New releases 7/6/21

Top Hits
The Sound of Metal (drama/music, Riz Ahmed. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Though underwritten and dramatically muted, this unusual movie diverts with an extraordinarily intricate sound design that allows us to borrow Ruben’s ears. From the sonic assault of his music to the hisses and crackles of his newly implanted devices — like an imperfectly tuned radio station — what Ruben hears seems as indistinct as his future.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Perfect Candidate (Saudi Arabia, drama, Mila Al Zahrani. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Story developments that would seem pat in a Western-made film are treated as miraculous here. But ‘The Perfect Candidate,’ co-written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour [‘Wadjda,’ ‘Nappily Ever After’], is as much a family drama as it is a parable of feminist activism — and is all the better for it.” Read more…)

The Bureau: Complete Series (France, suspense series that ran from 2015-20, Mathieu Kassovitz. In 2019, New York Times critic Mike Hale listed “The Bureau” as third on his list of 30 best international series of the decade, writing, “Perhaps the smartest and most authentic-feeling procedural espionage series anywhere in the world, especially in its first two seasons. [Season 5 premieres in France in March.] Mathieu Kassovitz stars as a foreign-intelligence agent who, after returning from a posting in Syria, makes a mistake whose increasingly grim ramifications have played out across the entire series.”)

New British DVDs
Bloodlands: Season 1 (thriller set in Northern Ireland, James Nesbitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 77. From John Anderson’s Wall Street Journal review: “The four-part ‘Bloodlands,’ a hit British thriller now streaming on Acorn TV, isn’t just about murder, betrayal and Irish gun-barrel politics. It’s about the power of storytelling. Northern Ireland, as portrayed in the series at least, is so unstable that few characters want to even mention its bloody past, and that’s something reflected in the production itself: There’s a straining for silence, as if the series might become complicit in disturbing the peace. But can a people be free if their defining conflict goes unspoken? The result is an agitated tension percolating beneath the surface skullduggery and violence.” Read more…)

New Television
Defending Jacob (drama mini-series, Chris Evans. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 61. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “‘Defending Jacob” is an eight-episode murder mystery from Apple TV Plus with a full catalog of twists and an impressive cast that includes Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Cherry Jones and J.K. Simmons. It’s also Exhibit A for a question that’s becoming increasingly unavoidable: Why does everything have to be a television series?” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Pariah (2011, drama/gay & lesbian romance/coming-of-age, Criterion Collection, Adepero Oduye. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Don’t be put off by the harsh title of ‘Pariah,’ the stirring coming-out story of a virginal 17-year-old African-American lesbian living in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. The teenager, Alike [pronounced ah-LEE-kay], dresses like a boy when out of her parents’ sight and endures a fair share of barbed, homophobic remarks, but she is not viciously persecuted.” Read more…)