New releases 7/20/21

Top Hits
Dream Horse (drama/comedy, Toni Collette. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 67. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the comedy-drama ‘Dream Horse,’ a woman who works two jobs gets an idea. Remembering her glory days of training animals — pigeons, to be exact — she is determined to buy a mare and birth a race horse. She doesn’t have the resources to do it on her own, so she turns to her sleepy community in Wales to pool their assets. This sports underdog story, which is based on true events, has several features endemic to the genre. But ‘Dream Horse,’ an unabashed crowd-pleaser directed by Euros Lyn, earns its smiles and cheers.” Read more…)

Undergods (sci-fi/horror, Johann Myers. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From Elisabeth Vincentelli in The New York Times: “The film will be anathema to those who need clear-cut — well, clear-cut anything. But Moya has made something rare: an oddity that feels both familiar and completely sui generis. Fans of ‘Delicatessen,’ ‘Brazil’ and ‘Eraserhead’ should give it a shot.” Read more…)

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (horror, Chris Rock. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 40. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “In ‘Spiral,’ the latest film in the ‘Saw’ universe, the first expletives land before the two-minute mark. Blood spills right after, when a man has to decide between getting his tongue ripped out or being hit by an underground train. That the film is overall gorier and more foulmouthed than its predecessors, while still managing an R rating, is undoubtedly an accomplishment. Unfortunately, that is the film’s only notable one.” Read more…)

Wrath of Man (action, Jason Statham. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The filmmaker Guy Ritchie has long shown an eagerness to take a whack at almost any blockbuster format a given studio is willing to offer him. Witness the noisome ‘Sherlock Holmes’ period pictures he’s made with Robert Downey Jr., or his more recent live-action consideration of Disney’s ‘Aladdin.’ But his most enjoyable movies remain the tough, nasty crime thrillers with which he kicked off his career back in 1999 with ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.’ His new ‘Wrath of Man’ is such an item, although it’s more somber and less rollicking than the likes of ‘Lock.’” Read more…)

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (historical drama, Riva Krymalowski. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 47. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Painting a curiously cozy portrait of refugee life, Caroline Link’s ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ views displacement and the approaching Holocaust primarily through the experiences of a child, Anna Kemper [a captivating Riva Krymalowski]. The result is a movie that’s almost as cuddly as the toy in its title.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Wrath of Man

New Foreign DVDs
There Is No Evil (Iran, drama, Ehsan Mirhosseini. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Because ‘There Is No Evil’ has landed in international headlines — the director, Mohammad Rasoulof, made the movie covertly and without the approval of Iranian authorities, and a ban on his leaving the country prevented him from accepting the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in person last year — revealing what it’s about seems fair. But the film is constructed to surprise you.” Read more…)

Slalom (France, #MeToo drama, Jérémie Renier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “In competitive skiing, athletes balance the rewards of downhill glory against the dangers of a fall. The sensitive, discomforting drama ‘Slalom’ follows Lyz [Noée Abita], a 15-year-old recruit to a ski facility in the French Alps. There, young skiers are molded into champions by an ambitious trainer, Fred [Jérémie Renier]. From their first meeting, the relationship between Lyz and Fred is physical.” Read more…)

Sublet (Israel, drama/comedy/LGBTQ romance, John Benjamin Hickey. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 67. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The film doesn’t exactly subvert its clichéd ‘when two worlds meet’ premise, and its bubbly but lame music cues are no help. The Israeli director Eytan Fox offers insights into two generations of gay men that at times can seem superficial. Nevertheless, he creates a pleasurably low-key double character study.” Read more…)

Yourself & Yours (South Korea, 2016, romance, You-young Lee. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Director Hong Sang-soo’s] formal confidence yields a movie that’s very simply constructed and utterly engrossing. There are a lot of scenes done in a single shot, usually static, but when there’s a zoom [his preferred camera flourish] it’s unfussy and direct. He puts you in tune with the world of his sad-sack characters immediately, and their rhythm becomes the rhythm of the story.” Read more…)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
A Town Like Alice (Australia, 1980, drama mini-series, Helen Morse)
Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 2 (New Zealand, mystery/procedural, Neill Rea)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Web (1947, film noir, Edmond O’Brien. From T.M.P.’s 1947 New York Times review: “There’s a big surprise in store for anyone who visits Loew’s Criterion, where ‘The Web’ opened yesterday, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the film, which is just another whodunit. The story follows a routine course, with a struggling young lawyer taking up with a rich industrialist—not as a legal adviser, but as a bodyguard—and finding himself enmeshed in a fatal shooting which has all the trappings of a first-class frame-up.” Read more…)

Larceny (1948, film noir, John Payne. From T.M.P.’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The old confidence game is being worked to a fare-thee-well in ‘Larceny,’ which opened yesterday at the Winter Garden. Surprisingly enough this melodrama packs considerable punch as it races along from one larcenous episode to another. Since the plot is not only old and familiar but markedly illogical as well this spectator is at a loss to justify the feeling of satisfaction engendered by this obviously contrived exercise in smouldering violence.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Deep Cover (1992, mystery/procedural, Criterion Collection, Laurence Fishburne. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Janet Maslin’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘I want my cake and eat it too,’ says one of the characters in ‘Deep Cover,’ the story of a policeman assigned to masquerade as a cocaine dealer. The film itself seemingly embraces that same thought. On the one hand an upright police thriller, ‘Deep Cover’ is also a rapt exploration of all the vice and viciousness that make the drug kingpin’s life so popular with contemporary film makers. The film’s cautionary message, which is stated outright, is undercut by its fascination with seamy glamour.” Read more…)

Working Girls (1986, Lizzie Borden-dir. drama, Louise Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. From J. Hoberman’s “rewind” column for the New York Times: “‘Working Girls’ is notable for its measured structure, analytical camera placement and straightforward cool. Borden only tips her hand once, when she allows Molly — who has been sweet-talked into working a double shift — to ask Lucy if she’s ever heard of ‘surplus value.’ ‘Working Girls’ is an anticapitalist critique that has scarcely dated, save for one bit of hip social realism I neglected to note when I reviewed it in 1987 for a downtown weekly. Asked how she heard about the job, a new recruit reveals that she answered a want ad for ‘hostesses’ in The Village Voice.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten (U.S. history, racism, civil rights. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The PBS film is journalistic, built around the reporting of The Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown, who appears onscreen, and narrated by NPR’s Michel Martin. It spends a little less time on the past and more on the continuing issues of race in Tulsa, including educational disparities and the protests following the police killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man, in 2016. In the nature of the contemporary newspaper feature, it’s a touch sanctimonious.” Read more…)