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June '23 Digital Week I

In-Theater/Streaming Releases of the Week 
Squaring the Circle 
(Raindog Films)
Probably the seminal rock music graphic design team, Hipgnosis—founded by Storm Thorgerson and Audrey Powell in the late ‘60s—designed some of the most famous album covers of all-time, like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and Wish You Were Here; Led Zeppelin’s Houses of the Holy and Presence; and Wings’ Venus and Mars and Band on the Run.
Director Anton Corbijn’s loving reminiscence of the team features a poignant new interview with Powell and an archival one with Thorgerson, who died in 2013. Also along for the ride—which includes wondrous vintage video footage and photographs of their many collaborations, the most memorable of which may be the infamous Pink Floyd Animals cover shoot—are the surviving Floyd members (David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters), Led Zep’s Jimmy Page and Robert Plant, and Paul McCartney, with many others, all paying homage to the team’s unique visual brilliance.
Now playing at Film Forum in Manhattan;
Anonymous Sister 
(Long Shot Factory)
In this intensely personal, harrowing documentary, director Jamie Boyle recounts the hell her family went through when her sister (a talented figure skater whose pain from performing made her get hooked on painkillers) and her mother (whose arthritis also caused overprescribing of pain meds) became hooked on OxyContin, the drug that the loathsome Sackler family parlayed into billions of dollars in profits for them and an untold number of Americans’ deaths in the past three decades.
Balancing plentiful home-movie footage the family took as she and her sister grew up with her difficult confessional interviews with sister, mom and dad (happily, all survived and are thriving), Boyle’s often moving and enraging chronicle shows how this epidemic surfaced among so many unsuspecting families and destroyed so many lives.
Blue Jean 
(Magnolia Pictures) 
It’s 1988, Margaret Thatcher’s awful conservatism is tightening its stranglehold over England, and closeted young Jean is teaching Phys Ed at a Newcastle school, frightfully (and rightfully) afraid of being outed. When a new student visits the local gay bar she herself frequents, Jean’s not-so-orderly world becomes even more disordered.
Director-writer Georgia Oakley’s exquisitely restrained drama, as much political as it is personal, is—despite being set 35 years ago—equally relevant today here, unfortunately. And it’s all centered by Rosy McEwen’s formidable but quiet  performance as Jean. 
Mending the Line 
(Blue Fox Entertainment) 
How vets deal with returning home from war when friends don’t is compellingly if conventionally dramatized by director Joshua Caldwell and writer Stephen Camelio, who create sympathetic portraits of two veterans—one who served in Vietnam and the other in Afghanistan—and the fiancée of a soldier who was KIA.
The fly-fishing metaphor, while initially effective, turns stilted, and the ending—while necessarily bittersweet—doesn’t really stick the landing. Still, the terrific acting by the great Brian Cox (Vietnam vet), Sinqua Walls (Afghanistan vet) and Perry Mattfeld (the widowed fiancée) provide more than enough reason to watch. 
(Paramount Global)
Luckily for the staff of a local hospital, when Irish gangsters take everyone hostage trying to get the patriarch’s wounded son out of there (it’s a long story), one of the doctors, Michelle, happens to be an Afghan war vet who can mow down the intruders with impunity.
Director Tony Dean Smith and writer Alex Wright know their premise is ridiculous, but they run with it, their 85-minute movie is just an excuse to cheer on the resourceful Michelle (played by the physically impressive Canadian actress Leah Gibson) as she outsmarts the bad guys, barely pausing even when they use her teenage son as bait.  
(Blue Fox Entertainment) 
In Cédric Klapisch’s delicately told melodrama, real-life dancer Marion Barbeau plays ballerina Elise, whose serious injury while performing—as well as discovering that her boyfriend is cheating on her with a fellow dancer—throws her for a loop and makes her question her own relationships and goals, until she falls in with a group performing contemporary dance and discovers that new personal and professional paths are possible.
As usual, Klapisch effortlessly harnesses several story strands and multiple characters, but Rise—beautifully shot by Alexis Kavyrchine, especially the varied dance sequences both on- and offstage—might seem superfluous if not for the presence of Barbeau, a wonderfully lithe dancer who also proves herself a natural and engaging actress.
(Kino Lorber) 
As his followup to Martin Eden, the engrossing and richly nuanced adaptation of a Jack London story, Italian director Pietro Marcello tackles a 1923 Russian novella and conjures an often luminous, fantastical atmosphere in its chronicle of Juliette, a young French woman who has been alerted that she’ll fall for an aviator who falls from the sky—which promptly happens.
Not nearly as resonant as Martin Eden, Scarlet is shot through with Marcello’s painterly and idiosyncratic eye, abetted by Marco Graziaplena’s sumptuous cinematography (shot in Academy ratio) and the winning presence of Juliette Jouan, whose natural unaffectedness as her namesake transforms this into a beguiling fable. 
Blu-ray Releases of the Week
A Good Person 
(Warner Bros) 
Zach Braff wrote and directed this earnest, soggy melodrama about repentance, forgiveness and starting over about a young woman whose stupid act while driving causes the death of her future brother- and sister-in-laws and who afterward crosses paths with the dead woman’s father and her orphaned daughter.
It’s so cloying that if Braff’s name wasn’t attached, it probably wouldn’t have gotten made; it’s an OK 90-minute tearjerker padded to an unconscionable 128 minutes. Braff even wastes his excellent leads, Florence Pugh and Morgan Freeman. The film looks fine on Blu.
Wherein Renfield (Nicolas Hoult), the ever-faithful companion of Count Dracula (Nicolas Cage) for the past few centuries, decides he needs to get out of a relationship that’s stifled him and made him codependent: Chris McKay’s wild ride blends vampires, rom-com, and ludicrous bloodletting into a fast-paced 90 minutes that doesn’t get the chance to wear out its welcome.
Acted with wink-wink knowingness by Hoult and Cage, both performers unafraid to go too far, the flick also has fun appearances by Awkwafina, Shohreh Aghdashloo, and Ben Schwartz, along with some of the reddest fake gore I’ve seen in awhile, all tongue-in-cheek, of course. It all looks smashing in hi-def; extras comprise deleted/extended scenes as well as making-of featurettes. 
CD Release of the Week
Anne Akiko Meyers—Mysterium 
(Avie Records)
Although this EP contains only four works that clock in at a total of 19 minutes, it plays both to Anne Akiko Meyers’ considerable strengths as a virtuoso violinist and to the lilting, gorgeous sounds produced by the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
The three arrangements of Bach works, beginning with Jesu, Joy of Man’s Suffering, are extraordinarily moving to hear when the chorale and Meyers combine forces, but it’s the world-premiere arrangement of Morten Lauridsen’s O Magnum Mysterium—an austere work about Christ’s birth that was premiered by the chorale in 1994—in which Meyers’ miraculous playing and the chorale’s sensational singing coalesce beautifully. It’s all sensitively led by the chorale’s artistic director Grant Gershon.  

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