New Releases 06/04/13

Top Hits
Identity Thief (comedy, Jason Bateman. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. Metacritic: 35. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[The character Diana (played by actress Melissa McCarthy)] is, in other words, the unruly woman, the woman of glorious excess who, with her sharp, funny tongue and expansive physicality dominates the screen and her male co-stars, often by playing off an idea of femininity. Diana isn’t the brilliant, gender-bending presence that Ms. McCarthy inhabited so brilliantly in Bridesmaids, a movie that rejoiced in messy female behavior. Even so, from the moment Diana comes on screen in Identity Thief, sugar-talking Sandy out of his information while she’s slurping a soda, Ms. McCarthy owns the movie. The character may be drawn in broad strokes, but Ms. McCarthy slips between the saucy and the demonic with exquisite effortlessness, fluttering her lashes and flashing her dimples one minute, unleashing her inner Medusa the next.” Read more…)

A Good Day to Die Hard (action, Bruce Willis. Rotten Tomatoes: 15%. Metacritic: 28. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The cold war may be a fading memory, and C.I.A. superspies [like the younger McClane] may have displaced big-city cops [like his dad] in the pop-culture pantheon. But this off-the-shelf blend of car chases, fireballs and the rat-a-tat, thunk-a-thunk of automatic weapons fire is not likely to go out of style. Style, sad to say, is precisely what is missing from A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest entry in the flourishing geezer-action genre. Directed by John Moore [Max Payne, Behind Enemy Lines], it consists of a handful of extended set pieces — each more elaborate and therefore somehow less exciting than the last — linked by a simple-minded plot and a handful of half-clever lines, most of them muttered by Mr. Willis.” Read more…)

Warm Bodies (romance/horror, Nicholas Hoult. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “If The Walking Dead is Lost with zombies and a high kill rate, Warm Bodies is effectively a riff on every teenage romance ever told, from Ovid’s “Pyramus and Thisbe” on. Boy or, in this case, zombie meets girl. Zombie loses girl. Zombie — well, you know the rest, though here the familiar balance comes with human tartare, screams and the unsettling image of John Malkovich as the leader of the seemingly last people on Earth. Written and directed by Jonathan Levine [50/50], Warm Bodies is an improbable romance sweetened with appealing performances and buoyed by one of the better cute meets in recent romantic comedy, when the zombie boy, R [Nicholas Hoult], decides not to eat a live girl, Julie [Teresa Palmer].” Read more…)

Escape From Planet Earth (animated feature, Rob Corddry [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 26%. Metacritic: 35. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Another Smurf movie is due out this summer, but apparently someone’s market research indicated that the public appetite for blue animated characters might need sating before then. The result is Escape From Planet Earth, a children’s movie about space-traveling blue beings that has lots of high-flying escapades but fairly low aspirations.” Read more…)

Happy People: A Year In the Taiga (documentary, Werner Herzog. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 74. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A consummate explorer-filmmaker, Werner Herzog endeavors in his documentaries to take us into places [and states] we didn’t know we could go to: the Chauvet cave [Cave of Forgotten Dreams], the Antarctic [Encounters at the End of the World], the last days of a bear enthusiast [Grizzly Man]. In Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Mr. Herzog airdrops us into the vast Siberian taiga [a sprawling region of subarctic forest] for a seasonal portrait focusing on fur trappers. Rather than his customary foray into the abyss, this film is a quaint throwback to the illustrated chronicles of television nature documentaries or, for that matter, Nanook of the North.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
A Good Day to Die Hard
Identity Thief
Warm Bodies

New Foreign
Happy People: A Year In the Taiga (Russia, documentary, Werner Herzog, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 74. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A consummate explorer-filmmaker, Werner Herzog endeavors in his documentaries to take us into places [and states] we didn’t know we could go to: the Chauvet cave [Cave of Forgotten Dreams], the Antarctic [Encounters at the End of the World], the last days of a bear enthusiast [Grizzly Man]. In Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Mr. Herzog airdrops us into the vast Siberian taiga [a sprawling region of subarctic forest] for a seasonal portrait focusing on fur trappers. Rather than his customary foray into the abyss, this film is a quaint throwback to the illustrated chronicles of television nature documentaries or, for that matter, Nanook of the North.” Read more…)

New British
Twenty Twelve: Complete Series

New TV
Breaking Bad: Season 5

New Docs
Happy People: A Year In the Taiga (documentary, Werner Herzog, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 74. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A consummate explorer-filmmaker, Werner Herzog endeavors in his documentaries to take us into places [and states] we didn’t know we could go to: the Chauvet cave [Cave of Forgotten Dreams], the Antarctic [Encounters at the End of the World], the last days of a bear enthusiast [Grizzly Man]. In Happy People: A Year in the Taiga, Mr. Herzog airdrops us into the vast Siberian taiga [a sprawling region of subarctic forest] for a seasonal portrait focusing on fur trappers. Rather than his customary foray into the abyss, this film is a quaint throwback to the illustrated chronicles of television nature documentaries or, for that matter, Nanook of the North.” Read more…)

(The other) Hank’s Recommendations 06/04/13

Hank_Hoffman_Picks_Image_sketch_WebBest Video’s Hank Hoffman—aka the “other Hank”—here with this week’s pick. Last week’s heat wave inspired me to rent a film I have been curious about for a long time but never seen—Lawrence Kasdan’s 1981 neo-noir BODY HEAT. Body Heat was Kasdan’s first picture as director (subsequent films include THE BIG CHILL and THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST); he had previous screenwriting credits on THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. This steamy thriller stars William Hurt and Kathleen Turner and their chemistry is combustible. Fine supporting turns are taken by Ted Danson and Mickey Rourke. The aura of cool surrounding this film does nothing to lower the temperature. Turn on your air conditioning and enjoy.

View the trailer: