New releases 5/2/17

Top Hits
I Am Not Your Negro (documentary, civil rights, literature, bio, James Baldwin. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 95. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Whatever you think about the past and future of what used to be called ‘race relations’ — white supremacy and the resistance to it, in plainer English — this movie will make you think again, and may even change your mind. Though its principal figure, the novelist, playwright and essayist James Baldwin, is a man who has been dead for nearly 30 years, you would be hard-pressed to find a movie that speaks to the present moment with greater clarity and force, insisting on uncomfortable truths and drawing stark lessons from the shadows of history. To call ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ a movie about James Baldwin would be to understate Mr. Peck’s achievement. It’s more of a posthumous collaboration, an uncanny and thrilling communion between the filmmaker — whose previous work includes both a documentary and a narrative feature about the Congolese anti-colonialist leader Patrice Lumumba — and his subject.” Read more…)

A Dog’s Purpose (family, Josh Gad. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 43. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The movie, directed by Lasse Hallstrom and based on a novel by W. Bruce Cameron, serves up one cloying story after another as it drags us through the multiple lives of a dog named Bailey [voiced by Josh Gad]. Bailey dies, as dogs do, yet keeps being reincarnated, as a different breed and sometimes a different sex.” Read more…)

The Comedian (comedy, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 40. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Is it too much to want someone to bring the funny in a movie about a comic? The enervating, would-be laugh-in ‘The Comedian’ opens this week, presumably on the strength of its headliner, Robert De Niro. He’s ill-served by this movie, but he’s been worse elsewhere, which isn’t much of a comfort as this one drags into hour two.” Read more…)

Gold (adventure, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 49. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “[Actor Matthew] McConaughey is a ball of profane, entrepreneurial energy bouncing around in a vacuum. The story swings from the Nevada desert to the Indonesian rain forest to Wall Street boardrooms, and the screen bristles with signifiers of capitalist activity: meetings, phone calls, stock tickers. But the movie isn’t really doing any work. It’s just looking busy.” Read more…)

Rings (horror, Johnny Galecki. Rotten Tomatoes: 6%. Metacritic: 25. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘Rings,’ the latest sequel in the franchise that began with the Japanese film ‘Ringu,’ is short on outright frights, but some effort certainly went into the storytelling. For one thing, by the time this one’s over, fans will know a lot more about the mysterious Samara, the dead girl who continues to terrify the living via a grainy videotape. And those nearing or in college — the demographic being aimed at here — will learn an important lesson: Beware of any professor who tries to recruit you for a research study.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Do the Right Thing

New Foreign DVDs
The Salesman (Iran, drama, Shahab Hosseini. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “At the beginning of ‘The Salesman,’ Emad [Shahab Hosseini] and Rana [Taraneh Alidoosti] must evacuate their Tehran apartment. There are cracks in the walls, and the high-rise building is in danger of collapsing. That flawed edifice might stand as a kind of inverse metaphor for the film itself, which is a marvel of meticulous construction. With exquisite patience and attention to detail, Asghar Farhadi, the writer and director, builds a solid and suspenseful plot out of ordinary incidents, and packs it with rich and resonant ideas. Admirers of his earlier films — including ‘About Elly,’ ‘The Past’ and ‘A Separation,’ a foreign-language Oscar winner in 2012 — will not be surprised. Mr. Farhadi has distinguished himself in his generation of Iranian filmmakers as an astute psychological realist and a fastidious storyteller.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Reefer Madness (1936, understated cautionary tale, Kenneth Craig. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%.)

New Documentaries
I Am Not Your Negro (documentary, civil rights, literature, bio, James Baldwin)

Children’s DVDs
The Red Turtle (Japanese animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 86. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The film, a French-Belgian-Japanese co-production made under the auspices of Studio Ghibli [home of the great Hayao Miyazaki] in Tokyo is also notable, at least in contrast to most American commercial animation, for the absence of celebrity voices or, indeed, of any human speech at all. The score, by Laurent Perez del Mar, does include some wordless choral vocalizing, but the story, like the visual style, is simple and elemental, like a picture book that needs no words.” Read more…)

Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken (live action Disney, Gabrielle Anwar. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Stephen Holden’s 1991 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Many of the scenes in ‘Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken,’ a sweet, old-fashioned movie about a girl who loves horses, are bathed in a soft golden light. That’s because the past, in movies of this sort, is always more magical than the present, even if that past is the Depression, the era of this G-rated family picture.” Read more…)

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