New Releases 7/21/15

Top Hits
What_We_Do_in_the_ShadowsWhat We Do in the Shadows (comedy, Jemaine Clement. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Set in modern-day Wellington, New Zealand [the exterior of the vamps’ house is the headquarters of Peter Jackson’s production company], this weird and witty spoof filters the routines of the living through the lens of the long dead. For our gang of ghouls, encounters with passing werewolves — whose full-moon preparations are ingeniously telescoped into a hilarious aside — are ultimately less problematic than figuring out how to look good when you have no reflection. Or getting into a hot club without a direct invitation.” Read more…)

The Longest Ride (Nicholas Sparks romance, Britt Robertson. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 33. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “On the Box Office Mojo website, ‘The Longest Ride’ is described in three words: ‘Brand: Nicholas Sparks.’ That may be all you need to know. The film, directed by George Tillman Jr. [‘Soul Food,’ ‘The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete’], is the latest screen adaptation of work by an author whose stamp is unmistakable. To those familiar with his novels — and, more relevant to our purposes here, with the seacoast-and-sunlight, white-people-kissing-in-the-rain movies they have inspired — Mr. Spark’s name evokes a genre, an aesthetic, a swoony, saccharine, weirdly compelling gestalt.” Read more…)

Tooken (comedy/action, Lee Tergesen)

New Foreign
TangerinesTangerines (Estonia/Georgia, drama, Lembit Ulfsak. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 73. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Tangerines” is a modest film, sure of its proportions and clear about its intentions. The key to its effectiveness lies with the actors, in particular Mr. Ulfsak, who radiates wry, weary wisdom and Mr. Nakhashidze, who is as charismatic and menacing as a mastiff at rest. The friendship that develops between Ivo and Ahmed is touching and credible, and seems like a small mercy in the midst of cruelty and hatred.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Death Takes a Holiday (1934, comedy/romance, Fredric March. Rotten tomatoes: 83%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1934 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Mitchell Leisen, director of the pictorial version of ‘Cradle Song,’ has wrought another distinguished production in this translation of the play ‘Death Takes a Holiday.’ It is an impressive picture, each scene of which calls for close attention. Undoubtedly Maxwell Anderson’s share in the adaptation had a great deal to do with the effectiveness of this screen contribution, the idea of which is peculiarly suited to the story-telling shadows.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
B.A.P.S. (1997, comedy, Halle Berry. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. From Janet Maslin’s 1997 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Halle Berry plays Barbie in ‘BAPS,’ which casts her as a gold-toothed waitress from Georgia whose idea of upward mobility is going to Beverly Hills. She looks like a million bucks even when done up trashily enough to set off a metal detector. With Ruth Carter’s bright, booty-hugging wardrobe for Ms. Berry one of the film’s main comic assets, ‘BAPS’ does show that the star can be as funny as she is gorgeous [very]. But it’s still a weak and condescending comedy with too many implicit kinks for its squeaky-clean tone.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
I Am Femen (feminism, activism)

New Children’s DVDs
Strange Magic (CGI animated feature, Evan Rachel Wood [voice]. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Strange Magic,’ directed by the Oscar-winning sound designer Gary Rydstrom from a story by George lucas, is set in a world of fairies, elves and goblins. The fluid digital animation tickles the eye with a sea of periwinkle, pockmarked creatures and diaphanous, detailed wings.” Read more…)