New Releases 4/1/14

Top Hits
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (comedy, Will Ferrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 61. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is in danger of being overshadowed by its own marketing campaign. The recent media appearances by Ron Burgundy — impersonated, if you need reminding, by Will Ferrell — have the quality of commercial performance art. He has been ubiquitous, hawking Dodge Durango trucks, accepting a tribute from a journalism school and matching wits with members of the profession he exists to lampoon. That television news has so eagerly embraced Ron Burgundy may be evidence that the Anchorman movies don’t go far enough, satirically speaking. The man may be a vain, ethically obtuse, generally clueless buffoon, but it would not occur to him to allow a fictional character on his air to sell a product. He’s no George Stephanopoulos.” Read more…)

47 Ronin (martial arts, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 12%. Metacritic: 29. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Between the prospect of Hollywood’s sexing up a legendary Japanese story with rampaging C.G.I. monsters and the eager reports of a protracted production, there has been ample opportunity to hobble 47 Ronin long before its warriors finally emerge in theaters. But say what you will about this fantasy adventure, set in ‘a land shrouded in mystery’ [per the opening voice-over], it’s still a studio movie adaptation of a story that ends — centuries-old spoiler! — with mass ritual suicide. Credit due for that bit of faithfulness, I suppose — and Merry Christmas, by the way.” Read more…)

The Bag Man (thriller, John Cusack. Rotten Tomatoes: 10%. Metacritic: 28. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Robert De Niro’s silly pompadour in The Bag Man is one sign that this sardonic neo-noir, the first feature directed by David Grovic, has a cheeky sense of itself as something extra clever. Mr. De Niro plays Dragna, whose voluminous hairstyle — reminiscent of Paulie’s do on ‘The Sopranos’ — is also a reflection of his inflated ego.” Read more…)

In Fear (horror, Iain De Caestecker. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Considering that  In Fear unfolds almost entirely inside a moving vehicle, it’s remarkable how firmly it grasps our attention. Economical in the extreme — but without appearing cash-poor — this tightly wound thriller proves that minimal resources can sometimes produce more than satisfying results.” Read more…)

Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie (CGI dinosaurs, John Leguizamo [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 37. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “This family-friendly film combines computer-generated dinosaurs and real settings to tell a story of a herd on the move, struggling to survive and facing a leadership change complicated by budding romance. In other words, not unlike the struggle/change/romance story of The Lion King.” Read more…)

At Middleton (romance/comedy, Vera Farmiga. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “Some advance publicity is describing At Middleton as a romantic comedy, but that is too simplistic a label for this delicate, restrained movie. Yes, it’s full of droll humor, but it’s also a bittersweet portrait of two people, who, in the process of helping their children choose a college, confront the emptiness of their respective marriages.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Anchorman 2
47 Ronin
The Past

New Foreign
The Past (Iran/France, drama/mystery, Tahar Rahim. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 85. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As in [director Asghar Farhadi’s previous film] A Separation, the fractured central relationship is part of a much larger chain of minor and major life dramas, which here include an illicit affair, traumatized children and a comatose patient. Mr. Farhadi has a nice, deliberate sense of narrative timing and an art-film director’s resistance to exposition. His characters talk a great deal, but the full meaning of their words isn’t always readily apparent, at least at first.” Read more…)

Café de Flore (Canada/France, drama/romance, Vanessa Paradis. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 53. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Ethereal art rock is the aural adhesive connecting two stories set four decades apart on different continents in the Canadian filmmaker Jean-Marc Vallée’s Café de Flore. This knotty contemplation of amour fou that transcends time and place is a movie for extreme romantics.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Trust (1990, Hal Hartley-directed comedy/drama, Adrienne Shelley. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From Caryn James’ New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Putting on her purple lipstick one morning, a teen-ager tells her father she’s pregnant. He calls her a slut, she slaps his face and the minute she stomps out the door he drops dead. Just as you were warned: if you break your father’s heart, it will kill him. The situation is part nightmare, part bad joke, and the perfect deadpan way to kick off Hal Hartley’s Trust.” Read more…)

New British
Broadchurch: Season 1 (mystery series, David Tennant. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 91. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “It’s a pre-eminent example of what could be called the new International Style in television drama: a moody, slow-moving, complicated crime story with damaged heroes and not much redemption to go around. It joins a roster of morbid whodunnits like “Top of the Lake” and “The Killing” — which, like “Broadchurch,” center on dead or missing children — as well as “The Bridge,” “The Fall,” “Rectify” and “Hannibal.” Murder, we moaned. Broadchurch” stands out among this crowd for a couple of reasons. One is that it manages to supply the fashionable existential dread while also providing a solid, Agatha Christie- or Dorothy Sayers-like mystery plot that proceeds at a deliberate pace through a cloud of plausible suspects with a minimum of confusion… More important, though, is the lift provided by the performers playing the odd-couple lead detectives.” Read more…)

George Gently: Series 6