New releases 2/7/17

Top Hits
Loving (historical drama, Ruth Negga. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There are few movies that speak to the American moment as movingly — and with as much idealism — as Jeff Nichols’s ‘Loving,’ which revisits the era when blacks and whites were so profoundly segregated in this country that they couldn’t always wed. It’s a fictionalization of the story of Mildred and Richard Loving, a married couple who were arrested in 1958 because he was white, she was not, and they lived in Virginia, a state that banned interracial unions. Virginia passed its first anti-miscegenation law in 1691, partly to prevent what it called ‘spurious issue,’ or what most people just call children.” Read more…)

American Pastoral (drama, Ewan McGregor. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 43. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “First, the half-good news about Ewan McGregor’s streamlined screen adaptation of Philip Roth’s 1997 novel, ‘American Pastoral’: The movie is not a desecration but a severe diminution of a complex literary masterpiece. This shallow but watchable gloss on a book that conjures a searing image of the disintegrating American dream in the 1960s, especially as it pertains to Jewish identity and aspiration, amounts to not much more than a dutiful checklist of scenes from the novel. And its elegiac tone omits Mr. Roth’s bitterly sarcastic humor.” Read more…)

Burn Country (thriller, Dominic Rains. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 60. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Dominic Rains is quietly captivating in ‘Burn Country,’ an amorphous study in table-turning directed by Ian Olds, a documentarian who is trying his first feature.” Read more…)

Trolls (Dreamworks animated feature, Anna Kendrick [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “Exuberant, busy and sometimes funny, DreamWorks Animation’s ‘Trolls’ is determined to amuse. You remember Trolls — not the rude lurkers online writing nasty remarks, but those little toys with round tummies, beatific expressions and abundant hair shooting upward. Here they’re players in a fairy-tale Cold War parable.” Read more…)

Danny Says (New Haven-based Brendan Toller’s bio of Danny Fields, rock counterculture figure, punk. “Danny Says” had a rough cut screening at Best Video in 2014. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 64. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “To hear it from the new documentary ‘Danny Says,’ Danny Fields had a hand in the breakup of the Beatles and the discovery of the Ramones. He palled around with the photographer Linda Eastman ]a.k.a. Linda McCartney]. He tried playing matchmaker for Jim Morrison and Nico, an introduction that resulted in a strange stare-down. He signed MC5 and the Stooges to Elektra in one swoop. He tripped on acid on the floor of Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins’s hotel room. To paraphrase one of the many friends who share stories of Mr. Fields in this anecdotal, loosely structured movie, he’s the guy who would talk you into buying some sort of abstract painting before the work was widely understood. Variously a journalist, a publicist and a Zelig-like gadfly of the music scene, he had a consistent ear for the next new thing.” Read more…)

Frank & Lola (noir romance, Michael Shannon. Rotten Tomatoes: 66%. Metacritic: 56. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Its title is an early tip-off that “Frank & Lola” will be a new riff on Frankie and Johnny’s old troubles. Immortalized in song and onstage, these two have lent their names and heartache to a couple of films. [The movie shares its title with a Jimmy Buffett song.] They’re back in shadow form in ‘Frank & Lola,’ this time with an unpersuasively paired Michael Shannon and Imogen Poots as Las Vegas souls who, after tumbling into bed, fall for each other. Soon, Frank and Lola learn that love still hurts, especially when tendrils of jealously start twisting through the story and he confuses abandon with possession.” Read more…)

Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween (comedy, Tyler Perry. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 30. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “‘Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween’ is Mr. Perry’s 16th feature film as a director, and it shows him just barely more adept in this respect as he was for his first outing, ‘Madea’s Family Reunion’ [2006]. His shot composition is rudimentary at best, his blocking of action is practically indifferent, and his editing rhythms run the gamut from hobbled to stumbling. All of which matters only to the viewer actively looking at those aspects of the picture. Mr. Perry is also an eccentric, inspired performer, and his screen-filling antics as the raucous but righteous Madea — a character who runs through Mr. Perry’s stage, film and TV work — is the truly pertinent component here.” Read more…)

The Take (action/thriller, Idris Elba. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 48. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “You’ve got to love the juxtaposition in ‘The Take,’ a tasty thriller directed by James Watkins. Tech- and media-savvy bad guys go up against that most humble of miscreants: a pickpocket. Well, against a pickpocket and a rule-breaking C.I.A. agent. The agent, Sean, is played with growly vigor by Idris Elba, and he pairs perfectly with Richard Madden [Robb Stark from ‘Game of Thrones’], who portrays Michael, the pickpocket.” Read more…)

Desierto (thriller, Gael García Bernal. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 51. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Jonás Cuarón and his cinematographer, Damian Garcia, make the desert look bleakly beautiful in ‘Desierto,’ right from the opening landscape shot. But there’s nothing beautiful about the story the film tells, and nothing redeeming, either.” Read more…)

Kevin Hart: What Now (standup comedy performance. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Times review: “A performer who can sell out a football stadium with the promise of delivering not much more than a stand-up comedy routine can safely be called ‘critic proof.’ So I understand that my opinion of the comedy offered by Kevin Hart, who set a record for packing Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia in August 2015, where this concert movie was filmed, is likely to be immaterial. In any event, I thought about two-thirds of ‘Kevin Hart: What Now?’ was pretty-to-very funny, and one third meh.” Read more…)

Justice League: Dark (R-rated animated superhero feature)

New Blu-Ray
Loving

New Foreign
The Eagle Huntress (Kazakhstan, documentary, Aisholpan. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Aisholpan is a 13-year-old girl who lives in Mongolia, dividing her time between a boarding school and her nomadic family’s campsite. With the release of ‘The Eagle Huntress,’ a thrilling new documentary directed by Otto Bell, she may well become something else: a pop-culture heroine with the power to inspire girls (and not only girls) everywhere. It would not be surprising on future Halloweens to spot a handful of Aisholpans, dressed in traditional fur-and-embroidery hunting gear, pigtails fastened with pink bows, amid the throngs of Elsas and Katnisses.” Read more…)

Mediterraneo (Italy, 1991, comedy/drama, Nicola Lorusso. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. From Vincent Canby’s 192 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Gabriele Salvatores’s “Mediterraneo” is a deliberately charming comedy whose most daring conceit is that love, in one form and another, makes the world go around. Actually, it’s somewhat better than it sounds, having the good sense not to slop over into the sentimentality that awaits it at every turn.” Read more…)

Fellini’s Casanova (Italy, 1976, historical drama/romance, Donald Sutherland. From Vincent Canby’s 1977 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Fellini’s Casanova’ recalls ‘Fellini’s Satyricon.’ Though its concerns are narrower, it’s as otherworldly as that nightmare vision of the pre-Christian Roman Empire. Like that film, too, ‘Casanova’ makes no attempt to recreate an identifiable era, but, rather, to create a completely subjective impression.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Roar (1981, thriller, Tippi Hedren. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. From Simon Abrams’ review on RogerEbert.com: “If you go see ‘Roar,’ a now-infamous 1981 ethnographic action film starring untrained wild cats, you probably will go expecting to see a memorably weird curio. This is a movie with a poster, commissioned by the cult film buffs at Drafthouse Films, that uses injuries sustained by 70 cast and crew members as a selling point [the poster’s tagline: ‘No animals were harmed in the making of this film. 70 cast and crew members were.’]. ‘Roar’ may often feel like a bizarre Swiss Family Robinson adventure, but the real reason you should go see it is its surplus of lions, and tigers, and cheetahs [oh my!]. I confess that, as a feline aficionado, I got what I wanted from ‘Roar’: lots and lots of big cats. There’s not much to the film beyond that, though knowing that the film’s hulking furry stars weren’t trained does add an element of suspense to an otherwise slack thriller. Still, if you want to see cats chasing people in packs, falling over themselves to descend stairwells, and jump up trees to swipe at disposable human protagonists–you will probably enjoy ‘Roar.'” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Cameraperson (cinematography, documentary, Kirsten Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Cameraperson’ Kirsten Johnson’s transfixing documentary, defies easy summary. It’s unlike anything you’ve seen before, although if you remember films like Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman’s ‘Derrida’ or Whitney Dow and Marco Williams’s ‘Two Towns of Jasper,’ some of the images may be familiar. Ms. Johnson worked as a cinematographer on those documentaries and dozens of others, but the footage she shares here doesn’t come from the finished films. It includes outtakes, offhand moments, snatches of time when the camera just happened to be running. ‘These are the images that marked me,’ she says in an introductory note, and she has woven them together into a unique and affecting memoir.” Read more…)

Danny Says (Brendan Toller’s bio of Danny Fields, rock counterculture figure, punk. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 64. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “To hear it from the new documentary ‘Danny Says,’ Danny Fields had a hand in the breakup of the Beatles and the discovery of the Ramones. He palled around with the photographer Linda Eastman [a.k.a. Linda McCartney]. He tried playing matchmaker for Jim Morrison and Nico, an introduction that resulted in a strange stare-down. He signed MC5 and the Stooges to Elektra in one swoop. He tripped on acid on the floor of Leonard Cohen and Judy Collins’s hotel room. To paraphrase one of the many friends who share stories of Mr. Fields in this anecdotal, loosely structured movie, he’s the guy who would talk you into buying some sort of abstract painting before the work was widely understood. Variously a journalist, a publicist and a Zelig-like gadfly of the music scene, he had a consistent ear for the next new thing.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Cloud 9 (Disney snowboarding, Dove Cameron)

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