New releases 7/16/19

Top Hits
Shazam! (superhero action, Zachary Levi. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Ever since Christopher Nolan took Batman to their mutually productive dark place, the DC cinematic super-universe has been as somber as a grave. There have been exceptions, shimmers of light amid the doom. Outside the animated realm, though, the stories and mood have been downbeat… Given this, the bright, popping red of the superhero costume in ‘Shazam!’ is an early warning sign, as obvious as a matador’s cape, that the dreary and crepuscular have given way to something less self-serious and end-of-the-world grim. It’s a nice change of pace for a big-screen mega-comic, if not a revolutionary shift.” Read more…)

Relaxer (comedy/fantasy, Joshua Burge. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Sad and strange and defiantly gross, ‘Relaxer’ is a surreal survival tale swirling with childhood trauma and Y2K paranoia. Few directors have as steely a grip on mental damage as [director Joel] Potrykus, and [actor Joshua] Burge, a regular collaborator, is his perfectly pained muse. Some may find this movie unbearable; yet there’s a place for pictures that push us to the limits of forbearance. Sometimes, even the loathsome have stories worth telling.” Read more…)

Teen Spirit (pop music dreams, Elle Fanning. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 57. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Teen Spirit,’ Max Minghella’s sweet and touching directing debut, is both proudly clichéd and refreshingly different. The rhythmic beats of his rise-to-fame story, about a teenage singing hopeful who enters a televised competition, are comfortingly familiar. Yet the poignant, almost despondent mood created by his visual choices and the raw vulnerability of his star, Elle Fanning, transform the pop energy of the soundtrack into a yearning cry to be heard.” Read more…)

Breakthrough (faith drama, Chrissy Metz. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 46. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “In January 2015, 14-year-old John Smith fell through the frozen surface of a lake in St. Charles, Mo., and remained submerged for 15 minutes. He had no pulse when emergency workers pulled him from the freezing water, or for nearly 45 minutes after; it was reportedly only after audible prayers by his mother, Joyce, that his heart finally started up again. And over the next several days, as his community vigorously prayed for him, the young man made a full, seemingly impossible recovery. Roxann Dawson’s faith-based film, ‘Breakthrough,’ tells the story of John’s miraculous ordeal with an unassuming simplicity, focusing on the harrowing details of the case without an overreliance on proselytization.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Shazam!

New Foreign
Dogman (Italy, drama, Marcello Fonte. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The worlds that the director Matteo Garrone creates onscreen sometimes seem as far out and darkly mysterious as an alternate universe. Best known for ‘Gomorrah,’ a blistering story about a people under siege by the Neapolitan mafia, Garrone looks at an Italy that is dramatically at odds with its touristic image, its charming hill towns and bourgeois niceties… ‘Dogman,’ Garrone’s latest, again takes on Italy and its enduring discontents, this time in a coastal town that appears as if it hasn’t fully recovered — but from what: war, the economy, organized crime, the government? That question lingers each time the camera holds on the story’s principal setting, a depopulated stretch of beach flanked by squat anonymous buildings, many seemingly derelict. In the sandy center are the remains of what looks like an abandoned amusement park, including a swing set and a ride ornamented with a dragon, a proud emblem of better or maybe just busier days.” Read more…)

The Baker’s Wife (France, 1938, drama/comedy, Raimu. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1940 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “On top of ‘Harvest,’ which reverently told how the seed was sowed and the grain reaped, the French now have added an impious chapter about the flour, its baking and ‘The Baker’s Wife.’ A perfectly scandalous story it is, too; the kind of story Frenchmen were born to tell—the French being, as our old school books used to explain, “a gay people, fond of dancing and light wines.” Certainly no other breed could have told it so cutely, with such disarming good humor, with such tolerance and wit.” Read more…)

Ash Is Purest White (China, crime drama, Zhao Tao. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 785. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Packets of money change hands, and eventually a gun is fired, but ‘Ash Is Purest White,’ Jia Zhangke’s enthralling new feature, isn’t really a crime drama. The aura of romantic, outlaw chic that hovers around Bin and Qiao soon dissipates, replaced by the clearer, grimmer air of reality. Jia, an essential figure in China’s ‘sixth generation’ of filmmakers and one the most inventive and engaged directors of the 21st century, has long concerned himself with the effect of enormous social and economic forces on the intimate experiences of individuals.” Read more…)

T-34 (Russia, war drama, Alexander Petrov)

New Television
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Would You Be Mine Collection (30 Classic Episodes from 1979-2000)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Female On the Beach (1955, crime/drama, Joan Crawford. From Bosley Crowther’s 1955 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A rich widow moves into a beach house at the beginning of ‘Female on the Beach,’ the new Universal melodrama that came to the Palace yesterday. And before this ungracious lady knows it, she is falling heedlessly in love with the very neighbor who had been loved by her predecessor, also a rich widow, now deceased.This is the situation into which Joan Crawford is propelled in this slow and old-fashioned mystery thriller, which accompanies the vaudeville bill.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Grace Quigley (1985, comedy, Katharine Hepburn, Nick Nolte. From Vincent Canby’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A LOT of talented people have labored long and fruitlessly to make something presentable of ‘Grace Quigley,’ a movie you might not want to take home to meet the folks, not because it’s so rude and unpredictable, which it unhappily isn’t, but because it’s so thoroughly muddled and unintentionally sad.” Read more…)

Eye of the Devil (1966, suspense, Sharon Tate)
Don’t Make Waves (1967, comedy, Sharon Tate)