New releases 1/1/19

Top Hits
Bad Times at the El Royale (thriller, Jeff Bridges. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Characters enter the ominous digs in ‘Bad Times at the El Royale,’ but they don’t always exit. This is hardly news. As the title suggests, El Royale — a motor lodge with pretensions of grandeur, which seems like an apt metaphor for this movie — isn’t a place for a good night’s sleep. It’s a spot for intrigue, desperation, swinging tunes and bloodletting.” Read more…)

Night School (comedy, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 43. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In ‘Night School,’ Kevin Hart plays a student in an adult education class, and Tiffany Haddish plays his teacher. Just by writing that sentence, I’m afraid I may have raised expectations too high. But now maybe I’ve lowered them too far. Not that this ragged comedy, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, is bad, exactly. It proposes a concept — summed up in the title — and follows it to a logical conclusion.” Read more…)

Trouble (comedy/drama, Angelica Houston. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A great many indignities are heaped on Bill Pullman’s character, Ben, in ‘Trouble,’ including pneumonia, a collapsed lung and a bullet to the chest. This last is delivered by his sister, Maggie [Anjelica Huston], though she’s not the only relative who wishes him ill: another tries to smother him with a pillow. Family, it seems, is not Ben’s forte.” Read more…)

1985 (drama, Cory Michael Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The AIDS crisis, which will remain a global crisis until a definitive cure for the disease is found, is no longer at the foreground of our culture. The film ‘1985’ is a moving cinematic sketch of a HIV-infected man living through the height of the plague.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Bad Times at the El Royale
Night School

New Foreign DVDs
The Captain (Germany, WWII drama/fascism, Max Hubacher. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘The Captain,’ Robert Schwentke’s harrowing World War II psychodrama, isn’t what you would call enjoyable, exactly. More accurately, it compels our attention with a remorseless, gripping single-mindedness, presenting Nazism as a communicable disease that smothers conscience, paralyzes resistance and extinguishes all shreds of humanity.” Read more…)

Scaffolding (Israel, drama, Asher Lax. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The protagonist of ‘Scaffolding,’ an Israeli coming-of-age film, isn’t really ready to come of age — not that he seems to know it. At school, the bullheaded 17-year-old Asher Lax [played by an actor named Asher Lax] challenges authority, disobeys instructions and shows not even the slightest semblance of politesse to his classmates.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969, western, Robert Redford. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)

New Documentary DVDs
Joan Jett: Bad Reputation (music, bio, Joan Jett. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Too many people do not think of the rocker Joan Jett as an important artist, and I doubt Ms. Jett thinks of herself quite that way either. ‘Bad Reputation,’ a documentary on her life and work directed by Kevin Kerslake [the title comes from one of Ms. Jett’s hits], convincingly makes the case that she is very much that. And that she is a feminist heroine as well.” Read more…)

Love, Gilda (bio, comedy, Gilda Radner. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 74. From Jason Zinoman’s New York Times review: “In the late 1970s, hardly anyone was as funny as Gilda Radner. As one of the first and brightest stars of “Saturday Night Live,” she played a critical role in establishing the foundation of the most important comedy showcase on television. By the 1980s, she faded from public view and at the age of 42, died from cancer. ‘Love, Gilda’ is a very affectionate reminder of her brief and brilliant career, a heartfelt love letter whose title might be more accurate without the comma.” Read more…)

The Pension Gamble (economics, politics, Wall Street)
Matanga Maya M.I.A. (bio, music, world music M.I.A.)

New Children’s DVDs
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood