New releases 11/20/18

Top Hits
Crazy Rich Asians (comedy/romance, Constance Wu. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New york Times review: “Every romantic comedy depends on obstacles to the central couple’s ultimate happiness. ‘Crazy Rich Asians,’ a busy, fizzy movie winnowed from Kevin Kwan’s sprawling, dishy novel, sets up a series of clashes — between tradition and individualism, between the heart’s desire and familial duty, between insane wealth and prudent upward mobility — that are resolved with more laughter than tears. There are squalls of intrigue and a melodramatic cloudburst or two, but nothing that threatens to spoil the festivities.” Read more…)

Kin (sci-fi, Jack Reynor. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times Review: “Frustrated teenage boys are apt to dream up elaborate fantasies about gaining all the power they don’t have. The dream factory that is cinema has now enabled the sibling filmmakers Jonathan and Josh Baker to bring one such fancy to the screen. In ‘Kin,’ Eli [Myles Truitt], the 14-year-old adopted son of the hard-working Man of Integrity Hal [Dennis Quaid, seemingly angling to play Harrison Ford’s younger brother in a future film], finds an unusual weapon in an abandoned warehouse.” Read more…)

Mile 22 (action thriller, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 38. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “A testosterone cocktail of reactionary sound bites and incoherent action that even Michael Bay might have rejected as too amped, Peter Berg’s ‘Mile 22’ makes for an appalling referendum on the state of commercial cinema in 2018.” Read more…)

Thunder Road (drama, Jim Cummings. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 83. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times article on “Thunder Road”‘s inclusion in a festival of independent film: ” Playing Jim Arnaud, the fresh-faced Mr. Cummings brings a hapless candor that suggests the character is only barely keeping up, whether it’s during a dinner conversation with the family of his squad-car partner, or playing patty-cakes with his daughter. The episodic film is essentially one long slow-motion breakdown, culminating in a very public rebuke in the parking lot of the police department.” Read more…)

The Children Act (drama, Emma Thompson. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 62. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Children Act’ makes for a more wieldy movie than this year’s earlier ‘On Chesil Beach,’ which Mr. McEwan also adapted from his own book, in that case relying on retaining rhythms and chronological jumps better suited to the page. Here, a beautifully internalized performance from [actress Emma] Thompson and the various efforts to highlight the cinematic potential in Fiona’s anguish — the climax plays out during a piano recital — can’t override the tidy ironies of Mr. McEwan’s design.” Read more…)

We the Animals (indie drama, Raúl Castillo. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A tiny, uncut gem of a movie, ‘We the Animals’ is the first narrative feature from the nonfiction filmmaker Jeremiah Zagar and, as such, its subordination of plot to character and observation makes perfect sense. Most of that observation is through the eyes of Jonah [Evan Rosado], the film’s occasional narrator and the youngest of three preteen brothers in a mixed-race, blue-collar family in upstate New York. On one level, then, ‘We the Animals’ is a classic coming-of age tale; on another, it’s a near perfect depiction of the emotional damage that can result from economic insecurity.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Crazy Rich Asians

New Foreign DVDs
Heavy Trip (Finland, comedy/music, Torstein Bjørklund. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 72.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Some Like It Hot (1959, comedy classic, Criterion Collection, Marilyn Monroe. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 97. From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There should be no doubt this morning that the members of the happily irreverent film troupe that made ‘Some Like It Hot’ have done something constructive about the old wheeze that begins, ‘Who was that lady I saw you with?’ For, in fashioning this overlong, occasionally labored but often outrageously funny series of variations on an ancient gag, they have come up with a rare, rib-tickling lampoon that should keep them, the customers and the management of the newly refurbished Loew’s State, which reopened yesterday, chortling with glee.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Last Movie (1971, Dennis Hopper-directed cult film, Dennis Hopper. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. From Vincent Canby’s 1971 New York Times review [requires log-in}: “The new film, which opened yesterday at the R.K.O. 59th Street Twin Theater, was judged the best feature at the 1971 Venice Film Festival by the International Committee for the Diffusion of the Arts and Letters of Cinema — and I can only think that someone must be kidding. I know nothing about the committee, or its perhaps awesome mission, but its name is certainly as ornate, and as immediately meaningful as the movie on which it bestowed its prize. ‘The Last Movie’ is an extravagant mess, described by its publicity material as ‘an allegory concerning the destruction of innocence’ in which ‘the naive dreams involved are the agents of death, when sophisticated games become more absurd than the mind can tolerate . . .’ I don’t know about anyone else, but my mind had a good deal of trouble tolerating the inflated pretensions of Hopper, who, it’s now apparent, is gifted with all of the insights of a weekend mystic who drives to and from his retreat in a Jaguar.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Long Strange Trip (music, drugs, acclaimed doc about the Grateful Dead. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Daniel M. Gold’s Times review: “The Grateful Dead have been such fixed dark stars in rock ’n’ roll’s cosmology that it’s surprising there has never really been an extended cinematic exploration of the band. ‘Long Strange Trip,’ ambitiously assembled and elegantly directed by Amir Bar-Lev, fills that void. The band’s main four surviving members — Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart — are all credited as executive producers and speak at length; Dennis McNally, the band’s publicist and biographer, whose similarly titled history was clearly consulted, is a presence as well. A bountiful trove of archival images and rare footage sketches their communal life offstage and the counterculture in which they played so formative a part.” Read more…)

The Rape of Recy Taylor (U.S. history, civil rights, race, justice. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Planting a flag firmly at the intersection of patriarchy, sexism and white supremacy, ‘The Rape of Recy Taylor’ is a documentary of multiple layers and marvelous gumption. As if apprised in advance of our current political moment, the director, Nancy Buirski, wields the titular violation as a signpost to a wider, more insidious American crime. In this way, the 1944 gang-rape of one black woman in Alabama becomes emblematic of the effacement of an entire gender.” Read more…)

Making the Grade (music education, piano lessons. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Music DVDs
Long Strange Trip (music, drugs, acclaimed doc about the Grateful Dead)