Da’Vine Joy Randolph included). There are some accommodations to contemporary mores. Tatum bares more skin than Bullock does, flashing his sculpted hindquarters in a scene that, like the movie overall, isn’t as sharp or as funny as it should be. But while Loretta isn’t as helpless as she might have been back in the old studio days, this is still about a man rescuing a woman whose eye makeup never runs even when she does.” Read more…

New Foreign

Battles Without Honor and Humanity (Japan, action/adventure, Bunta Sugawara; Rotten Tomatoes: 88%) – New Restoration

From a 2004 review of Battles Without Honor & Humanity, aka The Yakuza Papers: “The Yakuza Papers’ endurance has primarily to do with the filmmaker’s critical analysis of Japan’s national character. Fukasaku openly questions whether the legendary Japanese sense of duty was wiped out by the atomic bomb, or whether it was always just an ideal for tourists and old movies, never meant to be taken seriously.” Read more…

Cordelia (British, Antonia Campbell-Hughes; Rotten Tomatoes: 73%, Metacritic: 66)

“Enigmatic and imperfect, but nonetheless absorbing and consistently unsettling, “Cordelia” offers a haunting visualization of a breaking-apart psyche. The bruised, green-washed elegance of Tony Slater Ling’s interior shots, rain sheeting against the flat’s windows, fashions an unreliable space where people and events could be real or imagined, alive or dead.” Read more…

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976, Brazil, Sonia Braga; Rotten Tomatoes: 67%) Newly Released on DVD

From the 2012 LA Times article on Dona Flor: ‘“Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” should be seen as liberating, an unpretentious and uncomplicated slant on desire. There’s a playfully free sway to Amado’s character and the way Braga approaches her that is vital and far distant from exploitative.

The movie is also credited with helping to loosen the reins of cinema censorship in Brazil. With its fairly graphic sex scenes (cinematographer Maurilo Salles follows the mingling bodies with a matter-of-fact interest) and ability to capture the essence of Amado’s novel, “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” was a forward step in the country’s filmmaking.” Read more…

Drive My Car (Japan, Hidetoshi Nishijima; Rotten Tomatoes: 97$, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 91, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“Drive My Car” sneaks up on you, lulling you in with visuals that are as straightforward as the narrative is complex. The camerawork is unflashy to the point of near-plainness though all the parts — the people, interiors, landscapes — look good, recognizably so. The movie is well-lighted and cleanly edited and, for the most part, unembellished with flourishes that might draw attention away from the story. This unforced minimalism only makes the bold strokes more pronounced: a surprising superimposition, say, or the chromatic jolt of the red car in snow.” Read more…

Huda’s Salon (Egypt, Netherlands, Palestine, mystery/thriller, Maisa Abd Elhadi; Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 69)

“As convoluted as it gets, “Huda’s Salon” makes a simple and forceful point: Caught between political enemies united in their misogyny, Palestinian women have no way out. Where Abu-Assad falters is in turning Huda into a didactic mouthpiece for the very themes that Reem’s tribulations, filmed up-close with a jerky camera, convey effortlessly.” Read more…

Out of the Blue (Canada, drama, Linda Manz, Dennis Hopper; Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Metacritic: 78)

From Roger Ebert’s 1982 review: “The movie escalates so relentlessly toward its violent, nihilistic conclusion that when it comes, we believe it. This is a very good movie that simply got overlooked. When it premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, it caused a considerable sensation, and Manz was mentioned as a front-runner for the best actress award. But back in North America, the film’s Canadian backers had difficulties in making a distribution deal, and the film slipped through the cracks.” Read more…

The Duke (British, dramedy, Jim Broadbent; Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh)

“A Robin Hood figure polarizes England in “The Duke,” an ambling, sentimental account of the 1961 heist of Francisco de Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London.” Read more…

New TV

The Gilded Age: Complete First Season (HBO, Christine Baranski, Cynthia Nixon; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%)

“In “Downton,” Fellowes succeeded by cutting out the larger world and grounding his story in the daily rhythms of one family and one estate. In “The Gilded Age” he lets the world in, and yet everything seems smaller.” Read more…

New Releases – 7/19/22

Top Hits

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (Comedy/Animation, Zach Galifianakis, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 75, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“The mode of “Bob’s Burgers” doesn’t exactly scream for a feature-length, big-screen expansion, so it’s surprising that “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, is such a breezy, engaging picture that it qualifies as a summer refreshment.” Read more…

I’m Charlie Walker (drama, Mike Colter; Rotten Tomatoes: 43%)

“In January 1971, two tankers collided in the waters beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, leaking 800,000 gallons of oil. The disaster is remembered for having spurred an environmental movement.

Less known is how a Black trucker named Charlie Walker played a pivotal role in the cleanup campaign during a time when the white trucking unions and their political allies were freezing out Black workers in the Bay Area. The director and writer Patrick Gilles sets out to right the narrative with the movie “I’m Charlie Walker,” plying the overly broad gestures of ’70s blaxploitation films to mixed effect.” Read more…

Minimata (drama, Johnny Depp, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 55)

“Despite being the central character, Johnny Depp is the least interesting part of “Minamata,” Andrew Levitas’s film based on the true story of the photojournalist W. Eugene Smith who, in the 1970s, helped to expose the devastating impact of mercury poisoning on coastal communities in Japan.” Read more…

Montana Story (drama, Haley Lu Richardson; Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 73)

“In the deft genre rethink “Montana Story,” the American flag doesn’t just flutter and wave, it also sends a warning. It looks so unassuming. Clean and neat, without frayed edges or faded colors, it flies from a tall pole planted in front of a handsome two-story home. There, on 200 acres in southwestern Montana, in a glorious area girdled by mountains known as Paradise Valley, nature beckons and soothes. It looks like heaven; it takes a while to see the rot.” Read more…

New 4K Ultra HD Discs

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (action/adventure, Harrison Ford; Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 57)

“”Indiana Jones” is too shapeless to be the fun that ”Raiders” is, but shape may be beside the point. Old- time, 15-part movie serials didn’t have shape. The just went on and on and on, which is what ”Indiana Jones” does with humor and technical invention.” Read more…

New Foreign

Ascension (Chinese society, modern society) Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The film’s takeaways are hardly revelatory for anyone aware of the fact that China is the world’s largest manufacturer and an enormous market with massive purchasing power. Instead, ‘Ascension’ concerns itself with impressive and frequently alienating images showcasing Chinese productivity, innovation and consumption across class lines, revealing everyone from the day laborers to the middle-class hustlers to the privileged elites to be mere cogs in a ridiculously well-oiled machine.” Read more…

Poppy Field (Romania, drama, lgbtqia+, Conrad Mericoffer; Rotten Tomatoes: 82%)

“Even at 81-minutes long, Poppy Field drags a bit in the middle. But, the story is important, the lead actor is stunning, and the direction is excellent. Overall, this is a revealing and riveting look at how countries are dealing with the LGBTQIA+ in the worst possible ways.” Read more…

The Righteous (Canadian, horror, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Certified Fresh)

“But the conversations about faith, punishment and guilt make clear why the film won best screenplay at last year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Scott McClellan’s black and white cinematography is a striking visual companion that makes rural Newfoundland and Labrador look beautiful and sinister.” Read more…

Sexual Drive (Japanese, dramedy, Manami Hashimoto; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Metacritic: 66)

“A sexless husband queries his wife’s lover over a package of natto. A nervous driver on her way to buy mapo sauce finds her panic attack transform into a paroxysm of passion when she collides with an old schoolmate. And a married man obeys enigmatic instructions to rescue his paramour after she’s kidnapped from a ramen shop. These three encounters form the wry Japanese triptych “Sexual Drive,” directed by Kota Yoshida. Consistently intriguing and occasionally hilarious, the movie does not depict sex itself. Instead, the characters eat food items that become objects of titillation, lust and pleasure: the sticky goo around soybeans, chili oil sizzling in a wok.” Read more…

New American Back Catalog (pre-1960)

Marty (Blu-ray, Hamden’s very own Ernest Borgnine!, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh)

From the original 1955 review: “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…

Native Son (Blu-ray, Richard Wright)

“But in 1951, Native Son was gutted. Slashed to bits by censors, the film was a shell of what it was supposed to be upon release, subtracting all nuance from the story and Bigger’s motivations. While the finished, fully restored product is clunky, it still has the same meat of the novel. Without it, it’s an exploitive film about a Black man killing a white woman.

Native Son is not polished, but its place in cinema history is significant. It further emphasizes how far Hollywood still has to go before Black stories are given the same treatment as white stories.” Read more…

Summertime (Criterion Collection, drama, Katharine Hepburn; Rotten Tomatoes: 89)

“THE beautiful city of Venice, with its ancient buildings, its winding canals, its mingling of vivid sounds and colors and its bewitchingly romantic air comes off the principal performer in David Lean’s and Ilya Lopert’s “Summertime.”‘ Read more…

New American Catalog (post-1960)

Dracula and Son (1976; Horror/Comedy, Christopher Lee)

Lee, in his last screen performance as Dracula, is fantastic as he swings between serious moments of horror and outright comedy. Dracula takes a mortal woman to bear his son. After he’s born, the Count turns mom into a vampire. However, when she can’t make it back to her coffin before sunrise, the Count finds himself stuck with raising the young tyke, which isn’t easy since the young vampire balks at putting the bite on people. Eventually the son decides he wants to make it on his own in the real world. Meanwhile dad takes the role of a vampire in a big movie production the producers not knowing he’s the real Dracula. There are many moments that will make you laugh. Watch for a scene involving rigor mortis and another involving an inflatable doll. Lee is superb, and the film has the same kind of brilliant comedy found in Fearless Vampire Killers. A portion of the film is in English, the rest is in French with English subtitles.

Where the Lilies Bloom (1974, drama, Julie Gholson, IMDb: 7.3/10)

“An endearingly simple, honest and moving film like “Where the Lilies Bloom” would be welcome any time. Arriving now on a screen splattered with violence and sex, this beautiful little movie is like a cool, clear dip of mountain spring water.

Without one false, hayseed note or drop of sugar, it depicts the struggle of a brave, stubbon Appalachian teenager to hold together her orphaned family. The story is comfortably alive, in its regional characterizations and in the astonishingly effective use of many nonprofessional players and in the natural grandeur of its North Carolina setting.” Read more…

New Documentary

Accepted (Documentary, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 81)

“As we witness both the documentary’s subjects — and its director — navigate a shocking development in real time, a quietly probing film emerges that pierces the myth of American meritocracy.”  Read more…

The American Sector (Documentary, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 86)

“After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, slabs of the barrier made their way around the world. In the experimental documentary “The American Sector” — shown at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival but overlooked amid the vagaries of pandemic movie releasing — the filmmakers Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez travel to roughly 40 sites around the United States in an effort to shoot footage of all the pieces that have wound up here.” Read more…

The Beatles: Get Back (Documentary, The Beatles; Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Metacritic: 85)

“Get Back is a Thanksgiving feast for fans — nearly eight hours of hanging with the Beatles. It’s funnier, louder, sadder, realer than anyone even hoped. But it’s not really about the making of an album or a concert. It’s a stunningly intimate portrait of a friendship — the world’s favorite foursome, then as now. John, Paul, George and Ringo have come to symbolize the whole idea of a team, a collective, crazy kids taking a stand against the world. They’ve also come to embody the idea of breaking up. In Get Back, you can see that bond starting to fall apart. But you also see how hard they’re fighting to hold on.” Read more…

Frontline: Climate Wars (documentary)

“Titled “The Power of Big Oil,” the weekly mini-series is focused on climate change denialism as it was practiced and paid for by the fossil fuel industry — particularly Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries — along with its allies in business and, increasingly, politics. By extension, it’s a history, more depressing than revelatory, of why nothing much has been done about an existential crisis we’ve been aware of for at least four decades.” Read more…

Invisible Valley (documentary)

“Invisible Valley paints a comprehensive picture of the growing migrant crisis in the Coachella Valley and the southern U.S. border. In the news, the immigrants and undocumented worker crisis always feels like their being used as pawns for votes. Maurer’s film puts a face to a pressing problem for real people. No matter what side of the debate you land on, the documentary is important viewing, so you can better inform your argument about what’s happening at the border.” Read more…

Museum Town (Documentary, narrated by Meryl Streep; Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Metacritic: 57)

“At its heart, the documentary “Museum Town,” is a love letter — to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, to artistic experimentation and to North Adams, the struggling factory town where the institution is situated.” Read more…

New British Series DVD

Endeavour: Season 8 (British, crime, Shaun Evans; Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Metacritic: 80)

“Endeavour” is at its best when it draws our focus to solving the puzzle of its main character, a mission into which Evans’ performance draws us more deeply with each new season. His 1960s-era Morse is resilient, but not a hard case; refined, but put off by popular diversions that excite the average person. One of the funnier turns in the eighth season shows the Detective Sergeant visibly suffering through a live game show taping that he never would have chosen to endure if not for an assignment. Read more…

Killing Eve: Season 4: The Final Obsession (British, drama, Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer; Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Metacritic: 83)

“What we now have in “Killing Eve” is a Villanelle in search of transformation, a tired process that began when she revisited her Russian hometown in Season 3. She has left the assassination business and joined a church, where she applies her screwball energy and guileless vanity to the job of being baptized and expunging her sins.” Read more…

New TV

Yellowjackets (tv horror, Melanie Lynskey, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 78)

“The pilot of Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” like that of “Lost,” involves the aftermath of a plane crash in the wilderness. But this series, created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, is its own busy and bloody mix of survival saga, survivors’ journey, coming-of-age nostalgia, midlife-crisis exploration, dark-comic mystery and (maybe) ghost story — just for starters.” Read more…

New Releases 7/5/22

Top Hits

Everything Everywhere All at Once –  (science fiction/comedy, Michelle Yeoh) Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 81 Must-See, NYT Critic’s Pick. ‘“Everything Everywhere All at Once,” an exuberant swirl of genre anarchy directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. The filmmakers — who work under the name Daniels and who are best known for the wonderfully unclassifiable “Swiss Army Man” (starring Daniel Radcliffe as a flatulent corpse) — are happy to defy the laws of probability, plausibility and coherence. This movie’s plot is as full of twists and kinks as the pot of noodles that appears in an early scene. Spoiling it would be impossible. Summarizing it would take forever — literally!” – Read more…

Downton Abbey: A New Era – (British, drama, Elizabeth McGovern, Dame Maggie Smith) Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh; Metacritic: 63. “The stately series that began its story with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 has now arrived at the tail end of the 1920s. The choppy waters of modernity are materializing on the horizon. To stay afloat, this amiable sequel decides to ever so slightly democratize itself: The upstairs-downstairs division that has long separated the estate’s masters from their servants begins to leak.” – Read more…

Mosquito State – (drama/horror, Beau Knapp) Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 56. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “From its gorgeous opening credits to a peculiarly poignant and lyrical finale, this mesmerically slow-moving tale [directed by Filip Jan Rymsza and written by Rymsza and Mario Zermeno] works to forge a fragile link between psychic and societal breakdowns. Richard may be an algorithm savant, but his colleagues refuse to listen when his computer model warns of looming market instability. Holed up in his cavernous penthouse, all brutalist décor and dim lighting, he fumes, consoled only by the buzzing mosquito whose bites are transforming his body and whose offspring are rapidly colonizing his home.” Read more…

See for Me – (mystery, Laura Vandervoort) Rotten Tomatoes:80%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 59. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Ever since Audrey Hepburn tiptoed around three home-invading thugs in “Wait Until Dark” (1967), the blind-person-in-peril narrative has been something of an entertainment staple. And while Randall Okita’s “See For Me” offers the novelty of a disabled character who is rather less than morally upstanding, this uninvolving thriller is as lacking in tension as credibility.” Read more…

An American Pickle – (time travel comedy, Seth Rogen) Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘An American Pickle,” a time-travel farce directed by Brandon Trost and adapted from a New Yorker story by Simon Rich, marinates crisp almost-timeliness in the mild brine of nostalgia. It’s not too salty or too sour, and it’s neither self-consciously artisanal nor aggressively, weirdly authentic. The subject, more or less, is what it means to be Jewish, and given how contentious that topic can become — can I get an oy vey? — the movie finds an agreeable, occasionally touching vein of humor.” Read more…

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs

The Last Waltz – 4K UltraHD & Blu-Ray (1978, concert documentary dir. by Martin Scorsese, The Band) Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 88. From Janet Maslin’s 1978 New York Times review [requiores log-in]: “Martin Scorsese had the makings of a better-than-average concert movie at his disposal when he made ‘The Last Waltz,’ but the film is full of evidence that Mr. Scorsese had something more ambitious in mind. One exquisitely edited sequence of the Band performing “The Weight,” filmed on a soundstage by cameras that sway and rotate with the music, infuses the interaction of a rock band with more joy and lyricism than any other rock film has ever approached. A guest appearance at the concert by the singer Van Morrison, now paunchy and balding but triumphantly galvanizing just the same, makes for a moment rich with both euphoria and regret.” Read more…

New Foreign DVDs

The Worst Person In the World – (Norway, comedy, Renate Reinsve) Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90, Must See. New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scot’s Times review: “Most of ‘The Worst Person in the World’ follows Julie through the delights and frustrations of two significant relationships: with Aksel [Anders Danielsen Lie], a graphic novelist in his 40s; and with Eivind [Herbert Nordrum], a barista closer to her own age. To the extent that this is the tale of a young woman choosing between alternative suitors, it suggests romantic comedy, a genre Trier both subverts and satisfies.” Read more…

The Rose Maker – (France, comedy, Catherine Frot) Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 63. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The director Pierre Pinaud doesn’t strain the high jinks for belly laughs, nor does he push for tears when it comes to forging the cross-class bonds between his characters. It’s a relaxed film, one that allows the audience to sit back and, if not smell the roses, then at least appreciate them. Just as they are for Eve, the flowers are this film’s raison d’être — a reminder that glimpsing beauty is reason enough.” Read more…

New Documentaries

Alaskan Nets – (Documentary) Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. “To say that the story of Alaskan Nets is fascinating is an understatement. There’s a lot at play for these students, more than just a basketball team’s journey to the top. For Harasimowicz and his crew, there’s no guarantee that the Chiefs will make it to the championships. Along with being needed for their family’s fishing business, Metlakatla is a remote location. The team must take multi-day trips to compete against other schools — often sleeping in the opposing team’s libraries and gyms. Then there are the harsh realities of living in that area of Alaska as two former Chiefs are killed in a diving accident. These sobering events are not lost on the players and their futures…Alaskan Nets shows all this vividly and engagingly.” – Read more…

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

Virgin Suicides – (1999, Criterion Collection, drama, Kirsten Dunst) Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 76
“Ms. Coppola has carefully preserved the spirit of her source and, for the most part, succeeded in her efforts to find a visual idiom appropriate to the lush melancholy of the novel’s language. Edward Lachman, the director of photography, shoots the bright colors of the 1970’s as if through a layer of gauze. His dimmed, fuzzy tones suggest the darkening shades of memory.” – Read more…

New releases 6/28/22

Top Hits
Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore (fantasy, Eddie Redmayne. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 47. . From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “Still, this is the most absorbing and well-paced film in the trilogy to date, despite its nearly two-and-a-half-hour running time — de rigueur for modern spectacles that want to convince audiences they’re getting enough bang for their buck. ‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ gestures toward themes of frailty, thwarted intentions and forgiveness.” Read more…)

Mothering Sunday (drama, Josh O’Connor. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing egregiously amiss with ‘Mothering Sunday,’ Eva Husson’s adaptation [from a script by Alice Birch] of Graham Swift’s 2016 novel. Pirouetting backward and forward from its highly eventful titular day, the movie samples a buffet of tried-and-true narrative offerings. It’s a love story about the mildly transgressive romance between a servant and a son of the gentry; a chronicle of literary awakening; a reckoning with the awful legacy of World War I and a foreshadowing of the social transformation that was to follow.” Read more…)

Two for Joy (drama, Samantha Morton. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “Tom Beard is a British photographer and filmmaker, here presenting his debut feature: a confident, good-looking, heartfelt film in the pastoral social-realist style, with strong performances from an excellent cast, including Samantha Morton and Daniel Mays. There are some lovely images and ambient moods conjured by cinematographer Tim Sidell, and, with editor Izabella Curry, Beard creates a plausible rhythm to his story, moving from a tough urban estate to an almost idyllic looking seafront and back.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Shaft 4K (1971, action/soul cinema, Criterion Collection, Richard Roundtree. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Vincent Canby’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Shaft’ is not a great film, but it’s very entertaining. It’s the flamboyant, tough‐talking tale of a black private‐eye named John Shaft [Richard Roundtree], who lives in a book‐lined, stereo‐equipped Village duplex, keeps his extra gun [the one with the pearl handle] in the fridge, has a succession of black women and white women in bed, and, between‐times, settles a potentially nasty gang‐and‐race war between Harlem’s black syndicate king and some white [Mafia] hoods, with the help of a small group of black revolutionaries. ‘Shaft’ does nothing if not cover all contemporary bases, while making occasional references to heroes and genres past. “ Read more…)

Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore

New Foreign DVDs
A Taste of Hunger (Denmark, drama, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 60. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The kitchen at the heart of the Danish drama ‘A Taste of Hunger’ has none of the warmth of home cooking or jovial dinner parties. Cold blue lights bear down on the restaurant workers as they tend to dressed oysters and fermented lemons. The restaurant, called Malus, in reference to the genus for apples, the original forbidden fruit, seems designed with a minimalism that borders on the brutal.” Read more…)

Rouge (China, 1987, drama/romance, Criterion Collection, Anita Mui. From the Time Out review: “A sharp, mildly satirical portrait of Hong Kong life in the ’80s is shot through with flashbacks to the ’30s, suffused with a heady, opium-hazed decadence worthy of Huysmans, yielding an elegant and deeply felt movie about the transience of things – especially love. Stunning visuals and sophisticated performances add up to a terrific, stylish movie.” Read here…)

New British DVDs
Midsomer Murders Series 21 (UK police procedural, John Nettles)

New TV
The Good Lord Bird (Showtime historically-based mini-series on John Brown, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 84, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “‘The Good Lord Bird” — a seven-episode adaptation of James McBride’s 2013 novel — is fine entertainment, capturing some measure of McBride’s jaunty, irreverent humor and featuring an absorbing performance by Ethan Hawke, who created the series (with the writer Mark Richard) and plays the central role of the messianic abolitionist John Brown.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Rituals (The Creeper) (1977, horror, Hal Holbrook. From Meagan Navarro’s appreciation at Bloody Disgusting: “‘Rituals’ bears apparent parallels to John Boorman’s ‘Deliverance’ in setting, style, and tone right down to the early camaraderie between the leads as they unwitting set off for a nightmarish journey. Questions of ethics in extreme situations fuel both. Written by Ian Sutherland and directed by Peter Carter, ‘Rituals’ does draw clear inspiration from Deliverance but slowly transforms into a far more satisfying survival thriller more akin to a slasher.” Read more…)

New releases 6/21/22

Top Hits
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (action/comedy, Nicolas Cage. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In his latest, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,’ [Nicolas] Cage fidgets and swaggers and smiles so broadly he looks ready to swallow the screen whole. He charms and alarms, jumps off a cliff and, drink in hand, walks straight into a swimming pool without breaking stride. [Holding onto the bottle, he sinks and then he drinks.] What’s it about? Does it matter? Does it ever? It’s another Nicolas Cage joint, a romp, a showcase, an eager-to-please ode to him in all his sui generis Caginess.” Read more…)

After Yang (drama/sci-fi, Colin Farrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The human-machine interface is teased throughout ‘After Yang,’ which was written and directed by Kogonada and tracks what happens when a family’s android, called Yang, stops working. The shutdown rattles the household, especially the father, who is also the focus of Alexander Weinstein’s original, tart story “Saying Goodbye to Yang.” In both versions, the busted android creates logistical hurdles: The parents work and need a caregiver for their child. But what animates the movie, imbuing it with rueful feeling and nosing it down some lightly philosophical byways, is that the father seems almost as broken as the android.” Read more…)

Infinite Storm (adventure/drama, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 50. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “When performers sign on as producers of their movies it can feel like a statement of intent. That’s the case with the true-life drama ‘Infinite Storm,’ starring Naomi Watts as a grieving woman on an unexpected rescue mission. The movie has an appealing, streamlined trajectory: The woman hikes up and down a mountain, pausing to save a lost soul. With this role, Watts is reminding us that she can hold the screen by herself and without saying a word tell you everything you need to know about a character — and all the while looking fantastic.” Read more…)

Farewell Amor (drama, Criterion Collection, Ntare Mwine. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “[Director Ekwa] Msangi employs a neat trick to capture the family’s coming-together in all its complexity. Split into three chapters, the film depicts their reunion from each character’s perspective, switching from the wide shot of the opening to a more intimate, point-of-view style. Each version deepens our understanding of the characters by highlighting new details: a strained smile; the hesitation before a hug.” Read more…)

The Bad Guys (animated feature, Sam Rockwell. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Calum Marsh’s New York Times review: “This inane, juvenile animated comedy, directed by Pierre Perifel, is about a thieving clan of talking animals forced to reform after an elaborate heist goes wrong. They steal, they banter, they have car chases, as animals do not. There’s barely a frame in which they don’t smirk.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Distant Voices, Still Lives Blu-Ray (UK, 1987, drama, Pete Postlethwaite. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. From Vincent Canby’s 1988 New york times review [requires log-in]: “‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ has the rigorous, studied look of advanced film-school work. The color photography has a soft, golden hue, and the camera movements are stately, with a lot of pans from right to left and, on occasion, a slow rise toward heaven, as if the film [and the man directing it] were looking up to God.” Read more…)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
After Yang

New Foreign DVDs
Hit the Road (Iran, drama, Pantea Panahiha. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The four of them enjoy getting on one another’s nerves, which is part of what makes them a family. All in all, they are good company. In real life, you might not want to be stuffed into a car with these people — and let’s not forget their dog, Jesse — on a dusty stretch of Iranian highway, but from the first jokey moments of ‘Hit the Road’ until its heartbreaking end you will not want to be anywhere else.” Read more…)

Benedetta (France, LGBTQ+ drama/history, Virginie Efira. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unable to decide if its namesake is saint or sinner, genuine mystic or false prophet, ‘Benedetta’ is too ambivalent to find focus or resolution. Still, Verhoeven brings more vitality to his work than many filmmakers half his age, and his screenplay (with David Birke) is a tasteless hoot, gleefully cramming the frame with blood, fornication and flagellations galore.” Read more…)

Wood and Water (Germany, drama, Anke Bak. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Beatrice Loayza’s Times review: “‘It’s really sinking in that time is gone, and it won’t return,’ says Anke, a widow and retired church secretary, in reference to the life she led while raising a family. Even in her placid hometown in the Black Forest region of Germany, everything feels distant, rendered unrecognizable to her by the forces of modernization. ‘A sense of home,’ Anke continues. ‘I don’t have that.’ These feelings of alienation — and the kinds of connections that are forged in our increasingly globalized world — are subtly explored in “Wood and Water,” the poignant feature debut by the German writer-director Jonas Bak.” Read more…)

Les Nôtres (Canada, drama, Emilie Bierre. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The film’s strength isn’t the delayed suspense around unraveling the truth. It’s the sense of suffocation that Magalie feels while putting on the agreeable face of a child going about her school days. Leblanc and her cinematographer Tobie Marier Robitaille suffuse the film’s palette with tamped-down colors and send the camera creeping and looming around Magalie.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
No Ordinary Man (LGBTQ history, trans history, music, Billy Tipton. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 72. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The documentary ‘No Ordinary Man’ examines the life and death of Billy Tipton, a jazz musician who came into prominence in the 1930s, and whose career lasted for over 40 years. Billy was described by his friends as a consummate gentleman, and he cherished his family, with three children he adopted with his partner, Kitty. Billy lived his life quietly, but his death in 1989 became a nationwide spectacle after it became clear during funeral preparations that he was transgender.” Read more…)

New releases 6/14/22

Top Hits
Morbius (Marvel Comics action, Jared Leto. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 35. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Still, the bigger surprise about ‘Morbius’ is that it doesn’t suck, at least as a movie. Against the odds and despite the insufferable persona that its star Jared Leto has cultivated, it provides all you want from a diversion about a brilliant scientist with bottomless financial resources [as well as a hot but smart assistant] who, after refusing his Nobel for his genius scientific invention, secretly develops a serum that turn him into a batlike creature with razor nails, great powers and a hunger for human blood.” Read more…)

Ambulance (drama/crime, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Ambulance,’ which includes verbal shout-outs to ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘The Rock,’ is something of a return to form for this auteur of vehicular mayhem and muscular bombast. A relatively low-budget project, especially when compared with the ‘Transformers’ franchise he started, it bundles explosive set pieces into a plot that would be preposterous if you stopped to think about it. The whole idea is that you won’t.” Read more…)

Fatherhood (comedy/drama, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 53. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It’s a durable bit of Hollywood conventional wisdom: Behind every good man is a dead woman. ‘Fatherhood,’ a new Netflix movie starring Kevin Hart, is its latest affirmation. A movie widower, especially one with children, draws on a bottomless reserve of audience sympathy, granted the benefit of the doubt far beyond what any woman, however generous or virtuous or grief-stricken, can expect.” Read more…)

Roald Dahl’s The Witches (family/horror, Octavia Spencer. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Robert] Zemeckis improves on the first film adaptation, a 1990 oddity directed by Nicolas Roeg. There’s more heart in the new version and more emotion, qualities which can go missing in those Zemeckis movies that get lost in his technical whiz-bangery. Here, the Boy feelingly mourns his parents, creating a tangible sense of loss that strengthens the story and raises its stakes.” Read more…)

The Feast (Wales, horror, Annes Elwy. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Erik Piepenburg in the New York Times: “Lee Haven Jones, the director, works wonders with the cinematographer Bjorn Stale Bratberg to depict terrors that move between a chic domestic space, a dreamy green landscape and a nightmarish forest. The result is a folk horror film from the pages of Architectural Digest. The movie gets nonsensical at the end — I’m still not sure who was on who’s side — but it looks great doing so.” Read more…)

Catch the Fair One (thriller, Kali Reis. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Catch the Fair One”’ is a violent, brooding rescue-revenge drama — the kind of genre workout you might expect to find Liam Neeson grimacing his way though around this time of year. With all respect to Neeson, the star of this tough, modest movie brings a different kind of credibility. She’s Kali Reis, a world champion boxer in both the welterweight and middleweight classes.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Raiders of the Lost Ark 4K (1981, adventure, Harrison Ford. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “From the first moments, when the star-circled mountain in the Paramount Pictures logo fades into a similarly shaped, fog-shrouded Andean peak, where who knows what awful things are about to happen, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is off and running at a breakneck pace that simply won’t stop until the final shot, an ironic epilogue that recalls nothing less than ‘Citizen Kane.’ That, however, is the only high-toned reference in a movie that otherwise devotes itself exclusively to the glorious days of the B-picture. To get to the point immediately, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Ahed’s Knee (Israel, drama, Avshalom Pollak. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Ahed’s Knee’ is the Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s fourth feature film. The first three — ‘Policeman’ [2014], ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ [2015] and ‘Synonyms’ [2019] — are in their different ways works of social criticism. They take aim at what Lapid sees as modern Israel’s political, moral and spiritual shortcomings, focusing on characters whose personal agonies mirror the national crisis. Though its themes are the same, this movie is different. It’s a howl of rage.” Read more…)

Fear (Bulgaria, drama, Svetlana Yancheva. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The director, Ivaylo Hristov, is adept at slow-burning suspense and comic misdirection. At first the casual racism that peppers discussions about Svetla’s houseguest seems a matter of ignorance — ugly but not fully hateful. Hristov shows how words lead to actions, how jealousy and boredom blend with prejudice into a toxic brew.” Read more…)

Arrebato aka Rapture (Spain, 1979, horror, Eusebio Poncela. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. From Jacob Oller’s Paste Magazine review: “A sumptuous slice of Spanish strangeness, the deeply textured and sensational psychological horror boasts fans like Pedro Almodóvar—and the restoration makes the filmmaker’s long-standing support easy to understand. A movie completely in the addictive thrall of cinema, unhealthily enamored with the act of creation itself, ‘Arrebato’ is an unnerving and enthralling fetish empowered by its hedonism: Drugs, sex, beauty, nostalgia and a disillusioned disaffection with them all.” Read more…)

New TV
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11 (HBO comedy, Larry David. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 89.)

Hacks: Season 1 (HBO Max comedy series, Jean Smart. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939, adventure, Criterion Collection, Cary Grant. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 86. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Howard Hawks, whose aviation melodramas must, we suspect, drive airline stock down from two to three points per showing, has produced another fatality-littered thriller in ‘Only Angels Have Wings’ [even the title is ominous] which opened yesterday at the Music Hall. This once, however, Mr. Hawks has charitably transferred his operations base to Ecuador, presumably having exhausted his local sources, not to mention the patience of the commercial transport people.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Why Is We Americans? (Black history, civil rights, Newark, sociology, Amiri Baraka. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “Historical accounts of revolutionary icons are often plagued by hero myths that exalt individuals at the expense of the community that formed them. With ‘Why Is We Americans?,’ a documentary about the impact the poet and radical Amiri Baraka and his descendants have had on the city of Newark, the directors Udi Aloni and Ayana Stafford-Morris attempt a different approach. In this compressed account of the multiple generations of artists and activists that make up the Baraka clan, the patriarch, who died in 2014, is a single [if central] node. It’s a story that spans past and present, arts and politics, and kin and country — and the movie, with its haphazard editing, struggles to contain it all.” Read more…)

Searching for Mr. Rugoff (cinema history, art films, Donald Rugoff. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 77. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Not every documentary features its director calling his subject ‘kind of a terrible person.’ But Ira Deutchman’s ‘Searching for Mr. Rugoff’ happily looks at the man in full: Donald S. Rugoff, the influential distributor, New York City theater impresario and certifiable ‘piece of work’ [to quote one testimonial].” Read more…)

Ukraine on Fire (Oliver Stone documentary, 2016, foreign affairs, pro-Russian perspective, Vladimir Putin)

New releases 6/7/22

Top Hits
The Northman (action/adventure, Alexander Skarsgård. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must See. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “[Director Robert] Eggers, who wrote the screenplay with the Icelandic novelist and playwright Sjon, has conjured this bloody saga out of the ancient Scandinavian narratives that supplied Shakespeare’s source material. His raw material, you might say, since ‘The Northman’ insists on the primal, brutal, atavistic dimensions of the tale.” Read more…)

The Contractor (action, Chris Pine. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Written by J.P. Davis and directed by Tarik Saleh, ‘The Contractor’ finds its genre groove once James signs up with the company. As more pieces click into place, the filmmakers heat up the story and the atmosphere, creating a mounting sense of unease.” Read more…)

Marvelous and the Black Hole (comedy, Miya Cech. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Concepción de León’s New York Times review: “Sammy Ko [Miya Cech], the protagonist of this dark coming-of-age comedy, ticks all the boxes of adolescent angst. She smokes and acts out at school; secretly gives herself tattoos with a rudimentary rig in her bedroom; and lashes out at her father, Angus [Leonardo Nam], for dating so soon after the death of her mother.” Read more…)

Together (comedy, James McAvoy. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 59. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like an awful herald of what could lie in wait as future filmmakers grapple with our ongoing viral nightmare, Stephen Daldry’s ‘Together’ is an almost punishing watch. That it’s bearable at all is entirely because of the superlative acting skills of James McAvoy and Sharon Horgan as an unnamed couple forced to endure an extended London lockdown. In place of a plot, we get a setup: They can’t stand the sight of each other.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Double Indemnity 4K (1944, film noir, Barbara Stanwyck. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 95, Must See. From Bosley Crowther’s 1944 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The cooling-system in the Paramount Theatre was supplemented yesterday by a screen attraction designed plainly to freeze the marrow in an audience’s bones. ‘Double Indemnity’ is its title, and the extent of its refrigerating effect depends upon one’s personal repercussion to a long dose of calculated suspense. For the sole question in this picture is whether Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray can kill a man with such cool and artistic deception that no one will place the blame on them and then maintain their composure under Edward G. Robinson’s studiously searching eye.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Compartment No. 6 (Russia, drama, Seidi Haarla. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “When the heroine in ‘Compartment No. 6’ gets into a car with a guy who has been giving her nothing but grief, you may silently shriek: What is she thinking? You may also judge her for what looks like a bad decision or damn the filmmaker for putting yet another woman in hackneyed straits. Vulnerable women and dangerous men are clichés, but they’re also turned on their heads in this smart, emotionally nuanced film that rarely goes where you expect.” Read more…)

Introduction (South Korea, drama, Shin Seokho. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 77. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Introduction,’ [South Korean director] Hong Samgsoo’s slender 25th feature, is divided into three parts, each one concerning the same young man. These vignettes show him dealing with various other people, including [separately] his parents, his girlfriend and a movie star. Whether we are watching three parts of the same story, and whether they are arranged chronologically or according to some other principle, aren’t questions that are easily answered.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Fugitive (1947, drama directed by John Ford, Henry Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Out of the flood of pictures which opened on Broadway yesterday emerges in monolithic beauty John Ford’s ‘The Fugitive.’ For here, in this strange and haunting picture, now showing on the Victoria’s screen, is imaged a terrifying struggle between strength and weakness in a man’s soul, a thundering modern parable on the indestructibility of faith, a tense and significant conflict between freedom and brute authority. It is difficult to fashion in a few lines an indication of the nature of this film because of its violent eccentricities and its crashing overtones. But it is enough to say, at the moment, that Mr. Ford has accomplished in it a true companion piece to ‘The Informer,’ which he directed some years back.” Read more…)

New releases 5/31/22

Top Hits
Ted K (bio/drama, Sharlto Copley. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 70. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The film is a tad reductive, leaning too heavily on currently fashionable explanations for why lonely white men resort to violence. But Stone makes up for it with some magnificently eerie moments.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Indemnity (South Africa, action, Jarrid Geduld. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 57. from Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “A South African thriller haunted by the ghosts of many Hollywood blockbusters past, ‘Indemnity’ trades plausibility and originality for a worthy substitute: a great deal of fun.” Read more…)

The Burning Sea (Norway, eco-thriller/disaster movie, Kristine Kujath Thorp. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 47. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If the machinations of the plot are a tad rickety, its geologic premise is inarguably stable. Tucking a simple romance inside a disaster thriller, the director John Andreas Andersen uses an oil-rig collapse off the coast of Norway to deliver a dire warning of environmental disruption.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Mississippi Masala (1991, drama/romance, Criterion Collection, Denzel Washington. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. From J. Hoberman’s 2022 New York Times “Rewind” column: “The pop iconography of chain restaurants, motels and gas stations [as well as Hindu shrines] is characteristic of 1980s independent films. But Nair’s storybook ending is more ’90s, recalling the post-Cold War golden age when it seemed that American notions of ‘freedom’ and self-invention reigned supreme.” Read more…)

New releases 5/24/22

Top Hits
The Batman (DC Universe comic book action, Robert . Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “For nearly three hours, ‘The Batman,’ directed by Matt Reeves from a script he wrote with Peter Craig, navigates a familiar environment of crime, corruption and demoralization in search of something different. Batman’s frustration arises most obviously from the intractability of Gotham’s dysfunction. Two years after the city’s biggest crime boss was brought down, the streets are still seething and the social fabric is full of holes.” Read more…)

Sundown (drama, Tim Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 70. From Beandrea July’s New York Times review: “Acapulco’s picturesque beauty and grimy desperation converge in writer-director Michel Franco’s psychological thriller ‘Sundown.’ Franco teams up again here with Tim Roth who plays Neil Bennett, an heir to a United Kingdom meatpacking fortune on vacation with his sister, Alice [Charlotte Gainsbourg], and family. The cinematographer Yves Cape delivers a steady stream of wide shots and abstract-leaning frames that constantly compel the viewer to prioritize the macro over the micro.” Read more…)

X (horror, Mia Goth. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘X’ is a clever and exuberant throwback to a less innocent time, when movies could be naughty, disreputable and idiosyncratic. Two kinds of movie in particular: the dirty kind and the scary kind. Set in 1979, before the internet made pornography ubiquitous and before anyone was pontificating about “elevated horror,” this sly and nasty picture insists that the flesh and blood of down-and-dirty entertainment is, literally, flesh and blood.” Read more…)

Uncharted (action/adventure, Tom Holland. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 45. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “At least give Sony credit for recycling. That is the best that can be said for its nitwit treasure-hunt movie ‘Uncharted,’ an amalgam of clichés that were already past their sell-by date when Nicolas Cage plundered the box office in Disney’s ‘National Treasure’ series. Now, it is Tom Holland’s turn to cash in with a musty story about ancient loot, old maps, lost ships, invisible ink and a wealthy scoundrel with disposable minions.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
The Batman (Blu-Ray & UltraHD 4K)
Uncharted

New Foreign DVDs
The Pink Cloud (Brazil, drama/sci-fi, Girley Paes. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Claire Shaffer’s New York Times review: “Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: A deadly phenomenon has spread across the globe and forced all of civilization into an extended quarantine. Fights break out in grocery stores and online. Video chat becomes the center of human communication, playing host to everything from work meetings to birthday parties… This is the premise for ‘The Pink Cloud,’ a Brazilian domestic drama with a helping of science fiction that, remarkably enough, was conceived of in 2017 and filmed in 2019.” Read more…)

The Love of Jeanne Ney (Germany, 1927, silent drama dir. by Georg W. Pabst, Edith Jehanne. From Rob Aldam’s Backseat Mafia DVD/Blu-Ray review: “‘The Love of Jeanne Ney’ is an epic drama which spans two countries and embodies the turbulence and uncertainties of the time. Playing with a number of cinematic styles, [director Georg W.] Pabst creates a work which consistently defies expectations and creates some really fascinating sequences. What makes it stand out from most of its peers is the number of different elements at play within The Love of Jeanne Ney. A film which works on many levels.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time (documentary, bio, writing, literary, Kurt Vonnegut. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The documentary ‘Kurt Vonnegut: Unstuck in Time’ takes the importance of the novelist as a given, although years after his death in 2007, his ostensible significance still sets off conflicts on social media. By the same token, when Robert B. Weide, who directed this movie with Don Argott, describes the themes of a Vonnegut novel he read as a teen, he concludes by saying ‘What high school kid isn’t going to gobble this up?’” Read more…)