New releases 11/5/19

Top Hits
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (action, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 60. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “The people who made ‘Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw’ know that Dwayne Johnson [Luke Hobbs] and Jason Statham [Deckard Shaw] have an easy adversarial chemistry. They build the movie around their put-downs and pranks. Statham stays focused on how Johnson’s size makes him seem kind of dumb and unsubtle. And Johnson picks on what an indecipherably British hobbit Statham is. At some point, Hobbs gets a load of Shaw’s stable of sports cars and asks if he’s, uh, overcompensating.” Read more…)

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (horror, Zoe Colletti. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 61. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “If Alvin Schwartz’s popular ‘Scary Stories’ children’s books condensed folklore into an accessible anthology form, ‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark,’ an agreeable bit of fan service, performs a similar gateway function for movies. Whether it’s the scene-setting blast of Donovan [‘Zodiac’], the low-height Steadicam work [‘The Shining’], the red-suffused hallways [David Lynch] or ‘Night of the Living Dead’ playing at a drive-in, the movie takes from the best.” Read more…)

Riot Girls (sci-fi/action, Madison Iseman. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 59. From Katie Walsh’ Los Angeles Times review: “Director Jovanka Vuckovic tackles her feature directorial debut with the ’80s-inspired, comic book-styled, teen punk apocalypse bop ‘Riot Girls,’ written by Katherine Collins. Vuckovic made a splash with ‘The Box,’ her segment of the female-directed anthology horror film ‘XX,’ but ‘Riot Girls’ is a different kind of genre flick. Taking its cues from teen classics like ‘Night of the Comet’ and ‘Karate Kid,’ ‘Riot Girls’ is a splashy, bloody take on ‘Lord of the Flies’ with a rock ’n’ roll spirit.” Read more…)

The Art of Racing in the Rain (family/dog, Milo Ventimiglia. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 43. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “At first glance, the feeble tear-jerker ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’ seems to be a movie made for dog lovers. It is told from the perspective of a dog, a beautiful if inexpressive golden retriever named Enzo. But in a twist that undermines the simple-minded sweetness that makes dogs [and dog movies] so appealing, Enzo is not like other pups. He thinks like a person — pondering subjects like death and reincarnation — and he also dreams of being human.” Read more…)

The Kitchen (crime, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 22%. Metacritic: 35. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review (spoiler alert: she’s not a fan!): “An offense against feminism, narrative logic and Fleetwood Mac, ‘The Kitchen’ is a terrible, witless mess. Set in New York in the late 1970s, it spins a pandering story about three wallflower wives — played by Melissa McCarthy, Tiffany Haddish and Elisabeth Moss — who transform into crime bosses after their gangster husbands are sent up the river. The laughable setup becomes progressively worse the more the movie tries to spin their metamorphosis as female empowerment, a road to liberation that’s blithely paved with wads of cash, hollow laughs and corpses.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw

New Foreign DVDs
Susana (1951, Mexico, Luis Buñuel, melodrama, Rosia Quintana. From Vincent Canby’s New York Times 1983 review [requires log-in]: “Luis Buñuel’s ‘Susana,’ which opens at the Public Theater today, is a most engaging potboiler made by the master in Mexico in 1951. Though Bunuel never for a minute attempts to disguise the film’s intentions to entertain a large, undiscriminating Latin American audience, ‘Susana’ is full of the sort of Bunuelian touches that forever separate all of Bunuel’s films, the potboilers as well as the classics, from those of everyone else.” Read more…)

Spiral: Season 6 (France, cop thriller, Jean-Luc Estebe)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Naked Alibi (1954, film noir, Gloria Grahame. From Bosley Crowther’s 1954 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The tough, hard lot of the policeman is again exemplified in a muscular but unimpressive fashion in ‘Naked Alibi,’ a Universal melodrama which came yesterday to the Paramount. In this one, a chief of detectives is ‘busted’ out of his job because he insists that a seemingly innocent citizen is responsible for the murder of three cops. Whereupon our discredited detective starts ‘tailing’ the citizen on his own, and, sure enough, in a place like Tia Juana, he discovers that his suspicions are justified.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Daytrippers (1996, comedy/drama, Criterion Collection, Stanley Tucci. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Janet Maslin’s 1997 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Eliza D’Amico [Hope Davis] lives on Long Island and thinks she is happily married to Louis [Stanley Tucci], who works in Manhattan. Then she finds a letter that was apparently written to her husband. It quotes Andrew Marvell and is signed ‘Love forever, Sandy.’ Even more surprising than where this situation leads ‘The Daytrippers’ is the way Eliza decides to tackle it: with her whole family. The Malones turn out to be the secret weapon of Greg Mottola’s spirited, expertly acted first feature, which is set right after Thanksgiving and is most definitely not about a man secretly planning to show his wife a merry Christmas.” Read more…)

New British
The Man Between (1953, British film noir directed by Carol Reed, James Mason. From Bosley Crowther’s 1953 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The grim and malevolent climate of rubble-strewn, postwar Berlin, a set-up for sinister intrigues by the cleavage of its east and west zones, surrounds and suffuses the action in Carol Reed’s ‘The Man Between,’ the latest thriller from Britain’s top chill-maker, which came to the Victoria yesterday.Subterfuge and suspicion, secrecy and chicane, and a few things a little more noxious and odorous than these, gather and swirl like dangerous vapors about the handsome and uneasy heads of James Mason, Claire Bloom, Hildegarde Neff and several other hand-picked actors in the cast. “ Read more…)

Seven Days to Noon (1950, Cold War thriller, Barry Jones. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “An intensely absorbing contemplation—that of the crisis which would occur in the crowded city of London if a scientist with an atom bomb got loose and threatened to blow up the city unless atom bombs were outlawed—is pursued with superb pictorial clarity and ever-tightening dramatic suspense in a spanking new British melodrama, ‘Seven Days to Noon.’ This terminally overwhelming picture, which John and Roy Boulting produced, opened yesterday at the Trans-Lux Theatre on Lexington Avenue at Fifty-second Street. Let it be written on the record that a more exciting climax for a film than the one arrived at in this picture would be hard to invent today.” Read more…)

It Always Rains on Sunday (1947, crime/drama, Googie Withers. From Philip French’s 2012 Guardian review [on the release of a restored print]: “Ealing Studios’ name is synonymous with comedy largely because of three films released on consecutive weeks in 1949: ‘Passport to Pimlico,’ ‘Whisky Galore!’ and ‘Kind Hearts and Coronets.’ Before then it was associated with the form of realism created by the documentarists Alberto Cavalcanti and Harry Watt, brought in by Michael Balcon early in the second world war to give his studio a greater authenticity. The finest movie in this mode is ‘It Always Rains on Sunday,’ made in 1947 in grimy, Blitz-scarred east London and being revived in a new print as an example of the darker side of Ealing in the BFI Southbank’s Ealing retrospective. Superbly photographed by the great Douglas Slocombe in the Picture Post manner, a style radically different from the elegant Kind Hearts and Coronets, it’s 24 hours in the life of Bethnal Green, cleverly dovetailing the lives of some 20 characters.” Read more…)

Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries: Season 1 (Australia, mystery, Geraldine Hakewill)

New Documentaries
Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes (music history, jazz. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This documentary directed by Sophie Huber makes a point right off that Blue Note Records, the influential jazz label, is still very much a thing of the present. The opening scene shows a convocation of young musicians, including the pianist Robert Glasper and the trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, assembling in a studio. Don Was, the musician and producer who now oversees the label, talks up a ‘Blue Note All-Stars’ session.” Read more…)

Netizens (Internet culture, bullying, online harassment. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%.)

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