New releases 6/1/21

Top Hits

The Courier (drama/history, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘The Courier,’ a true life-based spy thriller set in the early 1960s — and staged to appeal to audiences old enough to have lived through them — stubbornly resists involving or affecting us until it’s almost over. By that time, though, you might have fallen asleep. Ideally, that shouldn’t happen while watching two stand-up guys — one British, one Russian — perhaps narrowly prevent a nuclear apocalypse. But the director, Dominic Cooke [whose 2018 feature debut, ‘On Chesil Beach,’ touchingly conveyed the tragedy of broken intimacy], is either unable to generate tension or simply chooses not to.” Read more…)

Boogie (sports drama/coming of age, Taylor Takahashi. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 54. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘Boogie’ makes for a confident feature debut from the writer and director Eddie Huang, who is best known for creating the sitcom ‘Fresh Off The Boat.’ But ‘Boogie’ bears little resemblance to that earlier broad comedy. Boogie takes himself and his basketball ambitions seriously. And, taking cues from its protagonist, the movie doesn’t play around with cinematic craft or technique either.“ Read more…)

A Dark Song (horror/supernatural, Catherine Walker. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%,. Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘A Dark Song,’ the moodily intense first feature from the Irish director Liam Gavin, is a striking marriage of acting and atmosphere. Virtually a chamber piece with just two primary characters, the movie dives into the black arts with methodical restraint and escalating unease.” Read more…)

The World to Come (romance/gay & lesbian, Katherine Waterston. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Though shot in Romania, ‘The World to Come,’ directed by Mona Fastvold, conjures an almost artisanal feeling of life in rural upstate New York in 1856. Generically, it plays like a western — a romance in untamed territory where snowy landscapes foster isolation, not explorative possibilities.” Read more…)

Greener Grass (comedy, Jocelyn DeBoer. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch that doesn’t know when to dial back the weird, ‘Greener Grass’ can be painful to watch. A deadpan take on suburban hell — I hesitate to call it a comedy, black or otherwise — the movie takes competitiveness to such excruciatingly surreal lengths that every would-be joke feels agonizingly strained.” Read more…)

Kinky Boots: The Musical (musical, Matt Henry)

New Blu-Ray

The Courier
Greener Grass

New Foreign

The Sweet Requiem (Tibet, drama. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The location shooting, with its nighttime shots of jam-packed multilane roads and eerily empty alleys, deftly conveys both the bustle and the quiet moments of Delhi working-class life. The plot intrigues are arguably appropriate to genre pictures, but ‘Requiem’ manages to play out as an urgent but understated drama. The film puts its points across with a delicacy and sobriety rare in moviemaking.” Read more…)

New British DVDs

The Mallorca Files: Series 1 (BBC procedural, Ele Rhys)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Nightmare Alley (1947, film noir, Criterion Collection, Tyrone Power. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Elvis Mitchell’s 2000 New York Times review of a “Nightmare Alley” theatrical re-release [requires log-in]: “I can’t understand how anyone could get so low,” the wily carny Stan [Tyrone Power] says of the gibbering geek, the chicken-head-biting freak who’s the lowest attraction at the sideshow. It’s an ominous piece of foreshadowing that begins ‘Nightmare Alley,’ the 1947 adaptation of the grim novel by William Lindsay Gresham. [Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay, adding a few shafts of optimism to the bleakness of the original material, in which no one gets off easily.]” Read more…)

New Documentaries

A Glitch In the Matrix (epistemology, technology, “reality”. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 62. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov asserted, not entirely playfully, that ‘reality’ is a word that should only ever have quotation marks around it. Contemporary technology has enabled thinkers to become more elaborate about the nature of the quotation marks. “‘A Glitch in the Matrix,’ directed by Rodney Ascher — who also made ‘Room 237,’ a 2013 film that gave certain Stanley Kubrick enthusiasts a platform to theorize about ‘The Shining’; many seemed to have too much time on their hands — explores the notion that we’re all living inside a computer simulation.” Read more…)