New releases 11/2/21

Top Hits
Nine Days (drama/fantasy, Winston Duke. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness,’ wrote Vladimir Nabokov. We have been imagining and describing one of those ostensible eternities — the afterlife — for millenniums. ‘Nine Days,’ the ambitious and often impressive debut feature from the writer-director Edson Oda, surprises by positing a prelife world, and a vetting process determining which souls are awarded a term on earth.” Read more…)

Come True (horror, Julia Sarah Stone. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “But the characters are just the beginning of what’s creepy about ‘Come True.’ Atmosphere is its primary virtue: [director Anthony Scott] Burns has an eye for medical spaces and tech that look dingy and out of date and for architecture that evokes anonymous, forgotten corners of academia.” Read more…)

Ride the Eagle (comedy, Jake Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It’s doubtful that anyone who has enjoyed the work of the writer and actor Jake Johnson can name, offhand, an instance in which he has played a guy who works in an office. It’s just not a thing with his nontoxic, shaggy bro persona. In ‘Ride the Eagle,’ which Johnson co-wrote with the director Trent O’Donnell, he plays a character compelled to contend with imminent middle age. But no worries — his journey in no way obliges him to button down or up.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Devi (The Goddess) (India, 1960, drama dir. by Satyajit Ray, Sharmila Tagore. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Howard Thompson’s 1962 New York Times review: “The theme, the tragic consequences of blind faith, reportedly stirred controversy in his country. Mr. Ray has done this: Without probing too deeply into theology, he has recorded the emotional repercussions in a contemporary household of means where a young, childlike wife is abruptly singled out and treated as a living deity, an incarnation of the goddess Kali. In essence, this is a tale of the old vs. the new, of super-stitution colliding with realism. Unfolding the story and incidents at a deliberately steady pace, Mr. Ray has evoked an emotional crescendo moving toward tragedy.” Read more…)

Gomorrah: Season 1 (Italy, crime series, Marco D’Amore. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “‘Gomorrah’ operates on two planes. It’s a grim, detailed, quotidian drama about the inner workings of organized crime [which has drawn comparisons to ‘The Wire’] and at the same time it’s a traditional Mafia saga, a clan melodrama centering on succession and the ups and downs of the family business [which has drawn comparisons to ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Godfather’]. Either of these by itself might not be very interesting, but the combination is handled so adroitly that the show sucks you in.” Read more…)

New British
The Crown: Season 4 (bio-pic drama, Olivia Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Jude (1996, drama, Kate Winslet. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 68. From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1996 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Somewhere in the making of ‘Jude,’ the new film based on Thomas Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure,’ the inevitability of tragedy seems to have been mislaid. So, when life delivers its cruelest, most devastating blow to the prideful Jude Fawley, his misfortune seems less the logic of ineluctable fate than the byproduct of a few ill-considered words.” Read more…)

The House on Sorority Row (1982, suspense/horror, Kathryn McNeil. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 50.)

New Documentaries
The Hidden Life of Trees (life science, ecology, plant sentience, Peter Wohlleben. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Devika Girish’s Times review: “What the film successfully imparts is not so much scientific certainty as an affecting sense of curiosity and reverence, which Wohlleben deploys to a pragmatic end: to argue for the ecological management of forests, which would ensure their communal health and longevity, and therefore that of humankind. Crouching next to a 10,000-year-old spruce, [author Peter] Wohlleben reminds us of man’s comparative insignificance as well as power.” Read more…)