New Releases 8/11/15

Top Hits
Hot_PursuitHot Pursuit (comedy, Reese Witherspoon. Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 31. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Hot Pursuit’ is an on-the-run buddy comedy starring Sofia Vergara as the wife of a criminal and Reese Witherspoon [also credited among the film’s producers] as a San Antonio police officer. Thrown together by improbable [though entirely conventional] circumstances, the two women head across Texas, mocking and humiliating each other on the way to mutual appreciation. How you respond to the movie may depend on whether that description raises or lowers your expectations. I’ll admit that mine were perhaps unreasonably high.” Read more…)

Hector and the Search for Happiness (comedy, Simon Pegg. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 29. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Fashioned as a sort of fairy tale, ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness,’ based on a novel by the psychiatrist François Lelord, centers on a London therapist who has failed to find satisfaction himself. Tired of leading an ordered existence that’s micromanaged by his lovely girlfriend [Rosamund Pike], Hector [Simon Pegg] sets off, with apparently limitless funds, on a continent-bridging research trip to determine what makes people happy.” Read more…)

Unfriended (horror, Shelley Hennig. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 59. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A skinflint’s dream, ‘Unfriended’ either raises or lowers the bar for low-budget, big-studio synergy. More provocative sizzle than bloody-disgusting steak, it features a small cast of whozat young actors and was directed by another question mark, Leo Gabriadze. The most recognizable name is Timur Bekmambetov, the cult filmmaker [‘Night Watch’] turned Hollywood name [‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’], who cooked up the idea of making a movie that unfolds almost entirely on computer windows.” Read more…)

Madame Bovary (period drama, Mia Wasikowska. Rotten Tomatoes: 43%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Madame Bovary, c’est moi,’ Gustave Flaubert said of his most famous fictional creation. Impulsive, vain and sometimes cruel, she is hardly the most sympathetic character in 19th-century literature, but she is among the most vivid and complicated. Flaubert illuminated her inner life and outward circumstances with a clarity that set a new standard for the novel, one that continues to beguile, and often to frustrate, his followers. And also filmmakers. ‘Madame Bovary’ can be cited as evidence of the fundamental mismatch between movies and books. The novel’s style and structure elude cinematic capture.” Read more…)

The Girl Next Door (2007, horror/thriller, William Atherton. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 29. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “If you’re going to make a film as repellent as ‘Jack Ketchum’s the Girl Next Door,’ you had better make sure that your redeeming reasons for doing so are crystal clear. Gregory M. Wilson, the film’s director, either doesn’t have any such reasons or doesn’t know how to convey them, which means that he has made the kind of movie that makes you wish you could rinse your brain in bleach, to wash all traces of it from your memory.” Read more…)

Welcome to New York (fact-based drama, Gerard Depardieu. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 71.)

New Foreign
Camille_Claudel_1915Camille Claudel 1915 (historical drama, Juliette Binoche. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “The brutally austere films of the French director Bruno Dumont scrutinize human behavior with a chilly, quasi-scientific detachment that borders on misanthropy. His characters are pitiable creatures whose baser instincts are in conflict with their spiritual aspirations. The sexual couplings in his movies are anti-romantic; his lovers rut like farm animals. When Mr. Dumont fixes his gaze on Juliette Binoche in his newest feature, ‘Camille Claudel 1915,’ the disparity between his dispassion and her overflowing humanity generates warmth, a rare quality in his films. One way to describe the movie is as a passionate dialogue between science (Mr. Dumont) and art (Ms. Binoche), in which art comes out ahead.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Group (1966, drama, Candice Bergen. In 1966 New York Times critic Bosley Crowther didn’t like this movie (but maybe you will!) [requires log-in]: “Sidney Lumet must be kidding. His film from Mary McCarthy’s book, ‘The Group,’ is such a feeble and foolish contemplation of the assorted post-college lives of eight young ladies from Vassar, Class of 1933, that it must be a spoof of something—some sort of crude, anti-college-girl joke. If it isn’t—if it is seriously intended—it is the worst misfire of a movie in many a year.” Read more…)

New TV
The Knick: Season 1 (HBO period hospital drama, Clive Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “‘The Knick’ is unusual and very good. It’s a great leap backward in time, yet another ambitious examination of an important but often overlooked epoch in history. Television keeps forging new bridges to the past. And like ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Manh(a)ttan,’ this show has a revisionist agenda: It, too, explores a field that was defined and dominated by white men, adding contributions by African-Americans and women.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
I_Am_Big_BirdI Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story (biography, popular culture, Caroll Spinney, Big Bird. Rotten Tomatoes; 84%. Metacritic: 72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The world’s most famous giant bird has a human performer inside it, and it turns out that this nearly anonymous fellow has interesting stories to tell. There’s the one about the puppeteer who was almost part of a space-travel disaster. There’s the one about the guy who wanted to quit the job he was born to do practically before he had started it.” Read more…)