New Releases 2/3/15

Top Hits
John Wick (action, Keanu Reeves. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Brilliant in its simplicity, the setup of ‘John Wick,’ like the rest of the movie, passes swiftly and efficiently. Harboring few ambitions beyond knock-your-socks-off action sequences, this crafty revenge thriller delivers with so much style — and even some wit — that the lack of substance takes longer than it should to become problematic.” Read more…)

The Retrieval (Civil War-era drama, Ashton Sanders. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 75. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A tough, tender little movie, ‘The Retrieval’ tells a story of divided souls wandering a divided land. It takes place in 1864, the year before the Civil War ended, and opens in the dead of night. As cannons boom in the distance, a 13-year-old black boy, a seeming runaway, takes refuge in a barn guarded by a white woman with a long gun. Shortly after the boy settles in next to a few black fugitives — one silently hands him food — he slips out to alert his employers, white bounty hunters who quickly torch the barn and capture the fugitives, who fetch as much as $600 a head.” Read more…)

The Best of Me (romance/drama, James Marsden. Rotten Tomatoes: 8%. Metacritic: 29. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “In the latest weepathon from the Nicholas Sparks suds factory, the star-crossed lovers in ‘The Best of Me,’ in the years they are apart, detect signs every so often that they share a mystical, spiritual bond. Reconnecting after a 20-year separation, Dawson Cole [James Marsden] and his childhood sweetheart, Amanda Collier [Michelle Monaghan], discover that although they were separated by geography, they listened to the same song at the same time, while dreaming of each other.” Read more…)

Dear White People (comedy, Tyler James Williams. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “‘Dear White People’ is the name of Justin Simien’s first feature film, and I’ll say right away that it is as smart and fearless a debut as I have seen from an American filmmaker in quite some time: knowing but not snarky, self-aware but not solipsistic, open to influence and confident in its own originality. It’s a clever campus comedy that juggles a handful of hot potatoes — race, sex, privilege, power — with elegant agility and only an occasional fumble. You want to see this movie, and you will want to talk about it afterward, even if the conversation feels a little awkward. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. There is great enjoyment to be found here, and very little comfort.” Read more…)

The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby (romance/drama, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 67. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby,’ written and directed by Ned Benson, is a strikingly ambitious debut feature. Shot in and around New York, it sets out to chronicle the end of a marriage in all its emotional complexity. The film is an expansive, roaming, sometimes unwieldy excursion across a landscape mined with sorrow, secrets and unresolved questions of identity, a study of friendship and intergenerational miscommunication as well as romantic failure.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
John Wick
Dracula Untold

New Foreign
Every Man for Himself (France, 1980, Jean-Luc Godard-directed drama, Isabelle Huppert. From Vincent Canby’s 1980  New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In the course of Every Man for Himself, whose English title was Slow Motion when it was shown at Cannes this year, Paul, Denise, and Isabelle meet and, in various combinations, talk, argue, observe, and make love, then separate. There are no thunderous emotional confrontations, but, by the end of the film, one’s perceptions have been so enriched, so sharpened, that one comes out of it invigorated. Every Man for Himself leaves you with a renewed awareness of how a fine movie can clear away the detritus that collects in a mind subjected to endless invasions by clichés and platitudes and movies that fearlessly champion the safe or obvious position. It’s a tonic.” Read more…)

Half of a Yellow Sun (Nigeria, drama. Rotten Tomatoes: 51%. Metacritic: 51. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Perhaps the greatest challenge faced by literary adaptations that juxtapose a small group of characters against a seismic backdrop — ‘Doctor Zhivago,’ say, or ‘The Leopard’ — is one of proportion. ‘Half of a Yellow Sun,’ adapted from the 2006 novel by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, emerges on screen as a well-acted, finely wrought epic that nevertheless struggles to balance the requirements of melodrama with its drive to capture a historical moment. The Movie could easily have been a mini-series, but at just under two hours, it plays like a highlight reel.” Read more…)

Room 514 (Israel, drama, Asia Naifeld)

New Documentaries
The Overnighters (economics, social issues. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘The Overnighters’ is an onion of a movie. Composed of multiple layers — more than one of which might bring tears to your eyes — this shape-shifting documentary begins as one thing and ends as quite another. Straddling both is Jay Reinke, a Lutheran pastor whose small town in North Dakota has been overrun by thousands of migrant workers drawn by the booming oil business. Opening his church and his home to shelter men with nowhere to sleep — and sometimes with criminal records — soon draws the ire of his congregation and neighbors. But as Pastor Reinke tirelessly advocates tolerance from city officials and anxious residents, his commitment to the men develops an intensity that begins to seem borderline codependent.” Read more…)