New releases 11/27/18

Top Hits
Searching (thriller, John Cho. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 71. From Aisha Harris’ New York Times review: “What sets Aneesh Chaganty’s feature debut apart is its meticulously constructed storytelling device, which calls to mind ‘Unfriended [2014],’ the horror film about a group of teenagers whose video chat is interrupted by the presence of an online phantom, and its sequel ‘Unfriended: Dark Web,’ released earlier this summer. Every shot of ‘Searching’ plays out on a screen — a computer, a phone, through the lens of a clandestinely placed camera. It mostly works: It unveils a clever approach to character building, as during the opening montage of family photos, home videos and emails providing intimate details about the Kim family over several years.” Read more…)

Obey (drama, Marcus Rutherford. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “‘Obey’ is a well-directed, well-acted film that cleverly meshes news footage of the riots with staged fictional scenes, and there is a strong central performance from Marcus Rutherford as Leon, a young man just out of care, back at home with his caring but lonely and alcoholic single mum, Chelsea [an excellent performance from T’Nia Miller] and channelling his energies into boxing. When social tensions escalate, Leon finds himself in a crisis of loyalty among his friends, while falling for a beautiful social justice warrior/trustafarian white girl, Twiggy [Sophie Kennedy Clark], who is temporarily in a squat, though with the safety net of a comfortable family home out in the shires.” Read more…)

Blindspotting (comedy/crime, Daveed Diggs. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Picks. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This movie, which was written by Mr. Diggs and Mr. Casal, has an energetic-to-the-point-of-boisterous style. Its lively frequency is embedded in the writing, bolstered by Carlos López Estrada’s direction, and kept buoyant by the performers. This particular aspect of the film makes it exciting to watch, but can also be confounding. ‘Blindspotting’ often seems as if it wants to split the difference between its social concerns and its engagement level as an entertainment… But whatever my quibbles, the actual core of the movie is so pertinent that I’ve continued to think about it, hard, since I first saw it.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Searching

New Foreign DVDs
A Story from Chikamatsu (Japan, 1954, Criterion Collection, romance/drama, Kazuo Hasegawa. From Roger Greenspun’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Compared with the films of Kenji Mizoguchi with which we are already familiar [for example, ‘Ugetzu’—1953, ‘The Bailiff’—1954, or the sublime ‘Life of O’Haru’ — 1952), ‘Chikamatzu Monogatari,’ made in 1954, seems less lyrically poetic, less picturesquely strange, less immediately beautiful. But on the basis of just one viewing, I should guess that it is no less great.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers (Library of Congress, pathbreakers, 20+ hours of from 1911-29)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
On the Second Day of Christmas (1997, holiday movie, Mark Ruffalo)

New British DVDs
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Australia, mini-series based on a 1967 novel and previously filmed by Peter Weir in 1975, Natalie Dormer. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The vaudevillian, throw-everything-at-the-wall approach may reflect the creators’ sensibilities, or the need to fill a little over five hours of running time. But it also feels as if it might be a direct, somewhat panicked reaction to the ambiguities of the story. [writers Beatrix] Christian and [Alice] Addison have taken every latent idea, every veiled suggestion, in the material and made it explicit. Every piece of subtext has been dredged up so that it can be turned into banal commentary on the benighted attitudes of the provincial patriarchy toward gender, race, class and sexuality.” Read more…)

Jack Irish: Season 2 (Australia, mystery, Guy Pearce. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Mike Hale’s Times review: “‘Jack Irish,’ an Australian series whose second six-episode season goes up at Acorn TV on Monday, is in the same general category as Amazon’s ‘Bosch’ [based on books by Michael Connelly] and ‘C.B. Strike,’ the BBC-Cinemax adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s mystery novels. That is, it’s a straightforward, noirish mystery starring a laconic, mostly noble, unapologetically genre-friendly gumshoe… The show is set apart, though, by its sense of humor, a quality that’s usually rationed in TV mysteries these days to preserve an overall [and often suffocating] atmosphere of seriousness.” Read more…)