New Releases 9/1/15

Top Hits
Mad_Max_Fury_RoadMad Max: Fury Road (action/sci-fi, Tom Hardy. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Viewers raised on the more baroque, digitally enabled forms of blockbuster spectacle are likely to admire the relative simplicity of “Fury Road,” while aficionados of the traditional slam-bang methods will revel in its coherence. Even in the most chaotic fights and collisions, everything makes sense. This is not a matter of realism — come on, now — but of imaginative discipline. And Mr. Miller demonstrates that great action filmmaking is not only a matter of physics but of ethics as well. There is cause and effect; there are choices and consequences. There is also enormous pleasure in watching those consequences play out, and in encountering surprises along the way. Not twists — the plot moves from Point A to Point B and back again, ending up pretty much where you knew it would — but kinks and swerves, tricks of perspective and playful reversals of expectation.” Read more…)

I’ll See You In My Dreams (romance, Blythe Danner. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “To the lengthening list of well-mannered films aimed at moviegoers who have reached an age when, to quote Shakespeare, ‘the heyday in the blood is tame,’ add ‘I’ll See You in My Dreams,’ a modest, quietly touching portrait of an older woman radiantly embodied by Blythe Danner. Her character, Carol, widowed for two decades, is a nice, sensible woman who lives alone in a comfortable Southern California house with her ailing dog, Hazel. When, near the beginning of the movie, she has to have the animal put down, she is briefly grief-stricken.” Read more…)

Bessie (music bio, Queen Latifah. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 75. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘Bessie’ is about a blues singer, but what the movie could really use is more soul. The film, which has its premiere Saturday night on HBO, stars Queen Latifah as Bessie smith, a woman who is said to have lived quite a colorful, provocative life. “Bessie” shows us an assortment of moments from that life but doesn’t really make us feel it, despite Queen Latifah’s best efforts. Blame a choppy presentation that checks off points in the Bessie Smith timeline but doesn’t probe them or knit them together.” Read more…)

Good_KillGood Kill (war/drama, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “[Actor Ethan] Hawke’s anguished performance gives ‘Good Kill’ a hot emotional center. Tom is painfully aware that innocents will die from missiles dispatched from a great distance. In battle, of course, there is always the likelihood of collateral damage, but there’s a difference between pulling a joystick while thousands of miles from a theater of war and risking your life in an aircraft. Tom observes in horror when civilians wander into a targeted site and are blown up.” Read more…)

The D Train (comedy, Jack Black. Rotten Tomatoes: 44%. Metacritic: 55. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “With light and moderately dark comic flourishes, a skipping, sometimes thudding heart and some careful lighting, ‘The D Train’ takes the bromance to its logical conclusion. Even so, it plays it sweet rather than tough, including narratively, and there are instances — as in a close-up of Dan, his face knotted up in jealousy as he watches Oliver across a dance floor — when you see hints of a more dangerous, less comfortable movie.” Read more…)

Backcountry (thriller/drama, Missy Peregrym. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 62. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “For most of its 91 tense, uneven minutes, ‘Backcountry’ plays on your nerves like a kid flicking you with a rubber band. You feel the sting (thwack, thwack), but it doesn’t bother you. Over time, though, the kid grows meaner, and the flicks grow harder, faster, too, and you realize that they’re keeping time with the thudding of your heart [thump, thump]. The writer and director Adam MacDonald was born in 1977, two years after ‘Jaws’ [chomp, chomp] forced everyone out of the water. He’s set out to have you now steer clear of the lovely, dark and deep woods, too.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Mad Max: Fury Road

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929, musical, Buster Keaton. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1929 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Brimming over with good fun and catchy music, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s ambitious audible picture, ‘The Hollywood Revue,’ which was launched last night with the usual blaze of lights at the Astor Theatre, won frequent outbursts or genuine applause. It is a talking and singing film free from irritating outpourings of coarse slang or a tedious, sobbing romance. A light-hearted piece of work is this production. It trots gayly along from beginning to end with a wonderful fund of amusement and its clever and lavish staging is enhanced by imaginative camera work. It all may be but mere shadows, but nevertheless these sketches are never tedious.” Read more…)

Smilin’ Through (1932, drama/romance, Norma Shearer. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1932 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This current offering is distinguished by the able direction of Sidney Franklin, and also by the presence of a supporting cast that includes Leslie Howard, Fredric March and O. P. Heggie. It is a beautiful production, too immaculate, if anything, in its scenes of the past. It is rich in sentiment, but Mr. Franklin has permitted sufficient gentle comedy to relieve the romance and the tragedy of bygone years. It is another venture that benefits by expert photography, particularly in those scenes in which a wraith-like figure appears and talks. So far as memory serves this new film is infinitely more satisfactory than its voiceless predecessor, but at the same time the suspense is no keener, for with all the irascibility of Kathleen Clare’s old guardian, one is never in doubt concerning the trend of events.” Read more…)

Emma (1932, comedy/drama, Marie Dressler. [NOT the Jane Austen Emma]. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1932 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Marie Dressler, whose film work has earned for her the highest praise throughout the English-speaking world, contributes another sterling portrayal, possibly her best, in ‘Emma,’ the present feature at the Capitol. The story may be sentimental and somewhat implausible at times, but it is by all odds the outstanding one in which this clever actress has appeared. Never for an instant is it lacking in interest while Miss Dressier is on the screen.” Read more…)

New TV
Homeland: Season 4 (drama/thriller series, Claire Danes. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 74.)

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