New releases 9/11/18

Top Hits
Ocean’s 8 (action, Sandra Bullock. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 61. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The party gets started early in ‘Ocean’s 8,’ a frothy female-driven caper. Stuffed with talented, beautiful women playing naughty, this is the latest addition to the cycle that was once about an improbably suave thief, Danny Ocean [George Clooney], and his mostly male band of charming accomplices. Danny is now out of the picture, and Sandra Bullock has stepped in to play his sister, Debbie Ocean, who’s soon overseeing her own con with a knowing smile and the usual suspects, including a partner in crime, a hacker, a pickpocket and a distraction, played with fizz and delectable timing by Anne Hathaway.” Read more…)

Hearts Beat Loud (drama/music, Nick Offerman. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A bubble gum movie with a soundtrack to match, Brett Haley’s ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ doesn’t try very hard to sell itself or press its point. How could it, with Nick Offerman as one of the two leads? The man has made a career [primarily as a misanthropic government worker on ‘Parks and Recreation’] of leaning back and asking the audience to come to him, and, by and large, we have.” Read more…)

Goldstone (Australia, crime/thriller, Aaron Pedersen. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 78. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Given how few people live in the tiny mining outpost of ‘Goldstone,’ the abundance of wickedness is astonishing. Yet this parched Outback western, awash in noirish mannerisms and a sunstroke-inducing palette, harbors a robust social conscience beneath its hotbed of bribery and sex trafficking.” Read more…)

Superfly (action/remake, Trevor Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The American Dream is invoked several times in ‘Superfly.’ The mentions come from the movie’s lead character, and from a song on the soundtrack. These days, it seems, the phrase is often used ironically. It’s all about the accumulation of wealth and a sybaritic lifestyle. There’s no spiritual dimension, no sense of genuine civic aspiration. Within those cynically defined contemporary parameters, Youngblood Priest [Trevor Jackson, dressed to the nines and sporting what one character derides as ‘Morris Day hair’] is doing well.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Oceans 8
From Beyond (H.P. Lovecraft horror, Jeffrey Combs. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘From Beyond’ … is funny in the way of pulp fiction condescended to by superior intellects and special-effects experts. ‘From Beyond’ is an updated adaptation of an old H. P. Lovecraft tale about those malignant creatures that share our world, unseen, existing in their fourth dimension just waiting to get back into ours. With the help of computer technology and something called a ”resonator,” Dr. Pretorious has provided the means by which these beings can return.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Cold Water (France, 1994, Olivier Assayas coming-of-age drama, Virginie Ledoyen. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review on the occasion of its first U.S. release in 2018: “Nodding to François Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Pierrot le Fou,’ ‘Cold Water” is a self-aware descendant of the French New Wave. Like Truffaut and Godard, [director Olivier] Assayas turned from critic to filmmaker after a stint with Cahiers du Cinéma; the French-Hungarian actor Laszlo Szabo, a frequent supporting player in New Wave films, has a scene here as Gilles’s father. But ‘Cold Water,’ which Mr. Assayas has characterized in some ways as being autobiographical, is even more forcefully a post-New Wave generational statement.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
For a Good Time, Call… (2011, comedy, Ari Graynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘For a Good Time, Call …’ doesn’t aspire to be more than a broad, sloppy, old-fashioned sitcom with a sexy gimmick. But it is quite funny, and at the screening I attended, the loudest laughs came from young women in the audience. There are the usual sitcom intrusions and ridiculous plot twists.” Read more…)

The Tree of Life (2011, drama, Criterion Collection, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review [requires log-in]: “The Day of Judgment, prophesied for last weekend, has apparently been postponed, but moviegoers eager for rapture can find consolation — to say nothing of awe, amazement and grist for endless argument — in ‘The Tree of Life,’ Terrence Malick’s new film, which contemplates human existence from the standpoint of eternity. Recently showered with temporal glory at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, this movie, Mr. Malick’s fifth feature in 38 years, folds eons of cosmic and terrestrial history into less than two and a half hours. Its most provocative sequences envision the origin of the universe, the development of life on earth [including a few soulful dinosaurs] and then, more concisely and less literally, the end of time, when the dead of all the ages shall rise and walk around on a heavenly beach.” Read more…)

New TV
This Is Us: Season 2 (comedy/drama, Milo Ventimiglia. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%.)

New Documentaries
Filmworker (cinema history, movie making, Stanley Kubrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Intrigued by Kubrick’s exacting and innovative methods — for example, shooting ‘Barry Lyndon’ as much as possible with candles, torches and sunlight — [actor and documentary subject Leon] Vitali set off to study the craft of moviemaking. His quest led him back to Kubrick, just as the director was starting to work on his 1980 film, ‘The Shining.’ In short order, Mr. Vitali became a casting consultant [he auditioned child actors for the role of Danny Torrance] and then a factotum for Kubrick. In ‘Filmworker,’ a documentary directed by Tony Zierra, Mr. Vitali tells his story.” Read more…)

That Summer (Edith & Edie Beale, Grey Gardens from a different perspective. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘That Summer,’ a new documentary directed by Goran Hugo Olsson, sheds further light on the Beales with footage shot before the making of ‘Grey Gardens.’ The photographer Peter Beard, whose camera appreciated both the wilds of Africa and the supermodels and superstars of the 1960s and ’70s, opens the film from his Montauk home. Now 80, he pages through a coffee-table book of his own photography and reminisces.” Read more…)

New Releases 01/22/13

Top Hits

End of Watch (action, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “An ode to beat cops and the expansive literature on them, David Ayers’ End of Watch is a muscular, maddening exploitation movie embellished with art-house style and anchored by solid performances. As visually kinetic as it is politically dubious, it sings the song of two Los Angeles police officers, Brian [a good Jake Gyllenhaal] and Mike [an equally fine Michael Peña], brothers in blue who roll in a black and white. Like the cops in Joseph Wambaugh’s 1970 novel The New Centurions they are soldiers amid, in Mr. Wambaugh’s roll call, ‘whores, flimflammers, paddy hustlers, hugger muggers, ex-cons of all descriptions, and anybody else with a kink of some kind or other.'” Read more…)

Searching for Sugar Man (documentary, music, Rodriguez. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are several entrancing mysteries circulating in Searching for Sugar Man, a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing. One mystery involves its title subject, a Detroit singer-songwriter known as Rodriguez who, after being discovered in a dive bar, cut a well-regarded record in 1969. The album, Cold Fact, earned good reviews and four Billboard stars, but it bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez faded from view. Where he went and why are just a few of the questions that a Swedish filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, sought in answering the riddle of Rodriguez.” Read more…)

Pina (Wim Wenders-directed dance doc, Pina Bausch. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The cumulative effect is exhilarating and also a bit frustrating, since so many dances are included and woven together the audience does not have the chance to experience any single work in its entirety. But the power and intelligence of Bausch’s approach, which at times seems more cerebral than sensual, is communicated. And there are moments when her discipline and Mr. Wenders’ visual instincts harmonize perfectly, so that instead of enduring yet another well-meaning specimen of ‘dance on film’ you are experiencing dance and film, fully and simultaneously.” Read more…)

For a Good Time, Call… (comedy, Ari Graynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The enterprising New York women who establish a flourishing phone sex business in the boundary-breaking farce For a Good Time, Call… know how to talk the talk. But can they walk the walk? The running joke of this fizzy, potty-mouthed comedy, directed by Jamie Travis, is that anyone with an erotic imagination — even the nicest of nice girls — can talk dirty and make money at it.” Read more…)

The Paperboy (noir, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 45. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “To attempt a simple description of The Paperboy is to risk exhausting the normal critical vocabulary. The movie, directed by Lee Daniels and adapted from a novel by Pete Dexter, is — for starters — a domestic melodrama, a Southern Gothic, a legal thriller, a coming-of-age-story, a high-toned sexploitation picture and an earnest lesson in journalistic ethics and race relations. None of that quite captures it, I’m afraid. The Paperboy is what cinema scholars [and speakers fluent in the film’s native idiom] might call a hot mess. I mean that at least partly as praise.” Read more…)

Nobody Walks (drama, John Krasinski. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 51. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The sultry wild child who dominates Ry Russo-Young’s acutely acted Nobody Walks is a type of femme fatale more likely to be seen in French cinema than in American movies. When Martine [Olivia Thirlby], a 23-year-old experimental artist from New York with a Jean Seberg pixie haircut, locks eyes with a man she fancies, he is a goner… Ms. Russo-Young’s third feature film, Nobody Walks [the title refers to the lack of pedestrians in Los Angeles], has a screenplay she wrote with Lena Dunham [Girls]. Its production values are minimal, but an excellent cast makes up for what it lacks in polish.” Read more…)

About Cherry (drama, Ashley Hinshaw. Rotten Tomatoes: 11%. Metacritic: 33.)

New Blu-Ray

End of Watch

The Paperboy

New Foreign

Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai (Japan, samurai drama, Koji Yakusho. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “A movie called Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai might reasonably lead you to expect an orgy of violence, especially since the director is Takashi Miike, a wildly prolific Japanese filmmaker best known for sanguinary delights like Audition and 13 Assassins. But Hara-Kiri finds this busy genre omnivore in a quiet, even classical frame of mind. More moving than shocking, it proceeds slowly and gracefully, and the few scenes of bloodshed are emotionally intense rather than showily sensational.” Read more…)

New Documentaries

Searching for Sugar Man (documentary, music, Rodriguez, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are several entrancing mysteries circulating in Searching for Sugar Man, a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing. One mystery involves its title subject, a Detroit singer-songwriter known as Rodriguez who, after being discovered in a dive bar, cut a well-regarded record in 1969. The album, Cold Fact, earned good reviews and four Billboard stars, but it bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez faded from view. Where he went and why are just a few of the questions that a Swedish filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, sought in answering the riddle of Rodriguez.” Read more…)

Pina (Wim Wenders-directed dance doc, Pina Bausch, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The cumulative effect is exhilarating and also a bit frustrating, since so many dances are included and woven together the audience does not have the chance to experience any single work in its entirety. But the power and intelligence of Bausch’s approach, which at times seems more cerebral than sensual, is communicated. And there are moments when her discipline and Mr. Wenders’ visual instincts harmonize perfectly, so that instead of enduring yet another well-meaning specimen of ‘dance on film’ you are experiencing dance and film, fully and simultaneously.” Read more…)

Ballplayer: Pelotero (sports, economics. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “Latin American names are common on major league rosters these days, but how those players end up in a Dodgers or Mets or Red Sox uniform may not be something the casual baseball fan has given much thought. Ballplayer: Pelotero is a stark documentary that examines that process in the Dominican Republic, a significant source of players. Forget feel-good boys-of-summer tales. This film shows a shady business in which scouts and the teams they represent try to manipulate teenage players, and to some extent the players do some manipulating of their own.” Read more…)

Samsara (nature, society, spirituality. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Ron Fricke’s new film, Samsara, shot in a grand and vibrant 70-millimeter format — including some remarkable time-lapse photography — is partly a Sontagian case for sustainability. Or, to adapt the food-obsessed ecological language of the moment, it presents a visual argument for slow looking, for careful, meditative attention to what is seen. A spool of arresting, beautifully composed shots without narration or dialogue, Samsara is an invitation to watch closely and to suspend interpretation [another notion Sontag might have approved].” Read more…)

The Imposter (documentary, biography. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Like its smirking antihero and chief narrator, the serial con artist Frédéric Bourdin, The Imposter is slippery, manipulative, unstable and smoothly confounding. It’s also one of the most entertaining documentaries to appear since Exit Through the Gift Shop, a film similarly obsessed with role playing and deception. Cleverly deflecting our dislike of Mr. Bourdin’s smug narcissism and brazen amorality, the British director Bart Layton presents this bizarre true-crime narrative from multiple viewpoints. The resulting collage of interviews, re-enactments and home-video footage proves the perfect medium for the twisty story of Nicholas Barclay, a Texas teenager who disappeared in 1994.” Read more…)

Direct Your Own Damn Movie (movie-making how-to, Lloyd Kaufman of Troma)

New Gay & Lesbian

Keep the Lights On (drama, Thure Lindhardt. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “This summary — and I have only sketched the outlines of a wandering, episodic story — makes Keep the Lights On sound much more schematic, more like a morality tale, than it really is. Its subject is not addiction or ambition, or even love in a conventional romantic sense, but rather the more elusive and intriguing matter of intimacy: how it grows, falters and endures over time. The dialogue sometimes has a canned, hectoring sound, as if the actors had been called upon to announce their feelings rather than express them, but the look, mood and rhythm of the film are exquisitely, even thrillingly authentic. In scenes that jump from year to year and linger over significant, ordinary moments, Mr. Sachs captures the ways strangers turn into lovers and the equally scary and exciting ways that lovers can remain strangers.” Read more…)

New Music

Searching for Sugar Man (documentary, music, Rodriguez, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79.A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are several entrancing mysteries circulating in Searching for Sugar Man, a hugely appealing documentary about fans, faith and an enigmatic Age of Aquarius musician who burned bright and hopeful before disappearing. One mystery involves its title subject, a Detroit singer-songwriter known as Rodriguez who, after being discovered in a dive bar, cut a well-regarded record in 1969. The album, Cold Fact, earned good reviews and four Billboard stars, but it bombed in the United States, and Rodriguez faded from view. Where he went and why are just a few of the questions that a Swedish filmmaker, Malik Bendjelloul, sought in answering the riddle of Rodriguez.” Read more…)