New releases 7/31/18

Top Hits
Tully (comedy, Charlize Theron. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Marlo [played by Charlize Theron] is doing the contemporary supermom thing and, refreshingly, she isn’t doing it with 1950s clichéd desperate smiles. Directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody [this is their third movie together], ‘Tully’ admits that this figure is a noxious delusion, one that isn’t suitable for real women. Nevertheless they’re made to feel guilty for not doing it all or scolded for trying to live up to impossible standards. And soon enough the golden nimbus surrounding Marlo vanishes, swept away by the reality of hustling two children off to school while waiting for her water to break.” Read more…)

The Miracle Season (sports/inspiration, Helen Hunt. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 44. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “That ‘The Miracle Season’ is based on a true story makes it tough to endure and to review, because it’s no pleasure to report that filmmakers have turned real-life tragedy and tenacity into a manipulative weepie. From lighting to music cues, ‘The Miracle Season’ never misses a chance to lunge for your tear ducts, treating its characters less as flesh-and-blood humans than as props for delivering bromides.” Read more…)

Kings (drama, Halle Berry. Rotten Tomatoes: 11%. Metacritic: 34. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The first English-language film from the Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven [her 2015 movie ‘Mustang’ was a foreign language Oscar nominee] is well-acted across the board, and contains more than a few outstanding, unpredictable scenes. But in tying its story to this particular moment in American history, the movie bites off more than it can coherently chew.” Read more…)

The Party (comedy, Patricia Clarkson. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 73. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Written and directed by Sally Potter, who has made other movies worth seeing — ‘Thriller,’ ‘Orlando,’ ‘Ginger & Rosa’ — ‘The Party’ is a brittle, unfunny attempt at comedy that features some very fine actors and a lot of empty chatter. It takes place inside a few rooms on the ground-level floor of Bill and Janet’s comfortable London digs. There, they are giving a party to celebrate Janet’s recent appointment as a government functionary of the unnamed opposition party. From the way she furtively coos into her cellphone, it is clear that Janet has some secrets.” Read more…)

Kickboxer: Retaliation (action, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 54. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Mixed martial arts fans awaiting another chapter in the ‘Kickboxer’ movie series can rest easy: ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ has arrived in all its brutal, lunkheaded glory to scratch that particular itch. This sequel to 2016’s ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ — a reboot of the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme hit ‘Kickboxer’ [which spawned four sequels in the 1990s] — is essentially an overlong excuse to showcase an endless string of fight sequences. Scenes are either preludes to fights, preparations for fights or the fights themselves.” Read more…)

The Recall ( sci-fi, Wesley Snipes)

New Blu-Ray
Point Break (1991)
The Bad Batch
I Kill Giants
Cold Turkey
Kickboxer: Retaliation
I Am Heath Ledger
Bad Santa 2
Only the Brave
The Young Pope: Season 1
Sing Street
The Endless
Borg vs. McEnroe
Terminal
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Mine
The Pirates of Somalia
Kung Fu Yoga
The Star
Going in Style
Savannah Smiles (1982)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Letter (1929, drama, Jeanne Eagels. From Dave Kehr’s 2011 New York Times DVD review: “Long overshadowed by William Wyler’s 1940 remake starring Bette Davis, the first filming, from 1929, of W. Somerset Maugham’s stage play ‘The Letter’ has re-emerged, thanks to a new DVD edition from Warner Archive. As the only surviving sound film of the radically innovative Broadway star Jeanne Eagels, the film is an important piece of theater history, preserving the performance style of a brilliant, eccentric and spectacularly self-destructive actress [who would die of a drug overdose seven months after the film’s release]. But, stiff as it may be in cinematic terms, ‘The Letter’ is also a crucial piece of film history. One of the first talking films — or ‘audible photoplays,’ as The New York Times then called them — to impress critics with the artistic possibilities of a technology still widely regarded as a gimmick, ‘The Letter’ represented an important step on the way to the normalization of sound.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Day After (1983, nuclear war drama, Jason Robards. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From John Corry’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Day After,’ ABC’s much-discussed vision of nuclear Armageddon, is no longer only a television film, of course; it has become an event, a rally and a controversy, much of it orchestrated. Part of the controversy has to do with whether ‘The Day After’ makes a political statement, which it does, although the statement is muddy, and part of the controversy has to do with how we confront the nuclear abyss. Champions of the film say it forces us to think intelligently about the arms race; detractors say it preaches appeasement. In fact, both sides have something going for them in their arguments, even if the champions of the film, for the moment, are being heard more clearly than the detractors.” Read more…)

Latino (1985, drama/war, Robert Beltran. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The passion is there, but it’s subverted by the perfunctory nature of the fiction [director Haskell Wexler] has concocted about Eddie Guerrero, a Mexican-born officer in the Green Berets, and his politicization in Honduras while training United States-sponsored, Nicaraguan ‘contras,’ or counterrevolutionaries. The film, which was made under obviously difficult conditions, mostly in Nicaragua, looks both authentic and exceptionally handsome. It’s acted with conviction by Robert Beltran, as Eddie Guerrero; Annette Cardona, as the Nicaraguan woman with whom Eddie falls in love; Tony Plana, as one of Eddie’s fellow Green Berets, and Luis Torrentes, as a young Nicaraguan forced to join the contras at the point of a gun. Unfortunately for the film, Mr. Wexler’s screenplay makes only minimal use of the freedom allowed by fiction to dramatize the contradictory nature of human behavior -something not easily conveyed in documentaries.” Read more…)

New TV
Counterpart: Season 1 (thriller series, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times TV review: “One Howard Silk, a meek career bureaucrat who visits his comatose wife every night in the hospital, has ‘kind eyes,’ according to a nurse. The other Howard Silk, a sarcastic, deadly spy, does not. And yet the two Howard Silks — genetically identical but temperamentally diverse characters in the alternate-dimensions thriller ‘Counterpart,’ beginning Sunday on Starz — have the same eyes. They belong to the actor J.K. Simmons, whose double-barreled performance makes the show the most entertaining new series of the winter. Counterpart,” created by Justin Marks [writer of the 2016 ‘Jungle Book’ remake], is a clever and suspenseful if somewhat familiar mix of futuristic speculation and retro atmosphere.” Read more…)