New releases 6/18/19

Top Hits
Us (horror, Lupita Nyong’o. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Jordan Peele’s new horror movie, ‘Us,’ is an expansive philosophical hall of mirrors. Like his 2017 hit, ‘Get Out,’ this daring fun-until-it’s-not shocker starts from the genre’s central premise that everyday life is a wellspring of terrors. In ‘Get Out,’ a young black man meets a group of white people who buy — at auction — younger, healthier black bodies. What makes ‘Get Out’ so powerful is how Peele marshals a classic tale of unwilling bodily possession into a resonant, unsettling metaphor for the sweep of black and white relations in the United States — the U.S., or us. ‘Us’ is more ambitious than ‘Get Out,’ and in some ways more unsettling.” Read more…)

Lords of Chaos (bio/drama, Rory Culkin. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 48. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The director Jonas Akerlund works hard to deliver on the title of ‘Lords of Chaos,’ a tale of bad music and terrible deeds. Inspired by a true story, the movie ladles up lots of pulpy bits and buckets of blood to tell a depressing, depressingly familiar story about what happens when young men with apparent means and a whole lot of free time get together to build their own precariously hermetic world. In this case, their clubhouse was the Norwegian black-metal scene of the 1980s and early ’90s, which combined anomie with face paint, speed metal and Linda Blair’s devilish vocalizations from ‘The Exorcist.’” Read more…)

J.T. Leroy (bio-pic, Kristen Stewart. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 58. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘J.T. LeRoy’ is a tougher, better movie than [2016 documentary] ‘Author’ and generally comes off as more honest. Directed by Justin Kelly, who wrote the script with Knoop, it focuses on Savannah’s role in the fraud, peeling back the details — physical, psychological — in a masquerade that rather astonishingly lasted some half-dozen years. Anchored by its two excellent leads, the movie is sympathetic and, for the most part, unsentimental.” Read more…)

The Beach Bum (comedy, Matthew McConnaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘That’s great poetry,’ Moondog says near the end of ‘The Beach Bum,’ delivering a verdict on his own work. A bit later, after a literally explosive bacchanal during which bales of cash and a sailboat are set alight, he declares the evening ‘a blast,’ inserting an expletive for emphasis. Those two statements pretty much sum up what this movie, the latest from Harmony Korine, thinks of itself. Chronicling a hectic season in the life of its hero [a defiantly unkempt Matthew McConaughey], ‘The Beach Bum’ is intoxicated by its own shaggy lyricism and committed to an ethic of unapologetic hedonism.” Read more…)

Under the Silver Lake (neo-noir, Andrew Garfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “At one point, an issue of Spider-Man attaches itself to [lead character] Sam’s hand by means of an errant wad of bubble gum, which is a funny coincidence — no coincidence at all, in other words — because Sam is played by Andrew Garfield, who used to be Spidey. Most of the other allusions in this shaggy-dog tale of wild conspiracism and male petulance are not quite so blatantly meta. Sam and the director are both steeped in classic Hollywood, ’90s indie rock, and various kinds of vintage memorabilia. The mood borrows from Hitchcock [whose grave figures in one scene], and also from Nicholas Ray, David Lynch, and the Southern California noir tradition more generally. Also Thomas Pynchon, Robert Altman and Raymond Chandler. These aren’t esoteric references yielding themselves up to a connoisseur’s prying. They are part of the movie’s surface, and part of its point.” Read more…)

Hotel Mumbai (true-life terror thriller, Dev Patel. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Anthony Maras, making his first feature, interweaves these threads with precision and clarity, conveying an impressive sense of the hotel layout, the confusion of the circumstances and the visceral fear of hiding from the gunmen. [The opulent hotel was re-created in both Mumbai and Adelaide, Australia.] But the more involving ‘Hotel Mumbai’ plays in the moment, the queasier it seems in retrospect. It reduces the randomness of real-life bloodshed to the slick thrills of a popcorn movie.” Read more…)

Wonder Park (animated feature, Jennifer Garner [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 45. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘Wonder Park’ thrives when it emphasizes the practical pleasures of creativity. The movie visualizes the gears and pulleys of June’s creations, producing exciting action scenes that make fantasies function efficiently. [Its uncredited director, Dylan Brown, was removed from the film after allegations surfaced of what The Hollywood Reporter and other outlets described as ‘inappropriate and unwanted conduct.’ Brown disputed the allegations.] But when these sequences fall back to accommodate the narrative, the shabbiness of the visual design drains energy from the screen.” Read more…)

Captain Marvel (superhero action, Brie Larson. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The last and least surprising thing we learn about her is that ‘Captain Marvel will return in “Avengers: Endgame,”’ a scrappy little picture that will be released in seven weeks, if you can stand to wait that long. Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck from a script they wrote with Geneva Robertson-Dworet, ‘Captain Marvel’ is an origin story, which is to say a résumé check for the newest member of popular culture’s biggest, most heavily capitalized corporate team. As such, it’s pretty good fun, and could almost be described without sarcasm as a scrappy little picture, like most of Boden and Fleck’s other work. [Their résumé includes ‘Half Nelson,’ ‘Sugar’ and ‘It’s Kind of a Funny Story’].” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Running Man (1963, Carol Reed-directed thriller, Laurence Harvey. From Bosley Crowther’s 1963 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Despite all the ostentatious running that a dyed-haired Laurence Harvey does as a fleeing insurance embezzler in the new melodrama, “The Running Man,” he simply goes around in circles and, as a consequence, this Carol Reed film… makes no real dramatic progress or give the viewer a sense of getting any place.” Read more…)

Us
Wonder Park

New Foreign
L’Humanité (France, 1999, Criterion Collection, mystery, Emmanuel Schotté. From Stephen Holden’s 2000 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “If it’s possible for a film to convey a physical sensation of the world that is more intense than everyday life, Bruno Dumont’s flawed masterpiece, ‘Humanité,’ does a disquietingly good job. The raw sensory effect this transfixing movie produces might almost be described as psychedelic. Surrendering to its vision feels a little like being exposed to the sun after losing a layer of skin. In its relentlessly biological mind, what we think of as civilization is portrayed as a fragile membrane that barely prevents us from acting on our most brutal instincts.” Read more…)

La Vie De Jésus (France, 1997, Criterion Collection, drama/romance, David Douche. From Janet Maslin’s 1997 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In a northern French village as quiet as a ghost town, trouble is brewing. It develops slowly and precisely in ‘La Vie de Jesus,’ the first film by Bruno Dumont, who works with grim exactitude to capture the essence of unhappiness in this becalmed setting. His film’s main character, with a sad, inexpressive face and a brutish skinhead look, is Freddy (David Douche). Gradually adding layer upon layer of vague dread, Mr. Dumont finally conveys the full misery of Freddy’s world.” Read more…)

Hélas Por Moi (France, 1993, directed by Godard, comedy/drama, Gerard Depardieu. From Caryn James’ 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Helas Pour Moi’ is about the search for faith, memory, truth and love: the deep human emotions ordinarily masked by the rigorous intellectual form of Jean-Luc Godard’s films. But here is Mr. Godard in a strangely lyrical and contemplative mood. The film opens today at the Joseph Papp Public Theater, with its title awkwardly translated on screen as ‘Woe Is Me.’ A better alternative would be ‘Alas for Me,’ which captures Mr. Godard’s meditative tone. Like his 1985 film, ‘Hail Mary,’ this new work depicts the possible appearance of the divine in ordinary contemporary lives. But where ‘Hail Mary’ outraged some Christians by reinventing one of their most sacred myths, here Mr. Godard plays it safe by reaching back to Greek mythology for his god figure.” Read more…)

New British
Killing Eve: Season 2 (thriller, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Margaret Lyons’ Times television review: “This emotionality is one among many reasons “Killing Eve,” which begins its second season Sunday on BBC America, feels so fresh. Jodie Comer gives Villanelle a liveliness that almost feels like a sport. ‘Is it hard being bad?’ a child hostage asks her in Season 1. ‘Not if you practice,’ she replies brightly. She must have practiced a lot. She is great at being bad.” Read more…)

Patrick Melrose (drama, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 80. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “‘Patrick Melrose,’ a Showtime mini-series … starring Benedict Cumberbatch, isn’t really able to do either side [British social satire or the recovery story, the two genres at play in novelist Edward St. Aubyn’s five Patrick Melrose novels] justice. Part of that is compression: Five hours may seem like plenty of time to tell one life’s story, but it means that each novel is squished into just an hour of screen time.” Read more…)

Kidnapped (1971, adventure, Michael Caine)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
All My Sons (1948, Arthur Miller drama, Burt Lancaster. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In the light of the recent Congressional investigation of Hollywood, exposing as it did, among other things, the desperate caution of the higher echelons controlling films, it is not surprising that the stage play, ‘All My Sons,’ should have undergone a major alteration in its transfer to the screen.The play, as we understand it, made the sharp and unmistakable point that there is something horribly rotten about a system which permits huge profits to be made out of war. And in showing the ultimate come-uppance of a man who made a personal pile by selling defective materials to the Air Forces, through the failure of which young fliers died, it clearly indicated that the individual was not alone to blame, but also the whole social structure which tolerates and even encourages private greed. But that is a rather forward idea and, extended a bit, it might suggest that there are faults in the capitalist system—which, of course, would be downright treasonable. So, in putting together the screen play, Chester Erskine very carefully left out—no doubt, on higher instructions—any such general hints and confined the drama’s indictment to the greed and narrow-mindedness of one man.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Between the Lines (1977, newly remastered indie comedy set at alternative weekly, Jeff Goldblum. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. From Vincent Canby’s 1977 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Between the Lines’ is, technically, I suppose, a newspaper film, but what distinguishes it is the gently perceptive way it captures the emotional confusions of its characters. They are young, talented, ambitious people who once had the great good fortune to be enthusiastically committed and to have had professional lives that were the same as their private lives. Just how lucky they were they begin to realize only now that the time has passed. The 1960’s have become their roaring 20’s. ‘Between the Lines’ is about growing up after you’ve already grown up.” Read more…)

The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1967, comedy/satire, Paul Newman. From Roger Ebert’s 1968 review: “‘The Secret War of Harry Frigg’ must have been made against its own will. I’ve seen lousy movies before, but never one that seemed ashamed of itself. At times the actors seem to be in pain, and the movie itself is down-at-the-mouth and desperately boring. It is doing great business.” Read more…)

Angus (1995, coming-of-age/comedy, Charlie Talbert. From Janet Maslin’s 1995 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As directed by Patrick Read Johnson with amiable intelligence but not a lot of dramatic verve, ‘Angus’ is an easygoing if predictable alternative to more gimmicky teen-age fare. [George C.] Scott and [Kathy] Bates help dignify the film without condescending to their material, and help bring home the universality of its familiar ideas about fitting in.” Read more…)

Huckleberry Finn (1975, Mark Twain classic, Ron Howard)

New Documentaries
The Brink (bio, politics, fascism, Steve Bannon. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The war as [former Trump adviser Steve Bannon] understands it extends beyond particular battleground states or congressional districts, though he pays close attention to those. What Bannon calls the nationalist-populist movement — there are other, more precise names for it — has scored victories in Hungary, Poland, the Philippines and Brazil, and his current project is to knit together like-minded, far-flung rightists in an antiliberal, anti-immigrant counterglobalism. There is a lot of money behind this, and it would be interesting to know whose. But money is one topic around which Bannon insists on discretion, shooing Klayman away when terms are being talked.” Read more…)

To A More Perfect Union: U.S. v. Windsor (gay rights, marriage equality, social justice, Edie Windsor)