New releases 1/28/20

Top Hits
Terminator: Dark Fate (action, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 54. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “There are a number of reasons to like “Terminator: Dark Fate” — Linda Hamilton’s scowl, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s stubble, MacKenzie Davis’s athleticism — but my favorite thing about this late addition to a weary franchise is how little it cares about timeline continuity.” Read more…)

Harriet (Harriet Tubman biopic, Cynthia Erivo. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Harriet,’ directed by Kasi Lemmons [‘Eve’s Bayou,’ ‘Black Nativity’] and anchored by Cynthia Erivo’s precise and passionate performance in the title role, might not be exactly what my correspondent had in mind, but it is a rousing and powerful drama, respectful of both the historical record and the cravings of modern audiences. The story of Tubman’s escape from enslavement on a Maryland farm and her subsequent leadership in the underground railroad is conveyed in bold, emphatic strokes. Villainy and virtue are clearly marked, and the evil that Tubman resisted is illuminated alongside her bravery.” Read more…)

Ms. Purple (drama, Jake Choi. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Following two deeply damaged siblings, each lacking a place in the world, Justin Chon’s ‘Ms. Purple’ seems named not for a character, but for a state of mind that’s been a long time brewing. Purple is also the color of the traditional South Korean dress obediently worn one evening by Kasie [Tiffany Chu], 23, at the insistence of her rich, entitled boyfriend [Tony Kim]. But in the United States, where the film takes place, purple vividly signifies daring and defiance, independence and strength. That demands a personality to match, and Kasie is a woman controlled by the demands of men.” Read more…)

Motherless Brooklyn (drama/mystery, Edward Norton. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Admirers of [Jonathan] Lethem’s novel may find themselves puzzled by what Norton has done with it. He has moved the action backward in time and dramatically expanded its scope, replacing modesty, irony and charm with earnest, sometimes overstrained ambition. But filmmakers don’t owe literary works their reverence, just their intelligence, and ‘Motherless Brooklyn’ is a very smart movie, bristling with ideas about history, politics, art and urban planning.” Read more…)

Battle of Jangsari (war drama, Kim Myung-min. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.)

New Blu-Ray
Terminator: Dark Fate

New Foreign DVDs
Parasite (South Korea, comedy/drama, Kang-ho Song. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 96. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Midway through the brilliant and deeply unsettling ‘Parasite,’ a destitute man voices empathy for a family that has shown him none. “They’re rich but still nice,” he says, aglow with good will. His wife has her doubts. “They’re nice because they’re rich,” she counters. With their two adult children, they have insinuated themselves into the lives of their pampered counterparts. It’s all going so very well until their worlds spectacularly collide, erupting with annihilating force. Comedy turns to tragedy and smiles twist into grimaces as the real world splatters across the manicured lawn. The story takes place in South Korea but could easily unfold in Los Angeles or London.” Read more…)

Museo (Mexico, crime/drama, Gael Garcia Bernal. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 86. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In spite of a meandering story and some fuzzy passages, there is a touch of magic in ‘Museo,’ a sense of wonder and curiosity that imparts palpable excitement. Some of that is the intimation of a strong and original cinematic voice evolving toward the realization of its full potential — the feeling that you might be in the presence of someone who could become the next great Mexican filmmaker.” Read more…)

All About My Mother (Spain, 1999, Almodovar-directed drama, Criterion Collection, Cecilia Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 87. From Janet Maslin’s 1999 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This year’s New York Film Festival opens tonight with the marvelous ‘All About My Mother,’ a whole new order of Almodóvar extravaganza. It depends, as so many things do, upon the kindness of strangers. Starting at that place in Mr. Almodóvar’s great big heart where womanhood, artifice, Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote and ‘All About Eve’ collide, it weaves life and art into a rich tapestry of love, loss and compassion. This film’s assorted females — real, theatrical or would-be — move past the nervous breakdown stage and on to something much more forgiving.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Fail Safe (1964, Cold War drama, Criterion Collection, Henry Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “For ‘Fail Safe’ is definitely in the area of those films that are important and are going to be talked about. And it packs a melodramatic wallop that will rattle a lot of chattering teeth. As its title tells, it is based on the popular novel of Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler, and it covers almost precisely the same ground, in a general way, as does ‘Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.’ That is to say, it is a story of what might happen in the secret chambers of our highest government and military personnel if a flight of American bombers should accidentally be directed to fly over the Soviet Union and drop nuclear bombs.” Read more…)

New British
Room at the Top (1959, “kitchen sink” drama, Laurence Harvey. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “THE cynical, disenchanted and footloose post-war youths of England, who justifiably have been termed “angry,” never have been put into sharper focus than in ‘Room at the Top.’ The British-made import, which was unveiled at the Fine Arts Theatre yesterday, glaringly spotlights them in a disk of illumination that reveals genuine drama and passion, truth as well as corruption. Although it takes place 3,000 miles away, it is as close to home as a shattered dream, a broken love affair or a man seeking to make life more rewarding in an uneasy world.” Read more…)

My Life Is Murder: Series 1 (Australia detective series, Lucy Lawless)

New Documentaries
Midnight Traveler (human rights, Afghanistan war, refugees. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “To a degree, ‘Midnight Traveler’ is a diary movie, complete with regular time and place notations: ‘Day 51 Ovcha Kupel Refugee Camp, Bulgaria.’ The filmmakers are chronicling their own lives, of course. But they are also documenting a far larger catastrophe, one that comes in different languages and affects innumerable families. It’s easy to feel upset and recurrently outraged by what you see and hear. But at its best, this documentary asks something more of you. When a nationalist protest breaks out near one refugee camp, you are bluntly reminded that behind the accounts of the migration crisis are concrete, real-world choices that those of us with homes make each day about the lives of others.” Read more…)