New releases 11/24/20

Top Hits
The Irishman (drama/bio, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Irishman,’ with a blustering, showboating, disarmingly tender Al Pacino in the Hoffa role, isn’t competing with [a 1992 Jimmy Hoffa movie bio], or trying to correct the historical record. There was a real Frank Sheeran, who really did claim involvement in Hoffa’s demise, though not everyone believes him. [Director Martin] Scorsese, working from Steve Zaillian’s adaptation of a book by Charles Brandt [called ‘I Heard You Paint Houses’], assembles a kind of gangland greatest hits. The pun is intended: this is a history of the United States in a few dozen killings.” Read more…)

Mulan (Disney live action remake, Yifei Liu. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Set jointly in the Old World and in that newer mythic realm of happily-ever-after female empowerment, this live-action ‘Mulan,’ directed by Niki Caro, is pretty much what happens when a legend meets Disney’s global bottom-line. It’s lightly funny and a little sad, filled with ravishing landscapes and juiced up with kinetic fights [if not enough of them]. It has antiseptic violence, emotional uplift and the kind of protagonist that movie people like to call relatable: a brave, pretty young woman [the suitably appealing Yifei Liu], who loves her family, but doesn’t quite fit in [yet].” Read more…)

The Tale (drama, Laura Dern. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90. From Margaret Lyons’ New York Times review: “‘The Tale’ is a push, then, to disseminate a hard truth — and by extension an argument for confronting the reality of abuse and abusers, no matter how painful that process might be. And it’s effective. Frighteningly, unforgettably so.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Mulan (live action remake)

New Foreign DVDs
Buoyancy (Australia, drama, Sarm Heng. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “[Director Rodd] Rathjen has said he was inspired to make ‘Buoyancy’ after reading a news article about conditions in the contemporary Thai fishing industry, and one of the strengths of his movie is that it remains tethered to the material world, to straining muscles, to sweat, to blood. He doesn’t find spurious poetry in other people’s pain or try to glean greater meaning from it. He knows that the suffering is meaning enough.” Read more…)

Gate of Hell (Japan, 1953, samurai drama, Kazuo Hasegawa. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1954 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Out of Japan has come another weird and exquisite film—this one in color of a richness and harmony that matches that of any film we’ve ever seen. It is a somber and beautiful presentation of a thirteenth century legendary tale, smoothly and awesomely unfolding behind the volcanic title, ‘Gate of Hell.’” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

The Killing Floor (1984, drama, Alfre Woodard, Rotten Tomatoes: 100. From John J. O’Connor’s 1984 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “At the heart of ‘The Killing Floor’ are the early efforts, taking place from 1917 to 1919, to unionize Chicago’s giant meat-packing companies. With American soldiers marching off to World War I, there suddenly were jobs for those left behind – most notably, immigrants from Europe and poor black sharecroppers from the South. Among the sharecroppers were Frank Custer and Thomas Joshua, two young men who decided to seek a better life ‘up North.’ The teleplay, written by Leslie Lee from a story by [Elsa] Rassbach, is based on actual events and the names of the participants have not been changed.” Read more…)

The Dollmaker (1984, theater/drama, Jane Fonda)

New TV
The Deuce: Season 3 (Times Square drama, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 79.)

Better Call Saul: Season 5 (drama/comedy Breaking Bad spinoff, Bob Odenkirk. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 92.)