New releases 12/12/17

Top Hits
Detroit (historical drama, John Boyega. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 78. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Detroit’ is set mainly during the rioting that convulsed that city in the summer of 1967, and in it ‘them’ is most often used — along with cognates like ‘those people’ and ‘you people’ — by white soldiers and police officers to refer to African-American citizens. [Nearly every white character with a speaking role wears a uniform of some kind.] Occasionally things go in the other direction, with ‘they’ referring to the white authorities, but the reversal doesn’t indicate any kind of symmetry. The movie, which paints a sometimes muddled picture of a chaotic and contested moment in history, is admirably clear in this regard. It understands and strives to dramatize racism not as a matter of bad personal attitudes or equal and opposite prejudices, but rather as a structuring fact of American life, an apparatus of power, exclusion and control wielded against ‘them.'” Read more…)

Princess Cyd (gay & lesbian/drama/romance, Jessie Pinnick. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. From April Wolfe’s Village Voice revew: “In his tranquil drama ‘Princess Cyd,’ director Stephen Cone seems to be asking the question: What if a movie featured a girl who lived through unthinkable trauma and somehow became the most well-adjusted kid on the planet? The answer is that the story would float along like a feather in the wind — a nice counter to heavier grief dramas — but also never achieve the heights it could if that feather were attached to the hard-working wing of an actual bird. But enough of the ornithology metaphors.” Read more…)

American Assassin (action thriller, Michael Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 45. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The movie, directed by Michael Cuesta from a script by a team of blue-chip writers [Stephen Schiff and Michael Finch are credited, along with Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz], shows more skill than personality. There are fights and chases, punctuated by tense meetings and bouts of intense laptop and cellphone use. We hop from one camera-friendly hot spot to another before settling in Rome for the final round of fights and chases.” Read more…)

Game of Thrones: Season 7 (HBO fantasy series, Emilia Clarke. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 77.)

New Blu-Ray
Detroit
Stranger Things: Season 1
Endless Poetry

New Foreign DVDs
The Unknown Girl (Belgium, Dardennes Broters-directed drama, Adèle Haenel. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Unknown Girl,’ the latest film by the Belgian writer-directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is about the consequences of trying to do the right thing. By a logic at once elusive and meticulous, it is also, therefore, about the consequences of inaction. Moral indifference is an easy path, and it leads to other, graver sins, including cruelty and dishonesty. But the harder road of decency has its own traps and byways, as a young doctor named Jenny Davin discovers.” Read more…)

Karl Marx City (Germany, documentary, political repression, surveillance, German history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Karl Marx City,’ Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s unsettling new documentary, is a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales. The volumes currently crowding bookstore front tables — George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ Sinclair Lewis’s ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ — offer time-tested prophecies and autopsies of dictatorship. ‘Karl Marx City’ supplements their theories and speculations with everyday facts about life in the supposed workers’ paradise of the German Democratic Republic.” Read more…)

Ma’ Rosa (Philippines, drama, Jaclyn Jose. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 62. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “The Filipino director Brillante Mendoza is one of Cannes’ established auteur film-makers, and his new movie here, entitled ‘Ma’Rosa,’ returns us to the themes of his violent shocker Kinatay from 2009 — the cynicism and corruption of the police and the city authorities, the casual violence and the desperation of the ruled-over who must make what accommodation they can with those in power. It is a tough social realist slice of life at ground level in Manila, unfolding in what feels like real time: violent, though perhaps less so than in that notorious earlier movie and with a droll habit of transcribing the banal conversations of police officers as they deal what they consider to be their paperwork. I wonder if Mendoza hasn’t taken something from the new Romanian cinema, with its similar satire of the red-tape world.” Read more…)

Endless Poetry (Chile, Alejandro Jodorowsky-directed drama/surrealism, Adan Jodorowsky. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 78. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Alejandro Jodorowsky has had a long and productive life. In addition to directing midnight-movie classics like ‘El Topo’ and ‘The Holy Mountain,’ he has composed music and written many books. He is an expert on the tarot and psychotherapy. But in his two recent autobiographical films — ‘The Dance of Reality’ and now ‘Endless Poetry’ — Mr. Jodorowsky, at 88, shows the irrepressible energy of a man who is just getting started.” Read more…)

Black Coal, Thin Ice (China, thriller, Fan Liao. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Scott Foundas’ Variety review: “The spirits of Raymond Chandler and James M. Cain course through ‘Black Coal, Thin Ice,’ a bleak but powerful, carefully controlled detective thriller in which — as with all the best noirs — there are no real heroes or villains, only various states of compromise. A most curious hybrid of genre movie and art film, drenched in neon and wintry industrial bleakness, this third feature by the gifted mainland Chinese director Diao Yinan reps a significant advance in scale and craftsmanship over his festival favorites ‘Uniform’ [2003] and ‘Night Train’ [2007], with the potential to penetrate modestly further into the commercial sector.” Read more…)

New British
Doc Martin: Series 8 (comedy/drama series, Martin Clunes)

New Television
Game of Thrones: Season 7 (HBO fantasy series, Emilia Clarke)
Stranger Things: Season 1 (fantasy/horror series, Winona Ryder. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 76.)

New Documentaries
Karl Marx City (political repression, surveillance, German history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Karl Marx City,’ Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s unsettling new documentary, is a smart, highly personal addition to the growing syllabus of distressingly relevant cautionary political tales. The volumes currently crowding bookstore front tables — George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ Sinclair Lewis’s ‘It Can’t Happen Here,’ Hannah Arendt’s ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’ — offer time-tested prophecies and autopsies of dictatorship. ‘Karl Marx City’ supplements their theories and speculations with everyday facts about life in the supposed workers’ paradise of the German Democratic Republic.” Read more…)

Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back (art, provocation, Maurizio Cattelan. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 70. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “‘I think he’s one of the greatest artists that we have today — but he could also be the worst,’ a collector says in ‘Maurizio Cattelan: Be Right Back.’ It’s one of several bits of hyperbole in a documentary that works best when it stops overanalyzing its subject and instead focuses on his mischievous art.” Read more…)