New releases 6/9/20

Top Hits
Emma (Jane Austen adaptation, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Your first instinct while watching ‘Emma’ may be to lick the screen [or perhaps blanch]. This latest adaptation of Jane Austen has been candied up with the sort of palette you see in certain old-fashioned confectionaries and in fussy Georgian-era restorations. With a rosy blush in her cheeks, her satiny ribbons and bows, Emma [Anya Taylor-Joy] herself looks as lovingly adorned and tempting as a Christmas delectable, though whether she bears any relation to Austen’s Emma is another matter.” Read more…)

Call of the Wild (wilderness adventure, Harrison Ford. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 47. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “’The Call of the Wild,’ Jack London’s gripping 1903 novel, tells the story of a California house dog who discovers his inner wolf. The latest movie adaptation, directed by Chris Sanders, is, strictly speaking, the saga of a human performer who channels his inner pooch. Buck, the heroic St. Bernard-Scotch shepherd mix of the book, is now a computer-generated creation.” Read more…)

Vivarium (thriller, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by Lorcan Finnegan, from a script by Garret Shanley, “Vivarium” depicts Gemma and Tom becoming increasingly unglued, tormented by a tidy little boy who can speak in each of their voices. He has other irritating traits, too. The movie expands upon its echoes of the classic TV series “The Prisoner” with admirable purposefulness.” Read more…)

1BR (thriller, Nicole Brydon Bloom. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Drawing on a fascination with cults and utopian communities, the director and writer, David Marmor, has created a mildly entertaining survival story whose depiction of psychological indoctrination far outstrips its generic dips into torture.” Read more…)

Premature (drama/romance, Zora Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Premature’ isn’t original, but it feels that way. A tender, naturalistic romance set in Harlem, this sophomore feature from Rashaad Ernesto Green takes a slight story and packs it with attitude and feeling. Every moment rings true, the vividly textured locations and knockabout relationships more visited than created.” Read more…)

Standing Up, Falling Down (comedy/drama, Billy Crystal. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 70. From Michael Rechstaffen’s Los Angeles Times review: “A throwback buddy movie that would have been no stranger to 1980s cinemas, Matt Ratner’s ‘Standing Up, Falling Down’ shows how a well-worn premise need not impact enjoyment when there’s a terrific cast and crisp writing at your disposal.” Read more…)

Ride Like a Girl (bio/drama/sport, Teresa Palmer. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 44. From John DeFore’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A sense of inevitability hovers over ‘Ride Like a Girl,’ despite the film hinging on an underdog theme: It’s about one of the family’s daughters, after all, and girls don’t win the Melbourne Cup. Making her debut as director with a true story from her native Australia, actor Rachel Griffiths gives the pic a workmanlike, generic feel that would play well on family-centric cable channels. Horse lovers will be the moviegoers most vulnerable to its modest charms.” Read more…)

Buffaloed (comedy, Zoe Deutsch. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 61. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Simultaneously rowdy and slick, ‘Buffaloed’ is exuberantly paced and entirely dependent on [actress Zoey] Deutch’s moxie and pell-mell performance. Brian Sacca’s script is zippily entertaining as Peg starts her own shop and hires a misfit crew of money-grabbers whose success ignites an interagency war.” Read more…)

Driveways (drama, Brian Dennehy. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Slow and sweet and unassuming, ‘Driveways,’ the second feature from the Korean-American director Andrew Ahn, tackles major themes in a minor key. And with little to mark its quiet accumulation of life-changing events, this small-town character study is perpetually in danger of drifting past without pulling you in. Which would be a shame, as its performances are among the most affecting I’ve seen in quite a while.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Lodge (horror, Richard Armitage. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “You’ll want nothing so much as a woolly sweater when you see ‘The Lodge,’ a film so wintry in tone and setting that no movie-theater thermostat will banish its chill. Even so, the directors, Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala [the Austrian pair who made ‘Goodnight Mommy’ in 2015], have coaxed only a disappointingly timorous horrorscape from that marvelously glacial mood. There’s no denying their competence — they have style to burn — and their cinematographer, Thimios Bakatakis, is a wonder at painting dark and dread-filled interiors and ominously snow-blanketed surroundings.” Read more…)

Call of the Wild

New Foreign DVDs
My 20th Century (Hungary, 1989, comedy/drama, Dorota Segda. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review upon the film’s re-release last year: “‘My 20th Century’ — a first feature by Ildiko Enyedi, made in the waning days of Hungarian Communism — looked back to the last fin-de-siècle even as it heralded a new beginning. The movie, revived at the Museum of the Moving Image in a shimmering new digital restoration, was among the most acclaimed debuts of its day, winner of the Camera d’Or for best first film at the same 1989 Cannes Film Festival where another debut, Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Sex, Lies, and Videotape,’ won the Palme d’Or. Vincent Canby, who reviewed ‘My 20th Century’ in The New York Times [and later named it as one of the 10 best movies of 1990], called it ‘wondrous’ and ‘even more impressive when one realizes that it is the first feature by Miss Enyedi.’” Read more…)

The Young Karl Marx (German, bio-pic, August Diehl. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 62. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The history of the world may be the history of class struggle, but the history of class struggle — at least the decisive chapter chronicled in ‘The Young Karl Marx’ — turns out to be a buddy movie. Marx [August Diehl], a scruffy journalist, and his sidekick Friedrich Engels [Stefan Konarske], a renegade rich kid, meet in Cologne, Germany, in 1844 and overcome some initial wariness by bonding over their shared contempt for the Young Hegelians… By the time the revolutions of 1848 are ready to happen, Marx and Engels are the Mick Jagger and Keith Richards of the European left, rock stars for an age of revolution. Scrupulously faithful to the biographical record, ‘The Young Karl Marx,’ directed by Raoul Peck [from a script he wrote with Pascal Bonitzer], is both intellectually serious and engagingly free-spirited.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Pool of London (1951, Basil Dearden-directed British film noir, Earl Cameron. From Bosley Crowther’s 1951 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Produced by Michael Balcon and directed by Basil Dearden with a sharpness in action and photography that suggests actuality, ‘Pool of London’ has the flavor of the dockside, or saloons and cheap music halls, and it possesses the movement and vigor of a well-constructed melodrama that thrives on ‘chase.’ As it turns, it is stronger in action, thanks to direction, to the script and to an excellent performance by Mr. Colleano, who is at his best when he is frightened and on the run.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Advocate (human rights, Israel/Palestine, Lea Tsemel. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The lawyer Lea Tsemel is a contentious figure in Israel. She is known for representing Palestinian defendants, especially in cases in which Israeli sentiment appears starkly stacked against her, such as those that involve violent attacks. Depending on your perspective, Tsemel is either a principled believer in the concept of presumed innocence or an apologist for bloodshed. To judge from ‘Advocate,’ an engrossing, largely pro-Tsemel profile from Rachel Leah Jones and Philippe Bellaïche, the truth may be a little of each.” Read more…)

Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records (reggae, music, Jamaican & British culture. From Stephen Dalton’s Hollywood Reporter review: “Commissioned by Trojan’s current parent company BMG to commemorate the label’s 50th anniversary, ‘Rudeboy’ is a visually slick, celebratory affair directed by Nicolas Jack Davies, previously best known for making longform videos with the folk-pop band Mumford and Sons. Aimed squarely at a general audience, the film contains little that fans of the label, or reggae music in general, will not already know. All the same, this love letter to one of Britain’s first multicultural pop movements is an effortlessly enjoyable viewing experience with a rich, sunny, consistently uplifting soundtrack.” Read more…)