New releases 4/6/21

Top Hits
Baby Done (New Zealand, comedy, Rose Matafeo. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 64. From Luke Buckmaster’s Guardian review: “{actress Rose] Matafeo’s wonderful, compulsively affable performance is core to the film’s irresistible good naturedness: its spirit, pluck, bounce. You want to be her friend, and in a strange way you feel like you are her friend. She leans into you, invites you into her world, doing so in a way that seems almost able to read the audience’s responses in real time – like a chatty seatmate on a plane, who can judge the mood and is somebody you actually want to talk to.” Read more…)

Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar (comedy, Kristen Wiig. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “With their 2011 hit movie, ‘Bridesmaids,’ the co-writers Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo accomplished a rare feat by weaving together a thoughtful portrait of female friendship and a bona fide gross-out comedy. Their long-awaited follow-up, ‘Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar,’ takes the duo’s gal pal humor in a new direction, muting the raunch and tossing out the emotional truths for a zanier, spoof-ier adventure complete with random musical numbers, an evil underground lair and a talking crab.” Read more…)

Shadow In the Cloud (horror/action, Chloë Grace Moretz. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 66. From Devika Girish’s New York Times review: “The twists come rapidly in the movie’s first half; in the second, the narrative dissolves into a zigzag of flying bodies and explosions that bend the laws of space-time. But the implausibility of it all is a perk: There’s never a moment in this rollicking film when you can tell what’s coming next.” Read more…)

Antigone (Canada, liberal adaptation of Sophocles drama, Nahéma Ricci. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Jessica Kiang’s Variety review: “The very idea of a modern reworking of a classical text itself gets a modern reworking in Sophie Deraspe’s supple and impassioned ‘Antigone,’ a contemporary spin on the Greek tragedy that feels refreshingly liberated by the spirit of Sophocles’ original material, rather than slavishly devoted to its letter. Further electrified by a performance of immense self-possession and dignity from revelatory new star Nahéma Ricci, the clever screenplay [the film is also written and crisply shot by Deraspe] injects these ancient archetypes directly into the bloodstream of the modern-day immigration debate.” Read more…)

Earwig and The Witch (Studio Ghibli animated feature, Richard E. Grant [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 45. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “A strong-willed young heroine, a witch, a talking cat, cute magical minions: ‘Earwig and the Witch’ has many of the familiar qualities of a Studio Ghibli film. And yet Ghibli’s latest, directed by Goro Miyazaki, the son of the famed animator Hayao Miyazaki, uses ingredients from the tried-and-true Ghibli recipe while serving a film that lacks the heart the studio has always brought to its best.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Audition (Japan, 1999, horror/cult, Ryo Ishibashi. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Elvis Mitchell’s 2001 Times review [requires log-in]: “The Japanese psychological horror film ‘Audition’ has been responsible for throngs of shaken filmgoers staggering out of theaters for the last year or so; it’s ‘Fatal Attraction’ with a sense of morality instead of a need to pander—specifically, the movie’s theme is the objectification of women in Japanese society and the mirror-image horror of retribution it could create. Patronizing audiences may be a sure way to make money, but the resulting pictures are like writing on sand; ‘Audition,’ now at the Film Forum, has no such impermanence.” Read more…)

Barb & Star Go To Vista Del Mar

New Foreign
Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time (Hungary, drama, Natasa Stork. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Beatrice Loayza’s Times review: “‘Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time,’ the second feature by the Hungarian writer-director Lili Horvat, considers the slippery relationship between consciousness and desire with a poignant hypothetical: what if you fall so hard for someone that you convince yourself they love you back? At the shattering of such an illusion is where we meet Marta [Natasa Stork], an accomplished, 40-year-old neurosurgeon who hastily leaves behind her life and career in the U.S. to reunite with the man she loves. Yet when she arrives at their agreed-upon meeting point — the Pest end of Budapest’s Liberty Bridge — Janos [Viktor Bodo] is nowhere to be found.” Read more…)

Acasă, My Home (Romania, documentary, social change & its discontents. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The film is not static. It’s dialectical — constructing its narrative as an argument between two opposed positions, neither of which is fully embraced. There is a nobility to Niculina and Gica as they try to resist the power of a state convinced of its own benevolence. And the actions of the state are not entirely unreasonable. It’s not as simple as taking the side of individualism against government, or for that matter of being in favor of parks, schools and a decent social order. That’s all fairly abstract, but ‘Acasă’ is full of ideas because it contains so much life.” Read more…)

A Snake of June (Japan, 2005, mystery/suspense, Asuka Kurosawa. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Donald Richie’s New York Times review: “The director of the cult-favorite Tetsuo’ films, Shinya Tsukamoto has now gotten himself a larger budget, wider distribution and a special jury award at Venice. He has retained in this tale of a lady stalked and her revenge much of the little-boy nastiness that made his earlier pictures such adolescent favorites.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Secrets & Lies (1996, drama dir. by Mike Leigh, Criterion Collection, Brenda Blethyn. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Janet Maslin’s Times review [requires log-in]: “The secrets that bring such immediacy to Mike Leigh’s tender and wrenching new film are not confined to the screen. Mr. Leigh, celebrated for his patient, Olympian methods with actors, deliberately keeps those players in the dark as a way of capturing an essential inner light. That light shines radiantly through the revelations of ‘Secrets and Lies,’ which won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival and will now establish this once insular English film maker on a much broader commercial footing.” Read more…)

The South Westerlies (drama, Orla Brady. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From Joel Keller’s Decider review: “Created and written by Catherine Maher, ‘The South Westerlies’ is one of those shows that’s light and fun to watch, and is fully dependent on the characters that populate the town depicted on the show. From the first moments Kate and Conor roll into Carigeen, you know that this quaint town in West Cork isn’t going to be boring by any means.” Read more…)

Mystery Road (Australia, 2013, crime/mystery that has since been followed up by a TV series, Aaron Pedersen. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 72. From Eddie Cockrell’s Variety review: “Writer-director-lenser-editor-composer Ivan Sen’s ‘Mystery Road’ is an impressively crafted, immensely satisfying contempo thriller that astutely grafts Western and film-noir elements onto the hot-button issue of tensions between indigenous and European Australians.” Read more…)

Van der Valk (mystery series set in Amsterdam, Marc Warren. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 70.)

The Good Karma Hospital Season 2 (drama series, Amanda Redman)

New TV
The Comey Rule (HBO docu-drama, Jeff Daniels. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 58. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “In his book ‘A Higher Loyalty,’ [former FBI Director James Comey] appears to see his decisions, which very possibly swung the 2016 election and failed to keep the president from interfering in investigations, as noble if tragic acts of principle. As translated by the director and screenwriter Billy Ray, this is instead a slo-mo horror story, in which the worst lack all inhibition while the best are full of fatuous integrity.” Read more…)

Scarlett (1994, TV mini-series, Joanne Whalley. From John J. O’Connor’s 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “With ‘Scarlett,’ it’s not a question of disappointment. [Author Alexandra] Ripley’s [‘Gone With the Wind’] sequel was almost universally loathed by book critics. With expectations for the mini-series starting from that unpromising level, viewers may instead be at least mildly surprised to find the $45 million production isn’t all that bad, after all.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Odd Man Out (1947, suspense, Criterion Collection, James Mason. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The creative combination of James Mason, popular British star, and Carol Reed, the brilliant director of such films as ‘Night Train’ and ‘The Stars Look Down,’ is sure to attract wide attention to the new British picture, ‘Odd Man Out,’ which had its American première at Loew’s Criterion yesterday. And the further fact that it is fashioned from a novel by F. L. Green which is current catnip for thriller readers will not hurt the film’s draw one bit—all of which is peculiarly propitious, for ‘Odd Man Out’ is a picture to see, to absorb in the darkness of the theatre and then go home and talk about.” Read more…)