New releases 8/23/16

Top Hits
Nice_GuysThe Nice Guys (action/comedy, Russell Crowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The climax of Shane Black’s ‘The Nice Guys’ involves a hectic, gunfire-riddled chase through a crowded Los Angeles hotel in pursuit of a film canister that rolls and bounces and Frisbees like something out of a cartoon. What’s in the can — a dirty movie with a political message — is ostensibly vital to the plot, but it’s also a nostalgic totem, an expression of Mr. Black’s devotion to the old days, when pornography was printed on celluloid and promoted on marquees.” Read more…)

The Huntsman: Winter’s War (fantasy, Chris Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 35. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The conventional wisdom holds that none of these disasters happen on purpose, that nobody ever sets out to make a bad movie. ‘The Huntsman’ challenges that idea, since it seems to be exactly the movie that the money behind it wanted to see made. Its badness is not extreme, but exemplary: It’s everything wrong with Hollywood today stuffed into a little less than two hours.” Read more…)

The Man Who Knew Infinity (period drama, Dev Patel. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “It’s time for Dev Patel to add fresh paints to his palette. This talented actor — who got his feature start in Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ — has largely specialized in handsome, earnest and well-meaning characters[(in both ‘Best Exotic Matigold Hotel’ movies and the canceled HBO series ‘The Newsroom’]. Now comes ‘The Man Who Knew infinity,’ Matthew Brown’s respectful and, yes, earnest biopic about the early-20th-century mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, who found the divine in integers. Ramanujan, who was mentored by the Cambridge professor G. H. Hardy, eventually became the first Indian to hold a fellowship at Trinity College.” Read more…)

Maggies_PlanMaggie’s Plan (comedy, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Director Rebecca] Miller’s choices are hard to argue with. She steers gracefully through a zigzagging plot, slowing down for quiet, contemplative stretches and pausing for jokes that are irrelevant but irresistible. She finds a tricky balance of farce, satire and emotional sincerity, a way of treating people as ridiculous without denying them empathy. They are all flawed, difficult and easy to laugh at, but the mockery is devoid of contempt, and arises from the simple fact that they all — John and Georgette in particular — take themselves so seriously that we don’t have to.” Read more…)

Sunset Song (period drama, Peter Mullan. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The rolling green meadows and the radiant face of Chris Guthrie [Agyness Deyn], a bright, hard-working Scottish farm girl in Terence Davies’ film ‘Sunset Song’ fuse into a luminous vision of the land and the people tending it. The movie immerses you in the intoxicating beauty of the natural world, but it doesn’t ignore the hardships of the peasantry who toil day in and day out to raise crops and put food on the table. ‘Sunset Song” is adapted from Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel, set mostly on the fictional Estate of Kinraddie in northeastern Scotland in the years before World War I, and considered a British literary classic. The movie, which has the look and feel of a magnificently illustrated historical novel, proceeds at a deliberate, meditative pace that rewards patient attention.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong (Hong Kong, romance, Jamie Chung. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 54. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Stories don’t come much thinner than the one in ‘Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong,’ a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that invests a lot in the attractiveness of that city. Ruby [Jamie Chung], a Californian visiting Hong Kong for the first time, can’t decipher the urban landscape well enough to locate the friends she’s trying to meet. Fortunately, Josh [Bruan Greenberg], an expat East Coaster who has been living in Hong Kong for years, is nearby when her cellphone dies and he offers to guide her to her buddies. As they walk and walk and walk, flirtation occurs, but the moment is broken by a minor revelation that, in the context of this sweet but uneventful film, would constitute a spoiler. Suffice it to say that hooking up, for these two, would not be without consequences.” Read more…)

New British
Taste_of_HoneyA Taste of Honey (1961, Criterion Edition British drama, Rita Tushingham. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. From A.H. Weiler’s 1962 New York Tikes review [requires log-in]: “Shelagh Delaney’s ‘A Taste of Honey,’ which justifiably drew theatregoers like flies, to London and Broadway, is more memorable on film. The British-made drama, which was unveiled at the ‘Paris Theatre yesterday, has been given specifically effective scope in the movie medium. Freed from the constricting confines of the stage, the shining honesty, the trials, the disenchantment of the drama’s low-born Lancashire principals have become all the more striking and true. The dedicated producers have concocted a bitter ‘Honey’ that is rare and travels well.” Read more…)

Inspector Lewis: Season 8
Endeavour: Season 3

New Television
Roots (mini-series re-make, Laurence Fishburne)

New Documentaries
WeinerWeiner (politics, scandal, Anthony Weiner. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 84. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘What’s wrong with you?’ That question, posed to the disgraced New York City mayoral candidate Anthony D. Weiner in the infuriating and depressing but rivetingly watchable documentary that bears his name, is never answered and only barely addressed in the film, directed by Josh Kriegman [a former Weiner aide] and Elyse Steinberg. As almost everyone knows, Mr. Weiner’s meteoric political career was ended — or at least interrupted — by a sexting scandal in which he, sometimes under the preposterous pseudonym Carlos Danger, flirted with and exhibited himself to women.” Read more…)

The Brainwashing of My Dad (politics, radio, media. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “A lot of people, especially on the liberal side of the spectrum, will certainly identify with ‘The Brainwashing of My dad,’ Jen Senko’s documentary about how right-wing news programs, talk shows and Internet sites turned her once reasonable father into a raging embodiment of intolerance and suspicion. The film, though, feels as if it’s arriving late to its discoveries and, given the current political climate, as if it’s only scratching the surface.” Read more…)

The Other Side (forgotten America, social issues, underclass. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘The Other Side’ opens in lush, verdant woodland. Camouflaged men [one or two blend into their surroundings so well that they are difficult to spot within the frame] stalk or crouch amid the trees and brush, brandishing assault weapons. At the edge of the forest, a naked man is asleep in some tall grass. He awakens, gets up and starts walking down a narrow two-lane road. The camera follows him. Although it’s being marketed as something like a documentary, this film, directed by Roberto Minervini, is, in fact, something oddly different. To call it a cross between reality television and art film would perhaps be more accurate. Whatever genre it belongs to, ‘The Other Side’ is powerful and disturbing.” Read more…)

Dark_HorseDark Horse (horse racing, social class. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Bred from a crazy broodmare [‘She was just mental,’ one character says] and raised on an unkempt allotment in an unremarkable Welsh village, the gangly foal known as Dream Alliance seemed unlikely to set the racecourse on fire. Yet ‘he looked classy,’ one of Dream’s many part owners, Brian Vokes, recalls. “He looked the part.” Spanning a decade of trepidation and triumph, ‘Dark Horse’ is the thoroughly disarming story of that foal’s canter through the class barrier to challenge his Thoroughbred betters. Behind him, he dragged the hopes of a depressed former coal mining town forced back on its heels by the pit closures of the 1980s and the absence of financial alternatives.” Read more…)

Paths of the Soul (Buddhism, Tibet. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 90. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “‘Paths of the Soul’ is rare in several respects, not least that it is a depiction of Buddhism in Tibet that has passed muster with Chinese censors. Directed by Zhang Yang, it dramatizes a 1,200-mile pilgrimage by the actual residents of the Tibetan village of Nyima. The movie so upends the traditions of documentary and narrative filmmaking that ‘dramatizes’ may be inaccurate — the filmmakers followed the real pilgrims for a full year, after all. But the movie is so well made and engaging that such distinctions will make little difference to the viewer.” Read more…)

Papirosen (family, history, Argentina, The Holocaust. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “In ‘Papirosen,’ the Argentine filmmaker Gastón Solnicki trains his camera on four generations of his wildly volatile Jewish family, folding 10 years of modern footage into a visual collage that covers more than half a century. But instead of a dignified stroll down genealogy lane, Mr. Solnicki has made a sparking, gossipy soap opera that’s riddled with emotion and stuffed with strong characters.” Read more…)