New releases 5/17/16

Top Hits
The_WitchThe Witch (New England Puritan Gothic horror, Anya Taylor-Joy. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Written and directed by Robert Eggers, ‘The Witch’ takes place in an America that in its extremes feels more familiar than its period drag might suggest. It’s set a decade after the Mayflower landed in Plymouth and tracks William’s family as it leaves the plantation to settle down alone at the edge of a forest. There, the family members build a farm, grow corn and commit themselves to God, a contract tested by a series of calamities that turn this story of belief into a freak-out of doubt. As the wind stirs the trees and the children taunt one another with talk of witches, you may remember that the movie’s subtitle is ‘A New-England Folktale.’ Something wicked this way comes?” Read more…)

Wildlike (adventure/drama, Bruce Greenwood. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 74. From Daniel M. Gold’s New York Times review: “In ‘Wildlike,’ Mackenzie [Ella Purnell], a 14-year-old from Seattle whose father has died and whose mother is in rehab, is sent to live with her uncle in Alaska for the summer. But when the creep starts molesting her, she runs away, alone and desperate in strange if beautiful country. Scrambling to stay ahead of her uncle, Mackenzie eventually attaches to Bartlett [Bruce Greenwood], a middle-aged backpacker headed to Denali National Park, in the unspoken hope that he’ll help her get home.” Read more…)

Southbound (horror anthology, Chad Vilella. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 58. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘Southbound’ is something you don’t see much anymore: an anthology horror film. Its five segments do what they’re supposed to do — unsettle you — but as a bonus, they also leave you wanting more. These are fragments more than complete stories, and the incompleteness is its own kind of creepiness.” Read more…)

Where Hope Grows (faith drama, Kristoffer Polaha. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 41. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Not to be flip, but ‘Where Hope Grows’ has the potential to be a decent inspirational film until God shows up. The movie, written and directed by Chris Dowling, begins with a clichéd character, the failed athlete with a drinking problem. He is Calvin [Kristoffer Polaha], who is brooding about his lost baseball career so much that all his personal relationships are in jeopardy, including the one with his teenage daughter [McKaley Miller]. But he begins to change when he strikes up a relationship with a stock boy at the grocery who has Down syndrome and whom everyone calls Produce… But just when their friendship catches your interest, Mr. Dowling reveals that he isn’t really interested in exploring its possibilities at all; he’s just using it to sell Christianity.” Read more…)

The Program (Lance Armstrong-fueled exposé drama, Ben Foster. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 53. From Stephewn Holden’s New York Times review: “Two scenes in ‘The Program,’ Stephen Frear’s patchy docudrama tracing the rise and fall of the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong tell you all you need to know about this crude cinematic demolition job. In one, the Armstrong character [Ben Foster] studies himself in a mirror while rehearsing different versions of the statement, “I’ve never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.” No matter how he says it, the words ring false.” Read more…)

Dirty Grandpa (raunchy comedy, Robert De Niro. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Dan Mazer’s crude, mindless ‘Dirty Grandpa’ is like watching a friend’s mediocre improv troupe do an extended spring-break sketch. And your friend just happens to be Robert De Niro… Most of the comedy is along the lines of phallic graffiti on a subway poster. You can’t question Mr. De Niro’s commitment, however: In one of many scenes played for shock value, he does a surprised-while-masturbating gag. Years of talking blue streaks in Martin Scorsese movies make him a natural for playing this alpha-male senior.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Witch

New Foreign
TheebTheeb (Jordan, adventure/drama, Jacir Eid. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “If you were a preadolescent boy stranded in the desert with a sinister grown-up stranger on whom you depended for your survival, what would you do? That question, posed in the spellbinding Jordanian adventure film ‘Theeb,’ drives a story set in the farthest reaches of the Ottoman Empire in 1916. The man, who is seriously wounded, and the boy play cat and mouse as they help each other stay alive in a do-or-die struggle.” Read more…)

The Naked Island (Japan, 1960, drama, Nobuko Otowa)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Man on the Eiffel Tower (1949, Inspector Maigret mystery, Charles Laughton)

New Television
Orange Is the New Black: Season 3

New Documentaries
Jackie_RobinsonJackie Robinson (Ken Burns PBS bio, Jackie Robinson, baseball, civil rights. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 83.  From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Part 1 of ‘Jackie Robinson,’ Monday on PBS, revisits this history, with Robinson’s widow, Rachel, the principal guide. It remains one of the pivotal stories of 20th-century America, simultaneously stirring and infuriating, with Robinson blazing a trail despite blatant and entrenched racism. But it’s in Part 2 on Tuesday night that Mr. Burns and his co-directors, Sarah Burns and David McMahon [his daughter and son-in-law], venture into the less clear-cut part of Robinson’s life, when he became more outspoken about civil rights yet wasn’t always viewed heroically.” Read more…)

Last Summer Won’t Happen (1968 post-hippie political documentary, East Village, Abbie Hoffman, activism)
Investigation of a Flame (activism, Vietnam War, draft resistance, Daniel Berrigan)