New releases 7/13/21

Top Hits
Mortal Kombat (martial arts/action, Lewis Tan. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 44. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The appeal of the video game Mortal Kombat [and its Coke-Pepsi rival Street Fighter] was combining the characters in different smackdowns. But trying to construct a plot that links them is a fatal trap. The cheesy ‘Mortal Kombat’ [1995], from the future ‘Resident Evil’ director Paul W.S. Anderson, proved as much, and now there is ‘Mortal Kombat’ [2021], directed by Simon McQuoid, a snazzier, marginally more coherent movie that features a less catchy version of the techno theme song.” Read more…)

The Night (suspense/horror in Persian/English, Shahab Hosseini. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘The Night’ begins with a round of the party game, Mafia. The film’s central couple Babak [Shahab Hosseini] and Neda [Niousha Jafarian] play along, each wryly accusing the other of hiding secrets, each saying that the other might be the killer. The Persian-language, Los Angeles-set thriller that follows builds tension around the resentments that have accumulated in their marriage. But the stakes never rise past the movie’s first game.” Read more…)

Rose Plays Julie (#MeToo thriller, Anne Skelly. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 86. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “‘Rose Plays Julie,’ written and directed by Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, frames its sexual trauma as an intergenerational one. It contemplates the double lives of women through the ideas of outer success and inner anguish, as well as the trope of the naïve girl versus the seductive avenger.” Read more…)

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (animated feature, Keanu Reeves [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 65. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “I’m no stranger to Bikini Bottom. I may not have a pineapple home there, but I know the residents and local spots. Though after my unfortunate recent visit, for ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,’ I’m packing up my swim trunks and heading elsewhere.” Read more…)

Rev (action, Vivica Fox. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 65.)

New Blu-Ray
Limbo Blu-Ray (UK, refugee drama based in Scotland, Amir El-Masry. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must-See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Most of the films we’ve seen about the migrant and refugee situation in Europe in recent years are gritty, often heartbreaking dramas and documentaries. ‘Limbo,’ written and directed by a ferociously talented filmmaker, Ben Sharrock, takes an insinuating, poetic and often wryly funny approach. And it’s both heartbreaking and heartlifting.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
C.B. Strike: Lethal White (crime series, Tom Burke)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Bringing Up Baby (1938, dir. by Howard Hawks, Criterion Collection, screwball comedy, Katharine Hepburn. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1938 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In fact, after the first five minutes of the Music Hall’s new show—we needed those five to orient ourselves—we were content to play the game called ‘the cliche expert goes to the movies’ and we were not at all proud to report that we scored 100 percent against Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde and Howard Hawks.” Read more… Current Times critic A.O. Scott noted that “One of my favorite reviews in the annals of The New York Times is Frank S. Nugent’s brisk four-paragraph dismissal of ‘Bringing Up Baby,’ now regarded as a deathless classic of the screwball era, judged by Mr. Nugent to be a tiresome riot of clichés… I take the review as a reminder to be humble and also not to be afraid of being wrong.”)

Alias Nick Beal (1949, film noir, Ray Milland. From T.M.P.’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “At the beginning of the new picture presented yesterday at the Paramount we are informed that the seed of destruction lurks within us all, waiting the chance to take root and destroy our moral fiber. This corner will buy that as sound logic and it also will buy a sizable chunk of ‘Alias Nick Beal’ as an arresting, expertly tuned morality drama calculated to hold attention the while it drives home a pointed lesson about the dangerous consequences of pride, greed and lust for power.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Just A Gigolo (1978, drama, David Bowie, Marlene Dietrich. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “’Just a Gigolo,’ which opens today at the D.W. Griffith Theater and the Eighth Street Playhouse, is the story of the fall, rise and fall of the aristocratic Paul. It’s a very bad movie of more than routine interest because of the talent of many of the people involved and because of its literary antecedents.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (bio, media, shock TV, reality TV, Morton Downey Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Now that raw-meat theatrics are a staple of television talk shows and reality programming, you’d think that one of the style’s earliest practitioners would have lost the ability to shock. But as ‘Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie’ makes clear, the foaming bile of the man known as ‘the blue-collar king’ has leached little of its potency.” Read more…)