New releases 1/8/19

Top Hits
Mid90s (drama, Sunny Suljic. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “No matter how old you were, where you lived or how many T-shirts and mixtapes you owned, it’s unlikely that you remember the mid-1990s as well — as obsessively, as nostalgically, as literally — as ‘Mid90s’ does. Written and directed by Jonah Hill, this film wants to be less a period piece than a time capsule, an immersion in the sights and sound of a pop-cultural moment.” Read more…)

What They Had (drama, Hilary Swank. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review, apparently dissenting from the positive critical consensus: “Programmatic and groaningly trite, “What They Had,” the debut feature from Elizabeth Chomko, would be impossible to swallow without its star-studded cast. Even so, it requires all their considerable skills to stop this soapy family drama from sliding into complete banality.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
The Death of Louis XIV (France, period drama, Jean-Pierre Leaud. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Actor Jean-Pierre] Léaud, who has been a star of French cinema for most of his life [at 13, he created the character of Antoine Doinel in François Truffaut’s 1959 classic, ‘The 400 Blows’], clearly knows something about living in a kind of box, and he plays [King] Louis as a tired but majestic wreck. He’s riveting, and a little alarming.” Read more…)

Memoir of War (France, WWII drama, Melanie Thierry. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Marguerite Duras [who died in 1996 at 81 and was well known for the novel ‘The Lover’] was an unconventional writer, and by all accounts she lived life unconventionally as well. ‘Memoir of War,’ adapted from her 1985 book that was in part derived from her diaries of occupied France in World War II, depicts the writer as a young woman [Mélanie Thierry] emotionally rived by loss. But she is determined to hold on to her identity as she awaits a reunion with a husband who might not be coming home.” Read more…)

A Paris Education (France, drama, Adranic Manet. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 52. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Tines review: “In ‘A Paris Education,’ the snobs outnumber the cobblestones. One of the film’s many self-reflexive sequences sees Étienne explaining his artistic inadequacies to his roommate and conquest, Valentina [Jenna Thiam]. She smiles, and, in the film’s best shot, begins to lean into a kiss that hints at the kinetic energy that is lacking in both Étienne’s life and this movie. Desire and amusement light Valentina’s eyes before she teasingly passes her final judgment, remarking, ‘Étienne Tinan is a navel gazer.'” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Come To the Stable (1949, inspiring drama, Celeste Holm. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The gentle but dauntless persistence of two Roman Catholic nuns in procuring land and resources for a new children’s hospital is the nub of the sentiment and humor that have been rather copiously crammed by Twentieth Century-Fox into ‘Come to the Stable,’ which opened at the Rivoli last night. Likewise, the verve with which these sisters indulge in intense activities, such as driving a jeep and playing tennis, is the cause for much pointed merriment.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Sunday In New York (1963, rom-com, Jane Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review: “For an hour and a half, our virtuous heroine weighs her standards of morality against the flagrant hypocrisy of her older brother and the strong allure of an attractive young man. Down to New York to ask her brother whether she should or should not give in to the candid propositions of an Albany suitor, she finds herself not only deceived by the piety of her tomcat brother but conveniently importuned by this attractive young fellow she happens to run into—to ‘meet cute,’ as they say—on a Fifth Avenue bus.” Read more…)

Zandy’s Bride (1974, western, Gene Hackman. From Howard Thompson’s 1974 New York Times review prequires log-in]: “What promises to be an engrossing character study of a lovely, lonely mail-order wife and her adaptation to a crude, pioneer huband tapers off episodically and disappointingly in ‘Zandy’s Bride.’ It does so despite an intelligent performance by Liv Ullmann, whose luminous eyes light up the screen every minute, and the steady, watchful direction of Jan Troell, who has impressively rooted his first California film in a wild sweep of the Big Sur area. But for simple, sustained impact and depth, the new picture can’t touch Mr. Troell’s two superb pioneer dramas, ‘The Emigrants’ and ‘The New Land,’ filmed in his and Miss Ullmann’s native Scandinavia.” Read more…)

New TV
Castle Rock: Season 1 (Psychological horror-series based on Stephen King stories. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 66. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times television review: “‘Castle Rock’ is an original work [(writer Stephen) King is a producer] that borrows from [King’s] oeuvre. And while the series is ostensibly created for obsessive and newbie alike, the first episodes — heavy on atmosphere but weak on character — feel like the creators expecting affection for his past creations to do a lot of the work.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Kusama: Infinity (art, bio, Yayoi Kusama. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 71. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “It may seem strange for a movie to argue that an artist who at various times has been called the world’s most popular and has set a record for the highest amount paid for a work by a living female artist is somehow undervalued. But ‘Kusama — Infinity,’ a documentary from Heather Lenz, makes a convincing case that the art world and the general public are still catching up with the influence of Yayoi Kusama, the painter, sculptor and performance artist perhaps most widely known for her mirrored ‘Infinity’ rooms.” Read more…)

Far From the Tree (family struggles, parents and children. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New Yok Times review: “At an hour and a half, the often-inspiring documentary ‘Far From the Tree’ plays like a companion piece to or a preview for Andrew Solomon’s best-selling 2012 book, which, with notes, runs more than 1,000 pages. But its goal is similar: The director, Rachel Dretzin, and Mr. Solomon, a professor of clinical psychology who is both a producer and an on-camera presence here, set out to explore families in which parents and children differ profoundly, whether because of innate factors [Down syndrome, dwarfism] or divergences [the film introduces us to a mother and father whose son was convicted of murder].” Read more…)

The Alps (nature, adventure, mountain climbing, MacGillivray Freeman. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

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