New releases 5/11/21

Top Hits
Land (drama, Robin Wright. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 62. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The beauty of the mountain regions of Alberta, Canada, is presented in modes both lush and piercingly sharp in Robin Wright’s feature directing debut, ‘Land.’ Wright also plays the lead role, Edee, a grieving woman who wants to get away from the world.” Read more…)

Pixie (thriller/comedy, Olivia Cooke. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 45. From Cath Clarke’s Guardian review: “Pixie is her name and trouble is her game. ‘She won’t just break you, she’ll take a Kalashnikov to your heart,’ is the warning at the start of this hectic gangster comedy from St Trinian’s director Barnaby Thompson. It features a strong lead performance from Olivia Cooke as Pixie, the step-daughter of a smalltime gangster in the west of Ireland. She’s written as a 21st-century femme fatale, a woman who uses her brains, beauty and cunning to sucker a succession of chumpish men into helping her rob drug dealers of MDMA with a street value of €1m.” Read more…)

The Mauritanian (drama, Tahar Rahim. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Kevin Macdonald and based on [Mohamedou Ould] Slahi’s 2015 memoir, the story focuses mainly on the efforts of the defense lawyer Nancy Hollander [Jodie Foster] to obtain a hearing for Slahi and, hopefully, his release. She’s more hindered than helped in this endeavor by a junior associate, Teri Duncan [Shailene Woodley], who’s written with a gullibility that borders on unprofessional.” Read more…)

Beast Beast (drama, Shirley Chen. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 55. From Amy Nicholson’s Variety review: “Writer-director Danny Madden’s ‘Beast Beast’ clatters to life with organic percussion: a stick rat-a-tatting against an iron fence, a skateboard scraping on concrete, a rifle pinging bullets against a defenseless tin plate. Together, these sounds combine into jazz, despite the discordance of the three teens making such a ruckus.” Read more…)

Lapsis (drama/thriller, Dean Imperial. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Lapsis’ is set in an alternate present, but it doesn’t feel that way. A low-budget dig at corporate rapaciousness and the gig economy, this gently comic satire feels entirely in step with the world outside our front doors.” Read more…)

The Marksman (action, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Slow and simple and minimally violent, ‘The Marksman,’ directed by Robert Lorenz, cares more about bonding than brutality. Predictable to a fault, the movie coasts pleasurably on [Liam] Neeson’s seasoned, sad-sweet charisma — an asset that’s been tragically imprisoned in mopey-loner roles and generic action thrillers.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Mauritanian

New Foreign DVDs
Nina Wu (China, thriller, Wu Ke-Xi. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Beatrice Loayza’s Times review: “It’s easy enough to slap the #MeToo label on ‘Nina Wu’ and call it a day. Yes, its titular heroine [a remarkable Wu Ke-Xi, also a co-writer] is an actress brutalized and exploited by a misogynist film industry, and the Taiwanese director, Midi Z, never pulls his punches. Yet this startlingly evocative, complex and confrontational new film is not interested in justice or didacticism.” Read more…)

The Columnist (Netherlands, thriller/satire, Katja Herbers. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 58. From Beatric Loayza’s New York Times review: “A writer is thrown into the cyber snake pit when her op-ed criticizing Black Pete — a traditional Dutch Christmas character who typically appears in blackface — is published. Suddenly, swarms of disinhibited men inundate her Twitter account with death threats and misogynist nastiness. Oh, to be a woman online. In ‘The Columnist,’ a glossy and intentionally ridiculous psycho-thriller, the writer, Femke Boot [Katja Herbers], refuses to let the haters bring her down. She makes sure of that by becoming a literal troll hunter who spends her evenings stylishly executing unkempt dudes.” Read more…)

Trances (Morocco, 1981, music documentary, Nass El Ghiwane. From an unsigned 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Ahmed El-Maanouni’s ‘Transes,’ a French-Moroccan documentary, is about an immensely popular Moroccan musical group called Nass el-Ghiwane.The five-man combo, we are told, has had the same kind of electrifying effect on popular North African music in the 1970’s that the Beatles had on the popular music of Britain, Europe and America in the 60’s; thus the title ‘Transes,’ French for the trances of its audiences.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Lady In the Dark (1954, pioneering color TV musical with a book by Moss Hart, music by Kurt Weill, and lyrics by Ira Gershwin, Ann Sothern. From V.A.’s 1954 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It was a wonderful show. Its professional touch from all directions stood out like Easter flowers in Rockefeller Plaza, and its taste was all but impeccable, with one or two minor exceptions. ‘Lady in the Dark’ was real theatre. It had vitality, it had mood and it had illusion—all the way from start to finish.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Rocks In My Pockets (2014, animation, mental health, family history, Signe Baumane. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Nicolas Rapold’s 2014 Times review: “With ‘Rocks in My Pockets,’ Signe Baumane presents a sharp, surprising and funny animated feature, plumbing the depths of depression via her family history. Guided by Ms. Baumane’s almost musically accented voice-over, this hand-drawn debut feature is based upon the mental struggles of her Latvian grandmother and other relatives. It’s told with remorseless psychological intelligence, wicked irony and an acerbic sense of humor.” Read more…)

The Reason I Jump (autism, neuro-diversity, Naoki Higashida. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In the book ‘The Reason I Jump,’ published in 2007, the author Naoki Higashida, who wrote it when he was 13, says he hopes to explain ‘what’s going on in the minds of people with autism.’ Higashida, a nonspeaking autistic person, structures the book as a Q. and A., answering questions like, ‘How are you writing these sentences?’ and ‘What are your thoughts on autism itself?’ The film adaptation, directed by Jerry Rothwell [the documentary about Greenpeace ‘How to Change the World’], is at once a supplement and an effort to find a cinematic analogue.” Read more…)

Some Kind of Heaven (The Villages, senior citizen life in USA. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Cerified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “‘Some Kind of Heaven,’ a documentary co-produced by The New York Times, pierces the bubble of The Villages, a Florida retirement community northwest of Orlando that has grown to the size of a small city. The architecture and even the local lore foster an illusion of history. Rather than present a cross-section of this 30-square-mile golf-opolis, the director, Lance Oppenheim, making his first feature, focuses on three sets of characters.” Read more…)