New releases 8/6/19

Top Hits

Pokemon Detective Pikachu (family adventure, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 53. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “A video game is, in fact, what ‘Detective Pikachu,’ directed by Rob Letterman, is based on, but its sense of cinematic history extends at least to the long-long-ago of 1988 and ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit,’ to which it owes what might be called a debt.” Read more…)

Plus One (rom-com, Maya Erskine. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 66. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Alice [Maya Erskine] is getting over a breakup. Ben [Jack Quaid] is so busy looking for a perfect partner that he never gives relationships a chance to work. In ‘Plus One,’ these longtime friends from college agree to be each other’s dates to what might otherwise be an unbearable marathon of weddings — weddings whose other attendees immediately recognize that they make a natural couple. [The audience will have figured that out from the premise.]” Read more…)

Descendants 3 (Disney fantasy, Dove Cameron. From Brian Lowry’s CNN review: “The tragic death of Cameron Boyce cast an unexpected cloud over ‘Descendants 3,’ the latest edition of the Disney Channel musicals built around the kids of Disney heroes and villains. The show goes on, yielding an at-best serviceable addition to a promising concept that’s beginning to feel worn and tired.” Read more…)

Poms (comedy, Diana Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 36. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The combined ages of the cheerleaders in ‘POMS’ is well over 500 years, but the movie’s jokes feel even older. An uncomfortable blend of sickness and silliness, this dancing-past-the-graveyard comedy suggests that the many travails of aging can be endured if you only gather enough friends and surrender enough dignity. It might be right; yet there must be better ways to prove it than throwing together some fine actors, then humiliating the heck out of them.” Read more…)

The Curse of La Llorona (horror, Linda Cardellini. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 41. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The scares are plentiful and sometimes ticklishly funny in ‘The Curse of La Llorona,’ an enjoyably old-fashioned ghost story. It’s the latest installment in a rapidly expanding horror series that started with ‘The Conjuring’ [2013] and now includes the ‘Annabelle’ flicks [about a devil doll] and ‘The Nun’ [a demon nun]. The connective tissue among these titles can be very thin; here, the most obvious link is Father Perez [Tony Amendola], who’s on hand again to explain that, why, yes, evil exists — boo!” Read more…)

Amazing Grace (music, gospel, concert, Aretha Franklin. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Wesley Morris’ Times review: “For all kinds of terrible reasons, the movies don’t have that many great shots of black women. They just don’t. But there’s a shot of Aretha Franklin in ‘Amazing Grace’ that might be the greatest image of a black woman that I’ve ever seen in an American movie. It’s just a medium close-up, straight on, of her at the podium of the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, almost evenly framed between two microphones and a pair of Afros that complement hers. The camera doesn’t move. And neither does she, except to sing and even then: she’s moving you.” Read more…)

Head Count (horror, Isaac W. Jay. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 49.)

New Blu-Ray

Hellboy
Long Shot
Action Point

New Foreign DVDs

Girls of the Sun (Kurdistan, war/feminist drama, Golshifteh Farahani. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 51. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Inspired by a 2014 ISIS raid on Kurdish territory, ‘Girls of the Sun,’ unlike the women who populate it, is weak and often corny. The story is inherently dramatic and the action scenes [sinuously photographed by Mattias Troelstrup] have real punch, but [director Eva] Husson is more interested in exalting her subjects than humanizing them.” Read more…)

Sauvage/Wild (France, drama, Félix Maritaud. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The opening scene of ‘Sauvage / Wild’ alerts viewers to be up for anything. A doctor [Lionel Riou] takes the symptoms of a patient [Félix Maritaud] and asks him to undress. The doctor turns out to work for the French equivalent of the I.R.S., and the patient — the film’s protagonist — turns out to be a prostitute. This role-playing exercise is hardly the most surprising tryst we will witness over the course of this sexually frank debut feature from the French writer-director Camille Vidal-Naquet.” Read more…)

Tiger Milk (Germany, coming of age, Flora Li Thiemann)

New Documentaries

Meeting Gorbachev (Werner Herzog-directed bio, world affairs, history, Mikhail Gorbachev. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Geopolitics has never been high on Werner Herzog’s list of concerns, at least in his documentaries. Even when he glances toward current events [‘Lessons of Darkness,’ ‘Into the Abyss’], the thrust tends to be philosophical — his interests run more to quixotic quests and humanity’s insignificance in the vastness of nature. That makes him an odd fit to interview Mikhail S. Gorbachev, whose leadership of the Soviet Union helped bring the Cold War to an end. Then again, if the moral of ‘Meeting Gorbachev,’ directed by Herzog and André Singer, is that contemporary politicians have ignored the lessons of Gorbachev’s leadership, then perhaps the former Soviet president’s push for peace makes him right at home in Herzog’s gallery of underheralded visionaries.” Read more…)

Woodstock: Three Days That Defined A Generation (cultural history, music, hippies in mud. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66.)
First To the Moon: The Journey of Apollo 8 (history, science, technology, adventure. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
Amazing Grace (music, gospel, concert, Aretha Franklin)