New releases 6/19/18

Top Hits
Unsane (thriller, Claire Foy. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Steven Soderbergh’s new movie, ‘Unsane,’ is an effectively nasty, sometimes funny, sometimes grindingly unpleasant thriller about a woman who is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital. From one angle, it plays like an old-school exploitation flick, one of those damsel-in-distress freakouts in which an intrepid heroine faces down danger in a skin-baring top. This being Mr. Soderbergh, peril isn’t sloppily served up with flat line readings, jiggling breasts and lousy cinematography but delivered with slyness and jolts.” Read more…)

Keep the Change (romantic comedy, Brandon Polansky. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This is a landmark motion picture — a movie about people living with autism in which all of the characters who have autism are portrayed by nonprofessional performers who also have it… ‘Keep the Change’ is not a seamlessly crafted movie, but it’s awfully tenderhearted and thoroughly disarming. It deserves to be widely seen.” Read more…)

The Strangers: Prey at Night (horror, Christina Hendricks. Rotten Tomatoes: 39%. Metacritic: 48. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It’s never a good sign when a movie racks up its first ironic music cue before there is anything to be ironic about. ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ opens with the ’80s rock classic ‘Kids in America’ by Kim Wilde, I guess because some of the masked rampaging killers in this movie are youngish, and are in America.” Read more…)

Flower (comedy/drama, Zoey Deutch. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Flower,’ like its pushy 17-year-old heroine, Erica (Zoey Deutch), has a dirty mouth and a strutting confidence. Our introduction to both takes place in the front seat of a police car, where Erica is enthusiastically pleasuring the uniformed driver before extorting cash for her silence. Then it’s off to the Dairy Queen with her two sidekicks to crow over a caper she’s enacted several times before. Cruelly amoral and only marginally credible, ‘Flower’ is nevertheless wildly entertaining and at times even touching.” Read more…)

Pacific Rim: Uprising (action, John Boyega. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 44. Believe it or not, a New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Directed by the television veteran Steven S. DeKnight [‘Angel,’ ‘Smallville’], the movie balances amiable humor and standard believe-in-yourself bromides with better than average action sequences. I grew up on ‘Godzilla’ movies and retain some vestigial fondness for them — and, incidentally, I can’t stand ‘Transformers’ movies. That ‘Pacific Rim Uprising’ managed to hit me in my “Godzilla” sweet spot is the best recommendation I can give it.” Read more…)

Class Rank (comedy, Olivia Holt. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)

New Blu-Ray
Pacific Rim: Uprising

New Foreign
Double Lover (France, romance/thriller, Marine Vacth. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 70.A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “What’s going on here? The doubling imagery, the recurring spiral staircases, and so much else engulfing Chloé make this thriller unusually engrossing. ‘Double Lover’ nods a bit to David Cronenberg’s ‘Dead Ringers’ [1988] and Roman Polanski’s ‘The Tenant’ [1976], two arguably classic thrillers on doppelgängers and madness, and Mr. Ozon’s stylistic gymnastics sometimes bring to mind Brian De Palma, who made a film about good/bad twins early in his career. But ‘Double Lover,’ which Mr. Ozon ‘freely adapted’ from the Joyce Carol Oates book ‘Lives of the Twins,’ spins its influences into a frenzy that ultimately reveals the story to be very much its own thing.” Read more…)

The Workshop (France, drama, Warda Rammach. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jennifer Szalai’s Times review: “Feelings run deep and menacing in ‘The Workshop,’ an intimate and timely film from the French director Laurent Cantet, about a group of young adults enrolled in a summer writing class in the South of France. Only this isn’t the lavender-scented idyll of Provence or the gleaming luxury of the Riviera; the setting is La Ciotat, a port town that has gone from its midcentury glory days of building ships to its current slot in the global economy, servicing yachts. The students are a diverse bunch of working-class locals; the teacher, Olivia, is a famous novelist, brought in from elsewhere to help them write a book together that has to take place in the town.” Read more…)

Manila In the Claws of Light (Phillipines, 1972, drama, Hilda Koronel.  Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeanette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Lino Brocka’s ‘Manila in the Claws of Light’ begins with a whisper and ends with a howl. In between, there are grace notes, escalating horrors and the peripatetic journey of a country mouse, Julio [Rafael Roco Jr., later known as Bembol Roco], in the big city. It’s a story of struggle, survival, endurance and defeat that Brocka, perhaps the most celebrated of Filipino directors, filmed down and dirty in Manila when the Philippines was still in the grip of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Brocka, a political activist as well as a prolific filmmaker, died in a car accident in 1991 at 52, and is ready for rediscovery.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Lost In America (1985, comedy, Albert Brooks, Julie Hagerty. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 76. From Janet Maslin’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A yuppie mid-life crisis is in the offing, and Albert Brooks has made it the basis for ‘Lost in America,’ an inspired comedy in his own drily distinctive style. If Mr. Brooks isn’t often laugh-out-loud funny, that’s largely because so much of what he has to say is true. ‘Lost in America’ follows the Howards, played by Mr. Brooks and Julie Hagerty, from a quiet dissatisfaction with their upwardly-mobile lives [‘Nothing’s changing anymore . . . we’ve just stopped ,’ Linda says] to an even bleaker realization of what their options may be. That it manages to find so much humor in so dismal a progression is amazing indeed.” Read more…)

Ada (1961, drama, Susan Hayward, Dean Martin. From Bosley Crowther’s 1961 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “An elementary exposition of a case of dirty machine politics, so elementary it makes everyone in it look as witless as a child blowing bubble gum, is put forth in Metro’s ‘Ada,’ which came to the Capitol yesterday. If politicians were as dumb and undramatic as they are made to look here, they wouldn’t be the least bit of fun.” Read more…)

The Earthling (1980, family drama, William Holden. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Earthling’ is an Australian movie as pretentious and finally as empty as its title, which refers to Patrick Foley [William Holden], a beat-up, worn-out world traveler who is returning to his birthplace, a farm in the uncharted wilds of Australia, to die on familiar soil.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Man In an Orange Shirt (drama, gay life, David Gyasi. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 72.)
In the Dark: Season 1 (detective series, MyAnna Buring)

New Documentaries
The Jazz Ambassadors (jazz, music, civil rights, Cold War history, Louis Armstrong)

New releases 6/12/18

Top Hits
Love, Simon (coming-of-age story, Josh Duhamel. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 72. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “For the most part, ‘Love, Simon’ is an amiable, slick, silver-tongued teen romantic comedy. Set in a particularly idyllic Atlanta suburb, replete with lifestyle wish-fulfillment production design, it’s the kind of movie in which the filmmakers signal their exquisite taste by proxy…. In the movie’s last third it gains a lot of guts. Simon has to contend with the fallout from what he considered a necessary hypocrisy and the personal betrayals it entailed. The emotional resonance may be surprising given the movie’s relentless gloss, but it’s real.” Read more…)

Tomb Raider (action, Alicia Vikander. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 48. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The ghost of Angelina Jolie past — that mesmerizing dark star, to the screen born — hangs over the new, suitably titled ‘Tomb Raider.’ A dreary, inept reboot of the franchise that helped propel Ms. Jolie into global domination [and pop-culture divinity], it stars the talented, badly misused Swedish actress Alicia Vikander as the British adventurer Lara Croft.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Death Wish

New Foreign
Loveless (Russia, not available on DVD, drama, Maryana Spivak. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeanette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Unfolding beneath skies the color and density of damp concrete, ‘Loveless,’ the fifth feature from the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev [after his notable 2014 drama, ‘Leviathan’], uses a toxic marriage to paint a larger portrait of decay, dereliction and moral detachment. And oh, his gaze is pitiless. Set in Moscow in the autumn of 2012, the picture sits on the screen with an almost physical weight, its heaviness as much to do with the bleakly beautiful visuals and painstaking pacing as the bitter divorce at its center.” Read more…)

Tomb Raider

New Foreign
Tehran Taboo (Iran, animated feature/drama, Farhad Abadinejad. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Tehran Taboo’ gains much of its power from its use of rotoscoping, a form of animation [familiar to viewers of ‘Waking Life’ and ‘Tower’] in which the drawing is done over filmed actors. What is provocative about the technique here is that it’s a sort of workaround — a way for the director, Ali Soozandeh, who grew up in Iran and now lives in Germany, to tell a story that he says would have been impossible to film in Tehran. An ensemble piece [and European production, despite the Persian dialogue], the movie lays bare the double standards that surround sex in Iran.” Read more…)

Manila In the Claws of Light (Phillipines, 1972, drama, Hilda Koronel.  Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeanette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Lino Brocka’s ‘Manila in the Claws of Light’ begins with a whisper and ends with a howl. In between, there are grace notes, escalating horrors and the peripatetic journey of a country mouse, Julio [Rafael Roco Jr., later known as Bembol Roco], in the big city. It’s a story of struggle, survival, endurance and defeat that Brocka, perhaps the most celebrated of Filipino directors, filmed down and dirty in Manila when the Philippines was still in the grip of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Brocka, a political activist as well as a prolific filmmaker, died in a car accident in 1991 at 52, and is ready for rediscovery.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Of Human Bondage (1964, drama based on W. Somerset Maugham novel, Kim Novak. From A.H. Weiler’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Time has not paled [W. Somerset maugham’s] incisive, brooding and anguished quasi‐biography. But the current adaptation merely evolves as a surface, stoic old‐fashioned tale of a crippled medical student’s romantic attachment to a cheap, vulgar London waitress in which lip service substitutes for the truly poignant, self‐revelatory story from which it stems.” Read more…)

SLC Punk (drama, 1999, Matthew Lillard. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 50. From Janet Maslin’s 1999 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Only [director James Merendino’s] own real experience as an alienated teen-ager in Salt Lake City, circa 1985, could have led to such a [perhaps deservedly] overlooked time and place. So in what one of his characters calls ‘a religiously oppressive city, which half its population isn’t even that religion,’ he presents the amusing exploits of a group of friends led by Stevo [Matthew Lillard]. Stevo is the rare punk who may be headed for Harvard Law School without even trying. He makes an entertaining rebel, but he’s about as authentic as his blue hair.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Sherlock Gnomes (animated feature, James McAvoy [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 36. From Ben Kenogsberg’s New York Times review: “In defiance of common sense, ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ [2011] decided that Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers would be better off not dying, at least as animated garden gnomes. That kept them around for this sequel, a literary crossover called ‘Sherlock Gnomes.’ The ghost of Arthur Conan Doyle should tell them to get off his lawn.” Read more…)