New releases 5/3/16

Top Hits
Joy_DVDJoy (drama/biopic, Jennifer Lawrence. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “On paper, David O. Russell’s new film, ‘Joy,’ looks perfectly straightforward, even square. It’s a bootstrap-capitalist fable, a tale of adversity overcome and rags exchanged for riches, a case study in success suitable for a self-improvement seminar. But Mr. Russell likes to tell conventional stories in unconventional ways. In the chapter of his career that began with ‘The Fighter’ [2010], he has emerged as something of a genre magician, able to make formulas and clichés disappear behind a smoke screen of artful misdirection. ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ [2012] was an assembly-line romantic comedy tricked out with a wild paint job and a souped-up, custom-built engine. ‘American Hustle’ [2013] was a caper movie blown up into a pop opera. ‘The Fighter’ itself — the movie ‘Joy’ most resembles — was a boxing picture with an irregular heartbeat and a wildly talented cast.” Read more…)

Remember (thriller, Christopher Plummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 52. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Christopher Plummer puts on a master class in acting, and his director, Atom Egoyan, delivers one in audience manipulation in ‘Remember,’ a psychological thriller featuring that most blood-boiling of plot devices: a Nazi who escaped justice.” Read more…)

Glassland (drama, Toni Collette. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 66. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “In ‘Glassland,’ Toni Collette’s portrayal of an embittered Irish woman drinking herself to death in her shabby home on the outskirts of Dublin, is one of the most unsparing screen depictions of extreme alcoholism that I can remember. For much of its running time, the movie gazes unblinkingly into an abyss of poverty and hopelessness. And the environment created by the writer and director Gerard Barrett and the cinematographer Piers McGrail looks as drab and forbidding as any ’60s British kitchen-sink drama.” Read more…)

The 5th Wave (sci-fi/action, Chloe Grace Moretz. Rotten Tomatoes: 17%. Metacritic: 33. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “Adapted from Rick Yancey’s young adult novel, the glossy if muddled ‘The 5th Wave’ blends the alien overlord airships of “Independence Day,” the natural disaster effects of ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and the auto-wreck-strewn highways of ‘Zombieland’ with a dusting of ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers.'” Read more…)

A Royal Night Out (historical drama/romance, Emily Watson. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 58. From Stephen Holden’s new York Times review: “The aggressively charming ‘A Royal Night Out,’ is a grown-up fairy tale for audiences whose hearts go pitter-pat at the mere mention of anything to do with the British royal family. Sorry to be a spoilsport, reader, but my heart sinks at the sight of people bowing and scraping before aristocrats with titles they haven’t earned. It all seems so silly. This what-if fantasy, set on V.E. Day, May 8, 1945, follows the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, then 19 and 14, through an imaginary night of adventure when they are allowed out of Buckingham Palace to celebrate the official end of the war in Europe.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign
Arabian_Nights_DVDArabian Nights Vols. 1-3 (Portugal, drama/documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The stories that make up ‘Arabian Nights,’ the anxious, ambitious new film by the Portuguese director Miguel Gomes, are nestled inside two distinct frames. One is what the title would lead you to expect: Scheherazade, daughter of the grand vizier of Baghdad, invents tales to prevent her fearsome new husband, the sultan, from taking her life. Each vignette in this three-part movie belongs to one of Scheherazade’s 1,001 nights. But Mr. Gomes isn’t adapting a famous work of literature. He’s using it as a conceit, a plaything and a structural principle. A lavishly costumed anthology of exotic fables may be the movie he dreams of making, but reality keeps distracting him. Or maybe it’s the other way around: His ambition to make a rigorous documentary about the state of the Portuguese working class is continually interrupted by dreams of far-off lands and naked women.” Read more…)

The Club (Chile, drama, Alfredo Castro. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 73. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Tom McCarthy’s ‘Spotlight,’ deservedly nominated for a bunch of Oscars, examines evil from the outside, shining a beam of journalistic illumination at the abuse and corruption that festered within the Roman Catholic hierarchy for decades. ‘The Club,’ the latest feature from the Chilean writer-director Pablo Larraín, looks at the same issue from the inside out, bringing the viewer into an uncomfortable state of intimacy with the perpetrators of hideous crimes.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Song of Russia (1944, pre-Cold War drama/romance, Robert Taylor. From Bosley Crowther’s 1944 New York Times review [log-in required]: “Prepare yourself for a surprise, folks—an exciting surprise, in fact—in the shape of ‘Song of Russia,’ which came to the Capitol yesterday. To judge by advance indications, which advertised the film as “the adventures of a Yank in Moscow,” with Robert Taylor in that inauspicious role, one might be led to imagine something just a shade that side of taste and tact. But it isn’t. It is really a honey of a topical musical film, full of rare good humor, rich vitality and a proper respect for the Russians’ fight in this war. Indeed, it comes very close to being the best film on Russia yet made in the popular Hollywood idiom. And it is sure to have wide appeal.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Easy_RiderEasy Rider (1969, counterculture classic, Criterion edition, Peter Fonda. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 86. From Vincent Canby’s 1969 New York Times review [log-in required]: “‘Easy Rider,’ which opened yesterday at the Beekman, is a motorcycle drama with decidedly superior airs about it. How else are we to approach a movie that advertises itself: ‘A man went looking for America. And couldn’t find it anywhere’? Right away you know that something superior is up, that somebody is making a statement, and you can bet your boots (cowboy, black leather) that it’s going to put down the whole rotten scene. What scene? Whose? Why? Man, I can’t tell you if you don’t know. What I mean to say is, if you don’t groove, you don’t groove. You might as well split.” It’s now seen as a counterculture classic but Canby didn’t dig it when it came out. Read more…)

New British
A Royal Night Out (historical drama/romance, Emily Watson. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 58.)

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