New releases 10/20/20

Top Hits
The Plot Against America (HBO series based on Philip Roth book, alternative history of early 1940s fascist takeover in USA, John Turturro. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From James Poniewozik’s Times review: “‘Plot’ is a departure for [David] Simon, who has not adapted a work of fiction before, yet it feels natural. Simon is an artist of granular realism, and the lived-in middle-to-working-class Jewish New Jersey he creates gives the series its power.” Read more…)

Amulet (horror, Alec Secareanu. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 65. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “This is [director Romola] Garai’s feature directing debut, and it is as satisfying as it is promising, despite an unfortunate wind down. She has a great eye — and a real feel for the power of silence and visual textures — but she stumbles when she explains too much. An actress-turned-filmmaker whose credits include ‘Atonement,’ Garai is clearly invested in creating juicy, complex gender roles.” Read more…)

Cut Throat City (crime/action, Shameik Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “While not pursuing the cinematic pyrotechnics of the films and filmmakers mentioned in the opening scene, [hip hop artist and director] RZA tells this story [from a screenplay by Paul Cuschieri] with deliberation and imaginative daring. With ‘Cut Throat City,’ his third feature, he comes into his own as a director.” Read more…)

The Secrets We Keep (post-World War II period drama, Noomi Rapace. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 46. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “An exploitation film that proceeds as if it were a solemn memorial, ‘The Secrets We Keep’ doesn’t do right by the Holocaust history it invokes — or much else. In small-town America around the turn of the 1960s, Maja (Noomi Rapace), a Romanian housewife, spots a stranger whom she believes participated in the assault and murder of a group of women that included her and her sister near the end of World War II. But after kidnapping the man and holding him at gunpoint, with plans to execute him in a pre-dug grave, Maja loses her nerve and brings him home.” Read more…)

Quiz (TV drama, Michael Sheen. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times review: “In ‘Quiz,’ a sprightly three-part British drama coming to AMC on Sunday, form closely follows content. The series is based on a quiz-show scandal that mesmerized Britain in the early 2000s, and it takes the form of a question: Do you think they did it? Directed by Stephen Frears and written by James Graham, based on his play of the same name, ‘Quiz’ dramatizes the events surrounding the September 2001 appearance of an army officer named Charles Ingram on the original, British ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?,’ a national sensation then beginning its fourth year. “ Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Gunfighter (1950, western, Criterion Collection, Gregory Peck. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The addicts of Western fiction may find themselves rubbing their eyes and sitting up fast to take notice before five minutes have gone by in Twentieth Century-Fox ‘The Gunfighter,’ which came to the Roxy yesterday. For suddenly they will discover that they are not keeping company with the usual sort of hero of the commonplace Western, at all. Suddenly, indeed, they will discover that they are in the exciting presence of one of the most fascinating Western heroes as ever looked down a six-shooter’s barrel.” Read more…)

Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics IV:
     So Dark the Night (film noir, 1946, Steven Geray. From Time Out’s review: “The film is directed like a million bucks. Visually, it compares with ‘The Big Combo’ as one of Lewis’ purest noir achievements; beyond that, it has more cinematic ideas and effects per square foot of screen than any number of contemporary A features. In other words, it’s a ‘typical’ Lewis movie: low on thinks, but with enough style to send lovers of cinema reeling. “ Read more…)

     Johnny O’Clock (film noir, 1947, Dick Powell. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Another of those underworld smarties who are as hard and shiny as brass on the outside but who muffle hunks of goodness within their little-boy hearts is the unoriginal hero of Columbia’s ‘Johnny O’Clock,’ which came yesterday to Loew’s Criterion with Dick Powell as its star. And another of those smoldering exhibitions of gambling-joint jealousy and greed, set off against the law’s resistless close-in is what you get in it.” Read more…)

     Walk A Crooked Mile (film noir, 1948, Louis Hayward. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The American atomic scientists who recently have complained about the wild innuendoes of disloyalty that have been passed against distinguished members of their group should see a certain movie called ‘Walk a Crooked Mile.’ Right away, Eric Johnston would be deluged with indignant mail. For this brisk little cops-and-spies picture, which came to Loew’s Criterion yesterday, unqualifiedly places an American scientist in cahoots with Russian atomic spies.” Read more…)

     Walk East On Beacon! (film noir, 1952, George Murphy. From A. Weiler’s 1952 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There should be no doubt at this point that Communist espionage is an insidious but definite menace and the F. B. I. is ever alert to thwart these underground forces if ‘Walk East on Beacon’ is any criterion. But this latest entry in a long line of film exposes of scientific sleuthing produced by Louis de Rochemont in his typical, documentary fashion is serious spy-chasing adventure which, oddly enough, suffers somewhat because of its late arrival. For the newcomer, which was unveiled at the Victoria, is expertly turned melodrama, but melodrama in a familiar format.” Read more…)

Between Midnight And Dawn (film noir, 1950, Mark Stevens)

New British DVDs
Flesh and Blood (British mystery mini-series, Stephen Rea. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 75. From Margaret Lyons’ capsule review for the New York Times: “I wouldn’t call this a British Murder Show™, but this four-part mini-series is British, and there is a murder — or is it an accident? Think ‘juicy domestic drama with a dark side’ rather than ‘bummertown crime times with occasional family chitchat.’” Read more…)

Quiz (TV drama, Michael Sheen)

New TV
The Plot Against America (HBO series based on Philip Roth book, alternative history of early 1940s fascist takeover in USA, John Turturro)