New releases 12/20/16

Top Hits
sullySully (true-life hero drama, Tom Hanks. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Clint Eastwood’s latest movie, “Sully,” is about a man who is excellent at his job. Specifically, it tells the story of Capt. Chesley Sullenberger and how, on a frigid January afternoon in 2009, he came to land a plane on the Hudson River. The movie is economical and solid, and generally low-key when it’s not freaking you out. That it unnerves you as much as it does may seem surprising, given that going in, we know how this story ends. But Mr. Eastwood is also very good at his job, a talent that gives the movie its tension along with an autobiographical sheen.” Read more…)

Goat (hazing drama, Nick Jonas. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 64. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times revoew: “Directed by Andrew Neel from a script by David Gordon Green, Mike Roberts and Mr. Neel, the movie is shot in hand-held, quasi-documentary style, although Mr. Neel weirdly forgoes a lot of what would have been useful exposition in the first quarter. The movie is similarly indirect in its approach to the admittedly inarticulate characters’ psychology. But in depicting the atrocities of the frat’s ‘Hell Week,’ it is painstakingly explicit, a junior varsity variant on Pier Paolo Pasolini’s study of fascist sadism, ‘Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom.'” Read more…)

Storks (animated feature, Andy Samberg [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 56. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Birds have been fine — memorable, even — as secondary characters in animated fare. Zazu in ‘The Lion King.’ Scuttle in ‘The Little Mermaid.’ But giving a bird or birds top billing is another matter, as demonstrated by ‘Storks.’ This film, directed by NIcholas Stoller and Doug Sweetland, is a harmless enough way to occupy a youngster for an hour and a half. It’s just not especially rich in extraordinary characters or moments.” Rea more…)

magnificent_sevenThe Magnificent Seven (action/Western re-make, Denzel Washington. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “This time, the seven are riding — and shooting — under the adequate if unremarkable direction of Antoine Fuqua. Working with truckloads of dust and high-contrast cinematography that tends to turn shadows into bottomless inky blots, Mr. Fuqua approaches the western like an ardent fan, leaving no genre element untouched, from gun spinning to trick riding to atmospherically flapping dusters. The story — the script is credited to Nic Pizzolatto and Richard Wenk — pretty much follows the line of the 1960 film, with some tweaks that speak to contemporary mores, including a gun-toting frontierswoman, Emma [Haley Bennett].” Read more…)

Hitchcock/Truffaut (cinema history, interview. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Just as a snooty reader might be enticed to the novels of Stephen King by a thumbs-up from The New York Review of Books, movie buffs were likely to view Truffaut’s enthusiasm for Hitchcock as a sufficient entree to their discerning fold. But the book, an engrossing record of Truffaut’s days-long interview with his idol in 1962 [excerpts of which are included in this film], did more than just reposition its subject’s reputation. It also provided riveting insight into the art and craft of moviemaking, revealing Hitchcock’s mastery of time and space and his unwavering preference, honed by his period of making silent movies, for image over dialogue.” Read more…)

Hairspray Live (musical, Kristin Chenoweth. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 66. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “Based on the 1988 John Waters film, the musical’s story of social outcasts and racial barriers is set in 1962, and it should amaze and distress us with its continued relevance in 2016. The broadcast, though, didn’t generate as much power as it could have because of all the shots of the cast members golf-carting from one set to another, of viewing parties in various cities and so on. Only Jennifer Hudson, who played Motormouth Maybelle, found the real strength of this Tony Award-winning musical, delivering a knockout rendition of ‘I Know Where I’ve Been,’ a gospel-infused power number, late in the show.” Read more…)

Dad’s Army (comedy, Bill Nighy. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 38.)

New Blu-Ray
Sully

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
ruthlessRuthless (1948, Edgar Ulmer-directed drama, Zachary Scott. From the 1948 New York Times review by “T.I.P.” [requires log-in]: “A long, tedious recital about how a poor lad worked his way up the Wall Street ladder in the fabulous Twenties, brutally trampling over friend and foe, is being unfolded on the screen of the Gotham in ‘Ruthless.’ Without ever managing to bring the story to a dramatic point, the authors build a financial pirate of titanic proportions, a man so possessed by avarice and so cruelly cold and inhuman that he assumes a degree of monstrousness unrelated to reality. In short, it is impossible to become concerned about a character so patently fabricated.” Read more…)

No Man of Her Own (1950,film noir, Barbara Stanwyck. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The appearance of Barbara Stanwyck as a dame plagued by the swarming consequences of some indiscreet social offense is one to which movie audiences should be well accustomed by now. Along with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, she is one of the steadiest sufferers on the screen. Seems like every time Miss Stanwyck makes a picture she makes a false step—fictionally speaking, that is. People know what to expect.” Read more…)

City That Never Sleeps (1953, film noir, Gig Young. From “H.H.T.”‘s 1953 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A half-hearted attempt to document nocturnal Chicago as the ‘City That Never Sleeps’ rarely camouflages the routine crime melodrama that bowed in with the Palace’s new stage bill yesterday. This Republic offering can claim an erratic exploration of the Chicago skyline — obviously injected in hopeful reminiscence of what ‘The Naked City’ did to our town—a good, murkily photographed chase finale and a ready, willing and fairly able cast, headed by Gig Young, Mala Powers, William Talman and Edward Arnold. And all, unfortunately, in vain.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
hitchcock_truffautHitchcock/Truffaut (cinema history, interview. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Just as a snooty reader might be enticed to the novels of Stephen King by a thumbs-up from The New York Review of Books, movie buffs were likely to view Truffaut’s enthusiasm for Hitchcock as a sufficient entree to their discerning fold. But the book, an engrossing record of Truffaut’s days-long interview with his idol in 1962 [excerpts of which are included in this film], did more than just reposition its subject’s reputation. It also provided riveting insight into the art and craft of moviemaking, revealing Hitchcock’s mastery of time and space and his unwavering preference, honed by his period of making silent movies, for image over dialogue.” Read more…)