New releases 5/25/21

Top Hits
Long Weekend (rom-com, Zoe Chao. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 55. From Katie Walsh’s Los Angeles Times review: “There’s something about Vienna. Something off, that is. The love interest of writer-director Stephen Basilone’s ‘Long Weekend,’ Vienna, as played by Zoe Chao (who has perfected the art of quirky ’n’ cute) is just too good to be true. She looks adorable in vintage tees. She goes to Peter Sellers movies alone in the middle of the day.” Read more…)

Happily (rom-com, Joel McHale. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Writer/director Ben] Grabinski has both wit and energy, and these qualities, along with a game cast, help keep ‘Happily’ afloat for far longer than most made-in-L.A. dark domestic comedies. But the movie wants to do too many things, and grows diffuse.” Read more…)

The Sound of Silence (drama, Peter Sarsgaard. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 66. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “There’s something about a movie that goes out of its way to embrace the quiet — to make the audience really listen and be fully aware of every snippet of sound or sliver of silence — that feels refreshingly rare. In a medium that can be so reliant on character banter and song-stuffed sound cues, it can be powerful to be forced to concentrate on hearing noiselessness, so that the little sound that does occur is that much more meaningful. ‘The Sound of Silence,”’ the feature debut of the director Michael Tyburski [who also wrote the screenplay with Ben Nabors], attempts to wield this power but does more telling than showing.” Read more…)

The Invitation (horror, Logan Marshall-Green. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Invitation’ flirts with ideas that it doesn’t develop, including the nature of trauma and the allure of salvation, particularly when it comes to the kind of spiritual hokum that can send reasonable people around the bend and not just in Southern California. If the movie works as well as it does, it’s because [director Karyn] Kusama can coax scares from shadows, silences and ricocheting looks.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Invitation

New Foreign
Rififi (France, 1955, crime/drama dir. by Jules Dassin, Criterion Collection, Jean Servais. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 97. From Bosley Crowther’s 1956 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Do you want to see a tough gangster picture? Do you want to see a crime film that makes the characters of Mickey Spillane seem like sissies and, at the same time, gives you the thrill of being an inside participant in a terrific Parisian robbery? Then go to see ‘Rififi,’ which opened at the Fine Arts last night. This is perhaps the keenest crime film that ever came from France, including ‘Pepe le Moko’ and some of the best of Louis Jouvet and Jean Gabin.” Read more…)

Flowers of Shanghai (China, 1998, drama, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.) From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1998 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Set in 1884 in the brothels of the English concession in Shanghai, the director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s tale of peevish prostitutes and their gentleman callers is a sumptuous-looking film that may please the eyes of connoisseurs of chinoiserie but is unlikely to satisfy audiences in search of nuanced characters, emotional engagement, dramatic momentum or reverberant history.” Read more…)

Shadow Lines (aka Nyrkki): Season 1 (Finland, period spy thriller, Katja Küttner)

New British DVDs
The Salisbury Poisonings (true crime/espionage drama, Anne-Marie Duff. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 70. From New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz’s article on the series’ relationship to the actual events of an alleged Russian poisoning attack in the UYK city of Salisbury: “This series is less a spy story than a cautionary tale about the collateral damage that can occur when international intrigue runs amok, said Declan Lawn, a former investigative journalist with the BBC who researched and wrote the series with the journalist and documentary filmmaker Adam Patterson… ‘You know when you watch a James Bond movie and he drives through the city center wrecking everything around him and turning over market stalls and so on?’ Mr. Lawn said in an interview. ‘This is a story of the people who have to pick up the pieces.’” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Apartment for Peggy (drama, Jeanne Crain. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “George Bernard Shaw’s lamentation about youth being wasted on the young is made to seem pitifully feeble by the current evidence on the Roxy’s screen. For ‘Apartment for Peggy,’ the new-color picture which opened in that theatre yesterday, is a delightful and thoroughly heartening estimation of the capacities of modern youth. And it is also a cheering indication of the progressing talent of a young man. George Seaton, who wrote and directed it, wrote and directed ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ too.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Offence (1973, drama dir. by Sidney Lumet, Sean Connery. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. From Vincent Canby’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As it progresses, ‘The Offence,’ for all its elaborate setting of scene and for all its introduction of subsidiary characters [beautifully played by Trevor Howard and Vivien Merchant, among others, sort of gets smaller and smaller, instead of bigger. The entire film, it turns out, exists for a single sequence, a brutal station-house confrontation between the detective and his prime suspect [Ian Bannen], between a lower-class psychotic and a middle-class neurotic, between a closet sadist and an admitted masochist. In a sense, they are lovers, made for each other.It’s highly theatrical — perhaps just a little too highly theatrical for the more or less realistic context — but it’s been staged by Lumet for maximum effect.” Read more…)