New releases 5/16/17

Top Hits
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (sci-fi, Milla Jovovich. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 49. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Because their director, Paul W. S. Anderson, is an exceptional talent in action cinema, and because their star, Milla Jovovich, is a charismatic, exceptional and very credibly kinetic action performer, the movies in the ‘Resident Evil’ franchise, of which this is the sixth, have always been a terrific time. Provided you like that sort of thing — that sort of thing being post-apocalyptic and necessarily grim sci-fi mayhem adapted from a popular, genre-mashing video game.” Read more…)

The Space Between Us (romance/sci-fi, Asa Butterfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 33. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “With the disappearance of video stores, there is something heartening about the existence of ‘The Space Between Us,’ a cheesy hunk of science fiction from Peter Chelsom that once would have drawn curious young eyes to VHS shelves. Set in the near future, it plays like a transmission from 1986, when a boy and a spaceship’s robot pilot could raise hell in ‘Flight of the Navigator,’ and Steven Spielberg set the blockbuster template to emulate.” Read more…)

XXX: Return of Xander Cage (action, Vin Diesel. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 42. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Weirdly retro in style, the movie has a mocking ‘Austin Powers’ flavor. Villains travel with bikini babes Velcroed to each hip, and women slink and pose as if inspired by boom-chicka-boom music only they can hear. Characters are simply triggers for the overwrought action sequences, though between the Edward Scissorhands editing and occasional wobbling background, even those are less than distinct. Silly as it is, ‘Xander Cage’ nevertheless purveys a deeply depressing view of heroism, one without conscience, compassion or moral qualms.” Read more…)

Lovesong (romance, Jena Malone. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Sarah [Riley Keough] and Mindy [Jena Malone], best friends since childhood, gaze at each other in ‘Lovesong,’ emotions of longing and uncertainty, interrupted by bursts of joy and laughter, cascade across their faces. This exquisite, beautifully shot meditation on love clouded by fear and doubt is the fourth feature by the Korean-American filmmaker So Yong Kim [‘Treeless Mountain’], which she wrote with Bradley Rust Gray. Little is resolved, and it will leave you contemplating the mysteries of relationships.” Read more…)

A Street Cat Named Bob (drama/family, Luke Treadway. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 54. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “If Grumpy Cat and ‘Keanu’ haven’t sated your appetite for screen felines, try ‘A Street Cat Named Bob,’ a savvy exercise in inspirational feel-good cinema lightly seasoned with grit. Adapted from James Bowen’s autobiography [part of a Bob franchise], the movie, directed by Roger Spottiswoode, tells how an orange cat enters the life of James [Luke Treadaway], a homeless London busker struggling with heroin addiction. Though James has a sobriety adviser [a firm Joanne Froggatt, as a persuasive living argument for public health care] who finds him housing, it is the cat, which James names Bob, who teaches him about responsibility and what it’s like to feel loved.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
XXX: Return of Xander Cage

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Sleeping City (1950, film noir, Richard Conte. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Lead actor Richard] Conte does a thoroughly commendable job with the role and the situations that [screenwriter] Jo Eisinger has written for him. He makes the ingenious detective a remarkably sympathetic chap whose feeling for tired, impoverished internes is quite as sensitive as his quick deductive powers. Coleen Gray also acts very crisply as a beauteous but baleful nurse, and a new man from Broadway, Richard Taber, is sharp as an elevator man. Alex Nicol, as a worn and frightened interne, and John Alexander as a stern detective chief, round out a cast which is sprinkled with good performers doing incidental bits.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Portnoy’s Complaint (1972, adaptation of Philip Roth novel, Richard Benjamin. From a 2003 New York Times article by Joseph O’Neill about film adaptations of novels [requires log-in]: “By contrast, as you watch ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’ [1972], in which Richard Benjamin unloads religious guilt and erotomaniacal escapades on a psychoanalyst, you can’t help thinking that you’re watching a less adroit, less funny (though far more risqué) version of something you’ve already seen elsewhere. So there you have a second reason for the dearth of Roth-Bellow movies, at least: Woody Allen, who has made redundant, cinematically speaking, the tragicomic suffering of any brainy Jewish male who is not Woody Allen.” Read more…)

New TV
Veep: Season 5 (HBO comedy series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 88.)

New Documentaries
Keep Quiet (Hungary, anti-Semitism, bigotry, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76. Ferom Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,’ says an old song about bigotry. But to hear the former far-right Hungarian politician Csanad Szegedi tell it, he was essentially a self-taught anti-Semite. In ‘Keep Quiet,’ a documentary directed by Sam Blair and Joseph Martin, Mr. Szegedi recalls the pride he felt as a student reading far-right newspapers pushing a nationalist narrative… Then Mr. Szegedi learns an inconvenient truth: He is of Jewish lineage. His grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor.” Read more…)

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