New releases 7/27/21

Top Hits
A Quiet Place: Part II (horror/suspense, Emily Blunt. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “And while this new installment is, like its predecessor, wonderfully acted and intuitively directed (by John Krasinski, who is solely responsible for the story this time around), it has also largely replaced the hushed horror of the original with full-on action. Faster, coarser and far noisier, “Part II” sacrifices emotional depth for thriller setups that do less to advance the plot than grow the younger characters.” Read more…)

Jakob’s Wife (horror, Barbara Crampton. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 59. From Erik Piepenburg’s capsule New York Times review: “Travis Stevens’s film layers feminism on top of comedy on top of vampire myth and gross-out splatter. It mostly clicks, and the reason is [actress Barbara] Crampton. With a decades-long career in out-there films including ‘Re-Animator,’ she’s as close to acting royalty as horror gets. Here she is fearless as a woman discovering her powers within.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
A Quiet Place: Part II

New Foreign DVDs
Le Crabe-Tambour (France, 1977, war drama. From Vincent Canby’s 1984 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “To come to the point immediately, ‘Le Crabe Tambour,’ Pierre Schoendoerffer’s 1977 French film based on his own French novel, is one of the grandest, most beautiful adventure movies in years. It may be somewhat old-fashioned in its emphasis on courage, honor and the glory of war, no matter what the cause. However, it’s also wonderfully old-fashioned in its convoluted, romantic narrative, which moves from Vietnam, during the collapse of France’s control of Indochina in the 1950’s, to East Africa, Algeria, Brittany, Newfoundland and the stormy fishing grounds on the Grand Banks.” Read more…)

La Piscine aka The Swimming Pool (France, 1969, mystery/suspense, Criterion Collection, Alain Delon. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review of the screening of the restored film: “‘La Piscine,’ made in 1969, is best known in the United States for its remake, Luca Guadagnino’s frisky, borderline frivolous 2016 ‘A Bigger Splash.’ The release of a pristine restoration of the original, directed by Jacques Deray and starring Alain Delon, Romy Schneider, Maurice Ronet and Jane Birkin, should bolster this striking movie’s reputation.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Gangs of London: Season 1 (action/crime series, Aled ap Steffan. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 70. From Simon Abrams’ New York Times article: “The other key components of the series, which premiered in Britain last year, are brutal, dynamic fight scenes that bear the unmistakable signature of Gareth Evans, who created the series with the writer and cinematographer Matt Flannery. Evans, a Welsh filmmaker, is known for his electric action sequences, and the set pieces in ‘Gangs of London’ stand out for their visceral impact, sophisticated choreography and extreme violence.” Read more…)

Unrelated (drama, 2007, Tom Hiddleston. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The first film directed by [Joanna] Hogg, ‘Unrelated,’ released in Britain in 2008 and shown here for the first time [in 2014], announced the debut of a significant writing and directing talent. Her more abstract and even chillier third film, ‘Exhibition,’ recently opened in Manhattan. As in ‘Exhibition,’ Ms. Hogg casts a cold eye on the manners of the British upper middle class at play. Except for their accents, these people are identical to a certain class of spoiled, supercilious New Yorkers who exude a smug sense of entitlement.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide (art history, pop culture. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The condition of being an artist and the significance of what an artist produces are two distinct things. The post-pop artist Kenny Scharf, who came out of the same downtown art and music scene as Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Klaus Nomi, is someone whose critical and material stock has risen, fallen and risen again over decades. The documentary ‘Kenny Scharf: When Worlds Collide,’ directed by Max Basch and the artist’s daughter Malia Scharf, makes a considered and not entirely uncritical case for Scharf’s relevance.” Read more…)

Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts (race, history, art, outsider art. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This documentary, directed by Jeffrey Wolf, is a plain, sincere, nourishing account of the artist. Wolf makes excellent use of photo and film archives, laying out the territory that fed [artist and former slave Bill] Traylor’s vision: dirt roads, railroad tracks, backwoods. These places, the critic and musician Greg Tate notes in the film, lay the ground for the “mystical realm” of Traylor’s work: The deliberately two-dimensional figures and the limited but bold colors have the transfixing power of a waking dream.” Read more…)

New releases 7/20/21

Top Hits
Dream Horse (drama/comedy, Toni Collette. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 67. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the comedy-drama ‘Dream Horse,’ a woman who works two jobs gets an idea. Remembering her glory days of training animals — pigeons, to be exact — she is determined to buy a mare and birth a race horse. She doesn’t have the resources to do it on her own, so she turns to her sleepy community in Wales to pool their assets. This sports underdog story, which is based on true events, has several features endemic to the genre. But ‘Dream Horse,’ an unabashed crowd-pleaser directed by Euros Lyn, earns its smiles and cheers.” Read more…)

Undergods (sci-fi/horror, Johann Myers. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From Elisabeth Vincentelli in The New York Times: “The film will be anathema to those who need clear-cut — well, clear-cut anything. But Moya has made something rare: an oddity that feels both familiar and completely sui generis. Fans of ‘Delicatessen,’ ‘Brazil’ and ‘Eraserhead’ should give it a shot.” Read more…)

Spiral: From the Book of Saw (horror, Chris Rock. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 40. From Lena Wilson’s New York Times review: “In ‘Spiral,’ the latest film in the ‘Saw’ universe, the first expletives land before the two-minute mark. Blood spills right after, when a man has to decide between getting his tongue ripped out or being hit by an underground train. That the film is overall gorier and more foulmouthed than its predecessors, while still managing an R rating, is undoubtedly an accomplishment. Unfortunately, that is the film’s only notable one.” Read more…)

Wrath of Man (action, Jason Statham. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The filmmaker Guy Ritchie has long shown an eagerness to take a whack at almost any blockbuster format a given studio is willing to offer him. Witness the noisome ‘Sherlock Holmes’ period pictures he’s made with Robert Downey Jr., or his more recent live-action consideration of Disney’s ‘Aladdin.’ But his most enjoyable movies remain the tough, nasty crime thrillers with which he kicked off his career back in 1999 with ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.’ His new ‘Wrath of Man’ is such an item, although it’s more somber and less rollicking than the likes of ‘Lock.’” Read more…)

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (historical drama, Riva Krymalowski. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 47. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Painting a curiously cozy portrait of refugee life, Caroline Link’s ‘When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit’ views displacement and the approaching Holocaust primarily through the experiences of a child, Anna Kemper [a captivating Riva Krymalowski]. The result is a movie that’s almost as cuddly as the toy in its title.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Wrath of Man

New Foreign DVDs
There Is No Evil (Iran, drama, Ehsan Mirhosseini. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Because ‘There Is No Evil’ has landed in international headlines — the director, Mohammad Rasoulof, made the movie covertly and without the approval of Iranian authorities, and a ban on his leaving the country prevented him from accepting the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival in person last year — revealing what it’s about seems fair. But the film is constructed to surprise you.” Read more…)

Slalom (France, #MeToo drama, Jérémie Renier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “In competitive skiing, athletes balance the rewards of downhill glory against the dangers of a fall. The sensitive, discomforting drama ‘Slalom’ follows Lyz [Noée Abita], a 15-year-old recruit to a ski facility in the French Alps. There, young skiers are molded into champions by an ambitious trainer, Fred [Jérémie Renier]. From their first meeting, the relationship between Lyz and Fred is physical.” Read more…)

Sublet (Israel, drama/comedy/LGBTQ romance, John Benjamin Hickey. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 67. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “The film doesn’t exactly subvert its clichéd ‘when two worlds meet’ premise, and its bubbly but lame music cues are no help. The Israeli director Eytan Fox offers insights into two generations of gay men that at times can seem superficial. Nevertheless, he creates a pleasurably low-key double character study.” Read more…)

Yourself & Yours (South Korea, 2016, romance, You-young Lee. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Director Hong Sang-soo’s] formal confidence yields a movie that’s very simply constructed and utterly engrossing. There are a lot of scenes done in a single shot, usually static, but when there’s a zoom [his preferred camera flourish] it’s unfussy and direct. He puts you in tune with the world of his sad-sack characters immediately, and their rhythm becomes the rhythm of the story.” Read more…)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
A Town Like Alice (Australia, 1980, drama mini-series, Helen Morse)
Brokenwood Mysteries: Series 2 (New Zealand, mystery/procedural, Neill Rea)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Web (1947, film noir, Edmond O’Brien. From T.M.P.’s 1947 New York Times review: “There’s a big surprise in store for anyone who visits Loew’s Criterion, where ‘The Web’ opened yesterday, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the quality of the film, which is just another whodunit. The story follows a routine course, with a struggling young lawyer taking up with a rich industrialist—not as a legal adviser, but as a bodyguard—and finding himself enmeshed in a fatal shooting which has all the trappings of a first-class frame-up.” Read more…)

Larceny (1948, film noir, John Payne. From T.M.P.’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The old confidence game is being worked to a fare-thee-well in ‘Larceny,’ which opened yesterday at the Winter Garden. Surprisingly enough this melodrama packs considerable punch as it races along from one larcenous episode to another. Since the plot is not only old and familiar but markedly illogical as well this spectator is at a loss to justify the feeling of satisfaction engendered by this obviously contrived exercise in smouldering violence.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Deep Cover (1992, mystery/procedural, Criterion Collection, Laurence Fishburne. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Janet Maslin’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘I want my cake and eat it too,’ says one of the characters in ‘Deep Cover,’ the story of a policeman assigned to masquerade as a cocaine dealer. The film itself seemingly embraces that same thought. On the one hand an upright police thriller, ‘Deep Cover’ is also a rapt exploration of all the vice and viciousness that make the drug kingpin’s life so popular with contemporary film makers. The film’s cautionary message, which is stated outright, is undercut by its fascination with seamy glamour.” Read more…)

Working Girls (1986, Lizzie Borden-dir. drama, Louise Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. From J. Hoberman’s “rewind” column for the New York Times: “‘Working Girls’ is notable for its measured structure, analytical camera placement and straightforward cool. Borden only tips her hand once, when she allows Molly — who has been sweet-talked into working a double shift — to ask Lucy if she’s ever heard of ‘surplus value.’ ‘Working Girls’ is an anticapitalist critique that has scarcely dated, save for one bit of hip social realism I neglected to note when I reviewed it in 1987 for a downtown weekly. Asked how she heard about the job, a new recruit reveals that she answered a want ad for ‘hostesses’ in The Village Voice.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Tulsa: The Fire and the Forgotten (U.S. history, racism, civil rights. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The PBS film is journalistic, built around the reporting of The Washington Post’s DeNeen L. Brown, who appears onscreen, and narrated by NPR’s Michel Martin. It spends a little less time on the past and more on the continuing issues of race in Tulsa, including educational disparities and the protests following the police killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed Black man, in 2016. In the nature of the contemporary newspaper feature, it’s a touch sanctimonious.” Read more…)

New releases 7/13/21

Top Hits
Mortal Kombat (martial arts/action, Lewis Tan. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 44. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The appeal of the video game Mortal Kombat [and its Coke-Pepsi rival Street Fighter] was combining the characters in different smackdowns. But trying to construct a plot that links them is a fatal trap. The cheesy ‘Mortal Kombat’ [1995], from the future ‘Resident Evil’ director Paul W.S. Anderson, proved as much, and now there is ‘Mortal Kombat’ [2021], directed by Simon McQuoid, a snazzier, marginally more coherent movie that features a less catchy version of the techno theme song.” Read more…)

The Night (suspense/horror in Persian/English, Shahab Hosseini. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘The Night’ begins with a round of the party game, Mafia. The film’s central couple Babak [Shahab Hosseini] and Neda [Niousha Jafarian] play along, each wryly accusing the other of hiding secrets, each saying that the other might be the killer. The Persian-language, Los Angeles-set thriller that follows builds tension around the resentments that have accumulated in their marriage. But the stakes never rise past the movie’s first game.” Read more…)

Rose Plays Julie (#MeToo thriller, Anne Skelly. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 86. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “‘Rose Plays Julie,’ written and directed by Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor, frames its sexual trauma as an intergenerational one. It contemplates the double lives of women through the ideas of outer success and inner anguish, as well as the trope of the naïve girl versus the seductive avenger.” Read more…)

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge on the Run (animated feature, Keanu Reeves [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 65. From Maya Phillips’ New York Times review: “I’m no stranger to Bikini Bottom. I may not have a pineapple home there, but I know the residents and local spots. Though after my unfortunate recent visit, for ‘The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run,’ I’m packing up my swim trunks and heading elsewhere.” Read more…)

Rev (action, Vivica Fox. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 65.)

New Blu-Ray
Limbo Blu-Ray (UK, refugee drama based in Scotland, Amir El-Masry. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82, Must-See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Most of the films we’ve seen about the migrant and refugee situation in Europe in recent years are gritty, often heartbreaking dramas and documentaries. ‘Limbo,’ written and directed by a ferociously talented filmmaker, Ben Sharrock, takes an insinuating, poetic and often wryly funny approach. And it’s both heartbreaking and heartlifting.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
C.B. Strike: Lethal White (crime series, Tom Burke)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Bringing Up Baby (1938, dir. by Howard Hawks, Criterion Collection, screwball comedy, Katharine Hepburn. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1938 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In fact, after the first five minutes of the Music Hall’s new show—we needed those five to orient ourselves—we were content to play the game called ‘the cliche expert goes to the movies’ and we were not at all proud to report that we scored 100 percent against Dudley Nichols, Hagar Wilde and Howard Hawks.” Read more… Current Times critic A.O. Scott noted that “One of my favorite reviews in the annals of The New York Times is Frank S. Nugent’s brisk four-paragraph dismissal of ‘Bringing Up Baby,’ now regarded as a deathless classic of the screwball era, judged by Mr. Nugent to be a tiresome riot of clichés… I take the review as a reminder to be humble and also not to be afraid of being wrong.”)

Alias Nick Beal (1949, film noir, Ray Milland. From T.M.P.’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “At the beginning of the new picture presented yesterday at the Paramount we are informed that the seed of destruction lurks within us all, waiting the chance to take root and destroy our moral fiber. This corner will buy that as sound logic and it also will buy a sizable chunk of ‘Alias Nick Beal’ as an arresting, expertly tuned morality drama calculated to hold attention the while it drives home a pointed lesson about the dangerous consequences of pride, greed and lust for power.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Just A Gigolo (1978, drama, David Bowie, Marlene Dietrich. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “’Just a Gigolo,’ which opens today at the D.W. Griffith Theater and the Eighth Street Playhouse, is the story of the fall, rise and fall of the aristocratic Paul. It’s a very bad movie of more than routine interest because of the talent of many of the people involved and because of its literary antecedents.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Evocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie (bio, media, shock TV, reality TV, Morton Downey Jr. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Now that raw-meat theatrics are a staple of television talk shows and reality programming, you’d think that one of the style’s earliest practitioners would have lost the ability to shock. But as ‘Évocateur: The Morton Downey Jr. Movie’ makes clear, the foaming bile of the man known as ‘the blue-collar king’ has leached little of its potency.” Read more…)

New releases 7/6/21

Top Hits
The Sound of Metal (drama/music, Riz Ahmed. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Though underwritten and dramatically muted, this unusual movie diverts with an extraordinarily intricate sound design that allows us to borrow Ruben’s ears. From the sonic assault of his music to the hisses and crackles of his newly implanted devices — like an imperfectly tuned radio station — what Ruben hears seems as indistinct as his future.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Perfect Candidate (Saudi Arabia, drama, Mila Al Zahrani. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Story developments that would seem pat in a Western-made film are treated as miraculous here. But ‘The Perfect Candidate,’ co-written and directed by Haifaa Al-Mansour [‘Wadjda,’ ‘Nappily Ever After’], is as much a family drama as it is a parable of feminist activism — and is all the better for it.” Read more…)

The Bureau: Complete Series (France, suspense series that ran from 2015-20, Mathieu Kassovitz. In 2019, New York Times critic Mike Hale listed “The Bureau” as third on his list of 30 best international series of the decade, writing, “Perhaps the smartest and most authentic-feeling procedural espionage series anywhere in the world, especially in its first two seasons. [Season 5 premieres in France in March.] Mathieu Kassovitz stars as a foreign-intelligence agent who, after returning from a posting in Syria, makes a mistake whose increasingly grim ramifications have played out across the entire series.”)

New British DVDs
Bloodlands: Season 1 (thriller set in Northern Ireland, James Nesbitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 77. From John Anderson’s Wall Street Journal review: “The four-part ‘Bloodlands,’ a hit British thriller now streaming on Acorn TV, isn’t just about murder, betrayal and Irish gun-barrel politics. It’s about the power of storytelling. Northern Ireland, as portrayed in the series at least, is so unstable that few characters want to even mention its bloody past, and that’s something reflected in the production itself: There’s a straining for silence, as if the series might become complicit in disturbing the peace. But can a people be free if their defining conflict goes unspoken? The result is an agitated tension percolating beneath the surface skullduggery and violence.” Read more…)

New Television
Defending Jacob (drama mini-series, Chris Evans. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 61. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “‘Defending Jacob” is an eight-episode murder mystery from Apple TV Plus with a full catalog of twists and an impressive cast that includes Chris Evans, Michelle Dockery, Cherry Jones and J.K. Simmons. It’s also Exhibit A for a question that’s becoming increasingly unavoidable: Why does everything have to be a television series?” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Pariah (2011, drama/gay & lesbian romance/coming-of-age, Criterion Collection, Adepero Oduye. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Don’t be put off by the harsh title of ‘Pariah,’ the stirring coming-out story of a virginal 17-year-old African-American lesbian living in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn. The teenager, Alike [pronounced ah-LEE-kay], dresses like a boy when out of her parents’ sight and endures a fair share of barbed, homophobic remarks, but she is not viciously persecuted.” Read more…)

New releases 6/29/21

Top Hits
Wildcat (thriller/drama, Georgina Campbell. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. From Nell Minow’s RogerEbert.com review: “There were many moments where I wondered whether ‘Wildcat’ was earning what it was asking of the audience, and the relentlessness of the situation may be too much to handle for those who are not prepared for it. But I stayed on the side of the film, its exceptional actors, and its writer/director Jonathan W. Stokes, who held my interest by revealing more about the characters over the course of the film.” Read more…)

Hunter Hunter (horror/thriller, Camille Sullivan. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 61. From Frank Scheck’s Hollywood Reporter review: “It’s in the film’s final act, which seems a long time in coming, that ‘Hunter Hunter’ truly becomes something memorable. There will be no spoilers here, save to say that the filmmaker cunningly keeps the narrative merely simmering until a gonzo conclusion that ranks among the more shocking scenes in cinematic history as an accumulation of tragedies transforms Anne from someone who weeps at the killing of a rabbit into an instrument of revenge who would inspire Hannibal Lecter’s admiration.” Read more…)

The Paper Tigers (martial arts/comedy, Alain Uy. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 68. From Beatrice Loayza’s New York Times review: “Midway through ‘The Paper Tigers,’ there’s a brawl in an empty pool: on the left, a trio of arrogant youngsters with serious moves; on the right, three middle-aged men who tout their seniority. The Tigers were once Seattle’s greatest kung fu fighters. Key word: ‘Once.’” Read more…)

Eat Wheaties! (comedy, Tony Hale. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 38. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “With his debut film, ‘Eat Wheaties!,’ Scott Abramovitch has wrangled the kind of cast that most first-time directors dream of: a who’s-who of TV comedy that includes Tony Hale [‘Arrested Development,’ ‘Veep”’], Elisha Cuthbert, Lamorne Morris, Sarah Chalke and Alan Tudyk. But what Abramovitch does with such a lineup is an unfortunate, unfunny mess.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The 317th Platoon (France, 1965, war drama, Jacques Perrin. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s 2018 Times review: “This is a staggeringly engrossing and effective movie, its settings both beautiful and oppressive, its incidents tense and eye-opening. There are no philosophical musings, no what-are-we-fighting-for debates. It’s all about getting out in one piece as the odds of doing so get worse every hour. A terse text at the film’s end is a gruesome, ironic twist on the adage about living to fight another day. Screening officially in New York for the first time, this is a genuinely revelatory war movie.” Read more…)

Wisting: Season 1 (Norway, noir series, Sven Nordin, Carrie-Anne Moss)

New Television
I Know This Much Is True (HBO drama mini-series based on Wally Lamb novel, Mark Ruffalo. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 68. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “The new HBO mini-series ‘I Know This Much Is True’ takes a character and puts him through a wringer that is so unforgiving, you’d expect it to flatten him completely, to squeeze out everything but the allegory of suffering. That it doesn’t — that there’s enough juice in him to keep you moderately interested for most of the six-hour-plus story — is almost entirely thanks to the man playing him, Mark Ruffalo.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Calcutta (1947, film noir/action, Alan Ladd. From T.M.P.’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There is just so much that an actor can do on his own to make a character interesting and then he must depend upon the scenarist to provide him with dialogue and situations which will keep the spectator on edge. In ‘Calcutta,’ which opened yesterday at the Paramount. Alan Ladd is going through an all-too-familiar exercise. While the actor is giving a competent performance and is nicely abetted by William Bendix, the story by Seton I. Miller, who also produced the film for Paramount, is a sorry mess indeed.” Read more…)

Forty Guns (1957, Samuel Fuller-dir. western, Criterion Collection, Barbara Stanwyck. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Dave Kehr’s 2005 New York Times review of a previous DVD release: “‘Forty Guns’ is above all a movie of wildly inventive imagery, of which several examples have entered film history. Sergio Leone appropriated Fuller’s gigantic close-up of Sullivan — two big eyes — as he strides into a showdown, and spun a whole style around it. And in ‘Breathless’ [1960], Jean-Luc Godard borrowed Fuller’s imitation of an iris — a shot down the barrel of the rifle, framing the actress Eve Brent in a circular cameo — for one of his most memorable effects. Fuller, who began as a crime reporter and pulp novelist, shoots as if he were completely unaware of the rules of classical “invisible” filmmaking, constantly drawing attention to his style and in the process becoming one of Hollywood’s first accidental modernists.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Moby Doc (music, bio, Moby, Connecticut music. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In ‘Moby Doc,’ animation, staged dream sequences, skits and archival footage form a portrait of the title artist, the musician Moby. While the credited director is Robert Gordon Bralver, the movie is clearly a late-life self-realization project for Moby himself. Small of frame and short of hair, Moby understands the ways in which he’s an unlikely pop star. Boy, does he ever.” Read more…)

Signifying Works of Marlon Riggs (anthology, Criterion Collection, collected works of filmmaker Marlon Riggs, Black lives, LGBTQ+ lives. From Craig Lindsey’s Houston Chronicle review of this box set: “‘Signifyin’’ includes Riggs’ four features [including ‘Black Is … Black Ain’t,’ released posthumously in 1995] as well as the shorts ‘Affirmations,’ ‘Anthem’ and ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien [No Regret].’ Also included are a number of special features, including “Long Train Running: The Story of the Oakland Blues” Riggs’ 1981 graduate thesis film from his days at UC Berkeley; and the 1996 documentary ‘I Shall Not Be Removed: The Life of Marlon Riggs,’ which features interviews from Riggs’ family, friends and collaborators. Since this month has been a time for celebration in both the African American [Juneteenth] and LGBTQ+ communities [Pride Month], ‘Signifyin’’ couldn’t have come along at a better time. And now would be a good time for people to celebrate a filmmaker whose flowers are long overdue by checking out this box set.” Read more…)

Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (music, bio, Grace Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Wesley Morris’ Times review: “She’s an iconoclast, basically. And I imagine a downside of iconoclasm is that you never get to be a human being. This is someone whose long career as a model, actress and undervalued musician has veered, sometimes uncomfortably, into both the sub- and superhuman. So the relief of ‘Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami’ is that it seeks to square the person with the provocateuse. The documentary is a feat of portraiture and a restoration of humanity. It’s got the uncanny, the sublime, and, in many spots, a combination of both.” Read more…)

Visions of Eight (Criterion Collection, 8 directors on the 1972 Munich Olympics, sports)

New releases 6/22/21

Top Hits
Nobody (thriller, Bob Odenkirk. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A journey from emasculation to invigoration, ‘Nobody’ harks back to the vigilante dramas of the 1970s and early 80s. Unlike the would-be heroes of those movies, though, Hutch has no real excuse for the savage spree he instigates and perpetuates. [His family is unharmed; what’s wounded is his ego.]” Read more…)

Georgetown (crime/drama, Christoph Waltz. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 49. From Calum Marsh’s New York Times review: “Christoph Waltz is a magnificent actor, and in ‘Georgetown,’ as in everything, he is a pleasure to watch. As Ulrich Mott, a smooth-talking, uxorious grifter and social climber who wheedles his way into Washington society with the aid of his well-connected nonagenarian wife, Waltz flamboyantly charms and flatters, wearing a wolfish smile as he lies through his teeth.” Read more…)

Siberia (horror, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 34. From Guy Lodge’s Variety review: “[Director Abel] Ferrara and [actor Willem] Dafoe were always an obvious fit — both toughened, wily eccentrics happy to sit outside the system — though their previous pairings, including the surprisingly restrained quasi-biopic ‘Pasolini’ and last year’s navel-gazing doodle ‘Tommaso,’ never made the most of that kinship. You can’t say that about ‘Siberia,’ a beautiful, unhinged, sometimes hilarious trek into geographical and psychological wilderness that will delight some and mystify many others. As a study of a rugged individualist looking back on long-withered connections — to others, to the mainstream world, and indeed to himself — it feels personally invested both as a star vehicle and an auteur piece.” Read more…)

Anything for Jackson (horror, Yannick Bisson. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 67. From Brian Tallerico’s RogerEbert.com review: “‘Anything for Jackson’ has the kind of premise that most directors would have turned into a goofy comedy of errors, especially in the years after ‘Shaun of the Dead’ made horror-comedies cool again. And it starts off with some wicked dark humor that leads one to believe it’s going in that direction … and then it’s not. Justin G. Dyck’s very smart movie lures viewers in with its clever concept and instantly strong characters only to present them with the kind of nightmare fuel that would impress Clive Barker.” Read more…)

Speed Kills (action, John Travolta. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 19%. From Dennis Harvey’s Variety review: “There have been many ups and downs in John Travolta’s career, which currently rests in a valley equivalent to the one he’d hit just before ‘Pulp Fiction’ a quarter-century ago. You might think anything would be an improvement after ‘Gotti.’ Yet the new ‘Speed Kills’ not only isn’t appreciably better, it’s also bad in much the same way: another cliché-riddled portrait of an underworld-tied figure the movie seems to celebrate as one ballsy SOB, though viewers may find his personality warrants more fumigation than admiration.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Bridge of Spies
Promising Young Woman

New Television
Umbrella Academy: Season 1 (superhero Netflix series, Kate Walsh. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 61. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “Its attempts to capture the visual and narrative virtuosity of the comics are halfhearted, though, and we’re left with a polished but increasingly dull version of the same old story: saving the world as a byproduct of overcoming adolescent resentments and family dysfunction; teenage alienation as an apocalyptic force that has to be brought under control.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970, comedy/drama, Carrie Snodgress. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. From Roger Greenspun’s 1970 New York Times review: “‘Diary of a Mad Housewife, which opened yesterday at the Beekman Theater, is the story of a long‐suffering young woman, tormented by a fastidious and egomaniacal husband, who takes a lover in his own defensive way as fastidious and egomaniacal as the man to whom she is married. To explain my pleasure in this movie, which is comedy largely in the sense that it leaves no room for tears, I must first admit that I admire it more as film art than for the kind of social observation for which it is likely to be praised.” Read more…)

That Cold Day In the Park (1969, psychological thriller/drama, Sandy Dennis. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. From Roger Ebert’s 1960 Chicago Sun-Times review: “‘That Cold Day in the Park’ is pretty well done. Sandy Dennis supplies a convincing portrait of the repressed, sex-obsessed spinster. Michael Burns is adequate as the boy, in a role that makes small demands on acting ability. Gillian Freeman’s script shows a good ear for dialog, especially during scenes in a birth-control clinic and a nightclub. And the photography by Laszlo Kovacs [who shot ‘Hell’s Angels on Wheels’ so well] does more than the direction or the script to establish a mood of approaching horror and tragedy. Too bad someone besides the cameraman wasn’t thinking in those terms.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Streetwise/Tiny: The Life of Erin Blackwell (Criterion Collection, bio, social issues, homelessness. Streetwise on Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Janet Maslin’s 1984 New York Times review of “Streetwise” [requires log-in]: “‘Streetwise,’ a study of young teen-age vagrants living in Seattle, began as an article [by Cheryl McCall] and photo-essay [by Mary Ellen Mark] in Life magazine. As a feature film, produced by Miss McCall and directed by Martin Bell, it still has the quality of a photo-essay observing a number of homeless teen- agers without structuring a narrative or otherwise commenting on what is seen. This shapelessness, and the unacknowledged presence of the camera in what seem to be small, intimate moments, would hurt the film if its interview footage were not so unmistakably authentic and, at times, so wrenching.” Read more…
“Tiny” was a New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “The combination of ‘Streetwise’ and ‘Tiny’ belongs on a short list with ‘Boyhood,’ the ‘Up’ documentaries and ‘Hoop Dreams’ as exemplars of time-capsule filmmaking. The pair of films not only has much to say about the legacy of poverty [a legacy that includes Erin’s mother, seen toward the end], but also about aging, the capacity for reinvention and the possibilities of film.” Read more…)

New releases 6/15/21

Top Hits
Godzilla Vs. Kong (action, Alexander Skarsgård. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “A few nights ago, I watched ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ alone in my darkened living room. This was far from ideal, but it did make me acutely nostalgic for a specific pleasure that I have gone without for 13 months. There are many reasons I miss going to movie theaters, but one of them I hadn’t really taken account of is the particular delight of watching a bad movie on a big screen. I don’t mean ‘bad’ in a bad way. It’s a description, rather than a judgment.” Read more…)

French Exit (comedy/drama, Michelle Pfeiffer. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “As if rebounding as far as possible from her hard-luck character in the 2018 drama ‘Where Is Kyra?,’ Michelle Pfeiffer glams it up as an imperious New York dowager in ‘French Exit.’ Floating through scenes in fur-trimmed coats and slinky peignoirs, nose in the air and martini glass in a death grip, Pfeiffer is Frances Price, a diva of disdain. The role is far juicier than the movie around it, a melancholy farce of disappearing privilege and insouciant parenting.” Read more…)

The Lovebirds (rom-com, Issa Rae. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Remember ‘Date Night,’ with Steve Carell and Tina Fey? I didn’t either, until I saw ‘The Lovebirds’ and tried to think of another movie that had similarly squandered the appeal of two popular comic performers in a rom-com caper that managed to be both frantic and lazy.” Read more…)

Supernova (gay & lesbian drama, Colin Firth, Stanley Tucci, Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “It’s rare to see a cinematic drama executed with such consistent care as ‘Supernova,’ written and directed by Harry Macqueen and starring Colin Firth and Stanley Tucci. And here, that care pays off to devastating effect.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Godzilla Vs. Kong

New Foreign
The Man Who Sold His Skin (Tunisia, drama, Yahya Mahayni. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 67. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Art satire meets immigration drama in the Tunisian director Kaouther Ben Hania’s ‘The Man Who Sold His Skin.’ Ben Hania repurposes a real-life chapter from the annals of the art world, when the Belgian artist Wim Delvoye tattooed the back of a man, and then sold it as art. What sounds like a recipe for trouble — what about the human who’s the canvas? — is exactly where the movie lives, spinning a prickly cautionary tale of exploitation and commodification.” Read more…)

True Mothers (Japan, drama, Hiromi Nagasaku. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 64. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Only a mountain couldn’t be moved by ‘True Mothers’ — but like Asato’s parentage, the sources of that effect are complex. From one angle, ‘True Mothers’ is sensitive and layered. From another, the tricks it plays with perspective constitute an all-too-calculated ploy for tears.” Read more…)

To the Ends of the Earth (Japan, drama, Atsuko Maeda. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Kurosawa is best known in the United States for his idiosyncratic horror pictures [‘Pulse,’ ‘Creepy,’ and others]. This, though, is a relatively quiet, sensitive portrayal of cross-cultural exchange and confusion, and a woman looking for herself in a place that’s strange to her. Kurosawa’s command of film form gives the movie an embracing magnetism despite its seeming thinness of plot.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
One Potato, Two Potato (1964, drama, Barbara Barrie. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.H. Weiler’s New York Times review: “Modestly conceived and executed by a pair of movie tyros and cheered and honored at the recent Cannes Film Festival, ‘One Potato, Two Potato,’ which arrived yesterday at the Murray Hill, Embassy and other theaters, deserves its accolades and yet, like life itself, disturbingly shows its imperfections.In simply mirroring cancerous injustices stemming from an interracial marriage, a terrible quandary is starkly, if patly, pictured. Gnawing doubts remain after the film’s climactic decision is made, but this festering problem of our flawed society, which could have been depicted sordidly and sensationally, is, instead, often made moving in basically honest terms.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Us Kids (activism, gun violence, Emma Gonzalez. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 64. From Lovia Gyarkye’s New York Times review: “‘Us Kids’ skillfully handles a sensitive subject and prudently connects the Parkland students’ stories to those of Black students whose experiences with gun violence rarely garner similar national attention. The film generally strikes an optimistic tone — highlighting the resilience of these young activists and the community they created. But no amount of editing or overlaid emotional ballads can shake the unsettling fact that these teenagers, whose lives were disturbed by unthinkable acts of violence, feel abandoned by the systems meant to protect them.” Read more…)

Ali & Cavett: The Tale of the Tapes (documentary, sports, television, Muhammad Ali. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. From Stephen Battaglio’s Los Angeles Times article: “‘Ali & Cavett,’ directed by Robert Bader, makes the case that Cavett’s late-night show — which began on ABC in 1969 — provided a comfort zone for Ali, especially before he became a beloved figure. Ali polarized the public with his decision to resist the draft and serve as a spokesman for the Nation of Islam, which was known for promoting racial separatism.” Read more…)

New releases 6/8/21

Top Hits
Shoplifters of the World (comedy, Helena Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 52. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Shoplifters of the World,’ a loving gift to superfans of the English band The Smiths, is, we are told at the beginning, ‘based on true intentions.’ I can’t argue with that: Written and directed by Stephen Kijak [who made the fantastic 2008 documentary ‘Scott Walker: 30 Century Man’], this sweetly nostalgic look at lost boys and lonely girls feels like it comes straight from the heart.” Read more…)

City of Lies (true crime/procedural, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “At heart a movie about one man’s self-destructive obsession [Poole was forced to resign two weeks shy of his pension], ‘City of Lies’ has an underlying, unexpected poignancy. The look is grimy and the atmosphere is grim; but what could have been a moody character study or a taut conspiracy thriller is instead a dreary procedural, a misbegotten mush of flashbacks, voice-overs and dead ends.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Center Stage (China, 1992, drama, Maggie Cheung. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Chain Lightning (1950, drama/adventure/romance, Humphrey Bogart. From A. Weiler’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Make no mistake about it, Warner Brothers, who obviously want audiences to know where they’re going, are aware that we’re living on a supercharged planet. And, in ‘Chain Lightning,’ which, zipped into the Strand on Saturday, they are proving that they are first on the jet-propelled bandwagon with Hollywood’s initial excursion into the wild blue yonder aboard the propellerless, supersonic aircraft. Like its title, this vehicle moves with exciting speed when it is airborne, but it slows down to a plodding walk as routine as a mailman’s rounds when it hits the ground.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Busting (1974, action, Elliott Gould. From Vincent Canby’s 1974 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Peter] Hyams, who wrote and directed ‘Busting,’ brings off something of a feat by making a contemporary cop film that is tough without exploiting the sort of right-wing cynicism that tells us all to go out and buy our own guns. It is also comparatively humane. That is, it acknowledges that when cops and robbers are shooting it out in public places, the bystanders often get hurt.” Read more…)

Crescendo (1970, mystery/suspense, Stefanie Powers)

New Documentaries
Stray (feral dogs in Istanbul. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “As simple as its title and as complex as the city it briefly illuminates, ‘Stray,’ Lo’s sharp-eyed documentary about the street dogs of Istanbul, unspools without narration or anything like a plot. Instead, the restless rhythms of the mutts’ uncertain existence lend a poetic randomness to a movie that’s more contemplative than cute.” Read more…)

Created Equal: Clarence Thomas In His Own Words (politics, legal system, race, bio, Clarence Thomas. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 41. From Jennifer Szalai’s New York Times review: “The producers, Michael Pack and Gina Cappo Pack, spent more than 30 hours interviewing [Justice Clarence] Thomas and his wife, Virginia. Simply getting to watch Thomas expound on his thoughts for an extended length of time constitutes its own kind of novelty — a surprise that begins to wear off when it becomes clear that Thomas will mostly be rehashing the life story he already recounted in his 2007 memoir.” Read more…)

Punk The Capital: Building A Sound Movement (music, popular culture, punk rock)

New releases 6/1/21

Top Hits

The Courier (drama/history, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘The Courier,’ a true life-based spy thriller set in the early 1960s — and staged to appeal to audiences old enough to have lived through them — stubbornly resists involving or affecting us until it’s almost over. By that time, though, you might have fallen asleep. Ideally, that shouldn’t happen while watching two stand-up guys — one British, one Russian — perhaps narrowly prevent a nuclear apocalypse. But the director, Dominic Cooke [whose 2018 feature debut, ‘On Chesil Beach,’ touchingly conveyed the tragedy of broken intimacy], is either unable to generate tension or simply chooses not to.” Read more…)

Boogie (sports drama/coming of age, Taylor Takahashi. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 54. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘Boogie’ makes for a confident feature debut from the writer and director Eddie Huang, who is best known for creating the sitcom ‘Fresh Off The Boat.’ But ‘Boogie’ bears little resemblance to that earlier broad comedy. Boogie takes himself and his basketball ambitions seriously. And, taking cues from its protagonist, the movie doesn’t play around with cinematic craft or technique either.“ Read more…)

A Dark Song (horror/supernatural, Catherine Walker. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%,. Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘A Dark Song,’ the moodily intense first feature from the Irish director Liam Gavin, is a striking marriage of acting and atmosphere. Virtually a chamber piece with just two primary characters, the movie dives into the black arts with methodical restraint and escalating unease.” Read more…)

The World to Come (romance/gay & lesbian, Katherine Waterston. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Though shot in Romania, ‘The World to Come,’ directed by Mona Fastvold, conjures an almost artisanal feeling of life in rural upstate New York in 1856. Generically, it plays like a western — a romance in untamed territory where snowy landscapes foster isolation, not explorative possibilities.” Read more…)

Greener Grass (comedy, Jocelyn DeBoer. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch that doesn’t know when to dial back the weird, ‘Greener Grass’ can be painful to watch. A deadpan take on suburban hell — I hesitate to call it a comedy, black or otherwise — the movie takes competitiveness to such excruciatingly surreal lengths that every would-be joke feels agonizingly strained.” Read more…)

Kinky Boots: The Musical (musical, Matt Henry)

New Blu-Ray

The Courier
Greener Grass

New Foreign

The Sweet Requiem (Tibet, drama. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The location shooting, with its nighttime shots of jam-packed multilane roads and eerily empty alleys, deftly conveys both the bustle and the quiet moments of Delhi working-class life. The plot intrigues are arguably appropriate to genre pictures, but ‘Requiem’ manages to play out as an urgent but understated drama. The film puts its points across with a delicacy and sobriety rare in moviemaking.” Read more…)

New British DVDs

The Mallorca Files: Series 1 (BBC procedural, Ele Rhys)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Nightmare Alley (1947, film noir, Criterion Collection, Tyrone Power. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Elvis Mitchell’s 2000 New York Times review of a “Nightmare Alley” theatrical re-release [requires log-in]: “I can’t understand how anyone could get so low,” the wily carny Stan [Tyrone Power] says of the gibbering geek, the chicken-head-biting freak who’s the lowest attraction at the sideshow. It’s an ominous piece of foreshadowing that begins ‘Nightmare Alley,’ the 1947 adaptation of the grim novel by William Lindsay Gresham. [Jules Furthman wrote the screenplay, adding a few shafts of optimism to the bleakness of the original material, in which no one gets off easily.]” Read more…)

New Documentaries

A Glitch In the Matrix (epistemology, technology, “reality”. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 62. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the 1950s, Vladimir Nabokov asserted, not entirely playfully, that ‘reality’ is a word that should only ever have quotation marks around it. Contemporary technology has enabled thinkers to become more elaborate about the nature of the quotation marks. “‘A Glitch in the Matrix,’ directed by Rodney Ascher — who also made ‘Room 237,’ a 2013 film that gave certain Stanley Kubrick enthusiasts a platform to theorize about ‘The Shining’; many seemed to have too much time on their hands — explores the notion that we’re all living inside a computer simulation.” Read more…)

New releases 5/25/21

Top Hits
Long Weekend (rom-com, Zoe Chao. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 55. From Katie Walsh’s Los Angeles Times review: “There’s something about Vienna. Something off, that is. The love interest of writer-director Stephen Basilone’s ‘Long Weekend,’ Vienna, as played by Zoe Chao (who has perfected the art of quirky ’n’ cute) is just too good to be true. She looks adorable in vintage tees. She goes to Peter Sellers movies alone in the middle of the day.” Read more…)

Happily (rom-com, Joel McHale. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Writer/director Ben] Grabinski has both wit and energy, and these qualities, along with a game cast, help keep ‘Happily’ afloat for far longer than most made-in-L.A. dark domestic comedies. But the movie wants to do too many things, and grows diffuse.” Read more…)

The Sound of Silence (drama, Peter Sarsgaard. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 66. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “There’s something about a movie that goes out of its way to embrace the quiet — to make the audience really listen and be fully aware of every snippet of sound or sliver of silence — that feels refreshingly rare. In a medium that can be so reliant on character banter and song-stuffed sound cues, it can be powerful to be forced to concentrate on hearing noiselessness, so that the little sound that does occur is that much more meaningful. ‘The Sound of Silence,”’ the feature debut of the director Michael Tyburski [who also wrote the screenplay with Ben Nabors], attempts to wield this power but does more telling than showing.” Read more…)

The Invitation (horror, Logan Marshall-Green. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Invitation’ flirts with ideas that it doesn’t develop, including the nature of trauma and the allure of salvation, particularly when it comes to the kind of spiritual hokum that can send reasonable people around the bend and not just in Southern California. If the movie works as well as it does, it’s because [director Karyn] Kusama can coax scares from shadows, silences and ricocheting looks.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Invitation

New Foreign
Rififi (France, 1955, crime/drama dir. by Jules Dassin, Criterion Collection, Jean Servais. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 97. From Bosley Crowther’s 1956 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Do you want to see a tough gangster picture? Do you want to see a crime film that makes the characters of Mickey Spillane seem like sissies and, at the same time, gives you the thrill of being an inside participant in a terrific Parisian robbery? Then go to see ‘Rififi,’ which opened at the Fine Arts last night. This is perhaps the keenest crime film that ever came from France, including ‘Pepe le Moko’ and some of the best of Louis Jouvet and Jean Gabin.” Read more…)

Flowers of Shanghai (China, 1998, drama, Tony Chiu-Wai Leung. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.) From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1998 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Set in 1884 in the brothels of the English concession in Shanghai, the director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s tale of peevish prostitutes and their gentleman callers is a sumptuous-looking film that may please the eyes of connoisseurs of chinoiserie but is unlikely to satisfy audiences in search of nuanced characters, emotional engagement, dramatic momentum or reverberant history.” Read more…)

Shadow Lines (aka Nyrkki): Season 1 (Finland, period spy thriller, Katja Küttner)

New British DVDs
The Salisbury Poisonings (true crime/espionage drama, Anne-Marie Duff. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 70. From New York Times reporter Michael Schwirtz’s article on the series’ relationship to the actual events of an alleged Russian poisoning attack in the UYK city of Salisbury: “This series is less a spy story than a cautionary tale about the collateral damage that can occur when international intrigue runs amok, said Declan Lawn, a former investigative journalist with the BBC who researched and wrote the series with the journalist and documentary filmmaker Adam Patterson… ‘You know when you watch a James Bond movie and he drives through the city center wrecking everything around him and turning over market stalls and so on?’ Mr. Lawn said in an interview. ‘This is a story of the people who have to pick up the pieces.’” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Apartment for Peggy (drama, Jeanne Crain. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “George Bernard Shaw’s lamentation about youth being wasted on the young is made to seem pitifully feeble by the current evidence on the Roxy’s screen. For ‘Apartment for Peggy,’ the new-color picture which opened in that theatre yesterday, is a delightful and thoroughly heartening estimation of the capacities of modern youth. And it is also a cheering indication of the progressing talent of a young man. George Seaton, who wrote and directed it, wrote and directed ‘Miracle on 34th Street’ too.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Offence (1973, drama dir. by Sidney Lumet, Sean Connery. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. From Vincent Canby’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As it progresses, ‘The Offence,’ for all its elaborate setting of scene and for all its introduction of subsidiary characters [beautifully played by Trevor Howard and Vivien Merchant, among others, sort of gets smaller and smaller, instead of bigger. The entire film, it turns out, exists for a single sequence, a brutal station-house confrontation between the detective and his prime suspect [Ian Bannen], between a lower-class psychotic and a middle-class neurotic, between a closet sadist and an admitted masochist. In a sense, they are lovers, made for each other.It’s highly theatrical — perhaps just a little too highly theatrical for the more or less realistic context — but it’s been staged by Lumet for maximum effect.” Read more…)