New releases 6/14/22

Top Hits
Morbius (Marvel Comics action, Jared Leto. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 35. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Still, the bigger surprise about ‘Morbius’ is that it doesn’t suck, at least as a movie. Against the odds and despite the insufferable persona that its star Jared Leto has cultivated, it provides all you want from a diversion about a brilliant scientist with bottomless financial resources [as well as a hot but smart assistant] who, after refusing his Nobel for his genius scientific invention, secretly develops a serum that turn him into a batlike creature with razor nails, great powers and a hunger for human blood.” Read more…)

Ambulance (drama/crime, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Ambulance,’ which includes verbal shout-outs to ‘Bad Boys’ and ‘The Rock,’ is something of a return to form for this auteur of vehicular mayhem and muscular bombast. A relatively low-budget project, especially when compared with the ‘Transformers’ franchise he started, it bundles explosive set pieces into a plot that would be preposterous if you stopped to think about it. The whole idea is that you won’t.” Read more…)

Fatherhood (comedy/drama, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 53. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It’s a durable bit of Hollywood conventional wisdom: Behind every good man is a dead woman. ‘Fatherhood,’ a new Netflix movie starring Kevin Hart, is its latest affirmation. A movie widower, especially one with children, draws on a bottomless reserve of audience sympathy, granted the benefit of the doubt far beyond what any woman, however generous or virtuous or grief-stricken, can expect.” Read more…)

Roald Dahl’s The Witches (family/horror, Octavia Spencer. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Robert] Zemeckis improves on the first film adaptation, a 1990 oddity directed by Nicolas Roeg. There’s more heart in the new version and more emotion, qualities which can go missing in those Zemeckis movies that get lost in his technical whiz-bangery. Here, the Boy feelingly mourns his parents, creating a tangible sense of loss that strengthens the story and raises its stakes.” Read more…)

The Feast (Wales, horror, Annes Elwy. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Erik Piepenburg in the New York Times: “Lee Haven Jones, the director, works wonders with the cinematographer Bjorn Stale Bratberg to depict terrors that move between a chic domestic space, a dreamy green landscape and a nightmarish forest. The result is a folk horror film from the pages of Architectural Digest. The movie gets nonsensical at the end — I’m still not sure who was on who’s side — but it looks great doing so.” Read more…)

Catch the Fair One (thriller, Kali Reis. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Catch the Fair One”’ is a violent, brooding rescue-revenge drama — the kind of genre workout you might expect to find Liam Neeson grimacing his way though around this time of year. With all respect to Neeson, the star of this tough, modest movie brings a different kind of credibility. She’s Kali Reis, a world champion boxer in both the welterweight and middleweight classes.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Raiders of the Lost Ark 4K (1981, adventure, Harrison Ford. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “From the first moments, when the star-circled mountain in the Paramount Pictures logo fades into a similarly shaped, fog-shrouded Andean peak, where who knows what awful things are about to happen, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is off and running at a breakneck pace that simply won’t stop until the final shot, an ironic epilogue that recalls nothing less than ‘Citizen Kane.’ That, however, is the only high-toned reference in a movie that otherwise devotes itself exclusively to the glorious days of the B-picture. To get to the point immediately, ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ is one of the most deliriously funny, ingenious and stylish American adventure movies ever made.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Ahed’s Knee (Israel, drama, Avshalom Pollak. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Ahed’s Knee’ is the Israeli director Nadav Lapid’s fourth feature film. The first three — ‘Policeman’ [2014], ‘The Kindergarten Teacher’ [2015] and ‘Synonyms’ [2019] — are in their different ways works of social criticism. They take aim at what Lapid sees as modern Israel’s political, moral and spiritual shortcomings, focusing on characters whose personal agonies mirror the national crisis. Though its themes are the same, this movie is different. It’s a howl of rage.” Read more…)

Fear (Bulgaria, drama, Svetlana Yancheva. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The director, Ivaylo Hristov, is adept at slow-burning suspense and comic misdirection. At first the casual racism that peppers discussions about Svetla’s houseguest seems a matter of ignorance — ugly but not fully hateful. Hristov shows how words lead to actions, how jealousy and boredom blend with prejudice into a toxic brew.” Read more…)

Arrebato aka Rapture (Spain, 1979, horror, Eusebio Poncela. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. From Jacob Oller’s Paste Magazine review: “A sumptuous slice of Spanish strangeness, the deeply textured and sensational psychological horror boasts fans like Pedro Almodóvar—and the restoration makes the filmmaker’s long-standing support easy to understand. A movie completely in the addictive thrall of cinema, unhealthily enamored with the act of creation itself, ‘Arrebato’ is an unnerving and enthralling fetish empowered by its hedonism: Drugs, sex, beauty, nostalgia and a disillusioned disaffection with them all.” Read more…)

New TV
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 11 (HBO comedy, Larry David. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 89.)

Hacks: Season 1 (HBO Max comedy series, Jean Smart. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Only Angels Have Wings (1939, adventure, Criterion Collection, Cary Grant. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 86. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Howard Hawks, whose aviation melodramas must, we suspect, drive airline stock down from two to three points per showing, has produced another fatality-littered thriller in ‘Only Angels Have Wings’ [even the title is ominous] which opened yesterday at the Music Hall. This once, however, Mr. Hawks has charitably transferred his operations base to Ecuador, presumably having exhausted his local sources, not to mention the patience of the commercial transport people.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Why Is We Americans? (Black history, civil rights, Newark, sociology, Amiri Baraka. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “Historical accounts of revolutionary icons are often plagued by hero myths that exalt individuals at the expense of the community that formed them. With ‘Why Is We Americans?,’ a documentary about the impact the poet and radical Amiri Baraka and his descendants have had on the city of Newark, the directors Udi Aloni and Ayana Stafford-Morris attempt a different approach. In this compressed account of the multiple generations of artists and activists that make up the Baraka clan, the patriarch, who died in 2014, is a single [if central] node. It’s a story that spans past and present, arts and politics, and kin and country — and the movie, with its haphazard editing, struggles to contain it all.” Read more…)

Searching for Mr. Rugoff (cinema history, art films, Donald Rugoff. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 77. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Not every documentary features its director calling his subject ‘kind of a terrible person.’ But Ira Deutchman’s ‘Searching for Mr. Rugoff’ happily looks at the man in full: Donald S. Rugoff, the influential distributor, New York City theater impresario and certifiable ‘piece of work’ [to quote one testimonial].” Read more…)

Ukraine on Fire (Oliver Stone documentary, 2016, foreign affairs, pro-Russian perspective, Vladimir Putin)

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