New releases 12/6/16

Top Hits
jason_bourneJason Bourne (action, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The good news and the bad news is that ‘Jason Bourne,’ directed by Paul Greengrass and starring Matt Damon as everyone’s favorite amnesiac assassin, feels like old times. The band is back together for a reunion tour, and if some of the original members are missing, the new additions have learned the chords and are even permitted to try out a few fresh riffs.” Read more…)

Don’t Think Twice (drama/comedy, Mike Birbiglia. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘Has anybody here had a particularly hard day?’ That’s the standard question addressed to the audience before each performance of the Commune, a New York improvisational comedy troupe anatomized in Mike Birbiglia’s smart, bittersweet comedy, ‘Don’t Think Twice.’ That question could be asked of the group itself when it faces sudden changes.” Read more…)

Other People (drama, Jesse Plemons. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 68. From Daniel M. Gold’s New York Times review: “A deeply personal film — its writer-director, Chris Kelly, based it on his own experiences — ‘Other People’ chronicles a year in the death of a loved one; a family’s attempt to reconnect; and the welter of issues that leave David feeling as if he is a failure. He and his boyfriend have broken up; he may not have an apartment or a job to return to. Even with tragedy looming, everyday anxieties set his agenda. ‘Other People’ tries to lighten its heavy load with mixed results.” Read more…)

secret_life_petsThe Secret Life of Pets (animated feature, Louis C.K. [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Secret Life of Pets,’ written by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Brian Lynch and directed by Yarrow Cheney and Chris Renaud, is like one of those picture books about how to deal with a new baby, but with talking animals. Which is, all in all, pretty good fun. Talking-animal cartoons generally are, if they have even a modest quantity of wit or cross-species insight. And while this movie never achieves — and does not really aim for — the emotional richness or visual inventiveness of the better Pixar features, or the sly social consciousness of ‘Zootopia,’ it has a playful absurdity and a winning, friendly spirit.” Read more…)

The Hollars (comedy, John Krasinski. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 53. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Too much happens too quickly in ‘The Hollars’ or the story to be credible, but the film has some likable qualities, among them the fun of seeing actors in unexpected roles. The movie is directed by John Krasinski of ‘The Office,’ who also plays John Hollar, an unsuccessful illustrator in New York. John returns to his tiny Middle American hometown when his mother, Sally [Margo Martindale], falls ill.” Read more…)

Ordinary World (comedy, Billie Joe Armstrong. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 55. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day is usually pretty appealing when he dabbles in acting, and he’s appealing again in ‘Ordinary World.’ But after a promising start the script lets him down, and the film turns into a predictable midlife-crisis yarn.” Read more…)

heart_of_dogHeart of a Dog (documentary, Laurie Anderson. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times Pick: “‘Heart of a Dog’ is about telling and remembering and forgetting, and how we put together the fragments that make up our lives — their flotsam and jetsam, highs and lows, meaningful and slight details, shrieking and weeping headline news. This purposefully fissured quality extends to the movie itself, which is by turns narratively straightforward and playfully experimental, light and heavy [it’s a fast 75 minutes], accessible and opaque, concrete and abstract. And while it’s drizzled in sadness — one of its recurrent images is of rain splattered across glass — it joyfully embraces silliness, as when a blind dog named Lolabelle plays the piano. It’s a home movie of a type, if one that, like a stone skipped across a still lake, leaves expanding rings in its path.” Read more…)

Kicks (coming of age story, Jahking Guillory. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Sephen Holden’s Times review: “Teenage life in the East Bay neighborhood of Richmond, the setting of Justin Tipping’s promising debut feature film, ‘Kicks,’ is so rough that it’s little wonder that the movie’s 15-year-old protagonist, Brandon [Jahking Guillory], fantasizes that he is watched over by an imaginary spaceman. Because Brandon is small for his age and has delicate features, he is a natural target for bullies. Lacking the macho swagger of his peers, he is not a romantic magnet for the girls who throw themselves at his friends. He dwells in an anxious limbo where the harsh realities of big-city life coincide with a childlike longing for a magical escape.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Jason Bourne
Don’t Think Twice
The Secret Life of Pets

New Foreign
La Luna (Italy, 1974, Bernardo Bertolucci-directed drama, Jill Clayburgh. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. From Vincent Canby’s 1979 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This, I suppose, explains my skeptical reactions to Bernardo Bertolucci’s new film, ‘Luna,’ about a beautiful, successful, willful, American star of grand opera and her brief, unsatisfactory love affair with her 15-year-old son, who is a junkie — which may well be the most obscure movie metaphor of all time. The film, which opens the 17th annual New York Film Festival tonight at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, is one of the most sublimely foolish movies ever made by a director of Mr. Bertolucci’s acknowledged talents.” Read more…)

New British
The Secret Agent: Season 1 (Victorian-era drama, Toby Jones. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review:”What this ‘Masterpiece Theater’-style presentation has to say about contemporary terrorism is less clear. The screenwriter, Tony Marchant, keeps the main incidents of Conrad’s plot but lays them out chronologically, losing the revelations and shadings of the novel’s flashbacks and flash-forwards. This goes along with a general literalness and glumness — little of the satire and humor of the novel has seeped into the mini-series.” Read more…)

Britain’s Bloody Crown (history documentary, reenactment, War of the Roses)
Britain’s Bloodiest Dynasty (history documentary, reenactment, Plantagenets)

New Documentaries
Heart of a Dog (documentary, Laurie Anderson)
Paper Tigers (education issues, alternate approaches)

New Children’s DVDs
The Secret Life of Pets (animated feature, Louis C.K. [voice])