New releases 6/21/22

Top Hits
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (action/comedy, Nicolas Cage. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In his latest, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,’ [Nicolas] Cage fidgets and swaggers and smiles so broadly he looks ready to swallow the screen whole. He charms and alarms, jumps off a cliff and, drink in hand, walks straight into a swimming pool without breaking stride. [Holding onto the bottle, he sinks and then he drinks.] What’s it about? Does it matter? Does it ever? It’s another Nicolas Cage joint, a romp, a showcase, an eager-to-please ode to him in all his sui generis Caginess.” Read more…)

After Yang (drama/sci-fi, Colin Farrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The human-machine interface is teased throughout ‘After Yang,’ which was written and directed by Kogonada and tracks what happens when a family’s android, called Yang, stops working. The shutdown rattles the household, especially the father, who is also the focus of Alexander Weinstein’s original, tart story “Saying Goodbye to Yang.” In both versions, the busted android creates logistical hurdles: The parents work and need a caregiver for their child. But what animates the movie, imbuing it with rueful feeling and nosing it down some lightly philosophical byways, is that the father seems almost as broken as the android.” Read more…)

Infinite Storm (adventure/drama, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 50. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “When performers sign on as producers of their movies it can feel like a statement of intent. That’s the case with the true-life drama ‘Infinite Storm,’ starring Naomi Watts as a grieving woman on an unexpected rescue mission. The movie has an appealing, streamlined trajectory: The woman hikes up and down a mountain, pausing to save a lost soul. With this role, Watts is reminding us that she can hold the screen by herself and without saying a word tell you everything you need to know about a character — and all the while looking fantastic.” Read more…)

Farewell Amor (drama, Criterion Collection, Ntare Mwine. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “[Director Ekwa] Msangi employs a neat trick to capture the family’s coming-together in all its complexity. Split into three chapters, the film depicts their reunion from each character’s perspective, switching from the wide shot of the opening to a more intimate, point-of-view style. Each version deepens our understanding of the characters by highlighting new details: a strained smile; the hesitation before a hug.” Read more…)

The Bad Guys (animated feature, Sam Rockwell. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Calum Marsh’s New York Times review: “This inane, juvenile animated comedy, directed by Pierre Perifel, is about a thieving clan of talking animals forced to reform after an elaborate heist goes wrong. They steal, they banter, they have car chases, as animals do not. There’s barely a frame in which they don’t smirk.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD Discs
Distant Voices, Still Lives Blu-Ray (UK, 1987, drama, Pete Postlethwaite. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. From Vincent Canby’s 1988 New york times review [requires log-in]: “‘Distant Voices, Still Lives’ has the rigorous, studied look of advanced film-school work. The color photography has a soft, golden hue, and the camera movements are stately, with a lot of pans from right to left and, on occasion, a slow rise toward heaven, as if the film [and the man directing it] were looking up to God.” Read more…)

The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent
After Yang

New Foreign DVDs
Hit the Road (Iran, drama, Pantea Panahiha. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The four of them enjoy getting on one another’s nerves, which is part of what makes them a family. All in all, they are good company. In real life, you might not want to be stuffed into a car with these people — and let’s not forget their dog, Jesse — on a dusty stretch of Iranian highway, but from the first jokey moments of ‘Hit the Road’ until its heartbreaking end you will not want to be anywhere else.” Read more…)

Benedetta (France, LGBTQ+ drama/history, Virginie Efira. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Unable to decide if its namesake is saint or sinner, genuine mystic or false prophet, ‘Benedetta’ is too ambivalent to find focus or resolution. Still, Verhoeven brings more vitality to his work than many filmmakers half his age, and his screenplay (with David Birke) is a tasteless hoot, gleefully cramming the frame with blood, fornication and flagellations galore.” Read more…)

Wood and Water (Germany, drama, Anke Bak. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Beatrice Loayza’s Times review: “‘It’s really sinking in that time is gone, and it won’t return,’ says Anke, a widow and retired church secretary, in reference to the life she led while raising a family. Even in her placid hometown in the Black Forest region of Germany, everything feels distant, rendered unrecognizable to her by the forces of modernization. ‘A sense of home,’ Anke continues. ‘I don’t have that.’ These feelings of alienation — and the kinds of connections that are forged in our increasingly globalized world — are subtly explored in “Wood and Water,” the poignant feature debut by the German writer-director Jonas Bak.” Read more…)

Les Nôtres (Canada, drama, Emilie Bierre. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The film’s strength isn’t the delayed suspense around unraveling the truth. It’s the sense of suffocation that Magalie feels while putting on the agreeable face of a child going about her school days. Leblanc and her cinematographer Tobie Marier Robitaille suffuse the film’s palette with tamped-down colors and send the camera creeping and looming around Magalie.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
No Ordinary Man (LGBTQ history, trans history, music, Billy Tipton. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 72. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The documentary ‘No Ordinary Man’ examines the life and death of Billy Tipton, a jazz musician who came into prominence in the 1930s, and whose career lasted for over 40 years. Billy was described by his friends as a consummate gentleman, and he cherished his family, with three children he adopted with his partner, Kitty. Billy lived his life quietly, but his death in 1989 became a nationwide spectacle after it became clear during funeral preparations that he was transgender.” Read more…)