New releases 2/15/22

Top Hits
Eternals (Marvel Universe superhero action, Gemma Chan. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Throughout ‘Eternals,’ the latest — though certainly not the last! — from Marvel Studios, you can see the director Chloé Zhao fighting to cut this industrial-strength spectacle down to human size. Her efforts are mostly evident in the sincerity of the performances, and in the heartfelt moments that punctuate the movie, creating pinpricks of warming light. But it’s a titanic struggle. And as Zhao keeps lubricating the machinery with feeling and tears, her efforts seem to mirror the battle that her likable superheroes are waging against a force seeking to thoroughly control their destinies.” Read more…)

The King’s Man (comedy/adventure, Ralph Fiennes. Rotten Tomatoes: 42. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Any movie that lists ‘Rasputin dance choreographer’ in the credits deserves at least a look. And, to be fair, ‘The King’s Man’ — a prequel to Matthew Vaughn’s jacked-up series about elite British spies headquartered in Savile Row — has more than a gyrating monk up its impeccably tailored sleeve. Mainly, it has Ralph Fiennes to ensure that the center holds.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
Afterimage (Poland, drama dir. by Andrzej Wajda, Boguslaw Linda. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “A committed avant-garde painter who tells his students that art is about an individual way of seeing rather than about rote reproduction of a collectively agreed-upon reality, [artist and theoretician Wladyslaw] Strzeminski collides with the latest modes demanded by Stalinist rule. ‘Afterimage,’ the final film directed by the Polish master Andrzej Wajda, who died in 2016 at 90, depicts an appalling system, filled with complicit go-along-to-get-along citizens, grinding down Strzeminski, a real-life figure.” Read more…)

They Say Nothing Stays the Same (Japan, drama, Akira Emoto. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 66. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Directed by the actor Joe Odagiri, ‘They Say Nothing Stays the Same’ is a postcard-pretty film about a boatman in Meiji-era Japan. For years, Toichi [Akira Emoto] has ferried people back and forth on a river amid unspoiled beauty. A large part of the film’s appeal comes from that natural splendor and the lives Toichi glimpses while making one trip after another.” Read more…)

Gomorrah: Season 4 (Italy, crime/gangster drama series, Marco D’Amore)
Detective Montalbano: Episode 37 (Italy, detective series, Luca Zingaretti)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Love On a Bet (1936, comedy, Gene Raymond. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1936 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Having a diverting and fresh-story angle at its disposal and with a cast and director in amiable mood, the picture becomes an engaging treatise on the plausibility of the impossible. So disarming is its attack upon logic that you are inclined not merely to overlook its lapses, but, actually, not even to notice them. Pondering over this strange phenomenon, we are forced to conclude that novelty covers a multitude of sins.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Gordon’s War/Off Limits:
Gordon’s War (1973, action, Paul Winfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Howard Thompson’s 1973 New York Times review of “Gordon’s War” [requires log-in]: “In ‘Gordon’s War,’ four black veterans of Vietnam wage fierce personal battle, using Army tactics, against drug channelers in Harlem. What, indeed, could be more admirable? This is a worthy film, whose format and substance—a black theme dramatized, for practical, constructive purposes—remain exceeded by its goal. The picture is tough, fast, moves in a straight line with no sideline fiddling but with pungent humor and vividly jabs the crime-ridden underbelly of Harlem. The sharp direction of Ossie Davis catches the argot, the flavor and the sinister ambiance of the area.” Read more…)

Off Limits (1988, action, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. From Janet Maslin’s 1988 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The story is nothing out of the ordinary: two tough-talking, super-macho detectives are put on the trail of a serial killer, a sadomasochist who has been murdering prostitutes and is sure to do it again. But the setting raises the ante, since it is the turbulent, troubled Saigon of 1968 in which ‘Off Limits’ unfolds. Here things automatically become more dangerous and perverse; here certain unavoidable ironies are built into the situation. By rights, ‘Off Limits’ should never have been as conventional as it turns out to be.” Read more…)

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