New releases 7/25/17

Top Hits
Ghost In the Shell (sci-fi/action, Scarlett Johansson. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Like the greatest screen goddesses, Scarlett Johansson rises above it all. In the thrill-free science-fiction thriller “Ghost in the Shell,” her character comes at you in pieces, emerging first during the opening credits in the form of a metallic skeleton. It’s a good look — it evokes the original Terminator — but soon the skeleton is being dipped like a chip in whitish goo. This technological soup gives the metallic frame a humanoid cladding, making it more reassuringly and pleasantly familiar, from bosomy top to round bottom. It looks like a giant dream Barbie, hairless pubis and all. Enjoy these credits because they offer some of the more arresting, inventive images in this visually cluttered yet often disappointingly drab movie. A live-action version of a famed Japanese manga by Shirow Masamune, “Ghost in the Shell” is one of those future-shock stories that edges around the dystopian without going full-bore apocalyptic.” Read more…)

The Boss Baby (animated feature, Alec Baldwin [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 50. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The animated feature ‘The Boss Baby’ has some hilarious moments. If, that is, you’re a grown-up. It’s a movie whose story is aimed at the siblings of newborns — the 8-and-under crowd, more or less. They’ll follow the plot for most of the way; they just might be puzzled by their accompanying parent’s reactions. ‘What’s so funny, Dad?’ That’s because the title character is voiced by Alec Baldwin, and all of his various past personas, especially the one from ’30 Rock,’ somehow make hearing his distinctive voice coming from a cartoon infant all that much funnier.” Read more…)

Gifted (family drama, Chris Evans. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 60. From Nicole Herrington’s New York Times review: “What’s in a child’s best interest? It depends on who’s answering the question. That’s the crux of ‘Gifted,’ the director Marc Webb’s return to small-scale features after tangling with Spidey. The gifted child here is a 7-year-old math prodigy, Mary [Mckenna Grace, charmingly precocious], who is being raised by her uncle Frank [an impressive Chris Evans]. He wants a normal life for Mary; her mother, also a math genius, was under pressure and committed suicide when Mary was a baby.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Ghost In the Shell

New Foreign
I, Olga Hepnarova (Czech Republic, drama, Michalina Olszanska. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Anchored by a startling performance by Michalina Olszanska, the Czech film ‘I, Olga Hepnarova’ is an austere, hypnotic story of sadness, madness and murder. The filmmakers piece together a fictionalized account of the life of Olga Hepnarova, who on July 10, 1973, drove a truck onto a sidewalk in Prague and hit at least 20 people, eight of whom died. Before committing her crime, she explained her actions in a letter, which the film shows her composing. It’s a deeply discomfiting document.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Who’s Crazy? (1966, avant-garde cult film, The Living Theatre, soundtrack by Ornette Coleman Trio. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 77. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the film, a group of psychiatric patients becomes stranded in the countryside after a bus breaks down. The patients take up residence in a farmhouse, forming a microcosmic civilization that soon falls prey to varied discontents. The opening credits, a series of still photos in which a woman in sunglasses strikes wacky poses while text announces the soundtrack, may lead you to expect hippie whimsy of the worst sort. But the movie, shot mostly in crisp, sometimes smoky black and white, is far better, a quirky but purposeful grafting of Mack Sennett to the French New Wave.” Read more…)