New releases 1/7/20

Top Hits
Joker (comic book drama, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “To be worth arguing about, a movie must first of all be interesting: it must have, if not a coherent point of view, at least a worked-out, thought-provoking set of themes, some kind of imaginative contact with the world as we know it. ‘Joker,’ an empty, foggy exercise in second-hand style and second-rate philosophizing, has none of that.” Read more…)

Mine 9 (thriller, Terry Serpico. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 66. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s some effective filmmaking in the central section of this picture written and directed by Eddie Mensore. These scenes depict the collapse of a section of a West Virginia coal mine, trapping nine men inside. Flooding and gas buildup combine with very cramped quarters as the men await rescue, unsure if anyone on the ground miles above them even knows they’re alive. The goings-on are grim, grueling and, eventually, grisly. Mensore shoots them with a sharp eye for maintaining coherent spatial relations, which enhances the suspense.” Read more…)

Girl on the Third Floor (horror, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 65. From Simon Abrams’ RogerEbert.com review: “The impressive haunted house flick ‘Girl on the Third Floor’ is just as much a machine to produce seductive imagery as it is an effective deconstruction of those blatant symbols. Set in an abandoned home and mostly following a solitary character—ex-lawyer and expectant father Don [Phillip Jack Brooks, A.K.A. former pro-wrestler C.M. Punk]—this blackly comic horror movie is equally concerned with the repressed pleasures and anxieties that are embedded in fetish objects: faded tattoos, silk lingerie, and congealed blood.” Read more…)

The Lighthouse (drama/horror, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 83. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Much as he did in his shivery feature debut, ‘The Witch,’ about an isolated family of fundamentalists coming unglued in early 17th-century America, [director Robert] Eggers makes the secluded world in ‘The Lighthouse’ at once recognizable and eerily unfamiliar, a combination that draws you in but makes you feel unsettled. [He shares script credit with Max Eggers, his brother.] The image of the lighthouse evokes visions of high seas and storms as well as the promise of safe passage and harbor. But here, that romantic idea soon sours.” Read more…)

Chained for Life (drama, Jess Weixler. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “‘Chained for Life’ aims to complicate ideas about what constitutes beauty and sincerity onscreen. It even hints at a loose parallel between plastic surgery, which can be seen as helping people look the way they feel inside, and filmmaking; both are mechanisms for creating illusions, but also have the potential for revealing hidden truths.” Read more…)

Where’d You Go, Bernadette (comedy, Kate Blanchett. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 51. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The human dark cloud churning violently over ‘Where’d You Go, Bernadette’ doesn’t much fit in anywhere, including in this comedy of crisis. That’s more or less intentional, but it presents a challenge for the director Richard Linklater, whose easygoing filmmaking style and vibe can feel out of sync with the gathering storm.’ Read more…)

The Goldfinch (drama, Ansel Elgort. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In many ways, ‘The Goldfinch’ approximates what we normally think of as a movie. There are actors — some good ones, too, well known and less so. Nicole Kidman. Sarah Paulson. Jeffrey Wright. Denis O’Hare. Willa Fitzgerald. Ryan Foust. There is music. There is furniture. There are themes and feelings, like loss and grief and the love of beauty and the pleasures of taking drugs, smoking cigarettes and looking attractive. All at once and in succession. But like those dodgy antiques — ‘changelings,’ as their maker supposedly calls them — this film is inauthentic without being completely fake.” Read more…)

Wolf Children (Japanese animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Blu-Ray
Wolf Children

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Holiday (1938, romantic comedy, Criterion Collection, Cary Grant & Katharine Hepburn. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New TV
Big Little Lies: Season 2 (crime/drama HBO series, Nicole Kidman. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 82.)

New Documentaries
Rothko: Pictures Must Be Miraculous (art history, bio, Mark Rothko)