New releases 10/13/20

Top Hits
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Story (drama, Aaron Paul. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 72. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “If remembering the heyday of one of TV’s greatest series is enough for him, then he might be just the audience for ‘El Camino,’ now on Netflix and in theaters. The film, written and directed by the series’s creator, Vince Gilligan, is a well-crafted postscript that entertainingly extends the ‘Breaking Bad’ cinematic universe by two hours without really adding to it.” Read more [but spoilers alert]…)

The Cuban (drama, Ana Golja. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The Cuban’ opens with Cuban jazz on the soundtrack and bright watercolors of mid-20th-century Havana accompanying the credits. But things get more subdued, literally, as the watercolors start depicting a nursing home. Moving into live action, the colors are muted, the light diffuse. And they stay that way to the extent that you might wonder if something’s technically wrong. But no. The director, Sergio Navarretta, switches back to vivid color for the vivid-color memories of Luis Garcia [Louis Gossett Jr.], a once-famous Cuban musician, now suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.” Read more…)

The Short History of the Long Road (drama, Maggie Siff. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 60. From Tomris Laffly’s Variety review: “A cozy and affecting tale about living off the grid, ‘The Short History of the Long Road’ begins with a peaceful image of a young woman, whose long locks float over sunny pool waters. But her serenity gets cut short by her dad before she can fully immerse in the calm of the moment. And soon enough, the time comes for the duo to hit the road again in their vintage refurbished RV, not even giving the teenager time to finish her hot dog, cooked on a grubby grill that has seen better days.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Tobacconist (Germany, drama, Bruno Ganz. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 55. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The coming-of-age costume drama ‘The Tobacconist’ is set in Vienna during the rise of Nazism, leading up to the German occupation of Austria. But despite taking place during one of the most traumatic periods of modern civilization, the movie itself feels like little more than an amusing trifle, a chance to play dress up with some of history’s most famous figures.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Nothing Sacred (1937, screwball comedy, Carole Lombard. Note to viewers: Opens with a couple of scenes that are frankly racist albeit hardly out of character for that time. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1937 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Ben Hecht has been squinting at ‘The Front Page’ again and, with one eye crinkled shut and the other sardonically glinting, he has written impiously impish comedy about that recurrednt journalistic marvel, the seven-day wonder.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Claudine (1974, drama, Criterion Collection, Diahann Carroll. From Vincent Canby’s 1974 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Claudine,’ the comedy that opened yesterday at the De Mille and Fine Arts Theaters, has its own problems, including a tendency toward cuteness and a form that recalls television’s worst situation comedies. You know the ones — about resourceful moms, dumb dads and smart-talking kids who can burp on cue. The good news this morning is that ‘Claudine’ manages to be very funny, in a couple of instances, triumphantly so.” Read more…)

Rider on the Rain (1970, mystery, Charles Bronson. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Vincent Canby’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘Rider on the Rain,’ as in so many of his other films, Bronson spends most of the time acting like a villain— seemingly insensitive, short sighted, arrogant and cruel —before being revealed as the hero who is suddenly, almost foolishly generous. It’s one of the ironies of national taste that the very qualities that the French pretend to find so abhorrent in American foreign policy become so beloved in an American savior‐figure.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
XY Chelsea (documentary, LGBTQ, civil liberties, national security, Chelsea Manning.Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Frustratingly fuzzy and intermittently provocative, ‘XY Chelsea’ profiles Chelsea Manning, the U.S. Army analyst who leaked cascades of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010. Picking up as Manning’s 35-year prison sentence is commuted by President Obama in 2017, Tim Travers Hawkins’s good-looking documentary features more glamour shots than psychological insights.” Read more…)