New releases 1/16/18

Top Hits
Blade Runner 2049 (sci-fi, Harrison Ford. Rotten Tomatoes: 87. Metacritic: 81. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The precise future ‘Blade Runner’ projected is now less than two years away, and the next chapter, once something to be dreaded, seems, if anything, overdue. ‘Blade Runner 2049,’ directed by Denis Villeneuve from a script by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, tries both to honor the original and to slip free of its considerable shadow. That’s no easy feat, and it’s worth noting right away that, in narrow movie terms, Mr. Villeneuve, who also directed ‘Arrival,’ mostly succeeds. From the opening aerial shots of a thoroughly denatured agricultural landscape and the lethal confrontation that follows, we know we are in the presence of a masterly visual tactician and a shrewd storyteller.” Read more…)

Loving Vincent (biopic/art history/animation, Douglas Booth [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 83. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review; “‘Loving Vincent’ addresses its subject, the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, with two what-ifs — one marvelous and fantastical, the other empirical and pedestrian. What if his paintings, with their wild colors and vibrant brush strokes, had been able to move? And what if the bullet that killed him had been fired by someone else? A long and arduous labor of love by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, the film turns van Gogh’s work into an unusual kind of biopic. Using tens of thousands of oil paintings commissioned from scores of artists, the filmmakers transform famous works of modern art into a hypnotic and beguiling cartoon.” Read more…)

Happy Death Day (horror/thriller, Jessica Rothe. Rotten Tomatoes: 71. Metacritic: 57. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Becoming a decent person requires an awful lot of dying in ‘Happy Death Day,’ a snappy horror-comedy with a gentle romantic spine. The person in need of improvement is Tree [an unimprovable Jessica Rothe], a selfish sorority sister who’s mean to her perfectly nice roommate and much too friendly with her married professor. Waking up on her birthday in a strange man’s dorm room after a supposed one night stand, she stumbles through her day until, en route to her surprise party that night, she is brutally murdered by a masked attacker. Unfortunately, she’s about to experience this particular day again — multiple times.” Read more…)

I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach-directed social drama, Dave Johns. Rotten Tomatoes: 93. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘I, Daniel Blake’ is a powerful return to form for Mr. Loach, the much-honored left-wing British filmmaker who is now 80 and is still in full command as a filmmaker and a social critic. [He has the political outlook of a British Michael Moore.] This bleak film set in Newcastle won the Palme d’Or last spring at the Cannes Film Festival. Its performances — from the comedian Dave Johns, who portrays Daniel, down to the tiniest role — are so fine-tuned that you often feel you are watching a Frederick Wiseman documentary.” Read more…)

Crooked House (Agatha Christie adaptation/mystery, Glenn Close. Rotten Tomatoes: 69. Metacritic: 59. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The premise of the murder mystery ‘Crooked House’ is old school: A much-loathed patriarch is sent to his grave, and a houseful of resentful, back-stabbing kinfolk are under suspicion. This intermittently diverting movie is adapted from a 1949 Agatha Christie novel, and it’s several degrees more engaging than another recent Christie-based movie, ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ But it’s still slight.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Blade Runner 2049
Loving Vincent

New Foreign
In Her Name (France, true crime drama, Daniel Auteuil. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Too Many Girls (1940, campus musical, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz. From Bosley Crowther’s 1940 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This has been an uncommonly indifferent football season on the screen, but RKO wound it up with a comfortable victory at Loew’s Criterion yesterday. The winning score was chalked by George Abbott’s screen version of his Broadway musical success, ‘Too Many Girls,’ than which a more pleasant, light-hearted and wholly ingenuous campus film has not been seen since—well, last season. ‘Knute Rockne—All American’ was a tough, mid-season grind for Hollywood, but this final go on the schedule has been taken in a breeze.” Read more…)

New British
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach-directed social drama, Dave Johns)

New TV
Better Call Saul: Season 3 (drama/spin-off from Breaking Bad, Bob Odenkirk. Roten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87.)

New Documentaries
The First Monday in May (art, fashion, culture, Anna Wintour. Rotten Tomatoes: 78. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Early in this ostensible documentary directed by Andrew Rossi, a title card comes close to boasting about the access the filmmakers had to the creation of the exhibition and the attendant gala that are the film’s subjects. ‘The First Monday in May’ refers to a day every year on which New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art closes to host a star-studded benefit that coincides with the opening of a special exhibition from its Costume Institute.” Read more…)

The Real Mad Men of Advertising (Smithsonian Channel, cultural history)