New releases 6/23/20

Top Hits
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (drama, Sidney Flanigan. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A low-key knockout, ‘Never Rarely Sometimes Always’ tells a seldom-told story about abortion. And it does so without cant, speeches, inflamed emotions and — most powerfully — without apology. At its most obvious, it follows a 17-year-old as she tries to terminate her pregnancy. It’s a seemingly simple objective that proves [no surprise given the battles over abortion] logistically difficult, forcing her to marshal her modest resources and navigate perilous twists and turns. Here, a woman’s right to self-determination has become the stuff of a new and radical heroic journey.” Read more…)

Burden (drama/race, Forest Whitaker. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Never underestimate the power of love — and the mind-blowing kindness of a by-the-book preacher — to lead a man to salvation. At least, that’s the message of ‘Burden,’ the third recent movie [after last year’s ‘Best of Enemies’ and ‘Skin’ a few months later] to feature a Klan member being coaxed into the light.” Read more…)

Extra Ordinary (comedy/fantasy, Maeve Higgins. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 72. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Nothing in ‘Extra Ordinary,’ a comedy from Mike Ahern and Enda Loughman, suggests that ghosts have gravitated specifically toward Ireland. But they have a way of finding Rose [the comedian Maeve Higgins], a driving instructor who does her best to deny her knack for communicating with them. It’s complicated: Her father [Risteard Cooper] hosted a video series on supernatural occurrences, and she was his partner in all things paranormal. Then he died in a freak accident involving a dog and a haunted pothole, an incident for which Rose blames herself.” Read more…)

The Last Full Measure (drama/war, Christopher Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The movie is written and directed, with undeniable sincerity, by Todd Robinson. While its story mechanics are creaky, the valor of [Air Force medic William] Pitsenbarger is evoked cogently, in well-executed battle sequences. And not one soul in the stellar cast, which also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, Amy Madigan and, in one of his last screen roles, Peter Fonda, chooses to phone it in.” Read more…)

A Good Woman Is Hard to Find (crime/thriller, Sarah Bolger. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like the vibrator that facilitates a turning point for its owner in ‘A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,’ this remorseless revenge story is a particularly blunt implement. Yet the director, Abner Pastoll, finds a measure of delicacy and nuance in the telling: Working from a script [by Ronan Blaney] that’s a minor miracle of austerity and pacing, he layers gangland grift, domestic drama and female fury into a satisfying lasagna of mounting violence.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France, drama/romance, Noémie Merlant. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 51. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times article: “What follows is a subtle and thrilling love story, at once unsentimental in its realistic assessment of women’s circumstances and almost utopian in its celebration of the freedom that is nonetheless available to them. Céline Sciamma, the writer and director — her previous features include ‘Waterlilies’ and ‘Girlhood’ — practices a feminism without dogma or illusion. She takes as given the constraints facing Héloïse and Marianne and the burdens of inequality that affect Sophie [Luana Bajrami], a young household servant, but resists the temptations of melodrama or didacticism.” Read more…)

Detective Montalbano: Ep. 35 & 36 (Italy, detective series, Luca Zingaretti)

New Documentaries
The Ghost of Peter Sellers (cinema history, biography, Peter Sellers. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 74. From Todd McCarthy’s Hollywood Reporter review: “The excruciating experience of making a film that never should have been put before the cameras is revisited in ghastly, jaw-dropping detail in The Ghost of Peter Sellers. While viewers will inwardly gasp and cringe at the unseaworthiness of the comic pirate saga that was produced only because the then-red hot Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan were involved, for Peter Medak, the director of the unreleased 1973 farce and of this unvarnished look at its production 45 years later, this can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it documentary feels like both a mea culpa and a purge of lingering ghosts.” Read more…)