New releases 5/20/14

Top Hits
The Monuments Men (war drama, George Clooney. Rotten Tomatoes: 32%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Written by Mr. Clooney and his producing partner, Grant Heslov, “The Monuments Men” slices off a sliver of a great World War II story and turns it into a lightweight entertainment that doesn’t ask you to think too hard. The story’s real-life heroes were a group of curators, restorers, archivists and the like who served in the Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives Section, an Allied effort to protect Europe’s cultural heritage.” Read more…)

3 Days to Kill (crime action, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 40. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “By any reasonable standard, 3 Days to Kill is a terrible movie: incoherent, crudely brutal, dumbly retrograde in its geo- and gender politics. But it is also, as much because of as in spite of these failings, kind of fun. Mr. Costner does nothing he hasn’t done before: He slips into the gruff cynic-with-a-heart-of-gold persona that has been his default setting at least since Bull Durham and figures that will be enough. It almost is.” Read more…)

About Last Night (romance, Kevin Hart. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It is now 40 years since the first performances of David Mamet’s ‘Sexual Perversity in Chicago’ and almost 30 since the play was made into a movie, starring Rob Lowe and Demi Moore and directed by Edward Zwick, called About Last Night… Some things have changed [Mr. Mamet has evolved into a dyspeptic right-winger] and some have not [Mr. Lowe and Ms. Moore are still very good looking], but all in all, the thing holds up pretty well. Mr. Mamet’s title was always a bit of a misnomer — his jagged play is more interested in romantic confusion and emotional complication than in freaky bedroom matters — but his map of the crooked paths to heterosexual bliss remains useful and adaptable, even when softened and tidied up by Hollywood. The proof is in the new About Last Night, a sweet, silly, semi-raunchy Valentine’s Day confection directed by Steve Pink [Hot Tub Time Machine].” Read  more…)

Escape from Tomorrow (fantasy/horror, Roy Abramsohn. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Jim [Roy Abramsohn] is a doughy dad on a Disney vacation with a pair of cute towheaded kids and a nagging wife [Elena Schuber]. Shortly after Jim receives an unwelcome call from his boss — firing him without warning or explanation — things turn weird. The theme park that promises magic for the masses takes on a decidedly sinister cast. Is it all in Jim’s head, or does evil stalk the happiest place on earth? It’s potentially an interesting question, and Escape from Tomorrow, directed by Randy Moore, conjures, at least for a while, a convincing mood of disorientation and dread. Shooting surreptitiously in actual Disney theme parks and resorts, Mr. Moore uses off-kilter camera angles and spooky black-and-white cinematography to draw out the creepiness lurking behind the family-friendly fun.” Read more…)

Pompeii (period action, Kit Harrington. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 39. From Miriam Bale’s New York Times review: “In Paul W. S. Anderson’s last three movies, a swashbuckler and two films based on the ‘Resident Evil’ video game, he trained his camera on his wife, Milla Jovovich, in the obsessive way Josef von Sternberg once filmed Marlene Dietrich. In Pompeii, Mr. Anderson’s latest 3-D extravaganza, and his first film without Ms. Jovovich since 2008, he seems to be without visual focus.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Monuments Men
3 Days to Kill

New Foreign
Like Someone In Love (France/Japan, drama, Rin Takanashi. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “According to Martin Scorsese, ‘cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame, and what’s out.’ The Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami applies this axiom with particular rigor. In the first scenes of Mr. Kiarostami’s latest feature, Like Someone in Love, we are very much aware of what is not in the frame. We are in a Tokyo bar, listening to a series of conversations that involve a woman we cannot see. In due time, we will learn more about her — she is Akiko [Rin Takanashi], a university student working as a call girl — but that initial disorientation, the sense of being in Akiko’s presence without knowing her, sets the tone for this elusive, formally meticulous and surprisingly powerful movie.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Moneychangers (1976, drama, Kirk Douglas)

New British
Call the Midwife: Season 3 (drama series, Jessica Raine. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 80.)
In the Flesh: Season 1 (zombie series, Luke Newberry. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76.)

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