New Releases 3/1/16

Top Hits
CreedCreed (boxing drama/Rocky, Michael B. Jordan. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “At a recent screening of ‘Creed,’ as the familiar fanfare of Bill Conti’s beloved ‘Rocky’ score signaled the start of the final round of the big fight, the audience burst into spontaneous applause. This was no sneak-preview crowd, primed with free admission and popcorn, but a room full of critics and journalists armored in professional skepticism. A cynic might say that the cheering was a Pavlovian reflex set off by a piece of commercial entertainment in the hands of a skilled, manipulative director. This cynic, however, was too busy choking up and clapping to form the thought.” Read more…)

The Danish Girl (drama/gender, Eddie Redmayne. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Danish Girl,’ Tom Hooper’s new film, is a story of individual struggle that is also a portrait of a marriage. In this respect and others it resembles ‘The King’s Speech,’ Mr. Hooper’s earlier historical drama, a multiple Oscar winner a few years ago. In that case, the union of George VI and Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was the foundation on which the tale of George’s elocutionary striving was built. Here, the marriage is bohemian rather than aristocratic, but the stakes, while personal, are every bit as profound and consequential as the matters of state that drove the monarch to the microphone.” Read more…)

Legend (gangster drama, Tom Hardy. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 55. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “and Tom Hardy are the reasons to see ‘Legend,’ a gangster flick in which he does double duty as Ronnie and Reggie Kray, the British gangster twins who had a moment in the 1960s. Outside Britain, the Krays are probably now known less for their actual exploits than for their representations, either as vaguely obscured supporting attractions [in Mike Hodges’s dazzling 1971 genre-defining ‘Get Carter,’ starring Michael Caine] or as the main event [notably, the 1990 biopic ‘The Krays,’ with Gary and Martin Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame]. The Krays weren’t especially memorable as criminals, but they knew how to strut and swing through 1960s London. In ‘Legend,’ that milieu, with its flirty skirts and tight suits, swoony rides and tuneful hits, appears to have been the main impetus driving the writer and director, Brian Helgeland.” Read more…)

RoomRoom (drama, Brie Larson. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 86. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Room’ has been adapted from Emma Donoghue’s critically lauded captivity novel, which is told through one of those child voices — sensitive, never savage or sloppy — written for adult readers. Ms. Donoghue also wrote the movie, which commences with Jack opening his eyes, and lifts off with his fifth birthday, a milestone that has profoundly different significance for him and for Ma. As that day dawns, you may not initially grasp just how cramped their living quarters are. The director Lenny Abrahamson and his crew have created a space that opens and close like an accordion, one that expands into a virtual suite depending on the camera angles and lenses, the editing and especially the close-ups that obscure its dimensions until a jolting wide shot cuts it back down to size.” Read more…)

The Night Before (comedy, Seth Rogen. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Night Before’ combines two weary genres — the sentimental Christmas movie and the naughty-boy comedy — as if knocking their heads together might wake them both up. You may ask: Do we need an R-rated holiday caper that wraps its gooey, good-cheer core in layers of profanity, drug use and nervous sexual humor? Maybe we do, and, in any case, it was inevitable. So like the office party or the homemade cookies from your neighbors, this movie is one of those seasonal things you either endure or enjoy. And honestly, at this time of year, what’s the difference?” Read more…)

Miss You Already (comedy/drama, Toni Collette. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 59. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “As Jess [Drew Barrymore] is going into labor, she flashes back through her long friendship with Milly [Toni Collette], who should be with her but isn’t. ‘Miss You Already’ will eventually account for Milly’s absence, and in the course of doing so it will illuminate the intimate, difficult bond between the two women, who met as 10-year-old schoolgirls and have been nearly inseparable ever since.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign
Jafar_Panahis_TaxiJafar Panahi’s Taxi (Iran, comedy/drama/documentary, Jafar Panahi. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Even the simplest, most unmediated records of human behavior are shaped, edited and manipulated. Everyone is a filmmaker. ‘Taxi,’ though, happens to be the work of a great one, one of the most humane and imaginative practitioners of the art currently working. ‘The Circle’ was an unsparing look at the condition of women under the thumb of traditional patriarchy and religious dictatorship. ‘Crimson Gold’ cast a harsh light on Iran’s economic inequalities and on its neglect of its military veterans. These films are powerful pieces of social criticism, but it is their combination of structural elegance with tough naturalism that places them among the essential movies of our time. The same can be said about ‘Taxi,’ which offers, in its unassuming way, one of the most captivating cinematic experiences of this year.” Read more…)

New British
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (fantasy mini-series, Eddie Marsan)

New Television
The Americans: Season 3 (espionage drama, Keri Russell. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 92.)

 New Classics (pre-1960)
Foreign_AffairA Foreign Affair (1948, Billy Wilder-directed comedy/drama, Marlene Dietrich. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “Maybe you think there’s nothing funny about the current situation of American troops in the ticklish area of Berlin. And it’s serious enough, heaven knows, what with the Russians pushing and shoving and the natives putting on their own type squeeze. But, at least, Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder have been happily disinclined to wax morose about the problems presented by occupation—and by ‘fraternization,’ specifically. Rather these two bright film-makers have been wryly disposed to smile upon the conflicts in self and national interests which proximities inevitably provoke. And in their most recent picture, a comedy romance, called ‘A Foreign Affair,’ they have turned out a dandy entertainment which has some shrewd and realistic things to say.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Rosary Murders (1987, thriller, Donald Sutherland. From Janet Maslin’s 1987 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A large segment of Detroit’s Roman Catholic clergy has been attacked and murdered by a crazed killer, yet there’s only one sneaker-wearing priest on the trail. That is the premise of ‘The Rosary Murders,’ a well-meaning but plodding thriller with a screenplay co-written by Elmore Leonard, who’s ordinarily so much faster on his feet. The story, based on a novel by William X. Kienzle, gives the impression of having been a lot more clever on the page. In fact the denouement, when at long last it arrives, reveals the killer to have staged quite an elaborate scheme, and its complexity comes as a surprise. Neither he nor anyone else in the film seems capable of that much ingenuity.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Shes_Beautiful_AngryShe’s Beautiful When She’s Angry (American history, women’s liberation. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. From Rachel’s Saltz’s New York Times review: “‘We felt like we were changing the world,” says one of the women interviewed in Mary Dore’s documentary ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry,’ about the early years of the women’s liberation movement. And as Ms. Dore’s movie reminds us, feminists didn’t just feel as if they were changing the world — they changed it.” Read more…)

Sunshine Superman (extreme sports, BASE jumping, Carl Boenish. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 70. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Glorious daredevilry is wrapped in a slowly evolving ache in ‘Sunshine Superman,’ a bittersweet documentary about Carl Boenish, who looked at very tall things and saw an opportunity to leap. Boenish was largely responsible for creating the sport [or reckless activity, or excuse for criminal trespassing, depending on your point of view] of BASE jumping. The name is an acronym for building, antenna, span, earth — the things that its practitioners jump from with parachutes.” Read more…)

In Defense of Food (health, food, Michael Pollan)

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