New releases 12/11/18

Top Hits
Colette (historical drama/romance/biopic, Keira Knightley. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Colette’ is an origin story, a tale of metamorphosis rather than of already formed greatness. What interests Mr. Westmoreland is how a self-described country girl became a woman of the world, a transformation that in its deeper, more intimately mysterious registers remains out of reach of this movie and of the hard-working Ms. Knightley. Mostly, he suggests, an intoxicatingly free world was waiting for Colette; all she had to do was discover it.” Read more…)

Peppermint (action, Jennifer Garner. Rotten Tomatoes: 10%. Metacritic: 29. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “You have seen ‘Peppermint’ before. Directed by Pierre Morel [‘Taken’] and starring Jennifer Garner as Riley North, a hard-working suburban mom turned avenging angel, the vigilante thriller hits all the major tropes of the genre. If Hollywood diversions like ‘Death Wish’ and the bizarro ‘Face/Off’ are your bag, choosing to spend 90-plus minutes watching Ms. Garner return to her early action-hero roots and peel off dozens of evil men with ease might seem like a no-brainer. Yet ‘Peppermint’ is a belabored exercise in lazily constructed déjà vu, without the grit or stylized ham of predecessors it so baldly steals from.” Read more…)

Smallfoot (animated feature, Channing Tatum [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 60. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The movie, directed by Karey Kirkpatrick, has just enough wit and visual invention to get by. [The ‘Bad Santa’ team of John Requa and Glenn Ficarra are among those credited with the story.] But for all the hints of darkness around its edges, the film is ultimately like its heroes: cuddly, cute and harmless.” Read more…)

Galveston (thriller, Ben Foster. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 57. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “With shadowy imagery that pushes the boundaries of visibility and a mumbly lead performance from Ben Foster that strains the limits of intelligibility, ‘Galveston’ goes past film noir and lands at film murk. Fans of ‘True Detective,’ whose creator, Nic Pizzolatto, wrote the novel on which this movie is based, won’t be surprised to see a routine on-the-lam scenario treated with the solemnity of the Oresteia. But the heavy-handed filmmaking is more of a mystery coming from the actress Mélanie Laurent, who directed the elegant ‘Breathe’ [2015].” Read more…)

Lizzie (psychological thriller, Chloë Sevigny. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “There is something wildly freeing about the savage killings in ‘Lizzie,’ a distinctly feminist take on the notorious Lizzie Borden, history’s most famous, if unproven, mom-and-pop slayer. This sense of liberation derives from murders enacted with the methodical exhilaration of a jailbreak — a cathartic response to years of oppression by her miserly father, Andrew [Jamey Sheridan], and loathed stepmother, Abby [Fiona Shaw]. And when Lizzie strips naked before hacking her two tormentors to slivers, her nudity isn’t simply practical: It’s the repudiation of a 19th-century wardrobe that controlled women’s movements as thoroughly as men did.” Read more…)

The Equalizer 2 (action, Denzel Washington. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 50. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Vengeance is mine, saith the lord, but that was before Denzel Washington stepped up. One of the reigning symbolic patriarchs of genre cinema — a fraternity that includes Clint Eastwood, Liam Neeson and the rather less-convincing Bruce Willis — Mr. Washington has been meting out extreme punishment for some time. He’s especially persuasive playing the kind of brutal redeemers who unblinkingly snuff out the murderous many to save a single innocent, which is exactly what he does at the start of ‘The Equalizer 2.'” Read more…)

The Nun (horror, Demian Bichir. Rotten Tomatoes: 27%. Metacritic: 46. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The protagonist searches for something in a dark, dank corridor. The camera pans to the right. The camera pans to the left — and oh, my God, now there’s something behind her! If you enjoy shots like the one described above, “The Nun,” the latest spinoff of “The Conjuring,” has that and other timeworn, reflex-testing jolts in store. The franchise has proved to be a reliable if variably elegant “boo” machine; the same applies here.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
Mademoiselle Paradis (Austria, costume drama, Maria Dragus. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Guy Lodge’s Variety review: “It’s the kind of teasing what-if with which we begin torturing ourselves as children: If you had to choose one, would you rather be deaf or blind? Would you rather have the gift of sight for a brief time only to have it taken away, or never know exactly what you’re missing? And if regaining your vision meant losing your most unique talent, would you take that trade? For blind Austrian pianist Maria Theresia ‘Resi’ Paradis, the latter wasn’t a hypothesis or a choice, but a perverse quandary into which her body threw her — not that the draconian patriarchy of the late 18th century would have permitted her much say either way. A fresh, inquisitive portrait of her pivotal teenage years from director Barbara Albert, ‘Mademoiselle Paradis’ is less interested in its subject’s potted biography than in how her era’s vicious politics of class and gender affected her plight.” Read more…)

Nostalghia (1983, Soviet Union, drama, Domiziana Giordano. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. From, Vincent Canby’s 1984 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Loveliness, I’m afraid, is really what this movie is all about. The Italian landscapes, frequently heavily misted, the ancient churches, the old towns, the occasional peasant, and the leading lady [Domiziana Giordano] are so lovely one feels that Mr. Tarkovsky’s private world was created for camera-carrying tourists.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Beyond Tomorrow (1940, holiday, Harry Carey. From Bosley Crowther’s 1940 New York Times review [requires log-in]:”We’ve never had any particular grudge against ghosts, but we’re rapidly developing one. That goes too for the scenarists who insist on calling forth shades from the Stygian night. For when the ghosts come in, the plot usually goes out the window, and after that a mere film reviewer is apt to be as confused as if he were sitting at a séance with levitating tables, blurred apparitions and sepulchral voices. Take ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ which opened yesterday at the Palace. For its first half it is a latter-day Christmas carol, told with a gamin tenderness and warming as a hot toddy. But when its three elderly good Samaritans return from a plane crash as celluloid chimeras, its mystical peregrinations are more preposterous than moving.” Read more…)

New TV
Westworld: Season 2 (sci-fi, Evan Rachel Wood. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “On the down side, ‘Westworld’ still treats itself more as a game to be beaten than as a story to be told. If the show has been plagued by zealous decoders, that’s because it hasn’t created characters nearly as involving as its labyrinthine plot. On the encouraging side, the video was a joke, and even a dusty attempt at humor was a welcome change of pace coming from a show whose first season was relentlessly dour, ponderous and stuck up its own maze.” Read more…)

Instinct: Season 1 (mystery, Alan Cumming. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%.)

New Documentary DVDs
Makala (Africa, economic struggles, personal story, inspiration. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Reviewers have cheered ‘Makala’ since it won the top prize last year at Cannes in Critics’ Week, a parallel festival devoted to first- and second-time feature directors. The case for it has some appeal: Rooting for its principal subject is irresistible, and — while pushing at the edges of what constitutes a documentary — it captures a type of work that movies seldom show.” Read more…)

Quiet Heroes (LGBTQ issues, AIDS crisis, discrimination, health care. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Dennis Harvey’s Variety review: “As a health crisis that began when inexpensive video equipment was becoming available, the AIDS epidemic was well-chronicled by filmmakers from a fairly early point — at least within the bounds of those living in major ‘gay mecca’ urban centers that got the bulk of alarmist public attention. A different perspective is offered by ‘Quiet Heroes,’ the Sundance-premiered documentary by Jenny Mackenzie, Jared Ruga and Amanda Stoddard. They cast a light on Salt Lake City, a place where general cultural and religious conservatism meant most gays lived their lives in secret, and where the initial response to AIDS sufferers was particularly negative as a result. Focusing largely on the crusading efforts of two women who, backed by a Catholic hospital’s nuns, were for a time virtually the only medical professionals who’d deign to treat the HIV-positive in the area, this warmhearted feature offers a pleasingly upbeat take on a tragic era.” Read more…)

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