New releases 7/24/18

Top Hits
Ready Player One (action, Tye Sheridan. Rotten Tomatoes 73%. Metacritic: 64. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Aided by his usual cinematographer, Janusz Kaminski, and by the production designer Adam Stockhausen, [director Steven Spielberg] turns a vast virtual landscape of battling avatars into a bustling pop-cultural theme park, an interactive museum of late-20th- and early-21st-century entertainment, a maze of niche tastes, cultish preoccupations and blockbuster callbacks. Mr. Spielberg navigates this warehouse with his usual dexterity, loading every frame with information without losing the clarity and momentum of the story.” Read more…)

Little Pink House (drama based On New London eminent domain case, Catherine Keener. Rotten Tomatoes 74%. Metacritic: 55. From Jeannette Catsoulis’  New York Times review: “In its earnest attempt to present a landmark legal case as a classic underdog story, ‘Little Pink House,’ based on Jeff Benedict’s 2009 book of the same name, succeeds neither narratively nor visually. And not because the setup lacks drama: The true story of Susette Kelo’s yearslong battle to save her waterfront home in a declining Connecticut town would conclude in the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s simply that the writer and director, Courtney Moorehead Balaker, fails to translate that drama into the language of movies.” Read more…)

Different Flowers (comedy, Shelley Long. From Monica Castillo’s New York Times review: “As with many siblings, the sisters at the center of Morgan Dameron’s ‘Different Flowers’ fit together like a pair of mismatched socks. Millie [Emma Bell] is the seemingly put-together grown-up about to marry her longtime sweetheart [Sterling Knight]. Her sister, Emma [Hope Lauren], is more of a wild child. But when Millie decides to become a runaway bride on her wedding day, Emma is the perfect match to sneak her out of the church.” Read more…)

Love After Love (drama, Andie MacDowell. Rotten Tomatoes 88%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “For anyone who has recently lost a spouse or parent, “Love After Love” may be almost impossible to watch. Others, though, are unlikely to fare much better, given that this unflinching debut feature from Russ Harbaugh delivers something rarely seen in American movies: a warts-and-all examination of extended grief.” Read more…)

Sweet Country (Australia, “western,” Sam Neill. Rotten Tomatoes 95%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Savage and somber, ‘Sweet Country’ is, on its face, the story of a manhunt. Set in Alice Springs, Australia, in 1929, the movie tracks the fate of Sam [a fine Hamilton Morris], an Aboriginal stockman forced to flee after killing a white farmer in self-defense. Around this spare story, though, the director Warwick Thornton constructs a searing indictment of frontier racism as remarkable for its sonic restraint as its visual expansiveness. The opening shot might be a metaphorical mallet — a cauldron of water slowly coming to the boil while a violent, slur-slathered argument plays out offscreen — but the coarseness is in keeping with the movie’s pointed, symbolic style.” Read more…)

Sweet Sweet Summertime (family, Nico Christou)

New Blu-Ray
Ready Player One

New Foreign
Pauline at the Beach (France, 1983, romance/drama, Amanda Langlet. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This is the halcyon setting of ‘Pauline at the Beach,’ Eric Rohmer’s effortlessly witty, effervescent new French film that opens today at the Lincoln Plaza 1. ‘Pauline at the Beach’ is a comedy of romantic manners about six civilized people, each of whom works stubbornly, and at cross purposes, to enlighten someone else about the true nature of love. It’s a sunny month in the country.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
A Matter of Life and Death (aka Stairway to Heaven) (1946, comedy/drama/romance, David Niven. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. From Dave Kehr’s 2009 New York Times review of a previous DVD release: “Like much of Powell’s wartime work, from ‘The Spy in Black’ [1939] to ‘A Canterbury Tale’ [1944], ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ seems to have been made in response to a particular propaganda need — in this case to smooth over the strained relations between Britons and Yanks that had arisen during the war’s four years of forced cohabitation. British interests are represented by a handsome young R.A.F. officer played by an actor famous on both sides of the Atlantic, David Niven. The American presence is incarnated by a relative newcomer, the Broadway actress Kim Hunter, who would go on to star as Stella in the Brando-Kazan ‘Streetcar Named Desire’ [as well as to play the simian scientist Zira in three ‘Planet of the Apes’ pictures].” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
I Walk Alone (1947, film noir, Burt Lancaster. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It’s a mighty low class of people that you will meet in the Paramount’s ‘I Walk Alone’ —and a mighty low grade of melodrama, if you want the honest truth — in spite of a very swanky setting and an air of great elegance. For the the people are mostly ex-gangsters, night club peddlers or social black sheep and the drama is of the vintage of gangster fiction of some twenty years ago.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Half the Picture (sexism, women directors, unequal representation, film history, Ava DuVernay. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Metacritic: 76. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “In ‘Half the Picture,’ [dirctor Amy] Adrion surveys the scene by interviewing dozens of movie-industry professionals, from directors to government officials. All of Ms. Adrion’s subjects are women, and each one agrees that the film industry operates as a system of gendered inequality, where women — especially women of color — are not afforded the same opportunities as men behind the camera.” Read more…)

Generation Zapped (wireless technology, health threats, infertility, cancer, throw away your phone)

New Children’s DVDs
Sweet Sweet Summertime (family, Nico Christou)