New releases 10/29/19

Top Hits
Luce (drama, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “The film proceeds dialectically, with each scene adding a wrinkle to the characters’ motives. To say that it unfolds like a play is both accurate and undersells how gorgeously it has been rendered for the screen. ‘Luce’ had its origins onstage at Lincoln Center, and the screenplay was written by the playwright, J C Lee, and the director, Julius Onah. But Onah [‘The Cloverfield Paradox’], shooting on 35 millimeter, has thought through the staging in cinematic terms, lighting a school library and suburban kitchens as cold, ominous spaces.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Jirga (Australia, drama, Sam Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The real Kabul and Kandahar are almost never seen in contemporary movies, particularly those produced in the West. So the sense of going somewhere you’ve never been is palpable from almost the very beginning of ‘Jirga,’ a fictional film shot almost entirely in and around these cities in Afghanistan. Directed by Benjamin Gilmour and starring Sam Smith — an actor who gives such a distinctive performance that it’s a shame that he has such a common name — the movie is the story of a traumatized Australian soldier returning to the scene of his war crime to attempt amends.” Read more…)

La Marseillaise (France, Jean Renoir-directed historical drama, Pierre Renoir. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Matewan (1987, John Sayles-directed labor drama, Chris Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From Vincent Canby’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Taking as his source material an especially bitter and bloody confrontation between West Virginia coal miners and the company that owned their souls in 1920, John Sayles has made a film with the sweetness and simplicity of an Appalachian ballad. ‘Matewan,’ opening today at Cinema 1, is so direct in its sympathies and so unsophisticated in its methods that it seems to be an intrusion on our awareness of everything that’s happened to complicate the American labor movement between then and now.” Read more…)

Nightmare In Badham County (1976, horror/thriller, Deborah Raffin)

New British
A Discovery of Witches (mystery/supernatural, Teresa Palmer. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 66. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “‘A Discovery of Witches,’ which was made for Sky in Britain…, is an action fantasy in the multi-monster category of ‘Twilight’ and ‘True Blood,’ with a focus on Harlequin-style, time-jumping romance that may make it of interest to the ‘Outlander’ audience. It should meet the requirements of those who like their high-class cheese fests wrapped in European accents and antique locations. Based on the novels in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, the series imagines a triumvirate of nonhuman species — vampires, witches and demons — among whom peace is maintained by a centuries-old power-sharing arrangement.” Read more…)

New TV
Billions: Season 4 (Showtime drama, Paul Giamatti. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87.)

New Documentaries
Mike Wallace Is Here (bio, journalism, history, Mike Wallace. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 73. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In TV terms, the biographical film ‘Mike Wallace Is Here’ is effectively a feature-length recap. Using only archival footage, the director Avi Belkin distills more than five decades of the longtime “60 Minutes” correspondent’s career on camera to an hour and a half. Presenting Wallace with relatively little mediation is a natural way to tell this story, even as it creates a limitation. Documentary as autobiography, the movie shows a man who is always cultivating his appearance for an audience.” Read more…)

Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love (bio, music, Leonard Cohen. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Documentarian Nick Broomfield’s] new picture, ‘Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love,’ is about the enduring love between the Canadian singer-songwriter and poet Leonard Cohen and Marianne Ihlen, the Norwegian woman he met on the Greek island of Hydra in the early 1960s. It’s a story that is at once simple and threaded with startling complexities. Its emotional entanglements and narrative twists can seem the stuff of fiction. They shed sometimes discomfiting light on the expansions and excesses of the 1960s and ’70s counterculture that its main players helped to define.” Read more…)