New releases 12/27/16

Top Hits
snowdenSnowden (contemporary fact-based drama, Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.  Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden,’ a quiet, crisply drawn portrait of the world’s most celebrated whistle-blower, belongs to a curious subgenre of movies about very recent historical events. Reversing the usual pattern, it could be described as a fictional ‘making of’ feature about ‘Citizenfour,’ Laura Poitras’s Oscar-winning documentary on the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. That film seems to me more likely to last — it is deeper journalism and more haunting cinema — but Mr. Stone has made an honorable and absorbing contribution to the imaginative record of our confusing times. He tells a story torn from slightly faded headlines, filling in some details you may have forgotten, and discreetly embellishing the record in the service of drama and suspense.” Read more…)

Dog Eat Dog (crime drama, Willem Dafoe.  Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 53. From Glenn Kenny’s new York Times revew: “Despite its slim running time — barely over an hour and a half — ‘Dog Eat Dog’ somehow feels like six different movies. The first one, which depicts an especially appalling double murder through the speedy, sickly colorful perspective of an extended drug binge, is probably the least effective of the batch. But it lets you know that the filmmakers are not coming at you from a benevolent place, and that impression never lets up.” Read more…)

The Dressmaker (revenge drama/comedy, Kate Winslet.  Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 57. From A.O. scott’s New York Times review: “It’s the early 1950s, and Tilly Dunnage [(Kate) Winslet] has returned to her dusty Australian hometown in search of vengeance. She moves in with her dotty mother, Molly [(Judy) Davis], and promptly sets tongues wagging and bad memories stirring. As a child [then known as Myrtle], Tilly was bullied by a rich kid and blamed for his death. That supposed crime will be revisited, and the closets of this wicked little hamlet will disgorge their skeletons.” Read more…)

Coming Through the Rye (coming-of-age story, Alex Wolff.  Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 64. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review:”With the glossy ‘Coming Through the Rye,’ the director James Sadwith pays heartfelt tribute to both J.D. Salinger, the reclusive writer of ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ who died in 2010, and the book itself. He also affectionately fictionalizes his own past [he wrote the script], drawing from his actual meeting in adolescence with Mr. Salinger.” Read more…)

In a Valley of Violence (western, Ethan Hawke.  Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’  New York Times review: “Ignore the clichés and underdeveloped characters, though, and there are plenty of substitute pleasures. Jeff Grace’s wonderfully expressive musical score adds the urgency the plot lacks, and John Travolta, playing a hard-nosed marshal who intuits Paul’s traumatic past, has rarely been this enjoyably commanding. And if the sniping sisters who run the hotel [Taissa Farmiga and Karen Gillan] exude a modernity that can detach them from the story, they also bring a tumbling, clumsy vitality. The movie would be grimmer — and quieter — without them.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Snowden

New Foreign
man_called_oveA Man Called Ove (Sweden, comedy/drama, Rolf Lassgård. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 69. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “Sweden’s official entry for a best foreign-language film at the Academy Awards proves that Swedish pictures can be just as sentimental and conventionally heartwarming as Hollywood ones. Granted, few Hollywood films would deign to tell the story of a protagonist’s life through a series of flashbacks brought on by unsuccessful suicide attempts. But still.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Phynx (1970, rock ‘n’ roll spy spoof, Ray Chippeway and lots of old-time Hollywood stars cameos)

New British
Undercover (thriller mini-series, Sophie Okonedo.  Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 58.)
Jericho of Scotland Yard (detective series, Robert Lindsay)