New releases 1/22/19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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