New releases 7/18/17

Top Hits
Free Fire (action comedy, Brie Larson. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The cinema innovator and iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard never actually said, ‘All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,’ but it has become a well-known adage, anyway — because it’s true. ‘Free Fire,’ directed by Ben Wheatley from a script he wrote with Amy Jump, applies a more-is-more ethos to the formula: The ingredients here include a best actress Academy Award winner, Brie Larson; dozens of firearms; and a slew of male characters of varying levels of smugness and idiocy to help out with the shooting. The film is a formal exercise in spectacle under constraint: An extended standoff in a contained space surprisingly full of hazards.” Read more…)

Kong: Skull Island (action/sci-fi, Tom Hiddleston. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 62. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ the big guy has a new look and a new gal pal, Mason Weaver [Brie Larson], who’s somewhat feistier and certainly more sensibly dressed than her predecessors. She points and she shoots, and not just her camera. ‘Skull Island’ pretty much exhumes the same story conceived for the 1933 classic. This time, the adventurers include a group of government-backed scientists run by Bill Randa [John Goodman], who has his glinting eyes on a mysterious, seemingly unexplored island. Mysteries were made for solving, and this island, Randa reasons, may contain all manner of wonders, or perhaps something beyond human imagining.” Read more…)

The Promise (historical epic, Oscar Isaac. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 49. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Weighed down by the worthiness of its intentions, ‘The Promise’ is a big, barren wartime romance that approaches the Armenian genocide with too much calculation and not nearly enough heat. It can happen all too easily. An otherwise highly competent director [in this case, Terry George] succumbs to the lure of addressing a real-life atrocity [here, the still-contested slaughter of more than a million peaceful Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I]. Somewhere along the way, though, the need to do justice to the slain and call out the perpetrators becomes a pillow that smothers every spark of originality.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Kong: Skull Island
The Promise

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Who’s Minding the Mint (1967, comedy, Jim Hutton. From Bosley Crowther’s 1967 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Who’s Minding the Mint?’ is all nonsense, and most of it fun. Like the other picture, it also happens to be clean. It has to do with a young Bureau of Engraving clerk who accidentally destroys $50,000 and sneaks in the building one night to mint it back with some money minded pals. The first two-thirds of this romp is snugly amusing and perkily turned, as written by R. S. Allen and Harvey Bullock and nimbly directed by Norman Maurer. The performances of an unglittery cast are dandy, from Jim Hutton and Dorothy Provine to old-timer Walter Brennan and back to Milton Berle.” Read more…)

New British
A Room With a View (1986, Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster novel  Helena Bonham Carter. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New york Times review [requires log-in]: “Because common sense triumphs, ”A Room With a View” is not only uncharacteristically benign for Forster, but also blithely, elegantly funny, which is a fit description of the first-rate film adaptation that opens today at the Paris. As they’ve been doing now for over 20 years, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who wrote the screenplay for ”A Room With a View”; James Ivory, who directed it, and Ismail Merchant, the producer, have created an exceptionally faithful, ebullient screen equivalent to a literary work that lesser talents would embalm.” Read more… [Of note is what Canby wrote about Daniel Day Lewis, who recently announced his retirement from acting: “Spectacular, too, is a new young actor named Daniel Day Lewis, who plays the insufferable Cecil Vyse with a style and a wit that are all the more remarkable when compared to his very different characterization in ‘My Beautiful Laundrette.'”])

Grantchester: Season 3 (mystery series, Janes Norton)
My Mother & Other Strangers (romance/historical drama mini-series, Hattie Morahan)

New Documentaries
With Great Power (comic book history, Marvel Comics, Stan Lee)
Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (environment, waste, plastics)

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