New releases 10/11/16

Top Hits
Ghostbusters (action/comedy remake, Leslie Jones. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Sliding into theaters on a river of slime and an endless supply of good vibes, the new, cheerfully silly ‘Ghostbusters’ is that rarest of big-studio offerings — a movie that is a lot of enjoyable, disposable fun. And enjoy it while you can because this doesn’t happen often, even in summer, which is supposed to be our season of collective moviegoing happiness. The season when everyone jumps onboard (whee!) and agrees that, yes, this great goof is exactly what you were thinking when you wondered why they didn’t make summer movies like they used to.” Read more…)

The Infiltrator (fact-based thriller, Bryan Cranston. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 66. From Stephen Holden’s new York Times review: “‘The Infiltrator’ is still a good yarn that, when it catches its breath, allows Mr. Cranston to convey the same ambivalence and cunning he brought to ‘Breaking Bad’ and ‘All the Way,’ the HBO biopic of President Lyndon B. Johnson adapted from the Broadway play that won Mr. Cranston a Tony for best actor. Even when playing a nice upstanding guy, Mr. Cranston’s approach is complicated.” Read more…)

Blood Father (action, Mel Gibson. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director Jean-Francois] Richet directed the 2005 remake of John Carpenter’s exploitation thriller ‘Assault on Precinct 13,’ which in turn was modeled on Howard Hawks’s ‘Rio Bravo.’ Mr. Richet clearly loves this hard-boiled material as much as he does old films. ‘Blood Father’ is a tight, blunt 88 minutes of hard talk, fired bullets and spit-shined genre conventions. In short order it flips into a road movie when John and Lydia are forced to flee, a narrative turn that allows Mr. Richet to root around in a sandbox filled with the usual classic playthings: cool rides, ribbons of lost highway, the motel that becomes a deathtrap, the spooky deserts haunted by the ghosts of film cowboys and Indians past.” Read more…)

The Legend of Tarzan (jungle action, Christoph Waltz. Rotten Tomatoes: 36%. Metacritic: 44. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Legend of Tarzan’ has a whole lot of fun, big-screen things going for it — adventure, romance, natural landscapes, digital animals and oceans of rippling handsome man-muscle. Its sweep and easy pleasures come from its old-fashioned escapades — it’s one long dash through the jungle by foot, train, boat and swinging vine — but what makes it more enjoyable than other recycled stories of this type is that the filmmakers have given Tarzan a thoughtful, imperfect makeover. That must have been tough given the origin story’s white supremacy problems.” Read more…)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand, adventure/drama, Sam Neill. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Hunt for the Wilderpeople’ takes a troika of familiar story types — the plucky kid, the crusty geezer, the nurturing bosom — and strips them of cliché. Charming and funny, it is a drama masquerading as a comedy about an unloved boy whom nobody wants until someone says, Yes, I’ll love him. Much of the humor comes from the child, who’s at once a pip and a gloriously expressive ambassador for the director Taika Waititi’s cleareyed take on human nature and movies. Mr. Waititi knows that we love to cry at sad and bad times, but he also knows that people in pain need to get on with their lives.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Legend of Tarzan
Ghostbusters (remake)

New Foreign DVDs
Les Cowboys (France, western/drama, François Damiens. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Directing for the first time, the prolific screenwriter Thomas Bidegain creates an oblique yet mesmerizing drama, his economical script [written with Noé Debré] allowing the movie’s observant camera and sprawling locations to tell their own story. Visual bread crumbs — like a red neckerchief and silently watchful shots of Kid, Kelly’s little brother — lead us like clues to a mystery stretching from a document forger in Antwerp to Yemen and beyond. And as time passes and the twin towers of the World Trade Center fall, Alain’s bitter fixation transfers to Kid, now known as Georges [Finnegan Oldfield] and doing medical relief work in Pakistan.” Read more…)

4 Adventures of Reinette & Mirabelle (France, 1987, Eric Rohmer-directed comedy/romance, Joëlle Miquel. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60. From Caryn James’ 1989 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “As if making a joke about the famous talkiness of his films, Eric Rohmer’s latest work begins and ends with silence – or at least the idea of silence. In the first of the connected episodes in ‘Four Adventures of Reinette and Mirabelle,’ the voluble Reinette treasures silence so much she wakes her friend Mirabelle before dawn to hear ‘the blue hour,’ which is not an hour but a second, not a sound but a brief silence between darkness and light, when the night birds stop singing and the day birds have not yet begun. Mr. Rohmer and his characters are always searching for such perfect moments, which are not epiphanies but luxurious experiences in their own right.” Read more…)

Hunt for the Wilderpeople (New Zealand, adventure/drama, Sam Neill, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 60.)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Brave New World (1998, drama/sci-fi based on Aldous Huxley novel, Leonard Nimoy. From Caryn James’ 1998 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “It is a terrific challenge, of course, to adapt Huxley’s vision of a technocratic future, without free will or individualism. So much of his forecast has already come true. He saw babies being hatched in test tubes, invented a Prozac-like happy drug called Soma and envisioned the mass media as a form of social conditioning. But ‘Brave New World’ has to be viscerally, not just conceptually, threatening. The film fails to deal coherently with what is frightening about modern life and why. Despite the presence of high-tech sets, it reduces Huxley’s wide sociopolitical fantasy to a world in which love is an alien concept and mother and father are literally dirty words. In its family-oriented emphasis, it is a typically mushy movie-of-the-week.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Women He’s Undressed (Hollywood costumer Orry-Kelly, cinema history. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. From Luke Buckmaster’s Guardian review: “The life of [Hollywood costume designer] Orry-Kelly is a story that needed to be told, and [director Gillian] Armstrong stocks up a lovingly rendered homage-cum-investigation with oodles of verve and panache. Women He’s Undressed has a spritzy and celebratory feel, as if the audience have popped the cork on an old bottle of fine champagne and are seated front row at the world’s most fabulous wake.” Read more…)

sherpaSherpa (mountain climbing, Nepalese guides, avalanche. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 93. From Ken Jaworowski’s New York Times review: “What is the moral justification ‘for you to play what is essentially a game of Russian roulette’ with someone’s life? It’s a brutal question posed by a journalist against the breathtaking backdrop of Mount Everest. It’s also one that nags at you throughout ‘Sherpa,’ an exceptionally absorbing documentary.” Read more…)

Hillary’s America (politics, conservatism, Dinesh D’Souza. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 2. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The new movie by the conservative author and pundit Dinesh D’Souza, ‘Hillary’s America,’ directed and written with Bruce Schooley, opens with an animated montage of a map of the United States going up in flames in various spots. A close-up image of Hillary Clinton caps the scene. The film then recounts Mr. D’Souza’s own guilty plea to violating federal campaign finance laws. He was set up, he insists. “If you make a film criticizing the most powerful man in the world,” he says, referring to his 2012 documentary, ‘2016: Obama’s America,’ ‘expect the empire to strike back.'” Read more…)

Life, Animated (autism, mental health, animation, Disney. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 75. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The disparity between what we want for our children and what they might achieve can be especially painful for parents of autistic youngsters. Yet you’d barely know that from Roger Ross Williams’ relentlessly cheerful documentary, ‘Life, Animated.’ Like the Disney movie clips that flood its frames, this too-tentative look at how a bound mind found freedom in animation leaves us in little doubt of a happy ending.” Read more…)