New releases 11/12/19

Top Hits
The Peanut Butter Falcon (adventure/drama, Zack Gottsagen. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 70. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Actor Zack] Gottsagen, who is in his early 30s, has Down syndrome himself and the filmmakers crafted ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ specifically for him. Zak takes frequent pratfalls and is often seen in various un-self-conscious states of undress, but the movie never makes him a figure of fun. Neither, by the same token, does it try to wrench sentimental tears out of his condition. They make his character a little guy with a big heart, and big dreams — you’ve heard of such figures, I suppose — and let him have his hero’s journey. Which is, yes, predictable. But I suspect almost nobody who sees ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ will mind much. Along with the cinematographer, Nigel Bluck, and the editors, Kevin Tent and Nathaniel Fuller, the directors achieve a relaxed and amiable vibe while moving the story forward with dispatch through picturesque Southern Atlantic land and seascapes.“ Read more…)

The Angry Birds Movie 2 (animated feature, Jason Sudeikis [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “In most cases, a sequel would either expand upon or regurgitate the previous setup, so one might expect yet another foray — this time led by the first film’s hero Red [Jason Sudeikis] and his former nemesis, the pig chieftain Leonard [Bill Hader] — into the new island. And that is exactly what happens. But as soon as the group arrives on Eagle Island, “Angry Birds 2” mostly tosses story, character and sense aside, and opts for a go-for-broke style of humor. The hoops our heroes jump through become increasingly surreal and hilarious.” Read more…)

Good Boys (coming-of-age raunchy comedy, Jacob Tremblay. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 70. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The kids are all right in ‘Good Boys.’ The adults are something else. If you’re familiar with the crude comedy of misadventure and sentimental education — every generation has its self-defining favorite — you have pretty much seen this movie. The big difference (cue the elevator pitch) is that this time the boys are boys, specifically 12-year-olds whose innocence about sex, drugs, women, themselves, is grist for a feature-length joke. Sometimes the joke is funny and sometimes not, a familiar hit-and-miss ratio for the production team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who have established a comedy brand that’s equal parts raunchiness and sentimentality” Read more…)

Brian Banks (sports/drama, Aldis Hodge. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 58. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Yet if ‘Brian Banks’ — given the gobsmacking turn the case eventually takes — packs less of a dramatic punch than it should, it’s no fault of its lead. Hodge [now facing off against Kevin Bacon in the gritty Showtime series ‘City on a Hill’] might make an unconvincing 16-year-old, but this quiet powerhouse is thoroughly credible as a decent man who has navigated a difficult journey from fury to acceptance.” Read more…)

The Farewell (drama, Awkwafina. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 89. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Farewell,’ Lulu Wang’s second feature, conjures a premise so rich with potential comedy, heartbreak and family weirdness that it can only have come from real life. Which it did, via an episode of ‘This American Life’ that first aired in 2016. The film version, which announces itself as ‘based on an actual lie,’ has a loose, anecdotal structure and a tone that balances candor and tact. Much of the charm and power of this story — about events leading up to a wedding that’s also a fake funeral of sorts — come from the palpable sense that it genuinely happened to someone.” Read more…)

After the Wedding (drama, Michelle Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 50. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A supreme example of classed-up mediocrity, ‘After the Wedding,’ a pointless remake of Susanne Bier’s 2007 melodrama of the same name, offers little that’s new and a lot that’s predictable, even to first-time viewers. What has changed in the intervening years is us: The economic and political environment into which this new version drops might cause us to view its plot through more cynical eyes.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
As the Gods Will

New Foreign DVDs
Tel Aviv on Fire (Israel, comedy/drama, Kais Nashif. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Can anyone make a sweet and silly comedy out of a subject as grim and intractable as the Israeli-Palestinian situation? For Sameh Zoabi, the director of ‘Tel Aviv on Fire’ [who wrote the script with Dan Kleinman], the answer to the question is another question. What else is there?” Read more…)

As the Gods Will (Japan, horror/sci-fi, Sôta Fukushi. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Fourth Wise Man (1985, TV movie, religious, Martin Sheen. From John J. O’Connor’s 1985 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “[Executive Producer Father Ellwood] Kieser has generally proved adept at attracting first-rate talent to Paulist projects, and ‘The Fourth Wise Man’ indicates his powers of persuasion are stronger than ever. Martin Sheen is a fiercely determined and yet saintly Artaban. Alan Arkin plays Orontes the slave with the irritability of a born complainer. And the other major roles are filled quite capably by Eileen Brennan, Ralph Bellamy, Harold Gould, Lance Kerwin and Richard Libertini. Clever special effects and the direction of Michael Ray Rhodes keep ‘The Fourth Wise Man’ close to the lean, no-frills simplicity of the original story. On the whole, it plays very nicely.” Read more…)

New British
Good Omens (comedy/fantasy mini-series, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times television review: “But what makes the diverting and mostly pleasurable ‘Good Omens’ especially timely is something that hasn’t much changed: Armageddon seems as real a possibility now as it did three decades ago. The story’s hopeful universalism and ecological consciousness, which played well against the backdrop of the late Cold War and the ozone hole, feel just as necessary. A line like ‘your polar ice caps are below regulation size for a planet of this category’ can go right from book to screenplay, and it has.” Read more…)

Poldark: Season 5 (drama/history series, Aidan Turner. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%.)

New TV
Rick & Morty: Seasons 1 & 2 (animation/adventure/comedy. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 85.)