New releases 5/14/19

Top Hits
Fighting With My Family (family/sports, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The brood in ‘Fighting With My Family’ is a rambunctious crowd. There’s mum and dad Knight, and a handful of adult kids [one’s doing time]. Professional wrestlers all, they grapple with one another in and out of the ring while running a gym in Norwich, England. They know how to put on a good show, how to turn the mat into a stage with thumps and grunts, stomps and smashes. The family that smacks down together stays together, or at least that’s the idea in this charmer about love and choreographed war.” Read more…)

Happy Death Day 2U (horror, Jessica Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Jessica Rothe as Tree is still an appealing presence. But the film is overstuffed with unfunny self-parodying gore slapstick, half-felt sentimentality and semi-meta sci-fi — characters mention ‘Inception’ and ‘Back to the Future,’ just to let you know that they know that we know.” Read more…)

Cold Pursuit (action, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 57. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The wintertime Liam Neeson sad-dad action thriller for 2019, ‘Cold Pursuit,’ is just like most of the previous specimens and also completely different. This time, instead of rescuing a daughter, as he did in ‘Taken’ — the bellwether of this beloved or at least unavoidable subgenre — Neeson is avenging a son. His character, Nels Coxman, is not a globe-trotting assassin with a highly specialized set of skills, but rather a humble Colorado snowplow driver. For an amateur, Nels is awfully good at killing, and he takes to it with a grim determination that could easily be mistaken for enthusiasm. Neeson’s recent revelation, in a newspaper interview, that he once came close to acting out his own racist revenge fantasies might spoil some of the fun.” Read more…)

Never Grow Old (western, John Cusack. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Blu-Ray
Fighting With My Family

New TV
Veep: Season 6 (HBO comedy series, Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%.)

New Documentaries
Apollo 11 (moon mission, technology, Neil Armstrong. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The documentary ‘Apollo 11,’ directed and edited by Todd Douglas Miller, is entirely awe-inspiring. Which is something of a surprise. As world events of the 20th century go, Apollo 11, the NASA mission of 1969 that put two men on the moon, has been thoroughly documented. It’s also been fictionally dissected, most recently by Damien Chazelle, whose 2018 film, ‘First Man,’ is a portrait of Neil Armstrong, the mission’s commander and, yes, the first man to walk on the moon. In addition to chronicling that triumph, that film examines Armstrong’s emotional reticence. Miller’s documentary indirectly points out why such a quality is valued in astronauts.” Read more…)

Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow (2011, art, Anselm Kiefer. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The movie ‘Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow’ is a portrait of the artist at work, though one that says as much about its British director, Sophie Fiennes, as about its stated subject, the German-born artist Anselm Kiefer. In 1993 Mr. Kiefer, perhaps the most celebrated and divisive artist of his generation — he was born in 1945 shortly before the end of World War II — moved to a swath of land outside Barjac, a town in the South of France. He and his assistants then began creating installations on the property that, at least to judge from this movie, are a monument to the human will to self-annihilation and a rehearsal for the apocalypse.” Read more…)

What Is Democracy? (society, political theory. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 71. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “An all-nighter spent skimming Plato’s “Republic” would be a less hurried undertaking than “What Is Democracy?,” a hugely ambitious documentary from the Canadian director Astra Taylor (“Zizek!”). Like democracy itself, the movie assumes such a broad mandate and has such noble intentions that indicating its shortcomings seems almost beside the point. The overarching concept here is to explore the philosophical underpinnings of democracy by talking with scholars and visiting the present-day sites of Plato’s Academy and the Agora in Athens.” Read more…)

Hillbilly (stereotype, society, rural communities. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 67. From Kevin Crust’s Los Angeles Times review: “Los Angeles-based journalist and filmmaker Ashley York, born and raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky [the evocatively named Meathouse Holler to be specific], returns to Appalachia to question the media depiction of the region’s residents, while also tracking the 2016 U.S. presidential election, in the documentary ‘Hillbilly.’ Co-written and co-directed with Sally Rubin, the film is a far more sympathetic portrait than J.D. Vance’s best-selling ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ taking a more descriptive than analytical approach.” Read more…)

Stay Human (music, community, inspiration, Michael Franti & Spearhead. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 73.)