New Releases 1/5/16

Top Hits
The Walk (true life drama, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There is always something new under the sun. To stop believing that — to mean it when we say we’ve seen everything — would be to give up on art and surrender to cynicism. ‘The Walk,’ Robert Zemeckis’s painstaking and dazzling cinematic re-creation of Mr. Petit’s feat, stands in passionate opposition to that kind of thinking. There will always be fresh, unimagined wonders in store. And fresh horrors, too, as the sight of the twin towers can’t help reminding us.” Read more…)

The Visit (M. Night Shyamalan horror/thriller, Olivia DeJonge. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 55. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The director M. Night Shyamalan has a fine eye and a nice, natural way with actors, and he has a talent for gently rap-rap-rapping on your nerves. At his best, he skillfully taps the kinds of primitive fears that fuel scary campfire stories and horror flicks; at his worst, he tries too hard to be an auteur instead of just good, letting his overwrought stories and self-consciousness get in the way of his technique. After straining at originality for too long, he has gone back to basics in ‘The Visit,’ with a stripped-down story and scale, a largely unknown [excellent] cast and one of those classically tinged tales of child peril that have reliably spooked audiences for generations.” Read more…)

Experimenter: The Stanley Milgram Story (Yale-situated true-life drama, Peter Sarsgaard. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 81. A new York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘Experimenter,’ an aesthetically and intellectually playful portrait of the social psychologist Stanley Milgram, the director, Michael Almereyda, turns a biopic into a mind game. It’s an appropriate take on a figure who’s best remembered for his experiments in which subjects delivered punishing electric shocks on command. Working in the shadow of the Holocaust, and shortly after the capture of the SS official Adolf Eichmann, Milgram [1933-1984] was interested in questions of authority, conformity and conscience. ‘Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders,’ Milgram asked. ‘Could we call them all accomplices?'” Read more…)

SicarioSicario (thriller, Benicio del Toro. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 81. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Villeneuve, aided by Taylor Sheridan’s lean script, Roger Deakins’s parched cinematography and Johann Johannsson’s slow-moving heart attack of a score, respects the imperatives of genre while trying to avoid the usual clichés. It’s not easy, and he doesn’t entirely succeed. But he’s also trying to scramble some of the usual codes, and to paint a morally complicated picture instead of restaging a morality play.” Read more…)

Sleeping with Other People (romantic comedy, Jason Sudeikis. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Gee, it’s tough for straight women and men to lock lips and fates together on screen. One obvious problem is that virginity, marriage and children are no longer necessarily compulsory, which has complicated the happily-ever-after thing. The writer and director Leslye Headland gets this, but she apparently enjoys a challenge, so she has worked hard to complicate her romantic comedy ‘Sleeping With Other People,’ about a man and a woman who do everything to stay apart even though they and everyone else know they were, sort of, made for each other.” Read more…)

Infinitely Polar Bear (romance/drama, Mark Ruffalo. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In movies, true-life family stories tend to come so drenched in despair or smothered in treacle that it’s a surprise anyone gets out intact. In her sweet, somewhat nutty feature debut, ‘Infinitely Polar Bear,’ the writer-director Maya Forbes looks back on her 1970s childhood in a fictional re-creation that, as it brightly skips along, can make you feel like Scrooge for thinking it’s a bit of a snow job. That’s especially the case because the father here, Cam Stuart [the infinitely warm Mark Ruffalo], is an endearingly down-and-out eccentric with manic depression.” Read more…)

Results (romantic comedy, Guy Pearce. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Results’ is something of a paradox: a straightforward movie that reveals itself by stealth and indirection. Tracing the awkward interactions of three Austin, Tex., residents — a personal trainer, her boss and an out-of-shape client — the film seems to wander amiably, almost aimlessly through daily routines and low-key surprises. Only toward the end do you realize that the characters have been arranged into a pleasing and familiar romantic-comedy triangle and that you’ve been watching a beautifully played game of underhand slow-pitch screwball. The film’s sweet, soft finish is both refreshing and startling.” Read more…)

The Green Inferno (Eli Roth-directed horror, Lorenza Izzo. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 38. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “It’s a homage written in blood. It’s an excursion into the forbidden land of unpalatable ideas, with the severed limbs and disemboweled bodies of idealistic young college students serving as signposts. It is, in short, an Eli Roth movie, and only fans of the grisly and the grotesque should go to it. It’s called ‘The Green Inferno,’ but it quickly turns blood red as a group of students meet a tribe of cannibals in the Peruvian Amazon.” Read more…)

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter (indie drama, Rinko Kikuchi, only available on Blu-Ray. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “The real-life story that inspired ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’ was too good to be completely true, but that doesn’t diminish the film, a delicate, haunting study of a woman who has in several senses lost her way. Rinko Kikuchi, nominated for a supporting-actress Oscar for ‘Babel,’ does lovely work as the title character, a Japanese woman who gets the disastrously incorrect idea that the Coen brothers’ movie ‘Fargo’ depicts a true story. It’s an easy mistake to make for those not acquainted with the Coens’ wit; after all, that movie starts out with the words ‘This is a true story.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter
The Visit
The Walk
The Walk 3D

New British
Luther: Season 4 (crime series, Idris Elba. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 68.)
Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime (new BBC adaptations of 2 Christie novels, David Walliams)
The Last Kingdom (Middle Ages England series, Alexander Dreymon. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 78.)
Vera (police procedural series, Brenda Blethyn)

New TV
True Detective: Season 2 (HBO drama series, Colin Farrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 61.)

New Documentaries
A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story (inspiration, bullying. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 70. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “The makers of ‘A Brave Heart: The Lizzie Velasquez Story’ leave a few too many questions unanswered, but their subject’s immense optimism steamrolls through the documentary’s shortcomings. Indeed, there seems to be little this woman can’t vanquish.” Read more…)

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