New to Theaters:
Parallel Mothers (***) Pedro Almodovar’s latest, a tale of two women embracing motherhood for the first time whose lives become entwined by chance, proves the veteran filmmaker still has some creative octane in the tank. Penelope Cruz, with whom the filmmaker has collaborated multiple times, turns in another solid performance in a film that keeps the audience guessing where it’s headed right up until the final stretch.
The Lost Daughter (2021) (**) Olivia Colman, in a performance that’s one of the few bright spots here, is Leda, a woman on a seaside vacation haunted by her abandonment of her two daughters. She’s simultaneously transfixed on a young woman (Dakota Johnson) heading in the same direction. That’s all there is to this one and yet it takes two tedium filled hours to arrive at the destination. It’s not a trip worth taking. Maggie Gyllenhaal directs competently enough and adapted from the novel of the same name but with material this uncinematic that’s faint praise, proving that what makes a compelling book sometimes doesn’t always translate to film and needs to remain on the page.
New to Disc and Digital:
Rifkin’s Festival (2021) (***) After seemingly running an auto pilot for the last several films, Woody Allen’s latest as writer-director is a surprisingly entertaining late career entry. Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon are a couple on the rocks whose marriage is further tested when they attend a work-related film fest. The film’s inspired and amusing parodies of classic French films are but one thing to embrace and the lensing by Vittorio Storaro is gorgeous to behold. A pleasant surprise.
Stage Fright (1950) Jane Wyman is a drama student desperately trying to clear a friend of a murder charge in this Alfred Hitchcock thriller filmed in London and also starring Marlene Dietrich. Extras include a documentary and the film’s trailer.
Sleep (2020) Director Michael Venus makes an assured debut in this tale of a woman tormented by recurring dreams only to discover the place of which she dreams is real. Extras include trailer, deleted scenes, behind the scene featurettes and interviews.
Dancing With Crime (1947)/The Green Cockatoo (1940) is a double feature of two British thrillers. The first stars Richard Attenborough and Sheila Sim as a couple trying to solve the murder of a friend and the latter is a British noir directed by William Cameron Menzies. No extras.
The Piano (1993) Jane Campion’s (Power of the Dog) best film to date, the tale of a mute woman (the luminous Holly Hunter) whose only means of expression is through the instrument of the film’s title, gets a 4K upgrade in a new set that includes the previously issued extras as well.
Dick Johnson is Dead (2020) Kirsten Johnson’s acclaimed documentary portrait of her father’s battle with dementia makes its physical media debut which includes such extras as director commentary, interviews, trailer and conversations.