New releases 11/6/18

Top Hits
BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee historical [1970s] drama, John David Washington. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “And beyond its stranger-than-fiction, somewhat embellished real-life story — the actual Ron Stallworth actually did infiltrate the Klan, and wrote a book about it — ‘BlacKkKlansman’ is a furious, funny, blunt and brilliant confrontation with the truth. It’s an alarm clock ringing in the midst of a historical nightmare, and also a symphony, the rare piece of political popular art that works in all three dimensions.” Read more…)

Christopher Robin (animation/adventure, Ewan McGregor. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 60. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “And once ‘Christopher Robin’ softens its insufferable, needlessly cynical conception of the title character, it offers more or less what a Pooh reboot should: a lot of nostalgia, a bit of humor [Brad Garrett’s vocal deadpanning as Eeyore is a standout] and tactile computer animation that, even for the effects-jaded, makes it look as if the actors are interacting with real stuffed animals.” Read more…)

Destination Wedding (romance, Winona Ryder. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 46. Jeannette Catsoulis does not like “Destination Wedding.” From her review in The New York Times: “All right, then, let’s rip off the Band-Aid: ‘Destination Wedding’ is torture. And not just because this would-be romantic comedy is grating, cheap-looking and a mighty drag: it also turns two seasoned, likable actors into characters you’ll want to throttle long before the credits roll.” Read more…)

Incredibles 2 (Pixar animated feature, Craig T. Nelson. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “And, like his superheroes, [director Brad] Bird is extraordinarily good at destruction, which is very much in evidence in the virtuosic, often delightful ‘Incredibles 2,’ which picks up narratively where the last movie left off. It’s still a fantasy 1962 or thereabouts as the boxy cars, clothing and midcentury modern flourishes suggest, but advances in computer animation make everything — from downy hair to brick buildings — look far sharper and more fine-grained. Here, you can almost count the stubble on Bob’s unshaven face and trace the swirls in the billowing, churning dust clouds that form after an explosion.” Read more…)

Papillon (action/adventure, Charlie Hunnam. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “But much like the original, the remake of ‘Papillon’ isn’t interested in questions of innocence and guilt or jurisprudence. Instead it’s about tough men toughing it out in tough conditions while laughing — or stoically staring or occasionally trembling — in the face of death. The grim reaper has taken up permanent residence here, and is emblematized by a looming guillotine and personified by the guards, the dandified warden and the corpses that are hauled off like sacks of garbage.” Read more…)

Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (animated feature, Adwale Akinnuoye-Agbaje. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52.)
Loving Pablo (true crime/romance, Penelope Cruz. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 42.)

New Blu-Ray
BlacKkKlansman
Incredibles 2
Out of the Past

New Foreign DVDs
The Cakemaker (Israel, drama, Roy Miller. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Sad and sweet, and with a rare lyricism, ‘The Cakemaker’ believes in a love that neither nationality, sexual orientation nor religious belief can deter. Some may find its reticence off-putting or even irritating, but at heart it’s just a tender love triangle with a ghost in the middle.” Read more…)

12 Days (France, documentary, mental health system. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 81. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “An uneasy calm suffuses ’12 Days,’ a documentary set at the juncture of personal liberty and the law. An opening title card offers some context: Since 2013, patients in France who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitals must be ‘presented to a freedom and detention judge’ within 12 days and then, if needed, every six months. That’s pretty much all the background that the director Raymond Depardon provides in this movie, which suggests that the line between mental illness and health is sometimes determined by who tells your story and how. For those who have long been silenced — and often remain so — being able to tell those stories is clearly monumental.” Read more…)

La Boyita (Argentina, coming-of-age, Mirella Pascual. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83.)

 New British
Poldark: Season 4 (drama/history series, Aidan Turner)

New TV
Who Is America: Season 1 (comedy/politics, Sacha baron Cohen. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 59.)
Succession: Season 1 (HBO drama, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 70.)

New Documentaries
Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood (cinema history, LGBTQ history. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 67. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood’ wears a lot of hats, none of which quite fits. A salacious tell-all about the hidden sex lives of postwar movie stars; a peek at the underbelly of the repressive moral dictates of the studio system; a breezy biography of a self-described Hollywood prostitute and procurer; and a psychosexual study of a possibly damaged victim of extreme childhood abuse.” Read more…)

Big Sonia (bio, Holocaust, inspiration. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “Sonia Warshawski, a Holocaust survivor who lives in Kansas City, Kan., is the star and subject of the documentary ‘Big Sonia’ — now 91, she’s had time to accumulate character. When we meet Sonia, her tailor shop is the last remaining business in a deserted mall. She parks her Oldsmobile in a no-parking zone every morning. She loves leopard print, marveling that it never goes out of style. But between shop duties, speaking engagements and gefilte fish preparation, Sonia recounts her memories as a witness to senseless murders, including the death of her own mother in the gas chambers.” Read more…)

Mr. Capra Goes to War (cinema history, World War II, Frank Capra’s WW2 documentaries)
12 Days (France, documentary, mental health system)
The Early Films of William Ferris: 1968-75 (music, Mississippi)

 New Children’s DVDs
Incredibles 2 (Pixar animated feature, Craig T. Nelson)
Bilal: A New Breed of Hero (animated feature, Adwale Akinnuoye-Agbaje)

New releases 10/30/18

Top Hits
Mandy (action, Nicolas Cage. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 81. Here you go—a Nicolas Cage flick that is a New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The movie, directed by Panos Cosmatos from a script he wrote with Aaron Stewart-Ahn [I should disclose here that Mr. Stewart-Ahn is an acquaintance] is a fantasy feature awash in physical and emotional violence. In its various genre allusions, it draws from a deep, idiosyncratic well. But despite its frequent instances of absurdist humor, it is not a film that winks at the audience with its cleverness.” Read more…)

The Spy Who Dumped Me (comedy, Mila Kunis. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In its opening minutes, ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ hops from a shootout in Vilnius, Lithuania, to a birthday celebration in Los Angeles. Audrey [Mila Kunis] is turning 30 in the wake of an abrupt breakup — via text — with one of the gunmen, a skinny dude named Drew [Justin Theroux] whose profession was a secret to Audrey. The title of this pleasantly silly, sometimes jarringly violent comedy, directed by Susanna Fogel [who wrote the script with David Iserson], isn’t terribly ambiguous, and I have now explained it fully.” Read more…)

Teen Titans Go to the Movies (animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 69. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “It’s an amusing tale for young audiences, ending with the expected messages about friendship and courage. But there are delights for adults as well, particularly in the first half, with sendups of various comic book series [some aimed at DC’s own arch-nemesis, Marvel] and an extra-large supply of spoofs on other movies.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Princess Bride
The Spy Who Dumped Me

New Foreign DVDs
Custody (France, drama/domestic thriller, Lea Drucker. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about domestic horror, about movies that find monsters and demons at home, movies that reckon not so much with the banality of evil as with its awful familiarity. ‘Custody,’ the spare and unsparing debut feature by Xavier Legrand, is not, strictly speaking, a horror movie. There is nothing supernatural, nothing especially out of the ordinary, about the force that terrorizes Miriam Besson [Léa Drucker] and her children. It’s Miriam’s ex-husband, Antoine [Denis Ménochet], a man who wears his everydayness like a badge of righteousness.” Read more…)

Les Parents Terribles (France, 1948, heartbreaking drama dir. By Jean Cocteau, Jean Marais. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New’York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “In between the fantastical masterpieces ‘Beauty and the Beast’ [1946] and “Orpheus’ [1950], Jean Cocteau directed two films not frequently seen in the United States: ‘The Eagle With Two Heads’ [1948], a quasi-medieval romance, and ‘Les Parents Terribles’ [also 1948], a contemporary family melodrama. ‘Parents,’ which sometimes goes by the English-language title ‘The Storm Within,’ makes its U.S. premiere in New York this week in a fine-looking restoration.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Hallelujah The Hills (1963, avant-garde romance, New American Cinema, Peter H. Beard. From an unsigned 1963 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Three months ago, a modest little Vermont-made farce called ‘Hallelujah the Hills’ surprised and delighted patrons of the first New York Film Festival by boisterously affirming that life can be a ball and movie-making can be fun.This festive philosophy was broached to a commercial audience for the first time yesterday at the Fifth Avenue Cinema — as close to its spiritual Greenwich Village home as current distribution policies allow. Judging from the response, it should stay there for quite a while.” Read more…)

Sisters (1973, Criterion Collection, thriller, Margot Kidder. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review of the restored version of “Sisters”: The 1973 slasher film ‘Sisters,’ digitally restored and playing at the Quad Cinema, as well as streaming on services like FilmStruck, was Brian De Palma’s first homage to Alfred Hitchcock. Shamelessly lurid, it’s also his best. ‘Sisters’ boasts an angsty score by Bernard Herrmann, who wrote the music for a number of Hitchcock films including ‘Psycho,’ from which ‘Sisters’ borrows much of its plot. De Palma also drew on Hitchcock’s brilliant use of editing to generate suspense, augmenting conventional crosscutting with his taste for split-screen action.” Read more…)

The Princess Bride (1987, adventure/romance, Criterion Collection, Fred Savage. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 77. From Janet Maslin’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Princess Bride’ is framed as a story told to a sick little boy, and the child is thoroughly skeptical -who wouldn’t be? Here is a full-length fairy tale full of fanciful characters, madcap adventures and a lot of other things surely not to every taste. But ‘The Princess Bride’ has sweetness and sincerity on its side, and when it comes to fairy tales, those are major assets. It also has a delightful cast and a cheery, earnest style that turns out to be ever more disarming as the film moves along.” Read more…)

Whatever (1998, drama, Liza Weil. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Stephen Holden’s 1998 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “But despite its false notes and occasional stridency, ‘Whatever’ rings true enough to make it one of the more compellingly realistic films about teen-age angst and the tug of war between destructive peer pressure and independence. Ms. Weil’s transparent performance takes you so deeply inside Anna’s skin that you feel every itch and sore, every twinge of hope and self-confidence. Even when you want to shake some sense into her, you know exactly why she is doing the wrong thing.” Read more…)

 New British
Endeavour: Season 5 (Inspector Morse prequel series, Shaun Evans. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
The Durrells in Corfu: Season 3 (bio/comedy series, Keeley Hawes)

New TV
The Americans: Season 6 (final season of espionage series, Keri Russell. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 92.)

New Documentaries
Resistance at Tule Lake (civil liberties, Japanese internment, American history, racism. From a Mike Hale New York Times review: “On the other side of the world, and the war, this rough-around-the-edges documentary by the New York-based filmmaker Konrad Aderer tells one of the less well-known stories of the Japanese-American experience in World War II. Interviewing survivors, and traveling on a pilgrimage to the desolate remains of the Tule Lake relocation camp in far Northern California, Mr. Aderer shows that the narrative of stoic obedience in the face of repression and imprisonment is radically incomplete. He reveals the widespread resistance among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans sent to internment camps.” Read more…)

Love, Cecil (bio, photography, art, Cecil Beaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 63. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Was Cecil Beaton, the photographer, artist, diarist and theatrical designer who chronicled, and was influenced by, several periods of artistic and social upheaval in the 20th century, the last dandy? The documentary, ‘Love, Cecil,’ directed with energy and affection by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, doesn’t grapple with that question, and doesn’t have to; almost 40 years after Beaton’s 1980 death at age 76, no aesthete has come close to duplicating his output or his impact.” Read more…)

 New Children’s DVDs
Teen Titans Go to the Movies (animated feature)

New releases 10/23/18

Top Hits
Sorry To Bother You (race satire/drama/comedy, Lakeith Stanfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Stick to the script.’ That’s the first rule at the telemarketing firm where Cassius Green, an Oakland striver-slash-stoner, finds a job. Sales reps are supposed to start with ‘Sorry to Bother You,’ which is the title of Boots Riley’s movie about Cassius’s rise, fall and bizarre sideways bounces. Mr. Riley is not sorry at all. If you’re not bothered — also tickled, irked, mystified and provoked — then you’ve fallen asleep on the job. It’s fair to say that ‘Sorry to Bother You’ sticks to its own script, but crucial to add that the script in question flips, swerves, meanders and all but explodes in a flurry of ideas and inspirations.” Read more…)

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (musical/comedy, Amanda Seyfried. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 60. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “Most of the musical sequences are creaky, but not that far from some of what Damien Chazelle was going for with the singing and dancing in ‘La La Land’: passionate amateurism. But that’s some of what made the first movie such a kick. Nobody was Barbra Streisand. None of the songs were Stephen Sondheim’s. You were watching very good actors do karaoke in an Anglo-Nordic telenovela. Now you’re watching them do it in a sequel, which means you’re also watching something more inscrutably sad: karaoke of karaoke.” Read more…)

I Think We’re Alone Now (drama/mystery, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 51. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “A haunting first half can’t offset the absurd ending of ‘I Think We’re Alone Now,’ a post-apocalyptic tale with a late plot twist that feels as if it comes out of left field. And right field. And center field, the stands and the dugout, too.” Read more…)

An Elephant’s Journey (family/adventure, Elizabeth Hurley)

New Blu-Ray
Sorry To Bother You
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

New Foreign DVDs
The Idol (Palestine, drama, Tawfeek Barhom. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 66. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Hany Abu-Assad’s ‘The Idol’ expands on the underdog story of Mohammed Assaf, an acclaimed Palestinian pop singer from the Gaza Strip. Mr. Assaf earned fame by winning ‘Arab Idol’ in 2013 after trekking to auditions in Egypt. As portrayed in this admiring fictionalized feature, he just about has the power of traveling singers of myth, able to cross insurmountable barriers and sway hearts with his honeyed voice. But Mr. Abu-Assad’s pop filmmaking is resolutely simple in its approach and efficiently sentimental.” Read more…)

A Kid (France, family drama, Pierre Deladonchamps)

New Documentaries
Uncle Howard (gay & lesbian history, culture, New York, Howard Brookner, William S. Burroughs. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Uncle Howard’ begins with a scene portraying its director, Aaron Brookner, as a man on a mission. Filmed with a shaky video camera, he follows the poet John Giorno into his apartment, hot on the trail of a cache of films made by Mr. Brookner’s uncle, Howard Brookner. Howard Brookner completed only three features before dying of AIDS in 1989. The first two were documentaries, and he took his subjects seriously enough to spend years with them. He began his 1983 movie, ‘Burroughs,’ about the provocative Beat writer William S. Burroughs, in 1978, while studying film at New York University. Two fellow students, the future filmmakers Jim Jarmusch and Tom DiCillo, worked with Howard on that project, and Aaron interviews them extensively here. The movie is a deft sort of dual narrative. It’s the story of Howard’s artistic and personal life, and a story of the stages of Aaron’s discovery of it.” Read more…)

21 x New York (human condition in 21st century western society)

New releases 10/16/18

Top Hits
Ant-Man and The Wasp (superhero action, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 70. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Marvel Studios likes to supersize everything — its heroes, blowups, runtimes, opening theaters, market share and so on. In its world of over-muscled giant slayers, the wee superhero Ant-Man [Paul Rudd] has proved an anomaly because, even when he expands from ant-size to giant, he remains a regular guy, one of life’s little people. That’s still very much the case in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp,’ an engaging goof that resists bludgeoning you with bigness and instead settles for good vibes and jokes. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! [Squints.] It’s a surprisingly enjoyable summer romp!” Read more…)

Nancy (psychological thriller, Andrea Roseborough. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 67. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If you can look beyond the horrendous, wig-like thicket that clings to the head of the title character in ‘Nancy,’ you might see something to admire in the movie’s uncompromising portrait of extreme misery. On the other hand, you might simply be weary of wincing at the visions of filmmakers [in this case, Christina Choe] intent on rubbing our noses in lives ungraced by a single second of loveliness or joy.” Read more…)

A Prayer Before Dawn (drama/boxing, Joe Cole. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A bare-knuckled fist of a movie, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ is grueling to watch and disorienting to listen to. At once a true story and a daring experiment, this deep dive into a maximum-security prison accompanies Billy Moore [Joe Cole], a young English boxer and heroin addict whose fight career in Thailand is abruptly interrupted when he’s arrested on drug possession charges. From this second on, Mr. Sauvaire [adapting Mr. Moore’s 2014 autobiography] uses sight, sound and movement to bind us to the character and share his extreme dislocation.” Read more…)

Unfriended: Dark Web (horror, Betty Gabriel. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 53. A New york Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Like the 2015 movie ‘Unfriended,’ to which this picture is what they call a ‘stand-alone’ sequel, ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ unfolds in real time and overlays a diabolical formal stroke on top. That is, like the first, all the action occurs within a computer screen. And as the first film had teenage friends [and the ghost of a teenager] tormenting each other online, this movie is also true to its title, exposing the seedier and more sinister sides of the internet.” Read more…)

Boundaries (comedy/drama, Christopher Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 50. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The road-trip movie, with its promise of redemption or resurrection or just plain head-straightening, is that most indelibly American of genres. It’s also the most overworked and vulnerable to cliché, a pitfall that Shana Feste’s ‘Boundaries’ takes no pains to avoid.” Read more…)

Paul: Apostle of Christ (religious drama, James Faulkner. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 52.)

New Blu-Ray
Ant-Man and The Wasp

New Foreign DVDs
The Night Eats the World (France, horror, Anders Danielsen Lie. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 50. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “Never underestimate the ability of the French to find deep meaning in the zombie apocalypse. Back in the late 1960s, it was a critic in the Paris-based magazine Cahiers du Cinéma who saw the profound subtext that American reviewers overlooked in George A. Romero’s formative ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ And just when you thought modern portraits of the undead couldn’t become more pretentious, ‘The Night Eats the World,’ Dominque Rocher’s tediously solemn feature debut, finds new ways to drain all the fun out of flesh-eating monsters.” Read more…)

Gabriel and the Mountain (Brazil, drama, Joao Pedro Zappa. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In July 2009, the body of a young Brazilian named Gabriel Buchmann was found near a mountain trail in Malawi. He had been taking a year to travel the world before starting a graduate program at U.C.L.A., and he was expecting to fly home to Rio de Janeiro shortly. The last months of Buchmann’s life are the subject of ‘Gabriel and the Mountain,’ a film by his friend Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa that is a perceptive and poetic hybrid of documentary and fiction. It both captures and gently critiques Gabriel’s free-spirited, adventurous sensibility.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (bio, music, Elvis Presley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jon Pareles’ Times review: “‘Elvis Presley: The Searcher,’ a two-part, three-hour documentary that begins airing Saturday on HBO, strives to rescue the Elvis Presley story from its tabloid side. Instead, it presents a biography of an artist and musician who was both spectacularly gifted and unconscionably misdirected. Guided by his own ideas and instincts, he transformed 20th-century culture in the 1950s. But afterward, treated by his manager as a commercial workhorse, he spent years making trivial movies and performing as a nostalgia act.” Read more…)

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (American history, race, justice. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In ‘The Fire Next Time,’ James Baldwin wrote that ‘to accept one’s past — one’s history — is not the same thing as drowning in it.’ He knew that the superstitious fear of being swallowed up, the dread of giving up a fantasy of innocence, is precisely what keeps so many white Americans from confronting the uglier aspects of the nation’s legacy. Travis Wilkerson, a documentary filmmaker whose roots are in small-town Alabama, attempts just such a reckoning in ‘Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?’ The movie, a scorching and rigorous essay on memory and accountability, is neither a profession of guilt nor a performance of virtue. Though his inquiry is intensely, at times painfully personal, Mr. Wilkerson is above all concerned with unpacking the mechanisms of racial domination.” Read more…)

Whitney (bio, music, Whitney Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “My heart goes out to anybody who arrives at Kevin Macdonald’s new Whitney Houston documentary expecting a celebration of music and once-in-a-generation talent. Those are both present — the songs, that voice. But they’re heavy with cost. They’re warped, enlisted to indict rather than delight.” Read more…)

One October (sociology, American life, NYC time capsule. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Music DVDs
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (bio, music, Elvis Presley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 84.)
Whitney (bio, music, Whitney Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75.)

New releases 10/9/18

Top Hits
Eighth Grade (coming-of-age, Elsie Fisher. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are few more poignant, exasperating creatures than teenage girls. [I speak from personal experience.] And rarely are they as heart-pangingly real as the girl fumbling through the sharp, smart comedy ‘Eighth Grade.’ Like a lot of people, Kayla (the wonderful Elsie Fisher), spends a lot of time tethered to a cellphone that serves as her touchingly imperfect portal to the world. Day and deep into night, she scrolls through screen after screen of images — celebrities, cartoons, celebrity cartoons, stranger selfies — sprinkled with hashtags, online handles, candy-colored effects and emojis.” Read more…)

Skyscraper (action, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 51. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “At one point in the insistently, nay, proudly ridiculous thriller ‘Skyscraper’ the hero played by Dwayne Johnson assures the audience what it’s known from the start: ‘This is stupid.’ It’s hard not to wonder if the writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber built the entire movie around this redundant truism. And why not? All he had to do was pad it with some recycling, bank on his relationship with Mr. Johnson — they worked together on ‘Central Intelligence,’ as mocking a title as Hollywood has produced — and Mr. Thurber had his elevator pitch: ‘The Towering Inferno’ meets ‘Die Hard’ but in China. Box-office domination was guaranteed as soon as the seven-figure deal was signed.” Read more…)

Gold Star (drama, Robert Vaughn. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Frank Scheck’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A clearly personal effort for its director/screenwriter/star, Victoria Negri’s debut feature is notable for the powerful supporting turn by the late Robert Vaughn in his final screen appearance. Delivering a mostly silent performance as the stroke-afflicted father of Negri’s central character, the veteran actor embodies the anguish of a once vital man reduced to pointing at words as his sole means of communication.” Read more…)

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (drama/comedy based on true story, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If you’ve ever hung out with an incorrigible drunk, then you’ll immediately appreciate the dramatic beats of ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,’ Gus Van Sant’s cleverly volatile, infuriatingly random take on the disabled alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan. Self-pitying or smug, jaunty or crestfallen, callous or contrite, the movie’s fitful tone is fully yoked to Joaquin Phoenix’s sodden-to-sober lead performance.” Read more…)

Hotel Artemis (thriller, Sterling K. Brown. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s a lot of genre flourish packed into a relatively tidy running time in ‘Hotel Artemis,’ the directorial feature debut from the screenwriter Drew Pearce. Extrapolating from a droll “hotel for criminals only” concept recently seen in a sequence from 2014’s ‘John Wick,’ this movie makes the locale a combination hotel/hospital, sets the story a decade in the future, adds appropriately advanced technology, and surrounds it with a rioting Los Angeles populace up in arms over the privatization of water.” Read more…)

Hotel Transylvania 3 (animated feature, Adam Sandler [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s new York Times review: “The scenes of Dracula befuddled by a mobile phone were familiar; those in which the vampire’s garlic ‘intolerance’ preludes a flatulence joke predictable. Returning a third time as director, Genndy Tartakovsky lends his usual graphic savvy, providing a not-quite-saving grace.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Skyscraper
Fast Times at Ridgemont High

New British DVDs
Killing Eve: Season 1 (spy/action series, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 83.)
A Month In the Country (1987, drama, Kenneth Branagh)

New Documentaries
Dark Money (politics, campaign finance. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis ‘New York Times review: “In her documentary ‘Dark Money,’ Kimberly Reed sets out to shine a light on obscure groups that, with deep-pocketed anonymous donors, have meddled in Montana elections. Scanning the recent past, she explores how and why both the state and citizens fought this meddling, as well as the ominous forces behind it. That killer clown postcard turned out to be bankrolled by dark money, which the Republican state senator Llew Jones defines here as ‘advertising where you don’t know who’s paying for the ads.’ He wonderingly asks: ‘Who’s paying for this? What are they attempting to buy?'” Read more…)

Life on Parole (prison policy, rehabilitation)
Imagine/Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon, music, making music)

New Music DVDs
Imagine/Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon, music, making music)

Children’s DVDs
Hotel Transylvania 3 (animated feature, Adam Sandler [voice])

New releases 10/2/18

Top Hits
Leave No Trace (drama, Ben Foster. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘Leave No Trace,’ [director Debra] Granik explores what it means to be so far on the margins you might as well not exist at all, at least as far as the larger world is concerned. It’s a familiar concern for Ms. Granik, who’s drawn to American outsiders — intentional and unintentional exiles alike — living in what are often blandly called poor and marginalized communities. These are the people who populate her stories and bring them to tangibly real life in dramatic movies like ‘Winter’s Bone,’ set in the Ozark Mountains in rural Missouri, and in her documentary ‘Stray Dog,’ which centers on a gruffly warm biker and Vietnam veteran who radically defies stereotype.” Read more…)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (action/thriller, Benicio Del Toro. Rotten Tomatoes 63%. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado,’ directed by Stefano Sollima from a script by Taylor Sheridan, is an unusual kind of sequel. Dumber, less inventive and not as pretentious as ‘Sicario’ [released in 2015, directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Mr. Sheridan], it both advances and retreats, expanding on the original and narrowing its scope.” Read more…)

The Catcher was a Spy (true-life spy story with baseball, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes 34%. Metacritic: 49. From Glenn Kdnny’s New York Times review: “‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ is a character drama and an espionage thriller with a premise so peculiar that a fiction writer would be hard pressed to contrive it. As it happens, the story line is plucked from the marginalia of World War II history. And from the history of American baseball.” Read more…)

Breath (Australia, coming-of-age, Simon Baker. Rotten Tomatoes 77%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Surging waves, churning foam, seductively glistening bodies — the surf movie ‘Breath’ has them all. A sustaining pleasure of this alluring subgenre, of course, is the spectacle of mostly male, mostly naked bod’es miraculously sliding over and through the water. In “Breath,” the narrator recalls that on seeing surfers when he was young he thought: “Never had I seen men do something so beautiful, so pointless and elegant, as if dancing on water was the best and brightest thing a man could do.’ So there’s that, too.” Read more…)

Three Identical Strangers (documentary, family, social services, triplets. Rotten Tomatoes 97%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The title ‘Three Identical Strangers’ is somewhat of a giveaway in a documentary that’s best watched knowing as little as possible about its specifics. So, tread [and read] lightly! Engrossing, and sometimes enraging, the movie tells of triplets who, after being adopted separately at birth, were reunited by happenstance. None of the men — or their families — knew about the others, which naturally led to questions and has inspired the director Tim Wardle to turn their mysterious history into a detective story in reverse, one that begins with the seeming denouement [the happy reunion] and then moves back and forth across time.” Read more…)

Damsel (western, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes 71%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A counterfeit preacher, shoulders wreathed in dynamite and neck encircled by a makeshift noose, ponders his probable demise. As the camera crawls backward, we see a miniature horse standing calmly between his legs. The image — bizarrely comic and mildly menacing — occurs during the later stages of ‘Damsel,’ but it handily encapsulates the tone of a movie that turns the classic western into something wackily eccentric and entertainingly original.” Read more…)

The 12th Man (World War II drama, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Rotten Tomatoes 85%. Metacritic: 76. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The reward of [director Harald] Zwart’s attention to the unique details of this historical account is that Jan’s path to safety frequently shocks, offering scenes of defiance that are unfamiliar or unexpected. In a familiar genre, ‘The 12th Man’ preserves the element of surprise by understanding its terrain.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Rear Window

New Foreign DVDs
Andrei Rublev (USSR, 1966, Tarkovsky-directed historical; drama, Criterion Collection, Nikolai Burlyaev. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Vincent Canby’s 1992 New York Times review on the re-release of a restored, augmented version of the movie [requires log-in]: “When Tarkovsky made ‘Andrei Rublev,’ he conceived it as a boldly free-form consideration of the responsibility of the artist (any artist) to himself and to the world that gave him life. It was thus almost inevitable that the completed film would go on to illustrate everything that can happen to an artist, in this case Tarkovsky, when he refuses to mind the strictures of authoritarian rule.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Aloha, Bobby & Rose (1975, romance/drama, Paul Le Mat. From Vincent Canby’s 1975 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Aloha, Bobby and Rose,’ which opened yesterday at the Columbia 2 Theater, is a sentimental, noisy, very bad movie about a young Los Angeles couple whom Floyd Mutrux, the director and writer of the screen play, describes as star-crossed though they seem less star-crossed than accident-prone.” Read more…)

I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1973, drama, Tom Courtenay)

New TV
Barry: Season 1 (HBO dark comedy, Bill Hader. Rotten Tomatoes 98%. Metacritic: 83.)

New Documentaries
Strangers on the Earth (music, pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago. Rotten Tomatoes 83%. Metacritic: 54. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The sensations that ‘Strangers on the Earth’ means to evoke are not well suited to the cinematic medium, at least not to a documentary that barely runs more than an hour and a half. To get into the proper contemplative frame of mind, you would need to spend a month walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain, the same journey — a famous Catholic pilgrimage — that its principal subject takes. Dane Johansen, an American cellist, sets out to hike a route that extends from the Pyrenees in the east to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, regarded as the final resting place of St. James, in the west, playing Bach’s suites in 36 ancient churches along the way.” Read more…)

Children’s DVDs
Quarterback Princess (1983, sports/feminism, Helen Hunt)

New releases 9/25/18

Top Hits
Solo: A Star Wars Story (adventure. Sci-fi, Alden Ehrenreich. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘This was never about you,’ someone says to Han Solo, which is odd since the movie is called ‘Solo.’ I don’t want to make this about me, but there are a lot of questions that, in the 41 years since I saw the first “Star Wars” movie — fine! the fourth one; ‘A New Hope’; jeez! — it has never occurred to me to ask. Where did Han Solo get his last name? How did he and Chewbacca meet? What was the winning hand in the game of Sabacc that gave him possession of the Millennium Falcon? How exactly did he make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?” Read more…)

Gotti (gangster biopic, John Travolta. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 24. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “That the long-gestating crime drama ‘Gotti’ is a dismal mess comes as no surprise. What does shock is just how multifaceted a dismal mess it is.” Read more…)

Hot Summer Nights (thriller, Timothée Chalamet. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 44. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s a scene in the 2013 film ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ in which the title character, a struggling folk singer in early-1960s New York, meets a younger musician who’s been making waves. This other guy is well organized, polite and an engaging performer who can easily get a coffeehouse audience to sing along with him. During one such show, a flabbergasted Llewyn asks his friend, who admires this fellow, ‘Does he have a higher function?’ That unkind question passed through my mind while I was watching ‘Hot Summer Nights,’ written and directed by Elijah Bynum, who is making his feature debut.” Read more…)

The Seagull (Chekhov adaptation, Annette Bening. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Watching Annette Bening as Irina Arkadina in ‘The Seagull,’ Michael Mayer’s adaptation of the durable Anton Chekhov play, you might almost believe that the role was written with her in mind. There is very little Ms. Bening can’t do, but one of the things she does best is play actresses — the title character in ‘Being Julia,’ Gloria Grahame in ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ and now Chekhov’s diva of the late-19th-century Moscow stage. Irina is charming and silly, imperious and intelligent, tough to the point of cruelty and also exquisitely sensitive.” Read more…)

Pin Cushion (coming-of-age story, Lily Newmark. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “For her first feature, “Pin Cushion,” the British director Deborah Haywood digs into her own teenage memories and unearths something eccentric, tragic and utterly unclassifiable.” Read more…)

The Bye Bye Man (horror, Douglas Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 37. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This horror movie has a hook that’s sharper than it sounds. ‘The Bye Bye Man’ melds the summon-the-evil-by-its-name convention familiar from ‘Candyman’ and, in a lighter register, ‘Beetlejuice,’ with the old try-not-to-think-of-an-elephant mind game.” Read more…)

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (horror/comedy, Thomas Lennon. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “An operatic aria of sleaze and slaughter, ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’ reboots the deadly-doll franchise that began in 1989 with the campy ‘Puppet Master.’ But while you don’t require familiarity with the dozen or so earlier titles to enjoy this one, you do require a sense of humor that’s easily triggered and a gag reflex that isn’t.” Read more…)

31 (Rob Zombie horror flick, Malcolm McDowell. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 35. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “No one goes to a Rob Zombie movie looking for classy entertainment, and with ’31’ the director works harder than ever to reinforce that tradition. Awash in blood and revoltingly misogynistic dialogue, this latest redneck ruckus (his seventh feature) is a grindhouse slog of unrelenting bad taste.” Read more..)

An American in Texas (drama, James Paxton)
Billionaire Boys Club (drama, Ansel Elgort. Rotten Tomatoes: 9%. Metacritic: 30.)

New Blu-Ray
Solo: A Star Wars Story

New Foreign DVDs
The Shepherd (Spain, drama, Miguel Martín. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From Jonathan Holland’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A stirring tale of one grizzled guy’s struggles to maintain his home and his dignity in the face of market forces, Jonathan Cenzual Burley’s debut ‘The Shepherd’ works up its simple man vs. system premise into a rich and compelling drama that, like an erring sheep, loses its way somewhat over the home stretch. Buoyed by an intense central performance by Miguel Martin, the film is part rural drama, part social critique and part homage to the harsh landscapes of central Spain, its low-budget ambitions no greater than to tell its important little story effectively. Mission accomplished: Further festival interest following the film’s triple Raindance triumph should extend ‘The Shepherd’s flock of followers.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
A Raisin In the Sun (1961, drama, Criterion Collection, Sidney Poitier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New TV
Billions: Season 3 (Showtime drama, Paul Giamatti)

New Documentaries
Mountain (nature, adventure, Willem Dafoe [narrator]. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 82. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “For those terrified of heights, ‘Mountain’ will be a nonstop nightmare. Yet big scares are a small price for the awe-inspiring footage you’ll see. As for what you’ll hear, that takes a little explaining. The documentary, directed by Jennifer Peedom and filmed by Renan Ozturk and a collection of other cinematographers, presents a nonstop sequence of mountains on all seven continents: breathtaking ranges and snow-capped peaks are seen from above, below and on their slopes. Additional footage includes climbers, skiers and extreme mountain bikers taking risks that seem beyond outrageous.” Read more…)

Beuys (art, bio, Joseph Beuys. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “As is the case with many conceptual artists, Beuys’s work was best understood with Beuys’s actual presence attached to it. But Beuys has been dead since 1986. This documentary, directed by Andres Veiel using mostly archival footage, makes a strong case for Beuys, emphasizing the social conscience at work in his art more than the postmodern prankishness.” Read more…)

New releases 9/18/18

Top Hits
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (sci-fi/action, Chris Pratt. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 51. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The posters for ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ promise that “The Park Is Gone.” Perhaps that’s meant to be foreboding, but it mostly sounds like an end to fun. The “Fallen Kingdom” part is also frankly a little obscure. The mistake, however, might be to suppose that these words mean anything at all. Sense is a thing this movie doesn’t have much interest in making.” Read more…)

Fahrenheit 451 (sci-fi/dystopian thrlller, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 47. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “Even if you are not familiar with the Ray Bradbury source novel, ‘Fahrenheit’ makes it quickly, hammeringly clear that it is a cautionary tale. You’ll get that from the urban-noir aesthetic, the school-indoctrination sessions and the fact that Montag’s job as a ‘fireman’ involves not fighting fires but starting them — burning humanity’s last remaining books as well as their digital reproductions, all of which have been outlawed.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

New Foreign DVDs
The Guardians (France, drama, Nathalie Baye. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Guardians,’ unmistakably a war movie, is as quiet as a sigh. We barely hear a shot or a shell, and news of the horror of trench warfare — the story starts in 1915 — reaches us mostly through the words of men who have returned, briefly, from the front. Brothers, husbands, sons, these soldiers show up one at a time, unannounced, to their home in a rustic valley somewhere in France. And then they go away again, sometimes forever.” Read more…)

Summer 1993 (Spain, coming-of-age drama, Laia Artigas. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Summer 1993’ balances delicately on the aftermath of a tragedy, but its tone is far from dismal. Melancholy, yes, and even momentarily wrenching; yet its emotional arc bends insistently from inarticulate sadness to gentle catharsis. Unfolding during a sun-dappled summer in the Catalonian countryside, this autobiographical debut [culled from the childhood memories and family stories of the writer and director, Carla Simón] is light on drama yet dense with unspoken feeling.” Read more…)

I Killed My Mother (Canada, 2009, gay & lesbian/drama, Xavier Dolan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Rachel Saltz’s Times review: “The bluntly audacious title of the writer-director Xavier Dolan’s debut feature, ‘I Killed My Mother,’ is both a twist on a Freudian joke and a complicated assessment of the hero’s over-cathected relationship with his parent in chief. ‘Deep down I love her,’ the 16-year-old Hubert Minel [Mr. Dolan] says in one of the movie’s confessional black-and-white interludes, ‘but it’s not the love of a son.’ Sorry, Hubert, but it is the love of a son, though, as Mr. Dolan shows, it can look a lot like romance, with all its messy ‘I hate you, I love you, I hate you’s.'” Read more…)

Coming Home (China, drama, Chen Daoming. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 81. Ftom A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Zhang Yimou and Gong Li constitute one of the great director-actress pairings in movie history. In the 1980s and ’90s they worked together on a remarkable run of movies — including ‘Red Sorghum,’ ‘Raise the Red Lantern,’ ‘Shanghai Triad’ and ‘To Live’ — that were central to the resurgence of Chinese cinema and made international stars of both of them. Ms. Gong, noble, fragile and indomitable, was for Mr. Zhang a muse, an alter ego and an emblem of China’s suffering and resilience at important moments in the nation’s history. ‘Coming Home,’ only their second collaboration in the past 20 years, reunites them in an intimate, politically resonant story set in the final years and the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd & Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection (1933-36, 21 short comedy films)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Gold (1974, conspiracy thriller, Roger Moore)

New British
The Miniaturist (period thriller, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 69.)

New TV
The Looming Tower (mini-series drama based on book about run-up to 9/11, Jeff Daniels. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 74. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review; “The show didn’t get made only because of the events it covers, now nearly 17 years in the past. It got made because of the book itself: Lawrence Wright’s definitive and mesmerizing ‘The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,’ the best seller and Pulitzer Prize winner published in 2006. Sales and prizes, though, are no guarantee that a book will make it to the screen with its spirit intact. Neither, apparently, is the involvement of the author.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Nana (biography, Holocaust history. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%.)

New Gay & Lesbian
I Killed My Mother (Canada, gay & lesbian/drama, Xavier Dolan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71.)

New releases 9/11/18

Top Hits
Ocean’s 8 (action, Sandra Bullock. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 61. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The party gets started early in ‘Ocean’s 8,’ a frothy female-driven caper. Stuffed with talented, beautiful women playing naughty, this is the latest addition to the cycle that was once about an improbably suave thief, Danny Ocean [George Clooney], and his mostly male band of charming accomplices. Danny is now out of the picture, and Sandra Bullock has stepped in to play his sister, Debbie Ocean, who’s soon overseeing her own con with a knowing smile and the usual suspects, including a partner in crime, a hacker, a pickpocket and a distraction, played with fizz and delectable timing by Anne Hathaway.” Read more…)

Hearts Beat Loud (drama/music, Nick Offerman. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A bubble gum movie with a soundtrack to match, Brett Haley’s ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ doesn’t try very hard to sell itself or press its point. How could it, with Nick Offerman as one of the two leads? The man has made a career [primarily as a misanthropic government worker on ‘Parks and Recreation’] of leaning back and asking the audience to come to him, and, by and large, we have.” Read more…)

Goldstone (Australia, crime/thriller, Aaron Pedersen. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 78. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Given how few people live in the tiny mining outpost of ‘Goldstone,’ the abundance of wickedness is astonishing. Yet this parched Outback western, awash in noirish mannerisms and a sunstroke-inducing palette, harbors a robust social conscience beneath its hotbed of bribery and sex trafficking.” Read more…)

Superfly (action/remake, Trevor Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The American Dream is invoked several times in ‘Superfly.’ The mentions come from the movie’s lead character, and from a song on the soundtrack. These days, it seems, the phrase is often used ironically. It’s all about the accumulation of wealth and a sybaritic lifestyle. There’s no spiritual dimension, no sense of genuine civic aspiration. Within those cynically defined contemporary parameters, Youngblood Priest [Trevor Jackson, dressed to the nines and sporting what one character derides as ‘Morris Day hair’] is doing well.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Oceans 8
From Beyond (H.P. Lovecraft horror, Jeffrey Combs. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘From Beyond’ … is funny in the way of pulp fiction condescended to by superior intellects and special-effects experts. ‘From Beyond’ is an updated adaptation of an old H. P. Lovecraft tale about those malignant creatures that share our world, unseen, existing in their fourth dimension just waiting to get back into ours. With the help of computer technology and something called a ”resonator,” Dr. Pretorious has provided the means by which these beings can return.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Cold Water (France, 1994, Olivier Assayas coming-of-age drama, Virginie Ledoyen. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review on the occasion of its first U.S. release in 2018: “Nodding to François Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Pierrot le Fou,’ ‘Cold Water” is a self-aware descendant of the French New Wave. Like Truffaut and Godard, [director Olivier] Assayas turned from critic to filmmaker after a stint with Cahiers du Cinéma; the French-Hungarian actor Laszlo Szabo, a frequent supporting player in New Wave films, has a scene here as Gilles’s father. But ‘Cold Water,’ which Mr. Assayas has characterized in some ways as being autobiographical, is even more forcefully a post-New Wave generational statement.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
For a Good Time, Call… (2011, comedy, Ari Graynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘For a Good Time, Call …’ doesn’t aspire to be more than a broad, sloppy, old-fashioned sitcom with a sexy gimmick. But it is quite funny, and at the screening I attended, the loudest laughs came from young women in the audience. There are the usual sitcom intrusions and ridiculous plot twists.” Read more…)

The Tree of Life (2011, drama, Criterion Collection, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review [requires log-in]: “The Day of Judgment, prophesied for last weekend, has apparently been postponed, but moviegoers eager for rapture can find consolation — to say nothing of awe, amazement and grist for endless argument — in ‘The Tree of Life,’ Terrence Malick’s new film, which contemplates human existence from the standpoint of eternity. Recently showered with temporal glory at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, this movie, Mr. Malick’s fifth feature in 38 years, folds eons of cosmic and terrestrial history into less than two and a half hours. Its most provocative sequences envision the origin of the universe, the development of life on earth [including a few soulful dinosaurs] and then, more concisely and less literally, the end of time, when the dead of all the ages shall rise and walk around on a heavenly beach.” Read more…)

New TV
This Is Us: Season 2 (comedy/drama, Milo Ventimiglia. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%.)

New Documentaries
Filmworker (cinema history, movie making, Stanley Kubrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Intrigued by Kubrick’s exacting and innovative methods — for example, shooting ‘Barry Lyndon’ as much as possible with candles, torches and sunlight — [actor and documentary subject Leon] Vitali set off to study the craft of moviemaking. His quest led him back to Kubrick, just as the director was starting to work on his 1980 film, ‘The Shining.’ In short order, Mr. Vitali became a casting consultant [he auditioned child actors for the role of Danny Torrance] and then a factotum for Kubrick. In ‘Filmworker,’ a documentary directed by Tony Zierra, Mr. Vitali tells his story.” Read more…)

That Summer (Edith & Edie Beale, Grey Gardens from a different perspective. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘That Summer,’ a new documentary directed by Goran Hugo Olsson, sheds further light on the Beales with footage shot before the making of ‘Grey Gardens.’ The photographer Peter Beard, whose camera appreciated both the wilds of Africa and the supermodels and superstars of the 1960s and ’70s, opens the film from his Montauk home. Now 80, he pages through a coffee-table book of his own photography and reminisces.” Read more…)

New releases 9/4/18

Top Hits
Hereditary (horror, Toni Collette, Rotten Tomatoes: 89. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “At one point in ‘Hereditary,’ Ari Aster’s highly effective new horror movie, a character screams ‘Get out!’ It’s not yet clear what she means — or who, exactly, she’s addressing — but the line is both a pretty good jolt and a clever meta-joke. Invoking the title of the movie that set a new standard for commercial success, cultural prestige and societal relevance in an often-underestimated genre may be a way of acknowledging the raised expectations of the audience. What ‘Hereditary’ shares with ‘Get Out’ — apart from a house full of white people behaving strangely — is an ambitious energy, a sense that the creaky old machinery of horror can be adapted to new and exciting uses.” Read more…)

Adrift (adventure, Shailene Woodley. Rotten Tomatoes: 72. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The most recent English-language films from the Icelandic action auteur Baltasar Kormakur — ‘Everest’ from 2015 and the new ‘Adrift’ — would make an apt, if grueling, double feature, a surf-and-turf of real-life survivalism. Deep-frozen Jake Gyllenhaal followed by Shailene Woodley on the half-shell, floating across the South Pacific in a dismasted schooner with Sam Claflin languishing in the stern.” Read more…)

American Animals (true crime/heist, Evan Peters. Rotten Tomatoes: 86. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In December 2004, in the midst of final exams, four young men robbed the rare-book room at the library of Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. A Vanity Fair article a few years later described the heist as one part “’Ocean’s 11,’ one part ‘Harold & Kumar,’ which might raise your hopes for ‘American Animals,’ a new movie that reconstructs the crime. But the film, written and directed by Bart Layton, can’t quite decide what it wants to be: a slick, speedy caper; a goofball comedy; or a commentary on the state of the American soul. It’s none of those — a tame and toothless creature that is neither fish nor fowl.” Read more…)

Dark River (drama/mystery, Ruth Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 79. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “The Yorkshire depicted in Clio Barnard’s third feature, ‘Dark River,”’has much in common with that of Francis Lee’s recent triumph, ‘God’s Own Country’: a place of hard labor and lowering skies, of bleating sheep and repressed sexuality. Yet even in the swelling canon of British rural miserabilism, this unrelentingly intense psychodrama burrows beneath the skin.” Read more…)

Beast (crime/drama, Jessie Buckley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Moll’s a wild one,’ someone remarks early in ‘Beast,’ Michael Pearce’s thrilling, unsettling debut feature. With her electric twist of Titian curls and dark, secretive gaze, Moll [a riveting Jessie Buckley] has the look of a volcano that’s primed to erupt. Stirring murder mystery, love story and psychodrama into a mesmerizing slurry, Mr. Pearce turns his native island of Jersey into a sunlit trap where Moll chafes against her domineering mother [an icy Geraldine James] and conservative community.” Read more…)

Ideal Home (comedy, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 66. Metacritic: 62. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Teo Bugbee’s Times review: “The director of ‘Ideal Home,’ Andrew Fleming, based the movie on his own experience as the second parent to his partner’s child, and the movie thrives by depicting the idiosyncratic textures of gay relationships. ‘Ideal Home’ is genuinely funny, and the poignant and pithy script is aided by the chemistry between its stars, who are equally adept with comedic punch lines as they are with dramatic gut punches. Refreshingly, the film’s tone seems pitched more to gay audiences than straight ones.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Hereditary
Beast

New Foreign DVDs
Western (Germany, thriller, Meinhard Neumann. Rotten Tomatoes: 72. Metacritic: 56. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The title of Valeska Grisebach’s beautifully complicated, rigorously straightforward third feature, ‘Western,’ has at least two meanings. The German workers who come to a remote rural valley in Bulgaria to build a hydroelectric plant are emissaries of the West, bringing the ambiguous benefits of capitalist development to a former Eastern Bloc nation. It’s not the first time Germans have been here, as several people point out, even if the crew hardly resembles an occupying army. But they do call to mind the cavalrymen in a movie like ‘Fort Apache’: interlopers in someone else’s territory, surrounded by a local population that is wary of their presence and sometimes hostile to it.” Read more…)

The Desert Bride (Argentina, romance, Paulina Garcia. Rotten Tomatoes: 86. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Desert Bride,’ an Argentine-Chilean feature from the directors Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato, tells a slight story so gingerly that the film almost seems to recede into the horizon as you watch it. A road movie of sorts, it steers clear of melodrama or sentimentality, but it also never risks hitting anything. To be fair, such restraint may be intended as a reflection of the protagonist, Teresa [the Chilean actress Paulina García, who earned raves a few years ago for the film ‘Gloria’], who has spent more than half her life working unassumingly as a maid in Buenos Aires.” Read more…)

Godard Mon Amour (France, drama/romance, Louis Garrel. Rotten Tomatoes: 54. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Godard Mon Amour,’ the latest offering from the pasticheur Michel Hazanavicius [‘The Artist,’ ‘OSS: 117’], chronicles an eventful year or so in the life of the cineaste Jean-Luc Godard. The period covered by the film includes the 37-year-old Godard’s marriage to the 19-year-old actress Anne Wiazemsky [on whose memoir it’s based] and the uprising of French students and workers in May 1968, a revolt that, among other things, shut down that year’s Cannes Film Festival. On being informed of the existence of Mr. Hazanavicius’s project, Mr. Godard — who is now 87 and whose latest film, ‘Le Livre d’Image,’ will be in Cannes next month — is reported to have called it a ‘stupid, stupid idea.’ Au contraire! [All due respect.] It’s a brilliant idea. It just happens to be a terrible movie.” Read more…)

The Great Silence (Italy, 1968, spaghetti western, Klaus Kinski. Rotten Tomatoes: 100. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review on the occasion of the film’s first U.S. release in 2018: “I’m not generally one for nostalgia, but I do regret the loss of a certain kind of craziness that used to flourish in movies — the kind that is on rich and ripe display in ‘The Great Silence,’ a 1968 Italian western by Sergio Corbucci that is only now receiving a proper theatrical release in this country. There is something about the film’s brazen mixing of incompatible elements that defies categorization, imitation or even sober critical assessment. It’s anarchic and rigorous, sophisticated and goofy, heartfelt and cynical. The score, by Ennio Morricone, is as mellow as wine. The action is raw, nasty and blood-soaked. The story is preposterous, the politics sincere.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Kismet (1944, adventure/fantasy, Ronald Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. from P.P.K.’s 1944 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Kismet,’ the venerable stage-piece with which the late Otis Skinner rode to his greatest fame, came to life again yesterday at the Astor in the M-G-M Technicolor production with Ronald Colman in the starring role aided by Marlene Dietrich, James Craig, Edward Arnold, Joy Ann Page and others.Under the newest cinematic treatment the addition of color and modern dimensional effects have heightened the conscious attempt at fantasy.” Read more…)

The Girl From Jones Beach (1949, romance, Ronald Reagan. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In re the question of feminine adornment, which happens to be the one pursued with single-minded attention in the Warners’ ‘The Girl from Jones Beach,’ it must be said that Virginia Mayo upholds the case for the form-fit bathing suit. And it must be further remarked that the Warners have tried their best not to jeopardize her case by obscuring her brilliant presentation with a bulky or brain-taxing brief.Many thanks to the Warners for not putting too much in the way of Miss Mayo’s able demonstration of the use of the bathing suit. And thanks to them also for enrolling Ronald Reagan to play the part of the gentleman upon whom Miss Mayo makes the biggest impression in this new comedy at the Strand.For Mr. Reagan is a fellow who has a cheerful way of looking at dames, especially at one who is as cheering as Miss Mayo proves herself to be.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (bio, popular culture, television history, Fred Rogers aka Mister Rogers. Rotten Tomatoes: 99. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “By sheer coincidence — unless it is, somehow, a sign of the times — the two best American movies in theaters right now both happen to be about Protestant ministers grappling with their vocations in a fallen and frightening world. One of these men of the cloth is a fictional character, Ernst Toller, the anguished pastor [played by Ethan Hawke] who ministers to a dwindling flock in Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed.’ The other is a real person: Fred Rogers, a graduate of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary whose millions of congregants assembled in front of their parents’ television sets from the late 1960s until the early years of this century, absorbing his benign and friendly secular wisdom.” Read more…)