New Releases 12/31/13

Top Hits
Don Jon (drama/comedy/romance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Once upon a time Don Jon had the unhappy title Don Jon’s Addiction. That was in January at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie had its premiere. But addiction, which conjures up drunks, druggies and roads to recovery taken 12 steps at a time, felt at odds with the skittering, upbeat cadences and feel of Don Jon, an often exuberant movie about a man hooked on pornography who can’t deal with the breathing, desiring women who end up in his bed. ” Read more…)

CBGB (music/drama, Alan Rickman. Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 30. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Because of the cruel accidents of age and geography, I never set foot in CBGB during its 1970s punk heyday. So I can’t look at CBGB — Randall Miller’s sweet and nostalgic elegy to that defunct club and its owner and presiding spirit, Hillel Kristal, known to all, whether they actually knew him or not, as Hilly — and say, with the authority of experience, “It wasn’t like that.” I will leave it to others to point out the film’s lapses of chronology, taste and historical detail. But on the other hand, I would swear on a stack of Dead Boys T-shirts and a first pressing of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ ‘Blank Generation’ that it could not possibly have been like that: so silly, so trivial, so boring.” Read more…)

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (crime/drama, Casey Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The period setting of this moody, western-ish crime drama, written and directed by David Lowery, is a bit harder to place, though the shape of the cars and a briefly glimpsed television set suggest the late 1960s or early 1970s. Not that it matters much. We could just as easily be in the 1870s or the 1930s, since the themes of violence, honor and sacrifice are as unchanging as the big, cloud-swept sky. This is a landscape of archetypes, where individual stories take on a mythic, even metaphysical resonance.” Read more…)

Last Love (comedy/drama, Michael Caine. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 37. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Psychological verisimilitude: If that were all it took to make a powerful movie about family strife and impending mortality, the German filmmaker Sandra Nettelbeck’s Last Love would join Michael Haneke’s Amour on the short list of touching late-life dramas. But despite its scattered insights and moments when you think to yourself, ‘Yes, that’s it,’ Last Love has as many coy evasions and refuses to address its real subjects: decrepitude and depression. This dull, dawdling film, adapted from Françoise Dorner’s novel La Douceur Assassine, eventually succumbs to sentimentality.” Read more…)

New Foreign
Sister (France, drama, Léa Seydoux. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 81. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The mountains loom so very large and the child looks so very small in Sister, a cool yet compassionate look at two people bound by love and shared struggles in a world of haves and have-nots. Directed by Ursula Meier, it turns on a 12-year-old, Simon [Kacey Mottet Klein, a heartbreaker], a cunning survivalist hustling to fill his belly and that of his lovely, troubled, perennially underemployed older sister, Louise [Léa Seydoux]. These are the world’s invisible, forgotten ones, slipping through the shadows and moving along the margins.” Read more…)

Either Way (Iceland, comedy, Hilmar Guojonsson)