New releases 6/6/17

Top Hits
Beauty and the Beast (live action Disney romance, Emma Watson. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 65.A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “This live-action/digital hybrid, directed by Bill Condon and starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, is more than a flesh-and-blood (and prosthetic fur-and-horns) revival of the 26-year-old cartoon, and more than a dutiful trip back to the pop-culture fairy-tale well. Its classicism feels unforced and fresh. Its romance neither winks nor panders. It looks good, moves gracefully and leaves a clean and invigorating aftertaste. I almost didn’t recognize the flavor: I think the name for it is joy.” Read more…)

Aftermath (drama, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 44. From April Wolfe’s Village Voice review: “No matter your opinion of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a person, you can’t deny this: The man is a doer. And in Elliott Lester’s grief drama “Aftermath,” the ripped Renaissance man does a subtle, absorbing performance of despair so unlike his other work that his lined and laden face at times seems nearly unrecognizable on that bulging body. This is Arnold?” Read more…)

A United Kingdom (historical drama, David Oyelowo. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The best reason to see ‘A United Kingdom,’ however, is the performance by Mr. Oyelowo, who is also one of the film’s producers. As written by Mr. Hibbert, Seretse Khama is a character of stock wisdom and nobility — on introduction, practically his first words are ‘I see an Africa that’s about unity, inclusion and equality.’ But Mr. Oyelowo, who is one of the best actors working today onstage or onscreen, imbues his portrayal of Seretse [who in 1966 became the democratically elected president of the independent Botswana] with a disarming delicacy and vulnerability that make the strengths he is later forced to show all the more convincing. It is remarkable, genuinely riveting work.” Read more…)

A Cure for Wellness (psychological thriller, Dane DeHaan. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 47. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘A Cure for Wellness’ defiantly and splendidly flouts the tenets of plausibility and coherence, which have never interested [director Gore] Verbinski very much. His résumé, after all, includes ‘The Lone Ranger’ [also written by Mr. Haythe], ‘Rango’ and, most notably, the first three ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ movies. He comes by his knack for enjoyable nonsense as honestly as his taste for aquatic fauna.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Beauty and the Beast

New Foreign DVDs
Land of Mine (Denmark/Germany, postwar drama, Roland Moller. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Land of Mine’ is an interesting addition to the growing roster of recent European films — Paul Verhoeven’s queasy ‘Black Book’ may be the best-known example among American audiences — that search out the grayer areas of World War II and its aftermath. Mr. Zandvliet is less interested in the stark battle between good and evil than in the shifting ground of power and responsibility, and the way that every person carries the potential for decency and depravity.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Merry Widow (1934, Ernst Lubitsch-directed musical, Maurice Chevalier. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Andre Sennwald’s 1934 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “It is a good show in the excellent Lubitsch manner, heady as the foam on champagne, fragile as mist and as delicately gay as a good-natured censor will permit. Victor Leon and Leo Stein have arranged a book to suit the Lubitsch style and the songs which fall to Miss MacDonald and Mr. Chevalier have grace and wit. All of the sets are consummately lovely and a few of them are entrancing enough to persuade a Moslem that he has departed this life for the paradise promised by the Prophet.” Read more…)

Midnight Lace (1960, thriller, Doris Day. From Bosley Crowther’s 1960 New York Times review [log-in required]: “It’s always nice to have a mystery melodrama, no matter how implausible it may be, that takes place amid elegant surroundings and involves people who are beautiful and rich. It makes one feel so luxurious to be there with the diamonds and champagne, enjoying the heat on the rich folks and knowing that you are not going to be burned. That’s how it is in the Ross Hunter-Arwin Production’s ‘Midnight Lace,’ a multi-million-dollar thriller in color, which came to the Music Hall yesterday. Everything in it is expensive—Rex Harrison, Doris Day, his suits, her clothes, his London office, their duplex flat in Grosvenor Square.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
40 Pounds of Trouble (1962, family comedy, Tony Curtis. From Bosley Crowther’s 1963 New York Times reciew [requires log-in]: “Every time they remake ‘Little Miss Marker,’ the famous Damon Runyon tale about a gambler who inherits a moppet and has to take care of her, they make it a little less charming, a little more commercial and crude. That is evident in ’40 Pounds of Trouble,’ which opened yesterday at the Palace and other metropolitan theaters.” Read more…)

New TV Series
The Young Pope (HBO mini-series, Jude Law. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 68. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times television review: “Religion makes great material for horror stories. It wrestles with the same mysteries as that genre does — death, the soul, the nature of evil. It traffics in awe, which is a closely related emotion to terror. Catholicism, with its richness of symbols and incense-perfumed ritual, has been a staple of scary fiction right up through Fox’s current iteration of ‘The Exorcist.’ HBO’s ‘The Young Pope,’ beginning on Sunday and showing Sundays and Mondays, is a visually sublime but textually ridiculous horror tale in which the monster is the pontiff himself.” Read more…)