New releases 7/8/14

Top Hits
Bad Words (comedy, Jason Bateman. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “For a guy who often plays nice, Jason Bateman sure knows how to wrap his lips around invective. He doesn’t have an especially rubbery mouth, the kind that Jerry Lewis could stretch until it almost snapped, nor does it curl with the puckered elasticity displayed in the poster for Bad Words, a comedy about a guy who crashes children’s spelling bees. Sometimes, he just opens wide, and out pops an expletive. At other times, he turns his nice-guy face toward the target, pauses for a beat or two while he sizes up the opposition — maybe sends out a decoy, like a faint smile or a deceptively inviting word — and then he slashes and burns. The kids take it hard.” Read more…)

Le Week-End (comedy/drama, Jim Broadbent. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 73. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “But don’t be fooled by Mr. Broadbent’s genial sarcasm, Ms. Duncan’s warm smile or the literary felicities of Mr. Kureishi’s script. This is not a movie about the gentle aging of lovable codgers — The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Underneath Nick and Meg’s banter is a half-buried spring of rage and regret, and before the trip is over, it will flood into the open.” Read more…)

The Raid 2 (Indonesia [with optional English soundtrack], action, Iko Uwais. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “When a prison yard becomes a sloppy battlefield in The Raid 2, the mud-covered combatants turn gray, reduced to their essence: bodies smashing together in the muck. The pleasant surprise of Gareth Evans’s sturdy sequel to The Raid: Redemption is that neither its undercover drama nor its two-and-a-half-hour length bog down the bracing, and numerous, fight fests.” Read more…)

Interior. Leather Bar (drama/sexuality, James Franco. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 47. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “[Directors James Franco and Travis Mathews] execute a fair number of estimable moves in Interior. Leather Bar., a sly conceptual coup d’art and a deeply sincere exploration of masculinity and its discontents, with a little hot sex thrown in. The movie’s ostensible point of departure is 40 minutes of graphic footage of S-and-M that the director William Friedkin was forced to edit out of Cruising, his 1980 thriller with Al Pacino, to avoid an X rating. Inspired by what they rather cryptically term the mythology of Cruising, Mr. Franco and Mr. Mathews have set out to reimagine this excised material.” Read more…)

Lovely Molly (horror, Gretchen Lodge. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 50. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The smartest decision that Eduardo Sanchez made before shooting his harrowing haunted-house movie, Lovely Molly, was to cast Gretchen Lodge in the title role. As a young newlywed and recovering addict living in the creaky rural home where she grew up, Ms. Lodge [astonishingly, in her first film] throws herself into a character required, more than once, to perform tense, dramatic scenes while totally naked. And though the film’s nasty revelations may appear to some viewers as distastefully exploitative, its nudity is handled entirely without salaciousness. Molly may be completely bonkers, but Ms. Lodge makes sure that we feel for her.” Read more…)

Untold History of the United States (Oliver Stone-directed alternative history. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “The title alone is easy to scoff at. Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States sounds almost like a parody, a sendup of that filmmaker’s love of bombast and right-wing conspiracy. This documentary series, beginning Monday on Showtime, isn’t a joke, though some may find it laughable. It’s deadly serious but also straightforward: a 10-part indictment of the United States that doesn’t pretend to be evenhanded.” Read more…)

Unconditional (drama, Lynn Collins. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%.)

New Blu-Ray
Bad Words
Sunrise

New Foreign
Cousin Jules (France, 1972, documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 81. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Modern documentary filmmaking has been often defined by speed and portability. That was true in the late ’50s and early ’60s, when lightweight machinery helped give birth to the cinéma vérité and direct cinema movements, and it is certainly true today, when smartphones and tiny digital cameras turn everyday life into a collective vérité project. But there have always been anomalies, films that use slower, more cumbersome methods to contemplate reality. One of these is Cousin Jules, Dominique Benicheti’s slow and quiet study of French rural life, shot from 1968 to 1973 in a sumptuous wide-screen format with stereo sound.” Read more…)

The Raid 2 (Indonesia [with optional English soundtrack], action, Iko Uwais, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 71. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “When a prison yard becomes a sloppy battlefield in The Raid 2, the mud-covered combatants turn gray, reduced to their essence: bodies smashing together in the muck. The pleasant surprise of Gareth Evans’s sturdy sequel to The Raid: Redemption is that neither its undercover drama nor its two-and-a-half-hour length bog down the bracing, and numerous, fight fests.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948, comedy/romance, William Powell. From T.F.B’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “A mermaid is a confoundedly awkward creature to have around, as Mr. Peadbody and the Mermaid, yesterday’s arrival at the Winter Garden, unfortunately demonstrates. She is a whimsically charming companion for two or three reels, and then, like most anomalies, begins to present a problem.” Read more…)

Red River (1948, Criterion edition, western, John Wayne. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Up to a point in Red River, which came to the Capitol yesterday, this opus is on the way towards being one of the best cow-boy pictures ever made. And even despite a big let-down, which fortunately comes near the end, it stands sixteen hands above the level of routine horse opera these days. So strap on your trusty six-shooters and race to the wind-swept Capitol, you lovers of good old Western fiction. It’s round-up and brandin’ time!” Read more…)

Caught (1948, Max Ophuls-directed drama, Barbara Bel Geddes. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley crowther’s 1949 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Presumably the title of the Capitol’s new film, Caught, has reference to the young lady who is principally involved in it. Hers is the horrible misfortune of marrying a nasty millionaire and then falling in love with a nice doctor whom her husband won’t free her to wed. And since this horrendous dilemma probably fills the bill of every moonstruck shopgirl’s fancies, it liberally merits that tag. But the person whose situation the title most aptly describes is James Mason, the popular British actor, who makes his Hollywood debut in this film. And that’s not because Mr. Mason plays the doctor who gets into the jam. It’s because it is his real misfortune to be tangled in such a silly film.” Read more…)

Sunrise (1927, drama/romance, George O’Brien. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1927 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Sunrise was adapted from Hermann Sudermann’s story ‘A Trip to Tilsit,’ and, although Tilsit is actually a town in East Prussia, it is set forth in one of the very few subtitles that the locale of this story might be in any country. As it threads its way across the screen this narrative gathers impetus. It is filled with intense feeling and in it is embodied an underlying subtlety. Mr. Murnau shows himself to be an artist in camera studies, bringing forth marvelous results from lights, shadows and settings. He also proves himself to be a true story teller, and, incidentally, here is a narrative wherein the happy ending is welcome.” Read more…)

La Boheme (1926, King Vidor-directed silent based on the Puccini opera, Lillian Gish)

New British
Endeavour: Series 2 (murder mystery series, Shaun Evans. Metacritic: 80.)

New Documentaries
Cousin Jules (France, 1972, documentary, in New Foreign. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 81. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Modern documentary filmmaking has been often defined by speed and portability. That was true in the late ’50s and early ’60s, when lightweight machinery helped give birth to the cinéma vérité and direct cinema movements, and it is certainly true today, when smartphones and tiny digital cameras turn everyday life into a collective vérité project. But there have always been anomalies, films that use slower, more cumbersome methods to contemplate reality. One of these is Cousin Jules, Dominique Benicheti’s slow and quiet study of French rural life, shot from 1968 to 1973 in a sumptuous wide-screen format with stereo sound.” Read more…)

Untold History of the United States (Oliver Stone-directed alternative history, in Top Hits. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “The title alone is easy to scoff at. Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States sounds almost like a parody, a sendup of that filmmaker’s love of bombast and right-wing conspiracy. This documentary series, beginning Monday on Showtime, isn’t a joke, though some may find it laughable. It’s deadly serious but also straightforward: a 10-part indictment of the United States that doesn’t pretend to be evenhanded.” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian
Interior. Leather Bar (drama/sexuality, James Franco, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 47. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “[Directors James Franco and Travis Mathews] execute a fair number of estimable moves in Interior. Leather Bar., a sly conceptual coup d’art and a deeply sincere exploration of masculinity and its discontents, with a little hot sex thrown in. The movie’s ostensible point of departure is 40 minutes of graphic footage of S-and-M that the director William Friedkin was forced to edit out of Cruising, his 1980 thriller with Al Pacino, to avoid an X rating. Inspired by what they rather cryptically term the mythology of Cruising, Mr. Franco and Mr. Mathews have set out to reimagine this excised material.” Read more…)