New Releases 2/17/15

Top Hits
Birdman (drama, Michael Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 88. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Birdman,’ a big bang of movie razzle-dazzle from Alejandro G. Iñárritu, opens with a winking sleight of hand. Riggan Thomson, a Hollywood has-been turned Broadway second-chancer played by a blissed-out Michael Keaton, is hanging out in his dressing room at the St. James Theater in Times Square, by which I mean floating, like a mystic who’s passed transcendence and gone straight to nirvana. It’s a destabilizing liftoff for a funny, frenetic, buoyant and rambunctiously showboating entertainment in which Mr. Iñárritu himself rises high and then higher still.” Read more…)

The Interview (comedy, Seth Rogen. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s  New York Times review: “‘The Interview’ is pretty much what everyone thought it would be before all the trouble started: a goofy, strenuously naughty, hit-and-miss farce, propelled not by any particular political ideas but by the usual spectacle of male sexual, emotional and existential confusion. It turned out to be perfect laptop viewing, apart from an occasionally wonky Wi-Fi connection. The bloodshed was less gross on the small screen, and the best jokes — loose, absurdist, improvised-sounding riffs — landed better in a quiet, half-distracted room than they might have in a crowded theater.” Read more…)

The Theory of Everything (biopic/romance, Eddie Redmayne. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York times review: “James Marsh’s biographical film about the British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, tries very hard to live up to its title: It wants to show a remarkable man in full, to explore his ideas, his emotional life and his struggle with illness.” Read more… )

St. Vincent (drama/comedy, Bill Murray. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A big, sloppy wet kiss of a movie about an old grouch, a sweet kid and their odd-couple friendship, ‘St. Vincent’ has a couple of things going for it, mostly Bill murray. For some time now, Mr. Murray has been burnishing his cult in Wes Anderson films, where he adds Murrayesque mystery and bite — is he deep or just dyspeptic? — and his unforgettable silent-clown mug to Mr. Anderson’s worlds of wonder. Sometimes, Mr. Murray pops up for a paycheck, while at other times, he slips into a character that promises something more than the usual slop offered men over 60, like Franklin Delano Roosevelt in ‘Hyde Park on Hudson’ or an architect on a World War II mission in ‘The Monuments Men.'” Read more…)

Dumb and Dumber To (comedy, Jim Carrey. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 36. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “In ‘Dumb and Dumber To, Peter and Bobby Farrelly — and the stars Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels — have boldly if unoriginally returned to the scene of their inaugural crime: their 1994 directing debut, ‘Dumb and Dumber.’ An anti-classic of its disreputable, guffawing type, it wasn’t the first movie to elevate human idiocy into an intentional art; Jerry Lewis and ‘Caddyshack,’ among many others, got there long before Lloyd [Mr. Carrey] and Harry [Mr. Daniels] hit the road in their memorably fuzzy puppy-mobile with the wagging tongue.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Birdman
The Interview
The Theory of Everything
St. Vincent

New Foreign
Pont Du Nord (France, 1981, Bulle Ogier. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1981 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Everyone connected with ‘Le Pont du Nord’ has done far better things, including [director Jacques] Rivette [‘La Religieuse,’ ‘L’Amour Fou,’ ‘Celine and Julie Go Boating’], Bulle Ogier and Suzanne Schiffmann, who has done wonderful work in collaboration with Francois Truffaut. Pascale Ogier is a striking looking young actress. Beyond that there isn’t much to say about her on the basis of this film.” Read more…)

New TV
Game of Thrones: Season 4 (fantasy series, Peter Dinklage)
The Chair: Season 1 (reality drama, filmmaking)

New Documentaries
Life Itself (bio, movie history, Roger Ebert. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 87. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “‘Life Itself,’ the new documentary about Roger Ebert, examines many facets of the nation’s most famous film critic: his newsman background, his exhaustively chronicled battle with cancer that ended in his death last year, his drinking, his wit, his love for his wife, Chaz. But perhaps one of the most surprising aspects — considering his profession was often reviled by the very people whose work was being examined — is his reputation among filmmakers.” Read more…)

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness (filmmaking, animation, Hayao Miyazaki. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 74. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness’ documents the inner workings of Studio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, at a time when its two most celebrated directors were making new films. The movie largely focuses on Hayao Miyazaki, who formally announced his retirement after ‘The Wind Rises’ had its premiere in 2013. ‘The Tale of Princess Kaguya.’ by Isao Takahata [‘Grave of the Fireflies’], Mr. Miyazaki’s discoverer and friendly rival, opened in New York this year.” Read more…)

Children’s DVDs
The Tale of Princess Kaguya (animated feature from Studio Ghibli, Chloe Grace Moretz [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 89. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times revew: “‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ is the first animated feature in over a decade directed by Isao Takahata, the 78-year-old Studio Ghibli stalwart. Exquisitely drawn with both watercolor delicacy and a brisk sense of line, the film finds a peculiarly moving undertow of feeling in a venerable Japanese folk tale about a foundling country girl who can’t shake a sense of being out of place.” Read more…)