New releases 10/8/19

Top Hits
Midsommar (horror, Florence Pugh. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “We horror-movie lovers are cheap dates. A creaking door and a shocking edit can be all it takes for us to yelp in surrender, as our sympathetic nervous systems kick in and we grab our seat arms or each other. Ari Aster, who made a splash last summer with his feature directing debut, ‘Hereditary,’ understands the genre’s fundamentals. But his strength in that movie and his new one, ‘Midsommar,’ is the setup, that part when he lays out his characters, their worlds and the menace that closes on them like a claw.” Read more…)

American Woman (drama, Sienna Miller. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 67. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘American Woman,’ directed by Jake Scott from a script by Brad Ingelsby, is, on its face, the kind of movie that many of us are afraid is getting squeezed out of the market by blockbusters and franchises. It’s a considered, conscientious character study chronicling the ups and, mostly, downs in the lives of its working-class subjects.” Read more…)

Deadwood: The Movie (western, Ian MacShane. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From James Poniewozik’s Times review: “This briefly resurrected wonder, which airs on HBO Friday, looks like ‘Deadwood,’ if grayer and touched by time. It sounds like ‘Deadwood,’ the profane poetry and syntactic baroqueness of David Milch’s prose preserved as if in 100-proof whiskey. Lord, it is ‘Deadwood’; not just a nostalgic exercise but a fair shorthand of what might have transpired in a fourth season.” Read more…)

Annabelle Comes Home (horror, McKenna Grace. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic:53. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Despite remaining laudably committed to its namesake’s hobby of terrorizing little girls, ‘Annabelle Comes Home,’ the latest in the demon-doll saga that began in 2013, is no more than a shameless franchise-stuffer. Burdened neither by fresh ideas nor common sense, Gary Dauberman’s lethargic screenplay (he also directed, an inauspicious debut) takes so long to get moving that Annabelle herself should demand a do-over.” Read more…)

Gwen (horror, Maxine Peake. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 63. From Guy Lodge’s Variety review: “Handsomely cloaked in misty menace and heavy weather, an irate wind whistling through every pause in its soundtrack, ‘Gwen’ turns out to be something of a wolf in another wolf’s clothing. Following a fatherless family battling demons of some description in the bleakest peaks of Wales, the film looks and sounds the part of an elegantly haunted gothic horror movie, only to skip past standard chiller expectations to disquiet its audience in more grounded, historically rooted ways.” Read more…)

Toy Story 4 (animated feature, Tom Hanks. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 84. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Much of ‘Toy Story 4’ is great-ish. The animation is striking, the jokes amusing and the story sweet, though this being Pixar, the tale is also melancholic enough that the whole thing feels deeper than it is. In other words, the movie is exactly what you expect — not more, not less — from an estimably well-oiled machine like Pixar. It seems almost greedy to want something better, less familiar. The fault lies with the studio, which has trained us to expect greatness, partly by making movies as seemingly inimitable as ‘Inside Out’ and ‘Wall-E.’” Read more…)

Light of My Life (thriller, Casey Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 67. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “So it’s not original, but it is enlivened by some artful touches and two excellent performances. [Writer/director/actor Casey] Affleck’s familiar melancholy energy is ideal for the part of a man [known only as Dad] who is struggling to persist in a world without hope, if only to ensure his child’s survival. His simmering sadness has a self-sustaining quality — it never explodes or wears itself out.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Midsommar
Toy Story 4 (arriving Friday)

New Foreign DVDs
Three Peaks (Germany, drama, Alexander Fehling. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 57. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Three Peaks,’ an insinuating, sometimes tense and pleasingly open-ended domestic drama from the Berlin-born director Jan Zabeil, opens with a shot of three side-by-side pools. A man, Aaron [Alexander Fehling], is teaching Tristan [Arian Montgomery], to swim. Lea [Bérénice Bejo], the boy’s mother, joins them, but soon it becomes clear that Aaron is not Tristan’s father — and that young Tristan is still getting used to living as a family with his mom’s boyfriend.” Read more…)

Yomeddine (Egypt, adventure/comedy, Rady Gamal. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 62. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The star and hero of the warm drama ‘Yomeddine,’ Beshay, is a survivor of leprosy, who has lived in a leper colony in northern Egypt for most of his life. In the seclusion of the colony, he is married and makes his living picking up and selling trash from a local landfill. As played by the magnetic Rady Gamal, a cafeteria worker who was himself cured of leprosy, Beshay’s face and hands bear the scars of illness, but his pride remains intact.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Boom! (1968, drama/romance based on Tennessee Williams play, Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. From Vincent Canby’s 1968 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In spite of [playwright Tennessee] Williams’s rewriting—and maybe because of the pots of money spent on the grossly eye-blinding physical production—‘Boom!’ is still a fuzzy unconsummated work caught like so many of the playwright’s heros, midway between a real world and a symbolic one. For all of its overtones of Indian mysticism, Christian theology and Greek mythology, the movie is essentially the sort that Baby Doll would have hitched a ride into Blue Mountain to see—a tale of the very-very rich that tells the miserable critters in Dogpatch that money can’t buy happiness.” Read more…)

The Honey Pot (1967, comedy/crime, Rex Harrison. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1967 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “While he has put together in this picture… a sleek and saucy simulation of contemporary high comedy, it is actually more glib than sententious, more artifice than art.In his memorable, smoothly polished fashion, [director Joseph] Mankiewicz sets his stage for a fox-and-chickens confrontation that would seem to have infinite scope.” Read more…)

New British
Red Joan (drama based on true story, Judi Dench. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A story of Cambridge spies, atom-bomb secrets and a passionate affair between a demure Brit and a dashing Commie should steam up the screen and pop your popcorn. Or you would think so: but leave it to the feted British theater director Trevor Nunn to flatten the intrigue and dampen the lust that could have made ‘Red Joan’ zing.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Irish Catskills: Dancing at the Crossroads (culture, immigrant stories, Irish-Americans)