New releases 11/10/20

Top Hits
Bill & Ted Face the Music (comedy, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 65. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Bill & Ted Face the Music’ sounds like more of a reckoning than it is. It would be unbearable to think that William Preston and Theodore Logan, the goofballs first incarnated by Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves more than 30 years ago, could be candidates for cancellation. And though they may be longer in the tooth and heavier in the jowl than they used to be — as so many of us are — the dudes retain their essential innocence.” Read more…)

A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen comedy, Elle Fanning. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “I suppose I could also tell you that ‘A Rainy Day in New York’ shows more liveliness and wit than some of its recent precursors, like ‘Magic in the Moonlight,’ ‘Café Society’ or ‘Wonder Wheel.’ It’s easy on the eyes, thanks to the characteristically elegant work of the production designer, Santo Loquasto; the director of photography, Vittorio Storaro; and a cast of attractive youngish and midcareer performers. The titular city looks good under gray skies, even if it’s mostly standard tourist fare.” Read more…)

Spontaneous (horror/comedy, Katherine Langford. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. From Michael Phillips’ Chicago Tribune review: “Snark with heart, and scads of exploding high school seniors, “Spontaneous” [now on demand, as in ‘I demand to see the bodies explode’] will likely hold some interest for those looking for sardonic, black-comic relief from 2020 pandemic living. In this tale, at least, the carnage appears to be unpreventable as well as random. Based on Aaron Starmer’s 2016 YA novel, writer-director Brian Duffield’s slick adaptation relies on random geysers of death built for startling sight gags.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
A Rainy Day In New York

New Foreign DVDs
A Girl Missing (Japan, mystery/suspense, Mariko Tsutsui. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 52. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “It’s significant that ‘A Girl Missing,’ Koji Fukada’s shape-shifting vengeance drama, begins with a visit to a hair salon and a discussion of faces and familiarity. Because only by paying close attention to the lead character’s changing hairstyle and wardrobe can we follow the story’s convoluted crescendo of thwarted passion and unadulterated rage.” Read more…)

Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day (Germany, 1972, Rainer Werner Fassbinder-directed drama/mini-series. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “As always, the polish of [director] Fassbinder’s direction is a marvel; none of his 1970s contemporaries ever used zooms to better comic effect. And for a man who found time to make more than 40 features in his 37 years, the fluidity of his camera and blocking is miraculous — particularly in a nearly half-hour wedding-party sequence at the end of Episode 4. For sheer joy per minute of film, there’s nothing playing now that comes close.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
When Ladies Meet (1941, comedy/drama, Joan Crawford. From Bosley Crowther’s 1941 New York Times review: “The story, you may remember, is that of a successful lady novelist who is adored by a breezy young journalist but yearns for her publisher instead—yearns, that is, until she meets the publisher’s beautiful wife and discovers that you can’t just take another woman’s mate as casually as you would take a new fur wrap, let’s say.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977, drama that has long been out of print, Diane Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. From Vincent Canby’s 1977 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Diane] Keaton, who continues to grow as an actress and film presence, is worth paying attention to in bits and pieces of the movie, whether she’s trading arch banter with a potential pickup in a barroom as she studies her copy of ‘The Godfather,’ or teaching a class of deaf children, her occupation by day, or making breathless, abandoned love with a stranger. She’s too good to waste on the sort of material the movie provides, which is artificial without in anyway qualifying as a miracle fabric.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The Trouble with Maggie Cole (comedy/drama mini-series, Dawn French. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 65. From Margaret Lyons at the New York Times: “‘Residents of tight-knit British community deal with emotional fallout from personal catastrophe’ is usually reserved for murder shows, so it’s nice to see a lot of well-earned seething without the horrible violence. If you remember what it was like as a kid to run into your mom’s friend at the grocery store and then stand there for 20 minutes while learning lots of dirt, or if you just want to wear tasteful tunics and feel free, watch this.” Read more…)

New TV
Schitt’s Creek: The Complete Collection (comedy, Eugene Levy. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 64. From Lara Zarum’s New York Times article on the final season: “Sweet but never saccharine, the show has tracked the evolution of the Roses — who arrived in Schitt’s Creek full of disdain, with nothing but the couture on their backs — as they’ve been absorbed into the tiny town in the boonies… Thanks to a daffy charm — a winning combination of its characters’ caustic wit and the show’s fundamental warmth — and enthusiastic word-of-mouth support, the series rose from humble origins to the pinnacle of TV acclaim.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Harry Chapin: When In Doubt, Do Something (music, bio, Harry Chapin. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 65. From Kevin Crust’s Los Angeles Times review: “The realization that singer-songwriter-activist Harry Chapin has now been dead slightly longer than he lived evokes a melancholia not so different from some of the songs he made famous. What sets the documentary ‘Harry Chapin: When in Doubt, Do Something’ apart from standard musician profiles is the way it gives at least as much weight to Chapin’s humanitarian efforts as to his better known career as one of the best loved troubadours of the 1970s.” Read more…)

Creem: America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine (documentary, music, journalism, Lester Bangs. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 65. From Mike Rubin’s New York Times article: “The documentary traces how Creem’s high-intensity environment mirrored that of the late 1960s Detroit rock scene, which was centered around the heavy guitar assault of bands like the MC5, the Stooges and Alice Cooper. [Publisher] Barry Kramer, a working-class Jewish kid with a chip on his shoulder and a volatile temper, was a key local figure: He owned the record store-cum-head shops Mixed Media and Full Circle.” Read more…)