New releases 8/21/18

Top Hits
First Reformed (thriller, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “What a strange path I have had to take to find you. Roughly translated, those are the last words in Robert Bresson’s ‘Pickpocket,’ a movie that figures prominently in the work of Paul Schrader, who has alluded to its final scene in many of his films, including ‘American Gigolo,’ ‘Light Sleeper’ and his new one, ‘First Reformed.’ A tortuous spiritual journey through debasement and self-deception leads, in the end, to an experience of communion, the discovery of another soul who had been there all along, awaiting recognition. Which is more or less how I feel — improbably, miraculously, at long last — about Mr. Schrader. He is 71, and has had a long and varied career, but ‘First Reformed’ nonetheless feels like a fresh discovery. More than that: an epiphany.” Read more…)

Deadpool 2 (superhero action, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The script, by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds [who once again plays the title character], is loaded with winky, fourth-wall-piercing eruptions of meta, the kind of humor that can make even the slow-witted and literal-minded feel devilishly clever. Works for me, I guess. But this sequel to the R-rated, X-Men-adjacent surprise blockbuster of 2016 works maybe a little too hard in the service of a dubious cause.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Deadpool 2

New Foreign DVDs
La Dolce Vita (1960, Italy, Criterion Collection, Federico Fellini drama, Marcello Mastroianna. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 93. From Bosley Crowther’s 1961 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ [‘The Sweet Life’], which has been a tremendous hit abroad since its initial presentation in Rome early last year, finally got to its American premiere at Henry Miller’s Theatre last night and proved to deserve all the hurrahs and the impressive honors it has received.” Read more…

In 1997 Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote an encomium to “La Dolce Vita”:

Movies do not change, but their viewers do. When I saw “La Dolce Vita” in 1960, I was an adolescent for whom “the sweet life” represented everything I dreamed of: sin, exotic European glamour, the weary romance of the cynical newspaperman. When I saw it again, around 1970, I was living in a version of Marcello’s world; Chicago’s North Avenue was not the Via Veneto, but at 3 a.m. the denizens were just as colorful, and I was about Marcello’s age.

When I saw the movie around 1980, Marcello was the same age, but I was 10 years older, had stopped drinking, and saw him not as a role model but as a victim, condemned to an endless search for happiness that could never be found, not that way. By 1991, when I analyzed the film a frame at a time at the University of Colorado, Marcello seemed younger still, and while I had once admired and then criticized him, now I pitied and loved him. And when I saw the movie right after Mastroianni died, I thought that Fellini and Marcello had taken a moment of discovery and made it immortal. There may be no such thing as the sweet life. But it is necessary to find that out for yourself.

Read more…)

Leonor (France, 1975, arthouse horror, Liv Ullmann)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Song of Love (1947, musical/biopic, Katharine Hepburn. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “At least, it is obvious that Metro hasn’t forgotten ‘A Song to Remember’ of a few years back — as witness its boldly imitative ‘Song of Love,’ which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Excepting a lack of Technicolor, this adipose musical film follows precisely the formula of that previous popular splurge in classic song.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Assault on a Queen (1966, heist action adventure, Frank Sinatra)

New TV
Elementary: Season 5 (modern day Sherlock Holmes mystery series, Jonny Lee Miller. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
The Terror: Season 1 (period adventure/drama, Jared Harris. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 76.)

New Documentaries
Human Flow (human rights, migration, refugees, Ai Weiwei. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There are moments in ‘Human Flow,’ a bracing, often strangely beautiful movie by the artist Ai Weiwei, when it can be hard to see the individuals who make up the roiling, surging rivers onscreen. This difficulty in isolating specific people — really seeing them as sovereign beings rather than as an undifferentiated mass — is crucial to the meaning of the documentary, which charts the global refugee and migrant crisis. Shot over the course of one year in 23 countries, the movie tracks the here and there of people whose relentless ebbing and flowing make startlingly visible what news headlines repeatedly suggest: that ours is an age of ceaseless churn with no calm in sight.” Read more…)

We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (music, social history, Johnny Cash)

New Music DVDs
We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (music, social history, Johnny Cash)