New releases 3/20/18

Top Hits
Downsizing (drama/comedy, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 63. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “One of my favorite movies of 2017, ‘War for the Planet of the Apes,’ posited near-total human extinction as a more-or-less happy ending. A radically dystopian future seems like the best we deserve these days, and it was impressive to see a summer blockbuster offer such harsh medicine. Alexander Payne’s new movie, ‘Downsizing,’ doesn’t go nearly as far. Surveying a landscape of impending ecological catastrophe, it proposes a future that is only mildly dystopian and prescribes laughter rather than apocalyptic despair as, if not exactly a remedy, then at least an acceptable palliative.” Read more…)

Pitch Perfect 3 (musical, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 40. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘Pitch Perfect 3’ fares best when its director, Trish Sie, treats it as a fantastical buddy comedy. A side plot reuniting Fat Amy with her degenerate father [John Lithgow] nearly takes over the movie when Amy’s father kidnaps the Bellas. What follows is the film’s funniest scene, as the suddenly spry Amy, in an attempt to save her friends, refashions sausages into nunchucks and sandwich tinfoil into explosives.” Read more…)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (family action/comedy, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Their adventure often asks, ‘What would Steven Spielberg do?’ It then answers poorly. [The movie’s director, Jake Kasdan, happens to be the son of Lawrence Kasdan, who worked as a screenwriter with Mr. Spielberg on ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark.’] The performances by Mr. Johnson, Mr. Hart and Mr. Black seem informed by the conviction that if they amuse themselves, they will also amuse others. They are not entirely wrong, but they are also not sufficiently right.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Downsizing
Pitch Perfect 3

New Foreign
The Brand New Testament (Belgium, comedy, Benoit Poelvoorde. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In the Belgian filmmaker Jaco Van Dormael’s wickedly amusing religious satire, ‘The Brand New Testament,’ God [Benoît Poelvoorde] is a snarling, meanspirited bully who rules the universe from an apartment in Brussels. Inside his locked office, surrounded by walls of card files, the tyrannical, perpetually bored deity sits behind a computer and plays nasty practical jokes on humans. A favorite pastime is contriving Laws of Annoyance, like making sure that when a piece of toast falls, it always lands with the jelly side down.” Read more…)

The Divine Order (Switzerland, historical drama set in 1970s, Marie Leuenberger. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 67. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “If it’s startling that the 19th Amendment, which enshrined women’s voting rights across the United States, is less than 100 years old, ‘The Divine Order’ is set in Switzerland, where the equivalent constitutional amendment — establishing the right for women to vote at the federal level — didn’t pass until 1971. ‘The Divine Order’ examines that fight for women’s suffrage in a microcosm. Directed by Petra Volpe, the film is set in a conservative Swiss town that has gone largely insulated from the spirit of the swinging ’60s.” Read more…)

Baal (Germany, 1970, drama adapted from Bertolt Brecht play, Rainer Werner Fassbinder)

New Documentaries
The Work (prison life, incarceration, rehabilitation, therapy. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The main takeaway from the prison-therapy documentary ‘The Work’ [besides the fact that watching grown men scream and grovel is not for the fainthearted], is that crime in this country could be drastically reduced if only more fathers were around to raise their sons… Opening an aperture into a process so ego-stripping that it feels unseemly to witness, ‘The Work’ is enlightening yet also punishing. Even more disturbing than one of the crimes described — and the near-constant background howls — is the convicts’ willingness to bare their souls for the nosing-around camera.” Read more…)

Naples ’44 (war, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 51. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “A feat of editing and research, ‘Naples ’44,’ directed by Francesco Patierno, is taken from a 1978 memoir by Norman Lewis. As a British intelligence officer during World War II, Mr. Lewis was stationed in Naples after the Allied Forces’ invasion of nearby Salerno in September 1943. An able translator, he helped the military communicate with the civilian population.” Read more…)

Michelangelo: Love and Death (art, history)

New Children’s DVDs
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (family action/comedy, Dwayne Johnson)