New releases 11/19/19

Top Hits
Blinded By the Light (comedy/drama, Viveik Kalra. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by Gurinder Chadha, best known for the effortlessly charming ‘Bend It Like Beckham,’ ‘Blinded by the Light’ is simultaneously overdetermined and unfocused, and shows a lot more strain. One of the movie’s screenwriters, Sarfraz Manzoor, is the author of the true story on which the movie is based, the 2007 memoir ‘Greetings From Bury Park.’ But here, liberties beyond the normal ones were taken with the factual narrative.” Read more…)

Dora and the Lost City of Gold (adventure/family, Isabella Moner. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “If you think it’s odd that Nickelodeon’s animated naturalist tyke Dora the Explorer is a teenager in the new live-action adaptation of her exploits, don’t worry, the film does, too. The most charming moments of ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ come in its first half, as the 16-year-old title character [Isabela Moner], forced to live with relatives while her parents are off on a dangerous new adventure, tries to adapt to life in the suburbs and at high school.” Read more…)

3 From Hell (Rob Zombie action, Sheri Moon Zombie. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 50. From Scout Tafoya’s review at RogerEbert.com: “It’s the first Rob Zombie movie that feels as subversive in its logistics as in its violence since “House of 1,000 Corpses.” The world doesn’t seem to want Zombie to make his art, at least not with his full range of resources, but there’s no keeping him down. Every hobbling he receives from the world of film financing and distribution he makes into a kind of slick strength.” Read more…)

Indian Horse (drama, Sladen Peltier. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%.)

New Blu-Ray
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
3 From Hell

New Foreign DVDs
Cold War (Poland, romance, Tomasz Kot. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Cold War’ is one of those love-among-the-ruins romances that turn suffering into high style. Like its two sexy leads — who fall for each other and keep on falling — the movie has been built for maximum seduction. It has just enough politics to give it heft, striking black-and-white images and an in-the-mood-for-love ambiguity that suggests great mysteries are in store for those who watch and wait. You won’t wait long. The movie runs just 89 minutes, during which swaths of the 20th century flutter by like a flipbook.” Read more…)

The Brute (Mexico, 1953, Luis Bunuel-directed melodrama, Pendro Armendariz. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Vincent Canby’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Some years after making ‘El Bruto,’ Bunuel was quoted as saying that it might have been ‘all right’ but that the producers had insisted on changes ‘from top to bottom.’ He added, ‘Now it’s just another film with nothing extraordinary in it.’ Bunuel scholars, however, will appreciate the amount of subtly subversive material that the master has been able to slip into a conventional melodrama about the exploitation of the poor by the venal, mendacious members of the bourgeoisie.” Read more…)

A Faithful Man (France, bedroom farce, Louis Garrel. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “It takes confidence and a healthy amount of narcissism to direct yourself in a farce about two women who engage in competitive psychological gamesmanship for the pleasure of your company. That is true even if you are not the script’s sole author [and the other is the veteran screenwriter and longtime Luis Buñuel collaborator Jean-Claude Carrière]. But in ‘A Faithful Man,’ the director-star, Louis Garrel, plays with the premise’s surface egotism in funny, understated ways.” Read more…)

Betty Blue (France, 1986, romance/drama, Beatrice Dalle. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 56. From Janet Maslin’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “THE title character in Jean-Jacques Beineix’s ‘Betty Blue’ is a lissome, free-spirited young beauty, and she is the very soul of inspiration to her boyfriend, Zorg [when we first see them, Betty and Zorg are making love under a poster of the ‘Mona Lisa’]. Betty likes to egg Zorg on with his artistic efforts, and to rail against the forces that keep him in submission. Whenever possible, and that’s very often, she likes to do these things in the raw. Whenever possible, Zorg likes to second Betty’s actions by grabbing her and demonstrating his appreciation.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Awful Truth (1937, screwball comedy, Criterion Collection, Irene Dunne & Cary Grant. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1937 New York Times review: “The Awful Truth” is awfully unimportant, but it is also one of the more laughable screen comedies of 1937, a fairly good vintage year. Its comedy is almost purely physical- like that of the old Avery Hopwood stage farces- with only here and there a lone gag to interrupt the pure poetry of motion, yet its unapologetic return to the fundamentals of comedy seems, we repeat, original and daring.” Read more…)

New TV
The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 3 (dystopian feminist drama inspired by Margaret Atwood novel, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 67.)

Catch-22 (mini-series based on Joseph Heller satire, Christopher Abbott. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 70. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The peculiar achievement of the writers, Luke Davies and David Michôd, and of George Clooney — who directed two of six episodes, is an executive producer and stars as the parade-obsessed officer Scheisskopf — is to take a daring, brilliantly observed synthesis of farce and outrage and turn it into a conventional, mostly laugh-free war story whose dominant notes are nostalgia, sentimentality and a resigned chagrin. Adapting a classic treatment of the irrationality of the military mind, they work assiduously to ensure that everything makes sense.” Read more…)

The Kominsky Method: Season 1 (comedy, Michael Douglas. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 68. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “‘The Kominsky Method’ [eight episodes arrive Friday] isn’t a disaster; it has a certain warm-bath appeal, if you don’t mind a thick foam of prostate jokes. But it is adrift in a bland netherworld between [creator Chuck] Lorre’s precision-tooled, laugh-a-minute network comedies and the quieter aesthetic of the alt-sitcom, lacking the strengths of either.” Read more…)

Deadline: The Complete Series (1959-61 journalism drama, Peter Falk)

New Documentaries
Cold Case Hammarskjold (foreign affairs, bio, Dag Hammarskjold, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 76. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Almost nothing seems clear-cut by the end of ‘Cold Case Hammarskjold,’ a controversial new documentary from the Danish journalist Mads Brugger, except maybe this much: On Sept. 18, 1961, a plane carrying Dag Hammarskjold, then the secretary general of the United Nations, crashed near Ndola, in what was at that time Northern Rhodesia and is now Zambia.” Read more…)

For Sama (Syria war, human rights. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Teo Bugbee’s Times review: “The gripping documentary, ‘For Sama,’ spares a moment for levity when Waad al-Kateab films her husband, Hamza al-Kateab, as he tells a joke common in their home city of Aleppo, Syria: If you want to be safe from the government’s attacks, head to the front lines. Hospitals, like the one Hamza runs, are no guarantee of sanctuary — in fact, places that promise respite are the most frequent targets of the government’s bombs.” Read more…)

The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley (capitalism, crime, tech industry, Elizabeth Holmes. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 69. From Justin Chang’s Los Angeles Times review: “‘The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley,’ [director Alex] Gibney’s latest exercise in coolly measured outrage, is an engrossing companion piece to his other works in this vein. The subject of this HBO documentary is Elizabeth Holmes, the self-styled biotech visionary who dropped out of Stanford at age 19 and founded a company called Theranos, which promised to bring about a revolution in preventive medicine and personal healthcare” Read more…)

Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story (music, blues, bio, Paul Butterfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 70. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “As one of the interview subjects in ‘Horn From the Heart: The Paul Butterfield Story’ puts it, just three notes from Butterfield’s harp were enough to establish a groove, or vastly improve an existing one. John Anderson, who directs this documentary, does a brisk job of explaining the milieu in which Butterfield learned his craft. As a youngster in Chicago he took classical flute lessons but was drawn to the city’s blues clubs. Butterfield answered the question, ‘Can a white man play the blues?’ not just with his own excellence but with his dedication to racial equality as a bandleader.” Read more…)