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…)

Blu-Ray

Robin Hood
A Star Is Born
Overlord

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…)