New releases 4/23/19

Top Hits
Escape Room (horror, Taylor Russell. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 48. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “I tend to esteem motion pictures more for their aesthetic value than for their use value but sometimes there are exceptions. Through scrupulous and heightened simulations of terrifying reality, last year’s ‘First Man’ reminded me why I never even entertained the notion of becoming an astronaut. Taking the opposite tack with an irrational but not altogether implausible conceit, ‘Escape Room’ reminds me why I’ll never engage in the newfangled form of entertainment in which you allow yourself to be ‘trapped’ in a room and puzzle-solve your way out of it.” Read more…)

The Mercy (true adventure, Colin Firth. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “What drives a man to abandon a doting wife [Rachel Weisz] and three of the best-behaved children in Christendom to circumnavigate the globe in an ill-prepared trimaran? The makers of ‘The Mercy’ have a few ideas; but perhaps the most reliable message of this based-on-real-life tale is that middle age is a bitch. Whatever the reason, such was the appeal of this adventure that Donald Crowhurst [Colin Firth], a mild-mannered engineer and indifferent sailor, was willing to risk everything to take to sea.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
A Face In the Crowd (1957, Criterion Collection, Elia Kazan-directed drama/satire, Andy Griffith. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From a New York Times recommendation written by Noel Murray: “The director Elia Kazan and the screenwriter Budd Schulberg have a strong point to make in ‘A Face In The Crowd,’ showing how the public’s affection for a ‘man of the people’ who ‘tells it like is’ makes it easy for a grinning demagogue to seize power. Kazan takes a lot of risks with this movie’s look and tone, turning on a dime from a docu-realistic style to something more exaggerated and cartoonish. But the reason why cultural critics and political pundits still cite this film as prescient and pertinent is that it’s so openly disgusted: at the media for valuing ratings over responsibility, and at the citizenry for letting itself be led by charismatic ignoramuses.” Read more…)

Man of Iron (1935, drama, Barton MacLane)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Ode To Billy Joe (1976, drama/family film based on song, Glynnis O’Connor. From Richard Eder’s 1976 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Ode to Billy Joe’ is a movie to lament. Its authors have ruined it. To say so is praise as well as regret. You can only ruin something that has some quality to begin with, and for more than half of the length, this Southern country romance has a quite individual kind of life and shrewdness.” Read more…)

The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior (1993, drama, drama, Sam Neill)

New British (Commonwealth) DVDs
A Place To Call Home: Season 6 (Australian drama, Marta Dusseldorp)

New TV DVDs
The Good Place: Season 2 (comedy, Ted Danson)

New Documentaries
Charm City (Baltimore, urban problems, community-police relations. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “There’s plenty to make you catch your breath during Marilyn Ness’s documentary ‘Charm City,’ a sweeping look at violent crime and possible solutions in Baltimore. But the most staggering statistic comes in a notice at the end: The film is dedicated to the memory of the more than 1,000 people said to be killed in Baltimore during the film’s making.” Read more…)

Tickled (competitive endurance tickling. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Everyone from Aristotle to Darwin and Freud had something to say about the teasing art of the tickle, as did the Marquis de Sade. There’s even more about its ecstasies and agonies in ‘Tickled,’ a terrifically entertaining documentary about a strange, murky corner of the adult tickling world. A New Zealand journalist named David Farrier discovered this touchy, feely realm when he came across an online video.” Read more…)