New releases 7/17/18

Top Hits
Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson animated feature, Bryan Cranston [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A miniaturist who likes to max out, Wes Anderson creates elaborate counter worlds that look like ours while remaining uniquely Andersonian. Together they comprise a kind of Wes World, in which reality seems as if it has been filtered through a sieve and then carefully arranged with white gloves in a vitrine. The results can be thrilling or wearying, and sometimes both, as is the case with his latest, ‘Isle of Dogs,’ an animated movie set in a fantasy Japan. There, cat-fancying villains of the future conspire to eradicate dogs, prompting one character to plaintively ask, ‘Whatever happened to man’s best friend?’ It’s an earnest, heart-heavy question in a movie, by turns droll and melancholic, that can be easier to admire than to flat-out love.” Read more…)

Rampage (action, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 45. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “You know what might make an intriguing, revealing movie? The story of how, over 30 years after its debut, a relatively innocent arcade game starring a giant ape and other oversize beasts underwent a corporate transmogrification and became a turgid, logy sci-fi/action blockbuster. It is unlikely that such a film will be made; instead, this week, we just have that turgid, logy blockbuster. ‘Rampage,’ based on the 1986 arcade game” Read more…)

Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare (supernatural thriller, Lucy Hale. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 35. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Like the young people in the entertainingly gooey 2008 horror movie ‘The Ruins,’ the group of college friends in ‘Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare’ discover too late that their Mexican vacation has left them with a nasty infection. This time, though, the contagion isn’t a flesh-eating plant, but a demon-driven game that doubles as a death trap.” Read more…)

Super Troopers 2 (action comedy, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 41. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. Yes, let me repeat that: A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “This comedy’s 4/20 opening date is, as you might expect [particularly if you’re a fan of the Broken Lizard comedy troupe responsible for the movie], a stoner joke. But this non-indulger will attest that you don’t have to be high to find this long-impending sequel to 2002’s ‘Super Troopers’ very funny indeed. The Broken Lizard troupe — Kevin Heffernan [the stocky one who’s the butt of the fat jokes], Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, Erik Stolhanske, and Jay Chandrasekhar — shares writing and acting duties and defers directing to Mr. Chandrasekhar. I’d be lying if I said their maleness didn’t show. Their humor gets its slapstick from the Three Stooges, its non sequitur verbal mojo from the less-cerebral routines of the Firesign Theater, with a dash of Monty Python tossed in.” Read more…)

You Were Never Really Here (action/thriller, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 84. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Before long we understand that Joe is a rescuer and avenger rather than a predator: a survivor of war and child abuse who now specializes in delivering young women from evil. That Joe is officially a good guy isn’t much comfort, either to him or to the audience, who will spend the 90 minutes of Lynne Ramsay’s ‘You Were Never Really Here’ in his fractured, anxious and desperately sad reality.” Read more…)

Disobedience (romance/drama/gay & lesbian, Rachel Weisz. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 74. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Based on the novel of the same title by Naomi Alderman, ‘Disobedience’ delicately and far too bloodlessly charts the intricacies of Ronit’s return to a tight religious community that no longer wholly welcomes her. One who does, though hesitantly, is Dovid [a very good Alessandro Nivola], a once-close comrade who is her father’s probable successor. Ronit also resumes her relationship with a former lover, Esti [Rachel McAdams], Dovid’s wife. The women’s reunion rapidly rekindles a passion that — with stolen kisses and progressively steamier intimacy — disturbs this world’s scrupulous order, a disruption that is more about hidebound tradition than about religious belief.” Read more…)

I Feel Pretty (comedy, Amy Schumer. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Amy Schumer puts out so much energy in ‘I Feel Pretty’ that it’s hard not to feel charged up, too. The movie is seriously suboptimal, but she is such a force for good — for comedy, for women — and the laughs land often enough that you can go, if somewhat begrudgingly, with the messy flow. But dear lord she needs to work with better material, with funnier, sharper, far smarter scripts and with directors who can do something, anything, with the camera. There’s more cinematic intelligence in the best bits on her Comedy Central show ‘Inside Amy Schumer’ than in her three starring vehicles.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Rampage
Isle of Dogs
You Were Never Here
I Feel Pretty

New Foreign
Have A Nice Day (China, animated neo-noir thriller, Changlong Zhu [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Leisurely and deliberate, intelligent and casually cruel, ‘Have a Nice Day’ is a stone-cold gangster thriller whose violence unfolds in passionless bursts. Opening with a quotation from Leo Tolstoy’s last and bleakest novel, ‘Resurrection,’ this wittily animated feature from the Chinese writer and director Liu Jian presents a generic, follow-the-money tale as a Darwinian commentary on ruthlessly modern materialism.” Read more…)

The Housemaid (Vietnam, horror/romance, Nhung Kate. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 61.) From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Mixing a lathered-up love triangle with a ghostly murder-mystery, Derek Nguyen’s ‘The Housemaid’ wraps a painful chapter in Vietnamese history in Gothic-melodrama trappings. The result is a good-looking but overstuffed genre pileup that confuses as often as it compels.” Read more…)

Maborosi (1995, Japan, drama, Makiko Esumi. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 94. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Hirokazu Kore-eda’s exquisitely beautiful film ‘Maborosi’ follows the spiritual odyssey of Yumiko [Makiko Esumi], a young Japanese woman recovering from her husband’s inexplicable suicide. But that description doesn’t begin to evoke the essence of a movie that is a pictorial tone poem of astonishing visual intensity and emotional depth. Watching the film, which has little dialogue and many lingering shots of the Japanese landscape, one has an uncanny sense of entering the consciousness of the main character and seeing through her eyes, all without really knowing her.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
The Good Karma Hospital: Series 1 (heartwarming drama, Amrita Acharia. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Teresa (1951, Fred Zinneman-directed neorealiat drama, Pier Angeli. From Bosley Crowther’s 1951 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Fred Zinnemann, the American director who did that excellent foreign film, ‘The Search,’ has now come up with another in the same simple, sterling class. ‘Teresa’ is its title and it tells a compassionate tale of the marriage and postwar adjustments of an American soldier and his young Italian bride… It merits the rare appreciation of all who are interested in honest, ature films.” Read more…)

New Faces (1954, comedy, Mel Brooks [writer], Eartha Kitt, Paul Lynde)

New Documentaries
Dealt (magic, triumph over adversity, Richard Turner. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 66. From Monica Castillo’s New York Times review: “The card magician Richard Turner reveals that he has more than just a few tricks up his sleeve in Luke Korem’s captivating documentary ‘Dealt.’ Mr. Turner’s magic prowess lies in his nimble hands that manipulate any deck of cards. But behind the facade of a self-assured showman is the secret Mr. Turner tries to keep to himself: He’s blind.” Read more…)

The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements (PBS, science, chemistry, history, Michael Emerson [host])

New Children’s DVDs
The Lego Ninjago Movie (animated feature, Dave Franco [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘When are the Wegos coming on?’ the young boy sitting next to me asked his father. His impatience was reasonable enough. Here we were, five minutes into ‘The Lego Ninjago Movie,’ gazing at a live-action prologue with Jackie Chan, a kid and a cat in a store full of exotic knickknacks. Soon enough, the Wegos awwived, and the latest installment in a nearly foolproof franchise was underway, a fast-moving mélange of brazen corporate promotion, winking pop-culture cleverness and earnest lesson-learning. I realize that makes this movie sound indistinguishable from nearly every other piece of family-targeted animated big-screen entertainment out there, and I’m sorry to report that the Lego movie enterprise has lapsed into intentional mediocrity.” Read more…)