New Releases – 7/19/22

Top Hits

The Bob’s Burgers Movie (Comedy/Animation, Zach Galifianakis, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 75, NYT Critic’s Pick)

“The mode of “Bob’s Burgers” doesn’t exactly scream for a feature-length, big-screen expansion, so it’s surprising that “The Bob’s Burgers Movie,” directed by Bouchard and Bernard Derriman, is such a breezy, engaging picture that it qualifies as a summer refreshment.” Read more…

I’m Charlie Walker (drama, Mike Colter; Rotten Tomatoes: 43%)

“In January 1971, two tankers collided in the waters beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, leaking 800,000 gallons of oil. The disaster is remembered for having spurred an environmental movement.

Less known is how a Black trucker named Charlie Walker played a pivotal role in the cleanup campaign during a time when the white trucking unions and their political allies were freezing out Black workers in the Bay Area. The director and writer Patrick Gilles sets out to right the narrative with the movie “I’m Charlie Walker,” plying the overly broad gestures of ’70s blaxploitation films to mixed effect.” Read more…

Minimata (drama, Johnny Depp, Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 55)

“Despite being the central character, Johnny Depp is the least interesting part of “Minamata,” Andrew Levitas’s film based on the true story of the photojournalist W. Eugene Smith who, in the 1970s, helped to expose the devastating impact of mercury poisoning on coastal communities in Japan.” Read more…

Montana Story (drama, Haley Lu Richardson; Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 73)

“In the deft genre rethink “Montana Story,” the American flag doesn’t just flutter and wave, it also sends a warning. It looks so unassuming. Clean and neat, without frayed edges or faded colors, it flies from a tall pole planted in front of a handsome two-story home. There, on 200 acres in southwestern Montana, in a glorious area girdled by mountains known as Paradise Valley, nature beckons and soothes. It looks like heaven; it takes a while to see the rot.” Read more…

New 4K Ultra HD Discs

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (action/adventure, Harrison Ford; Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh, Metacritic: 57)

“”Indiana Jones” is too shapeless to be the fun that ”Raiders” is, but shape may be beside the point. Old- time, 15-part movie serials didn’t have shape. The just went on and on and on, which is what ”Indiana Jones” does with humor and technical invention.” Read more…

New Foreign

Ascension (Chinese society, modern society) Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The film’s takeaways are hardly revelatory for anyone aware of the fact that China is the world’s largest manufacturer and an enormous market with massive purchasing power. Instead, ‘Ascension’ concerns itself with impressive and frequently alienating images showcasing Chinese productivity, innovation and consumption across class lines, revealing everyone from the day laborers to the middle-class hustlers to the privileged elites to be mere cogs in a ridiculously well-oiled machine.” Read more…

Poppy Field (Romania, drama, lgbtqia+, Conrad Mericoffer; Rotten Tomatoes: 82%)

“Even at 81-minutes long, Poppy Field drags a bit in the middle. But, the story is important, the lead actor is stunning, and the direction is excellent. Overall, this is a revealing and riveting look at how countries are dealing with the LGBTQIA+ in the worst possible ways.” Read more…

The Righteous (Canadian, horror, Rotten Tomatoes: 92% Certified Fresh)

“But the conversations about faith, punishment and guilt make clear why the film won best screenplay at last year’s Fantasia Film Festival. Scott McClellan’s black and white cinematography is a striking visual companion that makes rural Newfoundland and Labrador look beautiful and sinister.” Read more…

Sexual Drive (Japanese, dramedy, Manami Hashimoto; Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Metacritic: 66)

“A sexless husband queries his wife’s lover over a package of natto. A nervous driver on her way to buy mapo sauce finds her panic attack transform into a paroxysm of passion when she collides with an old schoolmate. And a married man obeys enigmatic instructions to rescue his paramour after she’s kidnapped from a ramen shop. These three encounters form the wry Japanese triptych “Sexual Drive,” directed by Kota Yoshida. Consistently intriguing and occasionally hilarious, the movie does not depict sex itself. Instead, the characters eat food items that become objects of titillation, lust and pleasure: the sticky goo around soybeans, chili oil sizzling in a wok.” Read more…

New American Back Catalog (pre-1960)

Marty (Blu-ray, Hamden’s very own Ernest Borgnine!, Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh)

From the original 1955 review: “This neat little character study of a lonely fellow and a lonely girl who find each other in the prowling mob at a Bronx dance hall and get together despite their families and their friends was originally done as a TV drama, and its present transposition to the screen has been accomplished by its TV director, Delbert Mann, as his first film achievement.The transfer is well worth a tribute, for “Marty” makes a warm and winning film, full of the sort of candid comment on plain, drab people that seldom reaches the screen. And Ernest Borgnine as the fellow and Betsy Blair as the girl—not to mention three or four others — give performances that burn into the mind.” Read more…

Native Son (Blu-ray, Richard Wright)

“But in 1951, Native Son was gutted. Slashed to bits by censors, the film was a shell of what it was supposed to be upon release, subtracting all nuance from the story and Bigger’s motivations. While the finished, fully restored product is clunky, it still has the same meat of the novel. Without it, it’s an exploitive film about a Black man killing a white woman.

Native Son is not polished, but its place in cinema history is significant. It further emphasizes how far Hollywood still has to go before Black stories are given the same treatment as white stories.” Read more…

Summertime (Criterion Collection, drama, Katharine Hepburn; Rotten Tomatoes: 89)

“THE beautiful city of Venice, with its ancient buildings, its winding canals, its mingling of vivid sounds and colors and its bewitchingly romantic air comes off the principal performer in David Lean’s and Ilya Lopert’s “Summertime.”‘ Read more…

New American Catalog (post-1960)

Dracula and Son (1976; Horror/Comedy, Christopher Lee)

Lee, in his last screen performance as Dracula, is fantastic as he swings between serious moments of horror and outright comedy. Dracula takes a mortal woman to bear his son. After he’s born, the Count turns mom into a vampire. However, when she can’t make it back to her coffin before sunrise, the Count finds himself stuck with raising the young tyke, which isn’t easy since the young vampire balks at putting the bite on people. Eventually the son decides he wants to make it on his own in the real world. Meanwhile dad takes the role of a vampire in a big movie production the producers not knowing he’s the real Dracula. There are many moments that will make you laugh. Watch for a scene involving rigor mortis and another involving an inflatable doll. Lee is superb, and the film has the same kind of brilliant comedy found in Fearless Vampire Killers. A portion of the film is in English, the rest is in French with English subtitles.

Where the Lilies Bloom (1974, drama, Julie Gholson, IMDb: 7.3/10)

“An endearingly simple, honest and moving film like “Where the Lilies Bloom” would be welcome any time. Arriving now on a screen splattered with violence and sex, this beautiful little movie is like a cool, clear dip of mountain spring water.

Without one false, hayseed note or drop of sugar, it depicts the struggle of a brave, stubbon Appalachian teenager to hold together her orphaned family. The story is comfortably alive, in its regional characterizations and in the astonishingly effective use of many nonprofessional players and in the natural grandeur of its North Carolina setting.” Read more…

New Documentary

Accepted (Documentary, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 81)

“As we witness both the documentary’s subjects — and its director — navigate a shocking development in real time, a quietly probing film emerges that pierces the myth of American meritocracy.”  Read more…

The American Sector (Documentary, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 86)

“After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, slabs of the barrier made their way around the world. In the experimental documentary “The American Sector” — shown at the 2020 Berlin Film Festival but overlooked amid the vagaries of pandemic movie releasing — the filmmakers Courtney Stephens and Pacho Velez travel to roughly 40 sites around the United States in an effort to shoot footage of all the pieces that have wound up here.” Read more…

The Beatles: Get Back (Documentary, The Beatles; Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Metacritic: 85)

“Get Back is a Thanksgiving feast for fans — nearly eight hours of hanging with the Beatles. It’s funnier, louder, sadder, realer than anyone even hoped. But it’s not really about the making of an album or a concert. It’s a stunningly intimate portrait of a friendship — the world’s favorite foursome, then as now. John, Paul, George and Ringo have come to symbolize the whole idea of a team, a collective, crazy kids taking a stand against the world. They’ve also come to embody the idea of breaking up. In Get Back, you can see that bond starting to fall apart. But you also see how hard they’re fighting to hold on.” Read more…

Frontline: Climate Wars (documentary)

“Titled “The Power of Big Oil,” the weekly mini-series is focused on climate change denialism as it was practiced and paid for by the fossil fuel industry — particularly Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries — along with its allies in business and, increasingly, politics. By extension, it’s a history, more depressing than revelatory, of why nothing much has been done about an existential crisis we’ve been aware of for at least four decades.” Read more…

Invisible Valley (documentary)

“Invisible Valley paints a comprehensive picture of the growing migrant crisis in the Coachella Valley and the southern U.S. border. In the news, the immigrants and undocumented worker crisis always feels like their being used as pawns for votes. Maurer’s film puts a face to a pressing problem for real people. No matter what side of the debate you land on, the documentary is important viewing, so you can better inform your argument about what’s happening at the border.” Read more…

Museum Town (Documentary, narrated by Meryl Streep; Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Metacritic: 57)

“At its heart, the documentary “Museum Town,” is a love letter — to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, to artistic experimentation and to North Adams, the struggling factory town where the institution is situated.” Read more…

New British Series DVD

Endeavour: Season 8 (British, crime, Shaun Evans; Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Metacritic: 80)

“Endeavour” is at its best when it draws our focus to solving the puzzle of its main character, a mission into which Evans’ performance draws us more deeply with each new season. His 1960s-era Morse is resilient, but not a hard case; refined, but put off by popular diversions that excite the average person. One of the funnier turns in the eighth season shows the Detective Sergeant visibly suffering through a live game show taping that he never would have chosen to endure if not for an assignment. Read more…

Killing Eve: Season 4: The Final Obsession (British, drama, Sandra Oh, Jodie Comer; Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Metacritic: 83)

“What we now have in “Killing Eve” is a Villanelle in search of transformation, a tired process that began when she revisited her Russian hometown in Season 3. She has left the assassination business and joined a church, where she applies her screwball energy and guileless vanity to the job of being baptized and expunging her sins.” Read more…

New TV

Yellowjackets (tv horror, Melanie Lynskey, Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 78)

“The pilot of Showtime’s “Yellowjackets,” like that of “Lost,” involves the aftermath of a plane crash in the wilderness. But this series, created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, is its own busy and bloody mix of survival saga, survivors’ journey, coming-of-age nostalgia, midlife-crisis exploration, dark-comic mystery and (maybe) ghost story — just for starters.” Read more…