New releases 6/16/20

Top Hits
Wildlife (drama, Criterion collection, Carey Mulligan. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Wildlife’ is a domestic drama both sad and terrifying. The entire cast does exceptional work [(Ed) Oxenbould is an exciting find], but the movie is anchored by [actress Carey] Mulligan, who gives the best performance of any I’ve seen in film this year. The stiff simulation of determined cheer with which Jeanette often speaks has a vehemence to it, particularly in the sibilants she pronounces. Her physical bearing is also striking: In this role, Mulligan can say more by just tensing her neck than most actors can with a lengthy, impassioned soliloquy.” Read more…)

Bad Boys for Life (Action comedy, Will Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The comedic chemistry of Martin Lawrence and Will Smith has to do a lot of heavy lifting in ‘Bad Boys for Life,’ the third buddy-cop action movie to feature the pair as maverick Miami detectives. They get the job done — delivering a mildly enjoyable movie that committed fans of the franchise will rate a lot higher — but they have to hack through a lot of by-the-numbers plotting and indolent characterizations to get there.” Read more…)

South Mountain (drama, Talia Balsam. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Talia Balsam is a paragon of acting talent who doesn’t get nearly as many opportunities to fully stand out as she ought. So it’s probable that ‘South Mountain,’ a relatively rare starring vehicle for Balsam, would be worth seeing even if it were not so sharply observed and well-constructed. Fortunately, we are not obliged to split any differences here.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Bad Boys for Life

New Foreign DVDs
One Cut of the Dead (Japan, horror, Takayuki Hamatsu. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Elisabeth Vincentelli’s Times review: “The mood is oddly goofy, though, and the cut-free gambit is a lot less grim than in Sam Mendes’s ‘1917,’ which aims for the same breathless effect on a much larger scale and in a much somber way. But the trick is actually more narratively justified in this inventive low-budget Japanese comedy, which quickly turns out to be an uproarious backstage farce about the perils of live television rather than a mere zombie spoof.” Read more…)

Young Ahmed (Belgium, Dardennes Brothers-directed drama, Idir Ben Atti. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 65. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Young Ahmed’ is suspenseful and economical, with a clear sense of what’s at stake, but something crucial — perhaps a deeper insight into the character or the contradictions that ensnare him — is missing. This film feels thinner and more schematic than Dardenne masterpieces like ‘Rosetta,’ ‘L’Enfant’ or ‘Two Days, One Night,’ as if the story had been molded from a set of arguments and assumptions rather than chiseled from the hard stone of reality.” Read more…)

15 Years (Israel, gay & lesbian drama, Oded Leopold. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “Yoav becomes such an oppressive presence that it is difficult to empathize with him. ’15 Years’ is overstuffed with symbolism about his existential woes, but the narrative would have been better served by mirroring the film’s sleek, minimalistic shots, with more understated depictions of anxiety.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Show Boat (1936, musical, Criterion Collection, Paul Robeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1936 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It is, of course, the music that makes ‘Show Boat,’ but James Whale, who directed the picture, has had the perception to hold to its melodic qualities without losing sight of the cinema’s insistent need for action. Here is one of the few musical shows which is not merely a screened concert. The picture has a rhythmic pace and a balanced continuity of movement which is as exceptional as it is welcome.” Read more…)

The Cameraman (1928, Buster Keaton silent comedy, Criterion Collection, Buster Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Secret Ceremony (1968, Joseph Losey-directed drama/thriller, Elizabeth Taylor. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. From Renata Adler’s 1968 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Secret Ceremony,’ which opened yesterday at the Sutton and New Embassy Theaters, is Joseph Losey’s best film in years—incomparably better than ‘Accident.’ The opulent, lacquered decadence works well this time, with Mia Farrow as a rich, mad orphan, whose mother Elizabeth Taylor pretends to be and, in effect, becomes. Robert Mitchum is good as Miss Farrow’s stepfather, in a relationship as violent and complicated as relationships in movies like ‘Accident’ and ‘Reflections in a Golden Eye’ tend to be.” Read more…)

An Unmarried Woman (1978, drama, Criterion Collection, Jill Clayburgh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. From Vincent Canby’s 1978 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As [actress Jill] Clayburgh plays this scene [wherein her husband tells her that he is leaving her], one has a vision of all the immutable things that can be destroyed in less than a minute, from landscapes and ships and reputations to perfect marriages. The scene is beautifully written by Mr. Mazursky. It is high comedy of a sharp, bitter kind, and Michael Murphy is fine as the weasel husband named Martin, but Miss Clayburgh is nothing less than extraordinary in what is the performance of the year to date.” Read more…)

Connecting Rooms (1970, drama, Bette Davis)

New Documentaries
Rewind (autobiography, child abuse. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Early in ‘Rewind,’ a documentary directed by Sasha Joseph Neulinger, the filmmaker’s father, Henry, says that people historically shot home movies to remember happy occasions, not to capture bad ones. That appears to have been the case in the Neulinger clan. But in ‘Rewind,’ the filmmaker draws on an impressive cache of home videotapes to call attention to what lay beyond the frame: a pattern of sexual abuse by multiple members of his extended family.” Read more…)

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael (biography, movie criticism, culture, Pauline Kael. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 68. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unlike its subject, the documentary ‘What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael’ merely feints toward criticism. A numbing torrent of largely unidentified film clips and poorly labeled commentary, Rob Garver’s overstuffed tribute to the life and work of America’s best-known — and most written about — film critic is at times barely coherent.” Read more…)

When Lambs Become Lions (wildlife conservation, poaching, ivory trade. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Ivory poaching is a practice no one could possibly approve of: To further endanger the elephant species by killing individual animals is immoral. Some will tell you this isn’t just conventional wisdom; it’s a bedrock truth. Maddeningly, the ivory trade exists nevertheless. So the documentarian Jon Kasbe gave himself a particularly daunting challenge when he set out to make ‘When Lambs Become Lions,’ a picture about ivory poaching told largely from the perspective of those who do it.” Read more…)

Nova: Cuba’s Cancer Hope (health, politics)