New releases 4/30/19

Top Hits
Arctic (adventure, Mads Mikkelsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 71. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Sometimes all a movie needs to offer is the spectacle of an actor suffering for his art — or at least appearing to. Do you long to see Mads Mikkelsen, his face chapped and frostbitten, fighting to stay alive after a downed plane leaves his character marooned in the frozen north? If so, ‘Arctic,’ the feature debut of Joe Penna [a Brazilian-born YouTube video artist], delivers what you desire, making effective use of both the star’s rugged persona and unforgiving Icelandic landscapes.” Read more…)

Serenity (thriller, Anne Hathaway. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 37. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “For reasons known only to [director Steven] Knight, ‘Serenity’ couldn’t just be a film noir. He’s laid some kind of science-fiction nonsense atop it because, apparently, the movie needed a ply of trashy pretension to echo Adrian Lyne’s thriller ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and complement the luxe incoherence of McConaughey’s Lincoln ads.” Read more…)

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki (documentary/bio, animation techniques, Hayao Miyazaki. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki,’ a documentary directed by Kaku Arakawa made in 2016 and having its New York theatrical premiere this week, finds the maestro in a sparsely-furnished house referred to as his ‘atelier,’ brewing coffee, brooding and sketching. He still has the creative urge. But he worries that C.G.I. is making his own brand of hand-drawn animation obsolete.” Read more…)

Dragged Across Concrete (action/thriller, Mel Gibson. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The writer-director S. Craig Zahler has embellished ‘Dragged Across Concrete’ — a neo-exploitation potboiler about brutal men on both sides of the law — in both modest and grandiose ways. He’s clearly given a lot of thought to this strain of detective-gangster fiction, to its cruelty, extremity, pessimism and flashes of nihilism. His detectives, Brett [Mel Gibson] and Anthony [Vince Vaughn], fit their types to a T, entering the story with ready guns and well-honed cynicism.” Read more…)

Prospect (sci-fi, Sophie Thatcher. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 68.)

New Blu-Ray
Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
My Brilliant Career (Australia, 1979, drama, Judy Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From Janet Maslin’s 1979 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘My Brilliant Career’ marks the beginning of exactly that for both the film’s daring, assured, high-spirited Australian director, Gillian Armstrong, and its rambunctious young star. Adapted from a semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, it offers a turn-of-the-century heroine who seems to have wandered from the pages of a Louisa May Alcott novel into the Australian Outback, where her buoyant sense of mischief takes on the same grand dimensions as the exotic, perpetually surprising terrain.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Reconstruction: America After the Civil War (civil rights, race, American history, Henry Louis Gates. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times television review: “The shockingly violent, depressingly predictable backlash in the American South to the end of slavery, and to the attempt to make freed slaves equal members of society, is the central concern of ‘Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,’ a four-hour PBS series written and narrated by Henry Louis Gates Jr… Among the many lacunae in Americans’ knowledge of their own history, our hazy notions of Reconstruction and its overthrow — essential to an understanding of so much in our own times, from the civil rights movement to today’s mirror-like rise of white nationalism — may be the most damaging.” Read more…)

The Gospel According to Andre (bio, fashion, Andre Leon Talley. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 67. From Jon Caramanica’s New York Times review: “The parts of [Andre] Talley’s story told through archival footage are fascinating — a staggeringly tall gay black man from the American South inventing himself as a bon vivant [‘You can be aristocratic without having been born into an aristocratic family’] and making himself welcome, and essential, at the pinnacle of the Paris and New York fashion world. As high fashion was becoming pop culture, Mr. Talley was there, first as a kind of aide-de-camp to Diana Vreeland, and later as an essential compatriot to Anna Wintour in her early Vogue days.” Read more…)

Living Planet: A Portrait of the Earth (nature, science. From John Corry’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Living Planet: A Portrait of the Earth,’ the much acclaimed series from Britain, arrives on public television Sunday night. In it, David Attenborough looks at the world, and finds it inviting. In the first of 12 episodes, he shows us how the earth was formed, how continents moved, and how flora and fauna proliferated. We have seen this on television before, of course, but Mr. Attenborough’s series is special. For one thing, it looks spectacular; for another, there is Mr. Attenborough, blessed with a quirky charm.” Read more…)