New releases 2/5/19

Top Hits

Widows (thriller, Viola Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 84. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Widows’ is a heist movie in a somber mood, a thriller not entirely comfortable with thrills. Though it has plenty of mayhem and a plot that twists, buckles and swerves, this movie, directed by Steve McQueen [‘Hunger,’ ‘Shame,’ ’12 Years a Slave’] from a script he wrote with Gillian Flynn [‘Gone Girl,’ ‘Sharp Objects’], moves at a slow, contemplative pace, driven by grief, dread and desperation rather than the more familiar motives of greed, ambition and rebellion.” Read more…)

Lu Over the Wall (animated feature, Shota Shimoda [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 62. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “The film’s director, Masaaki Yuasa, uses Lu’s powers to manipulate the narrative at will. Unfortunately, as a result, Lu sometimes feels more like a cynical plot device than a character. The problem is only amplified by the animation itself. The character renderings feel more rushed than the rich, warm backgrounds.” Read more…)

The Girl In the Spider’s Web (thriller, Claire Foy. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 43. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In the latest and emptiest [Lisbeth] Salander screen vehicle, ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web,’ the dragon [tattoo] perches on Salander’s back, its wings fanned and mouth open, like a hungry baby bird. The dragon looks as if it paused in midflight to catch a worm or pose for a coat of arms. It’s as blankly ornamental as the rest of the movie, which stars Claire Foy as a preposterously jacked-up version of the renegade hacker. Salander is still typing furiously and retains a taste for black clothes and vengeance, but her running and gunning now suggest a Goth cosplaying James Bond.” Read more…)

My Dinner With Hervé (bio-pic/drama, Peter Dinklage. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 68. From Troy Patterson’s The New Yorker review: “[Actor Peter] Dinklage catches the character’s anger, self-pity, and, most importantly, his exuberant recklessness, as when vaingloriously yapping at Montalbán [Andy Garcia], pulling a knife to seek the representation of an agent [David Strathairn], and indulging in a red-carpet wrestling match with Billy Barty, who had scolded the upstart to show some class. ‘My Dinner with Hervé’ cannot make a straight-faced claim that Villechaize was an important actor or significant cultural figure, so its own significance depends on the star’s charisma, which lends the proceedings a simple poignance.” Read more…)

Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch (CGI animated feature, Benedict Cumberbatch [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 51. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Grousing about pointless remakes is a critical activity so frequently practiced that it’s become a form of conventional wisdom. As such, I try to resist the reflex. However, I am flummoxed by ‘Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,”’a computer-animated iteration of ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas.’ The book was an instant classic in 1957 and still sells oodles today.” Read more…)

A Private War (war/drama, Rosamund Pike. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic:76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “In the press notes for his first narrative feature, ‘A Private War,’ the nonfiction filmmaker Matthew Heineman states that he didn’t want to make this gently fictionalized portrait of the war correspondent Marie Colvin into a biopic. And he hasn’t: what he has made is a deeply distressing, authentically moving psychological study of unswerving obsession.” Read more…)

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (adventure/family, Keira Knightley. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 39. From Aisha Harris’ New Yortk Times review: ” As with ‘A Christmas Carol’ and the Grinch, every generation gets its own version of ‘The Nutcracker,’ it seems. The latest incarnation of the E.T.A. Hoffmann story is Lasse Hallstrom and Joe Johnston’s ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,’ a hokey oddity that glissades along with a few charms and a pleasant score by James Newton Howard heavily incorporating themes from Tchaikovsky’s ballet [though there’s little dancing].” Read more…)

The Delinquent Season (Ireland, drama, Cillian Murphy. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Gary Goldstein’s Los Angeles Times review: “Although ‘The Delinquent Season’ is the kind of provocative marital drama that’s been in shorter supply in recent years, it maintains a vitality and timelessness that should appeal to anyone who’s ever found themselves at an unexpected crossroads in a long-term romantic relationship. Mark O’Rowe, making an auspicious feature directing debut [he also wrote], has crafted a highly intelligent, even-handed look at two suburban Dublin married couples — Jim [Cillian Murphy] and Danielle [Eva Birthistle], Yvonne [Catherine Walker] and Chris [Andrew Scott] — who are initially united by the wives’ friendship. But one night, when a shocking outburst by Chris reveals a potential fissure between him and Yvonne, it sets off a series of life-changing events.” Read more…)

A Boy Called Sailboat (comedy/drama, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%.)

New Blu-Ray
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch
The Girl In the Spider’s Web
Widows
Blade Runner: The Final Cut

New Foreign DVDs
La Vérité (France, 1960. Drama, Brigitte Bardot. From  Bosley Crowther’s 1961 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “The truth about a so-called ‘crime of passion’ is what French director Henri-Georges Clouzot is supposedly trying to fathom in his new film. ‘The Truth’ [‘La Verité’]. But a viewer might easily get the notion that what he is really out to do is crowd the screen with the scorching sensuality of his star performer, Brigitte Bardot. For never has this famous Gallic siren been so frankly and ferociously employed as a symbol of sexual intemperance and rebellion as she is in this film” Read more…)

El Angel (Argentina, crime drama, Lorenzo Ferro. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 61. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Henry Hill in ‘Goodfellas’ always wanted to be a gangster. In ‘El Angel,’ wanting is beside the point. Introducing himself, Carlitos [Lorenzo Ferro] explains that it was his destiny to be a thief. Luis Ortega’s 1970s-set crime feature is inspired by the real-life killer Carlos Robledo Puch, who has served more than 45 years in prison in Argentina.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
She-Devil (1989, comedy, Meryl Streep. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. From Vincent Canby’s 1989 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Watching Meryl Streep at work in Susan Seidelman’s ‘She-Devil’ is to behold a magnificent illusionist at work. Miss Streep dives into this thimble-sized comedy and makes one believe – at least, while she is on the screen – that it is an Olympic-sized swimming pool of wit.” Read more…)

Cult of Chucky (1994, horror, Fiona Dourif. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69.)

New British DVDs
Happy Valley: Season 2 (police procedural Sarah Lancashire. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)
Diamonds for Breakfast (1968, heist, Marcello Mastroianni)

New Documentary DVDs
Letters from Baghdad (bio, Mideast history, British history, Tilda Swinton [narrator]. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Letters from Baghdada: The True Story of Gertrude Bell and Iraq,’ directed by Sabine Krayenbühl and Zeva Oelbaum, is an experiment in documentary form — an unfortunate choice that perhaps looked good on paper. Bell was born into a wealthy British family in 1868, and was an avid traveler from an early age. This movie focuses on her time in the Middle East during the early 20th century and her role in drawing the modern borders of Iraq, which the United States and other countries have expended a good deal of blood and treasure to maintain and defend.” Read more…)