New releases 7/29/14

Top Hits

Noah (Biblical action, Russell Crowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 68. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Many versions of the tale — including that Sunday-school and summer camp song that has been stuck in my head for decades — emphasize the happy outcome: the rainbow, the dove, the cute paired-off beasts, the repopulation of the flood-cleansed earth. But Darren Aronofsky, in his ambitious fusion of Old Testament awe with modern blockbuster spectacle, dwells on the dark and troubling implications of Noah’s experience. Noah, Mr. Aronofsky’s earnest, uneven, intermittently powerful film, is both a psychological case study and a parable of hubris and humility. At its best, it shares some its namesake’s ferocious conviction, and not a little of his madness.” Read more…)

Lullaby (drama, Garrett Hedlund. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 35. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Am I a hardhearted meanie because I watched Lullaby, a solemn, triple-hankie sobfest about assisted suicide, in a state of dry-eyed impatience? Maybe so. But “Lullaby,” the directorial debut of Andrew Levitas, a jack of all artistic trades, is the kind of manipulative, cliché-infested hokum that alienates moviegoers by its insistence on hogging all the tears.” Read more…)

Cold Turkey (drama, Peter Bogdanovich. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. Metacritic: 42. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The film, written and directed by Will Slocombe, looks in on the Thanksgiving of a family presided over by Poppy [Peter Bogdanovich], who spends most of the movie listening to his grown children asking him for money. This particular Thanksgiving is destined for disruption because his daughter Nina [Alicia Witt] has shown up for the first time in years. Another daughter, Lindsay [Sonya Walger], is also on hand, as is their half-brother, Jacob [Ashton Holmes], and Poppy’s second wife [Cheryl Hines]. The self-absorbed offspring are oblivious to the possibility that schlumpy old Poppy might have problems of his own.” Read more…)

It Felt Like Love (indie drama, NY Times Critic’s Pick, Gina Piersanti. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “A mood poem to summer loving and sexual awakening, It Felt Like Love powerfully evokes a time when flesh is paramount, and peer behavior is the standard by which we judge our own. That’s certainly true for Lila [Gina Piersanti], a coltish 14-year-old unaware of her beauty but intensely conscious of her body. Hanging out at the beach or at parties in her working-class Brooklyn neighborhood, she silently notes the casual intimacies of her slightly older friend [Giovanna Salimeni] and her boyfriend, as they un-self-consciously fondle and flirt. Uncertainly mimicking their sexual assurance, and with no mother to guide her, Lila randomly fixes on Sammy [Ronen Rubinstein], a weed-smoking, pornography-watching bad boy whose contempt for women is as potent as his pheromones.” read more…)

The Other Woman (comedy, Cameron Diaz. Rotten Tomatoes: 23%. Metacritic: 39. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “It takes a lot of heavy weather to snuff out the spark of Cameron Diaz who, at 41, still has the twinkle and bounce of an impish high school cheerleader. With her cornflower-blue eyes and mischievous feline grin, she remains every guy’s ultimate gal pal. One of her gifts as an comic actor is a light touch. But in The Other Woman, Ms. Diaz has her hands full. This female revenge comedy is so dumb, lazy, clumsily assembled and unoriginal, it could crush any actor forced to execute its leaden slapstick gags and mouth its crude, humorless dialogue [by the first-time screenwriter Melissa K. Stack].” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray

New Foreign
The French Minister (France, comedy, Thierry Lhermitte. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 65. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Whoosh. When the title character slams a door in Bertrand Tavernier’s dry, sly comedy The French Minister, the walls shudder, and papers and people go flying. A man on the furious move, Alexandre Taillard de Worms isn’t only the French minister of foreign affairs, with a name that’s a meaningful mouthful, but he’s also a force of nature or maybe of bureaucracy. Sleek, coifed and buffed, with tailored suits and brilliantly shined shoes, he looks like one of the more sober masters of the universe, even if his violent gestures and the wreckage he leaves in his wake make him a closer kin to that old cartoon menace, the Tasmanian Devil, than to one of the boldface names running La France.” Read more…)

The Amazing Catfish (Mexico, comedy/drama, Lisa Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 69. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The Mexican director Claudia Sainte-Luce orchestrates the beginning of The Amazing Catfish to show her sluggish main character — a young supermarket clerk, also named Claudia — finally waking up, in a manner of speaking. First she literally awakens, in an ineffably eerie, dimly lighted scene. But it’s during a sudden hospital visit, in a room with an older woman named Martha [Lisa Owen], that she feels the unfamiliar tug of family.” Read more…)

On My Way (France, comedy/drama, Catherine Deneuve. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The word that best describes Catherine Deneuve in Emmanuelle Bercot’s likable French road movie, On My Way, is unflappable. Her character, Bettie, who runs a failing bistro in Brittany, is a former regional beauty queen in her 60s who lives with her controlling mother, Annie (Claude Gensac).” Read more…)

Stalingrad (Russia, war drama, Mariya Smolnikova. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 49. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The credits of Stalingrad, a Russian-made 3-D film set during a pivotal battle in World War II, attribute the story to selected chapters from the panoramic novel Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman. It’s not the source you might expect for a war movie that uses slow-motion as liberally as a Michael Bay film and that heaves its scream-filled skirmishes onto the arena-size canvas of an Imax screen.” Read more…)

New British
Secret State (political thriller, Gabriel Byrne)
Midsomer Murders Set 24 (mystery series, Neil Dudgeon)
The Escape Artist (courtroom drama, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 71.)
Orphan Black: Season 2 (action/sci-fi series, Tatiana Maslany. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 79.)

New Documentaries
Finding Vivian Mayer (photography, biography, Vivian Mayer. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “An exciting electric current of discovery runs through Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary about a street photographer who never exhibited her work. She scarcely shared it even with those who knew her. Then again, many of her acquaintances when she was taking some of her remarkable images, particularly in and around Chicago in the 1950s and ’60s, were the children she cared for while working as a nanny. Later in her life, some of those children took care of her in turn, first by moving her into an apartment and then the nursing home where she died in 2009. What rotten timing: She was on the verge of being discovered, first as a curiosity and then as a social-media sensation and a mystery.” Read more…)

Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story (art, politics, biography, Tomi Ungerer. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Andy Webster’s Times review: “Brad Bernstein’s captivating documentary Far Out Isn’t Far Out Enough is a portrait of an illustrator, Tomi Ungerer; a time, largely the 1950s and ’60s; a place, New York City [mostly]; and an industry, children’s book publishing. It is also a record of a man’s tormented youth, his broad artistic impulses and the price he paid for following them.” Read more…)

Paul Bowles: The Cage Door Is Always Open (literature, history, biography, culture, Paul Bowles)

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