New releases 7/18/17

Top Hits
Free Fire (action comedy, Brie Larson. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The cinema innovator and iconoclast Jean-Luc Godard never actually said, ‘All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,’ but it has become a well-known adage, anyway — because it’s true. ‘Free Fire,’ directed by Ben Wheatley from a script he wrote with Amy Jump, applies a more-is-more ethos to the formula: The ingredients here include a best actress Academy Award winner, Brie Larson; dozens of firearms; and a slew of male characters of varying levels of smugness and idiocy to help out with the shooting. The film is a formal exercise in spectacle under constraint: An extended standoff in a contained space surprisingly full of hazards.” Read more…)

Kong: Skull Island (action/sci-fi, Tom Hiddleston. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 62. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In ‘Kong: Skull Island,’ the big guy has a new look and a new gal pal, Mason Weaver [Brie Larson], who’s somewhat feistier and certainly more sensibly dressed than her predecessors. She points and she shoots, and not just her camera. ‘Skull Island’ pretty much exhumes the same story conceived for the 1933 classic. This time, the adventurers include a group of government-backed scientists run by Bill Randa [John Goodman], who has his glinting eyes on a mysterious, seemingly unexplored island. Mysteries were made for solving, and this island, Randa reasons, may contain all manner of wonders, or perhaps something beyond human imagining.” Read more…)

The Promise (historical epic, Oscar Isaac. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 49. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Weighed down by the worthiness of its intentions, ‘The Promise’ is a big, barren wartime romance that approaches the Armenian genocide with too much calculation and not nearly enough heat. It can happen all too easily. An otherwise highly competent director [in this case, Terry George] succumbs to the lure of addressing a real-life atrocity [here, the still-contested slaughter of more than a million peaceful Armenians by the Ottoman Empire during World War I]. Somewhere along the way, though, the need to do justice to the slain and call out the perpetrators becomes a pillow that smothers every spark of originality.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Kong: Skull Island
The Promise

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Who’s Minding the Mint (1967, comedy, Jim Hutton. From Bosley Crowther’s 1967 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Who’s Minding the Mint?’ is all nonsense, and most of it fun. Like the other picture, it also happens to be clean. It has to do with a young Bureau of Engraving clerk who accidentally destroys $50,000 and sneaks in the building one night to mint it back with some money minded pals. The first two-thirds of this romp is snugly amusing and perkily turned, as written by R. S. Allen and Harvey Bullock and nimbly directed by Norman Maurer. The performances of an unglittery cast are dandy, from Jim Hutton and Dorothy Provine to old-timer Walter Brennan and back to Milton Berle.” Read more…)

New British
A Room With a View (1986, Merchant Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster novel  Helena Bonham Carter. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 80. From Vincent Canby’s 1986 New york Times review [requires log-in]: “Because common sense triumphs, ”A Room With a View” is not only uncharacteristically benign for Forster, but also blithely, elegantly funny, which is a fit description of the first-rate film adaptation that opens today at the Paris. As they’ve been doing now for over 20 years, Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, who wrote the screenplay for ”A Room With a View”; James Ivory, who directed it, and Ismail Merchant, the producer, have created an exceptionally faithful, ebullient screen equivalent to a literary work that lesser talents would embalm.” Read more… [Of note is what Canby wrote about Daniel Day Lewis, who recently announced his retirement from acting: “Spectacular, too, is a new young actor named Daniel Day Lewis, who plays the insufferable Cecil Vyse with a style and a wit that are all the more remarkable when compared to his very different characterization in ‘My Beautiful Laundrette.'”])

Grantchester: Season 3 (mystery series, Janes Norton)
My Mother & Other Strangers (romance/historical drama mini-series, Hattie Morahan)

New Documentaries
With Great Power (comic book history, Marvel Comics, Stan Lee)
Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch (environment, waste, plastics)

New Releases 11/26/13

Top Hits
Red 2 (action, Bruce Willis. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%, Metacritic: 47. From Nicolas Rapold’s New YorkTimes review: “The gag, or one of three, in Dean Parisot’s action-comedy seque RED 2 is that its killer oldsters are unflappable not because they’re too cool but because they’re seen-it-all semi-retirees. And after surviving the adventures of RED, these comfortably recognizable agents and mercenaries are now doubly experienced and casual. Sociopathic assassins drop in like son of a guns, and fusillades of bullets come and go like passing showers, but Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Helen Mirren will still trade relationship advice and in-jokes like old friends on a package tour.” Read more…)

Jobs (biopic, Ashton Kutcher. Rotten Tomatoes: 26%, Metacritic: 44. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “It would drive Steve Jobs nuts to know that the new movie about his life has all the sex appeal of a PowerPoint presentation. It isn’t only that Microsoft PowerPoint has become synonymous with the dry, dreary, droning of corporate meetings, it’s also that Microsoft was itself a favorite target of Jobs.” Read more…)

Getaway (action, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 3%, Metacritic: 22. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “One can only guess why Ethan Hawke felt compelled to make a high dive from the sublimity of Before Midnight into the twisted rubble of Getaway. What other reason could there be for a star to attach his name to a mindless demolition derby but the payday?” Read more…)

Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus (road movie/comedy, Michael Cera. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The title character of Crystal Fairy, Sebastián Silva’s small, lovely road movie, is the assumed name of a free-spirited latter-day hippie visiting Chile. She attaches herself to another American tourist, Jamie [Michael Cera], after he casually invites her to join him and his friends. Perfectly played by Gaby Hoffmann, Crystal Fairy has all the hallmarks of a professed earth mother holding the keys to truth, peace, love and wisdom. She has her charms, but like many such know-it-alls, she can be overbearing and preachy.” Read more…)

33 Postcards (Australia, drama, Guy Pearce. Rotten Tomatoes: 27%, Metacritic: 33. A New York Times critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “Guy Pearce is an award-winning actor with dozens of film and television roles on his résumé, but in 33 Postcards he is eclipsed by an unknown young actress named Zhu Lin, whose charming performance gives this sweet if not very credible film its heart.” Read more…)

The Canyons (erotic thriller, Lindsay Lohan. Rotten Tomatoes: 22%, Metacritic: 36. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The Canyons — directed by Paul Schrader, written by Bret easton Ellis and starring Lindsay Lohan — is a dispiriting, unpleasurable work punctuated with flashes of vitalizing vulgarity. It isn’t a good movie in terms of the conventional norms (acting for starters), but it also exhibits a crude integrity.” Read more…)

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Coming (biography, music, Jimi Hendrix. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “For some in the dismayingly large club of rock stars who died too young, it’s easy to imagine an alternate future in which fate or bad judgment does not intervene and they live to a ripe old age. John Lennon becomes a patron of the arts and fends off repeated requests that he run for office. Cass Elliot does a stint on The View. But watching American Masters: Jimi Hendrix—Hear My Train a Comin’, it is difficult to picture such an alternative for Hendrix, who died in 1970 after taking too many barbiturates.” Read more…)

The Promise (historical drama, Christian Cooke)

New Blu-Ray
Red 2
Jobs

New Foreign
33 Postcards (Australia, drama, Guy Pearce, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 27%, Metacritic: 33. A New York Times critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “Guy Pearce is an award-winning actor with dozens of film and television roles on his résumé, but in 33 Postcards he is eclipsed by an unknown young actress named Zhu Lin, whose charming performance gives this sweet if not very credible film its heart.” Read more…)

New TV
Breaking Bad: Season 6 (The Final Season. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Metacritic: 99.)

New Docs
Blackfish (nature documentary, killer whales. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Unapologetically designed both to inform and affect, Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s delicately lacerating documentary, Blackfish, uses the tragic tale of a single whale and his human victims as the backbone of a hypercritical investigation into the marine-park giant SeaWorld Entertainment. Denied on-camera interviews with park executives, who have strenuously taken issue with the film’s contentions in a lengthy news release, Ms. Cowperthwaite tells the distressing story of Tilikum, a 12,000-pound bull orca implicated in the deaths of three people. Through the rueful voices of former trainers and whale experts, a narrative driven by disillusion and regret unfolds as the trainers point to a gap between SeaWorld’s public image and behind-the-scenes reality.” Read more…)

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Coming (biography, music, Jimi Hendrix, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “For some in the dismayingly large club of rock stars who died too young, it’s easy to imagine an alternate future in which fate or bad judgment does not intervene and they live to a ripe old age. John Lennon becomes a patron of the arts and fends off repeated requests that he run for office. Cass Elliot does a stint on The View. But watching American Masters: Jimi Hendrix—Hear My Train a Comin’, it is difficult to picture such an alternative for Hendrix, who died in 1970 after taking too many barbiturates.” Read more…)

New Music
Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A-Coming (biography, music, Jimi Hendrix, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “For some in the dismayingly large club of rock stars who died too young, it’s easy to imagine an alternate future in which fate or bad judgment does not intervene and they live to a ripe old age. John Lennon becomes a patron of the arts and fends off repeated requests that he run for office. Cass Elliot does a stint on The View. But watching American Masters: Jimi Hendrix—Hear My Train a Comin’, it is difficult to picture such an alternative for Hendrix, who died in 1970 after taking too many barbiturates.” Read more…)