New releases 4/2/19

Top Hits
Vice (Dick Cheney bio-pic, Christian Bale. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It will break no news and spoil nobody’s fun to note that [director Adam] McKay is not a fan of his protagonist. His argument is essentially that much of what critics of the current president fear most — the erosion of democratic norms; the manufacture of ‘alternative facts’; the rise of an authoritarian executive branch — already came to pass when George W. Bush was in office. But ‘Vice”’offers more than Yuletide rage-bait for liberal moviegoers, who already have plenty to be mad about. Revulsion and admiration lie as close together as the red and white stripes on the American flag, and if this is in some respects a real-life monster movie, it’s one that takes a lively and at times surprisingly sympathetic interest in its chosen demon.” Read more…)

The Mule (drama, Clint Eastwood. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 58. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Mule’ was inspired by a startling 2014 article in The New York Times Magazine by Sam Dolnick, ‘There’s a True Story Behind “The Mule”: The Sinaloa Cartel’s 90-Year-Old Drug Mule.’ The mule was Leo Sharp, a World War II veteran and great-grandfather who came across in news accounts as an unsolved puzzle. Working from Nick Schenk’s script, [director/star Clint] Eastwood fills in the portrait of his mule with creative license, characteristic dry humor and a looseness that seems almost completely untethered from the world of murderous cartels. There’s also some political editorializing and a flirtation with Eastwoodian autocritique.” Read more…)

BumbleBee (family action/adventure, Hailee Steinfeld. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Can a ‘Transformers’ movie be good? It turns out the answer is yes — if the right talent is given enough leeway. The latest, ‘Bumblebee,’ is the sixth in the franchise. As directed by Travis Knight, an animator who made his directorial debut with the striking 2016 animated film ‘Kubo and the Two Strings,’ ‘Bumblebee’ is cleverly plotted, neatly allusive and has dialogue you can envision real people and, um, real Transformers speaking.” Read more…)

Mortal Engines (adventure, Hera Hilmar. Rotten Tomatoes: 27%. Metacritic: 44. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “But the guiding model for the plot — rebel alliances, secret family histories, London as a terrestrial Death Star — is almost certainly ‘Star Wars,’ whose knockoffs are so numerous that it seems useless to dock points for effort. As these things go, ‘Mortal Engines’ offers a fair amount of fun.” Read more…)

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot (action/absurdity, Sam Elliott. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 50. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot’ revives an exploitation film tradition, in which a sensational title hooks viewers for a movie that’s all windup and no pitch. The writer and director, Robert D. Krzykowski, even appears to have leaned into the concept, turning false advertising into a motif. The man [Sam Elliott], hunting for the Bigfoot, drawls that his average-footed prey is ‘not really living up to its name.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Mule
Mortal Engines

New Foreign DVDs
Capernaum (Lebanon, Oscar-nominated drama, Zain al Raffea. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Capernaum,’ Nadine Labaki’s hectic and heartbreaking new film, borrows its name from an ancient city condemned to hell, according to the Book of Matthew, by Jesus himself. The word has since become a synonym for chaos, and modern Beirut as captured by Ms. Labaki’s camera is a teeming vision of the inferno, a place without peace, mercy or order.” Read more…)

The Mafia Kills Only in Summer (Italy, dark comedy/drama, Pierfrancesco Diliberto. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 62. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The best that can be said for the Italian television host Pierfrancesco Diliberto — as far as his comic, feature-film debut is concerned — is that he’s not nearly as annoying as Roberto Benigni. Granted, that’s a very low bar to clear. But as the director, star, narrator and one writer of ‘The Mafia Kills Only in Summer,’ Mr. Diliberto (known as Pif) must bear most of the responsibility for the movie’s clashing tones and penciled-in characters.” Read more…)

Antonio Gaudí (Japan, 1984, documentary/architecture/visual poem. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Stephen Holden’s 1998 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “If any film could be described as an architectural symphony, it is Hiroshi Teshigahara’s 1984 movie, ‘Antonio Gaudi.’ The film, which begins a one-week engagement today at the Walter Reade Theater, takes a sweeping look at the revolutionary Spanish Art Nouveau architect’s work, which is centered in Barcelona. Using few spoken words and relying mostly on sketchy biographical subtitles to tell Gaudi’s story, the film is a visual rhapsody enhanced with music and sound effects created by the renowned Japanese film composer Toru Takemitsu and two collaborators.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978, comedy, Criterion Collection, Nancy Allen. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Janet Maslin’s 1978 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The gimmick behind ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand’ is the fact that you never actually see the Beatles; the genius of the film is the fact that you never miss them. Their likenesses turn up everywhere, plastered on record jackets and tacked on doors and walls, and their music is continually in the air. At the end of the movie, which revolves around the group’s first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ the sneakiness with which the neophyte director Robert Zemeckis skirts the issue is positively dazzling. The Beatles are both there and not there, and the paradox hardly even matters.” Read more…)

Flirt (1995, Hal Hartley romance, Martin Donovan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From Stephen Holden’s 1995 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “You might describe ‘Flirt,’ Hal Hartley’s smart, sexy, wafer-light new movie, as a jauntily romantic theme and variations on young love, international style. Hopscotching from New York to Berlin to Tokyo, the film flaunts the perilously cute concept of telling the same story in three different places with three sets of characters speaking three different languages. Watching the movie is like eating ice cream — or is it ice milk? — in three different flavors: vanilla, chocolate and green tea. They go together nicely.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (BBC mystery series transplanted to San Francisco. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%.)

New Documentaries
Jane Fonda In Five Acts (bio, history, Jane Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 87.)

New Music DVDs
Joni 75: A Birthday Celebration (concert, tribute to Joni Mitchell with multiple artists)

New Children’s DVDs
A Silent Voice: The Movie (Japanese animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 78. From Peter Bradshaw’s The Guardian review: “Naoko Yamada’s animation A Silent Voice is a lovely coming-of-age story, a tale of redemption and romance, based on a manga series by 27-year-old Yoshitoki Ōima. It’s enriched by a plangent musical score and moody ambient sound design. The original title is Koe No Katachi, translated in the opening and closing credits as “The Shape of Voice”, which comes mysteriously closer to the film’s meaning.” Read more…)

Tom & Jerry Triple Feature

New releases 3/26/19

Top Hits
Aquaman (superhero action, Jason Momoa. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 55. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “Aquaman’s been dragged out of DC’s Justice League. His pals include Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, and his movie is as mediocre as the latest versions of theirs. Maybe ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ have set the bar too high for marine absurdity, but your local aquarium has a stronger sense of wonder than ‘Aquaman.'” Read more…)

If Beale Street Could Talk (drama, KiKi Layne. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Every so often, the characters in Barry Jenkins’s anguished and mournful ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ look straight at the camera, and at you. In some movies, this kind of direct address can seem conspiratorial, suggesting that you and a character are in on a joke. Elsewhere, these gazes seem accusatory, assaultive, beseeching; here, most feel intimate and inviting, but also expansive. When two lovers look at each other in this movie, the tenderness in their eyes softens everything, creating a radiance that folds around them like a blanket, blunting the world. You feel the warmth, the softness, too.” Read more…)

Adult Life Skills (comedy/drama, Jodie Whittaker. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 49. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “By the time I had finished watching the aggressively whimsical British comedy ‘Adult Life Skills,’ my eyes had rolled so far back in my head I could barely focus. It wasn’t simply the excruciatingly twee musical choices, or the well-worn trajectory of a plot as contrived as its woolly-hatted heroine. It was the realization that stories about adults trapped in the aspic of adolescence are not disappearing from the movies any time soon.” Read more…)

Second Act (comedy, Jennifer Lopez. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 46. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “This is Jenny from the blah. The movie was written by Justin Zackham and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and directed by the Adam Sandler and spoof veteran Peter Segal. We’re supposed to find what they’ve done with this story suspenseful. Just who at this company of divas, nerds and snakes will be the first to smell a rat?… I never see plot twists coming, but this one made me feel like Nostradamus.” Read more…)

Stan & Ollie (bio-pic, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly deliver dynamite performances that capture the expressions and physicality of the star comedians without ever descending into caricature. They never strain for laughs but are consistently amusing. As Laurel, who wrote the comic bits and was the more tortured star, Coogan communicates a tremendous amount of anxiety and discord in a slight downturn of the lips. Equally subtle and emotionally grounded, Reilly portrays Hardy as a big man with a light touch, so laid-back so as to be almost reckless.” Read more…)

Descendants 2 (Disney fantasy, Dove Cameron. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times TV review: “The kids are largely on their own in “Descendants 2,” a sequel to the 2015 television movie about the children of Disney villains. That makes for a dumber film, but the target audience for this colorful tuneful fluff won’t care and may even consider it an improvement.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
If Beale Street Could Talk

New Foreign DVDs
The Day After (South Korea, romance/co,medy, Kwon Hae Hyo. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Day After,’ one of three films this prolific director brought to festivals in 2017 [another one screened in Berlin in February], is an especially elegant presentation of some of his characteristic concerns. Shot in chilly, silky digital black and white, it plays with chronology in a way that seems both casual and musically precise. While most of the action takes place during Areum’s first day, her encounters with Bongwan — mostly drinking and eating across a low table at the office or in an empty restaurant — are intercut with similar scenes of Bongwan and Changsook. These feel less like flashbacks than like record skips, morsels of evidence in support of a philosophical argument about the non-linearity of time.” Read more…)

Kaili Blues (China, drama, Yongzhong Chen. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 85. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “The film is partly a meditation on grappling with ancient traditions in a modern China, as well as an outline of one man’s regrets. Still, [director Bi Gan] is in no rush to offer up a deeper meaning. Instead, he is content to deliver extended shots and images that are achingly melancholy, and teasingly cluttered. Watch closely: There’s always something curious situated beyond the characters, or on the edges of the frame — outside, a view of lush hills or decaying structures; inside, a piece of art or trash.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Hold Your Man (1933, romance/drama, Jean Harlow. From F.S.N.’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The popularity of the Jean Harlow-Clark Gable combination cannot be questioned. Virtually every seat in the Capitol Theatre was taken a few minutes after its doors were opened yesterday for the first showing of their new picture, ‘Hold Your Man.’It was a friendly audience. Laughter and applause punctuated the unreeling of the story and there is no explanation for that other than the popularity of Mr. Gable and Miss Harlow.” Read more…)

Frank Capra: The Early Collection:
Ladies of Leisure (1930)
Rain or Shine (1930)
The Miracle Woman (1931)
Forbidden (1932)
The Bitter Tea of General Yen (1933)

Jean Harlow: 7-Film Collection (From a Caryn James’ appreciation of Harlow in The New York Times in 1993 [requires log-in]: “Jean Harlow represented everything that straitlaced 1930’s America was supposed to despise. She played platinum-haired prostitutes, gold diggers and other trashy types with no apologies. In ‘Red-Headed Woman,’ she strategically places a picture of her rich, married boss under her garter and says, ‘It’ll get me more there than it will hanging on the wall.’ In ‘Red Dust,’ she decides to take a bath in a rain barrel, the better to get Clark Gable’s attention. And in ‘Hold Your Man,’ she fights a rival for Gable’s affections by belting the other woman with a left to the jaw, twice. Yet in her seven-year career, Harlow was wildly popular with both men and women, who found more to envy than to scorn.” Read more…):
Bombshell (1933, drama)
The Girl From Missouri (1934, rom-com)
Reckless (1935, drama)
Riffraff (1935, romance/drama)
Suzy (1936, romance/espionage)
Personal Property (1937, romance)
Saratoga (1937, Harlow’s final film, romance)

New Documentaries
The World Before Your Feet (personality, New York City, walking. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “But ‘The World Before Your Feet’ makes clear that Green’s mission [walking every block in New York City], whatever its origins, has become more than a selfish, privileged stunt. His travels have turned him into an extraordinary micro-historian of the city, with expertise that spans architecture, horticulture and urban planning.” Read more…)

Divide and Conquer: The Story of Roger Ailes (politics, media, bio, conservatism, Roger Ailes. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Any documentary — or obituary — that reckons with the legacy of Roger E. Ailes faces an almost impossible choice of emphasis. Here, after all, was a gifted news media pioneer who served as a presidential campaign whisperer to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump. As the longtime chief executive of and main creative force behind Fox News, Ailes can be credited not only with changing the nature of political discourse in this country, but also with making a large number of Americans, left and right, significantly angrier.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Paddington Bear

New releases 3/19/19

Top Hits
Mary Poppins Returns (Disney family adventure sequel, Emily Blunt. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Bathed in nostalgia, “Mary Poppins Returns” is being framed as a homage, and there’s clearly some love here. Mostly, it is a modest update, one that has brushed off the story, making it louder, harsher, more aggressively smiley. It picks up several decades after the 1964 film “Mary Poppins” — starring the sublimely synced Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke — concluded.” Read more…)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (animated comic book action feature, Shamek Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87. Well, how about this? A New York Times Critic’s Pick! From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ contains a vital element that has been missing from too many recent superhero movies: fun. Most of the better specimens of the genre, as well as the worst, assume a heavy burden of self-importance: the future of the planet, the cosmic balance of good and evil, the profit margins of multinational corporations and the good will of moody fans all depend on the actions of a gloomy character in a costume… My point here is that this animated reworking of the Spidey mythos is fresh and exhilarating in a way that very few of its live-action counterparts — including the last couple of ‘Spider-Man’ chapters — have been. Its jaunty, brightly colored inventiveness and its kid-in-the-candy-store appetite for pop culture ephemera give ‘Into the Spider-Verse’ some of the kick of the first ‘Lego Movie.'” Read more…)

Braid (horror/mystery, Madeline Brewer. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 60. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It’s a hard knock life for Tilda [Sarah Hay] and Petula [Imogen Waterhouse], two of the young women of ‘Braid,’ a jumpy thriller written and directed by Mitzi Peirone. Their only moments of repose are at the film’s opening, and even those aren’t too relaxed.” Read more…)

November Criminals (crime/drama, Chloë Grace Moretz. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 31.)

New Blu-Ray
Mary Poppins Returns
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

New Foreign DVDs
The Quake (Norway, action/drama, Kristoffer Joner. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 70. From Bilge Ebiri’s Vulture review: “John Andreas Andersen’s The Quake, a sequel to the excellent 2015 Norwegian disaster film The Wave, should be required viewing for all of today’s Hollywood franchise jockeys. It shows you how to make one of these things without sacrificing your characters’ souls [or your own, for that matter].” Read more…)

Holiday (Denmark, crime/drama, Victoria Carmen Sonne. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 80. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Writer/director Isabella] Eklof subsequently inverts revenge conventions in a way that dares the audience to call it perverse. She has cited the cinematic extremist Ulrich Seidl [‘Paradise: Love,”’ ‘Import/Export’] as an influence: As with that filmmaker, it’s hard to tell whether she intends to communicate something genuine about the human condition, or just shovel hostility at her audience.” Read more…)

Becoming Astrid (Sweden, bio/drama, Alba August. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Long before she found fame with the ‘Pippi Longstocking’ series, the Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren had an unplanned pregnancy that changed her life. In ‘Becoming Astrid,’ the Danish director Pernille Fischer Christensen uses that formative event as a fulcrum, building a lightly fictionalized portrait of the young Lindgren [played by Alba August] from its emotional and practical fallout.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Wanda (1970, independent feminist drama, Barbara Loden. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. From Roger Greenspun’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It would be hard to imagine better or more tactful or more decently difficult work for a first film. I suppose it is significantly a woman’s film in that it never sensationalizes or patronizes its heroine, and yet finds her interesting and not [as it might have] just interestingly dull. But I like it best because it seems at home with its idioms, close to its action, opening up only rarely [during a model airplane meet, in the fatal bank job] and to moments of genuine insight and not admiration-begging cinematic claptrap. Wanda is a small movie, fully aware of its limits, and within those limits lovely.” Read more…)

Esther and the King (1960, Biblical epic, Joan Collins.From Bosley Crowther’s 1960 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The beautiful Bible story of Esther has been thumped into a crude costume charade in Raoul Walsh’s CinemaScope-and-color, Italian-made ‘Esther and the King.’ The best to be said for this chromo, which opened at the Palace yesterday, is that it drives one more spike into the coffin of these synthetic biblical films.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
On Her Shoulders (human rights, refugees, genocide, sexual violence. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ken Jaworowski’s Times review: “Alexandria Bombach’s direction and editing are exceptional; she captures images that are both subtle and formidable. Her film is, first and foremost, a profile of [Nadia] Murad [survivor of an ISIS massacre of members of the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq] and her mission. Yet it’s also a comment on the media and on government aid.” Read more…)

Hillbilly (sociology, rural America, media stereotypes, resource economics. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Kevin Crust’s Los Angeles Times review: “Los Angeles-based journalist and filmmaker Ashley York, born and raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky [the evocatively named Meathouse Holler to be specific], returns to Appalachia to question the media depiction of the region’s residents, while also tracking the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in the documentary ‘Hillbilly.’ Co-written and co-directed with Sally Rubin, the film is a far more sympathetic portrait than J.D. Vance’s best-selling ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ taking a more descriptive than analytical approach.” Read more…)

New releases 3/12/19

Top Hits
Green Book (Oscar-winning drama, Mahershala Ali. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 69. “Green Book” is an Oscar winner with a substantial amount of critical dissent. Judge for yourself! From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Green Book’ is a road movie set in 1962, long before Apple or Google Maps or Waze, but as it makes its way from New York to Alabama and back, you might nonetheless imagine a little GPS voice in your ear telling you what’s up ahead. There is virtually no milestone in this tale of interracial male friendship that you won’t see coming from a long way off, including scenes that seem too corny or misguided for any movie in its right mind to contemplate. ‘Siri, please tell me they’re not going there.’ Oh, but they are.” Read more…)

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (fantasy, Eddie Redmayne. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The movie is chockablock with stuff: titular creatures [if not nearly enough], attractive people, scampering extras, eye-catching locations, tragic flashbacks, teary confessions and largely bloodless, spectacular violence. It’s an embarrassment of riches, and it’s suffocating.” Read more…)

Piercing (thriller, Christopher Abbott. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 63. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “A grisly comedic thriller written and directed by Nicolas Pesce [his 2016 horror film “The Eyes of My Mother” got some positive notes], ‘Piercing’ has an audaciousness that largely lies in splitting the difference between viewer interest and viewer exasperation. A movie that begins with a father [Christopher Abbott] standing over his newborn’s crib holding an ice pick behind his back can’t be said to be pulling any introductory punches.” Read more…)

Tyrel (drama/comedy, Jason Mitchell. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “The narrative setup of a racially charged weekend trip, not to mention the sight of [actor Caleb Landry] Jones playing yet another weirdo who likes to wrestle people, will naturally prompt memories of Jordan Peele’s ‘Get Out.’ But that would not be an entirely apt comparison. Tyler isn’t so much a victim as he is an odd man out who, fueled by his gathering discomfort and inebriation, further loses his bearings. But race is certainly an undercurrent here, informing and at times exacerbating Tyler’s feelings of alienation. And [actor Jason] Mitchell plays him perfectly, capturing the character’s bemusement and embarrassment, his desperation and, later, his surly, slurry dismissiveness.” Read more…)

Don’t Come Back From the Moon (drama/sci-fi, Rashida Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Gentle, wistful and often quite beautiful, Bruce Thierry Cheung’s ‘Don’t Come Back From the Moon’ is a dreamlike meditation on abandoned children and dying locations. Set amid the arid emptiness of California’s Salton Sea, its almost alien landscape in perfect harmony with the movie’s title, the filament of story unfolds through the teenage eyes and low-key narration of Mickey [Jeffrey Wahlberg]. His small community, he tells us, was once a holiday destination, but the lake is shrinking and the last factory has closed.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Green Book
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

New Foreign DVDs
Daughter of Mine (Italy, drama, Valeria Golino. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Ardent and primal, ‘Daughter of Mine’ addresses complicated ideas with head-clearing simplicity. Vladan Radovic’s camera is pushy and bold, thrusting into intimate encounters and angry squabbles alike, exposing the layers of hurt and guilt that both bind and alienate the two women. The director, Laura Bispuri, is interested in the accommodations women make independent of the laws or judgment of men, but mainly she questions what it means to be a good mother.” Read more…)

Unknown Soldier (Finland, war drama, Eero Aho.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950, film noir/gangster, James Cagney. From a 1950 New York Times review signed only by “H.H.T.” [requires log-in]: “All the snarling, mangling, triple-crossing and exterminating on the screen of the Strand yesterday morning adds up to one thing—James Cagney is back in town and right in the same old crime groove. In ‘Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye,’ adapted from Horace McCoy’s novel and produced by the star’s brother, William, Mr. Cagney is taking up where he left off in last season’s ‘White Heat.’ Not nearly as rewardingly, however. The new picture has a slick veneer, some lively episodes and a couple of neat secondary performances, but as a whole comes off as a poor man’s carbon copy of “The Asphalt Jungle.'” Read more…)

The Kid Brother (1927, silent comedy, Harold Lloyd)

New TV
Modern Family: Season 6 (comedy series, Sofia Vergara)

New releases 3/5/19

Top Hits

The Favourite (costume historical drama, Olivia Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “For Shakespeare and the Classical Greek dramatists, the doings of real and imaginary rulers — affairs of state and of the flesh, both of which figure prominently here — were most often the stuff of tragedy. [Yorgos] Lanthimos, a Greek director who has been based in London for the past few years, makes no real distinction between pathos and mirth. His first English-language film, ‘The Lobster,’ was by turns ghastly and hilarious, a cruel dystopian allegory of discipline and desire. The next, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer,’ was mostly just ghastly. ‘The Favourite,’ with a profane, erudite script by Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, is a farce with teeth, a costume drama with sharp political instincts and an aggressive sense of the absurd.” Read more…)

Ben Is Back (drama, Lucas Hedges. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “When the title character shows up early in ‘Ben Is Back’ — just before Christmas, at his family’s big house in a suburban town north of New York City — the mood tilts from domestic drama toward domestic horror. Even after the menacing, hooded figure skulking around near the driveway is recognized as a son and brother [played by Lucas Hedges], the queasy feeling of terror doesn’t quite abate. Ben, unexpectedly home from rehab, scares almost everyone. The rest of ‘Ben Is Back,’ written and directed by Peter Hedges [father of Lucas], sustains and intensifies that clammy, anxious feeling.” Read more…)

Creed II (sports drama, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Creed II’ affirms two great truths of our pop-cultural moment: that Michael B. Jordan is currently the ascendant American male movie star and that the revived, revised ‘Rocky’ franchise — focused on the trials and triumphs of Adonis Creed, Rocky Balboa’s protégé and the son of his long-departed friend and rival — is the only heroic Hollywood multi-sequel narrative worth caring about.” Read more…)

Instant Family (comedy, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Instant Family’ is a sweet-natured movie with exemplary intentions. Directed and co-written by Sean Anders [known for more studiously raucous familial comedies like the ‘Daddy’s Home’ movies], it draws from his experience of adopting children from foster care with his wife. The story line imparts information about the plight of kids in the foster system and positive messages about adopting.” Read more…)

Vox Lux (drama/music, Natalie Portman. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Vox Lux’ is an audacious story about a survivor who becomes a star, and a deeply satisfying, narratively ambitious jolt of a movie. Written and directed by Brady Corbet, it uses Celeste — an ordinary American girl who through a mass murder becomes extraordinary — as a means to explore contemporary spectacle. Corbet is especially interested in celebrity and terrorism, which he positions [without much of a stretch] as powerful, reciprocal forces in the flux of life.” Read more…)

New Blu-Rays

Macunaíma (1969, Brazil, anarchic comedy from Brazil’s avant-garde Cinema Novo movement. From A.O. Scott’s 2004 New York Times review of the film’s screening as part of the New York Film Festival [requires log-in]: “Connoisseurs might detect a touch of Felliniesque rococo, but this magical-realist mock-epic commingles more comfortably in less exalted company, with the films of John Waters and Russ Meyers, perhaps, or with lost episodes of ‘The Monkees.’ Which is not to say that the film, adapted from a 1928 novel by Mário de Andrade [no relation to the director] is lacking in seriousness. Underneath it all is a meditation on the riddles of Brazilian identity and the agonies of Brazilian politics. In 1969, Brazil was in the grip of a military dictatorship, and ‘Macunaíma,’ one of whose minor characters is a sexy urban guerilla, hums with a joyful and pointed anti-authoritarian spirit.” Read more…)

The Favourite
Ben Is Back
Creed II

New Foreign

Burning (Republic of Korea, drama, Ah-in Yoo. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Desire, ravenous and ineffable, shudders through ‘Burning,’ the latest from the great South Korean director Lee Chang-dong. Set in the present, the movie involves the complicated, increasingly fraught relationships among three characters whose lives are tragically engulfed as desire gives way to rage. The story has the quality of a mystery thriller — somebody goes missing, somebody else tries to figure out why — one accompanied by the drumbeat of politics.” Read more…)

Cosmos (France, drama, Jonathan Genet. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Cosmos,’ Andrzej Zulawski’s first film since 2000, is both a comeback and a swan song. Mr. Zulawski, 75 when he died in February, was an important figure in the history of Polish cinema and in the emergence of a borderless, cosmopolitan European style of filmmaking during the Cold War and after. His last work pays tribute to his roots and to his subsequent wanderings. Based on a novel of the same name by the Polish writer Witold Gombrowicz, this French-Portuguese co-production is a witty and energetic — if also somewhat labored — mélange of languages, tones and ideas.” Read more…)

Of Fathers and Sons (Syria, immersive documentary on ISIS. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 70. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “For ‘Of Fathers and Sons,’ the Berlin-based director Talal Derki spent more than two years in his native Syria making a documentary about a radical jihadist family. By presenting himself as a war photographer sympathetic to the cause, Derki gained the trust of Abu Osama, a founder of the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

Solarbabies (1986, sci-fi, Jason Patric. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Solarbabies’ was made by Mel Brooks’s Brooksfilms, at what might have been large expense on location in Spain. The cast includes Richard Jordan, as a snarling futuristic policeman, and a lot of new teen-age actors who, in circumstances like this, tend to look exactly alike. The one exception is the pre-teen Lukas Haas, who played the little boy in ‘Witness.'” Read more…)

New TV Series

House of Cards: The Final Season (political drama sans Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Documentaries

Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration of Psychedelics (psychedelic drugs, science, self-examination, Shane Mauss)
Of Fathers and Sons (Syria, immersive documentary on ISIS)

New Music DVDs

Duke Ellington & His Orchestra Live (jazz, Duke Ellington, 1973)

New releases 2/26/19

Top Hits

Mary Queen of Scots (historical costume drama, Saoirse Ronan. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Is there room for two queens on a single island? In a single movie? The answers, according to “Mary Queen of Scots,” are “not quite” and “almost.” The monarchs in question are Mary, played by Saoirse Ronan, and her cousin Elizabeth I, played by Margot Robbie. The history books cast them as bitter rivals, but the film imagines them as long-distance frenemies.” Read more…)

Ralph Breaks the Internet (animated feature, John C. Reilly [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “‘Ralph Breaks the Internet’ might look like just another adorable, funny animated family film, but it also connects to our current reality in ways that are downright bone-chilling. This sequel to the 2012 Disney hit ‘Wreck-It Ralph’ — which was set in the virtual world of arcade games, and whose affable lug of a hero was an 8-bit video game villain trying to break free from a lifetime of mindless destruction — sends its protagonists out into the broader internet, where they discover all the pandering, cruelty, addictive behavior and viral shamelessness that we’ve come to associate with online culture.” Read more…)

The Happy Prince (historical drama/bio-pic, Rupert Everett. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A mopey yet gorgeous-looking wallow in the final years of the literary giant Oscar Wilde, “The Happy Prince” staggers around Europe with one eye on the grave and the other on the kinds of sorry mischief an unrepentant hedonist like Wilde could get up to.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs

Trauma (Chile, horror, Catalina Martin)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

The Midnight Man (1974, mystery, Burt Lancaster. From Michael Barrett at Pop Matters on the recent Kino Lorber DVD release: “Excavated from the Universal vaults and finally released on disc is The Midnight Man (1974), the second and last film directed by its star, Burt Lancaster. His first effort as director-producer-star, The Kentuckian (1955), was a rich, vigorous work of western Americana, violent yet optimistic. This second film, made 20 years later, reflects a wearier outlook of disillusion and regret within the trappings of gumshoe noir. Vietnam and Watergate aren’t mentioned; the only reference to contemporary issues is a college kid’s comment on the generation gap. Still, the zeitgeist of disenchantment and malaise over “the system” hangs around the movie’s neck like a dead Maltese falcon.” Read more…)

To Sleep With Anger (1990, drama, Danny Glover. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. From Vincent Canby’s 1990 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘To Sleep With Anger’ initially pretends to be commonplace, but that is an illusion. It’s a very entertaining, complex film, a comedy of unusual substance that also manages to keep the audience in suspense as to when the comedy might dissolve into some kind of vicious melodrama.” Read more…)

New British DVDs

Mystery Road: Series 1 (Australian mystery series, Judy Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times review: “And while [actor Aaron] Pedersen would be reason enough to watch the moody, flavorful, handsomely photographed show, the thing that really sets “Mystery Road” apart is the actress who signed on to play the outback sergeant Emma James: the great Judy Davis, playing a police officer for the first time in her career and starring in an Australian TV series for the first time in nearly 40 years.” Read more…)

New TV Series

The Good Fight: Season 2 (legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 70.)

New Documentaries

Shakespeare Uncovered: Series 3 (the stories behind the plays, literary analysis)

New releases 2/19/19

Top Hits

A Star Is Born (musical, Lady Gaga. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘A Star Is Born’ is such a great Hollywood myth that it’s no wonder Hollywood keeps telling it. Whatever the era, the director or the headliners, it relates the story of two lovers on dramatically differing paths: a famous man who’s furiously racing to the bottom [Bradley Cooper in this movie] and a woman [Lady Gaga] who’s soaring to the top. This latest and fourth version is a gorgeous heartbreaker [bring tissues]. Like its finest antecedents, it wrings tears from its romance and thrills from a steadfast belief in old-fashioned, big-feeling cinema. That it’s also a perverse fantasy about men, women, love and sacrifice makes it all the better.” Read more…)

Overlord (action/zombies, Jovan Adepo. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 60. From Bilge Ebiri’s New York Times review: “The director Julius Avery’s “Overlord” begins with a spectacular parachute drop amid a firestorm of vomiting soldiers, burning airplanes and flying body parts, and it ends with an equally spectacular (and occasionally cathartic) pandemonium of exploding Nazis, geysers of blood and assorted creative impalements. In between, however, it delivers a fairly predictable, though still quite violent, action-horror hybrid about a small group of American soldiers behind enemy lines.” Read more…)

Robin Hood (action/adventure, Taron Egerton. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 32. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There have been a lot of movies made from the Robin Hood legend, and the 1938 ‘Adventures of Robin Hood,’ directed by Michael Curtiz and William Keighley, remains the best. Its 100 or so minutes just breeze by; although packed with conflicts and cliffhangers, there’s no sense of strain about it. To contrast, ‘Robin Hood,’ directed by Otto Bathurst from a script by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly, huffs and puffs right off the bat, expending a lot of energy to tell you this isn’t your father’s, or your grandfather’s, Robin Hood movie.” Read more…)

Can You Ever Forgive Me? (bio/comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Lee Israel may be the single most interesting movie character you will encounter this year, which is not to say that she’s altogether pleasant company. She would most likely feel the same way about you, minus the “interesting” part, unless you happen to be a cat or Dorothy Parker. It has been a while since a world-class, life-size misanthrope like Lee has commanded the screen — not another brooding narcissist or a showily difficult cable TV antihero, but a smart, cranky human recognizably made of flesh and blood. Also whiskey, bile and typewriter ink.” Read more…)

The Snowman (thriller, Michael Fassbender. Rotten Tomatoes: 7%. Metacritic: 23. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There are a couple of mysteries swirling through ‘The Snowman,’ a leaden, clotted, exasperating mess. This ostensible whodunit involves a serial killer who’s preying on women, leaving behind carefully arranged body parts and a childlike snowman as a kind of elaborate signature. The greater puzzle, though, is how an enterprise studded with so much talent — starting with the director Tomas Alfredson [‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’] and including the star Michael Fassbender — has led to such a grim, thrill-free thriller, one without a twitch of real feeling and next to no elementary story sense.” Read more…)

Bel Canto (drama/music, Julianne Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “And there’s the rub: “Bel Canto” is so dismissive of the outside world — and the background of its guerrilla leader [Tenoch Huerta, making much of the little he’s given] — that it’s politically and ideologically barren. Only one idea interests the director, Paul Weitz [adapting Ann Patchett’s 2001 novel with Anthony Weintraub]: the power of music to transcend difference and locate our common humanity.” Read more…)


Robin Hood
A Star Is Born

New Foreign DVDs

Death In Venice (Italy, 1971, dir. by Luchino Visconti, drama, Dirk Bogarde. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. From Vincent Canby’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Luchino Visconti, now in his mid sixties, is neither a stupid nor frivolous film director, but his special talent for a kind of [and I mean this in praise] epic vulgarity, which allowed him to transform and transcend melodramatic excesses in movies like ‘Rocco and His Brothers’ and ‘The Damned,’ has led him to make a series of wrong decisions with ‘Death in Venice,’ including his initial decision to attempt the movie in the first place.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Good Sam (1948, dark comedy, Gary Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Now that Leo McCarey has been piously patted on the head for making such sweet and hearty pictures as ‘The Bells of St. Mary’s’ and ‘Going My Way,’ this erstwhile Hollywood lampooner has apparently had an impish urge to stick out his tongue, rather slyly, at the nation of sanctimony. At least it appears that he has wriggled uncomfortably under the pats, fearful that someone might take him for a better little boy than he is. And the evidence of his embarrassment is his latest production, “Good Sam,” a mischievous sort of satire” Read more…)

New Documentaries

Maria By Callas (biography, music, opera, Maria Callas. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Toward the end of ‘Maria by Callas,’ the legendary opera singer [1923-1977] describes the music she interprets as ‘the only language I really know.’ That description is belied by this documentary, a compendium of interviews, performances and writings from Callas in which she proves an eloquent narrator of her own life.” Read more…)

New releases 2/12/19

Top Hits

Bohemian Rhapsody (bio-pic, Rami Malek. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 49.)

The Front Runner (true politics drama, Hugh Jackman. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 61.)
Nobody’s Fool (comedy, Tiffany Haddish. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 39.)
Here and Now (drama, Sarah Jessica Parker. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 45.)
Hunter Killer (action, Gerard Butler. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 43.)
The Sisters Brothers (comedy, John C. Reilly. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 78.)


Bohemian Rhapsody

New Foreign DVDs

Shoplifters (Japan, drama, Lily Franky. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 93.)

At Eternity’s Gate (Switzerland, bio/drama, Willem Dafoe. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 78.)
The Guilty (Denmark, thriller, Jakob Credergren. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 83.)
No Date, No Signature (Iran, drama, Amir Aghaee. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)

Bright Leaf (1950, drama, Gary Cooper)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)

Crimewave (1986, comedy, Bruce Campbell)

New TV

American Vandal: Season 1 (comedy/true-crime satire, Tyler Alvarez. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 75.)

New Documentaries

Itzhak (biography, music, Itzhak Perlman. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 69.)
After Auschwitz (Holocaust, post-trauma, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 74.)

New releases 2/5/19

Top Hits

Widows (thriller, Viola Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 84. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Widows’ is a heist movie in a somber mood, a thriller not entirely comfortable with thrills. Though it has plenty of mayhem and a plot that twists, buckles and swerves, this movie, directed by Steve McQueen [‘Hunger,’ ‘Shame,’ ’12 Years a Slave’] from a script he wrote with Gillian Flynn [‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Sharp Objects’], moves at a slow, contemplative pace, driven by grief, dread and desperation rather than the more familiar motives of greed, ambition and rebellion.” Read more…)

Lu Over the Wall (animated feature, Shota Shimoda [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 62. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The film’s director, Masaaki Yuasa, uses Lu’s powers to manipulate the narrative at will. Unfortunately, as a result, Lu sometimes feels more like a cynical plot device than a character. The problem is only amplified by the animation itself. The character renderings feel more rushed than the rich, warm backgrounds.” Read more…)

The Girl In the Spider’s Web (thriller, Claire Foy. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 43. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In the latest and emptiest [Lisbeth] Salander screen vehicle, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web,’ the dragon [tattoo] perches on Salander’s back, its wings fanned and mouth open, like a hungry baby bird. The dragon looks as if it paused in midflight to catch a worm or pose for a coat of arms. It’s as blankly ornamental as the rest of the movie, which stars Claire Foy as a preposterously jacked-up version of the renegade hacker. Salander is still typing furiously and retains a taste for black clothes and vengeance, but her running and gunning now suggest a Goth cosplaying James Bond.” Read more…)

My Dinner With Hervé (bio-pic/drama, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 68. From Troy Patterson’s The New Yorker review: “[Actor Peter] Dinklage catches the character’s anger, self-pity, and, most importantly, his exuberant recklessness, as when vaingloriously yapping at Montalbán [Andy Garcia], pulling a knife to seek the representation of an agent [David Strathairn], and indulging in a red-carpet wrestling match with Billy Barty, who had scolded the upstart to show some class. ‘My Dinner with Hervé’ cannot make a straight-faced claim that Villechaize was an important actor or significant cultural figure, so its own significance depends on the star’s charisma, which lends the proceedings a simple poignance.” Read more…)

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (CGI animated feature, Benedict Cumberbatch [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Grousing about pointless remakes is a critical activity so frequently practiced that it’s become a form of conventional wisdom. As such, I try to resist the reflex. However, I am flummoxed by ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,”’a computer-animated iteration of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ The book was an instant classic in 1957 and still sells oodles today.” Read more…)

A Private War (war/drama, Rosamund Pike. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic:76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “In the press notes for his first narrative feature, ‘A Private War,’ the nonfiction filmmaker Matthew Heineman states that he didn’t want to make this gently fictionalized portrait of the war correspondent Marie Colvin into a biopic. And he hasn’t: what he has made is a deeply distressing, authentically moving psychological study of unswerving obsession.” Read more…)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (adventure/family, Keira Knightley. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 39. From Aisha Harris’ New Yortk Times review: ” As with ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the Grinch, every generation gets its own version of ‘The Nutcracker,’ it seems. The latest incarnation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story is Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,’ a hokey oddity that glissades along with a few charms and a pleasant score by James Newton Howard heavily incorporating themes from Tchaikovsky’s ballet [though there’s little dancing].” Read more…)

The Delinquent Season (Ireland, drama, Cillian Murphy. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Although ‘The Delinquent Season’ is the kind of provocative marital drama that’s been in shorter supply in recent years, it maintains a vitality and timelessness that should appeal to anyone who’s ever found themselves at an unexpected crossroads in a long-term romantic relationship. Mark O’Rowe, making an auspicious feature directing debut [he also wrote], has crafted a highly intelligent, even-handed look at two suburban Dublin married couples — Jim [Cillian Murphy] and Danielle [Eva Birthistle], Yvonne [Catherine Walker] and Chris [Andrew Scott] — who are initially united by the wives’ friendship. But one night, when a shocking outburst by Chris reveals a potential fissure between him and Yvonne, it sets off a series of life-changing events.” Read more…)

A Boy Called Sailboat (comedy/drama, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%.)

New Blu-Ray
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
The Girl In the Spider’s Web
Blade Runner: The Final Cut

New Foreign DVDs
La Vérité (France, 1960. Drama, Brigitte Bardot. From  Bosley Crowther’s 1961 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “The truth about a so-called ‘crime of passion’ is what French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is supposedly trying to fathom in his new film. ‘The Truth’ [‘La Verité’]. But a viewer might easily get the notion that what he is really out to do is crowd the screen with the scorching sensuality of his star performer, Brigitte Bardot. For never has this famous Gallic siren been so frankly and ferociously employed as a symbol of sexual intemperance and rebellion as she is in this film” Read more…)

El Angel (Argentina, crime drama, Lorenzo Ferro. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 61. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’ always wanted to be a gangster. In ‘El Angel,’ wanting is beside the point. Introducing himself, Carlitos [Lorenzo Ferro] explains that it was his destiny to be a thief. Luis Ortega’s 1970s-set crime feature is inspired by the real-life killer Carlos Robledo Puch, who has served more than 45 years in prison in Argentina.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
She-Devil (1989, comedy, Meryl Streep. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. From Vincent Canby’s 1989 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Watching Meryl Streep at work in Susan Seidelman’s ‘She-Devil’ is to behold a magnificent illusionist at work. Miss Streep dives into this thimble-sized comedy and makes one believe – at least, while she is on the screen – that it is an Olympic-sized swimming pool of wit.” Read more…)

Cult of Chucky (1994, horror, Fiona Dourif. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69.)

New British DVDs
Happy Valley: Season 2 (police procedural Sarah Lancashire. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)
Diamonds for Breakfast (1968, heist, Marcello Mastroianni)

New Documentary DVDs
Letters from Baghdad (bio, Mideast history, British history, Tilda Swinton [narrator]. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Letters from Baghdada: The True Story of Gertrude Bell and Iraq,’ directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, is an experiment in documentary form — an unfortunate choice that perhaps looked good on paper. Bell was born into a wealthy British family in 1868, and was an avid traveler from an early age. This movie focuses on her time in the Middle East during the early 20th century and her role in drawing the modern borders of Iraq, which the United States and other countries have expended a good deal of blood and treasure to maintain and defend.” Read more…)

New releases 1/29/19

Top Hits
The Wife (drama, Glenn Close. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 77. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Wife’ pulls off the not inconsiderable feat of spinning a fundamentally literary premise into an intelligent screen drama that unfolds with real juice and suspense. Adapted from Meg Wolitzer’s 2003 novel, the film pivots on the marriage between a celebrated author, Joe Castleman [Jonathan Pryce], and his wife, Joan [Glenn Close], whose symbiotic relationship has had profound implications for his success.” Read more…)

Madeline’s Madeline (drama, Helen Howard. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “One of the assumptions of this seductive, disturbing, exasperating movie — the third feature written and directed by Josephine Decker [after ‘Butter on the Latch’ and ‘Thou Wast Mild and Lovely’] — is that conventional distinctions don’t necessarily apply. Between fantasy and reality, certainly, but also between authenticity and artifice, theater and therapy, art and life. Madeline herself, a New York teenager played with bracing conviction by Helena Howard, is not much interested in separating those things. This is partly a sign of adolescent confusion, possibly a symptom of mental instability and very much a matter of creative principle, for both Madeline and Ms. Decker.” Read more…)

Boy Erased (drama, Lucas Hedges. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Boy Erased,” adapted by Joel Edgerton from Garrard Conley’s memoir of the same title, is the second film this year to tackle the subject of conversion therapy, a technique that is a mix of religious dogma and dubious science whose cruelty and ineffectiveness have been amply documented. Like ‘The Miseducation of Cameron Post,’ directed by Desiree Akhavan and based on a young-adult novel by Emily Danforth, Edgerton’s film is set in the recent past, but its eye is very much on the present.” Read more…)

The Better Angels (historical drama, Jason Clarke. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 53. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Terrence] Malick didn’t make this movie, although it was a project that he was once interested in directing; rather, he has helped shepherd it into existence, giving his blessing by serving as a producer. ‘The Better Angels’ was written and directed by A. J. Edwards, who has worked on several of Mr. Malick’s recent titles, including ‘The New World,’ and has now for reasons that are at once understandable and baffling made his own Malickian movie.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Old Man & the Gun

New Foreign DVDs
Araby (Brazil, drama, Murilo Caliari. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Araby’ is set in southeast Brazil, and its dialogue is in Portuguese. But the first words heard in it are in English. As a handsome teen, the movie’s presumed protagonist, bicycles down a stretch of thruway untroubled by auto traffic, the beautiful, moving 1965 folk ballad ‘Blues Run the Game,’ by Jackson C. Frank, plays on the soundtrack. ‘Wherever I have gone,’ Frank sings, ‘the blues are all the same.’ And this movie, written and directed by João Dumans and Affonso Uchôa, sees ‘the blues’ as a universal language and condition.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Jamestown: Seasons 1 & 2 (colonial period drama, Sophie Rundle)

New TV
Kidding: Season 1 (comedy/drama, Jim Carrey. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 68.)

New Documentary DVDs
Studio 54: The Documentary (cultural history, disco, decadence, Ian Schrager. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Does the world really need another cinematic retrospective on New York night life in the late 1970s? Depends on whom you ask. I went in to ‘Studio 54,’ a new documentary directed by Matt Tyrnauer, thinking definitely not. But the movie won me over. In part because Ian Schrager, who partnered with Steve Rubell to open the legendary and notorious nightclub in 1977 — and who with Rubell was sentenced to prison for tax evasion in 1980 — appears as the film’s primary interviewee.” Read more…)

The Workers Cup (sports, global economy, exploitation. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 67. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “A sports documentary with a minor in economics, ‘The Workers Cup’ also adds a pinch of philosophy into its bittersweet story of migrant laborers who form a team to play soccer in and around the same stadiums they are building. Those laborers hail from among the world’s poorest areas — Africa, Bangladesh, India — and they have come to Qatar as it prepares for the 2022 World Cup. Foreign workers make up a large majority of the population yet, by law, many are confined to isolated camps.” Read more…)