New releases 3/1/22

Top Hits
Mogul Mowgli (drama, Riz Ahmed. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “With the director of photography [Annika Summerson] and the sound designer [Paul Davies], [director Bassam] Tariq stitches domestic drama, satire and magical realism into a tissue of moods and meanings, held together by the shattering credibility of [actor Riz] Ahmed’s performance. In his work, [lead character] Zed tries to bring coherence to the baffling anarchy of experience. ‘Mogul Mowgli’ accomplishes just that.” Read more…)

Monday (drama/romance, Sebastian Stan. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “While ‘Monday’ is not quite as bracing as Papadimitropoulos’s prior feature, ‘Suntan,’ it’s a sharply observed, well-acted picture with a lot of tart detail and a few real stings in its tail.” Read more…)

The 355 (action/adventure, Penelope Cruz. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 40. From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “[Director Simon] Kinberg and Theresa Rebeck’s screenplay races through five continents, and as many betrayals and switcheroos. [The cinematographer, Tim Maurice-Jones, seems most inspired by Shanghai’s iridescent neon blues.] The filmmaking deserves credit for refusing to leer as the ladies convincingly kick and punch — all focus is on the stunts, not on sex appeal. Yet there’s a sense that ‘The 355’ felt forced to pick between being sincere or being fun. It chose solemnity.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Commitments (Ireland, 1991, musical/comedy, Robert Arkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 89, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. From Janet Maslin’s 1991 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “What [director Alan] Parker has done, in effect, is to remake ‘Fame’ in a different language. Once again, a taste for slickness gives his film an air of unreality for all its ostentatious grit, but once again the energy level is so pumped up that it barely matters. “The Commitments” finds Mr. Parker again doing what he does expertly: assembling a group of talented newcomers, editing snippets of their exploits into a hyperkinetic jumble, and filling the air with song.” Read more…)

Repeat Performance

New Foreign DVDs
Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (Romania, comedy, Katia Pascariu. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “But plot summary is more than usually irrelevant here. ‘Bad Luck Banging’ announces itself as ‘a sketch for a popular film,’ and it unfolds, in its first two-thirds, as a portfolio of documentary gleanings and notebook entries rather than as a linear narrative. Shooting in the summer of 2020, [director Radu] Jude and his team were clearly constrained by the realities of Covid-19, but they also succeeded in turning a bad situation to creative advantage, facing the awfulness and absurdity of the present with wit, indignation and a saving touch of tenderness.” Read more…)

Boat People (Japan, 1982, drama, George Lam. From Janet Maslin’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The subject of Ann Hui’s ‘Boat People’ would not seem to lend itself to ordinary movie-making tactics, since the film depicts the horrendous living conditions to be found in the northern part of Vietnam in 1978, three years after the war ended. However, Miss Hui brings a conventional – and for the most part highly effective – storytelling talent to bear upon this material. She’s able to create both sensationalism and drama, even if her film never generates an air of realism, or frees itself from coincidence and cliche.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Vienna Blood: Season 2 (period drama/procedural, Matthew Beard. From Sheena Scott’s Forbes review: “Season 2 of ‘Vienna Blood’ premieres on PBS on January 9. The second season features three new two-part episodes starring the endearing duo of Matthew Beard as Dr. Max Liebermann and Juergen Maurer as Detective Inspector Oskar Rheinhardt. ‘Vienna Blood’ is a brilliant murder mystery series anchored in history.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Repeat Performance (1947, film noir/suspense, Joan Leslie. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The fellows who wrote ‘Repeat Performance,’ which came to the Rivoli yesterday, seemed to have entered a conspiracy with the hardhearted weather man to drive a small segment of the public completely and irrevocably mad. For the brand of dramatic hocus-pocus which they have dished up in this film is even harder upon the nervous system than the summer’s first merciless heat.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
President (international politics, democracy, human rights, Zimbabwe. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Concepción de León’s Times review: “Eight months after Robert Mugabe, who ruled Zimbabwe autocratically for nearly 40 years starting in 1980, was ousted in a 2017 coup, the nation was set to elect a new president in its first democratic election since the start of Mugabe’s rule. Camilla Nielsson gives viewers a front-row seat to that July 2018 election in ‘President,’ a riveting documentary that follows Nelson Chamisa, a charismatic 40-year-old lawyer, as he runs against Emmerson Mnangagwa, the strongman who unseated Mugabe.” Read more…)