New releases 1/11/22

Top Hits
Dune (sci-fi remake, Timothee Chalamet. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In a galaxy far, far away, a young man in a sea of sand faces a foreboding destiny. The threat of war hangs in the air. At the brink of a crisis, he navigates a feudalistic world with an evil emperor, noble houses and subjugated peoples, a tale right out of mythology and right at home in George Lucas’s brainpan. But this is ‘Dune,’ baby, Frank Herbert’s science-fiction opus, which is making another run at global box-office domination even as it heads toward controversy about what it and its messianic protagonist signify.” Read more…)

Zeros and Ones (mystery/suspense dir. by Abel Ferrara, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 62. Metacritic: 62. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Cryptic to a fault, Abel Ferrara’s ‘Zeros and Ones’ unfolds in a murkiness that’s both literal and ideological. Even its star, Ethan Hawke — speaking to us as himself in two brief scenes that bookend the movie — admits that, initially, he didn’t understand Ferrara’s script. His candor is comforting, and emboldening, encouraging persistence with a story whose destination seems as vague as its characters’ motivations.” Read more…)

The Djinn (horror, Exra Dewey. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 59. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “The ‘be careful what you wish for’ trope is so common in horror films that it’s hardly a spoiler to say that his wish comes with dire consequences. He conjures the evil djinn, or genie, setting in motion a night of terror. The fable facade is a deceptive precursor for a film that’s definitely not for kids.” Read more…)

Black Widow (Marvel superhero action, Scarlett Johansson. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 67. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “If I were Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. the Black Widow, a.k.a. the first original female Avenger and yet years overdue for her own film, I’d be hella miffed. After wearing myself out doing flips and kicks and spy work, I finally get my own movie, but the result, Marvel Studios’ ‘Black Widow,’ opening Friday, uncomfortably mashes up a heartwarming family reunion flick with a spy thriller — and then lets its star, Scarlett Johansson, get overshadowed.” Read more…)

Halloween Kills (horror sequel, Jamie Lee Curtis. Rotten Tomatoes: 41. Metacritic: 42. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “After a dozen movies — and a 13th on the horizon — the once-monstrous Michael Myers shuffles into theaters this weekend as exhausted as the 43-year-old franchise that indulges his blood lust. ‘Halloween Kills,’ the middle film of a reboot trilogy started in 2018 by the director David Gordon Green, is an indolent, narratively impoverished mess that substitutes corpses for characters and slogans for dialogue.” Read more…)

Minyan (coming-of-age drama/LGBTQ, Samuel H. Levine. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 69. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The subtle coming-of-age drama ‘Minyan’ creates a version of 1980s New York where whole neighborhoods have built up around the grief that’s carried by those who live there. The film observes as older Jewish men in Brooklyn recall rebuilding their lives after the Holocaust. In very different places of congregation, young gay men navigate death and persecution as a result of the AIDS epidemic. The hero of this film, David (Samuel H. Levine), is a novice in both worlds.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Outrage (1950, film noir dir. by Ida Lupino not available on DVD, Mala Powers. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. From Richard Brody’s 2014 analysis of the film for The New Yorker: “But ‘Outrage’ is a special artistic achievement. [Director Ida] Lupino approaches the subject of rape with a wide view of the societal tributaries that it involves. She integrates an inward, deeply compassionate depiction of a woman who is the victim of rape with an incisive view of the many societal failures that contribute to the crime, including legal failure to face the prevalence of rape, and the over-all prudishness and sexual censoriousness that make the crime unspeakable in the literal sense and end up shaming the victim. Above all, she reveals a profound understanding of the widespread and unquestioned male aggression that women face in ordinary and ostensibly non-violent and consensual courtship.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
I’m Your Man (Germany, rom-com, Dan Stevens. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Your eyes are like two mountain lakes I could sink into’ is a compliment most women would be disinclined to take umbrage at. But Alma [Maren Eggert] is not most women: A prickly scientist and cuneiform expert, she’s interested neither in flattery nor the man who’s delivering it. His name is Tom [Dan Stevens], he’s gorgeous, and he’s available. He is also a robot.” Read more…)

New Television
Billions: Season 5 (Showtime drama series, Paul Giamatti. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 73.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Ghost World (2001, comedy/drama, Criterion Collection, Thora Birch. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s 2001 Times review [requires log-in]: “Terry Zwigoff’s ‘Ghost World,’ loosely adapted from a novel-length comic book by Daniel Clowes, continues this hopeful trend. It’s surely the best depiction of teenage eccentricity since ‘Rushmore,’ and its incisive satire of the boredom and conformity that rule our thrill-seeking, individualistic land, and also its question-mark ending, reminded me of ‘The Graduate.’ With all due respect to Mike Nichols, Simon and Garfunkel, and Mrs. Robinson, I like ‘Ghost World’ better.” Read more…)