New releases 12/18/18

Top Hits
A Simple Favor (thriller, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 67. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Sly and sweet with an acid finish, ‘A Simple Favor’ is a female-friendship comedy with neo-noir ambitions. Anna Kendrick stars as Stephanie, a widow raising her young son in a chilly Connecticut suburb. From her tidy, bright kitchen festooned with children’s drawings, she regularly hosts a self-produced internet program. Stephanie’s pitching recipes and positivity with a smile, but mostly she’s peddling aspirational motherhood, which, with longer hemlines, might easily veer into ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ territory.” Read more…)

Assassination Nation (action, Odessa Young. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 56. From Aisha Harris’ New York times review: “Guns, transphobia, bullying: These are some of the ‘trigger warnings’ announced onscreen within the first few moments of ‘Assassination Nation,’ an abrasive social satire about a town horrifically transformed by a wave of anonymous data hacks. The cheeky opener is an apt mood-setter, even if it does not — cannot, perhaps — adequately prepare you for the gory twists and turns to come in the writer-director [and former Best Video intern!] Sam Levinson’s black comedy.” Read more…)

The Predator (action/horror, Boyd Holbrook. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 48. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Sporting the taxonomically useless title ‘The Predator,’ the latest movie in the ‘Predator’ franchise comes courtesy of Shane Black [‘The Nice Guys’], who appeared as comic relief in the 1987 original and seems to have taken that experience to heart. The new film splits the difference between serving up snark and self-parody — a middle school is named after the producer Lawrence Gordon; there are callbacks to lines from the other films — and delivering the goods for fanboys who insist that the predator have a back story.” Read more…)

The House With a Clock In Its Walls (magical adventure, Jack Black. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 57.From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The director Eli Roth has previously indulged his cinephilia with gory exploitation throwbacks [‘Hostel’], but in ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls,’ he makes a nostalgic fun house movie geared toward a younger crowd, and it pays off. This screen version of a celebrated 1973 book by John Bellairs doesn’t have the sophistication of an adaptation like ‘Hugo,’ but no film in which Cate Blanchett head-butts a vivified jack-o’-lantern could be entirely without merit.” Read more…)

Venom (comic book action, Tom Hardy. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 35. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “It would be irresponsible of me to recommend that you get to the theater late if you go see ‘Venom,’ a new movie adapted from a Marvel comic book about a kind of divided-self superantihero. By missing the first scene you will be bereft of some ostensibly essential plot material concerning a rocket crash, alien organisms fetched from the East Malaysia scene of said crash, one such alien organism taking over a variety of human bodies, and so on.” Read more…)

Fahrenheit 11/9 (political polemic, documentary, Michael Moore, Donald Trump. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “But [director Michael] Moore recognizes an affinity he shares with the president — also a showman. So he is in a nearly unique position to shame the viewer with a frank perspective on how Mr. Trump used his extrovert side to make citizens complacent about the less savory aspects of his character.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Equalizer 2
Venom
The House With a Clock In Its Walls

New Foreign DVDs
Saint Nick (Netherlands. Horror/comedy, Huub Stapel. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.)
Two Women (Russia, based on Ivan Turgenev play, Ralph Fiennes. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 54.)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Endless Love (1981, romance/drama, Brooke Shields. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. From Janet Maslin’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There are two sorts of people who’ll be going to see ”Endless Love” – those who have read the richly imaginative novel on which the movie is based and those who have not. There will be dismay in the first camp, but it may be nothing beside the bewilderment in the second.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Fahrenheit 11/9 (political polemic, documentary, Michael Moore, Donald Trump. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “But [director Michael] Moore recognizes an affinity he shares with the president — also a showman. So he is in a nearly unique position to shame the viewer with a frank perspective on how Mr. Trump used his extrovert side to make citizens complacent about the less savory aspects of his character.” Read more…)

California Typewriter (writing, technology, Tom Hanks. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘California Typewriter’ might center on a small, beleaguered typewriter repair shop in Berkeley, Calif., but this quirky, obsessive documentary is about so much more than broken keys and busted type wheels. It’s really about how we create art.” Read more…)

Saving Brinton (cinema history, William Franklin Brinton. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 78. From Wesley Morris’ New York Times review: “It’s clear five minutes into ‘Saving Brinton’ that the line between hoarder and preservationist really is fine. It’s also clear that you need sensitive, humane filmmaking to insist that one is very different from the other. The average documentary would gawk. This one reclassifies: One person’s pack rat is another’s collector. And Michael Zahs, this movie’s sturdily built, mighty bearded subject, does indeed collect.” Read more…)

McQueen (fashion, bio, Alexander McQueen. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Triumph over abuse was a motif that the British fashion designer Alexander McQueen [who died in 2010] returned to repeatedly in his legendary runway shows, as Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s compassionate documentary, ‘McQueen,’ reveals. In simulated settings like a mental hospital or a Highland moor, his models turned violence into performance and suffering into story. Their garments — often cunningly tattered or fabulously deconstructed — weren’t always wearable, but were impossible to disregard.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Happy Holidays, Garfield