New releases 4/25/17

Top Hits
La La Land (Oscar-nominated musical, Emma Stone. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 93. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Director Damien] Chazelle, whose previous features [‘Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench’ and ‘Whiplash’] were full of music and brash, youthful energy, is a natural showman and a canny craftsman. He wears his influences on his sleeve, but he wears them lightly. For all its echoes and allusions, ‘La La Land’ is too lively and too earnest for mere pastiche. It doesn’t so much look back longingly at past masters like Vincente Minnelli, Nicholas Ray, Stanley Donen and Jacques Demy [to name a few] as tap into their mojo, insisting on their modernity and its own classicism in the same gesture.” Read more…)

The Girl With All the Gifts (horror/thriller, Gemma Arterton. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 67. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Girl With All the Gifts,’ directed by Colm McCarthy, is a moderately engrossing, reliably gory British variation on the tried-and-true zombie-apocalypse theme with a first-rate cast. The formula, worked almost to death — or is it undeath? — on ‘The Walking Dead’ and elsewhere, has been tweaked a bit. The shambling, vacant-eyed cannibals are called “hungries,” and their infection seems to be fungal rather than viral. Also, some are cute, normal-seeming children, including the title character, a young girl named Melanie [Sennia Nanua].” Read more…)

The Daughter (drama, Geoffrey Rush. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 62. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Constructed gingerly around a soon-to-explode family secret, ‘The Daughter’ — a soapy take on Henrik Ibsen’s ‘The Wild Duck’ — creates a superficial tension by situating its escalating emotions within icily contained visuals. For a while, this slow-burn approach by the writer and director, Simon Stone, works: Stabilized by mostly unimpeachable performances, the movie hugs the rails of credibility more tightly than its melodramatic material deserves.” Read more…)

Underworld: Blood Wars (action, Kate Beckinsdale. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 23. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The ‘Underworld’ franchise — in which vampires and werewolves, called Lycans, use guns and swords to settle a centuries-old feud — showed signs of growing more playful with its fourth installment, ‘Underworld: Awakening’ [2012], which moved away from the series’s labored mythology and threw in Stephen Rea as a mad scientist. Any hope of a similarly limber fifth outing dies immediately in ‘Underworld: Blood Wars.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
La La Land

New Foreign
Anatahan (Japan/USA, 1953, World War II-era drama, Akemi Negishi Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From an unsigned 1977 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The ‘reconstructed’ version of Josef von Sternberg’s ‘The Saga of Anatahan,’ which opened yesterday at the Thalia Theater, is virtually a one-film retrospective of that great, idiosyncratic, often off-putting director’s work. The film, in a fine new print, has been put together from footage that was originally released here in 1954—and reviewed in The New York Times on May 18, 1954, as ‘Ana-Ta-Han’—with supplemental nude footage that von Sternberg cut into the first version in 1958.” Read more…)

Ophelia (France, 1962, Shakespeare-inspired drama, Alida Valli. From Nora Sayre’s 1974 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “When it takes 12 years for a renowned director’s movie to reach our screens, the product is apt to be a jewel or a dog. Claude Chabrol’s Ophelia,’ made in 1962, has just emerged from the kennel, and although the picture has a bit of historical interest, much of it strays far from the film maker’s own talents.” Read more…)

New British
The Pied Piper (1972, musical/costume/legend, Donald Pleasance. From Vincent Cany’s 1972 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “You wouldn’t know by reading the ads but ‘The Pied Piper,’ which opened at a number of theaters here yesterday with a totally befuddled science-fiction film called ‘Z.P.G.,’ is a new work by Jacques Demy, the very talented, idiosyncratic French director who came out of the Nouvelle Vague with ‘Lola’ and then went on to develop what amounted to a new kind of contemporary fairy tale with ‘The Umbrella of Cherbourg’ and ‘The Young Girls of Rochefort.'” Read more…)

The Witness for the Prosecution (Agatha Christie period whodunit, Toby Jones Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 79.)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Charlie, The Lonesome Cougar (1967, live action Disney, Ron Brown)

New Documentaries
Disturbing the Peace (conflict resolution, Palestinian-Israeli relations, nonviolence Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Andy Webster’s Times review: “How much bloodshed can a divided populace stand? In Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young’s documentary, ‘Disturbing the Peace,’ we meet Combatants for Peace, an advocacy-activist group comprising Israelis and Palestinians who have reached their limit and renounced violence. Most are former military or paramilitary personnel seeking a two-state solution to Israel’s agonized convulsions. Their stories are compelling — and persuasive.” Read more…)

New Childrens’ DVDs
Charlie, The Lonesome Cougar (1967, live action Disney, Ron Brown)