New releases 7/7/20

Top Hits
Trolls World Tour (animated feature, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 51. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “But it is dangerous to over-read ‘Trolls World Tour,’ which celebrates musical diversity — pushing back against pop music’s appropriation of African-American artists’ innovations — and whose multiculturalism is clearly intended in a spirit of inclusiveness and good humor. While the genre-bridging premise affords the film more variety and verve than its sugary predecessor, the movie, directed by Walt Dohrn, still gives you the sensation of being barricaded in a karaoke lounge where all the attendees have snorted Sweet Tarts.” Read more…)

The Vanishing (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “As it turns out, it will be gold, not silver, that turns their heads in ‘The Vanishing,’ a middling good-guys-gone-bad thriller [and no relation to George Sluizer’s ingenious 1991 shocker]. Inspired by the Flannan Isles mystery of 1900, when three keepers disappeared without trace, Joe Bone and Celyn Jones’s script takes pains to differentiate the three leads.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
And Then We Danced (Republic of Georgia, romance, Levan Gelbakhiani. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Tbilisi, where this movie, written and directed by Levan Akin, is set and was shot, looks like a pleasant place to live, but also like a land out of time. The young members of the Georgian dance group all smoke like chimneys, and their world, and the world around them, has seriously retrograde ideas about human relations. This means trouble for Merab, who has more than a socially unacceptable new love on his plate: his family is struggling in poverty.” Read more…)

Come and See (Soviet Union, 1985, WW II drama, Aleksey Kravchenko. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. From Walter Goodman’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In episodes that shift, sometimes subtly, sometimes startlingly, from down-in-the-mud realism to a dreamlike state, a boy named Florya endures the German invasion. His family is slaughtered; a friend, a beautiful young woman who wants only love and babies, is raped; he joins the partisans, is captured and nearly killed. He is our witness to the savagery of the Nazi onslaught against the peoples of Eastern Europe.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The War of the Worlds (1953, sci-fi w/ George Pal special FX, Criterion Collection, Gene Barry. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 78. From A.W.’s 1953 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There’s no point in smugly rusticating behind the protection of the hydrogen bomb and jet planes. Those Martians, first reported in 1898 by H. G. Wells and terrifyingly revived for radio listeners by Orson Welles some forty years later, descended, with an assist from Paramount, on the Mayfair yesterday via ‘The War of the Worlds.’ Now it’s either a mad dash for the hills or to the theatre. And, after calm deliberation, it would appear that the movies is the better bet. Make no mistake about it, science-fiction, like comic books, is a part of our culture, and George Pal, who produced this latest amalgam of fact and fantasy, is no tyro in this field. Like his previous sorties into interplanetary space—‘Destination Moon’ and ‘When Worlds Collide’—‘The War of the Worlds’ is, for all of its improbabilities, an imaginatively conceived, professionally turned adventure, which makes excellent use of Technicolor, special effects by a crew of experts and impressively drawn backgrounds.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Ganja & Hess (1973, drama/horror, Duane Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From A.H. Weiler’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As a black-oriented, contemporary horror study, ‘Ganja & Hess,’ which arrived at the Playboy yesterday, is dedicated to what is obviously meant to be a serious theme. The artistry for which it strives, however, is largely vitiated by a confusingly vague mélange of symbolism, violence and sex.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Slay the Dragon (American politics, voting rights,gerrymandering. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 73. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Slay the Dragon’ begins with a subject that might seem counterintuitive for a documentary on gerrymandering: the Flint, Mich., water crisis. The movie lays out a timeline of state legislative actions that led to the decision that contaminated the city’s water supply. It persuasively argues that the crisis never would have happened without gerrymandering, which had allowed legislators to shield themselves from voters’ wrath.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Go Go Mania (1965 British music revue, The Beatles & more. From an unsigned 1965 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Go Go Mania’ starts off strong with a fast sample of The Beatles, and never quite recovers. The boys from Britain may be losing ground with the adolescent set, but they are still the class act in rock ‘n’ roll.They don’t have much chance to go go in the opening and closing snippets of yesterday’s film bill at the Palace, but they are there in color, which is something. The other acts on hand are equally hirsute, British and on the beat.” Read more…)