New releases 10/26/21

Top Hits
The Suicide Squad (comic book action, Idris Elba. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Joke, joke, kill, kill — that more or less sums up ‘The Suicide Squad,’ the latest installment in the DC Comics franchise. Shiny, busy and self-satisfied to a fault, this chapter follows the comic-book movie template, now with 20 percent more gore. It also has enough cinematic allusions to give critics something to chew on.” Read more…)

Stillwater (drama/thriller, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A truism about American movies is that when they want to say something about the United States — something grand or profound or meaningful — they typically pull their punches. There are different reasons for this timidity, the most obvious being a fear of the audience’s tricky sensitivities. And so ostensibly political stories rarely take partisan stands, and movies like the ponderously earnest ‘Stillwater’ sink under the weight of their good intentions.” Read more…)

On the Rocks (comedy, Bill Murray. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “It isn’t surprising how effortlessly Bill Murray takes possession of Sofia Coppola’s gently comic ‘On the Rocks’ — though this hijacking may be more of a sly directorial surrender. Casting Murray is a surefire way to win over an audience. It also means yielding at least part of the movie to him, which is what happens here. He plays a bigger-than-life sybarite whose daughter enlists him to help with her marital woes. If that sounds like a dubious idea for a grown child, it’s also a playful conceptual gambit for a director whose father, Francis Ford Coppola, casts his own long shadow.” Read more…)

Joe Bell (drama, Reid Miller. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 54. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “By and large, audiences don’t go to the movies to watch unprepossessing people engage in tedious pursuits — however noble or well-intentioned. And I have seen few cinematic sights more tedious this year than Mark Wahlberg trudging across America as the title character of ‘Joe Bell,’ a droopy drama with its feet on the blacktop and its heart set on redemption.” Read more…)

No Man of God (crime/drama, Elijah Wood. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 65. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘No Man of God’ can’t help but play like the special Ted Bundy episode of ‘Mindhunter’ we haven’t gotten to see yet. The movie, directed by Amber Sealey, dramatizes what it sees as the rapport that developed between Bundy [Luke Kirby] and the F.B.I. profiler Bill Hagmaier [Elijah Wood], who visited Bundy in prison and tried to pick his brain.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
On the Rocks
The Suicide Squad

New Foreign DVDs
New Order (Mexico, dystopia drama, Naian González Norvind. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 62. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco frequently devises narrative puzzles that hinge on unusual and emotionally fraught moral and ethical dilemmas. They’re usually on an intimate scale, as in his 2016 medical drama ‘Chronic.’ His latest film, ‘New Order,’ which created a sensation at home and on the festival circuit, takes a contained approach to a big event: insurrection.” Read more…)

Dead Pigs (China, 2018, comedy/drama, Haoyu Yang. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 73. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “A couple of years before directing ‘Birds of Prey,’ Cathy Yan made ‘Dead Pigs,’ a movie that suggests that her penchant for indulgent stylization predates a studio budget. Inspired by several true stories — including a 2013 incident in which thousands of pig carcasses were found in the Huangpu River — the film weaves together a colorful confection of tales about corruption and class inequities in modern-day China. It’s a tonal wild ride with eccentric characters, neon-lit settings and elaborately absurd detours.” Read more…)

A Day in the Country (France, 1936, drama dir. by Jean Renoir, Sylvia Bataille. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review on the occasion of the film’s 2015 Criterion Collection release: “Abandoned yet nearly perfect, Jean Renoir’s ‘A Day in the Country’ [1936] is a movie whose incomplete aspects only accentuate its freshness and spontaneity. ‘A Day in the Country,’ out from Criterion on Blu-ray and DVD, has an emotional complexity — a mixture of joyous melancholy and skeptical pantheism — that belies its 41-minute running time. This tale of a Sunday outing, adapted from a story by Guy de Maupassant, is also the movie in which the filmmaker most directly engaged his patrimony as the son of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir.” Read more…)

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Italy, 1970, horror dir. by Dario Argento, Eva Renzi. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From Roger Greenspun’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Like almost everything else in the film, the title is wonderfully fancy and eighty percent irrelevant. But like almost anything else in the film, it reflects an elegant, enterprising, occasionally desperate sensibility much given to fabricating sequins from non sequiturs.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957, sci-fi, Criterion Collection, Grant Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. From Bosley Crowther’s 1957 New York Times review, which doesn’t reflect the positive contemporary critical consensus: “The first inkling that something is definitely wrong in ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man,’ which popped up at the Globe yesterday, comes early in the film when Grant Williams realizes that his pants cuffs are inexplicably dragging the floor. Shortly after this—and long before he makes his last stand against the bugs in the basement—the ‘incredible’ of the title takes on an unintended meaning. For, unless a viewer is addicted to freakish ironies, the unlikely spectacle of Mr. Williams losing an inch of height each week, while his wife, Randy Stuart, looks on helplessly, will become tiresome before Universal has emptied its lab of science-fiction clichés.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Send Me No Flowers (1964, comedy, Rock Hudson. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It is a beautiful farce situation, and Julius Epstein has written it, from a play by Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore, with nimble inventiveness and style. And Norman Jewison has directed so that it stays within bounds of good taste, is never cruel or insensitive, and makes something good of every gag.” Read more…)

Street Trash (1987, cult, Mike Lackey. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. From Walter Goodman’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Street Trash,’ now befouling the Eighth Street Cinema, is the stuff that civil-libertarian nightmares are made of. It claims no redeeming social value, and you don’t have to be a Supreme Court nominee to question whether the Founders could have foreseen anything like it when they wrote the First Amendment.” Read more…)

New TV
The Stand (TV mini-series adaptation of Stephen King novel, Whoopi Goldberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 56. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “This new version of ‘The Stand’ [a four-episode mini-series written by King came out on ABC in 1994] was spearheaded by Josh Boone, who directed ‘The New Mutants,’ one of the few big-studio popcorn movies to open in theaters during the pandemic. It’s a reasonably skilled and unobjectionable job of transcription and compression, stutter-stepping among time lines to keep track of King’s manifold plot strands and characters.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Desert of Forbidden Art (Soviet Union cultural history, repression, human rights, art. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “True stories of individuals who risked everything to save people or artworks or historical records from tyrants are always stirring, but at this point there have been enough of them to constitute a genre. So how to keep yours from seeming formulaic? Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev, who wrote and directed the gorgeous documentary ‘The Desert of Forbidden Art,’ knew that for their subject, a man named Igor Savitsky, the answer was to make the art he saved, in effect, the film’s co-star.” Read more…)

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (movies, film technology, cinematic technique. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Documentaries about film technology, at least those that aspire to reach some portion of a mainstream audience, have to make wonkiness ingratiating. ‘Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound,’ a cogent and winning picture directed by Midge Costin, does this in a variety of ways.” Read more…)