New releases 10/5/21

Top Hits
Space Jam: A New Legacy (animated feature/live action, Lebron James. Rotten Tomatoes: 26%. Metacritic: 36. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The 1996 live-action/animation mash-up comedy ‘Space Jam,’ in which Michael Jordan met the Looney Tunes crew, has a settled reputation as one of those pictures everybody saw but few critics found satisfactory. This did not dissuade Warner Media from constructing a starring vehicle for contemporary basketball titan LeBron James around the same conceit. Only hypertrophied. Naturally. Directed by Malcolm D. Lee from a script by six credited writers, ‘Space Jam: A New Legacy’ has a bit more on its hectic mind than its predecessor did.” Read more…)

First Date (action/comedy, Shelby Duclos. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52. From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “‘First Date’ is a boy-meets-girl, boy-and-girl-evade-goon-squad action romance from Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp, a debut filmmaking team putting their faith in Jean-Luc Godard’s maxim that ‘all you need for a movie is a gun and a girl.’ Hey, that cliché sold Quentin Tarantino’s first scripts, and this likable homage moves at a clip, as though the young writer-directors are impatient to introduce themselves to producers beyond their immediate families.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Munyurangabo (USA/Rwanda, 2007, post-genocide drama, Jeff Rutagengwa. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In a recent issue of The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch, author of the definitive English-language book on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, wrote about that country’s progress, 15 years after the killing, toward national reconciliation and political normalcy. “Munyurangabo,” a quiet, probing film by Lee Isaac Chung that was first shown at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, examines similar themes in a different key, using the fine-grained techniques of cinematic neorealism to illuminate the psychological and emotional landscape of a still-traumatized place.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Of Human Bondage (1934, drama, Leslie Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1934 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “W. Somerset Maugham’s widely circulated novel, ‘Of Human Bondage,’ has come through the operation of being transferred to the screen in an unexpectedly healthy fashion. It may not possess any great dramatic strength, but the very lifelike quality of the story and the marked authenticity of its atmosphere cause the spectators to hang on every word uttered by the interesting group of characters.” Read more…)

Serenade (1956, musical Mario Lanza. From A.H. Weiler’s 1956 New York Times review: “Although ‘Serenade’ gave the Warner Brothers their full share of script headaches, their efforts to transpose a touchy subject to the screen appear to have paid off. The laundered version of James M. Cain’s somewhat shocking novel, published in 1937, which arrived yesterday as the Music Hall’s Easter attraction, is guaranteed not to startle the customers.Although it now is a basically simple but lengthy tale of an opera singer who is deeply hurt by one love and redeemed by another, it serves to bring Mario Lanza back to the movies.” Read more…)

That Midnight Kiss/ The Toast of New Orleans (1949/1950, musicals, Mario Lanza. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review of “That Midnight Kiss” [requires log-in]: “No one can say that Metro has done things by quarters—or even halves—in bringing forth Mario Lanza, its latest singing man. It has launched the beaming young tenor in a juicy leading role alongside of Kathryn Grayson in a lark called “That Midnight Kiss.” Furthermore, it has loaded this package with music and talent galore, a muchness of colorful production and plenty of pleasant romance. The consequence is a launching of which any opera veteran might be proud.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Power and The Glory (1961, made for TV Graham Greene adaptation, Laurence Olivier. From Jack Gould’s 1961 New York Times review: “Last night’s production of ‘The Power and the Glory,’ starring Sir Laurence Olivier, was an absorbing paradox such as might occur only in television: At one and the same time it was both a proverbial milestone and a major disappointment… Yet as a two-hour entity designed for showing both on home TV and later in motion picture theatres, ‘The Power and The Glory’ was a great expectation that remained largely unfilled. It was extremely elaborate and methodically deliberate. But in its pursuit of epic dimensions, the presentation somehow mislaid the tiny and elusive kernel of inspiration and humanness that would have touched and moved the individual viewer to share in the priest’s agonizing torment and final redeeming sacrifice.” Read more…)

Rad (1986, sports/young adult, Lori Loughlin. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 24. From Walter Goodman’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The bicycle acrobatics behind the credits at the opening of ”Rad” are so spectacular that you wonder what the movie can do to improve on them. The short answer is, nothing. It’s all uphill once the tale gets under way of the hometown rider of a BMX, a type of two-wheeler designed to fly and bounce as well as roll, who beats the arrogant and corrupt outsiders in the big race.” Read more…)

Uncle Sam (1997, horror, Robert Forster. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%.)