New releases 12/19/17

Top Hits
Dunkirk (World War II drama, Fionn Whitehead. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times revew: “One of the most indelible images in ‘Dunkirk,’ Christopher Nolan’s brilliant new film, is of a British plane in flames. The movie recounts an early, harrowing campaign in World War II that took place months after Germany invaded Poland and weeks after Hitler’s forces started rolling into the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. The plane, having glided to a stop, has been defiantly set ablaze by the pilot to avoid its being captured. It’s an image of unambiguous defeat but also an emblem of resistance and a portent of the ghastly conflagrations still to come. It’s a characteristically complex and condensed vision of war in a movie that is insistently humanizing despite its monumentality, a balance that is as much a political choice as an aesthetic one. And ‘Dunkirk’ is big — in subject, reach, emotion and image.” Read more…)

Victoria & Abdul (period historical drama, Judi Dench. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “This is the second movie in 20 years in which Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria. And this is the second movie in 20 years in which Queen Victoria, played by Judi Dench, has a life-enhancing relationship with a man not of her station. This movie, ‘Victoria and Abdul,’ directed by Stephen Frears from a script by Lee Hall, goes 1997’s ‘Mrs. Brown’ one better in the Relevant to Contemporary Concerns department by depicting a friendship between the second-longest-reigning monarch of England and an Indian Muslim.” Read more…)

Tulip Fever (periods drama,. Alicia Vikander. Rotten Tomatoes: 9%. Metacritic: 38. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Harvey Weinstein, the co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, the film’s distributor, took the extraordinary step of defending the movie in advance with a column for Deadline Hollywood, though it is laced with passive-aggressive barbs like ‘I know this film’s not perfect, very few are, but it’s a perfectly good time in a movie theater.’ Plenty of movies fit that description — and considering the hoopla, the most disappointing thing about ‘Tulip Fever,’ directed by Justin Chadwick [‘The Other Boleyn Girl’] and set in 17th-century Amsterdam, is that it’s neither a secret masterpiece nor a laughable disaster.” Read more…)

Mother! (psychological thriller, Jennifer Lawrence. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: Though this extravagant conversation piece of a movie, written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, feints toward psychological thriller territory and spends a delicious half-hour or so in the realm of domestic farce, it plants its flag defiantly on the wind-swept peak of religious [and ecological] allegory.” Read more…)

The Trip To Spain (culinary comedy, Steve Coogan. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 66. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ new York Times review, with Catsoulis dussenting from the generally positive critical consensus: “Like ‘The Trip’ in 2011 and ‘The Trip to Italy’ three years later, this latest cushy assignment sends the lads — once again playing Steve [Coogan] and Rob [Brydon], mildly fictionalized versions of themselves — tootling around a randomly chosen region, sampling menus and trading banter. I hesitate to say jokes, because, unlike the bounce and zing of the first movie, the tone here is more sober and the humor more strained.” Read more…)

Solace (thriller, Anthony Hopkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 36. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “‘Solace’ was filmed before either of its primary leads, Anthony Hopkins and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, had become highly visible fixtures on two of this fall’s most hyped television shows. And after seeing Mr. Morgan strut and slaughter as the latest big bad on ‘The Walking Dead,’ and Mr. Hopkins sneak and scheme as the spider at the center of ‘Westworld,’ accepting them as this movie’s white-hat heroes is quite the challenge.” Read more…)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (action, Taron Egerton. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 44. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times revew: “‘Kill Elton John!’ is a line you’re unlikely to hear in the average spy caper, but ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ aims far above average. Like its 2015 predecessor, this latest visit with the British agents-cum-Savile Row tailors swings for the fences without caring whose head — or torso, or dignity — is shredded en route. Even if it belongs to Sir Elton.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Dunkirk
Victoria & Abdul
Mother
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Etoile (1989, drama, Jennifer Connelly)

New Documentaries
Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary (philosophy, bio, hallucinogens, Ram Dass. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenishsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Dying to Know: Ram Dass & Timothy Leary,’ directed by Gay Dillingham, charts the relationship between Mr. Leary [who died in 1996] and Ram Dass, formerly Richard Alpert — onetime Harvard professors who advocated for their own forms of expanded consciousness. Mr. Leary conducted experiments with psilocybin [a component of psychoactive mushrooms] and LSD. Mr. Alpert later went to India, grew spiritual and became Ram Dass.” Read more…)

Mully (bio, inspiration, poverty. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “‘Mully’ isn’t much in the way of cinema. But its courageous subject makes this documentary’s shortcomings easier to overlook. Charles Mully was born in Kenya and abandoned by his family at 6; he later stole and begged on the streets. Through the generosity of strangers, hard work and some prayer, he not only found a job but became wealthy by running several companies, including a bus service and oil and gas ventures. To the surprise of his wife and eight children, Mr. Mully one day decided to give up business and devote his resources to Nairobi’s orphans.” Read more…)