New releases 12/8/20

Top Hits
Possessor (sci-fi/thriller, Andrea Riseborough. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Possessor,’ about an assassin who works by taking over the mind and body of someone who can get close to the victim without suspicion, could have sprung from the imagination of David Cronenberg and, like his early films, ‘Possessor’ is equal parts cerebral and visceral. But this film is the work of the writer-director Brandon Cronenberg, his son. It depicts horrific murders in appalling detail as it relentlessly interrogates the experience of inhabiting a foreign body.” Read more…)

Proxima (sci-fi, Eva Green. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Torn between the maternal and the cosmic, the tactile and the unearthly, ‘Proxima’ feels as unsettled as its heroine. And while the film’s feminist thrust is admirable, Winocour’s decision to sacrifice this for a cheap, sentimental finale is infuriating.” Read more…)

The 24th (history/war/race drama, Trai Byers. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 56. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Set in Jim Crow-era Texas during World War I, Kevin Willmott’s ‘The 24th’ dramatizes real-life events so inherently appalling — and so presently relevant — that we should never feel less than engaged. Yet this stultifyingly earnest movie makes its points with such a heavy hand that its horrors struggle to resonate.” Read more…)

Wild Horses (western, Robert Duvall. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 44. From Stephen Holden’s 2015 New York Times review [may require log-in]: “Could Robert Duvall’s incoherent melodrama ‘Wild Horses’ have been salvaged by a skillful editor? Probably not. Mr. Duvall’s first directorial effort since ‘Assassination Tango’ in 2003, this film is the story of Scott Briggs [Mr. Duvall, now 84], a hard-bitten Texan rancher deep into his twilight years. It has majestic man-on-horse-under-the-Southwestern-sky cinematography, and in its best scene, Scott’s three grown sons get drunk in a roughneck bar and stumble into a brawl with some cowboys. But such moments are too scattered to make this jumble of a film come together.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Grass (Republic of Korea, Kim Minhee. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This movie, like most of [director Hong Sang-soo’s] others, doesn’t pass judgment on its largely passive protagonist. In fact, it suggests that observing the people that pass through one’s sight and hearing is an entirely valid mode of living.” Read more…)

Song Without a Name (Peru, drama, Pamela Mendoza. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “What’s curious about ‘Song Without a Name’ is that even as the plot meanders, the film remains grandly composed, with spectacular tableaus that make the Peruvian hillsides look like scenes from a John Ford western. Georgina becomes a silhouette slipping down barren mountains; when she enters the newspaper offices, the walls appear to entrap her. The narrative drifts, but the alienation communicated by the movie’s images feels purposeful and striking.” Read more…)

The Audition (Germany, drama, Nina Hoss. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Music teacher] Anna is played by Nina Hoss, the outstanding actor who lit up Christian Petzold’s ‘Phoenix’ and who’s been outstanding in other films by that director. ‘The Audition,’ directed by Ina Weisse [and co-written with Daphne Charizani], doesn’t concentrate entirely on Anna’s work with the student, played by Ilja Monti, but presents it as part of a package of dissatisfactions.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Handsome Harry (2009, drama, Jamey Sheridan. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 59. From Stephen Holden’s 2010 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The death of a Navy buddy from the Vietnam War, Thomas Kelly [Steve Buscemi], whom he hasn’t seen in years, is the catalyst for an increasingly anguished journey of self-discovery [lead character] Harry [Sweeney] feels obliged to make. On his deathbed in a V.A. hospital outside Philadelphia, Kelly, afraid of going to hell, pleads with Harry to contact Dave Kagan [Campbell Scott], a sailor in their unit who was Harry’s best friend, and apologize for his role in Kagan’s near-fatal beating.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
NOVA: Secret Mind of Slime (science, nature, intelligence of slime molds. From the PBS Website: “Meet slime molds: brainless blobs that can learn, make decisions, and navigate mazes! NOVA ‘Secret Mind Of Slime’ dives deep into the questions and science behind the “intelligence” of slime molds. These creatures are not animals, nor plants, nor fungi, yet they appear to learn and to make decisions without brains, expanding the boundaries of intelligence beyond the animal kingdom.” Read more…)