New releases 4/24/18

Top Hits
Den of Thieves (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 49. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Den of Thieves’ opens with unfootnoted statistics about Los Angeles, ‘the bank robbery capital of the world,’ where such heists apparently occur every 48 minutes. That’s about the rate at which this surprisingly long, wildly ambitious, thoroughly ludicrous crime thriller delivers its own big scores. Itself a plundering of ‘The Driver,’ the original ‘Point Break’ and ‘Heat,’ the movie is less concerned with the mechanics of police work than with the mind meld that forms between an obsessed cop, Big Nick [Gerard Butler], and his target, Merrimen [Pablo Schreiber], who leads a group of Marines turned bank robbers planning to crack a branch of the Federal Reserve.” Read more…)

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (romance/drama based on true story, Annette Bening. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “In light of a résumé skewed toward male-dominated thrillers, the Scottish director Paul McGuigan might seem an unlikely choice to guide a fading-siren weepie from page to screen. Yet ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool,’ a real-life romance adapted from the 1986 memoir by Peter Turner, reveals an unexpected fontanel of sentiment in Mr. McGuigan’s style that — when not tipping over into bathos — can be rather lovely.” Read more…)

Maze Runner: Death Cure (action, Dylan O’Brien. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 51. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The ‘Maze Runner’ series, a.k.a. the teenage dystopian franchise that’s not ‘The Hunger Games’ and the sci-fi opera that’s not ‘Star Wars,’ returns with an almost gleefully overstuffed third installment. Oblivious to occupying the pop-culture equivalent of the bottom half of a double bill, ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’ aspires to be a grand male weepie: the ‘Shawshank Redemption’ of ‘Maze Runner’ movies.” Read more…)

Zombies (Disney family feature/musical, Milo Manheim)

New Blu-Ray
Maze Runner: Death Cure

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Richard Pryor: Live on Sunset Strip (1982, stand-up comedy, Richard Pryor. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1982 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip,’ which opens today at the Loews State and Orpheum and other theaters, is even better than ‘Richard Pryor Live in Concert’ and is one of the few concert films that doesn’t have the manner of something spun off – as a subsidiary dividend – from something else of more importance. The direction is by Joe Layton, a veteran of television and the Broadway theater, and Haskell Wexler was responsible for the multicamera set-up that makes the film, a combination of two different performances, look absolutely seamless… Richard Pryor is one of our great originals. ‘Richard Pryor Live on the Sunset Strip’ is a rare experience of its kind, often hilarious but also frightening and, without asking for it, very moving.” Read more…)

Kitten With a Whip (1964, cult classic, Ann-Margret. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From Eugene Archer’s 1964 New York Times review requires log-in]: “‘Kitten With a Whip’ is something of a mis­nomer for the lurid little ex­ploitation picture that came to the Palace yesterday. There isn’t a whip in sight. From a figurative stand­point, though, the title con­veys the right idea: The film has been tailored to the in­teresting measurements of Ann‐Margret, an ingenue whose physical exuberance tends to clash with the teas­ing mischievousness of her expression.” Read more…)

New British
The Unforgotten: Season 1 (mystery series, Cassie Stuart)

New Documentaries
Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story (bio, film history, science, women’s empowerment, Hedy Lamarr. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Any girl can be glamorous,’ the actress Hedy Lamarr once said. ‘All you have to do is stand still and look stupid.’ It’s a withering observation, especially for a Hollywood star once known as ‘the most beautiful woman in the world.’ Beauty brought Lamarr fame, at least until everything fell spectacularly apart; as with too many actresses, beauty was also her gilded cage. The new documentary ‘Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story’ shows how hard and how long she struggled to escape it — including through her invention in the 1940s of a groundbreaking communication system that underlies modern encryption.” Read more…)

The Final Year (politics, diplomacy, President Barack Obama. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 67. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Access isn’t everything. For ‘The Final Year,’ the director Greg Barker and his crew were able to follow four vital members of Barack Obama’s administration as they worked to keep the United States out of war, promote better relations with Cuba and deter Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapons program… For much of its first hour, this movie is tepid and self-congratulatory, a quick-cutting advertisement for itself. Why Mr. Barker thought it worth preserving [Secretary of State John] Kerry’s ‘I’ve been very blessed to be able to go through a progression of experiences which underscore the value of experience’ sound bite is a mystery.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Zombies (Disney family feature/musical, Milo Manheim)