New releases 12/14/21

Top Hits
One Night in Miami (speculative drama based on a 1964 meeting between [then] Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown; Eli Goree. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “It doesn’t make grand statements about race, politics, sports or music. It’s just a bunch of guys talking — bantering, blustering, dropping their defenses and opening their hearts. But the substance of their talk is fascinating, and their arguments echo powerfully in the present. This is one of the most exciting movies I’ve seen in quite some time.” Read more…)

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (martial arts/Marvel Comics, Simu Liu. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “Home is where the heart is. Unless you’re Shang-Chi. Then home is where your mother’s mystical secret village — and its dragon guardian — is. That’s the case in Marvel’s unsteady ‘Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,’ directed by Destin Daniel Cretton with an obliging eye toward kung fu cinema, but not much else.” Read more…)

Werewolves Within (horror/comedy, Milana Vayntrub. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “Horror villains have always shouldered a lot of cultural baggage, but there have been attempts to reclaim monstrosity on film, particularly in the last few decades of low-budget cinema. ‘Ginger Snaps’ famously linked lycanthropy and menstruation, ‘Raw’ turned carnal desire into cannibalism and ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ offered a female vampire vigilante. ‘Werewolves Within,’ a horror comedy from the director Josh Ruben, comes so close to operating on this level — before it makes a beeline for the status quo.” Read more…)

An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (comedy/romance, Terence Nance. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Nicolas Rapold’s 2013 Times review: “It is not uncommon for young men of a certain age to keep notebooks to record drawings, doodles and roundabout confessions about romantic missed connections. These pages are havens for introspection, sighs, elegy and wit, all of which should really be taken into account in understanding the lovelorn individual. ‘An Oversimplification of Her Beauty,’ a most lovely and meticulously handmade hodgepodge of art and feeling, resembles a cinematic version of such a notebook, tracing and retracing the filmmaker’s failure to get together with a friend.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
One Night in Miami

New Foreign DVDs
Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue (China, documentary, Chinese history, politics, Chinese literature. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The films of Jia Zhangke, documentary and fictional, zoom in on the granular details of individual lives. At the same time, they are chapters in the single, unimaginably complicated story of China’s transformation in the decades since the 1949 revolution… ’Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue’ demystifies historical episodes that are often presented, at least in the West, as abstractions, and personalizes large-scale events. Politics hovers over the writers’ lives, but their sense of national and regional history is filtered through work, family and landscape.” Read more…)

Climax (France, horror/provocation by dir. Gaspar Noé, Sofia Boutella. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 67. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Climax,’ with its hallucinatory, often horrific images, its relentless, bass-heavy music and its vertiginous camera movements, assaults the senses and scrambles the brain. But even though the techniques are immersive — plunging you into a disorienting reality that mirrors the drug-fueled frenzy you are witnessing — the effect is also curiously distancing. You are being assaulted with an idea, bombarded by a series of theoretical propositions about sexual ethics, social behavior and the nature of cinematic representation.” Read more…)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
My Life Is Murder: Season 2 (Australia, police procedural series, Lucy Lawless. From a capsule New York Times review by Margaret Lyons: “The show sometimes feels a little retro thanks to its unfussy pacing and to bumper music that sounds as if it were from a ’90s sitcom, and its tone is more like that of ‘Psych’ or ‘Monk’ than of a grueling European misery opera. There’s a sunny ease and quirk to it all, and Lawless is a lot fun to watch.” Read more…)

New TV
Love Among the Ruins (1975, George Cukor-directed made-for-TV comedy, Katharine Hepburn. From John J. O’Connor’s 1975 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “Starring Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier in their first production together, directed by George Cukor and written by James Costigan, ‘Love Among the Ruins’ is a project almost begging to be irresistible. Unfortunately, as can be seen on ABC‐TV at 9 this evening, it’s not. Occasionally, the two‐hour romantic comedy, set in 1911, slips from its ambitions of charming stylishness into mere silliness. Very occasionally, it becomes a bit of a bore.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Film About a Father Who (personality, bio, family dynamics, Ira Sachs. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “This brisk, prismatic and richly psychodramatic family portrait finds [director Lynne] Sachs assessing her relationship with her father, Ira Sachs Sr., described at one point as the ‘Hugh Hefner of Park City,’ the Utah skiing enclave where the Sundance Film Festival is held. The filmmaker Ira Sachs Jr., Lynne’s brother, says their father can’t ‘be self-consciously sad or self-consciously joyful’ — he always seems simply content.” Read more…)