New Releases 12/3/13

Top Hits
The Wolverine (comic book action, Hugh Jackman. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. Metacritic: 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The Wolverine, directed by James Mangold [Walk the Line, 3:10 to Yuma] and written by Mark Bomback and Scott Frank, is also something of an anomaly in the current, unstoppable wave of comic-book-based movies. It has all the requisite special effects and big-ticket action sequences — including a fight on a moving train and a climactic punch-out between the hero and a villain in an oversize metal suit — but it also has an unusually intimate, small-scale feel.” Read more…)

Smurfs 2 (animated feature. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 34. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Stepparents, the villains of so many fairy tales and other children’s stories, get some redemption in The Smurfs 2, a new, not very engaging movie featuring a lot of blue skin and household-name voices. Like the initial Smurfs movie, in 2011, this one is a mix of live action and animation, something that displeased a segment of the Smurf fan base the first time and will certainly do so again. The first one was set in New York. Here the action switches to Paris as the nefarious Gargamel [Hank Azaria, again putting more effort into his role than anyone else is] sets out to increase his supply of Smurf essence. Yes, Smurf essence. Don’t ask.” Read more…)

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (action/fantasy, Lily Collins. Rotten Tomatoes: 12%. Metacritic: 33. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Based on the first book of the young-adult series by Cassandra Clare, The Mortal Instruments raises our hopes with early scenes of relaxed naturalism that allow the actors — most of whom deliver the goods — to work without tripping over digital effects. Ms. Headey, who has taken her protective-mom persona from the much-missed Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to the scary extremes of Game of Thrones, makes her few lines of dialogue count. And Robert Sheehan plays Clary’s besotted best friend, Simon, with a wry modesty that deserves more attention from the script. And he probably would have received it had the screenwriter, Jessica Postigo Paquette, not been obliged to shoehorn a week’s worth of exposition into two hours and change.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Wolverine
Smurfs 2
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

New Foreign
Il Futuro (Italy, drama/thriller, Rutger Hauer. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Alicia Scherson’s third feature, Il Futuro, opens like vintage Hitchcock, but that’s just a feint. As slippery as its female star’s often oil-slicked body, this shape-shifting tale of two newly orphaned teenagers and the men who would prey on them plays with our eyes even more than our minds. Hinting initially at a mystery to be solved — why does the wreckage of the car in which the parents died look nothing like their yellow Fiat? — the movie slides sideways into thriller territory before we realize that that path too may be a ruse.” Read more…)

New Classics
The Uninvited (1944, horror/mystery, Ray Milland. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1944 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “For such folks as like ghost stories—just the plain, haunted-house-at-midnight sort, wherein walling is heard in the darkness and bugbear phantoms emerge from the gloom—Paramount has turned a little number called The Uninvited, which came to the Globe on Saturday. Proceed at your own risk, we warn you, if you are at all afraid of the dark. For this fiction about two young people who buy an old seaside house in England, only to discover that a couple of banshees have taken up residence first, is as solemnly intent on raising gooseflesh as any ghost-story weirdly told to a group of shivering youngsters around a campfire on a dark and windy night.” Read more…)

New Docs
Good Ol’ Freda (music, The Beatles, 1960’s culture. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 60. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Sweet but far from juicy, Good Ol’ Freda offers a gobsmackingly tame profile of Freda Kelly, the Beatles’ longtime scretary and fan club manager. Now an amiable, still-typing grandmother in her late 60s, Ms. Kelly sits on a nondescript sofa and delivers nostalgic observations on a time when her life was a great deal more exciting.” Read more…)