New releases 12/22/20

Top Hits
Kajillionaire (comedy, Evan Rachel Wood. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “This nagging sense of something darker crouching beneath the film’s bright images is one of the things that makes ‘Kajillionaire’ so fascinating. Even so, the narrative doesn’t find its thematic groove until an airline-insurance swindle introduces the family to Melanie [an indispensable Gina Rodriguez], a peppy and preternaturally wise optician’s assistant. Breezing her way into their schemes, Melanie is the switch that will illuminate the Dynes’s dysfunction and their director’s surprisingly moving intent.” Read more…)

The Craft: Legacy (horror, Cailee Spaeny. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 54. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “But Zoe Lister-Jones’s ‘The Craft: Legacy,’ produced by Blumhouse [‘Get Out’], is a disappointing distillation of the original that’s mostly devoid of personality. Avoiding the bad apple story line that Fairuza Balk’s Nancy so brilliantly embodied in the ’90s version, this new ‘Craft’ makes toxic masculinity the girls’ greatest enemy [the misogynistic bully falls under a spell that makes him say things like ‘womxn’]. But even that modernization feels predictable.” Read more…)

The War With Grandpa (comedy, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 34. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘The War With Grandpa’ is relentlessly anodyne, from the cartoony lettering of the opening credits on. Even its bad-taste jokes, culminating in some awkward corpse inspection at a funeral, land in the nicest way possible.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Barking Dogs Never Bite (South Korea, 2000, comedy, Sung-Jae Lee. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 66. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “Bong Joon-ho’s black-comic satire ‘Barking Dogs Never Bite’ has been re-released after 20 years, and in many ways it could be seen as a thematic forerunner to his Oscar-winning hit Parasite, with its vision of strange people and strange secrets in a basement. But it’s entirely distinctive on its own [bizarre] terms: a film about animal cruelty [loosely inspired by the 19th-century children’s novel A Dog of Flanders by Marie Louise de la Ramée, perennially popular in Korea] and it begins with a huge ‘no animals were harmed’ disclaimer. As well it might.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Psychomagic, A Healing Art (Alejandro Jodorowsky-directed documentary, therapy, surrealism. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 56. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “For almost 70 years, the Chilean-born artist Alejandro Jodorowsky has been the utility infielder of lowercase-’s’ surrealism. He’s a performer, graphic novelist, poet and, most prominently, a cult filmmaker. With the documentary ‘Psychomagic, a Healing Art,’ he introduces the world to the work he has been involved in since the ’70s.” Read more…)

Nelson Algren Live (literary, bio, Willem Dafoe)