New releases 3/2/21

Top Hits
Monster Hunter (action, Milla Jovovich. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Monster Hunter’ — 80 percent monsters, 20 percent hunter — proves definitively that neither gaping wounds nor a gargantuan armored earwig can stop Milla Jovovich. Having accompanied the film’s writer and director, Paul W.S. Anderson, through multiple chapters of his ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, Jovovich is well prepared to class up this latest video game-derived nonsense.” Read more…)

Fatale (thriller, Hilary Swank. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 42. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “While this latter-day noir never builds up the froth of lurid delirium that brings genre pictures into a headier dimension, it’s got enough juice to hold your attention. [Actress Hilary] Swank, who is also one of the movie’s producers, does good work here, keeping Val credible even as she enacts jaw-dropping evils.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Tesnota aka Closeness (Russia, drama, Atrem Cipin. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 53. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This movie, which [director Kantemir] Balagov, a Nalchik native, states in an onscreen text is based on a true story, has a whole lot of ‘slow’ and one very nasty burn. Ilana gets plastered with Zalim and his pals [one of whom says, ‘Jews are good — to make soap from,’ not aware Ilana is Jewish], and the group watches a VHS tape of authentic documentary footage showing the slow torture and murder of a Russian. This is apparently footage Balagov himself saw under similar circumstances as a younger man. Whatever his ostensible point, its inclusion here is a deplorably truculent demonstration of directorial prerogative.” Read more…)

Pop Aye (Thailand, drama/comedy, Thaneth Warakulnukroh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 73. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Like all road movies, ‘Pop Aye’ also journeys into the interior lives of its characters, a trip that is aided and abetted by other travelers who briefly hop on and off: notably, a poetic squatter; a pair of bumbling cops, who bust Thana and [the elephant] Pop Aye for eating thrown-away melon; and a transgender woman who, with grit and dignity, is holding onto a marginal existence. Each adds another detail, a splash of color and real warmth, though I wish there was more about Pop Aye, more attention, more close-ups.” Read more…)

You Go To My Head (Belgium, thriller, Delfine Baford. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “For his first feature, “You Go To My Head,” the Belgian director Dimitri de Clercq decided to see what he could do with just four crew members, two main characters and a single, stunning location. It turned out to be quite a lot.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
O.S.S. (1946, World War II-era espionage, Alan Ladd)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Straight Time (1978, drama, Dustin Hoffman. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 64. From Vincent Canby’s 1978 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘Straight Time,’ in the person of Dustin Hoffman, he’s a fascinating character, made romantic only to the extent that an actor of such stature invests him with importance that is otherwise denied. Max is strictly small-time. Even though ‘Straight Time,’ which opens today at the Coronet Theater, has been tailored to Max’s dimensions it’s not a small-time movie. Ulu Grosbard, the director, and Alvin Sargent. Edward Bunker and Jeffrey Boam, who wrote the screenplay, have succeeded in making an uncommonly interesting film about a fellow whose significance is entirely negative.” Read more…)

Smooth Talk (1985, drama, Criterion Collection, Laura Dern. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 74. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Taking Joyce Carol Oates’s short story ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’ Joyce Chopra, the director, and Tom Cole, who wrote the screenplay, have made ‘Smooth Talk’ a remarkably fine film about the muddle of emotions that separates the child from the adult. Though Miss Chopra and Mr. Cole have expanded the story, and supplied information Miss Oates saw fit to leave out, ‘Smooth Talk’ is as spare and lean as the source material.” Read more…)

Man Push Cart (2005, drama, Criterion Collection, Ahmad Razvi. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s 2006 Times review [may require log-in]: “Filmed in less than three weeks, ‘Man Push Cart’ is an exemplary work of independent filmmaking carried out on a shoestring. [Actor Ahmad] Razvi’s convincing performance is a muted portrait of desolation bordering on despair; only once does Ahmad lose his composure and lash out. If this bare-bones production leaves some seams showing, the sparseness mostly complements the film’s vision of a confined existence eked out in the shadows of skyscrapers.” Read more…)

Chop Shop (2007, drama, Criterion Collection, Alejando Polanco. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s 2008 Times review: “Like its prosaic title, or like those homely birds, ‘Chop Shop,’ written by [director Ramin] Bahrani and Bahareh Azimi, dwells mainly in the realm of the literal. Filmed inside shady auto-repair businesses, on bleak overpasses and in vacant lots in the shadow of Shea Stadium, this film, like Mr. Bahrani’s 2006 feature, ‘Man Push Cart,’ is concerned principally with the kind of hard, marginal labor that more comfortable city dwellers rarely notice. But there is nonetheless a lyricism at its heart, an unsentimental, soulful appreciation of the grace that resides in even the meanest struggle for survival.” Read more…)