New releases 10/15/19

Top Hits
Stuber (buddy comedy, Kumail Nanjiani. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 42. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Every so often, a movie opens that you’re sure you and some friends plotted out on a bar napkin once upon a late night. You know that bigger-than-life picture: It’s the movie-I’ll-never-make fantasy, the get-rich-flick scheme that you are positive someone with money will eventually produce. Because someone with money is always making a movie like ‘Stuber,’ an entertainment that is at once knowingly derivative [it’s like ‘Lethal Weapon’!] and somehow just different enough [with ride sharing!].” Read more…)

The Wedding Guest (thriller, Dev Patel. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 57. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Wedding Guest’ soon reveals that it has one of the most misleading titles of the year. It’s a thriller, not a light comedy of manners — but exactly what sort of thriller it will be is something that the director, Michael Winterbottom, keeps tantalizingly at bay.” Read more…)

Crawl (action thriller, Kaya Scodelario. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “As ‘Crawl’ works itself into a lather of bloodied limbs and frothing water, [director Alexandre] Aja — whose slickly savage 2006 update of the Wes Craven cannibal classic, ‘The Hills Have Eyes,’ showcased his mastery of mood as well as grisliness — delivers a smoothly efficient popcorn picture. The ’gators are gnarly, the manipulation of light and shade is impressive [the plucky cinematographer is Maxime Alexandre] and the claustrophobia is eased somewhat by a barreling pace and the odd check-in with the outside world.” Read more…)

Anna (thriller, Sasha Luss. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 40. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “In Luc Besson’s ‘Anna,’ a struggling, beautiful young woman is coerced into becoming a world-class assassin, and finds herself pining for her freedom while dispatching her targets. Sound familiar? It’s roughly the same outline as the director’s 1991 hit ‘La Femme Nikita,’ which proved the French could outdo Hollywood at making action movies. “Anna” isn’t as stylish or gripping as ‘Nikita,’ but it does have its own demented charm, particularly in how it toys with structure, nesting competing narrative timelines within each other.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Crawl
Pavarotti

New Foreign DVDs
At War (France, drama, Vincent Lindon. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 61. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The great French actor Vincent Lindon has a special talent for embodying what could be a paradoxical persona: the outstanding Everyman. In ‘At War,’ the fourth feature he’s made with the director Stéphane Brizé, Lindon plays a workers’ leader at an auto plant facing closure.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Foxes of Harrow (1947, drama, Rex Harrison. From Bosley Crowther’a 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Obese’ is the word which a reviewer for this newspaper used to describe Frank Yerby’s ‘The Foxes of Harrow’ in its original novel form. The gentleman was being most courteous—if the film is even a shadow of the book. For, although this orotund picture, which came to the Roxy yesterday, is apparently lacking in several of the paunchier sections of the book, it still manifests over-stuffing with the fattiest romantic clichés.” Read more…)

New British
The Hours and Times (1991, fictional account of 1963 vacation taken by John Lennon & Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Ian Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Vincent Canby’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Hours and Times,’ written and directed by a young American named Christopher Munch, is a sharp, concise, evocative film about friendship, about its limitations and the recognition of those limitations. It is novel-size yet short [60 minutes], and utterly specific. Everything superfluous has been cut away. The film takes as its starting point the fact that in the spring of 1963 Brian Epstein, the Beatles’ brilliant, troubled manager, and John Lennon, a Beatle still very much on the road to self-discovery, shared a four-day vacation in Barcelona.” Read more…)

New TV
The Haunting of Hill House (mini-series based on Shirley Jackson novel, Henry Thomas. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 79. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times “Critic’s Notebook”: “The new Netflix series ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ — a loose adaptation [of the Dhirley Jackson novel] that ambitiously marries the terrors of a ghost story with an intricate, multigenerational family drama — opens with a reading of [Jackson’s introductory paragraph], which suggests fealty to source material. But if you listen closely, you might notice that the perspective has radically shifted, away from the book’s omniscient narrator and toward the man speaking.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
This Changes Everything (feminism, media, sexism in media, Geena Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Aisha Harris’ Times review: “‘Thelma & Louise’ was supposed to have done it. Ditto ‘The First Wives Club,’ and, more recently, ‘Frozen’ and ‘Hidden Figures.’ As the actress and activist Geena Davis puts it in “This Changes Everything,” a new documentary about Hollywood’s pervasive gender inequalities, each of those highly successful films with female leads [and in some cases, female filmmakers] had been expected to expand the opportunities for women, or so the media narrative went with each release. As the staggering statistics on gender parity continue to demonstrate, though, not much has changed.” Read more…)

Pavarotti (bio, opera, Luciano Pavarotti. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 66. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “If Luciano Pavarotti ever had a bad day, you wouldn’t know it from ‘Pavarotti,’ an upbeat documentary that recounts the opera singer’s life, or at least its better moments. Directed by Ron Howard, ‘Pavarotti’ grounds itself in the artist’s childhood in Italy and winds its way through his career to his death in 2007. High points are the film’s forte, and they’re backed by extensive and well-assembled footage” Read more…)

Jaco (bio, music, jazz, electric bass, Jaco Pastorius. From Nate Chinen’s New York Times “Critic’s Notebook”: “When Jaco Pastorius first met Joe Zawinul, the keyboardist and composer behind Weather Report, he had his introduction ready. ‘My name is John Francis Pastorius III,’ he said, as Zawinul later remembered. ‘I’m the greatest bass player in the world.’ That line appears more than once in ‘Jaco,’ an illuminating, compassionate new documentary, and its hubris comes across as both playful and deeply serious.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Pavarotti (bio, opera, Luciano Pavarotti)
Jaco (bio, music, jazz, electric bass, Jaco Pastorius)

New Gay & Lesbian DVDs
The Hours and Times (1991, fictional account of 1963 vacation taken by John Lennon & Beatles manager Brian Epstein, Ian Hart)