New releases 5/17/22

Top Hits
Licorice Pizza (comedy/drama, Alana Haim. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 90, Must See. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Licorice Pizza,’ a shaggy, fitfully brilliant romp from Paul Thomas Anderson, takes place in a 1973 dream of bared midriffs and swinging hair, failures and pretenders. It’s set in Encino, a Los Angeles outpost in the shadow of Hollywood and the birthplace of such films as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and ‘Boogie Nights,’ Anderson’s 1997 breakout about a striver’s passage into pornographic stardom.” Read more…)

The Cursed (horror, Boyd Holbrook. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 62. From Noel Murray’s Los Angeles Times review: “A unique take on werewolf folk tales, the arty monster movie ‘The Cursed’ journeys to late 19th century Europe for a story that ties a persistent evil to the enduring stain of bigotry. A true auteur project for genre-hopping filmmaker Sean Ellis — who wrote, directed, co-produced and serves as the cinematographer — this period piece is slow-paced yet peppered with enough gory attacks and smartly staged scare sequences to appeal to horror connoisseurs.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure Blu-ray (1985, comedy/family, Paul Reubens.) Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 47. From Vincent Canby’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in}: “For the record, ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’ is the story of what happens when Pee-wee’s bicycle is stolen and he sets out to find it, a journey that takes him to San Antonio and, finally, to the Warner Brothers studio in Burbank, Calif. You have been warned.” Read more…)

Walker Blu-ray (1987, historically-based drama, Ed Harris. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. From Vincent Canby’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Taking the true story of William Walker, the American adventurer who once ruled as the self-declared president of Nicaragua [1856-57], the director Alex Cox and the writer Rudy Wurlitzer have made ‘Walker,’ a hip, cool, political satire that’s almost as lunatic as the title character. The main difference is that the film intends to be funny while Walker, all five egocentric, puritanical feet of him, was fatally humorless.” Read more…)

Licorice Pizza

New British DVDs
Ridley Road (1960s period drama, Agnes O’Casey. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 71. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “It might seem as if there couldn’t be any nook or cranny of British history that hasn’t received its own television costume drama by now. But ‘Ridley Road,’ premiering Sunday on PBS’s ‘Masterpiece,’ finds some new and interesting territory. It’s set in London, with side trips to Manchester and the countryside of Kent, in 1962, just as the Swinging Sixties are getting into gear. But music and fashion are strictly in the background. In the foreground are the members of an organized, street-level Jewish resistance to the then-flourishing British neo-Nazi movement.” Read more…)

Martin Clune’s Wild Life (nature series w/British actor Martin Clune as host)

New TV
Succession: Season 3 (HBO drama series, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 92.)

New releases 5/10/22

Top Hits
Dog (comedy, Channing Tatum. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Road comedies that pair an animal and a movie star are a minor genre unto themselves. The best examples, in my opinion, involve Clint Eastwood and an orangutan named Clyde, though the recent one with Eastwood and a rooster wasn’t bad. Channing Tatum is a different kind of screen presence — sweeter, chattier, bulkier — and in ‘Dog,’ which he directed with Reid Carolin, he amiably shares the screen with [spoiler alert!] a dog.” Read more…)

Martyr’s Lane (horror, Denise Gough. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. From Phil Hoad’s Guardian review: “This is a supernatural mystery set in fusty parish England rather than pure horror – though its visual vocabulary becomes increasingly gothic as it progresses; Ruth Platt’s third film is at first almost too subtle for its own good. As Leah’s new friend directs her to small objects around the house and grounds, including minuscule letter-bearing dice, Platt’s storytelling is high-risk, almost obscure, leaving viewers much to infer. Partly it’s because it is told from the point of view of a child with a tactile fetish for trinkets; but it actually means ‘Martyrs Lane’ is highly atmospheric, a diaphanous world of billowing curtains, lamplight circles and luminous stained glass.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Playground (France, drama, Maya Vanderbeque. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “This is the first feature from the writer-director Laura Wandel, and it’s a knockout, as flawlessly constructed as it is harrowing. By the time the first scene has ended, Wandel has set the anxious mood, introduced her characters, established the visual design and created a richly inhabited world that’s disturbingly familiar.” Read more…)

Kandisha (France, horror, Mathilde Lamusse. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 59. From From Erik Piepenberg’s New York Times review: “‘Kandisha’ is the latest film from Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury, whose 2007 debut “Inside” was a face of the grisly genre known as the New French Extremity. Here they tone down the bloodletting with a story that explores feminism and post-colonialism with a supernatural spin. It‘s scary, even though the film sometimes detours into broad-brush teens vs. monster territory.” Read more…)

Gagarine (France, drama, Lyna Khoudri. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “In August of 2019, Cité Gagarine — a once-aspirational housing project located in the eastern suburbs of Paris, one of the last strongholds of the French Communist Party — was demolished as a crowd of its former residents watched from a distance. In ‘Gagarine,’ by the filmmakers Fanny Liatard and Jérémy Trouilh, this real-life moment is re-envisioned with a heavy dose of magical realism, foregrounding the dreams of a new generation that build upon the structure’s utopian roots.“ Read more…)

Lady Chatterley’s Lover (France, 1955, drama, Danielle Darrieux. From Bosley Crowther’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Why in the world there should ever have been any question raised about the morality of ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover,’ which opened at the Little Carnegie yesterday, is beyond this observer’s comprehension.This old-fashioned French film version of the outspoken D. H. Lawrence novel, which was something of a shocker thirty years ago, is no more illustrative of lewdness or disregard for moral rectitude than have been any number of licensed movies going back to ‘The Dangerous Age.’” Read more…)

Julietta (France, 1953, comedy/romance, Dany Robin. From Bosley Crowther’s 1957 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Since the French film ‘Julietta,’ which came to the Paris yesterday, is strictly a ‘summer picture,’ they couldn’t have hit a better day to put it in the theatre. The cooling system was working fine.As for ‘Julietta,’ it is a thoroughly flimsy bagatelle about a fellow confronted with a problem of juggling two dames in his home at the same time.” Read more…)

Miklós Jancsó Collection:
The Round-Up (Hungary, 1966, period drama)
The Red and the White (Hungary, 1967, period drama)
The Confrontation (Hungary, 1969, political drama)
Winter Wind (Hungary, political drama)
Red Psalm (Hungary, 1971, 1890s period drama)
Electra, My Love (Hungary, 1974, adaptation of Greek play)

New British DVDs
Secrets of the Six Wives (drama/reenactment/history, Lucy Worsley. From Margaret Lyons’ capsule New York Times review: “The historian and TV host Lucy Worsley profiles the six wives of Henry VIII in this new three-part mini-series. The show includes Worsley in period garb, joining in the dramatic re-enactments, and also popping up to offer fun facts as though she’s the most enthusiastic social studies teacher ever.” Read more…)

New TV
The Good Fight: Season 5 (legal drama, Christine Baranski)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Desert Hearts (1985, groundbreaking lesbian romance, Helen Shaver. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 67. From Clayton Dillard’s Slant review upon the movie’s theatrical re-release in 2017: “Deitch shoots with an eye for wide-open spaces but also configures numerous interior scenes around their Sirkian potential to reveal smaller clusters of prejudice within larger societal structures. As in All That Heaven Allows, the central lovers’ blossoming attraction is configured around the gaze and thoughts of others.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies (movie history, sex, Mamie Van Doren. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 64. From Jade Budowski’s Decider review: “While things could easily feel tedious and slip into the salacious, ‘Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies’ manages to balance its more lighthearted, smirking sequences with genuinely intriguing and important social and political commentary. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel or do anything particularly exciting, but it doesn’t necessarily need to. We get all the information we might hope for and then some, plus some wonderfully unfiltered interviews with icons from both on-screen and off.” Read more…)

New releases 5/3/22

Top Hits
Turning Red (pixar animated feature, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83, Must See. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “A quirky Asian teenager transforms into a giant red panda whenever she gets excited … even the premise gives me pause. Which makes the task of reviewing the new Disney/Pixar film ‘Turning Red’ especially tricky. Because that’s the idea behind this sometimes heartwarming but wayward coming-of-age movie, which toes the line between truthfully representing a Chinese family, flaws and all, and indulging stereotypes.” Read more…)

The Outfit (drama/thriller, Mark Rylance. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The gangsters in ‘The Outfit’ have plenty of tough moves, but none of these guys hold the screen like Mark Rylance when he just stands or stares — or sews. His character, Leonard, is a bespoke tailor who once worked on Savile Row and now practices his trade in an unassuming shop in Chicago. There, he snips and stitches with a bowed head and delicate, precisely articulated movements that express the beauty and grace of Rylance’s art.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Two Days, One Night (Belgium, 2014, social drama, Marion Cotillard. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 89, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s 2014 Times review: “‘Two Days, One Night’ consists almost entirely of encounters between Sandra and the people who have, through no choice of their own, been given the power to decide her fate. The key to the movie — what makes it moving as well as grueling, thrilling as well as harsh — is that the Dardennes refuse to skip or cut away from a single meeting. Like Sandra, the audience must absorb the emotional impact of each conversation.” Read more…)

Rosemary’s Baby (1968, psychological horror, Criterion Collection, Mia Farrow. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 96, Must See. From New York Times critic Caryn James write-up prior to the film’s 1995 run at Film Forum 2 [requires log-in]: “Familiar though it is, Roman Polanski’s classic horror film can still send shivers through the most jaded viewer. For all its 60’s trappings — most conspicuous in Ms. Farrow’s cropped hair and the way she does nothing all day but fix her husband’s lunch — ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ stands up amazingly well 27 years after it first appeared. In fact, the film looks smarter when you know the ending.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) (Nigeria, drama, Criterion Collection, Jude Akuwudike. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Devika Girish’s Times review: “The Nigerian feature ‘Eyimofe’ is about many different things — migration, exploitation, misogyny — but it’s primarily about money. Following the lives of two individuals in Lagos, both of whom dream of immigrating to Europe to better their prospects, the film traces a web of Nigerian naira — currency needed for hospital bills, housing bills, lawyer bills, endless bills — that entraps the characters, sucking them in deeper the harder they try to escape.” Read more…)

Round Midnight (France, 1986, drama/jazz/race, Criterion Collection, Dexter Gordon. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Janet Maslin’s 1986 Times review [requires log-in]: “No actor could do what the great jazz saxophonist Dexter Gordon does in ‘Round Midnight,’ Bertrand Tavernier’s glowing tribute to the golden age of be-bop. Mr. Gordon, who stars in the film as an expatriate American named Dale Turner, becomes the very embodiment of the music itself. It’s in his heavy-lidded eyes, in his hoarse, smoky voice, in the way his long, graceful fingers seem to be playing silent accompaniment to his conversation.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Leaving Normal (1992, comedy/drama, Christine Lahti. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. From Janet Maslin’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In the prologue to ‘Leaving Normal,’ a van carrying a family suddenly takes leave of the blacktop and flies off into a starry, special-effects sky. The surreal, exuberant escape promised by that image is something this film obviously aspires to but never manages to achieve. In a star-crossed coincidence of the sort ‘Leaving Normal’ might otherwise celebrate, this story of two runaway women has appeared in the shadow of the much better ‘Thelma and Louise,’ which robs the new film of even novelty value and necessitates unflattering comparisons.” Read more…)

New releases 4/26/22

Top Hits
Jackass Forever (comedy, Johnny Knoxville. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. Believe it or not, a New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Amy Nicholson’s Times review: “‘Jackass’ remains the most shocking theatrical experience since the mythic mid-1890s screening of the Lumière brothers’ ‘Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station.’ As a test of resolve, it has no rivals. The performers fling themselves into dumb and painful stunts on purpose, and blissfully weak-willed audience members cackle knowing that their laughter is proof that they haven’t grown up either.” Read more…)

Moonfall (sci-fi/disaster, Halle Berry. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 41. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In the disaster movie ‘Moonfall,’ the moon goes out of orbit and starts coiling its way toward Earth, causing environmental disasters and setting the clock on humanity. Scientists calculate ellipses; screenwriters ready their exclamations. ‘Everything we thought we knew about the nature of the universe has just gone out the window,’ a N.A.S.A. official [Halle Berry] proclaims. But for the director Roland Emmerich [‘Independence Day,’ ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ ‘2012’], who treats the planet to potentially life-ending cataclysms with the regularity of dental checkups, it’s not much new under the sun.” Read more…)

Superintelligence (comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 41. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Jexi’ meets ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ it is, then. Carol’s task is to revive her failed romance with George, a good-natured academic played good-naturedly by Bobby Cannavale. The countdown to extinction hooks up with what film scholars call the ‘comedy of remarriage.’ [That is, the happy relitigation of a stalled alliance.] And the movie saunters between these two modes with minimal rhyme or reason.” Read more…)

V/H/S/94 (horror, Anna Hopkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Calum Marsh’s Times review: “‘V/H/S’ is a series of found-footage horror anthologies whose constituent shorts are made to seem like the contents of old, and possibly haunted, videocassettes. The problem to date has been that, like most omnibus films, the quality of the segments ranges wildly, so that the odd effective short winds up sandwiched between shorts that are decidedly second-rate. ‘V/H/S/94,’ the fourth movie in the franchise, is the first wholly successful one, for the simple reason that each of its four unique, 1990s-set segments is a winner.” Read more…)

Bleed With Me (horror, Lee Marshall. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From Erik Piepenberg’s New York Times review: “In her intense feature, the writer-director Amelia Moses lets stillness and bewitching atmospherics, not gore and gotchas, drive her slow-burn, deeply creepy study of codependency and female friendship. The mysteries steadily and ominously build over 80 hallucinatory minutes, unfolding like an intimate play, until a finale that’s strange, bloody and mesmerizing.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Singin’ In the Rain 4K UHD (1952, musical, Gene Kelly. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 99, Must See. From Bosley Crowther’s 1952 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Spring came with a fresh and cheerful splatter to the Music Hall yesterday with the arrival of Metro’s new musical, ‘Singin’ in the Rain,’ along with the Glory-of-Easter pageant and a vernal revue on the stage. Compounded generously of music, dance, color, spectacle and a riotous abundance of Gene Kelly, Jean Hagen and Donald O’Connor on the screen, all elements in this rainbow program are carefuly contrived and guaranteed to lift the dolors of winter and put you in a buttercup mood.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Stop-Zemlia (Ukraine, coming-of-age drama, Yana Isaienko. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 60. From Katie Walsh’s Los Angeles Times review: “It’s tempting to compare ‘Stop-Zemlia’ to the HBO series ‘Euphoria,’ as these teens also wear colorful makeup and experiment with drinking, drugs, sex and self-harm [the one main difference: gun-safety classes to prepare for military training]. But there’s something rather innocent about this depiction, which isn’t trying to be a scandalous or searing portrait of youth but to create an emotionally authentic representation of this hypercharged and sensitive age.” Read more…)

The Long Walk (Laos, dystopia/drama, Yannawoutthi Chanthalungsy. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The Laotian drama ‘The Long Walk’ takes a languid look around a near-future dystopia where fighter jets leave smoke trails in the sky and government authorities track missing people using microchips embedded in their bodies. In this reality, a spiritual, occult world exists underneath the noses of officials.” Read more…)

Miracle in Milan (1951, Italy, fantasy, dir. by Vittorio De Sica, Criterion Collection, Emma Gramatica. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1951 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The rich vein of sly, compassionate humor that Charlie Chaplin and Rene Clair used to mine with unparalleled genius when they were turning out their best satiric films, has been tapped by Vittorio De Sica in his ‘Miracle in Milan,’ the widely proclaimed Italian picture that arrived at the World yesterday. And although this uncommon vein of fancy is a way from De Sica’s previous line, the great director has brought up from his digging a liberal return of purest gold.” Read more…)

New TV
The Great: Seasons 1 & 2 (historical drama/comedy series, Elle Fanning. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 74.)

Yellowstone: Season 3 (drama series, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Girl Can’t Help It (1956, rock ’n’ roll comedy, Criterion Collection, Jayne Mansfield. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1957 New York Times review: “The recognized fact that women are shaped somewhat differently from men is the only apparent justification for Jayne Mansfield’s being in Twentieth Century-Fox’ ‘The Girl Can’t Help It,’ which came to the Roxy yesterday. Miss Mansfield has a figure that is so different it’s hard to believe, but what she can do in the way of acting, beyond wiggle and squirm, remains to be seen.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
House of Dark Shadows (1970, horror, Jonathan Frid. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. From Roger Greenspun’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The vampire movie is such an agreeable type, with so many good and even great examples — remember ‘Vampyr’ and ‘Nosferatu’—that it would seem to have taken an act of unusual perversity to have made anything as dreadful as ‘House of Dark Shadows,’ which opened yesterday at neighborhood theaters.The cast, the director, the characters, the locales and the situations derive of course from the ‘Dark Shadows’ television series, but despite the identity of credits, the film looks like desperate imitation—and by an inferior team of plagiarists at that.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Writing with Fire (journalism, human rights, women’s rights, India. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Devika Girish’s Times review: “Several times in the documentary ‘Writing With Fire,’ we see women reporters standing alone in a crowd of men — cops, miners, political rallyists — asking gentle but firm questions. The women’s grit in the face of palpable hostility is impressive, and it becomes more so when you learn that they’re in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian province known for crimes against women, and that they are Dalits, or members of the country’s so-called untouchable caste.” Read more…)

New releases 4/19/22

Top Hits
Cyrano (romance/musical, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Artifice mobilized in defense of authenticity. It’s a paradox as old as art, and one that ‘Cyrano,’ a new screen musical based on Edmond Rostand’s French-class chestnut, embraces with a risky ardor. Directed by Joe Wright, with songs by members of the National [Bryce and Aaron Dessner wrote the music, with lyrics by Matt Berninger and Carin Besser] and a script by Erica Schmidt, this version wears its heart on its ruffled sleeve, pursuing its lush, breathless vision of romance with more sincerity than coherence.” Read more…)

The Humans (comedy/drama, Richard Jenkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “The confessions and tensions are commonplace, but ‘The Humans’ is never less than high on the terrible power of the mundane. To that end, [writer and director Stephen] Karam, aided by Skip Lievsay’s marvelous sound design, gives the apartment an eerie, sinister life. Thuds and groans and rumbles disturb the dinner, as if the family’s psychic baggage — Erik’s petrifying nightmares; Momo’s unearthly screaming fit — has stirred something foul in the home’s sludgy depths.” Read more…)

The Novice (mystery/thriller, Isabelle Fuhrman. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. from Teo Bugbee’s Times review: “[Writer-director Lauren] Hadaway has crafted a film that thematically and visually resembles Damien Chazelle’s ‘Whiplash,’ for which she served as a sound editor. But where Chazelle’s film followed a protagonist with world-class aspirations, the modest scale of Alex’s ambitions keeps ‘The Novice’ more grounded as a character study, and helps the film steer clear of overblown statements about success. The protagonist merely wishes to be the worst rower on her team’s best boat.” Read more…)

Last Looks (action/comedy, Charlie Hunnam. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 48. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Latter-day Hollywood murder mysteries, from ‘The Long Goodbye’ to ‘The Dead Pool’ to ‘Kiss Kiss Bang Bang,’ provide filmmakers welcome outlets for both showbiz sensationalism and a little [at least] biting of the hand that feeds them. Oh, and sometimes cliché-mongering. ‘Last Looks,’ directed by Tim Kirkby and based on a novel by Howard Michael Gould, opens with an ex-cop living in self-imposed ascetic exile, a circumstance that now feels as old as time, if not older.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Monterey Pop Blu-ray
The Parallax View Blu-ray
Where are You, Jay Bennett Blu-ray

New Foreign DVDs
Rebecka Martinsson: Series 1 (Sweden, mystery series, Ida Engvoll)

New TV
Grey’s Anatomy: Season 11 (hospital/medical drama, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
A Guy Named Joe (1943, romance/war, Spencer Tracy. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1943 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The people at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer had a dandy idea by the tail when they set out to make the picture called ‘A Guy Named Joe,’ which came to the Capitol yesterday. That idea was that the spirit of an ace pilot killed in this war should come back to give inspiration and instruction to new young pilots just starting out. The idea had blithesome implications, as well as spiritual ones, and it looked for a while as though Metro and its people were going to play it well. But somehow, as often happens, they yanked it around too much; they let it go slack at the wrong spot and then jerked up on it too hard.” Read more…)

Bodyguard (1948, film noir, Lawrence Tierney. From Michael Barrett’s review at Pop Matters: “‘Bodyguard’ is a movie destined to be overrated or underrated. It will be underrated by those who seek it out because of its sterling credentials in writing, directing, and acting–only to find that it doesn’t measure up to better films by the same people. It will be overrated by those who, expecting nothing and used to a long line of forgettable B’s, stumble suddenly upon a movie of wit, verve, and a certain visual imagination. Its accomplishments are modest yet genuine.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Back to the Beach (1987, comedy, Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 62. From Caryn James’ 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Once, the Beach Party formula must have seemed like a teen-age fantasy, but the movies have aged so badly they now play on television or video like goofy messages from outer space. In ‘Back to the Beach,’ the only message from from outer space is Pee-Wee Herman’s rendition of ‘Surfin’ Bird.’ [‘Bird, bird, bird. Bird is the word.’] He does the lyrics justice. The rest is a series of telegraphed jokes that will fulfill your worst fears.” Read more…)

Under the Rainbow (1981, comedy, Chevy Chase. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. From Janet Maslin’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The makers of ‘Under the Rainbow’ have taken a strange idea and run with it, making it a good deal stranger. The year is 1938, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ is about to be made, and a movie studio is auditioning Munchkins. So 150 midgets are holed up at the Culver City Hotel, preparing to don winged-monkey outfits and start swinging from the chandeliers. This would be plot enough for any movie, but it’s about one-tenth of what goes on in ‘Under the Rainbow,’ which has enough story angles to make your head spin.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
From the Journals of Jean Seberg (bio/documentary, Mary Beth Hurt, Jean Seberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Caryn James’ 1995 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Director Mark] Rappaport raises provocative and sometimes amusing questions about screen images and social responsibility. He is less successful at examining the language of screen images. Whatever its small flaws, though, ‘From the Journals of Jean Seberg’ glistens with wit, understanding and rich ideas.” Read more…)

Where Are You, Jay Bennett (music bio, Jay Bennett, Wilco)

New releases 4/12/22

Top Hits
Spider-Man: No Way Home (superhero action, Tom Holland. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “But [Tom] Holland is also the most persuasive of the other moist-eyed boy-men [Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield] who’ve played Spidey. His love interest is now MJ, played by Zendaya, who was paired with another of this year’s adolescent saviors in ‘Dune.’ Her casting as MJ and her expanded role in the series continue to pay off, and Zendaya’s charisma and gift for selling emotions [and silly dialogue] helps give the new movie a soft, steady glow that centers it like a heartbeat as the story takes off in different directions.” Read more…)

Creation Stories (music bio-pic, Ewen Bremner. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 53. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This bouncy, time-hopping biopic recounts [Alan] McGee’s journey to rock legend — not as a performer but as a manager and the owner of a label that championed trailblazing artists like My Bloody Valentine. ‘I didn’t have any talent,’ an older but not yet wiser McGee, played by Ewen Bremner, admits. The story of how McGee managed to conjure up the phenomenally successful label Creation — and, with its supernova band Oasis, shape the British pop zeitgeist — while conducting himself in a manner highly contrary to that embraced by highly effective businesspeople is hardly without interest.” Read more…)

C’mon C’mon (drama, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must See. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Mike] Mills manages the preliminaries seamlessly, creating an instant sense of cohesion and flow: You believe and recognize these people and places. Although he always lavishes conspicuous attention on the visual scheme of his movies — everything is very precise, very arranged — his gift is for the seductive sense of intimacy among characters, which quickly turns actors into people you care about.” Read more…)

Family Squares (drama/comedy, Billy Magnusson. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 54. From Concepción de León’s New York Times review: “That a dying loved one evaded the virus may be little consolation to the grief-stricken, but it’s precisely this plot point that allows Stephanie Laing, the writer and director, to poke gentle fun at our shared pandemic predicament. Her film is a lighthearted and touching look at the feuds, resentments and secrets that can surface when someone dies.” Read more…)

Slow Machine (mystery/drama, Stephanie Hayes. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s Times review: “Difficult to describe and confounding to follow, the film is best when you submit to the surreal nature of it; then, you will be open to witnessing one of this year’s most mesmerizing movies unfold. Films of such lo-fi aesthetics rarely feel this major.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & Ultra HD 4K
Amazing Grace Blu-Ray
Sing 2 Blu-Ray
Spider-Man: No Way Home Blu & 4K

New Foreign DVDs
Fabian: Going To the Dogs (Germany, drama/history, Tom Schilling. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 68. From Jay Weissberg’s Variety review: “Set in a teetering world of dissoluteness and disillusion in which a good man without professional ambition awakens to life’s promise only to have it all torn away, the story has modern resonances that [director Dominik] Graf [‘The Beloved Sisters’ among many others] keenly underlines, and while the film’s core is affectingly developed, the rest tries too hard to expose the empty rapaciousness of exhausted decadence.” Read more…)

Servants (Slovak Republic, political drama, Samuel Skyva. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Natalia Winkelman’s Times reviews: “The captivating ecclesiastical drama ‘Servants,’ set in 1980s Czechoslovakia, follows teenage matriculates at a Christian seminary who awaken to a grim reality. Their Dean (Vladimir Strnisko) is a member of Pacem in Terris, a group of clergy quietly granting control of the church to the Communist state. Considering this a moral corruption, several of the students initiate a discreet rebellion.” Read more…)

Margrete: Queen of the North (Denmark, drama/history, Trine Dyrholm. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 68. From Peter Sobczynski’s RogerEbert.com review: “‘Margrete: Queen of the North’ is a historical epic from Denmark that contains almost everything that one might want from such a thing—palace intrigue, familial conflict, sex, violence, jealousy, betrayal and so on. What it doesn’t really have is much of anything in the way of a point or purpose. Although it’s undeniably well-made, it lacks the kind of energy that might have helped make it truly come alive, and seem like more than a historical reenactment.” Read more…)

New TV
Chucky: Season 1 (horror, Brad Dourif)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Still of the Night (1982, mystery/thriller, Meryl Streep. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 43. From Vincent Canby’s 1982 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Robert Benton’s ‘Still of the Night,’ the writer-director’s first film since his Oscar-winning ‘Kramer vs. Kramer,’ is something else entirely, a velvety-smooth looking romantic mystery melodrama that has far less to do with life than with other movies. It’s clever but chilly in the way of something with a mechanical heart.” Read more…)

New releases 4/5/22

Top Hits
Parallel Mothers (drama, Penélope Cruz. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘World-building’ usually refers to how the makers of science fiction and fantasy construct their domains, populating them with imaginary creatures and allegorical meanings. But among living filmmakers, the most prodigious world builder might be Pedro Almodóvar. Plenty of directors have a style. Almodóvar conjures a cosmos — a domain of bright colors, piercing music [often by Alberto Iglesias] and swirling melodrama. If you’ve visited in the past, you will be eager to return… ‘Parallel Mothers,’ Almodóvar’s new feature, adds an element that he had previously avoided: the legacy of the Spanish Civil War and the nearly 40 years of dictatorship that followed.” Read more…)

Jockey (drama, Clifton Collins Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Sentimental yet also trickier and more complex than its gleaming surfaces suggest, ‘Jockey’ is a portrait of a man facing his mortality or at least professional redundancy. Worn out and visibly ragged, Jackson doesn’t look like a man with a wide-open future.” Read more…)

Miss Juneteenth (drama, Nicole Beharie. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Lovia Gyarkye’s Times review: “The movie tackles multitudinous themes in its roughly 100 minutes, from the significance of Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, to the legacy of racism in predatory bank lending practices. But what’s most impressive is the amount of space [director Channing Godfrey] Peoples’s black female characters inhabit in the narrative.” Read more…)

Death on the Nile (mystery, Kenneth Branagh. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 52. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The trickiest part of a murder mystery isn’t solving the crime. It’s keeping the intrigue and fun alive until then. ‘Death on the Nile,’ Kenneth Branagh’s second adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot stories, forgets the simple pleasures of ensemble excess and pure messing about.” Read more…)

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (comedy, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 45. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife,’ which is as cuddly and toothless as you would expect from a relaunched studio property in which the main characters are children and Paul Rudd plays a love interest. They’re all predictably adorable and have big, easy-to-read eyes, the better to widen in feigned surprise or mock fear when various ghosts come a-calling. For their part, the cartoonish apparitions range from the cutesy to the PG-13 snarly and include a roly-poly metal muncher, a pair of slathering hellhounds and some puffy, gurgling creatures whose wide-open arms and demonically cheerful smiles have been engineered for toy shelves and maximum nostalgia.” Read more…)

Scream (horror, Neve Campbell. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Throttled by a corrosive self-awareness, the latest ‘Scream’ is a slasher movie with resting smug face, so enamored of its own mythology that its characters speak of little else. This self-referential chatter, disguised as commentary on the franchise-within-the-franchise, ‘Stab,’ means that there’s scarcely a line of dialogue that doesn’t land with a wink and a nudge.” Read more…)

The Man In the Hat (drama, Ciarán Hinds. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Nell Minow’s RogerEbert.com review: “Whimsy is as delicate as a butterfly wing. But ‘The Man in the Hat’ sustains a whimsical tone beautifully throughout its brief running time, perhaps because co-writers/directors John-Paul Davidson and Stephen Warbeck add a touch of melancholy to keep it from becoming too cloying or cutesy.” Read more…)

No Future (drama, Catherine Keener. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Calum Marsh’s New York Times review: “Grief, as many filmmakers learn the hard way, is incredibly difficult to portray onscreen. That exhaustive, full-body sorrow, what Saul Bellow called ‘the rock depth of heavy trouble,’ simply doesn’t come across in shots of mournful faces or sad-looking actors staring vacantly into the middle distance. ‘No Future’ encounters this problem early and often. This grim, ponderous drama, about how the family and friends of an addict cope with his death by overdose, adopts a relentlessly solemn tone befitting its subject.” Read more…)

Sing 2 (animated feature, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 49. From Amy Nicholson’s New York Times review: “There was a karaoke charm to the first ‘Sing,’ a cartoon about a parade of amateurs — Ash the porcupine [Scarlett Johansson], Rosita the sow [Reese Witherspoon], Meena the elephant [Tori Kelly] and Johnny the gorilla [Taron Egerton] — who put on a show to save their small town’s bankrupt theater. No more. ‘Sing 2,’ a grasping sequel by the returning director, Garth Jennings, opens with the troupe attempting to impress a talent scout with the kind of ramshackle ditty that won over fans in the original.” Read more…)

Marry Me (rom-com, Jennifer Lopez. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 50. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “Rarely are romantic comedies titled more desperately than ‘Marry Me.’ There is something pleasing about the bluntness. And because it’s a command that involves Jennifer Lopez, we’re permitted to skate atop the movie’s despair. But the ice is thin.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & Ultra HD 4K
Parallel Mothers
Ghostbusters: Afterlife

New Foreign DVDs
Sin (Russia/Italy, drama, Alberto Testone. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 65. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Sin’ is the second feature from the Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky to reach virtual cinemas in recent months, and it is not nearly as strong or vital as ‘Dear Comrades!’ [still available to rent]. An austere, demanding sit, ‘Sin’ — a Russian-Italian co-production with Italian dialogue — nevertheless has a stubborn integrity in exploring the competing forces of patronage and creative inspiration that Michelangelo confronted in the 16th century.” Read more…)

New British
Madame Blanc Mysteries: Season 1 (British mystery series, Sally Lindsay)

New TV
The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 (feminist sci-fi dystopia, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 62. From Carina Chocano’s New York Times review: “In Atwood’s novel, the protagonist’s story is discovered years later, and serves mainly as a record, evidence of what can happen to a democracy. But this alone is not enough to power a multiseason television show, which needs transformation, needs its conflict to progress. Now, after four years watching June spin in a cycle of torment and false hope, escape and recapture, all that urgency has given way to exhaustion. How much more juice can a show squeeze from this push and pull?” Read more…)

Grey’s Anatomy: Seasons 9 & 10 (medical drama, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 91% [Season 9], 100% [Season 10].)

The Office: Season 8 (US version, comedy, Steve Carell. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Damned (Visconti-directed melodrama/moral drama, 1969, Criterion Collection, Dirk Bogarde. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Vincent Canby’s 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Luchino Visconti’s ‘The Damned’ may be the chef d’oeuvre of the great Italian director [‘La Terra Trema,’ ‘Rocco and His Brothers,’ ‘Sandra’]—a spectacle of such greedy passion, such uncompromising sensation and such obscene shock that it makes you realize how small and safe and ordinary most movies are. Experiencing it is like taking a whiff of ammonia—it’s not conventionally pleasant, but it makes you see the outlines of everything around you with just a little more clarity.” Read more…)

New releases 3/29/22

New Blu-Ray & Ultra HD 4K
Ham on Rye (comedy/indie, Haley Bodell. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “With his first feature, the director and co-writer Tyler Taormina delivers something at first familiar and then increasingly — but never ostentatiously — strange. ‘Ham on Rye’ can be taken as an allegory for middle-class suburban life in America, but it’s got added value as a potent mood piece, accomplished with a bare minimum of means.” Read more…)

The Apartment 4K (1960, Billy Wilder drama/comedy, Jack Lemmon. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 94, Must See. From Bosley Crowther’s 1960 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “You might not think a movie about a fellow who lends his rooms to the married executives of his office as a place for their secret love affairs would make a particularly funny or morally presentable show, especially when the young fellow uses the means to get advanced in his job. But under the clever supervision of Billy Wilder, who helped to write the script, then produced and directed ‘The Apartment,’ which opened at the Astor and the Plaza yesterday, the idea is run into a gleeful, tender and even sentimental film. And it is kept on the side of taste and humor by the grand performance of Jack Lemmon in the principal role.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Brighton 4th (Georgia, drama/comedy, Levan Tediashvili. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 77. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Georgia’s cinematic exports have bloomed recently with innovative and challenging films such as ‘What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?,’ ‘Beginning’ and ‘Taming the Garden.’ Levan Koguashvili’s ‘Brighton 4th’ offers a more straightforward style of storytelling as it sends an aging ex-wrestler from the capital city of Tbilisi to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, to help his wayward son.” Read more…)

The Sommerdahl Murders: Series 1 & 2 (Denmark, crime procedural series, Peter Mygind)
Family Business: Series 1 & 2 (France, dramedy series, Catherine Marchal)

New Documentaries
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America (race, American history, civil rights, Jeffrey Robinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “It’s unlikely that any lecture documentary since ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ has had the galvanizing potential of ‘Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America’ — and if that sounds like faint praise, it isn’t meant that way. The film presents a talk that the lawyer Jeffery Robinson (a former deputy legal director at the A.C.L.U.) gave at Town Hall in New York on Juneteenth 2018. His subject is nothing less than the history of anti-Black racism in the United States.” Read more…)

New releases 3/22/22

Top Hits
Nightmare Alley (noir remake, Cate Blanchett. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 70. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “You might have seen Tyrone Power navigating a similarly shadowy setup in the 1947 noir of the same title, directed by Edmund Goulding. Like the earlier movie, del Toro’s is based on a novel by William Lindsay Gresham, a desperate, pitiless book filled with exotic slang and steeped in the soured milk of human unkindness. Written by [director Guillermo] del Toro and Kim Morgan, the new adaptation hews more faithfully to the novel, partly because it’s not constrained by Hollywood self-censorship. But fealty isn’t always a productive strategy, and while the first film greatly tempers the book’s shocks, it doesn’t sentimentalize the source material, as this one does.” Read more…)

The Boy Behind the Door (horror, Lonnie Chavis. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 65. From Elisabeth Vincentelli’s New York Times review: “Bad, bad things happen to Bobby [Lonnie Chavis, Randall on ‘This Is Us’] and Kevin [Ezra Dewey] in the horror-tinged abduction thriller ‘The Boy Behind the Door.’ And, it must be said, for the most part they happen onscreen. This is not common in American releases, where violence toward kids tends to be suggested, metaphorical or cartoonishly abstract.” Read more…)

John and the Hole (drama/thriller, Charlie Shotwell. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 61. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘When do you stop being a kid?,’ John [Charlie Shotwell], 13, asks his bemused mother [Jennifer Ehle] midway through Pascual Sisto’s ‘John and the Hole.’ The question offers a key to this modern-day fable, one that John is dangerously fixated on answering. Chilly, enigmatic and more than a little spooky, ‘John and the Hole’ patrols the porous border between child and adult with more style than depth.” Read more…)

I Was a Simple Man (drama, Steve Iwamoto. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 83. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “In Christopher Makoto Yogi’s Hawaii-set drama ‘I Was a Simple Man,’ Masao [Steve Iwamoto] is a dignified-looking old-timer who’s nearing the end of his life. As he slows down, the past keeps catching up. His memories, visions and daily struggles all run together in Yogi’s twilight story about coming to terms with death and finding love’s embrace.” Read more…)

Wolf (psychological thriller, George MacKay. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 52. From Natalia Winkelman’s New York Times review: “Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri, the movie maintains a mostly even tone. Despite dashes of uncanny humor, Biancheri directs with remove. The downside to this approach is that certain sequences tend to feel like acting exercises, and though MacKay and Depp perform with devoted bodily fervor, it’s hard to connect to their characters. Still, Biancheri’s imagery is consistently evocative, and her interest in how captivity affects dignity at times recalls the work of Yorgos Lanthimos.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray &Ultra HD 4K
Le Cercle Rouge 4K & Blu-Ray (France, 1970, thriller, Alain Delon.) Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91, Must See. From A.O. Scott’s 2003 New York Times Critic’s Notebook on the film’s re-release in the US [may require log-in]: “‘Le Cercle Rouge,’ released in France in 1970, was the 12th of Jean-Pierre Melville’s 13 films and, at least in his native land, his biggest popular success. Until now, American audiences have known this doleful, elegant exercise in underworld existentialism mainly through its legend, its influence and the brief circulation of a drastically edited, dubbed version a few years ago. The film’s belated arrival, in uncut form, at Film Forum in Manhattan today is thus an exciting and unusual event — exciting because it provides a chance for total immersion in Melville’s stylish, moody noir world, and unusual because, even though the movie has not been seen here before, it offers a curious experience of déjà vu.” Read more…)

The Godfather Trilogy 4K UltraHD (classic Mafia/gangster/family saga by Francis Ford Coppola transferred to super-high resolution format, Marlon Brando, Al Pacino. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh (The Godfather); 96%, Certified Fresh (The Godfather, Part II; 68% (The Godfather, Part III).)

The Stuff Blu-Ray (1985, cult horror dir. by Larry Cohen, Michael Moriarty. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. From Richard F. Shepard’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It takes a little while to see how ‘The Stuff’ is going to tackle the business of selling the public junk food that may be lethal. This horror film spoof, written and directed by Larry Cohen and opening today at Loews Astor Plaza and other theaters, plays it as comedy, such straight comedy that at moments it is in danger of becoming tendentiously unfunny. ‘The Stuff’ mostly is amusing, and at times – too few of them – hilarious. It is a Pop Art piece, what Andy Warhol’s art was to the soup can.” Read more…)

Nightmare Alley Ultra HD 4K & Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
Alain Resnais: Five Short Films (France, documentaries, Alain Resnais)

New Television DVDs
Dexter: New Blood (serial killer drama series, Michael C. Hall. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 61. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times Critic’s Notebook: “The first thing to die in ‘Dexter: New Blood’ is irony. The murder weapon is the subtitle. Oh, there’s blood, all right. That’s what Showtime’s righteous-serial-killer franchise promised from 2006 to 2013, and we get it in the very first episode of this revival, in snow-staining buckets. What we don’t get, in the four competent but redundant episodes screened for critics, is the ‘new’: any hint of a fresh creative impulse in a series that had worn itself out years before it left the air.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Enemies of the State (hackers, government secrets, conspiracy. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “The remarkable thing about ‘Enemies of the State,’ a documentary directed by Sonia Kennebeck and executive produced by Errol Morris, no stranger to epistemological mysteries — is that it comes close to offering decisive yes and no answers, with evidence to back them up. It becomes a documentary about re-evaluating biases, a process that may well implicate the filmmakers. As Tor Ekeland, a lawyer who represented [Matthew] DeHart, says in the movie, ‘The only way to make the facts in this case make sense is to entertain some kind of wild conspiracy theory.’” Read more…)

1991: The Year Punk Broke (music documentary, cultural history, Sonic Youth, Nirvana. From Mark Spitz’s 2011 New York Times article on the initial release of the film on DVD after years of legal hassles [may require log-in]: “Sonic Youth is the star, but the film is filled with about two dozen other up-and-coming musicians at the time, most of them smartly mumbling or squinting with suspicion. As definitive as “1991: The Year Punk Broke” is, it might have remained a footnote if one of those musicians wasn’t a pre-fame Kurt Cobain. His presence elevates the footage from documentary to both fetish item and cautionary tale.” Read more…)

New releases 3/15/22

Top Hits
West Side Story (Steven Spielberg musical remake, Ansel Elgort. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The idea of harnessing the durable tragedy of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ to the newsy issues of juvenile delinquency and ethnic intolerance must have seemed, to Leonard Bernstein, Jerome Robbins, Arthur Laurents and Stephen Sondheim, both audacious and obvious. In the years since, ‘West Side Story’ has proved irresistible — to countless high-school musical theater programs and now to Steven Spielberg, whose film version reaffirms its indelible appeal while making it feel bold, surprising and new.” Read more…)

The Nowhere Inn (music/comedy, St. Vincent. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 60. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Formally lively, ‘The Nowhere Inn’ is a true meta exercise in the sense that the more derivative and self-conscious its conceptual gambits seem [stick around: The reflexivity continues after the end credits], the more it proves its ostensible point: that Clark, or her constructed persona, is less intriguing than her music and how she performs it. Fittingly, the movie most comes to life when she’s shown singing.” Read more…)

Rifkin’s Festival (Woody Allen comedy, Wallace Shawn. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 44%. From Jessica Kiang’s New York Times review: “It’s a relief to report that ‘Rifkin’s Festival’ is, to the ravenous captive, like finding an unexpected stash of dessert: not substantial and not nutritious, but sweet enough to remind you in passing of the good times you once had, despite all that’s happened in the interim. It’s not hard to see why the San Sebastián Film Festival chose ‘Rifkin’s Festival’ as its opener on Friday. Not since Brian De Palma set ‘Femme Fatale’ [2002] in Cannes has there been a movie so symbiotically linked to a festival, and this time nobody gets robbed in the toilets.” Read more…)

Red Rocket (comedy/drama, Simon Rex. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In his previous movies, [director Sean] Baker has observed strivers and dreamers on the margins of respectability with an eye that could be prurient and skeptical, but also compassionate. The aspiring actresses in ‘Starlet,’ the transgender hustlers in ‘Tangerine,’ the half-feral children of ‘The Florida Project’ — all of them are exposed to danger and humiliation. The movies, though, find dignity in the most abject circumstances, and bathe their characters in sometimes surprising warmth. ‘Red Rocket,’ the nonjudgmental portrait of a narcissistic predator, is a rougher piece of work. It’s funny and abrasive, but also coy and, in the end, a bit tedious.” Read more…)

India Sweets and Spices (comedy/drama, Sophia Ali. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 57. From Lisa Kennedy’s New York Times review: “‘India Sweets and Spices’ is a gentle but firm take on the costs of keeping up with the Joneses, or the Devis in this case. Without sacrificing comedic buoyancy, Malik and her ensemble make palpable a community that is vibrant and claustrophobic. Koirala, a Bollywood star, brings a taut poise to a mother whose veneer seems adamantine until the Duttas walk in the door.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Brazil (1985, Terry Gilliam comedy, Jonathan Pryce. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 84, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Janet Maslin’s Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Brazil’ may not be the best film of the year, but it’s a remarkable accomplishment for [director Terry] Gilliam, whose satirical and cautionary impulses work beautifully together. His film’s ambitious visual style bears this out, combining grim, overpowering architecture with clever throwaway touches. The look of the film harkens back to the 1930’s, as does the title; ‘Brazil’ is named not for the country but for the 1930’s popular song, which floats through the film as a tantalizing refrain. The gaiety of the music stands in ironic contrast to the oppressive, totalitarian society in which the story is set.” Read more…)

Jazz On a Summer’s Day (1959, jazz concert/documentary, Louis Armstrong. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1960 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As the Jimmy Giuffre Trio, Thelonious Monk and Henry Grimes, Sonny Stitt and Sal Salvadore and a succession of combos and stars follow one another under the canopy of the Newport Festival, thumping or blasting out music that soothes or abrades the nerves, the cameras of Bert Stern and his assistants are picking up colorful views of everything from the America’s Cup races (which were sailed off Newport in 1958) to “gone” jazz fanatics guzzling beer. The photography is terrific. Mr. Stern and his lens-clicking crew have a bulging assembly of color pictures that should make any camera addict simply drool.” Read more…)

Losing Ground (1982, drama dir. by Kathleen Collins, Seret Scott. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From New York Times critic A.O. Scott’s Critic’s Notebook on “Black indie films”: “To watch Kathleen Collins’s ‘Losing Ground’ — a 1982 film making its long-awaited theatrical debut at Lincoln Center on Friday as part of ‘Tell It Like It Is,’ a sprawling survey of black independent film of New York from 1968 to 1986 — is to experience a curious blend of nostalgia and novelty. The clothes the characters wear, how they talk and what they talk about, the grainy texture of the images and the weariness of the world they capture — all of these emerge from a time capsule devoted to an era that doesn’t quite have a name. But partly because those images have remained unseen for so long, and partly because Ms. Collins, who died in 1988, was such a bold and idiosyncratic filmmaker, ‘Losing Ground’ also feels like news, like a bulletin from a vital and as-yet-unexplored dimension of reality.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Whaler Boy (Russia, drama, Vladimir Onokhov. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 70. From Jessica Kiang’s Variety review: “The clash between the bleak traditional lifestyle of the villagers, who still use hand-tossed harpoons to secure their catch, reddening the sea, and the futurist fantasy of a Detroit-based online sex work enterprise is explored in uneven yet stirring ways in Philipp Yuryev’s feature debut, ‘The Whaler Boy.’ Essentially a coming-of-age fable, the film is also an ambitious, sometimes self-consciously ironic blend of genres and influences, which perhaps convince most when they do not cohere.” Read more…)

Before the Revolution (Italy, 1964, drama, dir. by Bernardo Bertolucci, Francesco Barilli. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From Eugene Archer’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The New York Film Festival is still capable of surprises. Last night, Philharmonic Hall presented ‘Before the Revolution,’ an unheralded Italian feature by an unknown writer-director named Bernardo Bertolucci. He is 23 years old, and his film is a beauty. So is its star, Adriana Asti, a large-eyed brunette making her celluloid debut, appeared onstage with the director to take a modest bow before the screening. Her unfamiliar face meant little to the audience at the time. Before the evening was over, it had become a face that discerning filmgoers are unlikely to forget.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Dalgliesh: Season 1 (UK detective series, Bertie Carvel. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 77. From Joel Keller’s Decider assessment: “ If you like straightforward British procedurals based on classic characters, than Dalgliesh won’t disappoint. But there seems to be a lost opportunity to dive more into Dalgliesh’s interesting character, especially given who is playing the detective this time around.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Private Lives (1931, Noel Coward comedy, Norma Shearer. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1931 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Noel Coward’s stage comedy, ‘Private Lives,’ has blossomed into a motion picture which yesterday afternoon met with high favor from a Capitol audience. It has been changed in a few respects, chiefly a matter of geography, but most of the clever lines and the hectic incidents have survived the studio operation. Like the play, the film begins on the Riviera, but instead of ending in Paris the closing sequence is in an Alpine chalet. Sidney Franklin’s direction is excellent and Norma Shearer as Amanda Prynne gives an alert, sharp portrayal.” Read more…)