New releases 8/17/21

Top Hits
Till Death (mystery/suspense, Megan Fox. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Beatrice Loayza’s Times review: “In his feature directing debut, S.K. Dale orchestrates a tense cat-and-mouse game that, refreshingly, doesn’t take itself too seriously. There are no profound psychological struggles, high-concept theatrics; no groundbreaking subversions of formula. Instead, this straightforward romp focuses its attention on its cunning and no-nonsense scream queen.” Read more…)

Queen Bees (comedy, Ellen Burstyn. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Queen Bees’ is a thoroughly conventional comedy-drama right down to its saccharine score by Walter Murphy. [Yes, the ‘A Fifth of Beethoven’ guy.] That said, it does not waste its impeccable cast, which also includes Christopher Lloyd and a remarkably game James Caan as Helen’s love interest.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
You Will Die At Twenty (Egypt, drama, Islam Mubarak. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Devika Girish’s Times review: “A folk tale turns existential in ‘You Will Die at Twenty,’ the rapturous debut feature by the Sudanese filmmaker Amjad Abu Alala. In a sun-dappled village by the Nile, a holy sheikh tells Sakina [Islam Mubarak] that her newborn son, Muzamil, will live only two decades.” Read more…)

After Life (Japan, 1998, Criterion Collection, drama, Arata. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. from Stephen Holden’s Times review [requires log-in]: “Invited to relive an especially happy memory, how many of us would be able to go beyond recalling how we felt, and describe the setting and circumstances of that moment in precise detail? And even when we conjure vivid mental pictures of past events, how accurate are they really? These and other profound questions are the substance of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s brilliant, humorous, transcendently compassionate film, ‘After Life,’ which opens today at the Film Forum.” Read more…)

Enfant Terrible (Germany, Rainer Werner Fassbinder bio-pic. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 49. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Oskar Roehler’s ‘Enfant Terrible’ runs through an impressively packed compendium of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s life and works — the brilliance, the sadism, the compassion and the leopard-print suiting. Roehler begins with Fassbinder upending Munich’s Action Theatre in his early 20s, and his fearless artistic talent suggests a force of nature unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.” Read more…)

King Kong Escapes (Japan/USA sci-fi, 1967, Linda G. Miller. From Vincent Canby’s 1968 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The Japanese, who show the greatest delicacy in arranging flowers and manufacturing transistor radios, are all thumbs when it comes to making monster movies like ‘King Kong Escapes.’ … The Toho moviemakers are quite good in building miniature sets, but much of the process photography—matching the miniatures with the full-scale shots—is just bad. The English language dialogue that comes out of the mouths of the Japanese actors could well be Urdu, and the plotting is hopelessly primitive, although it is littered with found symbols, most of which have to do with a [perhaps Hiroshima-inspired] national death wish.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
White Shadows In the South Seas (1928, silent drama/adventure, Monte Bule)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Loved One (1965, comedy, Jonathan Winters. From Bosley Crowther’s New York Times review: “Since the merchandisers of ‘The Loved One’ are boastfully proclaiming it to be an outrageous motion picture with something to offend everyone, I see no reason to deny their exultation. It IS an offensive film—but for reasons other than the boldness and indelicacy of its theme or, indeed, for the many insensitive and impious things it shows.As a screen version of the famous novel of the same name by Evelyn Waugh that was one of the first blistering satires on the so-called American way of death, this latest piece of social comment from Tony Richardson, which came to the Cinema I yesterday, is inevitably startling and tough.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation (theater, literature, Tennessee Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Merging two biographies is a solid way to enliven the often-tedious genre of the literary documentary. But the connections drawn in ‘Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation’ are sufficiently instructive that watching and listening to these writers is also, in a way, like hearing one author in stereo. The director Lisa Immordino Vreeland uses the friendship between Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams to construct a dialogue between them, using the writing and appearances they left behind.” Read more…)