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
Tag
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)