New releases 12/4/18

Top Hits
Mission: Impossible: Fallout (action, Tom Cruise. Rotten Tomatoes 97%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There’s a whole lot of everything in the ‘Mission: Impossible — Fallout,’ an entertainment machine par excellence that skitters around the world and has something to do with nuclear bombs, mysterious threats and dangerous beauties. Mostly, it has to do with that hyper-human Tom Cruise, who runs, drives, dives, shoots, flies, falls and repeatedly teeters on the edge of disaster, clinging to one after another cliffhanger. As usual, he works hard for our dollars and eyeballs in a movie that spins the oldies (a blonde with a knife in her garter) while pushing to greater spectacle-cinema extremes.” Read more…)

Operation Finale (thriller, Ben Kingsley. Rotten Tomatoes 58%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In May of 1960, Israeli secret agents captured Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi and one of the architects of the Final Solution, who had been hiding in Argentina. His subsequent trial, held in a Jerusalem courtroom and open to the public, was a crucial event in the global reckoning with the Holocaust. It was chronicled by Hannah Arendt in her controversial book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ which popularized the phrase ‘banality of evil’ in reference to the supposedly gray, bureaucratic personality Eichmann exhibited on the stand. ‘Operation Finale,’ an earnest and effective dramatization of the efforts to find Eichmann in South America and convey him to Israel, instead emphasizes the evil of evil. And also, secondarily and not always comfortably, its charm.” Read more… For another cinematic take on this episode, see the recent film “The People vs. Fritz Bauer.”

The Happytime Murders (comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes 23%. Metacritic: 27. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “To anyone who grew up on ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘The Muppet Show’ and various Muppet movies, ‘The Happytime Murders’ will be either a crime against childhood or the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Maybe both. There is something irresistible and also shameful in the idea that furry figures with googly eyes, hinged jaws and floppy limbs might also possess filthy mouths, dirty minds and the ability to act out all their lustful, violent impulses. That they would be just like us, in other words.” Read more…)

Support the Girls (comedy, Regina Hall. Rotten Tomatoes 92%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Support the Girls’ [the title refers to a carwash fund-raiser for the road-raging waitress] moves nice and easy for so long that it begins to feel drifty, unmoored. It’s not. Mr. Bujalski, who wrote as well as directed, doesn’t lean on shocks and big moments to spark tension or spur the narrative. A fine-grain realist, he creates modest, layered worlds and identifiably true characters, filling them in with details borrowed from life rather than the multiplex: a plastic milk crate used as a planter, the pleather-esque recliners in a stereo showroom, a heart-heavy woman putting heart-shaped stickers on walls.” Read more…)

Mary Shelley (biopic, Elle Fanning. Rotten Tomatoes 40%. Metacritic: 49. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Mary Shelley’ is a rarity: a literary biopic with an argument. Which is by no means to say that the film, directed by Haifaa al-Mansour [‘Wadjda’] forgoes the expected pleasures of the genre. You get candlelight and quill pens, Regency gowns and celebrity shout-outs ([amuel Taylor Coleridge, in the house!], and of course the usual feverish attempts to convey both the passion and the discipline of the writing process. Also good-looking young actors declaiming poetry and prose in crisply accented, grammatically flawless English. But rather than smother Mary Shelley — author of ‘Frankenstein,’ daughter of two eminent writers and wife of another — with soft cushions of antiquarian cultural prestige, Ms. al-Mansour and the screenwriter, Emma Jensen, sharpen the sense of Shelley’s modernity.” Read more…)

Anchor and Hope (comedy/romance, Oona Chaplin. Rotten Tomatoes 79%. Metacritic: 67.)
The Sun at Midnight (drama, Devery Jacobs)

New Blu-Ray
Operation Finale
Mission: Impossible: Fallout

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Jericho Mile (1979, made-for TV drama, Peter Strauss)

New TV
Sharp Objects: Season 1 (HBO drama mini-series based on Gillian Flynn novel, Amy Adams. Rotten Tomatoes 92%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From James Poniewozik’s Times review: “‘Sharp Objects,’ a mesmerizing eight-episode series beginning Sunday on HBO, is not the gothic crime thriller you might first suspect — at least not mainly. Instead, the show’s attention is drawn backward to [lead character] Camille [Preaker’s] injuries, emotional, physical and self-inflicted. [The title alludes to her habit of cutting words into her flesh, leaving her body a dictionary of scars.]” Read more…)

The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 2 (dystopian series, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes 91%. Metacritic: 92.)
Elementary: Season 6 (Sherlock Holmes update, Jonny Lee Miller. Rotten Tomatoes 100%.)

New Documentary DVDs
Letter from Masanjia (human rights, labor rights, China. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times reciew: “In 2012, Julie Keith found a hidden letter in a box of Halloween decorations she bought at Kmart. The writer, Sun Yi, told of being imprisoned in a camp in Masanjia, China, where he and others were forced into slave labor. He asked the finder to help expose their plight. Ms. Keith, of Damascus, Ore., took it to The Oregonian newspaper, whose subsequent article was widely read around the world. The journey of that letter, and the tale of Mr. Sun’s detention and torture, is recounted in ‘Letter From Masanjia,’ a potent documentary that pushes the story still further after his release.” Read more…)