New releases 2/22/22

Top Hits
House of Gucci (crime/drama, Lady Gaga. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The kindest thing I can say about ‘House of Gucci’ — and also the cruelest — is that it should have been an Italian movie. Set mostly in Milan, it spins out a sprawling, chaotic, borderline-operatic tale of family feuding, sexual jealousy and capitalist intrigue, with plenty of drinks, cigarettes and snacks [the carpaccio comes highly recommended]. Also cars, shoes, hats, sport coats, handbags, dresses, lingerie — whatever you want! But for all that abundance, something is missing. A lot of things, really, but mostly a strong idea and a credible reason for existing.” Read more…)

American Underdog (sports drama/bio, Zachary Levi. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 53. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The biopic ‘American Underdog’ centers on the quarterback Kurt Warner, a football player from Iowa who had an unconventional rise to becoming a National Football League champion. Warner’s story is inspirational but intricate, and this wan film struggles to balance simple storytelling with the complexities of the sport.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
House of Gucci
Spider-Man 1-3

New Foreign DVDs
Days (Taiwan, drama, Lee Kang-sheng. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 87, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Writing about the punk band Ramones, the critic Robert Christgau said their music had ‘revealed how much you can take out and still have rock and roll.’ With his new film ‘Days,’ the Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang reveals how much you can take out of a fictional feature and still have cinema.” Read more…)

France (France, comedy/satire, Lea Seydoux. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 57. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “But some of [director Bruno] Dumont’s zooms have a more profane, or at least a more worldly connotation. Seydoux’s character, France de Meurs, is a popular television anchor and correspondent who hosts a nightly news show that ends, as such broadcasts typically do, with a close-up. To some extent, ‘France’ — the movie and its possibly allegorical heroine alike — is structured around the tension between the banality of television and the sacredness of cinema, and around the difficulty of telling them apart.” Read more…)

Golden Voices (Israel, drama/comedy, Maria Belkin. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 70. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Among other things, the late-1980s collapse of the Soviet state brought about both the privatization of Russian industry and the government’s softening of laws forbidding Jews to emigrate from the land. ‘Golden Voices,’ a winning comedy-drama directed by the Israeli filmmaker Evgeny Ruman, himself a son of immigrants from Belarus, locates its unusual narrative at the meeting point of those two post-U.S.S.R. circumstances.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The North Water (drama/mini-series, Colin Farrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 74. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “If [writer/director Andrew Haigh’s three previous films] have a common theme, it’s about people being tested, coming up against their limits. In his intelligent, beautifully filmed mini-series ‘The North Water’ [five episodes, beginning Thursday on AMC+], Haigh takes that idea to new extremes and once again sets out for new narrative territory. Loosely adapted from a celebrated novel of the same name by Ian McGuire, ‘The North Water’ is a 19th-century Arctic adventure, complete with creaking ice, implacable storms, mystical polar bears and seal clubbing.” Read more…)

So Well Remembered (1947, drama, John Mills. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A story which the book reviewers warned us was disappointing and dull, as originally told by James Hilton in his “So Well Remembered” two years back, has been miraculously transmuted into an affecting and fascinating tale in the motion picture of the same title, which came to the Palace yesterday. It has also been turned into a drama of inspiration and significance to those of us troubled mortals who live in this uncertain world.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Love Affair (1939, romance, Criterion Collection, Irene Dunne. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 91. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Leo McCarey, who directs so well it is almost anti-social of him not to direct more often, has created another extraordinarily fine film in ‘Love Affair,’ which the Music Hall brought in yesterday. Like other McCarey pictures, this one has the surface appearance of a comedy and the inner strength and poignance of a hauntingly sorrowful romance. It is a technique or a mood-creation developed, we suspect, out of Mr. McCarey’s past experiments, ranging from ‘Ruggles of Red Gap’ through ‘Make Way for Tomorrow’ to ‘The Awful Truth.’ The formula would be comedy plus sentiment plus X [which is Mr. McCarey himself] equal such things as ‘Love Affair.’” Read more…)

New TV
Yellowstone: Season 2 (drama/modern day western series, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%.)

New Documentaries
Attica (criminal justice, American history, racism, dir. by Stanley Nelson. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 88. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Attica,’ a documentary from Stanley Nelson, is hardly the first screen attempt to deal with the Attica prison riot of 1971, when inmates took control of part of the penitentiary and, holding hostages, demanded better living conditions before authorities violently subdued them on the fifth day… But Nelson’s film, and the many former Attica prisoners interviewed for it, has the benefit of 50 years’ hindsight. By going day by day through the riot, it suggests just how differently things might have ended and how close the inmates came to winning most of what they asked for.” Read more…)

The Game Changers (sports, nutrition, veganism, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Did you know that the ancient Roman gladiators were mainly vegetarians? It’s one of many myth-busting factoids offered in the vital, deftly assembled documentary ‘The Game Changers,’ which takes a lively look at the merits — athletic, medicinal and even sexual — of plant-based eating. Director Louie Psihoyos [an Oscar-winner for ‘The Cove’] tracks elite self-defense trainer and ex-mixed martial arts competitor James Wilks as he explores this dietary alternative, initially motivated by his need to speed the repair of a major knee injury.” Read more…)