New releases 9/6/16

Top Hits
all_the_wayAll the Way (LBJ biopic/drama, Bryan Cranston. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 78. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times TV review: “Bryan Cranston brings his Tony Award-winning interpretation of President Lyndon B. Johnson to television on Saturday night in an adaptation of the Robert Schenkkan play ‘All the Way,’ and it’s still quite a sight to behold, just as it was on Broadway in 2014. Nothing beats witnessing this kind of larger-than-life portrayal onstage, of course. But the television version, presented by HBO, offers plenty of rewards, allowing Mr. Cranston to work the close-ups and liberating him from the confines of a theater set. In his hands, this accidental president comes across as an amazing bundle of contradictions, someone who seems at once too vulgar for the job and just right for it.” Read more…)

The Meddler (crime/drama, Susan Sarandon. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The first time that Marnie Minervini opens her mouth in ‘The Meddler,’ you may wish it were the last. One half of an insistently winning, hopelessly irresistible mother-daughter duet, this buttinsky New Jersey widow [Susan Sarandon] puts the ‘awl’ into call and the ‘awk’ into talk and works both your nerves and ears as she does. Having recently moved to Los Angeles, Marnie has turned her cellphone into an umbilical cord that keeps her hooked to her daughter, Lori [Rose Byrne]. ‘The Meddler’ is a tear-drizzled comedy, but I understand if it sounds like a horror movie.” Read more…)

A Bigger Splash (romance/drama, Tilda Swinton. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The cinema of seduction doesn’t get much more overheated than ‘A Bigger Splash,’ an Italian come-on that doesn’t just want to amuse you, but also to pour you a Negroni before taking you for a midnight spin with the top down. Set on an Italian island slithering with snakes and beautiful people, the movie is something of a reluctant thriller about a rock star, her current lover, her former lover and a pretty young thing. Bad things happen, because, you know, life is pain — in the meantime, though, do enjoy the magnificent digs, the designer threads and the frolicking nude stars.” Read more…)

money_monsterMoney Monster (thriller, Julia Roberts. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Money Monster’ begins with a jolt of satire, proceeds through a maze of beat-the-clock exposition and lands on a surprisingly gentle, sentimental note. Along the way, this speedy, self-assured thriller, nimbly directed by Jodie Foster rom a packed script by Jamie Linden, Alan DiFiore and Jim Kouf, looses bullhorn blasts of topical outrage on matters of grave public concern.” Read more…)

The People V. O.J. Simpson (courtroom drama miniseries, Cuba Gooding Jr.. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 90. From James Poniewozik’s New York Times TV review: “On June 12, 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald L. Goldman were brutally murdered outside Ms. Simpson’s Los Angeles home. In the trial that followed, argues ‘The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story,’ our current social conflicts and media culture were born. The 10-episode series, starting Tuesday on FX, looks at that case from two decades ago and sees today an embryo. The power, and the competing claims, of identity politics. The marathon news stories packaged as entertainments. Above all, the idea that black and white Americans can look at precisely the same scene and see entirely different realities. The show acquits itself well.” Read more…)

Now You See Me 2 (mystery/action, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 46. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The main sleight-of-hand at play in the illusion-themed sequel, ‘Now You See Me 2,’ will be convincing audiences that a single oddball idea — and four bickering, bragging leads — can support a successful franchise. And while the first movie had a certain goofy charm, its appeal barely stretched to feature length. This time the director, Louis Leterrier, has been replaced by Jon M. Chu, who, with ‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ [2013], has proved himself more than comfortable with noise and nonsense.” Read more…)

love_friendshipLove & Friendship (period romance, Kate Beckinsdale. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In the past quarter-century or so, there have been too many Jane Austen movies and too few Whit Stillman movies. I refrained from starting that sentence with ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged,’ because it isn’t, and also because that would have been too obvious a way of calling attention to the Austen glut and its attendant clichés. I’m happy to report, in any case, that the release of ‘Love & Friendship’ mitigates both the shortage and the surfeit. It’s the Whit Stillman movie that some of us have been waiting a long time for, and also a Jane Austen movie that goes some way toward correcting the record of dull and dutiful cinematic Janeism.’ Read more…)

Tale of Tales (fantasy, John C. Reilly. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Strip away the smatterings of sex and globs of gore, and children would really get a kick out of ‘Tale of Tales,’ Matteo Garrone’s colorful and kinky exploration of what women want. And what men will do to give it to them. So it’s a shame that, given the prevalence of blood and bosoms, the movie’s fairy-tale familiars [among them an imperiled princess, an ogre and two ugly sisters] are rendered off-limits to young eyes.” Read more…)

The Ones Below (critically acclaimed horror/thriller, Clémence Poésy. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 63. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “There’s much to admire in the thriller ‘The Ones Below.’  Like most effective suspense films or horror movies, it is grounded in a potent subtext, in this case childbirth and its stresses on parents. And the director, David Farr, a former associate director for the Royal Shakespeare Company making his feature debut, tightens the tension with almost clinical precision.” Read more…)

Genius (period drama, Colin Firth. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Ostensibly a tale of heroic literary creation — of the volatile collaboration between an undisciplined author and his discerning editor — ‘Genius’  is a dress-up box full of second- and thirdhand notions. Set mainly in a picturesquely brown and smoky Manhattan in the 1930s, it gives the buddy-movie treatment to that wild-man novelist Thomas Wolfe and his buttoned-up red-penciler Maxwell Perkins.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
All the Way
Now You See Me 2

New Foreign
neon_bullNeon Bull (Brazil, drama, Juliano Cazarré. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In some ways, ‘Neon Bull,’ the astonishing second feature by the Brazilian documentarian director Gabriel Mascaro, is a movie about animal smells. An intoxicating reflection on the interconnection of taste, scent, instinct and desire, the film, gorgeously photographed by Diego Garci [‘Cemetery of Splendour’], immerses you in the intensely pungent world of vaquejada, a rodeo sport popular in northeastern Brazil.” Read more…)

From Afar (Colombia, psychological drama, Alfredo Castro. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The term ‘chicken hawk,’ applied to older gay men who seek sexual favors from boys in their late teens and early 20s, isn’t heard much nowadays, nor is ‘rough trade’ used anymore to describe the street youths the men pay for play. But in ‘From Afar,’ those labels apply to Armando [the brilliant 60-year-old Chilean star Alfredo Castro], a dead-eyed dental prosthetist living in Caracas, Venezuela, and to the hostile young roustabouts he picks up on a corner. The masterly feature debut of the Venezuelan filmmaker Lorenzo Vigas, the movie looks at the world through the icy stare of Armando, who is first seen cruising and picking out his prey.” Read more…)

The Old Gun (France, 1976, World War II drama, Philippe Noiret. From an unsigned 1976 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘The Old Gun,’ a simple and possibly effective story has been ruined by mass of directional and acting self-indulgence. A French film, which opened yesterday at the Coronet Theater. It is set in the last months of the German occupation of France. A doctor in a provincial hospital, a comfortable family man whose aid to the Resistance is a matter of careful balancing, turns into a one-man death squad after a group of drunken and demoralized German soldiers murders his wife and daughter.” Read more…)

New British
The Key (1958, wartime drama directed by Carol Reed, William Holden. From Bosley Crowther’s 1958 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “This is the picture’s one weakness—this murkiness in the heroine—for otherwise it is a thoroughly brilliant blending of vivid war action and generally poignant romance. Carol Reed, who directed, has got the color, excitement and techniques of the work of rescue tugs in the Western Approaches as keenly as the action of destroyers was got in Noël Coward’s ‘In Which We Serve.’ The sea, the tugs, the crippled vessels and the lurking U-boats are honestly seen through Oswald Morris’ bobbing cameras in ominous blacks, whites and grays. And the crackling drama in the headquarters office is reproduced realistically.” Read more…)

What Happened, Miss Simone? (music bio, race, cultural/political history. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ new York Times review: “Partway through ‘What Happened, Miss Simone?,’ an often electric, bracingly urgent documentary on the singer-musician Nina Simone, we reach that catastrophic year 1968, and the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On screen, photographs of other murdered black men flicker past — Malcolm X, the civil rights activist Medgar Evers and the Black Panther Fred Hampton — followed by a photo of a young black mourner holding a sign that reads: ‘You better kill all blacks.’ I can’t be the only American who will despair at the relevance of those words in 2015.” Read more…)

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