New releases 5/7/19

Top Hits
Blaze (bio-pic/country music, Ben Dickey. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Blaze,’ Ethan Hawke’s new movie [he directed, co-wrote the screenplay and appears onscreen a handful of times], whetted an appetite I wasn’t aware I had, though my Apple Music streaming history might have provided a clue. Even if the film were no good at all — and I’m relieved to say that it’s pretty darn good — I would be 100 percent here for a biopic about Blaze Foley, a Texas-based singer-songwriter who died in 1989. [His real name was Michael Fuller.] Furthermore, I would not be sad if ‘Blaze’ kicked off a trend, and I could look forward to sad, smoky, whiskey-saturated movies about the lives and times of Guy Clark, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Robert Earl Keen and of course the great Townes Van Zandt.” Read more…)

The Lego Movie: The Second Part (animated feature, Chris Pratt. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 65. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The new animated Lego movie is pretty much like the last one. Or maybe I’m thinking of another one, not that it much matters. There are differences between editions, most fairly negligible. The unifying factor, to note the obvious about the state of big-screen children’s entertainment, is that they are all feature-length commercials.” Read more…)

To Dust (comedy/drama, Matthew Broderick. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 66. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “‘To Dust’ runs an hour and a half, and that feels right for a buddy movie whose comedy is as stubborn as this one’s. But the movie is also trying — daring — to seriously consider grief, and that movie could have gone on for much longer. You can feel the script, by Jason Begue and Shawn Snyder, straining to tickle an audience. So it has a bereft widowed Hasidic cantor named Shmuel [Geza Rohrig] team up with Albert, a dumpy, mildly grizzled community college biology professor — and complete stranger — played by Matthew Broderick.” Read more…)

The Prodigy (thriller/horror, Taylor Schilling. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 45. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Nicholas McCarthy and set in a weirdly depopulated Philadelphia [played by Toronto and its environs], ‘The Prodigy’ features the usual buzzing flies and de rigueur jump scares [the best of which is in the trailer]. Taylor Schilling is perfect as Miles’s distraught mother, who catches on so slowly that she seems a little dense. And because fathers are often sidelined in movies like this, Peter Mooney’s restraint in the role, when the camera does find him, is to be heartily commended.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Suspiria (2018, horror remake, Dakota Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As the first hour of ‘Suspiria’ grinds into the second and beyond [the movie runs 152 minutes], it grows ever more distended and yet more hollow. Unlike Argento, who seemed content to deliver a nastily updated fairy tale in 90 or so minutes, [director Luca] Guadagnino continues casting about for meaning, which perhaps explains why he keeps adding more stuff, more mayhem, more dances.” Read more…)

The Lego Movie: The Second Part
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

New Foreign
Everybody Knows (Spain, thriller, Penelope Cruz. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 68. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “[Director Asghar] Mr. Farhadi’s intention is to investigate the way secrets bind and divide the people who share them. The plot turns several times on mistaken assumptions about what is and isn’t common knowledge, and on the disruptive, destructive power of unspoken grudges and half-buried memories.” Read more…)

Sobibor (Russia, war drama, Konstantin Khabensky. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. From Robert Abele’s Los Angeles Times review: “Movies dramatizing the Holocaust play a peculiar role in memorializing history, in that the barbarism of the subject defies attempts to aestheticize it. The Russian epic ‘Sobibor’ is actually about defiance, however: a noteworthy chapter from 1943 in which hundreds of the titular death camp’s prisoners revolted, killing Nazi guards and escaping into the surrounding Polish forest. But director-star Konstantin Khabensky’s movie suffers from that same artistic pressure, only it’s in the service of meshing the trappings of history with the rudiments of the vengeance-driven escape flick.” Read more…)

Permanent Green Light (France, drama, Theo Cholbi.)
The Weissensee Saga: Season 2 (Germany, period drama set in East Germany, Uew Kockisch)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Maniac Cop (1987, action, Bruce Campbell. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. From Caryn James’ 1996 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There was an intriguing half-minute during a showing of ‘Maniac Cop’ yesterday, when the film broke. The flaring orange on screen at least livened up this amateurish effort about a monstrously strong uniformed policeman – or is he a civilian in costume? – who roams the streets of New York killing innocent people. The acting is stiff, the dialogue is stiffer and the action scenes are laborious. Even the presence of professionals like Sheree North and Richard Roundtree, in small roles, tend to diminish them rather than improve the film.” Read more…)

Bone (1972, dark comedy, Yaphet Kotto. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%.)
The Private Files of J. Edgar Hoover (1977, drama, Broderick Crawford)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
Unforgotten: Season 3 (mystery series, Nicole Walker. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New TV
Better Call Saul: Season 4 (crime/drama series, Bob Odenkirk. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 87.)

New Documentaries
My Scientology Movie (exposé, Louis Theroux. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 62. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “With a quirky résumé that includes two documentaries about the Westboro Baptist Church, the British journalist and filmmaker Louis Theroux has proved himself a seasoned chronicler of human eccentricity. His style can best be described as inoffensively resolute: He doesn’t badger, but neither does he back off. That chummy persistence serves him well in “My Scientology Movie,” an offbeat attempt to illuminate the church’s psychological grip on its members.” Read more…)