New releases 3/8/22

Top Hits
Belfast (Ireland, drama, Jude Hill.) Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulus’ Times review: “Romanticism reigns in ‘Belfast,’ Kenneth Branagh’s cinematic memoir of his childhood in a turbulent Northern Ireland. From the lustrous, mainly black-and-white photography to the cozy camaraderie of its working-class setting, the movie softens edges and hearts alike. The family at its center might have health issues, money worries and an outdoor toilet, but this is no Ken Loach-style deprivation: In these streets, grit and glamour stroll hand-in-hand.” Read more…)

Drunk Bus (comedy/drama, Charlie Tahan. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 65. From Monica Castillo’s RogerEbert.com review: “Ultimately, ‘Drunk Bus’ is a sweet, late bloomer coming-of-age comedy about learning to let go of toxic relationships and embracing new people in your life. Directors [John] Carlucci and [Brandon] LaGanke worked with cinematographer Luke McCoubrey to make Michael’s walled-in world between his apartment with Josh and a disgusting old campus bus seem as sorry as possible, almost as if we were trapped in his depressed perspective with him. And with [Charlie] Tahan and [Pineapple] Tangaroa’s vulnerable performances at the wheel, this comedy ends up being more than just a college wasteland. It becomes something heartfelt yet funny.” Read more…)

Coming 2 America (comedy, Eddie Murphy. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Breaking away from a lavish palace party meant to celebrate his engagement, Lavelle Junson [Jermaine Fowler], the newly minted crown prince of Zamunda, complains about the state of Hollywood filmmaking. He never says what kinds of movies he does like, but he’s vocal in his disdain for superhero spectacles and ‘sequels that nobody asked for.’ Mirembe [Nomzamo Mbatha], his royal groomer and love interest, disagrees. Zamundan cinema isn’t so great, she says, and some of those sequels aren’t so bad. Their conversation is one of several meta-jokes scattered through ‘Coming 2 America,’ a genial, mostly inoffensive, sometimes quite funny sequel to a beloved comedy from way back in the 1980s.” Read more…)

The Matrix Resurrections (sci-fi/action, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “After she chases the White Rabbit down a very long tunnel, Alice enters a low, dim hall. There are doors up and down the passageway, but they’re all locked. As she walks through the hall, Alice wonders how she’s ever going to get out. You may find yourself asking much the same question while watching the fourth movie in ‘The Matrix’ series, as it alternately amuses and frustrates you with its fantastical world.” Read more…)

A Journal for Jordan (true-life drama, Chanté Adams. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 42. From Lisa Kennedy’s New York Times review: “Denzel Washington directs this adaptation [the screenplay is by Virgil Williams] with care, respect and a deep-seated knowledge of the Black love stories that don’t make it to the big screen nearly enough. The actors Michael B. Jordan and Chanté Adams are similarly attuned, bringing a compelling chemistry as opposites who fall for each other.” Read more…)

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (action, Henry Golding. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 43. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Any major comic book dude will tell you that while an origin story may be a necessary ‘meh’ element in a comics series, it is generally death on the big screen. So, in telling how the sword-wielding Snake Eyes becomes part of the G.I. Joe team [here referred to as ‘the Joes’], it mixes the special warrior training stuff with plot complications involving the title character’s quest for vengeance.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Flee (documentary/animation, refugees, migrant, not available on DVD. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Home — what does it mean to you?’ That’s the question that hovers over ‘Flee,’ Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s piercing animated documentary about a high school friend of his who emigrated from Afghanistan to Denmark as a teenager. For reasons that become clear in the course of the film, the friend — now a grown man with a solid relationship and a flourishing academic career — is given a pseudonym. He’s called Amin, and the animation adds a further layer of protection. But the voice that tells the story belongs to him, and the story itself is filtered through painful memories that he has kept to himself for a long time.” Read more…)

Scanners Blu-Ray (1981, sci-fi dir. by David Cronenberg, Stephen Lack. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 60. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Scanners,’ the new Canadian horror film by David Cronenberg [‘They Came From Within,’ ‘Rabid’ and ‘The Brood’], features some uproariously revolting special effects, the kind that are so outrageous they make you laugh, and the frequent use of a by-prescription-only tranquilizer trade-named Ephemerol. Aside from those things, though, the quality of the film’s inventiveness is not always of the first order, which is too bad because Mr. Cronenberg does seem to be a director-writer of some style.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
All Creatures Great & Small: Seasons 1 & 2 (drama, Nicholas Ralph. Rotten Tomatoes: Season 1—97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82 [Season 1], 88 [Season 2], Must See. From Roslyn Sulcas’ New York Times article about the launch of the first season in the US; “Despite featuring mostly little-known actors [including Nicholas Ralph as James Herriot] and large animals, the new series was an immediate hit when it debuted in Britain in September. It drew over five million viewers for each of its six episodes and became Channel 5’s highest-rated show since 2016, charming a nation that after months of Covid confinement and restrictions was clearly ready for a dose of rolling hills, taciturn farmers and livestock in need of friendly ministrations.” Read more…)

Around the World in 80 Days (mini-series based on Jules Verne novel, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 61. From Rebecca Nicholson’s Guardian review: “There is something about this time of year that demands a good, solid adaptation of a literary classic. Right on cue, here is ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ [BBC One] for the entire family to enjoy. After the past two years, the prospect of watching adventurers gallivant all over the planet, on a whim, seems almost too cruel to contemplate. No pricey PCR tests, no threat of a country ending up on the red list at the last minute, no prospect of cancellation due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control? Those global circumnavigators didn’t know how good they had it in 1872.” Read more…)

King Charles III (drama, Tim Pigott-Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Sam Wollaston’s Guardian review: “The new home [the TV production was an adaptation of Michael Bartlett’s play] allows extra scope, for pageantry and outdoor scenes, and changes of set. Plus a close-up and personal, best-seat-in-the-house view for everyone of some fine displays of acting. The late, brilliant Tim Pigott-Smith [hell, I’m even hearing his name as a couple of bloody iambs – tim PIGott-SMITH] is mesmerising as Charles. It’s not an impression, thankfully, nor was the actor made up to look like him [that would have been tiresome], but an interpretation of character.” Read more…)

Manhunt: The Night Stalker Series 2 (mystery/procedural, Martin Clunes)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Daughters of the Dust (1991, drama dir. by Julie Dash, Cora Lee Day. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 81, Must See. From Stephen Holden’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Daughters of the Dust,’ which was made in association with the public broadcasting series “American Playhouse,” is the feature film debut of Ms. Dash, who emerges as a strikingly original film maker. For all its harsh allusions to slavery and hardship, the film is an extended, wildly lyrical meditation on the power of African cultural iconography and the spiritual resilience of the generations of women who have been its custodians.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Breaking Bread (Arab-Israeli relations, culinary culture. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 62. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Breaking Bread’ opens with a quote from Anthony Bourdain, who said that ‘food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start.’ The premise underlying this documentary, directed by Beth Elise Hawk, is that all cultures can unite over the spectacle of mouthwatering food on camera.” Read more…)