New releases 10/16/18

Top Hits
Ant-Man and The Wasp (superhero action, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 70. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Marvel Studios likes to supersize everything — its heroes, blowups, runtimes, opening theaters, market share and so on. In its world of over-muscled giant slayers, the wee superhero Ant-Man [Paul Rudd] has proved an anomaly because, even when he expands from ant-size to giant, he remains a regular guy, one of life’s little people. That’s still very much the case in ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp,’ an engaging goof that resists bludgeoning you with bigness and instead settles for good vibes and jokes. Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! [Squints.] It’s a surprisingly enjoyable summer romp!” Read more…)

Nancy (psychological thriller, Andrea Roseborough. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 67. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If you can look beyond the horrendous, wig-like thicket that clings to the head of the title character in ‘Nancy,’ you might see something to admire in the movie’s uncompromising portrait of extreme misery. On the other hand, you might simply be weary of wincing at the visions of filmmakers [in this case, Christina Choe] intent on rubbing our noses in lives ungraced by a single second of loveliness or joy.” Read more…)

A Prayer Before Dawn (drama/boxing, Joe Cole. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A bare-knuckled fist of a movie, Jean-Stéphane Sauvaire’s ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ is grueling to watch and disorienting to listen to. At once a true story and a daring experiment, this deep dive into a maximum-security prison accompanies Billy Moore [Joe Cole], a young English boxer and heroin addict whose fight career in Thailand is abruptly interrupted when he’s arrested on drug possession charges. From this second on, Mr. Sauvaire [adapting Mr. Moore’s 2014 autobiography] uses sight, sound and movement to bind us to the character and share his extreme dislocation.” Read more…)

Unfriended: Dark Web (horror, Betty Gabriel. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 53. A New york Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Like the 2015 movie ‘Unfriended,’ to which this picture is what they call a ‘stand-alone’ sequel, ‘Unfriended: Dark Web’ unfolds in real time and overlays a diabolical formal stroke on top. That is, like the first, all the action occurs within a computer screen. And as the first film had teenage friends [and the ghost of a teenager] tormenting each other online, this movie is also true to its title, exposing the seedier and more sinister sides of the internet.” Read more…)

Boundaries (comedy/drama, Christopher Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 50. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The road-trip movie, with its promise of redemption or resurrection or just plain head-straightening, is that most indelibly American of genres. It’s also the most overworked and vulnerable to cliché, a pitfall that Shana Feste’s ‘Boundaries’ takes no pains to avoid.” Read more…)

Paul: Apostle of Christ (religious drama, James Faulkner. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 52.)

New Blu-Ray
Ant-Man and The Wasp

New Foreign DVDs
The Night Eats the World (France, horror, Anders Danielsen Lie. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 50. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “Never underestimate the ability of the French to find deep meaning in the zombie apocalypse. Back in the late 1960s, it was a critic in the Paris-based magazine Cahiers du Cinéma who saw the profound subtext that American reviewers overlooked in George A. Romero’s formative ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ And just when you thought modern portraits of the undead couldn’t become more pretentious, ‘The Night Eats the World,’ Dominque Rocher’s tediously solemn feature debut, finds new ways to drain all the fun out of flesh-eating monsters.” Read more…)

Gabriel and the Mountain (Brazil, drama, Joao Pedro Zappa. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In July 2009, the body of a young Brazilian named Gabriel Buchmann was found near a mountain trail in Malawi. He had been taking a year to travel the world before starting a graduate program at U.C.L.A., and he was expecting to fly home to Rio de Janeiro shortly. The last months of Buchmann’s life are the subject of ‘Gabriel and the Mountain,’ a film by his friend Fellipe Gamarano Barbosa that is a perceptive and poetic hybrid of documentary and fiction. It both captures and gently critiques Gabriel’s free-spirited, adventurous sensibility.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (bio, music, Elvis Presley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jon Pareles’ Times review: “‘Elvis Presley: The Searcher,’ a two-part, three-hour documentary that begins airing Saturday on HBO, strives to rescue the Elvis Presley story from its tabloid side. Instead, it presents a biography of an artist and musician who was both spectacularly gifted and unconscionably misdirected. Guided by his own ideas and instincts, he transformed 20th-century culture in the 1950s. But afterward, treated by his manager as a commercial workhorse, he spent years making trivial movies and performing as a nostalgia act.” Read more…)

Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (American history, race, justice. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In ‘The Fire Next Time,’ James Baldwin wrote that ‘to accept one’s past — one’s history — is not the same thing as drowning in it.’ He knew that the superstitious fear of being swallowed up, the dread of giving up a fantasy of innocence, is precisely what keeps so many white Americans from confronting the uglier aspects of the nation’s legacy. Travis Wilkerson, a documentary filmmaker whose roots are in small-town Alabama, attempts just such a reckoning in ‘Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?’ The movie, a scorching and rigorous essay on memory and accountability, is neither a profession of guilt nor a performance of virtue. Though his inquiry is intensely, at times painfully personal, Mr. Wilkerson is above all concerned with unpacking the mechanisms of racial domination.” Read more…)

Whitney (bio, music, Whitney Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “My heart goes out to anybody who arrives at Kevin Macdonald’s new Whitney Houston documentary expecting a celebration of music and once-in-a-generation talent. Those are both present — the songs, that voice. But they’re heavy with cost. They’re warped, enlisted to indict rather than delight.” Read more…)

One October (sociology, American life, NYC time capsule. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Music DVDs
Elvis Presley: The Searcher (bio, music, Elvis Presley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 84.)
Whitney (bio, music, Whitney Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75.)