New releases 6/10/14

Top Hits
Non-Stop (action, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 56. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A satisfying, primitive bluntness distinguishes Non-Stop, an action thriller that makes good on its title. In the 1950s, its star might have been Edmond O’Brien, a character actor who landed a few leading roles, including, in D.O.A., as a poisoned man racing against the clock to find his murderer. With escalating clammy desperation he hurtles toward his fate, ticktock, ticktock. Liam Neeson runs a similarly frantic circuit in “Non-Stop,” as an air marshal trying to outwit a villain vowing to knock off a passenger every 20 minutes, ticktock, ticktock.” Read more…)

True Detective: Season 1 (HBO mystery series, Matthew McConaughey. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 87. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The success of HBO’s new Sunday night crime drama, True Detective, depends on two pairs of men, a couple of veterans and a couple of relative rookies. Upfront, and drawing all the attention, are the movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, playing a mismatched team of Louisiana state cops. And if there’s a compelling reason to watch True Detective, they provide it, particularly Mr. McConaughey, who continues the recent winning streak he began with the 2011 film The incoln Lawyer. His contained, assured, watchful performance as Rust Cohle, a former narcotics detective from Texas whose cynicism and single-mindedness make him a pariah among his new colleagues, is a pleasure to watch.” Read more…)

Visitors (nature/art/spiritual documentary. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Visitors arrives nearly 12 years after the conclusion of Mr. Reggio’s experimental ‘Qatsi’ trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982), Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988) and Naqoyqatsi: Life as War (2002). Like those films, Visitors has a sober, churning score by Philip Glass that evokes ceaseless turbulence and profound ambiguity. Some of the music is neither in a major nor a minor key, but the harmonies still tilt toward minor. There is no overall narrative arc to imagery that might be described as a very sophisticated Rorschach test with an environmentalist subtext.” Read more…)

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (nature doc, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Metacritic: 82. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “It’s like trying to remake “Citizen Kane. In Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which begins on Sunday, Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the guide-to-the-universe role filled in the original Cosmos by Carl Sagan, a man who was so good at popularizing science that the American Astronomical Society awards an annual public-communication medal in his name… But, at least from the first episode, ‘Standing Up in the Milky Way,’ it’s hard to see the new program’s having the impact of the original. Dr. Tyson is genial and comfortable on camera, just as Sagan was. Yet the vehicle he is given doesn’t initially soar the way Cosmos 1 did.” Read more…)

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (action/espionage, Chris Pine. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Say what you will about Vladimir V. Putin, but he seems to have been very, very good for screen villainy. Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union, Soviet-style skulduggery has remained a durable narrative cliché in recent movies that feature Russian bad guys doing their dastardly worst at home or abroad, from Iron Man 2 to Jack Reacher, Safe, A Good Day to Die Hard. In Kick-Ass 2, one sadistic sicko, a former K.G.B. agent, is even called Mother Russia and wears a red bikini top with a hammer and sickle over each breast. The Ruskie heavy in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit played by Kenneth Branagh may be less stacked, but he’s scarcely subtler.” Read more…)

Tim’s Vermeer (art doc, Tim Jenison. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Tim’s Vermeer is a little documentary that tracks how one man’s love turned into revenge. The title figure — well, one, anyway — is Tim Jenison, a scientist, inventor and restless hobbyist with deep pockets and famous friends, including Penn Jillette, who produced the movie, and Teller, who directed. In the 1980s, Mr. Jenison founded NewTek, a hardware and software company that scored an early success with the creation of Video Toaster, an affordable desktop video-production tool. Since then, this autodidact, now in his late 50s, has done this and that, including embarking on a multiyear odyssey to discover whether the movie’s other, better-known, subject, the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer [1632-75], used any kind of optical tools when he created his extraordinary paintings. In other words, what they seem to be asking, though no one in the movie is so gauche to say it bluntly: Did Vermeer cheat his way into history?” Read more…)

Devil’s Knot (drama, Colin Firth. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 42. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “The question is why. Why would the gifted Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan choose to make Devil’s Knot, a feature film about a notorious unsolved 1993 murder case that has been exhaustively investigated in several well-regarded documentaries? Had Devil’s Knot dared to spin out a bizarre conspiracy theory, the way Oliver Stone’s JFK did, it probably would have been more compelling than this workmanlike recapitulation of the so-called West Memphis Three case. Because the movie, based on a book by Mara Leveritt, stays within the facts, its reticence reinforces the notion that truth is stranger than fiction. The real-life characters, as shown in the documentaries, are far more colorful and quirky than they appear in these well-acted but comparatively safe performances.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Non-Stop
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
True Detective: Season 1
Tim’s Vermeer

New Foreign
Stranger By the Lake (France, thriller, Jerome Chappatte. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The motives for the crime are never established, but the real mystery is everything that happens in its wake. Mr. Guiraudie, a French filmmaker whose earlier movies include The King of Escape and That Old Dream That Moves [and who is the subject of a welcome retrospective starting on Friday at The Film Society of Lincoln Center], creates an atmosphere of dread and suspense out of the simplest narrative elements.” Read more…)

New TV
True Detective: Season 1 (HBO mystery series, Woody Harrelson, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%. Metacritic: 87. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The success of HBO’s new Sunday night crime drama, True Detective, depends on two pairs of men, a couple of veterans and a couple of relative rookies. Upfront, and drawing all the attention, are the movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, playing a mismatched team of Louisiana state cops. And if there’s a compelling reason to watch True Detective, they provide it, particularly Mr. McConaughey, who continues the recent winning streak he began with the 2011 film The incoln Lawyer. His contained, assured, watchful performance as Rust Cohle, a former narcotics detective from Texas whose cynicism and single-mindedness make him a pariah among his new colleagues, is a pleasure to watch.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Tim’s Vermeer (art doc, Tim Jenison, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Tim’s Vermeer is a little documentary that tracks how one man’s love turned into revenge. The title figure — well, one, anyway — is Tim Jenison, a scientist, inventor and restless hobbyist with deep pockets and famous friends, including Penn Jillette, who produced the movie, and Teller, who directed. In the 1980s, Mr. Jenison founded NewTek, a hardware and software company that scored an early success with the creation of Video Toaster, an affordable desktop video-production tool. Since then, this autodidact, now in his late 50s, has done this and that, including embarking on a multiyear odyssey to discover whether the movie’s other, better-known, subject, the Dutch master Johannes Vermeer [1632-75], used any kind of optical tools when he created his extraordinary paintings. In other words, what they seem to be asking, though no one in the movie is so gauche to say it bluntly: Did Vermeer cheat his way into history?” Read more…)

Visitors (nature/art/spiritual documentary, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Visitors arrives nearly 12 years after the conclusion of Mr. Reggio’s experimental ‘Qatsi’ trilogy: Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance (1982), Powaqqatsi: Life in Transformation (1988) and Naqoyqatsi: Life as War (2002). Like those films, Visitors has a sober, churning score by Philip Glass that evokes ceaseless turbulence and profound ambiguity. Some of the music is neither in a major nor a minor key, but the harmonies still tilt toward minor. There is no overall narrative arc to imagery that might be described as a very sophisticated Rorschach test with an environmentalist subtext.” Read more…)

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (nature doc, Neil deGrasse Tyson, in Top Hits. Metacritic: 82. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “It’s like trying to remake “Citizen Kane. In Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which begins on Sunday, Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the guide-to-the-universe role filled in the original Cosmos by Carl Sagan, a man who was so good at popularizing science that the American Astronomical Society awards an annual public-communication medal in his name… But, at least from the first episode, ‘Standing Up in the Milky Way,’ it’s hard to see the new program’s having the impact of the original. Dr. Tyson is genial and comfortable on camera, just as Sagan was. Yet the vehicle he is given doesn’t initially soar the way Cosmos 1 did.” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian
Stranger By the Lake (France, thriller, Jerome Chappatte, in New Foreign. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The motives for the crime are never established, but the real mystery is everything that happens in its wake. Mr. Guiraudie, a French filmmaker whose earlier movies include The King of Escape and That Old Dream That Moves [and who is the subject of a welcome retrospective starting on Friday at The Film Society of Lincoln Center], creates an atmosphere of dread and suspense out of the simplest narrative elements.” Read more…)