New releases 6/27/17

Top Hits
T2 Trainspotting (Scottish drama/sequel, Ewan McGregor. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Ghosts of the past, both literal and figurative, haunt ‘T2 Trainspotting,’ Danny Boyle’s droll and wistful return to the Scottish reprobates who, 21 years ago in ‘Trainspotting,’ made heroin addiction a blast and bodily waste a metaphor for squandered lives. Excremental flourishes notwithstanding, that gloriously scabrous picture also kick-started the careers of its director and stars, most of whom are back to illustrate the consequences of a misspent youth. Renton [Ewan McGregor] has returned to Edinburgh from Amsterdam, ready to face the music for absconding with his pals’ share of the loot from the previous movie’s drug deal. Simon [Jonny Lee Miller] is still scraping by on the criminal fringes, trying to transform his rundown bar into an upscale brothel. And Begbie [Robert Carlyle] — whose drug of choice has always been violence — has just wangled an appropriately bloody escape from prison.” Read more…)

Saban’s Power Rangers (comic book action, Elizabeth Banks. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 44. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi!,’ says Alpha 5, the robot sidekick to Zordon, in ‘Saban’s Power Rangers,’ uttering his signature exclamation. Alpha 5 [voiced by Bill Hader] is not the only holdover in this slick repackaging of ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers,’ the shrill and unfathomably popular 1990s Fox Kids’ series [adapted by Haim Saban from a Japanese TV show] about teenage superheroes in color-coded costumes. But Mr. Hader’s dialed-down take reflects the movie’s tempered refinement of the original.” Read more…)

CHIPS (action/comedy, Dax Shepard. Rotten Tomatoes: 16%. Metacritic: 28. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “A fascination with posteriors — both human and feline — isn’t the worst thing about ‘CHIPS,’ but it’s up there. Borderline incoherent and unrepentantly lewd, this buddy-cop comedy [based on the 1977-83 television series of the same name] substitutes cars, ’copters and motorcycles for actual characters. The language might be mature, but don’t be misled: There’s nothing here that rises above the level of the playground.” Read more…)

The Belko Experiment (horror, John Gallagher Jr.. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 44. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Directed by Greg McLean [whose 2005 film, ‘Wolf Creek,’ had a similar morbid interest in bullying its audience] from a script by James Gunn [currently relegated to delighting adolescents of all ages with the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ franchise], the movie might have been better served by a director not hellbent on rubbing pretty much every head wound in the viewer’s face. Mr. McLean, perhaps determined to leave no cliché unturned, also wallows in the cheap and hackneyed irony of choreographed slaughter accompanied by Dvorak and Tchaikovsky.” Read more…)

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (horror, Emile Hirsch. Rotten Tomatoes 87%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Unheralded and unhyped, ‘The Autopsy of Jane Doe’ sneaks into theaters like a chilly treat among the Christmas comedies and Force-fed mythologizing. The first solo English-language feature from the Norwegian director André Ovredal — an infinitely more disciplined follow-up to his 2011 film, ‘Trollhunter’ — this shivery tour through a young woman’s innards turns putrefaction into a puzzle.” Read more…)

This Beautiful Fantastic (romance, Jessica Findlay Brown. Rotten Tomatoes 69%. Metacritic: 51. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “With spring imminent, backyard putterers are turning their thoughts to the garden, which makes ‘This Beautiful Fantastic,’ a charming tale about one, all that much sweeter. Gardens, of course, must be cultivated, and thus they are rich allegorical territory for storytellers of all sorts. Simon Aboud, the writer and director here, works some obvious parallels as he tells the story of a timid young woman, her cranky old neighbor and the garden that separates them, but enjoyable performances keep the tale from becoming too heavy-handed.” Read more…)

Life (sci-fi, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 54. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In an opening sequence, ‘Life’ allows viewers to float through an international space station. The camera zips around corners and turns upside-down in a feat of impossible [and most likely effects-massaged] cinematography. It’s tempting to tune out the exposition and simply concentrate on the director Daniel Espinosa’s dazzling imagery, even if it now looks familiar from ‘Gravity’ and ‘Avatar.'” Read more…)

Wilson (comedy, Woody Harrelson. Rotten Tomatoes 46%. Metacritic: 49.From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The movie version of ‘Wilson.’ directed by Craig Johnson [‘The Skeleton Twins’] from a screenplay by [graphic novelist Daniel] Clowes, illustrates the difficulty of translating an idiosyncratic temperament from one visual medium to another. The dark, comic poignancy of the book is drowned in garish, self-conscious whimsy, and the work of a talented ensemble is squandered on awkward heartstring snatching.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
T2 Trainspotting

New Foreign DVDs
Detective Montalbano: Episodes 29 & 30 (Italy, detective series, Luca Zingaretti)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Rhapsody in Blue (1945, musical, Robert Alda. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%.)

New Documentaries
Off the Rails (mental illness, justice system, mass transit, Darius McCollum. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “The documentary ‘Off the Rails,’ Adam Irving’s first film, is an assured and thoughtful debut. He presents the story of Darius McCollum, a man with a long history of taking New York City subway trains and buses for joy rides even though he is not a transit employee. But Mr. Irving’s subtext is a criminal justice system that has no way to deal with an offender like Mr. McCollum, who has Asperger’s syndrome, other than to keep throwing him in prison.” Read more…)

New releases 6/20/17

Top Hits
Morgan (thriller, Kate Mara. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 48. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “That ‘Morgan’ is a movie about genetics is somehow appropriate, given that the origins of its director, Luke Scott, will be an inescapable component of any discussion of its merits. Unveiling a first feature seems stressful enough; but when your father is peeking over your shoulder as one of the producers, and he’s none other than Ridley Scott — who, with ‘Alien’ and ‘Blade Runner,’ gave us two of the most memorable science-fiction films of the past 40 years — then the weight of expectation must be especially daunting.” Read more…)

Bitter Harvest (historic drama set in 1930s Ukraine/romance, Max Irons. Rotten Tomatoes: 10%. Metacritic: 34. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Politics, romance, faith and famine are mashed into a single misshapen meatball in ‘Bitter Harvest,’ which follows two Ukrainian lovebirds through a mass starvation in the early 1930s known as the Holodomor.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Life (sci-fi, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 54. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “In an opening sequence, ‘Life’ allows viewers to float through an international space station. The camera zips around corners and turns upside-down in a feat of impossible [and most likely effects-massaged] cinematography. It’s tempting to tune out the exposition and simply concentrate on the director Daniel Espinosa’s dazzling imagery, even if it now looks familiar from ‘Gravity’ and ‘Avatar.'” Read more…)

New Releases 3/8/16

Top Hits
Peanuts_MovieThe Peanuts Movie (animated feature, Noah Schnapp. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick—really! From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “‘The Peanuts Movie’ may be simultaneously the most charming and the most daring experiment in human genetics ever conducted. At issue is whether the character summaries and back stories of fictional pop-culture figures can be passed from one generation to the next solely through DNA. The movie is a pleasant G-rated grab bag of everything people over a certain age know and love from the Charles M. Schulz comic strip and its many offshoots, all centered, of course, on Charlie Brown. The question, though, is whether the 7-year-old demographic will fully grasp the intricate dynamics of the universe Schulz created around Charlie Brown over many decades.” Read more…)

Macbeth (Shakespeare adaptation, Michael Fassbender. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There’s no doubled trouble in the slickly handsome new version of ‘Macbeth’ with Michael Fassbender. The ‘double, double, toil and trouble’ is among the play’s most memorable passages, the one with three witches, a bubbling caldron and an eye of newt. A gang of weird sisters still roams the foggy Scottish moors, periodically speaking in riddles and giving Macbeth the evil eye. Yet the movie mutes the dark magic that swirls in the play, an alteration that itself stirs the pot, complicating the question of Macbeth’s freedom, his will and his guilt.” Read more…)

Life (1950s period drama/James Dean biopic, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 59. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Anton Corbijn’s ‘Life’ is one of those Great Encounters in History dramas, the kind that seeks to recapture (and remythologize) a magic moment. In 1955, a photographer for Magnum, Dennis Stock, shadowed and snapped an ascendant James Dean for Life magazine, a few months before Dean died in a car accident. Mr. Corbijn picturesquely frames the back story to the shoot, but his muffled retelling drifts with Dane Dehaan’s murmurous impersonation of Dean and Robert Pattinson’s almost perversely listless turn as Stock.” Read more…)

Heart_of_SeaIn the Heart of the Sea (action, Chris Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As the ice caps melt, the trickle of movies about nature’s revenge may turn into a deluge. There are oceans already sloshing through ‘In the Heart of the Sea,’ the latest from the director Ron Howard, about the shipwreck that was an inspiration for Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick.’ Epic in ambition, it spans decades and miles as it moves from Nantucket to a Pacific whale hunt that pits man [Chris Hemsworth] against Leviathan. It’s at once a biopic and an adventure yarn that, with harpoons and ploddingly good intentions, turns a story of survival into an ecological cautionary tale.” Read more…)

The One I Love (romance, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’  New York Times review: “Alfred Hitchcock liked to distinguish between surprise and suspense, between the bombs that shock us [boom!] and those that put us on edge [tick, tick, tick]. The modestly sized puzzler ‘The One I Love’ — a cunning, twisty tale about a marriage that has gone sour and is about to go pretty strange — detonates a few bombs, but also keeps a few ticking until the end. The unpromising setup is as banal as someone else’s shrink session. What quickly pulls you in, though, are the appealing stars and mysterioso circumstances that their characters — like the viewer — are sucked into as the story morphs into a quagmire of narrative uncertainty, marital gamesmanship and speculative foolishness.” Read more…)

The Forbidden Room (comedy/mystery, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Among the scores of whimsical notions paraded through ‘The Forbidden Room,’ a dense two-hour phantasmagoria directed by the Canadian vintage-film aficionado Guy Maddin, my favorite is one of the silliest. When a submarine crew trapped underwater panics as their oxygen supply is about to be exhausted, the captain suggests they survive on the air bubbles in their breakfast flapjacks.” Read more…)

The Salvation (western, Mads Mikkelsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis New York Times review: “A luridly beautiful, lavishly violent western, ‘The Salvation’ takes place in an America shaped less by history than by the legacies of some of its chroniclers, from Sergio Leone to Clint Eastwood to Paul Thomas Anderson. Set in a nameless, dusty patch of the Southwest apparently forsaken by God as well as the law, it spins a far-fetched tale of a not-so-simple Danish homesteader, Jon [Mads Mikkelsen], turned avenger. Yes, there will be blood, as well as Eva Green as Madelaine, whose corset cups runneth over and tongue was once ripped out by her Indian captors.” Read more…)

Childhood’s End (sci-fi mini-series, John C. Reilly. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 61.)

New Blu-Ray
The Peanuts Movie
In the Heart of the Sea

New Foreign
Victoria (Germany, crime drama shot in one long extended take, Laia Costa. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘Victoria,’ is a sensational cinematic stunt. From its blinding strobe-lit opening, driven by pounding electronica, this German heist thriller directed by Sebastian Schipper conveys the queasy excitement of being dropped onto a roller coaster midride. Clocking in at more than two hours, it may be the longest such ride you’ll ever take. But on uphill loops, as the movie pauses to catch its breath, it is also a dry-eyed contemplation of millennial ennui in a hypercompetitive, winner-take-all climate.” Read more…)

10,000 km (Spain, romance, Natalia Tena. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Mr. Marques-Marcet is especially interested in the role technology plays in negotiating absence. Video chats create an illusion of immediacy [and the possibility of enhanced phone sex]. Social media can bring us closer, but can also sow suspicion. (Who is the untagged person in that picture? Where was the picture taken? Why didn’t she tell me she was going there?) Looking at zoomed-in satellite images of faraway cities can feel like a cheap and easy substitute for being there.” Read more…)

The Wonders (Italy, family drama, Monica Bellucci. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Wonders,’ a diffuse and quietly charming coming-of-age story, takes place under a Tuscan sun different from the one that usually shines in mainstream movies. It’s set in an isolated corner of the region, a place choked with dust and scrub, on a ramshackle farm far from the tourist hot spots, with their crowds and feverish commercialism. There, amid the bleats of children and animals, a young family scrapes by on love as well as on the honey it makes in an artisanal product that the Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher clearly identifies with.” Read more…)

Paris Belongs to Us (France, 1961, mystery, Betty Schneider. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.)

New British
Playing Shakespeare (guide to performing the Bard with great actresses and actors)

New Television
The Spoils of Babylon (comedy miniseries, Will Ferrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69.)

New Documentaries
We Come As Friends (foreign affairs, colonialism. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Planes also figure heavily in Mr. Sauper’s ‘We Come As Friends,’ a follow-up of sorts to ‘[Darwin’s] Nightmare’ that can stand on its own or play as a riveting and damning companion piece. Although it lacks a big hungry fish, the guiding metaphor is also the stuff of science fiction. Crisscrossing Sudan before and after South Sudan declared its independence in a 2011 referendum, Mr. Sauper likens his perspective [and that of the audience] to that of an alien approaching a planet called Africa. ‘We come as friends’ is the suspect message of the investors we see in the film. Part of the argument here is that South Sudanese independence was heavily driven by outside forces because of the potential for profit from development.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (concert film, Jimi Hendrix)

New Children’s DVDs
The Peanuts Movie (animated feature, Noah Schnapp [voice])
Open Season: Scared Silly (animated feature)