New releases 4/5/22

Top Hits
Parallel Mothers (drama, Penélope Cruz. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘World-building’ usually refers to how the makers of science fiction and fantasy construct their domains, populating them with imaginary creatures and allegorical meanings. But among living filmmakers, the most prodigious world builder might be Pedro Almodóvar. Plenty of directors have a style. Almodóvar conjures a cosmos — a domain of bright colors, piercing music [often by Alberto Iglesias] and swirling melodrama. If you’ve visited in the past, you will be eager to return… ‘Parallel Mothers,’ Almodóvar’s new feature, adds an element that he had previously avoided: the legacy of the Spanish Civil War and the nearly 40 years of dictatorship that followed.” Read more…)

Jockey (drama, Clifton Collins Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Sentimental yet also trickier and more complex than its gleaming surfaces suggest, ‘Jockey’ is a portrait of a man facing his mortality or at least professional redundancy. Worn out and visibly ragged, Jackson doesn’t look like a man with a wide-open future.” Read more…)

Miss Juneteenth (drama, Nicole Beharie. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Lovia Gyarkye’s Times review: “The movie tackles multitudinous themes in its roughly 100 minutes, from the significance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices. But what’s most impressive is the amount of space [director Channing Godfrey] Peoples’s black female characters inhabit in the narrative.” Read more…)

Death on the Nile (mystery, Kenneth Branagh. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 52. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The trickiest part of a murder mystery isn’t solving the crime. It’s keeping the intrigue and fun alive until then. ‘Death on the Nile,’ Kenneth Branagh’s second adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories, forgets the simple pleasures of ensemble excess and pure messing about.” Read more…)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (comedy, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 45. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife,’ which is as cuddly and toothless as you would expect from a relaunched studio property in which the main characters are children and Paul Rudd plays a love interest. They’re all predictably adorable and have big, easy-to-read eyes, the better to widen in feigned surprise or mock fear when various ghosts come a-calling. For their part, the cartoonish apparitions range from the cutesy to the PG-13 snarly and include a roly-poly metal muncher, a pair of slathering hellhounds and some puffy, gurgling creatures whose wide-open arms and demonically cheerful smiles have been engineered for toy shelves and maximum nostalgia.” Read more…)

Scream (horror, Neve Campbell. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Throttled by a corrosive self-awareness, the latest ‘Scream’ is a slasher movie with resting smug face, so enamored of its own mythology that its characters speak of little else. This self-referential chatter, disguised as commentary on the franchise-within-the-franchise, ‘Stab,’ means that there’s scarcely a line of dialogue that doesn’t land with a wink and a nudge.” Read more…)

The Man In the Hat (drama, Ciarán Hinds. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Nell Minow’s RogerEbert.com review: “Whimsy is as delicate as a butterfly wing. But ‘The Man in the Hat’ sustains a whimsical tone beautifully throughout its brief running time, perhaps because co-writers/directors John-Paul Davidson and Stephen Warbeck add a touch of melancholy to keep it from becoming too cloying or cutesy.” Read more…)

No Future (drama, Catherine Keener. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Calum Marsh’s New York Times review: “Grief, as many filmmakers learn the hard way, is incredibly difficult to portray onscreen. That exhaustive, full-body sorrow, what Saul Bellow called ‘the rock depth of heavy trouble,’ simply doesn’t come across in shots of mournful faces or sad-looking actors staring vacantly into the middle distance. ‘No Future’ encounters this problem early and often. This grim, ponderous drama, about how the family and friends of an addict cope with his death by overdose, adopts a relentlessly solemn tone befitting its subject.” Read more…)

Sing 2 (animated feature, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 49. From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “There was a karaoke charm to the first ‘Sing,’ a cartoon about a parade of amateurs — Ash the porcupine [Scarlett Johansson], Rosita the sow [Reese Witherspoon], Meena the elephant [Tori Kelly] and Johnny the gorilla [Taron Egerton] — who put on a show to save their small town’s bankrupt theater. No more. ‘Sing 2,’ a grasping sequel by the returning director, Garth Jennings, opens with the troupe attempting to impress a talent scout with the kind of ramshackle ditty that won over fans in the original.” Read more…)

Marry Me (rom-com, Jennifer Lopez. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 50. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “Rarely are romantic comedies titled more desperately than ‘Marry Me.’ There is something pleasing about the bluntness. And because it’s a command that involves Jennifer Lopez, we’re permitted to skate atop the movie’s despair. But the ice is thin.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & Ultra HD 4K
Parallel Mothers
Ghostbusters: Afterlife

New Foreign DVDs
Sin (Russia/Italy, drama, Alberto Testone. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 65. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Sin’ is the second feature from the Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky to reach virtual cinemas in recent months, and it is not nearly as strong or vital as ‘Dear Comrades!’ [still available to rent]. An austere, demanding sit, ‘Sin’ — a Russian-Italian co-production with Italian dialogue — nevertheless has a stubborn integrity in exploring the competing forces of patronage and creative inspiration that Michelangelo confronted in the 16th century.” Read more…)

New British
Madame Blanc Mysteries: Season 1 (British mystery series, Sally Lindsay)

New TV
The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 (feminist sci-fi dystopia, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 62. From Carina Chocano’s New York Times review: “In Atwood’s novel, the protagonist’s story is discovered years later, and serves mainly as a record, evidence of what can happen to a democracy. But this alone is not enough to power a multiseason television show, which needs transformation, needs its conflict to progress. Now, after four years watching June spin in a cycle of torment and false hope, escape and recapture, all that urgency has given way to exhaustion. How much more juice can a show squeeze from this push and pull?” Read more…)

Grey’s Anatomy: Seasons 9 & 10 (medical drama, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91% [Season 9], 100% [Season 10].)

The Office: Season 8 (US version, comedy, Steve Carell. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Damned (Visconti-directed melodrama/moral drama, 1969, Criterion Collection, Dirk Bogarde. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Vincent Canby’s 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Damned’ may be the chef d’oeuvre of the great Italian director [‘La Terra Trema,’ ‘Rocco and His Brothers,’ ‘Sandra’]—a spectacle of such greedy passion, such uncompromising sensation and such obscene shock that it makes you realize how small and safe and ordinary most movies are. Experiencing it is like taking a whiff of ammonia—it’s not conventionally pleasant, but it makes you see the outlines of everything around you with just a little more clarity.” Read more…)