New Releases 6/2/15

Top Hits
Jupiter Ascending (sci-fi, Channing Tatum. Rotten Tomatoes: 25%. Metacritic: 40. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Jupiter Ascending,’ the latest from Lana and Andy Wachowski, is a big, woozy, spacey fairy tale with a science-fiction exoskeleton and a core of pure mush. With its nods to the original ‘Star Trek’ and David Lynch’s proto-steampunk hallucination ‘Dune,’ it seduces the eye with filigreed flourishes even as the mind reels from some of the mildewy storytelling.” Read more…)

Focus (thriller/mystery, Will Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 57%. Metacritic: 56. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “A silky high-end caper about a pair of good-looking con artists, ‘Focus’ is a movie blessedly free of self-importance. It constructs a seductive fantasy world out of actual places [New Orleans, Buenos Aires] and milieus [Super Bowl skyboxes, Formula One racing] and generously grants V.I.P. access to the audience. You may be a few steps behind as the big scams unfold, but you feel more like a player than a sucker. The preposterousness of the story doesn’t seem like a rip-off, since the twists in the plot, for the most part, pay off nicely.” Read more…)

These Final Hours (sci-fi/action, Nathan Phillips. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 57. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Every time the world ends, somebody has to learn a lesson, generally about Love and What’s Really Important. In ‘These Final Hours,’ an Australian drama, it’s James’s turn. The lesson may not be particularly original, but the film has some striking moments as it follows him to his destiny.” Read more…)

Spring (horror/romance, Lou Taylor Pucci. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 69. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead don’t yet have many movies to their credit, but with ‘Spring,’ which they directed, they show that they already possess something that many makers of horror films never develop: patience. Filmmakers working the trashier side of the genre often can’t wait to unleash a big effect, as if they’re worried viewers will bail if they’re not grossed out in the first 10 minutes. It is well past the one-hour mark before ‘Spring’ really causes you to recoil, and the wait makes that shot all the more jolting.” Read more…)

McFarland USA (sports drama, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “An entirely predictable, mostly honorable movie, ‘McFarland, USA’ tells the story of a washed-up coach who turns a bunch of misfits into a team of champions. It’s ‘Hoosiers,’ more or less, relocated to a poor agricultural town in California’s Central Valley in 1987. The sport is not basketball, football or baseball — the usual athletic pursuits in this genre — but cross-country running. The director, Niki Caro, who is originally from New Zealand and whose earlier films include ‘Whale Rider’ and North Country,’ has an eye for dramatic landscapes, which lends some visual grandeur to the training and racing scenes.” Read more…)

The Loft (thriller, James Marsden. Rotten Tomatoes: 11%. Metacritic: 24.)

New Blu-Ray
Focus

New Foreign
Spiral: Season 1 (France, crime drama series, Caroline Proust)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Prime Time (1977, comedy, Paul Ainsley)

New Television
Justified: Season 6 (Final Season) (TV crime series, Timothy Olyphant. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 89.)
They Call It Murder (TV pilot from 1971, Ed Asner)

New Documentaries
Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia (U.S. history, social; criticism, literature, Gore Vidal. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “When Gore Vidal declared in an old television debate with William F. Buckley Jr. that 5 percent of Americans had 20 percent of the income and the bottom 20 percent had 5 percent, he was raising an alarm. That observation may be the most shocking moment in ‘Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,’ Nicholas Wrathall’s admiring documentary portrait of Vidal, who died in 2012 at 86. Why shocking? It illustrates the astounding degree to which perceptions have changed over time. By the standards of today, when income inequality has widened exponentially and the middle class is shrinking, statistics that infuriated Vidal sound like the answer to a socialist’s prayer.” Read more…)

Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (popular music/roots, Dave Grohl. Metacritic: 77. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “Reviewing a Foo Fighters concert in 2003, Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times that they had the “virtues of journeymen: conviction and tenacity.” That description also applies to the fledgling filmmaking career of the band’s founder, Dave Grohl. You could add generosity and, up to a point, modesty. As a director, he’s less a frontman than a skilled and reliable session player. Mr. Grohl broke in last year with the charming documentary ‘Sound City’ and then segued into ‘Sonic Highways,’ a television series that begins Friday night on HBO. The show, a musical travelogue that visits eight American cities, is tied into the new Foo Fighters album of the same title [scheduled for release next month], giving it an obvious promotional dimension. But Mr. Grohl and his editors pack so much music, history and good feeling into the hourlong episodes that you can’t begrudge him.” Read more…)

New Music
Foo Fighters: Sonic Highways (popular music/roots, Dave Grohl. Metacritic: 77. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “Reviewing a Foo Fighters concert in 2003, Jon Pareles wrote in The New York Times that they had the “virtues of journeymen: conviction and tenacity.” That description also applies to the fledgling filmmaking career of the band’s founder, Dave Grohl. You could add generosity and, up to a point, modesty. As a director, he’s less a frontman than a skilled and reliable session player. Mr. Grohl broke in last year with the charming documentary ‘Sound City’ and then segued into ‘Sonic Highways,’ a television series that begins Friday night on HBO. The show, a musical travelogue that visits eight American cities, is tied into the new Foo Fighters album of the same title [scheduled for release next month], giving it an obvious promotional dimension. But Mr. Grohl and his editors pack so much music, history and good feeling into the hourlong episodes that you can’t begrudge him.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water (animated feature, Antonio Banderas [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 62.)