New Releases 12/1/15

Top Hits
Mississippi Grind (drama/thriller, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Even if you are not a sucker, as I am, for any movie about gambling with an American geographical reference in the title — ‘California Split,” ‘The Cincinnati Kid,’ ‘Atlantic City’ — you will find a lot to like about ‘Mississippi Grind,’ a low-key road movie written and directed by Anna Boden and yan Fleck. Who can resist a soundtrack full of well-chosen blues and country-and-western songs, many of which offer further testimony to the place of cards, poker chips, dice and racehorses in our national mythology? There is also a cameo from James Toback, screenwriter of ‘The Gambler’ [the good one, from 1974, with James Caan], and as such a kind of tutelary deity of long odds and risky bets.” Read more…)

Some Kind of Beautiful (romance, Pierce Brosnan. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 11. New York Times critic Stephen Holden didn’t like this movie: “The execrable romantic comedy ‘Some Kind of Beautiful’ is the kind of embarrassment a studio dumps into the market in August while hoping no one will notice. Directed by Tom Vaughan from a screenplay by Matthew Newman, this witless, offensively sexist farrago stars a flabby Pierce Brosnan as Richard Haig, a self-satisfied professor of English romantic poetry at Cambridge and a serial womanizer who sleeps with his students.” Read more…)

Amy (music documentary, Amy Winehouse. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother,’ a poem that Ted Hughes addressed to his children and, by extension, critics and fans, he writes of “a kind of hyena” tearing at the body of his dead wife, Sylvia Plath. ‘They dug her out. Now they batten/On the cornucopia/Of her body.’ In ‘Amy,’ a shattering biographical portrait of the British singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, you catch sight of some other hyenas every time the paparazzi go in for the kill. The photographers shove their cameras toward her haunted face and ravaged body, ripping at her with each new shot.” Read more…)

Grace of Monaco (biopic about Grace Kelly, Nicole Kidman. Rotten Tomatoes: 10%. Metacritic: 21.)
Get Santa (holiday comedy, Jim Broadbent. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 52.)
Huevos: Little Rooster’s Egg-Cellent Adventure (PG-13 animated feature, Zachary Gordon. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 77.)

New Foreign
Goodnight Mommy (Germany, horror, Susanne Wuest. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Like many foreign movies that venture outside their home countries, ‘Goodnight Mommy’ must live with an English title far inferior to its Austrian original, which literally translates as ‘I see, I see.’ Eyes — and what we think they see — are everything in this carefully controlled creep-out, gazing into mirrors and peering through shutters and tightly wrapped gauze. When it’s over, even those who have guessed its final twist [because we have seen it before] will immediately want to watch again, if only to check the logic of its shifting points of view.” Read more…)

Assassination (South Korea, action, Ji-hyun Jun. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 64. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If you set your mind to it, it’s possible to follow the Korean historical drama ‘Assassination’ without taking notes, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Brimming with characters — many in near-identical military garb — and bristling with double crosses, this unnecessarily lengthy homage to resistance chooses breadth over depth at every turn.” Read more…)

Desert Dancer (Iran, dance/political intrigue, Freida Pinto. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 49. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “The fictionalized biopic ‘Desert Dancer’ explores fascinating aspects of present-day Iran but suffers mightily from simplistic and sentimental tendencies. The debut feature of Richard Raymond, the film depicts the life of Afshin Ghaffarian [Reece Ritchie], a dancer who, frustrated by cultural repression, left the country in 2009. We follow him from childhood, when his instinct to perform at school leads to cautionary messages from his mother about government “morality police.'” Read more…)

New Classic (pre-1960)
Dark Crimes (box set of 50 film noir and crime films from the 1930s to the early 1950s, in glorious black & white)
Best of TV Detectives (over 42 hours of TV detective episodes from the 1950s and early 1960s)

New Documentaries
The Hunting Ground (campus sexual assault exposé. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Hunting Ground,’ a documentary shocker about rape on American college campuses, goes right for the gut. A blunt instrument of a movie, it derives its power largely from the many young women and some men recounting on camera how they were raped at their schools and then subsequently denied justice by those same schools. Their stories — delivered in sorrow and rage, with misting eyes and squared jaws — make this imperfect movie a must-watch work of cine-activism, one that should be seen by anyone headed to college and by those already on campus.” Read more…)

Amy (music documentary, Amy Winehouse. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “In ‘The Dogs Are Eating Your Mother,’ a poem that Ted Hughes addressed to his children and, by extension, critics and fans, he writes of “a kind of hyena” tearing at the body of his dead wife, Sylvia Plath. ‘They dug her out. Now they batten/On the cornucopia/Of her body.’ In ‘Amy,’ a shattering biographical portrait of the British singer and songwriter Amy Winehouse, you catch sight of some other hyenas every time the paparazzi go in for the kill. The photographers shove their cameras toward her haunted face and ravaged body, ripping at her with each new shot.” Read more…)