New releases 1/18/22

Top Hits
Last Night in Soho (thriller/drama, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Nothing in Wright’s previous work quite prepared me for ‘Last Night in Soho,’ its easy seductiveness and spikes of sophistication. Dissolving the border between present and past, fact and fantasy, the director [aided by the euphoric talents of the cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung] has produced some of the most dazzling imagery of his career. This is also his first film with a female lead — he’s best known for buddy comedies like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ [2004] and ‘Hot Fuzz’ [2007] — a choice that lends an authentic shiver to a story anchored in male sexual violence and swinging London’s seedy underbelly.” Read more…)

Spencer (bio/drama on Princess Diana, Kristen Stewart. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Spencer,’ described by its director, Pablo Larraín, as “a fable from a true tragedy,” is all of the above, and also a fact-inspired drama about Diana, Princess of Wales, played with grit and grace by Kristen Stewart. Diana, who died in a car crash in 1997 — and whose maiden name gives Larraín’s film its title — is hardly an obscure figure. A global celebrity and tabloid fixture in her lifetime, she remains somehow irresistible.” Read more…)

Mass (drama, Jason Isaacs. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 81, Must See. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The writer and director Fran Kranz stages this congregation like a play. The actors are seated across from each other in a single room, and the camera work is minimal, alternating between close-ups. The dialogue limits the amount of knowledge the audience is given about how or why the central horror [a school shooting] took place. This measured approach allows the feelings that flicker across the faces of the movie’s veteran cast to register not only as markers of marvelous acting — though there is plenty of that to spare — but as events with the power to propel the introspective plot.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Dune (available in Blu-Ray, 3D Blu-Ray, & 4K Ultra HD)

New Foreign DVDs
Hive (Albania, drama, Yllka Gashi. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A liberation story told with easy naturalism and broad political strokes, ‘Hive’ tracks Fahrije on her path to independence. (It’s based on the experiences of an Albanian Kosovo woman of the same name.) Like its protagonist, the movie is stern, direct and attentive to ordinary life. The writer-director Blerta Basholli doesn’t bludgeon you with the character’s miseries, or hold your emotions hostage. Fahrije isn’t lovable; sometimes she’s scarcely likable, which means she’s more of a human being than an emblem of virtuous suffering.” Read more…)

Beans (Canada, drama, Kiawentiio. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Teo Bugbee’s Times review: “The drama ‘Beans’ sets its coming-of-age story during the 1990 Oka crisis, when Mohawk residents of Oka, Quebec, began protesting the expansion of a golf course into Native burial ground. The characters in the story are fictional, but ‘Beans’ takes place during a real period of turbulence in Eastern Canada, as Mohawk people were harassed by their neighbors and the police.” Read more…)

Ema (Chile, drama, Mariana Di Girólamo. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Eroticism and pyromania dance hand-in-hand through “Ema,” a thorny provocation from the Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larraín. To some, its title character — played with vivid impudence by Mariana Di Girólamo — will be a possibly insane enigma; to others, a heroic mother who will do anything to reclaim her adoptive son.” Read more…)

Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy (Japan, drama/romance, Kotone Furukawa. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy’ is a perfect entry point into [director Ryusuke] Hamaguchi’s work. Not every episode works equally well or hits as hard, but both times I watched this movie, I found something to admire, consider, argue with and weep over. The three stories are clearly separated with coy or cryptic or plainly descriptive titles. They have separate casts and each takes place in contemporary settings, though one has a modest, somewhat random splash of speculative fiction. Here, as in life, the most blandly familiar spaces — the back seat of a cab, a cluttered office, a living room — serve as unadorned stages for ordinary, existence-defining encounters.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
MLK/FBI (history, bio, civil liberties, race, Martin Luther King Jr. Rotten Tomatoes:99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘MLK/FBI’ is fair to all parties without being neutral or timid. In that regard, it’s an exemplary historical documentary — unafraid of moral judgment but also attentive to the fine grain of ambiguity that clings to the facts. It doesn’t force the preoccupations of the present onto the past, but rather invites you to think about how what happened then might help explain where we are now. The story took place a long time ago, but it isn’t finished.” Read more…)

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