New releases 7/28/20

Top Hits
Light from Light (drama, Marin Ireland. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “A movie about the supernatural with Jim Gaffigan in a starring role could go either way — horror or comedy — but ‘Light From Light’ refuses to be either. Even the setting, with spooky fog over the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, is offset by a gentle, plucky score. In the film, Richard [Gaffigan], a recent widower who thinks his wife is trying to communicate with him from beyond the grave, calls on a paranormal investigator, Shelia [Marin Ireland], to help.” Read more…)

Resistance (World War II drama, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Dousing us alternately in treacle and ice water, Jonathan Jakubowicz’s World War II drama, ‘Resistance,’ strains to find a cohesive tone. Outlining the true story of how the young Marcel Marceau, the renowned French actor and mime, helped Jewish orphans survive Nazi-occupied France, the movie aims to wrestle uplift from tragedy.” Read more…)

Capone (gangster bio-pic, Tom Hardy. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 46. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Buying into ‘Capone,’ a freehanded take on the final year of Al Capone’s life, requires accepting Tom Hardy’s grotesque performance as the notorious Chicago gangster. Hardy embodies Capone during the post-prison period when he deteriorated in Miami Beach, demented from neurosyphilis.” Read more…)

The Other Lamb (drama/horror, Raffey Cassidy. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Photographed like a dream and experienced like a nightmare, the religious cult at the center of ‘The Other Lamb’ looks idyllic on the outside, but, like the bird’s carcass stumbled upon by the film’s heroine, is teeming with maggots inside. Most of this rot emanates from the leader, a Messiah-like figure known as the Shepherd and played by Michiel Huisman with arrogant stillness and burning glances. The recipient of these is usually Selah [Raffey Cassidy], an auburn-haired beauty and his favorite daughter.” Read more…)

Scoob! (animated Scooby-Doo feature, Will Forte [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 43. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “At the beginning of ‘Scoob!,’ the latest Scooby-Doo reboot, directed by Tony Cervone, Velma [voiced by Gina Rodriguez] announces that it’s time for the gang ‘to take on bigger cases, scarier villains and creepier mysteries.’ It sounds less like an opportunity than a threat.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Whistlers (Romania, comedy/crime, Catrinel Marlon. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Until now, the films of Corneliu Porumboiu have been austere, rigorously linear and leavened with understated, fatalistic humor. Set in the everyday drabness of Bucharest or other, even less glamorous Romanian cities, they turn the grievances, frustrations and hopes of ordinary people into deadpan philosophical case studies… Except that ‘The Whistlers,’ Porumboiu’s newest film, is nothing like what I’ve just described. The chronology is splintered, the colors are bright, the plot intricate. There are picturesque non-Romanian settings and music on the soundtrack, starting with Iggy Pop’s ‘The Passenger.’ All of it in the service of a thriller involving a hard-boiled cop, a femme fatale and an international crew of gangsters.” Read more…)

Balloon (Germany, Cold War-era drama, Friedrich Mücke. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “There is nothing objectionable about Michael Bully Herbig’s glossy political thriller, ‘Balloon,’ but there’s nothing particularly exciting about it, either. A true-life tale of how two families narrowly escaped from communist East Germany in 1979 in a homemade hot-air balloon, the movie adopts a path so dramatically familiar we can almost predict each twist and fake-out.” Read more…)

Confidence (Hungary, 1980, post-World War II drama, Ildikó Bánsági. From Janet Maslin’s 1980 New York Times review [Requires log-in]: “At the start of ‘Confidence,’ a terse, forceful Hungarian film with a World War II setting, a woman, Kata [Ildiko Bansagi] is told that her husband has gone into hiding, and that she must assume a new identity. She is given the name of a new man, Janos Biro [Peter Andorai], with whom she must live. They will pretend to be husband and wife, and rent a room from a family whose son is off at war.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The System aka The Girl-Getters (1964, drama, Oliver Reed. From Howard Thompson’s 1966 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Girl-Getters,’ a new British drama, graphically examines—up to a point—the clusters of youngsters who each summer throng the English seaside resorts, thirsting for sex, thrills and fun. As a study of contemporary youth at bay, this American International presentation certainly has its moments, amusing to poignant. But it can’t hold a candle to ‘The Leather Jacket Boys,’ the Rita Tushingham vehicle, to cite what remains probably the best British drama of restless youth in several seasons.” Read more…)

Deadwater Fell (noir crime drama/mystery, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 73. From The Guardian’s TV review: “‘Deadwater Fell’ is basically ‘Broadchurch’ in Scotland. David Tennant is a doctor rather than a policeman, and at the centre of a crime rather than investigating it, and he’s letting his freckles show, but switch your mind to its Broadchurch setting and you will not be disappointed. You may even rejoice that, possibly alone among all things in this bleak and benighted year of no apparent Lord at all 2020, the Tennant TV imprimatur continues to deliver what we need.” Read more…)

New TV
The Outsider (HBO mini-series based on Stephen King book, Jason Bateman. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 69. From Mike Hale’s New York Times TV review: “Presumably the writer Richard Price and the actor and producer Jason Bateman, two of the main forces behind the 10-episode adaptation of ‘The Outsider’ that begins Sunday on HBO, liked the book [by Stephen King]. You have to wonder, though. Based on the first six episodes, they’ve gloomed it up and slowed it down, keeping much of the basic story but making something radically different in tone and atmosphere. It’s ‘The Outsider’ dipped in noir sauce and coated in HBO-prestige bread crumbs.” Read more…)

Curb Your Enthusiasm: Season 10 (comedy, Larry David, pretty pretty pretty good. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78.)

New Documentaries
You Don’t Nomi (cinema history, pop culture, Showgirls. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Is Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Showgirls’ misogynistic sleaze, a midnight-movie laughfest or a suave satire to which the world is still catching up? ‘You Don’t Nomi,’ a documentary from Jeffrey McHale, puts those perspectives into a breezy dialogue bound to irk all sides part of the time. [Somehow, a few commentators here can watch Verhoeven’s merciless sendup of power and enterprise — filled with graceful Steadicam work by Larry McConkey, of the ‘Goodfellas’ Copacabana shot — and find it wanting.] But McHale’s rundown is consistently entertaining.” Read more…)

James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction (cinema history, literature, storytelling, ideas. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)

Accidental Studio (cinema history, George Harrison, Monty Python. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “There’s a glow of nostalgia and sadness around this heartfelt, if patched together, documentary tribute to HandMade Films. It has new interviews with many of the surviving players, but also disconcertingly cobbles together quite a bit of old archive material. HandMade was the buccaneeringly brilliant but relatively short-lived indie Brit production company founded on an extraordinary impulse by George Harrison, in partnership with his business manager Denis O’Brien.” Read more…)