New releases 12/3/19

Top Hits
A Bread Factory Parts 1 & 2 (comedy/drama, Tyne Daly. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “[Director Patrick] Wang is a singular artist, but he taps into a rich tradition. The focus on the workings of an American institution may remind some of the expansive comedies of Robert Altman or the documentaries of Frederick Wiseman. But also, the blurring of the line between performance and reality, the embrace of an intimate theatricality, recalls the work of Jacques Rivette. These are cinematic giants, and this director may be on his way to joining them.” Read more…)

Don’t Let Go (thriller, David Oyelowo. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 49. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “You could get whiplash trying to follow the jumping timeline in ‘Don’t Let Go.’ A likable, derivative genre mash-up that mixes a police procedural with a supernatural thriller and a splash of family melodrama, the movie tracks a Los Angeles detective [David Oyelowo] who jumps on the case after receiving a call from his murdered niece. Is she dead or has he slid off the deep end? That’s one question in this tricky mystery, in which the past isn’t past and the present is sometimes a muddle.” Read more…)

East Side Sushi (drama, Diana Elizabeth Torres. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 70. From Justin Chang’s Variety review: “Given the recent rise in popularity of the mutant-sized sushi burrito and other dubious but satisfying fusion-cuisine hybrids, the time feels improbably right for ‘East Side Sushi’ a gently winning foodie fable about a Mexican-American chef who dreams of working behind the bar at a Japanese restaurant. Writer-director Anthony Lucero’s delectable debut feature has its share of on-the-nose writing and Cinderella-story contrivances, but for the most part folds its cross-cultural insights into a pleasing underdog narrative as deftly as its heroine presses together rice and nori.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Ground Beneath My Feet (Germany, drama, Valerie Pachner. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “There are some things worse than hacking one’s way through a gig economy, particularly if you’re a woman. Take the case of Lola Wegenstein, who’s trying to find stability in multinational corporate hell. Beautifully played by Valerie Pachner in this searing film written and directed by Marie Kreutzer, Lola is attractive, intelligent, and health conscious — the opening scene shows her on a morning run. She’s also a walking ball of anxiety in her professional role at a high-powered consulting firm that trims the fat from troubled companies.” Read more…)

Joan the Maid (France, 1994, historical epic, Sandrine Bonnaire. From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1996 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Jacques Rivette, a founding father of the French New Wave, has turned his attention to one of the most fecund literary and cinematic properties of this millennium in his film ‘Jeanne la Pucelle’ [translated as ‘Joan the Maiden’]. His retelling of the familiar story of Joan of Arc is at once a straightforward chronicle, an act of patriotism, scholarship and reverence and the tale of a prototypical feminist whose adoption of male attire and a taste for combat in the 15th century outraged a hostile clergy as much as her attestations of familiarity with heavenly voices and SS. Michael, Catherine and Margaret did.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Story of Temple Drake (1934, pre-code drama based on Faulkner novel, Criterion Collection, Miriam Hopkins. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “At the Paramount is a free translation of William Faulkner’s book, ‘Sanctuary,’ which in film form bears the title of ‘The Story of Temple Drake.’ Considering the changes that were to be expected in bringing this novel to the screen, the producers have wrought a highly intelligent production. It is grim and sordid, but at the same time a picture which is enormously helped by its definite dramatic value. There are times when exaggerations occur, but, after allowing for them, it is a narrative which like ‘Today We Live,’ the first of Mr. Faulkner’s literary efforts to be filmed, can boast of no little originality.” Read more…)

Glorifying the American Girl (1929, b&W/Technicolor musical, Mary Eaton)

New TV
Game of Thrones: Season 8 (HBO fantasy series, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 74.)
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (comedy/drama mini-series, Lauren Graham)

New Documentaries
George: The Story of George Maciunas and Fluxus (art history, bio, George Maciunas.From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “It’s appropriate that ‘George,’ a documentary about George Maciunas [1931-1978], the Lithuanian-born artist who devised the manifesto for the movement known as Fluxus, should be, like that group itself, playful, prankish and a little hard to pin down. A running joke in the film imagines an interviewer asking Mr. Maciunas what ‘flux’ is, and never quite managing to get a definition.” Read more…)

Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (journalism, politics, bio, Molly Ivins. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 74. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Some crusading journalists write with a scalpel, others with a scythe. Molly Ivins, who famously called President George W. Bush ‘Shrub,’ used both. She was funny and mean, clever and sincere; most of all she was political to the bone or at least that’s how she reads on the page and came across in talks. [She died in 2007.] Samples of each are scattered like acid-dipped chocolate nuggets throughout the hagiographic documentary ‘Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.’” Read more…)

Super Size Me 2 (nutrition, health, Morgan Spurlock. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 61. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The movie is at its most engaging when examining the near-monopolies controlling chicken farmers in the United States. Its portrait of one, Jonathan Buttram, who was blackballed for helping [director Morgan] Spurlock investigate, is both poignant and infuriating. The final bad guy is, once again, predatory capitalism, adding some nasty zing to the you-are-what-you-eat implications of Spurlock’s restaurant project, which, the ending teases, may have an actual future.” Read more…)

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