New Releases 5/5/15

Top Hits
Selma (historical drama, David Oyelowo. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Director Ava] DuVernay, in her third feature [after ‘I Will Follow’ and ‘Middle of Nowhere’], writes history with passionate clarity and blazing conviction. [The cinematographer, Bradford Young, captures its shadows and its glow.] Even if you think you know what’s coming, ‘Selma’ hums with suspense and surprise. Packed with incident and overflowing with fascinating characters, it is a triumph of efficient, emphatic cinematic storytelling. And much more than that, of course: It would be hard to imagine a timelier, more necessary popular entertainment in the year of Ferguson, Mo., a reminder both of progress made and promises unkept.” Read more…)

You’re Not You (drama, Hilary Swank. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 56. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In ‘You’re Not You,’ Hilary Swank’s portrayal of Kate, a gifted concert pianist with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is so intensely persuasive that once you’re engaged by her wrenching ordeal, you mostly forgive the movie’s emotional manipulation.” Read more…)

Miss Julie (costume drama, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 48%. Metacritic: 56. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The patriarchal world of August Strindberg’s dour late-19th-century tragedy ‘Miss Julie’ — with its rigid social hierarchy of masters and servants, and its entrenched puritanical ethos — may seem remote to Americans. But when you remember that there are still societies in which men rule with an iron hand, and women are stoned to death for breaking convention, it doesn’t seem so distant. That thought is worth keeping in mind while watching Liv Ullmann’s austere screen adaptation of the play, which has been relocated from Sweden to Ireland during the same period.” Read more…)

Mr. Turner (historical bio-pic/art, Timothy Spall. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Mr. Turner’ is a mighty work of critical imagination, a loving, unsentimental portrait of a rare creative soul. But even as it celebrates a glorious painter and illuminates the sources of his pictures with startling clarity and insight, the movie patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century’s worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work. You may have had the good fortune to study Turner’s watercolors and martial tableaus up close, to linger over his storms and placid river scenes, but somehow Mr. Leigh makes it all look newly painted, fresh and strange.” Read more…)

Black Sea (adventure thriller, Jude Law. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 62. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The British submarine thriller ‘Black Sea’ has an insistent political subtext that distinguishes it from earlier films in the undersea action genre. As its waterlogged treasure hunters brave fire and flood to find and bring back a cache of gold ingots from a sunken Nazi U-boat in the Black Sea, they grouse endlessly about paper-pushing rich guys who don’t know the meaning of real work.” Read more…)

Amira & Sam (drama/romance, Martin Starr. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 58. Fropm Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Written and directed by Sean Mullin, a comedian and onetime Army officer [he plays a comic in the film], ‘Amira & Sam’ is more successful as a portrait of veteran alienation than as a romance. The script is thoughtful, but its anger is diffuse, with laissez-faire capitalism and the problems of illegal immigrants and returning soldiers jostling for attention.” Read more…)

The Last Five Years (romance/musical, Anna Kendrick. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘The Last Five Years,’ the composer Jason Robert Brown’s emotionally fraught musical about a passionate relationship that crashes and burns, almost requires some familiarity with its rarefied milieu: the New York City hothouse of ravenously ambitious performers and writers. Over the years, the show, which had its premiere in Chicago in 2001 and opened Off Broadway the next year, has gained traction as a regional theater staple. It is now a movie adapted and directed by Richard LaGravenese. Its lovers, Cathy Hiatt, an aspiring actress played by a winsome Anna Kendrick, and Jamie Wellerstein, by a fire-breathing Jeremy Jordan, fall in love and marry in a whirlwind of romantic hyperbole.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Selma
Mr.Turner

New Foreign
Winter Sleep (Turkey, drama, Haluk Bilinger. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 87. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: :”In genre terms, the movie can be classed as a character study although it often plays more like one of those spiritual autopsies that directors occasionally perform on their protagonists, gutting them with degrees of gravity, glee and precision and extracting flaws like diseased organs. Mr. Ceylan performs this particular operation with rigorous solemnity, technical virtuosity and precision tools — his lapidary visual style rises to the challenge of the natural environment — yet there’s something missing from the very start, namely the spark of breathed-in life.” Read more…)

New British
Mr. Turner (historical bio-pic/art, Timothy Spall. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Mr. Turner’ is a mighty work of critical imagination, a loving, unsentimental portrait of a rare creative soul. But even as it celebrates a glorious painter and illuminates the sources of his pictures with startling clarity and insight, the movie patiently and thoroughly demolishes more than a century’s worth of mythology about what art is and how artists work. You may have had the good fortune to study Turner’s watercolors and martial tableaus up close, to linger over his storms and placid river scenes, but somehow Mr. Leigh makes it all look newly painted, fresh and strange.” Read more…)

Broadchurch: Season 2 (mystery series, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%. Metacritic: 73.)

New Television
Masters of Sex: Season 2 (history-based frisky drama, Michael Sheen. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 89.)