New Releases 06/11/13

Top Hits
Oz the Great and Powerful (fantasy/adventure, James Franco. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 44. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Can the major studios still make magic? From the looks of Oz the Great and Powerful, a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals, the answer seems to be no — unless, perhaps, the man behind the curtain is Martin Scorsese or James Cameron. The Walt Disney Company is the studio lurking behind Oz, and, as usual, it is banking that it can leverage this 3-D prehistory of the Wizard of Oz [James Franco] for its wonderful world of cross-promotional marketing and ancillary revenue streams.” Read more…)

Snitch (action, Dwayne Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “With his booming superhero voice and hulking physique, Dwayne Johnson, a k a the Rock, is an outsize cartoon figure, whether he likes it or not. And in Snitch — a grimy, realistic thriller with an agenda — he is simply too large for the role of John Matthews, the owner of a construction company somewhere in the heartland.” Read more…)

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (horror/action, Jeremy Renner. Rotten Tomatoes: 14%. Metacritic: 21. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Between the vampire fad and the zombie fad, we haven’t been giving nearly enough attention lately to this planet’s witch problem, so it’s good to see the Norwegian director Tommy Wirkola put the issue back in the public eye with Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. It may not stay in the public eye long because this movie is probably not going to put up Twilight-like numbers, but, hey, you have to admire the against-the-grain effort.” Read more…)

House of Cards (political drama mini-series, Kevin Spacey. Metacritic: 76. From Alessandra Staney’s New York Times television review: “House of Cards, however, is probably seen best one episode at a time. It’s a delicious immorality play with an excellent cast, but the tempo is slow and oddly ponderous — a romp slowed down to a dirge. [Kevin] Spacey is always compelling and perhaps to his credit he doesn’t ham it up the way he did in ‘Richard III’ [on the stage] or the way Mr. Richardson did in the [original] BBC version [of this series]. There is nothing playful or campy in his villainy. Francis stares into the camera with a deep, depressed anger that fuels his sneering cynicism.” Read more…)

Killing Lincoln (historical drama, Regen Wilson. Metacritic: 57. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “Steven Spielberg’s frequent collaborator, snags himself a seat on Mr. Spielberg’s bandwagon on Sunday when he turns up as the narrator of Killing Lincoln, a docudrama on the National Geographic Channel. If Mr. Spielberg’s Lincoln achieves greatness largely through the detailed performances of Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and others, Killing Lincoln also has details to recommend it — historical details, the kind of tidbits that (along with Mr. Hanks’s assured narration) can hold your attention, even though the tale is familiar.” Read more…)

Fred Won’t Move Out (drama, Elliott Gould. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 60. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “In this semi-autobiographical film, written and directed by Richard Ledes, the obvious father-son similarity is one of many pluses. Except for a subplot about a missing cat that suggests that Fred may be considerably dottier than he appears, the movie gets almost everything right about the uncomfortable moment when grown children are forced to be their parents’ parents.” Read more…)

The Newsroom: Season 1 (TV journalism drama, Jeff Daniels. Metacritic: 57. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “It’s not enough to be right; everyone else must be wrong. That’s what distinguishes the self-righteous from the righteous, and that’s what fuels The Newsroom, a new HBO series by Aaron Sorkin that starts on Sunday. Railing against the shallow, ratings-driven discourse on cable news shows, Mr. Sorkin has created his own newsroom — a Brigadoon version — where high-minded journalists pursue accuracy and excellence by, as one character puts it, ‘speaking truth to stupid.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Oz the Great and Powerful
Snitch
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

New Foreign
Clip (Serbia, wayward youth drama, Isidora Simijonovic. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 54. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Sex is the ultimate refuge from death in Clip, a graphic and often disturbing story of Serbian teenagers in heat, on drugs and at odds with the world. Set in a grim Belgrade suburb, this potent feature debut from Maja Milos is most concerned about Jasna (an astonishing Isidora Simijonovic, just 14 at the time of filming), a sullen high schooler. To escape her dismal home — dominated by a desperately ill father and a frazzled mother — Jasna cultivates a social life as numbing as it is degrading.” Read more…)

New TV
House of Cards (political drama mini-series, Kevin Spacey, in Top Hits. Metacritic: 76. From Alessandra Staney’s New York Times television review: “House of Cards, however, is probably seen best one episode at a time. It’s a delicious immorality play with an excellent cast, but the tempo is slow and oddly ponderous — a romp slowed down to a dirge. [Kevin] Spacey is always compelling and perhaps to his credit he doesn’t ham it up the way he did in ‘Richard III’ [on the stage] or the way Mr. Richardson did in the [original] BBC version [of this series]. There is nothing playful or campy in his villainy. Francis stares into the camera with a deep, depressed anger that fuels his sneering cynicism.” Read more…)

The Newsroom: Season 1 (TV journalism drama, Jeff Daniels, in Top Hits. Metacritic: 57. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “It’s not enough to be right; everyone else must be wrong. That’s what distinguishes the self-righteous from the righteous, and that’s what fuels The Newsroom, a new HBO series by Aaron Sorkin that starts on Sunday. Railing against the shallow, ratings-driven discourse on cable news shows, Mr. Sorkin has created his own newsroom — a Brigadoon version — where high-minded journalists pursue accuracy and excellence by, as one character puts it, ‘speaking truth to stupid.'” Read more…)