New releases 8/3/21

Top Hits
Luca (Pixar animated feature, Jacob Tremblay. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Luca’ was directed by Enrico Casarosa, whose warm, whimsical aesthetic also infused ‘La Luna’ [2012], his Oscar-nominated short. Unlike some other recent Pixar features, this one aims to be charming rather than mind-blowing. Instead of philosophical and cinematic ambition, there is a diverting, somewhat familiar story about friendship, loyalty and competition set against a picturesque animated backdrop.” Read more…)

Those Who Wish Me Dead (thriller, Angelina Jolie. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 59. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “I’m not sure I believed the plot for a minute of ‘Those Who Wish Me Dead,’ but as a means of pitting righteous characters against implacable assassins in a succession of abrupt, pitiless, life-or-death confrontations, the story has a terse effectiveness. The film, based on the 2014 novel by Michael Koryta, has been brought to the screen by the writer-director Taylor Sheridan. Although he isn’t the sole screenwriter here, the film paints in the bold, primal strokes of his scripts for ‘Sicario’ and ‘Hell or High Water’ without getting bogged down in the sloggy self-seriousness of his previous directorial feature, “Wind River.’” Read more…)

Here Today (comedy/drama, Billy Crystal. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 40. From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: “‘Here Today,’ starring Billy Crystal as a venerable TV comedy writer and Tiffany Haddish as the saintly, rough-around-the-edges street singer who becomes his unlikely pal, is a movie that feels like it could have been made 30 years ago: a friendly, adult-skewing, tart-witted but never nasty, jokes-and-hugs-built-around-a-serious-crisis character study that’s just ’90s enough to be comfortably old-fashioned, like an old pair of tasseled loafers.” Read more…)

Shirley (drama, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Shirley,’ adapted by Sarah Gubbins from Susan Scarf Merrell’s novel, will never be mistaken for a biopic. That is all to the good. Jackson, the subject of an excellent recent biography by Ruth Franklin, is much too interesting to succumb to the dull, sentimental moralizing of mainstream moviemaking. Instead, Decker and Moss approach Jackson as if she were a character in her own fiction, which is to say as an object of pity, terror, fascination and awe rather than straightforward sympathy.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
Wet Season (Singapore, drama, Yann Yann Yeo. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 73. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “A beacon of Southeast Asian prosperity and a haven for the ultrarich, Singapore represents a promised land for migrant workers. In ‘Wet Season,’ a Malaysian schoolteacher named Ling [Yann Yann Yeo] seems to enjoy comfort and stability in her adopted country, yet life in Singapore gnaws away at her dignity. This conflict sets the stage for a reckoning and rebirth by poignant, if morally objectionable, means.” Read more…)

The Mirror (Russia, 1975, dir. by Andrei Tarkovsky, Criterion Collection, drama, Margarita Tereshkhova. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Mirror’ opens with a metaphor: a televised scene in which a therapist, employing hypnosis, cures a young man of his speech affliction. Like the young man in this scene, Mr. Tarkovsky is struggling toward expression in the vexatious film that is ‘The Mirror.’ In the end, he has spoken, and while this accomplishment is not to be dismissed, it is to be regretted that his cinematic speech – his assessment of life – seems not so much part of a poetic dialogue with humankind but instead a therapeutic soliloquy.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Arise, My Love (World War II-era anti-fascist drama, 1940, Ray Milland. From Bosley Crowther’s 1940 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Between registration and Paramount we were brought full in the face of realities yesterday. For ‘Arise My Love,’ which arrived with much attendant excitement at the Paramount Theatre, turned out to be not the blithe, irresponsible affair anticipated but a sobering elaboration upon the themes of romance and war. Sternly, it calls to battle those two most charming exponents of frivolity, Claudette Colbert and Ray Milland; heroically, it stiffens the spines of two casual and presumably cynical folk.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The People Next Door (1970, drama, Eli Wallach. From Howard Thompson’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Time—the space of only two short years—and a conscientious, purposeful transfer from television to the screen have dealt J.P. Miller’s drama, “The People Next Door,” a near fatal blow. This is the highly acclaimed story of two neighboring middle‐class families almost split wide open by some generation‐gap, revelations involving two youngsters. Beamed into the living room, minus frills, from the small home box, it must have been thunderbolt. Not now.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Final Account (history, Holocaust, memory, Germany. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “In ‘Final Account,’ the filmmaker Luke Holland interviews a series of erstwhile Nazi functionaries: older men and women who seem to have spent a lifetime perfecting the use of the passive voice. Heinrich Schulze, a former Wehrmacht fighter, shows Holland his family farm where a group of escapees from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp once hid until they were “picked up.’ By whom? Holland asks. And how did they know the prisoners were hiding there? Schulze answers after a pause: ‘Well, we discovered them and reported it.’” Read more…)