New releases 10/9/18

Top Hits
Eighth Grade (coming-of-age, Elsie Fisher. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are few more poignant, exasperating creatures than teenage girls. [I speak from personal experience.] And rarely are they as heart-pangingly real as the girl fumbling through the sharp, smart comedy ‘Eighth Grade.’ Like a lot of people, Kayla (the wonderful Elsie Fisher), spends a lot of time tethered to a cellphone that serves as her touchingly imperfect portal to the world. Day and deep into night, she scrolls through screen after screen of images — celebrities, cartoons, celebrity cartoons, stranger selfies — sprinkled with hashtags, online handles, candy-colored effects and emojis.” Read more…)

Skyscraper (action, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 51. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “At one point in the insistently, nay, proudly ridiculous thriller ‘Skyscraper’ the hero played by Dwayne Johnson assures the audience what it’s known from the start: ‘This is stupid.’ It’s hard not to wonder if the writer-director Rawson Marshall Thurber built the entire movie around this redundant truism. And why not? All he had to do was pad it with some recycling, bank on his relationship with Mr. Johnson — they worked together on ‘Central Intelligence,’ as mocking a title as Hollywood has produced — and Mr. Thurber had his elevator pitch: ‘The Towering Inferno’ meets ‘Die Hard’ but in China. Box-office domination was guaranteed as soon as the seven-figure deal was signed.” Read more…)

Gold Star (drama, Robert Vaughn. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Frank Scheck’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A clearly personal effort for its director/screenwriter/star, Victoria Negri’s debut feature is notable for the powerful supporting turn by the late Robert Vaughn in his final screen appearance. Delivering a mostly silent performance as the stroke-afflicted father of Negri’s central character, the veteran actor embodies the anguish of a once vital man reduced to pointing at words as his sole means of communication.” Read more…)

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (drama/comedy based on true story, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If you’ve ever hung out with an incorrigible drunk, then you’ll immediately appreciate the dramatic beats of ‘Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,’ Gus Van Sant’s cleverly volatile, infuriatingly random take on the disabled alcoholic cartoonist John Callahan. Self-pitying or smug, jaunty or crestfallen, callous or contrite, the movie’s fitful tone is fully yoked to Joaquin Phoenix’s sodden-to-sober lead performance.” Read more…)

Hotel Artemis (thriller, Sterling K. Brown. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s a lot of genre flourish packed into a relatively tidy running time in ‘Hotel Artemis,’ the directorial feature debut from the screenwriter Drew Pearce. Extrapolating from a droll “hotel for criminals only” concept recently seen in a sequence from 2014’s ‘John Wick,’ this movie makes the locale a combination hotel/hospital, sets the story a decade in the future, adds appropriately advanced technology, and surrounds it with a rioting Los Angeles populace up in arms over the privatization of water.” Read more…)

Hotel Transylvania 3 (animated feature, Adam Sandler [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s new York Times review: “The scenes of Dracula befuddled by a mobile phone were familiar; those in which the vampire’s garlic ‘intolerance’ preludes a flatulence joke predictable. Returning a third time as director, Genndy Tartakovsky lends his usual graphic savvy, providing a not-quite-saving grace.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Fast Times at Ridgemont High

New British DVDs
Killing Eve: Season 1 (spy/action series, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 83.)
A Month In the Country (1987, drama, Kenneth Branagh)

New Documentaries
Dark Money (politics, campaign finance. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis ‘New York Times review: “In her documentary ‘Dark Money,’ Kimberly Reed sets out to shine a light on obscure groups that, with deep-pocketed anonymous donors, have meddled in Montana elections. Scanning the recent past, she explores how and why both the state and citizens fought this meddling, as well as the ominous forces behind it. That killer clown postcard turned out to be bankrolled by dark money, which the Republican state senator Llew Jones defines here as ‘advertising where you don’t know who’s paying for the ads.’ He wonderingly asks: ‘Who’s paying for this? What are they attempting to buy?'” Read more…)

Life on Parole (prison policy, rehabilitation)
Imagine/Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon, music, making music)

New Music DVDs
Imagine/Gimme Some Truth (John Lennon, music, making music)

Children’s DVDs
Hotel Transylvania 3 (animated feature, Adam Sandler [voice])

New releases 10/2/18

Top Hits
Leave No Trace (drama, Ben Foster. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘Leave No Trace,’ [director Debra] Granik explores what it means to be so far on the margins you might as well not exist at all, at least as far as the larger world is concerned. It’s a familiar concern for Ms. Granik, who’s drawn to American outsiders — intentional and unintentional exiles alike — living in what are often blandly called poor and marginalized communities. These are the people who populate her stories and bring them to tangibly real life in dramatic movies like ‘Winter’s Bone,’ set in the Ozark Mountains in rural Missouri, and in her documentary ‘Stray Dog,’ which centers on a gruffly warm biker and Vietnam veteran who radically defies stereotype.” Read more…)

Sicario: Day of the Soldado (action/thriller, Benicio Del Toro. Rotten Tomatoes 63%. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Sicario: Day of the Soldado,’ directed by Stefano Sollima from a script by Taylor Sheridan, is an unusual kind of sequel. Dumber, less inventive and not as pretentious as ‘Sicario’ [released in 2015, directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Mr. Sheridan], it both advances and retreats, expanding on the original and narrowing its scope.” Read more…)

The Catcher was a Spy (true-life spy story with baseball, Paul Rudd. Rotten Tomatoes 34%. Metacritic: 49. From Glenn Kdnny’s New York Times review: “‘The Catcher Was a Spy’ is a character drama and an espionage thriller with a premise so peculiar that a fiction writer would be hard pressed to contrive it. As it happens, the story line is plucked from the marginalia of World War II history. And from the history of American baseball.” Read more…)

Breath (Australia, coming-of-age, Simon Baker. Rotten Tomatoes 77%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Surging waves, churning foam, seductively glistening bodies — the surf movie ‘Breath’ has them all. A sustaining pleasure of this alluring subgenre, of course, is the spectacle of mostly male, mostly naked bod’es miraculously sliding over and through the water. In “Breath,” the narrator recalls that on seeing surfers when he was young he thought: “Never had I seen men do something so beautiful, so pointless and elegant, as if dancing on water was the best and brightest thing a man could do.’ So there’s that, too.” Read more…)

Three Identical Strangers (documentary, family, social services, triplets. Rotten Tomatoes 97%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The title ‘Three Identical Strangers’ is somewhat of a giveaway in a documentary that’s best watched knowing as little as possible about its specifics. So, tread [and read] lightly! Engrossing, and sometimes enraging, the movie tells of triplets who, after being adopted separately at birth, were reunited by happenstance. None of the men — or their families — knew about the others, which naturally led to questions and has inspired the director Tim Wardle to turn their mysterious history into a detective story in reverse, one that begins with the seeming denouement [the happy reunion] and then moves back and forth across time.” Read more…)

Damsel (western, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes 71%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A counterfeit preacher, shoulders wreathed in dynamite and neck encircled by a makeshift noose, ponders his probable demise. As the camera crawls backward, we see a miniature horse standing calmly between his legs. The image — bizarrely comic and mildly menacing — occurs during the later stages of ‘Damsel,’ but it handily encapsulates the tone of a movie that turns the classic western into something wackily eccentric and entertainingly original.” Read more…)

The 12th Man (World War II drama, Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Rotten Tomatoes 85%. Metacritic: 76. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The reward of [director Harald] Zwart’s attention to the unique details of this historical account is that Jan’s path to safety frequently shocks, offering scenes of defiance that are unfamiliar or unexpected. In a familiar genre, ‘The 12th Man’ preserves the element of surprise by understanding its terrain.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Rear Window

New Foreign DVDs
Andrei Rublev (USSR, 1966, Tarkovsky-directed historical; drama, Criterion Collection, Nikolai Burlyaev. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Vincent Canby’s 1992 New York Times review on the re-release of a restored, augmented version of the movie [requires log-in]: “When Tarkovsky made ‘Andrei Rublev,’ he conceived it as a boldly free-form consideration of the responsibility of the artist (any artist) to himself and to the world that gave him life. It was thus almost inevitable that the completed film would go on to illustrate everything that can happen to an artist, in this case Tarkovsky, when he refuses to mind the strictures of authoritarian rule.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Aloha, Bobby & Rose (1975, romance/drama, Paul Le Mat. From Vincent Canby’s 1975 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Aloha, Bobby and Rose,’ which opened yesterday at the Columbia 2 Theater, is a sentimental, noisy, very bad movie about a young Los Angeles couple whom Floyd Mutrux, the director and writer of the screen play, describes as star-crossed though they seem less star-crossed than accident-prone.” Read more…)

I Heard the Owl Call My Name (1973, drama, Tom Courtenay)

New TV
Barry: Season 1 (HBO dark comedy, Bill Hader. Rotten Tomatoes 98%. Metacritic: 83.)

New Documentaries
Strangers on the Earth (music, pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago. Rotten Tomatoes 83%. Metacritic: 54. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The sensations that ‘Strangers on the Earth’ means to evoke are not well suited to the cinematic medium, at least not to a documentary that barely runs more than an hour and a half. To get into the proper contemplative frame of mind, you would need to spend a month walking the Camino de Santiago across Spain, the same journey — a famous Catholic pilgrimage — that its principal subject takes. Dane Johansen, an American cellist, sets out to hike a route that extends from the Pyrenees in the east to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, regarded as the final resting place of St. James, in the west, playing Bach’s suites in 36 ancient churches along the way.” Read more…)

Children’s DVDs
Quarterback Princess (1983, sports/feminism, Helen Hunt)

New releases 9/25/18

Top Hits
Solo: A Star Wars Story (adventure. Sci-fi, Alden Ehrenreich. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘This was never about you,’ someone says to Han Solo, which is odd since the movie is called ‘Solo.’ I don’t want to make this about me, but there are a lot of questions that, in the 41 years since I saw the first “Star Wars” movie — fine! the fourth one; ‘A New Hope’; jeez! — it has never occurred to me to ask. Where did Han Solo get his last name? How did he and Chewbacca meet? What was the winning hand in the game of Sabacc that gave him possession of the Millennium Falcon? How exactly did he make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs?” Read more…)

Gotti (gangster biopic, John Travolta. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 24. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “That the long-gestating crime drama ‘Gotti’ is a dismal mess comes as no surprise. What does shock is just how multifaceted a dismal mess it is.” Read more…)

Hot Summer Nights (thriller, Timothée Chalamet. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 44. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There’s a scene in the 2013 film ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ in which the title character, a struggling folk singer in early-1960s New York, meets a younger musician who’s been making waves. This other guy is well organized, polite and an engaging performer who can easily get a coffeehouse audience to sing along with him. During one such show, a flabbergasted Llewyn asks his friend, who admires this fellow, ‘Does he have a higher function?’ That unkind question passed through my mind while I was watching ‘Hot Summer Nights,’ written and directed by Elijah Bynum, who is making his feature debut.” Read more…)

The Seagull (Chekhov adaptation, Annette Bening. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Watching Annette Bening as Irina Arkadina in ‘The Seagull,’ Michael Mayer’s adaptation of the durable Anton Chekhov play, you might almost believe that the role was written with her in mind. There is very little Ms. Bening can’t do, but one of the things she does best is play actresses — the title character in ‘Being Julia,’ Gloria Grahame in ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’ and now Chekhov’s diva of the late-19th-century Moscow stage. Irina is charming and silly, imperious and intelligent, tough to the point of cruelty and also exquisitely sensitive.” Read more…)

Pin Cushion (coming-of-age story, Lily Newmark. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “For her first feature, “Pin Cushion,” the British director Deborah Haywood digs into her own teenage memories and unearths something eccentric, tragic and utterly unclassifiable.” Read more…)

The Bye Bye Man (horror, Douglas Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 37. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This horror movie has a hook that’s sharper than it sounds. ‘The Bye Bye Man’ melds the summon-the-evil-by-its-name convention familiar from ‘Candyman’ and, in a lighter register, ‘Beetlejuice,’ with the old try-not-to-think-of-an-elephant mind game.” Read more…)

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (horror/comedy, Thomas Lennon. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “An operatic aria of sleaze and slaughter, ‘Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich’ reboots the deadly-doll franchise that began in 1989 with the campy ‘Puppet Master.’ But while you don’t require familiarity with the dozen or so earlier titles to enjoy this one, you do require a sense of humor that’s easily triggered and a gag reflex that isn’t.” Read more…)

31 (Rob Zombie horror flick, Malcolm McDowell. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 35. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “No one goes to a Rob Zombie movie looking for classy entertainment, and with ’31’ the director works harder than ever to reinforce that tradition. Awash in blood and revoltingly misogynistic dialogue, this latest redneck ruckus (his seventh feature) is a grindhouse slog of unrelenting bad taste.” Read more..)

An American in Texas (drama, James Paxton)
Billionaire Boys Club (drama, Ansel Elgort. Rotten Tomatoes: 9%. Metacritic: 30.)

New Blu-Ray
Solo: A Star Wars Story

New Foreign DVDs
The Shepherd (Spain, drama, Miguel Martín. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From Jonathan Holland’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A stirring tale of one grizzled guy’s struggles to maintain his home and his dignity in the face of market forces, Jonathan Cenzual Burley’s debut ‘The Shepherd’ works up its simple man vs. system premise into a rich and compelling drama that, like an erring sheep, loses its way somewhat over the home stretch. Buoyed by an intense central performance by Miguel Martin, the film is part rural drama, part social critique and part homage to the harsh landscapes of central Spain, its low-budget ambitions no greater than to tell its important little story effectively. Mission accomplished: Further festival interest following the film’s triple Raindance triumph should extend ‘The Shepherd’s flock of followers.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
A Raisin In the Sun (1961, drama, Criterion Collection, Sidney Poitier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New TV
Billions: Season 3 (Showtime drama, Paul Giamatti)

New Documentaries
Mountain (nature, adventure, Willem Dafoe [narrator]. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 82. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “For those terrified of heights, ‘Mountain’ will be a nonstop nightmare. Yet big scares are a small price for the awe-inspiring footage you’ll see. As for what you’ll hear, that takes a little explaining. The documentary, directed by Jennifer Peedom and filmed by Renan Ozturk and a collection of other cinematographers, presents a nonstop sequence of mountains on all seven continents: breathtaking ranges and snow-capped peaks are seen from above, below and on their slopes. Additional footage includes climbers, skiers and extreme mountain bikers taking risks that seem beyond outrageous.” Read more…)

Beuys (art, bio, Joseph Beuys. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 58. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “As is the case with many conceptual artists, Beuys’s work was best understood with Beuys’s actual presence attached to it. But Beuys has been dead since 1986. This documentary, directed by Andres Veiel using mostly archival footage, makes a strong case for Beuys, emphasizing the social conscience at work in his art more than the postmodern prankishness.” Read more…)

New releases 9/18/18

Top Hits
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (sci-fi/action, Chris Pratt. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 51. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The posters for ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ promise that “The Park Is Gone.” Perhaps that’s meant to be foreboding, but it mostly sounds like an end to fun. The “Fallen Kingdom” part is also frankly a little obscure. The mistake, however, might be to suppose that these words mean anything at all. Sense is a thing this movie doesn’t have much interest in making.” Read more…)

Fahrenheit 451 (sci-fi/dystopian thrlller, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 47. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times review: “Even if you are not familiar with the Ray Bradbury source novel, ‘Fahrenheit’ makes it quickly, hammeringly clear that it is a cautionary tale. You’ll get that from the urban-noir aesthetic, the school-indoctrination sessions and the fact that Montag’s job as a ‘fireman’ involves not fighting fires but starting them — burning humanity’s last remaining books as well as their digital reproductions, all of which have been outlawed.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

New Foreign DVDs
The Guardians (France, drama, Nathalie Baye. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘The Guardians,’ unmistakably a war movie, is as quiet as a sigh. We barely hear a shot or a shell, and news of the horror of trench warfare — the story starts in 1915 — reaches us mostly through the words of men who have returned, briefly, from the front. Brothers, husbands, sons, these soldiers show up one at a time, unannounced, to their home in a rustic valley somewhere in France. And then they go away again, sometimes forever.” Read more…)

Summer 1993 (Spain, coming-of-age drama, Laia Artigas. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Summer 1993’ balances delicately on the aftermath of a tragedy, but its tone is far from dismal. Melancholy, yes, and even momentarily wrenching; yet its emotional arc bends insistently from inarticulate sadness to gentle catharsis. Unfolding during a sun-dappled summer in the Catalonian countryside, this autobiographical debut [culled from the childhood memories and family stories of the writer and director, Carla Simón] is light on drama yet dense with unspoken feeling.” Read more…)

I Killed My Mother (Canada, 2009, gay & lesbian/drama, Xavier Dolan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Rachel Saltz’s Times review: “The bluntly audacious title of the writer-director Xavier Dolan’s debut feature, ‘I Killed My Mother,’ is both a twist on a Freudian joke and a complicated assessment of the hero’s over-cathected relationship with his parent in chief. ‘Deep down I love her,’ the 16-year-old Hubert Minel [Mr. Dolan] says in one of the movie’s confessional black-and-white interludes, ‘but it’s not the love of a son.’ Sorry, Hubert, but it is the love of a son, though, as Mr. Dolan shows, it can look a lot like romance, with all its messy ‘I hate you, I love you, I hate you’s.'” Read more…)

Coming Home (China, drama, Chen Daoming. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 81. Ftom A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Zhang Yimou and Gong Li constitute one of the great director-actress pairings in movie history. In the 1980s and ’90s they worked together on a remarkable run of movies — including ‘Red Sorghum,’ ‘Raise the Red Lantern,’ ‘Shanghai Triad’ and ‘To Live’ — that were central to the resurgence of Chinese cinema and made international stars of both of them. Ms. Gong, noble, fragile and indomitable, was for Mr. Zhang a muse, an alter ego and an emblem of China’s suffering and resilience at important moments in the nation’s history. ‘Coming Home,’ only their second collaboration in the past 20 years, reunites them in an intimate, politically resonant story set in the final years and the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Complete Hal Roach Thelma Todd & Patsy Kelly Comedy Collection (1933-36, 21 short comedy films)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Gold (1974, conspiracy thriller, Roger Moore)

New British
The Miniaturist (period thriller, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 69.)

New TV
The Looming Tower (mini-series drama based on book about run-up to 9/11, Jeff Daniels. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 74. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review; “The show didn’t get made only because of the events it covers, now nearly 17 years in the past. It got made because of the book itself: Lawrence Wright’s definitive and mesmerizing ‘The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11,’ the best seller and Pulitzer Prize winner published in 2006. Sales and prizes, though, are no guarantee that a book will make it to the screen with its spirit intact. Neither, apparently, is the involvement of the author.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Nana (biography, Holocaust history. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%.)

New Gay & Lesbian
I Killed My Mother (Canada, gay & lesbian/drama, Xavier Dolan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71.)

New releases 9/11/18

Top Hits
Ocean’s 8 (action, Sandra Bullock. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 61. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The party gets started early in ‘Ocean’s 8,’ a frothy female-driven caper. Stuffed with talented, beautiful women playing naughty, this is the latest addition to the cycle that was once about an improbably suave thief, Danny Ocean [George Clooney], and his mostly male band of charming accomplices. Danny is now out of the picture, and Sandra Bullock has stepped in to play his sister, Debbie Ocean, who’s soon overseeing her own con with a knowing smile and the usual suspects, including a partner in crime, a hacker, a pickpocket and a distraction, played with fizz and delectable timing by Anne Hathaway.” Read more…)

Hearts Beat Loud (drama/music, Nick Offerman. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 65. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A bubble gum movie with a soundtrack to match, Brett Haley’s ‘Hearts Beat Loud’ doesn’t try very hard to sell itself or press its point. How could it, with Nick Offerman as one of the two leads? The man has made a career [primarily as a misanthropic government worker on ‘Parks and Recreation’] of leaning back and asking the audience to come to him, and, by and large, we have.” Read more…)

Goldstone (Australia, crime/thriller, Aaron Pedersen. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 78. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Given how few people live in the tiny mining outpost of ‘Goldstone,’ the abundance of wickedness is astonishing. Yet this parched Outback western, awash in noirish mannerisms and a sunstroke-inducing palette, harbors a robust social conscience beneath its hotbed of bribery and sex trafficking.” Read more…)

Superfly (action/remake, Trevor Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The American Dream is invoked several times in ‘Superfly.’ The mentions come from the movie’s lead character, and from a song on the soundtrack. These days, it seems, the phrase is often used ironically. It’s all about the accumulation of wealth and a sybaritic lifestyle. There’s no spiritual dimension, no sense of genuine civic aspiration. Within those cynically defined contemporary parameters, Youngblood Priest [Trevor Jackson, dressed to the nines and sporting what one character derides as ‘Morris Day hair’] is doing well.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Oceans 8
From Beyond (H.P. Lovecraft horror, Jeffrey Combs. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘From Beyond’ … is funny in the way of pulp fiction condescended to by superior intellects and special-effects experts. ‘From Beyond’ is an updated adaptation of an old H. P. Lovecraft tale about those malignant creatures that share our world, unseen, existing in their fourth dimension just waiting to get back into ours. With the help of computer technology and something called a ”resonator,” Dr. Pretorious has provided the means by which these beings can return.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Cold Water (France, 1994, Olivier Assayas coming-of-age drama, Virginie Ledoyen. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review on the occasion of its first U.S. release in 2018: “Nodding to François Truffaut’s ‘The 400 Blows’ and Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Pierrot le Fou,’ ‘Cold Water” is a self-aware descendant of the French New Wave. Like Truffaut and Godard, [director Olivier] Assayas turned from critic to filmmaker after a stint with Cahiers du Cinéma; the French-Hungarian actor Laszlo Szabo, a frequent supporting player in New Wave films, has a scene here as Gilles’s father. But ‘Cold Water,’ which Mr. Assayas has characterized in some ways as being autobiographical, is even more forcefully a post-New Wave generational statement.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
For a Good Time, Call… (2011, comedy, Ari Graynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘For a Good Time, Call …’ doesn’t aspire to be more than a broad, sloppy, old-fashioned sitcom with a sexy gimmick. But it is quite funny, and at the screening I attended, the loudest laughs came from young women in the audience. There are the usual sitcom intrusions and ridiculous plot twists.” Read more…)

The Tree of Life (2011, drama, Criterion Collection, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review [requires log-in]: “The Day of Judgment, prophesied for last weekend, has apparently been postponed, but moviegoers eager for rapture can find consolation — to say nothing of awe, amazement and grist for endless argument — in ‘The Tree of Life,’ Terrence Malick’s new film, which contemplates human existence from the standpoint of eternity. Recently showered with temporal glory at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d’Or, this movie, Mr. Malick’s fifth feature in 38 years, folds eons of cosmic and terrestrial history into less than two and a half hours. Its most provocative sequences envision the origin of the universe, the development of life on earth [including a few soulful dinosaurs] and then, more concisely and less literally, the end of time, when the dead of all the ages shall rise and walk around on a heavenly beach.” Read more…)

New TV
This Is Us: Season 2 (comedy/drama, Milo Ventimiglia. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%.)

New Documentaries
Filmworker (cinema history, movie making, Stanley Kubrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 73. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Intrigued by Kubrick’s exacting and innovative methods — for example, shooting ‘Barry Lyndon’ as much as possible with candles, torches and sunlight — [actor and documentary subject Leon] Vitali set off to study the craft of moviemaking. His quest led him back to Kubrick, just as the director was starting to work on his 1980 film, ‘The Shining.’ In short order, Mr. Vitali became a casting consultant [he auditioned child actors for the role of Danny Torrance] and then a factotum for Kubrick. In ‘Filmworker,’ a documentary directed by Tony Zierra, Mr. Vitali tells his story.” Read more…)

That Summer (Edith & Edie Beale, Grey Gardens from a different perspective. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘That Summer,’ a new documentary directed by Goran Hugo Olsson, sheds further light on the Beales with footage shot before the making of ‘Grey Gardens.’ The photographer Peter Beard, whose camera appreciated both the wilds of Africa and the supermodels and superstars of the 1960s and ’70s, opens the film from his Montauk home. Now 80, he pages through a coffee-table book of his own photography and reminisces.” Read more…)

New releases 9/4/18

Top Hits
Hereditary (horror, Toni Collette, Rotten Tomatoes: 89. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “At one point in ‘Hereditary,’ Ari Aster’s highly effective new horror movie, a character screams ‘Get out!’ It’s not yet clear what she means — or who, exactly, she’s addressing — but the line is both a pretty good jolt and a clever meta-joke. Invoking the title of the movie that set a new standard for commercial success, cultural prestige and societal relevance in an often-underestimated genre may be a way of acknowledging the raised expectations of the audience. What ‘Hereditary’ shares with ‘Get Out’ — apart from a house full of white people behaving strangely — is an ambitious energy, a sense that the creaky old machinery of horror can be adapted to new and exciting uses.” Read more…)

Adrift (adventure, Shailene Woodley. Rotten Tomatoes: 72. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The most recent English-language films from the Icelandic action auteur Baltasar Kormakur — ‘Everest’ from 2015 and the new ‘Adrift’ — would make an apt, if grueling, double feature, a surf-and-turf of real-life survivalism. Deep-frozen Jake Gyllenhaal followed by Shailene Woodley on the half-shell, floating across the South Pacific in a dismasted schooner with Sam Claflin languishing in the stern.” Read more…)

American Animals (true crime/heist, Evan Peters. Rotten Tomatoes: 86. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In December 2004, in the midst of final exams, four young men robbed the rare-book room at the library of Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. A Vanity Fair article a few years later described the heist as one part “’Ocean’s 11,’ one part ‘Harold & Kumar,’ which might raise your hopes for ‘American Animals,’ a new movie that reconstructs the crime. But the film, written and directed by Bart Layton, can’t quite decide what it wants to be: a slick, speedy caper; a goofball comedy; or a commentary on the state of the American soul. It’s none of those — a tame and toothless creature that is neither fish nor fowl.” Read more…)

Dark River (drama/mystery, Ruth Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 79. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “The Yorkshire depicted in Clio Barnard’s third feature, ‘Dark River,”’has much in common with that of Francis Lee’s recent triumph, ‘God’s Own Country’: a place of hard labor and lowering skies, of bleating sheep and repressed sexuality. Yet even in the swelling canon of British rural miserabilism, this unrelentingly intense psychodrama burrows beneath the skin.” Read more…)

Beast (crime/drama, Jessie Buckley. Rotten Tomatoes: 95. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Moll’s a wild one,’ someone remarks early in ‘Beast,’ Michael Pearce’s thrilling, unsettling debut feature. With her electric twist of Titian curls and dark, secretive gaze, Moll [a riveting Jessie Buckley] has the look of a volcano that’s primed to erupt. Stirring murder mystery, love story and psychodrama into a mesmerizing slurry, Mr. Pearce turns his native island of Jersey into a sunlit trap where Moll chafes against her domineering mother [an icy Geraldine James] and conservative community.” Read more…)

Ideal Home (comedy, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 66. Metacritic: 62. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Teo Bugbee’s Times review: “The director of ‘Ideal Home,’ Andrew Fleming, based the movie on his own experience as the second parent to his partner’s child, and the movie thrives by depicting the idiosyncratic textures of gay relationships. ‘Ideal Home’ is genuinely funny, and the poignant and pithy script is aided by the chemistry between its stars, who are equally adept with comedic punch lines as they are with dramatic gut punches. Refreshingly, the film’s tone seems pitched more to gay audiences than straight ones.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign DVDs
Western (Germany, thriller, Meinhard Neumann. Rotten Tomatoes: 72. Metacritic: 56. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The title of Valeska Grisebach’s beautifully complicated, rigorously straightforward third feature, ‘Western,’ has at least two meanings. The German workers who come to a remote rural valley in Bulgaria to build a hydroelectric plant are emissaries of the West, bringing the ambiguous benefits of capitalist development to a former Eastern Bloc nation. It’s not the first time Germans have been here, as several people point out, even if the crew hardly resembles an occupying army. But they do call to mind the cavalrymen in a movie like ‘Fort Apache’: interlopers in someone else’s territory, surrounded by a local population that is wary of their presence and sometimes hostile to it.” Read more…)

The Desert Bride (Argentina, romance, Paulina Garcia. Rotten Tomatoes: 86. Metacritic: 68. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Desert Bride,’ an Argentine-Chilean feature from the directors Cecilia Atán and Valeria Pivato, tells a slight story so gingerly that the film almost seems to recede into the horizon as you watch it. A road movie of sorts, it steers clear of melodrama or sentimentality, but it also never risks hitting anything. To be fair, such restraint may be intended as a reflection of the protagonist, Teresa [the Chilean actress Paulina García, who earned raves a few years ago for the film ‘Gloria’], who has spent more than half her life working unassumingly as a maid in Buenos Aires.” Read more…)

Godard Mon Amour (France, drama/romance, Louis Garrel. Rotten Tomatoes: 54. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Godard Mon Amour,’ the latest offering from the pasticheur Michel Hazanavicius [‘The Artist,’ ‘OSS: 117’], chronicles an eventful year or so in the life of the cineaste Jean-Luc Godard. The period covered by the film includes the 37-year-old Godard’s marriage to the 19-year-old actress Anne Wiazemsky [on whose memoir it’s based] and the uprising of French students and workers in May 1968, a revolt that, among other things, shut down that year’s Cannes Film Festival. On being informed of the existence of Mr. Hazanavicius’s project, Mr. Godard — who is now 87 and whose latest film, ‘Le Livre d’Image,’ will be in Cannes next month — is reported to have called it a ‘stupid, stupid idea.’ Au contraire! [All due respect.] It’s a brilliant idea. It just happens to be a terrible movie.” Read more…)

The Great Silence (Italy, 1968, spaghetti western, Klaus Kinski. Rotten Tomatoes: 100. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review on the occasion of the film’s first U.S. release in 2018: “I’m not generally one for nostalgia, but I do regret the loss of a certain kind of craziness that used to flourish in movies — the kind that is on rich and ripe display in ‘The Great Silence,’ a 1968 Italian western by Sergio Corbucci that is only now receiving a proper theatrical release in this country. There is something about the film’s brazen mixing of incompatible elements that defies categorization, imitation or even sober critical assessment. It’s anarchic and rigorous, sophisticated and goofy, heartfelt and cynical. The score, by Ennio Morricone, is as mellow as wine. The action is raw, nasty and blood-soaked. The story is preposterous, the politics sincere.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Kismet (1944, adventure/fantasy, Ronald Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. from P.P.K.’s 1944 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Kismet,’ the venerable stage-piece with which the late Otis Skinner rode to his greatest fame, came to life again yesterday at the Astor in the M-G-M Technicolor production with Ronald Colman in the starring role aided by Marlene Dietrich, James Craig, Edward Arnold, Joy Ann Page and others.Under the newest cinematic treatment the addition of color and modern dimensional effects have heightened the conscious attempt at fantasy.” Read more…)

The Girl From Jones Beach (1949, romance, Ronald Reagan. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In re the question of feminine adornment, which happens to be the one pursued with single-minded attention in the Warners’ ‘The Girl from Jones Beach,’ it must be said that Virginia Mayo upholds the case for the form-fit bathing suit. And it must be further remarked that the Warners have tried their best not to jeopardize her case by obscuring her brilliant presentation with a bulky or brain-taxing brief.Many thanks to the Warners for not putting too much in the way of Miss Mayo’s able demonstration of the use of the bathing suit. And thanks to them also for enrolling Ronald Reagan to play the part of the gentleman upon whom Miss Mayo makes the biggest impression in this new comedy at the Strand.For Mr. Reagan is a fellow who has a cheerful way of looking at dames, especially at one who is as cheering as Miss Mayo proves herself to be.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (bio, popular culture, television history, Fred Rogers aka Mister Rogers. Rotten Tomatoes: 99. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “By sheer coincidence — unless it is, somehow, a sign of the times — the two best American movies in theaters right now both happen to be about Protestant ministers grappling with their vocations in a fallen and frightening world. One of these men of the cloth is a fictional character, Ernst Toller, the anguished pastor [played by Ethan Hawke] who ministers to a dwindling flock in Paul Schrader’s ‘First Reformed.’ The other is a real person: Fred Rogers, a graduate of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary whose millions of congregants assembled in front of their parents’ television sets from the late 1960s until the early years of this century, absorbing his benign and friendly secular wisdom.” Read more…)

New releases 8/28/18

Top Hits
Book Club (comedy/romance, Diane Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 53%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The stories it has to tell about feminism and female sexuality are left mainly implicit in the script [by Bill Holderman and Erin Simms; Mr. Holderman directed] because they are written in the faces of its stars. And much in the way that their characters use reading as a pretext for hanging out and drinking wine — there will be wine in every paragraph of this review, as there is wine in nearly every scene of this film — the filmmakers understand that what will satisfy the audience is time in the company of Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Diane Keaton and Mary Steenburgen.” Read more…)

Woman Walks Ahead (western, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 51%. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The best way to enjoy Susanna White’s ‘Woman Walks Ahead’ — a fictionalized account of an event in the life of the 19th-century artist and Native American rights activist Catherine Weldon — is to view it less as a historical record than a fish-out-of-water romance. Albeit one that gets no more physical than a desperate cuddle.” Read more…)

Who Are We Now (drama, Julianne Nicholson. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 83%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. FRom Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The writer-director Matthew Newton’s film is about the idea of justice in everyday life, as epitomized by a speech Mr. Smits’s character gives to the doubtful Jess in a key scene. Superbly acted and confidently shot, ‘Who We Are Now’ delivers substantial dramatic pleasures while posing pertinent questions.” Read more…)

Upgrade (thriller/action, Logan Marshall-Green. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66%. Ftom Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Upgrade’ is an energetic, superficially slick, latter-day B-movie of the ‘but dumb’ category. That is, it’s kind of like ‘RoboCop,’ but dumb, and also like ‘Ex Machina,’ but dumb. In this respect the movie manages to be pretty funny; and the grisliness of the action, while in a sense entirely deplorable, adds to the kicks. As do the plot twists, which are satisfying in a — you guessed it — dumb way.” Read more…)

Tag (action comedy, Ed Helms. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 53%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “While ‘Tag,’ directed by Jeff Tomsic and distributed by the venerable Warner Bros. studio, is indeed about that popular, sublimely simple children’s pastime, it is actually an R-rated feature film whose cast consists almost entirely of actors in their 40s. In 21st-century America, we work hard to keep children away from mischief, idle fun and unsupervised play. Their lives are structured around play dates, test prep and lockdown drills. Silly stuff is strictly for grown-ups. Which is to say that ‘Tag’ is a late, anxious variation on the dominant theme of modern American film comedy, namely the headlong flight from maturity.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Book Club

New Foreign DVDs
Memories of Underdevelopment (Cuba, 1968, social drama, Sergio Corrieri. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. From J. Hoberman’s New York Times review of the new restoration: “Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s ‘Memories of Underdevelopment,’ shot in Cuba some 50 years ago and showing for a week at Film Forum in an excellent 4K digital restoration, is a first-rate movie and a remarkable document… While closely adapted from [Edmundo] Desnoes’s novel, Alea’s film is greatly enriched by interpolated newsreel material. Sergio’s alienation is placed in the context of pre-revolutionary poverty and post-revolutionary political trials, as well the aftermath of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. ‘Memories’ is a very much a new wave film in its freewheeling mix of cinéma vérité-style hand-held street scenes and playful freeze frames.” Read more…)

The Paris Opera (France, documentary, opera director Stéphane Lissner. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 54%. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “At its most fun, ‘The Paris Opera’ functions as a stealth backstage chronicle, notably when the man singing the part of Hans Sachs in Wagner’s ‘Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg’ calls in sick, setting off a scramble to find a last-minute understudy somewhere in Europe. The baritone Michael Kupfer-Radecky assumes the task with humor as bountiful as his voice.” Read more…)

In Syria (France, war drama, Hiam Abbas. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Swan (1956, romance, Grace Kelly. From Bosley Crowther’s 1956 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Let this be said at the outset: any sly suggestions that ‘The Swan’ is a piece of contrived publicity for some recent romantic goings-on are absolutely baseless and should be discredited. Its characters have no similarity to actual persons, living or dead. It says so, in fine type, at the bottom of one of the credit cards.However, it is true that this picture, which arrived yesterday at the Music Hall, robed in such beauty of production as can be afforded by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is a slender and charming fable, as soft as a summer breeze, about a princess in a Ruritanian country that was a myth before World War I.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Country (1984, drama, Jessica Lange. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1984 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Country,’ which opens the 22d New York Film Festival tonight at Lincoln Center, is a good, decent, 1930’s Depression movie set in the mid-1980’s, about the problems of farmers as they attempt to cope with the vagaries of Federal farm policies, which are no more easy to predict than the extremes of weather in the Middle West. Although written by William D. Wittliff, directed by Richard Pearce [‘Heartland’], who took over the job of direction from Mr. Wittliff, and co- starring Sam Shepard, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and actor, the film, more than anything else, reflects the drive, conviction and intelligence of Jessica Lange, it” Read more…)

New TV
Banshee: Season 1 (action drama, Antony Starr. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 62%.)
Paterno (drama, biopic, Al Pacino. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 68%.)

New Documentaries
RBG (Bio, politics, feminism, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 72%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the second woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, but she’s probably the first justice to become a full-fledged pop-cultural phenomenon. ‘RBG,’ a loving and informative documentary portrait of Justice Ginsburg during her 85th year on earth and her 25th on the bench, is both evidence of this status and a partial explanation of how it came about.” Read more…)

Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (jazz, bio, John Coltrane. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 69%. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary’ portrays the legendary saxophonist as a tirelessly forward-thinking artist. [His music, the philosopher Cornel West says in the film, was more of a thermostat than a thermometer.] But as a biographical movie, ‘Chasing Trane’ sticks to a conventional, dully informative format. Its ideal venue is a Coltrane tribute event or a classroom.” Read more…)

Paying the Price for Peace: The Story of S. Brian Willson (activism, politics, history)
The Paris Opera (France, documentary, opera director Jean-Stéphane Bron)

New Music DVDs
Chasing Trane: The John Coltrane Documentary (jazz, bio, John Coltrane)
The Paris Opera (France, documentary, opera director Jean-Stéphane Bron)

New releases 8/21/18

Top Hits
First Reformed (thriller, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “What a strange path I have had to take to find you. Roughly translated, those are the last words in Robert Bresson’s ‘Pickpocket,’ a movie that figures prominently in the work of Paul Schrader, who has alluded to its final scene in many of his films, including ‘American Gigolo,’ ‘Light Sleeper’ and his new one, ‘First Reformed.’ A tortuous spiritual journey through debasement and self-deception leads, in the end, to an experience of communion, the discovery of another soul who had been there all along, awaiting recognition. Which is more or less how I feel — improbably, miraculously, at long last — about Mr. Schrader. He is 71, and has had a long and varied career, but ‘First Reformed’ nonetheless feels like a fresh discovery. More than that: an epiphany.” Read more…)

Deadpool 2 (superhero action, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The script, by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick and Ryan Reynolds [who once again plays the title character], is loaded with winky, fourth-wall-piercing eruptions of meta, the kind of humor that can make even the slow-witted and literal-minded feel devilishly clever. Works for me, I guess. But this sequel to the R-rated, X-Men-adjacent surprise blockbuster of 2016 works maybe a little too hard in the service of a dubious cause.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Deadpool 2

New Foreign DVDs
La Dolce Vita (1960, Italy, Criterion Collection, Federico Fellini drama, Marcello Mastroianna. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 93. From Bosley Crowther’s 1961 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Federico Fellini’s ‘La Dolce Vita’ [‘The Sweet Life’], which has been a tremendous hit abroad since its initial presentation in Rome early last year, finally got to its American premiere at Henry Miller’s Theatre last night and proved to deserve all the hurrahs and the impressive honors it has received.” Read more…

In 1997 Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert wrote an encomium to “La Dolce Vita”:

Movies do not change, but their viewers do. When I saw “La Dolce Vita” in 1960, I was an adolescent for whom “the sweet life” represented everything I dreamed of: sin, exotic European glamour, the weary romance of the cynical newspaperman. When I saw it again, around 1970, I was living in a version of Marcello’s world; Chicago’s North Avenue was not the Via Veneto, but at 3 a.m. the denizens were just as colorful, and I was about Marcello’s age.

When I saw the movie around 1980, Marcello was the same age, but I was 10 years older, had stopped drinking, and saw him not as a role model but as a victim, condemned to an endless search for happiness that could never be found, not that way. By 1991, when I analyzed the film a frame at a time at the University of Colorado, Marcello seemed younger still, and while I had once admired and then criticized him, now I pitied and loved him. And when I saw the movie right after Mastroianni died, I thought that Fellini and Marcello had taken a moment of discovery and made it immortal. There may be no such thing as the sweet life. But it is necessary to find that out for yourself.

Read more…)

Leonor (France, 1975, arthouse horror, Liv Ullmann)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Song of Love (1947, musical/biopic, Katharine Hepburn. From Bosley Crowther’s 1947 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “At least, it is obvious that Metro hasn’t forgotten ‘A Song to Remember’ of a few years back — as witness its boldly imitative ‘Song of Love,’ which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Excepting a lack of Technicolor, this adipose musical film follows precisely the formula of that previous popular splurge in classic song.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Assault on a Queen (1966, heist action adventure, Frank Sinatra)

New TV
Elementary: Season 5 (modern day Sherlock Holmes mystery series, Jonny Lee Miller. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
The Terror: Season 1 (period adventure/drama, Jared Harris. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 76.)

New Documentaries
Human Flow (human rights, migration, refugees, Ai Weiwei. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There are moments in ‘Human Flow,’ a bracing, often strangely beautiful movie by the artist Ai Weiwei, when it can be hard to see the individuals who make up the roiling, surging rivers onscreen. This difficulty in isolating specific people — really seeing them as sovereign beings rather than as an undifferentiated mass — is crucial to the meaning of the documentary, which charts the global refugee and migrant crisis. Shot over the course of one year in 23 countries, the movie tracks the here and there of people whose relentless ebbing and flowing make startlingly visible what news headlines repeatedly suggest: that ours is an age of ceaseless churn with no calm in sight.” Read more…)

We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (music, social history, Johnny Cash)

New Music DVDs
We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (music, social history, Johnny Cash)

New releases 8/7/18

Top Hits
Life of the Party (comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 46.)
Measure of a Man (comedy, Blake Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 53.)
Revenge (thriller, Matilda Lutz. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 81.)
On Chesil Beach (romance, Saoirse Ronan. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Blu-Ray
Happy End (France, drama, Isabelle Huppert, Blu-Ray only. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 72.)
Life of the Party

New Foreign DVDs
Bye Bye Germany (Germany, postwar drama, Moritz Bleibtreu. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 64.)
Zama (Argentina, costume drama, Daniel Gimenez Cacho. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 89.)
John From (Portugal, drama, Julia Palha)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Kinetophone: A Fact! A Reality! (cinema history, Thomas Edison talkies from 1913!)

New TV
Here and Now: Season 1 (drama, Tim Robbins. Metacritic: 46.)

New Documentaries
The Kinetophone: A Fact! A Reality! (cinema history, Thomas Edison talkies from 1913!)

New releases 7/31/18

Top Hits
Tully (comedy, Charlize Theron. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Marlo [played by Charlize Theron] is doing the contemporary supermom thing and, refreshingly, she isn’t doing it with 1950s clichéd desperate smiles. Directed by Jason Reitman from a script by Diablo Cody [this is their third movie together], ‘Tully’ admits that this figure is a noxious delusion, one that isn’t suitable for real women. Nevertheless they’re made to feel guilty for not doing it all or scolded for trying to live up to impossible standards. And soon enough the golden nimbus surrounding Marlo vanishes, swept away by the reality of hustling two children off to school while waiting for her water to break.” Read more…)

The Miracle Season (sports/inspiration, Helen Hunt. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 44. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “That ‘The Miracle Season’ is based on a true story makes it tough to endure and to review, because it’s no pleasure to report that filmmakers have turned real-life tragedy and tenacity into a manipulative weepie. From lighting to music cues, ‘The Miracle Season’ never misses a chance to lunge for your tear ducts, treating its characters less as flesh-and-blood humans than as props for delivering bromides.” Read more…)

Kings (drama, Halle Berry. Rotten Tomatoes: 11%. Metacritic: 34. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The first English-language film from the Turkish-French director Deniz Gamze Ergüven [her 2015 movie ‘Mustang’ was a foreign language Oscar nominee] is well-acted across the board, and contains more than a few outstanding, unpredictable scenes. But in tying its story to this particular moment in American history, the movie bites off more than it can coherently chew.” Read more…)

The Party (comedy, Patricia Clarkson. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 73. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Written and directed by Sally Potter, who has made other movies worth seeing — ‘Thriller,’ ‘Orlando,’ ‘Ginger & Rosa’ — ‘The Party’ is a brittle, unfunny attempt at comedy that features some very fine actors and a lot of empty chatter. It takes place inside a few rooms on the ground-level floor of Bill and Janet’s comfortable London digs. There, they are giving a party to celebrate Janet’s recent appointment as a government functionary of the unnamed opposition party. From the way she furtively coos into her cellphone, it is clear that Janet has some secrets.” Read more…)

Kickboxer: Retaliation (action, Jean-Claude Van Damme. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 54. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Mixed martial arts fans awaiting another chapter in the ‘Kickboxer’ movie series can rest easy: ‘Kickboxer: Retaliation’ has arrived in all its brutal, lunkheaded glory to scratch that particular itch. This sequel to 2016’s ‘Kickboxer: Vengeance’ — a reboot of the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme hit ‘Kickboxer’ [which spawned four sequels in the 1990s] — is essentially an overlong excuse to showcase an endless string of fight sequences. Scenes are either preludes to fights, preparations for fights or the fights themselves.” Read more…)

The Recall ( sci-fi, Wesley Snipes)

New Blu-Ray
Point Break (1991)
The Bad Batch
I Kill Giants
Cold Turkey
Kickboxer: Retaliation
I Am Heath Ledger
Bad Santa 2
Only the Brave
The Young Pope: Season 1
Sing Street
The Endless
Borg vs. McEnroe
Smurfs: The Lost Village
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
The Pirates of Somalia
Kung Fu Yoga
The Star
Going in Style
Savannah Smiles (1982)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Letter (1929, drama, Jeanne Eagels. From Dave Kehr’s 2011 New York Times DVD review: “Long overshadowed by William Wyler’s 1940 remake starring Bette Davis, the first filming, from 1929, of W. Somerset Maugham’s stage play ‘The Letter’ has re-emerged, thanks to a new DVD edition from Warner Archive. As the only surviving sound film of the radically innovative Broadway star Jeanne Eagels, the film is an important piece of theater history, preserving the performance style of a brilliant, eccentric and spectacularly self-destructive actress [who would die of a drug overdose seven months after the film’s release]. But, stiff as it may be in cinematic terms, ‘The Letter’ is also a crucial piece of film history. One of the first talking films — or ‘audible photoplays,’ as The New York Times then called them — to impress critics with the artistic possibilities of a technology still widely regarded as a gimmick, ‘The Letter’ represented an important step on the way to the normalization of sound.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Day After (1983, nuclear war drama, Jason Robards. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From John Corry’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Day After,’ ABC’s much-discussed vision of nuclear Armageddon, is no longer only a television film, of course; it has become an event, a rally and a controversy, much of it orchestrated. Part of the controversy has to do with whether ‘The Day After’ makes a political statement, which it does, although the statement is muddy, and part of the controversy has to do with how we confront the nuclear abyss. Champions of the film say it forces us to think intelligently about the arms race; detractors say it preaches appeasement. In fact, both sides have something going for them in their arguments, even if the champions of the film, for the moment, are being heard more clearly than the detractors.” Read more…)

Latino (1985, drama/war, Robert Beltran. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The passion is there, but it’s subverted by the perfunctory nature of the fiction [director Haskell Wexler] has concocted about Eddie Guerrero, a Mexican-born officer in the Green Berets, and his politicization in Honduras while training United States-sponsored, Nicaraguan ‘contras,’ or counterrevolutionaries. The film, which was made under obviously difficult conditions, mostly in Nicaragua, looks both authentic and exceptionally handsome. It’s acted with conviction by Robert Beltran, as Eddie Guerrero; Annette Cardona, as the Nicaraguan woman with whom Eddie falls in love; Tony Plana, as one of Eddie’s fellow Green Berets, and Luis Torrentes, as a young Nicaraguan forced to join the contras at the point of a gun. Unfortunately for the film, Mr. Wexler’s screenplay makes only minimal use of the freedom allowed by fiction to dramatize the contradictory nature of human behavior -something not easily conveyed in documentaries.” Read more…)

New TV
Counterpart: Season 1 (thriller series, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times TV review: “One Howard Silk, a meek career bureaucrat who visits his comatose wife every night in the hospital, has ‘kind eyes,’ according to a nurse. The other Howard Silk, a sarcastic, deadly spy, does not. And yet the two Howard Silks — genetically identical but temperamentally diverse characters in the alternate-dimensions thriller ‘Counterpart,’ beginning Sunday on Starz — have the same eyes. They belong to the actor J.K. Simmons, whose double-barreled performance makes the show the most entertaining new series of the winter. Counterpart,” created by Justin Marks [writer of the 2016 ‘Jungle Book’ remake], is a clever and suspenseful if somewhat familiar mix of futuristic speculation and retro atmosphere.” Read more…)