New releases 6/12/18

Top Hits
Love, Simon (coming-of-age story, Josh Duhamel. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 72. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “For the most part, ‘Love, Simon’ is an amiable, slick, silver-tongued teen romantic comedy. Set in a particularly idyllic Atlanta suburb, replete with lifestyle wish-fulfillment production design, it’s the kind of movie in which the filmmakers signal their exquisite taste by proxy…. In the movie’s last third it gains a lot of guts. Simon has to contend with the fallout from what he considered a necessary hypocrisy and the personal betrayals it entailed. The emotional resonance may be surprising given the movie’s relentless gloss, but it’s real.” Read more…)

Tomb Raider (action, Alicia Vikander. Rotten Tomatoes: 49%. Metacritic: 48. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The ghost of Angelina Jolie past — that mesmerizing dark star, to the screen born — hangs over the new, suitably titled ‘Tomb Raider.’ A dreary, inept reboot of the franchise that helped propel Ms. Jolie into global domination [and pop-culture divinity], it stars the talented, badly misused Swedish actress Alicia Vikander as the British adventurer Lara Croft.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Death Wish

New Foreign
Loveless (Russia, not available on DVD, drama, Maryana Spivak. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeanette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Unfolding beneath skies the color and density of damp concrete, ‘Loveless,’ the fifth feature from the Russian director Andrey Zvyagintsev [after his notable 2014 drama, ‘Leviathan’], uses a toxic marriage to paint a larger portrait of decay, dereliction and moral detachment. And oh, his gaze is pitiless. Set in Moscow in the autumn of 2012, the picture sits on the screen with an almost physical weight, its heaviness as much to do with the bleakly beautiful visuals and painstaking pacing as the bitter divorce at its center.” Read more…)

Tomb Raider

New Foreign
Tehran Taboo (Iran, animated feature/drama, Farhad Abadinejad. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Tehran Taboo’ gains much of its power from its use of rotoscoping, a form of animation [familiar to viewers of ‘Waking Life’ and ‘Tower’] in which the drawing is done over filmed actors. What is provocative about the technique here is that it’s a sort of workaround — a way for the director, Ali Soozandeh, who grew up in Iran and now lives in Germany, to tell a story that he says would have been impossible to film in Tehran. An ensemble piece [and European production, despite the Persian dialogue], the movie lays bare the double standards that surround sex in Iran.” Read more…)

Manila In the Claws of Light (Phillipines, 1972, drama, Hilda Koronel.  Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeanette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Lino Brocka’s ‘Manila in the Claws of Light’ begins with a whisper and ends with a howl. In between, there are grace notes, escalating horrors and the peripatetic journey of a country mouse, Julio [Rafael Roco Jr., later known as Bembol Roco], in the big city. It’s a story of struggle, survival, endurance and defeat that Brocka, perhaps the most celebrated of Filipino directors, filmed down and dirty in Manila when the Philippines was still in the grip of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. Brocka, a political activist as well as a prolific filmmaker, died in a car accident in 1991 at 52, and is ready for rediscovery.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Of Human Bondage (1964, drama based on W. Somerset Maugham novel, Kim Novak. From A.H. Weiler’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Time has not paled [W. Somerset maugham’s] incisive, brooding and anguished quasi‐biography. But the current adaptation merely evolves as a surface, stoic old‐fashioned tale of a crippled medical student’s romantic attachment to a cheap, vulgar London waitress in which lip service substitutes for the truly poignant, self‐revelatory story from which it stems.” Read more…)

SLC Punk (drama, 1999, Matthew Lillard. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 50. From Janet Maslin’s 1999 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Only [director James Merendino’s] own real experience as an alienated teen-ager in Salt Lake City, circa 1985, could have led to such a [perhaps deservedly] overlooked time and place. So in what one of his characters calls ‘a religiously oppressive city, which half its population isn’t even that religion,’ he presents the amusing exploits of a group of friends led by Stevo [Matthew Lillard]. Stevo is the rare punk who may be headed for Harvard Law School without even trying. He makes an entertaining rebel, but he’s about as authentic as his blue hair.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Sherlock Gnomes (animated feature, James McAvoy [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 36. From Ben Kenogsberg’s New York Times review: “In defiance of common sense, ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ [2011] decided that Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers would be better off not dying, at least as animated garden gnomes. That kept them around for this sequel, a literary crossover called ‘Sherlock Gnomes.’ The ghost of Arthur Conan Doyle should tell them to get off his lawn.” Read more…)