New releases 6/13/17

Top Hits
The Lego Batman Movie (animated feature, Will Arnett [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As gateway drugs go, ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ is pretty irresistible. It’s silly without being truly strange or crossing over into absurdity. Along the way it pulls off a nifty balancing act: It gives the PG audience its own Batman movie [it’s a superhero starter kit] and takes swipes at the subgenre, mostly by gently mocking the seriousness that has become a deadening Warner Bros. default. ‘The Lego Batman Movie’ can’t atone for a movie as grindingly bad as the studio’s ‘Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,’ which stars Ben Affleck as the Gotham City brooder, but at least someone on that lot gets the joke.” Read more…)

The Sense of An Ending (drama, Jim Broadbent. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 61. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times Review: “Adapted from a brief but emotionally potent 2011 novel by Julian Barnes, ‘The Sense of an Ending’ initially honors its source material by taking clever, inventive cinematic liberties with it. The book, a first-person account of its aged protagonist, Tony Webster, has a bifurcated structure: ‘how I remembered these events’ and ‘what really happened.’ Flashbacks arrive in blink-and-you-miss-them bursts that then expand to explain the significance of a look or a gesture; memory becomes a form of time travel, putting Tony [Jim broadbent] inside his own recollections, taking the place of his young self.” Read more…)

John Wick: Chapter Two (action, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “They just couldn’t leave it alone. The original ‘John Wick,’ about an über assassin who’s reluctantly drawn out of retirement, was a near perfect synergy of simple premise and intricate movement — an action movie that danced. But the lightness and winking quality that softened the slaughter are less evident in ‘John Wick: Chapter 2,’ an altogether more solemn affair weighed down by the philosophy that more is always more.” Read more…)

Growing Up Smith (coming-of-age story, Roni Akurati. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The nostalgic haze that used to be associated with the 1950s seems to have drifted forward in time in recent years, with the latest example being ‘Growing Up Smith,’ a gentle cross-cultural film about a 10-year-old boy from India who is navigating childhood with his immigrant family in a generic American suburb in 1979.” Read more…)

Akron (gay romance/coming-of-age, Matthew Frias)

New Blu-Ray
The Lego Batman Movie
John Wick: Chapter Two

New Foreign DVDs
Neruda (Chile, historical drama/biopic, Luis Gnecca. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Neruda,’ Pablo Larraín’s semifantastical biopic, is a warmhearted film about a hot-blooded man that is nonetheless troubled by a subtle, perceptible chill. Blending fact with invention, it tells the story of a confrontation between an artist [the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda] and an emerging dictatorship, and more generally illuminates the endless struggle between political authority and the creative imagination. For anyone who believes that poetry and democracy spring from the same source and provoke the same enemies, this movie provides both encouragement and warning.” Read more…)

The Son of Joseph (France, drama, Victor Ezenfis. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Eugène Green, a nearly five-decade resident of France born in New York, makes films that draw as much on architecture, paintings, music and theater as on cinema. If his unadorned high-art allusions can make him an acquired taste, his latest farce, ‘The Son of Joseph,’ is his most accessible film since ‘The Living World,’ from 2003.” Read more…)

Frantz (France, post-World War I period drama, Paula Beer. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Can carefully constructed lies heal the emotional wounds of war? That unsettling question goes to the heart of ‘Frantz,’ François Ozon’s sleek, somber adaptation of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1932 antiwar film, ‘Broken Lullaby,’ set in Germany and France in the aftermath of World War I. I won’t reveal the lie that propels the story except to say that it’s a whopper: a big one invented to comfort the aggrieved at a moment when the Great War seemed to have undermined the sanity of a world thrown into chaos by mass slaughter.” Read more…)

Suntan (Greece, comedy/drama/romance, Makis Papadimitriou. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 59. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Suntan’ opens as a dumpy, raccoon-eyed but generally agreeable middle-aged physician named Kostis [Makis Papadimitriou] arrives on the Greek island of Antiparos. It’s a rainy winter, but a local roué promises that with the tourist season, opportunities for amorous activity will be overwhelming. Kostis seems unconcerned. Then summer comes, and with it one spectacularly attractive young patient. Entranced, Kostis takes to the island’s nude beaches to find the woman, Anna [Elli Tringou], and once he does, tries to ingratiate himself into her hedonistic band, which adopts him as both a quasi-mascot and an emotional punching bag.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
They Live By Night (1948, Criterion Collection Nicholas Ray-directed film noir, Farley Granger. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Based on a novel by Edward Anderson, which, in turn, was no doubt inspired by the two or three real-life sagas that we’ve had of ‘boy bandits’ and their brides, this well-designed motion picture derives what distinction it has from good, realistic production and sharp direction by Nicholas Ray. Mr. Ray has an eye for action details. His staging of the robbery of a bank, all seen by the lad in the pick-up car, makes a fine clip of agitating film. And his sensitive juxtaposing of his actors against highways, tourist camps and bleak motels makes for a vivid comprehension of an intimate personal drama in hopeless flight. As the young bandit, Farley Granger gives a genuine sense of nervous strain and is wistful and appealing in his brave approach to a piteous romance.” Read more…)

Stanley and Livingstone (1939, adventure/historical drama, Spencer Tracy. From an unsigned 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in}: “The motion picture which Darryl Zanuck and Company have fabricated on the theme of Henry M. Stanley’s successful search for the unlost missionary, Dr. David Livingstone, is one which, on the whole, celebrates worthily the story of perhaps the toughest news assignment in journalistic history. Intelligent and restrained and dignified, even to the point of playing down the moment which brought forth that favorite quotation: ‘Dr. Livingstone, I presume?’, ‘Stanley and Livingstone’ [at the Roxy] is the best break the Fourth Estate has had on the screen since the beginning of the Stereotype Era.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
From Noon Till Three (1976, comedy/western, Charles Bronson. From Vincent Canby’s 1976 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘From Noon Till Three’ is neither a conventionally comic Western nor a conventional comedy, and it certainly isn’t a conventional Bronson film. More than anything else, I suppose, it is an ebulliently cheerful satire of contemporary myth-making and celebrity, cast as a fable of the Old West. Not all of it is equally successful, and it takes its time making certain points, which, being made, are made again; yet its intelligence and its narrative shape are immensely satisfying.” Read more…)

New TV Series

Versailles: Season 1 (period drama, George Blagden. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 55.)

New Documentaries
American Epic (music, folk music, American history, recording technology)
I Am JFK, Jr. (biography, politics, John F. Kennedy Jr.)

New Gay & Lesbian
Akron (gay romance/coming-of-age, Matthew Frias)

New Music
American Epic (music, folk music, American history, recording technology)