New releases 8/18/20

Top Hits
Prevenge (horror, Kate Dickie. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Rocking a dirty mind and a sick sensibility, the British import ‘Prevenge’ sends a pregnant serial killer on a darkly comedic odyssey dictated by her malicious fetus. Yet what hoists this bloody battiness above much of the scrappily low-budget horror pack is the smartness of its execution and the strength of the movie’s central performance.” Read more…)

The Outpost (war film set in Afghanistan, Orlando Bloom. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Adapted from a nonfiction book by Jake Tapper and directed by Rod Lurie, ‘The Outpost’ evolves from what initially feels like a collection of war-movie commonplaces, highlighting crude-talking soldiers in a bad situation, into something more complex and illuminating.” Read more…)

Guest of Honour (drama, David Thewlis. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 53. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “This latest movie, which finds [director Atom] Egoyan writing again, falls somewhere between those extremes. It returns him to his key obsessions [repressed trauma, the consuming effects of guilt, ambiguities of evidence] and an elegant, time-bending structure [layered flashbacks that tiptoe around big secrets]. But the core revelations are pretty silly, failing crucial tests of motivation.” Read more…)

Mr. Jones (historical drama set in pre-WWII, James Norton. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Based on a real Welsh journalist, [Gareth Jones] is the unassuming hero of this grim, quietly furious movie, which revisits Jones’s 1933 trip to Ukraine, then in the grip of a catastrophic famine. There, the world is barren and the grain — ‘Stalin’s gold,’ as someone casually calls it — is gone. A political thriller with an insistent, steady pulse [the script is by Andrea Chalupa], ‘Mr. Jones’ dramatizes a harrowing chapter in the life of a man long overlooked by history.” Read more…)

Judy & Punch (drama, Mia Wasikowska. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 59. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Presenting violence as a contagion and mob mentality as its superspreader, ‘Judy & Punch’ courts equilibrium between domestic-abuse comedy and vicious morality tale. Dancing from brutal to wacky — in scenes that recall the dash and whimsy of ABC’s ditsy series ‘Galavant’[2015] — and from silly gallows jokes to grotesque seriousness, the movie intertwines humor and tragedy in imaginative, sometimes disturbing ways.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Cane River (1982, drama/race, dir. by Horace B. Jenkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The warmth of the film can feel like a political stance, an assertion of humanist ethical values that has a subtle but radical power. You can intuit something similar — an unstinting, sympathetic attention to the intimate matter of black lives — in Charles Burnett’s ‘Killer of Sheep’ and in Kathleen Collins’s ‘Losing Ground,’ another almost-lost jewel of early-‘80s African-American cinema. Like those films, ‘Cane River’ invites a rethinking of American film history, and also, in its disarmingly offhand, uniquely charming manner — of other aspects of American history as well.” Read more…)

Bebe’s Kids (1992, animated feature/race, Robin Harris [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. From Maya Phillips’ Critic’s Notebook in the New York Times: “‘The Boondocks,’ ‘Atlanta,’ ‘black-ish,’ ‘Dear White People,’ ‘Sorry to Bother You’ — there are a few shows and movies that have dared to use comedy to address the grim state of Black people in America. But lately, I’ve been thinking about a movie I hadn’t seen in more than 20 years: ‘Bébé’s Kids.’ This animated Black comedy explicitly spoke about police brutality and our broken judicial system years before the first utterance of “Black Lives Matter.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Town Bloody Hall (feminism, literature, Norman Mailer, Germaine Greer. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Melissa Anderson’s essay on the Criterion Collection Web site: “But nearly fifty years after the event it documents, Town Bloody Hall has lost none of its power to entrance—and enrage—with its manic, stimulating, polyvocal energy. Starting in the mid-2010s, the documentary became popular on the repertory circuit; those who had grown weary of a feminism articulated via hashtag or hot take surely found ‘Town Bloody Hall’s bracing IRL discourse a tonic. “ Read more…)

Creating A Character: Moni Yakim Legacy (cinema history, acting techniques, bio. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. From Alexis Soloski’s New York Times article on the release of the film: “‘Creating a Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy,’ a new documentary available for streaming, goes inside his classroom as students run, leap, stretch and scream. It interviews some of Juilliard’s more famous graduates and uses archival footage to describe Yakim’s childhood in Jerusalem, his years studying mime with Étienne Decroux and Marcel Marceau, his time running the New York Pantomime Theater with his wife, Mina Yakin.” Read more…)