New releases 9/24/19

Top Hits
Yesterday (romantic comedy/fantasy, Beatlemania, Himesh Patel. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘I don’t believe in Beatles,’ John Lennon once sang. This silly and sincere pop confection, energetically directed by Danny Boyle [’28 Days Later,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ etc.], wonders what might happen if nobody else did, either. After a traffic accident mysteriously connected to a global power outage, Jack wakes up to discover that the Fab Four have been erased from the collective cultural memory. A Google search turns up pictures of insects. There’s a gap in the B section of Jack’s record collection. When he sings ‘Yesterday’ for Ellie and some other friends, they’re blown away. They want to know when — how, for whom — he came to write such an amazing song.” Read more…)

Child’s Play (horror re-make, Aubrey Plaza. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 48. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Nothing supernatural occurs in ‘Child’s Play’ [2019], a soulless remake in every sense. The new Chucky is simply a robot, the handiwork of a disgruntled factory worker in Vietnam. The toy would normally be a devoted companion to Andy [Gabriel Bateman], who has just moved to a new home with his mother [Aubrey Plaza]. But Chucky, whose safety protocols and violence-inhibiting features have been removed, becomes fiercely protective. If he can’t be Andy’s friend, nobody can.” Read more…)

Shaft (action detective re-make, Samuel L. Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “There’s a new ‘Shaft,’ and why not? Just to be clear, the latest movie with that title, directed by Tim Story, stars both of the old Shafts: Richard Roundtree, who created the role in the 1971 original and its several sequels, and Samuel L. Jackson, who revived the franchise almost 30 years later. They play father and son, and a third generation is represented by Jessie T. Usher — a dynasty of complicated men. One smooth, one crude, one woke.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Yesterday
Shaft

New Foreign DVDs
This Magnificent Cake! (Belgium, drama/comedy animated feature about colonialism, Jan Decleir [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Charles Solomon’s Los Angeles Times review: “This Magnificent Cake!,” a stop-motion film written and directed by Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef, is a series of feverish meditations on a brutal episode in African history. In 1885, Leopold II of Belgium, seeking “a slice of this magnificent African cake,” became de facto owner of much of what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. The rubber, ivory and precious metals taken from the Congo made Leopold fabulously wealthy, but millions of Congolese died from overwork, torture and disease until their hellish exploitation was exposed in 1904.” Read more…)

Luz (Germany, horror, Luana Velis. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 63. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Luz,’ the first feature from the German director Tilman Singer, is both an experimental take on demonic possession and a bafflingly avant-garde psychodrama. The first is marginally easier to follow than the second.” Read more…)

Diamantino (Portugal, comedy, Carloto Cotta. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “There are moments in which this film, written and directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, feels like an early Adam Sandler comedy remixed by Pier Paolo Pasolini.” Read more…)

In the Aisles (Germany, drama, Franz Rogowski. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 67From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “A shaggy-dog tale that treats crisscrossing forklift traffic as a sight worthy of the Blue Danube waltz, the German feature ‘In the Aisles’ mostly takes place in an anonymous, highway-side megastore sized somewhere between a supermarket and a cost club. Its hero is a taciturn, newly hired stock handler, Christian [Franz Rogowski], whose hours are such that he rarely sees daylight.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Circus (1928, comedy, Criterion Collection, Charlie Chaplin. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. From Roger Greenspun’s 1969 New York Times review of revival screening [requires log-in]: “‘The Circus’ discovers Charlie, in the person of the Little Tramp, standing hungry outside a traveling circus, and it leaves him, sitting in the ring, after the circus itself has pulled away. In between, Charlie joins the circus as roustabout, saves it with the humor of his monumental ineptitude, falls in love with the circus owner’s daughter [Merna Kennedy], and loses her to the handsome tightrope walker — whose suit he bravely promotes. The theme of unhappy romance is not unusual in the major Chaplin films, though it is treated with less circumstance and much less pathetic detail in ‘The Circus’ than in, say, ‘The Gold Rush’ or ‘City Lights’—both of which enjoy accidental happy endings that are more gracious than gratuitous.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Local Hero (1983, comedy/drama, Criterion Collection, Burt Lancaster. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Janet Maslin’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Genuine fairy tales are rare; so is film-making that is thoroughly original in an unobtrusive way. Bill Forsyth’s quirky disarming ‘Local Hero’ is both, and it’s also proof that Mr. Forsyth’s other feature film released here, ‘Gregory’s Girl,’ was more than a happy accident. The Glasgow-born Mr. Forsyth has put Scottish comedy on the map, for whatever that’s worth. He has also developed a dryly whimsical style, very close to a deadpan at times, that allows the strangest events or personages to glide by almost unnoticed. ‘Local Hero’ contains a mermaid, an enchanted village and a possibly magical rabbit. No undue fuss is made about any one of them.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am (bio, literature, Toni Morrison. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 80. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Writers don’t live only in their books, and Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’s film, produced under the auspices of PBS’s venerable ‘American Masters’ series [and opening in Manhattan at Film Forum and Film at Lincoln Center on Friday] offers a look at Morrison that can complement an acquaintance with her work and inspire new reading. It’s less a biography than an extended essay, which is entirely a good thing.” Read more…)

Becoming Rocketman (bio, music, Elton John)

New Music DVDs
Becoming Rocketman (bio, music, Elton John)