New releases 9/17/19

Top Hits
Firecrackers (drama, Michaela Kurimsky. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Firecrackers,’ Jasmin Mozaffari’s astonishingly confident [and perfectly named] debut feature, opens with a flare of fury and ends on a note of anxious optimism. What happens between is often sensed more than spoken: This is a movie that, like its characters, is more fluent in feelings than in words.” Read more…)

Wild Rose ( drama/music, Jessie Buckley. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 80. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “There aren’t many country-music superstars who emerge from hardscrabble lives in Glasgow, and that unlikelihood is both the appeal and the subject of ‘Wild Rose.’ What at first appears to be another crowd-pleasing, music-driven Britcom in the vein of ‘Billy Elliot’ is cut with a strain of kitchen sink realism — an interest in the daily lives of blue-collar workers and in the trade-offs of pursuing dreams. First and foremost, the movie, written by Nicole Taylor and directed by Tom Harper, is a superb showcase for Jessie Buckley.” Read more…)

Pasolini (bio-pic of Italian director, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Italian director Pier Paolo] Pasolini, who was born in 1922, led an eventful and complicated life — Barth David Schwartz’s English-language biography runs to nearly 800 pages — and died a senseless and sensationally violent death at 53. ‘Pasolini’ takes place mainly in the days leading up to his murder, but, if anything, [director Abel] Ferrara, a notorious provocateur in his own right, tries to dispel some of the feverish speculation and conspiracy-mongering that has surrounded that crime. His reverence for his subject as a fellow artist and kindred rebel spirit is evident in every frame, but he also works to strip away the layers of martyrdom and mythmaking that obscure the man and his art.” Read more…)

X-Men: Dark Phoenix (Marvel superhero action, James McAvoy. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 43. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The spectacle of superhero franchises trying to engage women can be amusing when it’s not insulting, pandering or straight-up weird. ‘Dark Phoenix,’ the 12th installment in the ‘X-Men’ franchise, certainly tries to do right, but the strain shows. It has a female-driven story but odd ideas about empowerment. On the plus side it has Jessica Chastain playing an otherworldly creature who opens a portal to another dimension and a better movie. She keeps you watching even if at times the director, Simon Kinberg, seems more into her risibly high heels.” Read more…)

East Side Sushi (drama, Diana Elizabeth Torres. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 70. From Justin Chang’s Variety review: “Given the recent rise in popularity of the mutant-sized sushi burrito and other dubious but satisfying fusion-cuisine hybrids, the time feels improbably right for ‘East Side Sushi,’ a gently winning foodie fable about a Mexican-American chef who dreams of working behind the bar at a Japanese restaurant. Writer-director Anthony Lucero’s delectable debut feature has its share of on-the-nose writing and Cinderella-story contrivances, but for the most part folds its cross-cultural insights into a pleasing underdog narrative as deftly as its heroine presses together rice and nori. Centered around a very appealing performance by newcomer Diana Elizabeth Torres, this low-budget crowdpleaser [coming off a much-laureled run on the regional fest circuit] should satisfy a few appetites in VOD play following a limited theatrical run.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Man In the Net (1959, film noir, Alan Ladd)
Beware! (1946, comedy/music, Louis Jordan)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Hail, Hero (1969, drama, Michael Douglas. From Vincent Canby’s 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘Hail, Hero!’ you can see Kirk Douglas, even younger than he was in ‘The Champion’ in 1949, in the person of his 25-year-old son, Michael. This new Douglas has his father’s extraordinary, Fearless Fosdick jaw, the suggestion of his dimpled chin and the cool, gentle eyes. He also possesses the almost manic, physical buoyancy that compels attention even when it bears little relation to the circumstances in which the actor finds himself. It’s not an especially memorable performance, but it’s an energetic one, and without Douglas, ‘Hail, Hero!’ would not even be tolerable.” Read more…)

New British
C.B. Strike: The Series (mystery, Tom Burke. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 59. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “Cormoran Strike has a more dramatic back story than your average television private eye. His dad’s a rock star, his mom was a fashion model who died in mysterious circumstances and he’s a war hero who lost his left foot in Afghanistan. In ‘C.B. Strike,’ … we meet him as he agrees to investigate the death of a young supermodel. The show’s interest in the wages of celebrity makes sense: It’s based on the mystery novels J.K. Rowling began writing, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, after her ‘Harry Potter’ books made her one of the world’s best-known authors.” Read more…)

New TV
The Good Fight: Season 3 (TV legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79.)

Fosse/Verdon (bio-pic mini-series/choreography, Michelle Williams. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “‘Fosse/Verdon’ looks fantastic. Typographically, I mean. The title, set in a so-’70s sans serif typeface that echoes the poster for ‘All That Jazz,’ announces this FX mini-series, starting Tuesday, as a work with flair and attention to detail, for enthusiasts and connoisseurs. Literally, the title ‘Fosse/Verdon’ describes a long partnership, between the choreographer-director Bob Fosse [Sam Rockwell] and the dancer-actress Gwen Verdon [Michelle Williams]. It also implies a hierarchy — him first, her second — which set in as his career took off and their marriage fell apart. And it captures the problem of the series ‘Fosse/Verdon,’ which for all its technical panache, puts stage center an overfamiliar biopic story of a brilliant, difficult artist.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Cassandro the Exotico! (wrestling, culture, gay & lesbian. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 76. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The filmmaker Marie Losier shoots in 16 millimeter, and she clearly glories in the format. Not just the rich color saturation she squeezes from it, but the image artifacts many other camerapersons would deplore as defects. Frequently in her new documentary film, ‘Cassandro the Exotico!,’ individual shots practically bristle with what’s called ‘hair in the gate”’ [stray fragments of celluloid that look as if they want to scour the bottom of the screen]. This visual approach is apt for the title subject of this film. Cassandro, born Saúl Armendáriz, is a practitioner of lucha libre — Mexican professional wrestling, which he performs in elaborate drag.” Read more…)

Ken Burns: Country Music (music, culture, 8-part, 16-hour. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 77. From Jon Caramanica’s New York Times Critic’s Notebook on the series: “Tell a lie long enough and it begins to smell like the truth. Tell it even longer and it becomes part of history. Throughout ‘Country Music,’ the new omnibus genre documentary from Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan, there are moments of tension between the stories Nashville likes to tell about itself — some true, some less so — and the way things actually were. And while from a distance, this doggedly thorough eight-part, 16-hour series — which begins Sunday on PBS — hews to the genre’s party line, viewed up close it reveals the ruptures laid out in plain sight.” Read more…)

Manson: Music from an Unsound Mind (bio, cultural history, Charles Manson)

New Music DVDs
Ken Burns: Country Music (music, culture, 8-part, 16-hour)
Manson: Music from an Unsound Mind (bio, cultural history, Charles Manson)Becoming