New releases 8/27/19

Top Hits
Rocketman (Elton John bio pic/music, Taron Egerton. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Actor Taron] Egerton, with what can only be called flamboyant understatement — and also, I suppose, understated flamboyance — in effect plays both the Lady Gaga and the Bradley Cooper parts in a fresh iteration of ‘A Star Is Born.’ His Elton is the hard-living road warrior and the preternaturally gifted ingénue, the sacrificial hero and the plucky survivor, the rock god and the camp icon. The actor delivers a tour de force of self-effacement, a bravura demonstration of borrowed charisma.” Read more…)

The Secret Life of Pets 2 (animated feature, Patton Oswalt [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 55. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “Too scattered narratively to cohere, and yet somehow still funny enough to justify its existence, ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ makes for an entertaining trifle. In this sequel to the 2016 animated hit — which followed the misadventures of some Manhattan pets while their owners were at work — our protagonist Max [voiced by Patton Oswalt, taking over from Louis CK, who fell from favor after revelations of sexual misconduct] visits a farm where he has to tap into his more animalistic, confident side under the tutelage of a grizzled sheepdog named Rooster [voiced by a surprisingly engaged-sounding Harrison Ford].” Read more…)

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (action, Michael Dougherty. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 48. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The beloved movie monster Godzilla both goes big and goes home in this sequel to the 2014 ‘Godzilla.’ For those of you who haven’t been keeping your scorecards updated, that movie was a reboot of a reboot, the uninspiring ‘Godzilla’ of 1998. ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’ is franchise fodder, however. The series is being steered to encompass a battle between Godzilla and King Kong, like the one the Japanese Big G films from the ’60s once enacted.” Read more…)

The House that Jack Built (Denmark, Lars Von Trier-directed crime drama, Matt Dillon. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 42. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “So it’s a sort of relief that, for as sick and violent and sadistic as Lars von Trier’s new film is, ‘The House That Jack Built’ fails to conjure anything as diabolical and morally outrageous as nonconsensual head-to-heinie[as in the ‘The Human Centipede’ torture trilogy]. His movie is missing the clarity of vision to whip psychopathology into something rousingly intellectual. It fails to make depravity an experience that either stimulates or appalls. If I wanted to leave von Trier’s movie, it wasn’t because I was nauseated.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
The Secret Life of Pets 2
Rocketman

New Foreign DVDs
The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (Japan, 1952, Yasujiro Ozu-directed drama, Shin Saburi. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Vincent Canby’s 1973 New York Times review of an American release [requires log-in]: “All of the Ozu films we have seen in this country [‘Tokyo Story,’ ‘Late Spring,’ ‘End of Summer,’ ‘Floating Weeds’] have been social comedies, but they have been told entirely in terms of character. More than any of these other films, “The Flavor of Green Tea” looks as much like a social history as it does a classic Ozu work. The movie, which opened yesterday at the Quad Cinema 3, is essentially a comedy, what the Japanese call a tsuma-mono, or wife film, about an upper-middle-class marriage, one that has been arranged in the old-fashioned way and now is falling gently apart as the childless couple approach middle age.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The Garden (1990, Derek Jarman-directed drama, Tilda Swinton. From Janet Maslin’s 1990 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The spirit of ‘The Garden,’ Derek Jarman’s virtually wordless 90-minute assemblage of turbulent images, is a peculiar blend of reflectiveness and fury. Mr. Jarman, whose 1987 film ‘The Last of England’ had a comparable free-associative vehemence, this time turns his thoughts to AIDS, Christianity and intolerance, combining these themes into a feverish vision of far-reaching decay.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Sickies Making Films (film history, cultural history, movie censorship)