New releases 4/19/16

Top Hits
The_RevenantThe Revenant (historical action, Leonardo DiCaprio. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Revenant’ is an American foundation story, by turns soaring and overblown. Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu [‘Birdman,’ ‘Babel’], it features a battalion of very fine, hardworking actors, none more diligently committed than Mr. DiCaprio, and some of the most beautiful natural tableaus you’re likely to see in a movie this year. Partly shot in outwardly unspoiled tracts in Canada and Argentina, it has the brilliant, crystalline look that high-definition digital can provide, with natural vistas that seem to go on forever and suggest the seeming limitless bounty that once was. Here, green lichen carpets trees that look tall enough to pierce the heavens. It’s that kind of movie, with that kind of visual splendor — it spurs you to match its industrious poeticism.” Read more…)

Lamb (drama, Ross Partridge. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 62. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Lamb,’ a slow-burning creep-out about a kidnapping, would like you to see it as a requiem for the lost and the loveless. Set in a present that looks like real life but doesn’t feel like it, the story pivots on its title sad sack, David Lamb, a habitual dissembler and possible sociopath mired in personal and professional crisis. Death, marital and work woes, a young mistress — Lamb has it all when one day he sweeps away an 11-year-old girl, taking her for, well, what exactly is the question that reverberates queasily through this movie, its hotel rooms and weepy moments.” Read more…)

Lady_in_the_VanThe Lady in the Van (drama, Maggie Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 70. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “A real person from the British playwright Alan Bennett’s past, Mary was a homeless woman of advanced age who, beginning in the 1970s, lived in a yellow van that she parked, with his grudging permission, for 15 years in his driveway. Her story, which Mr. Bennett has described as “mostly true,” was adapted from his memoir into a play starring Ms. Smith in 1999. Now it’s a reasonably entertaining film directed by Nicholas Hytner and carried almost entirely by the force of Ms. Smith’s performance.” Read more…)

Fifty Shades of Black (comedy, Marlon Wayans. Rotten Tomatoes: 7%. Metacritic: 28. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘Fifty shades of terrible!’ says Christian Black [Marlon Wayans], as he reads E. L. James’s erotic best seller ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ ‘Who wrote this, a third grader?’ Other trenchant observations pepper ‘Fifty Shades of Black,’ a scattershot satire of the book’s 2015 screen adaptation, but a lot of wading is required to find them. Mr. Wayans, who skewered horror flicks with the ‘Haunted House’ and ‘Scary Movie”’series, has found another ripe subject for pillorying. [At least two stage parodies got to ‘Fifty Shades,’ the novel, first.] But as with other staples of the screen-parody genre, the comic bull’s-eyes arrive only intermittently.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Lady in the Van
The Revenant

New Foreign
SembeneSembène! (Senegal, documentary about legendary African director, Ousmane Sembene. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 68. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Though its title, ‘Sembène!,’ might suggest a musical, this film is closer to a college seminar, Ousmane Sembène 101. A documentary about Mr. Sembène, the trailblazing Senegalese filmmaker, this movie covers the essentials about a cultural warrior whose nine varied features and assorted shorts could still use better recognition. But the film, by Samba Gadjigo, a professor and Sembène biographer, and Jason Silverman, is more dutiful than deep, and is bogged down by Mr. Gadjigo’s drab asides about himself.” Read more…)

Ip Man 3 (martial arts, Jin Zhang. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 57. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In Bruce Lee’s unfinished film ‘Game of Death,’ there is a classic bout between Le and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. ‘Ip Man 3,’ the latest installment in a series starring Donnie Yen as Lee’s fabled instructor, offers similar stunt casting, in a fight between Mr. Yen and the former pro boxer Mike Tyson, who plays a gang boss. As rewarding as the matchup is — pile-driver force meeting the graceful kung fu style wing chun — it is not the movie’s climax, and ends in a stalemate.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street (1972, Samuel Fuller-directed detective story, Glenn Corbett)

New Documentaries
Drunk_StonedDrunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon (National Lampoon doc, Chevy Chase. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of The National Lampoon’ looks longingly back at the 1970s when a smart, tasteless joke could make you laugh out loud without worrying about hurting someone’s feelings or being attacked on social media. Hedonism was in full sway and political correctness in its infancy. A satirical magazine started by three Harvard graduates — Doug Kenney, Henry Beard and Robert Hoffman — The National Lampoon took the ball passed by forerunners like the comedy troupe Firesign Theater and ran with it to the bank. For dope-smoking, left-leaning baby boomers, The Lampoon enshrined the concept of hip.” Read more…)

A Dog Named Gucci (activism, preventing animal abuse, Gorman Bechard)
Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents (music, performance art, The Residents)

New Music
Theory of Obscurity: A Film About the Residents (music, performance art, The Residents)