New Releases 01/21/14

Top Hits
Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen-directed drama, Cate Blanchett. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “When Cate Blanchett first cruises into Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, playing a Park Avenue matron fallen on hard times, she looks like a million bucks. She’s wearing pearls and a white Chanel jacket, with an Hermès bag as big as a Shetland pony hanging off one arm. It’s the sort of important accessory worn by women accustomed to being chauffeured around town. Soon after, though, as she stands with her monogrammed luggage on a nondescript San Francisco sidewalk, she looks frightened, alone — like someone who could benefit from some kindness. Instead, she waves off a stranger and, posing a question that’s as existential as it is practical, demands, ‘Where am I, exactly?’ She’s in the Mission, for starters, but Jasmine French — this lost, lonely woman brilliantly brought to quivering life by Ms. Blanchett — is more properly in a Woody Allen movie, his most sustained, satisfying and resonant film since Match Point.” Read more…)

Machete Kills (action comedy, Danny Trejo. Rotten Tomatoes: 29%. Metacritic: 41. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Until your eyes glaze over after about a half-hour, Machete Kills might put a twisted smirk of guilty amusement on your face. The high point of those opening minutes is a fantastically gaudy fake trailer for a sequel, Machete Kills Again … In Space, which embodies the director Robert Rodriguez’s nostalgia for trashy B-movie exploitation flicks.” Read more…)

The Act of Killing (documentary, history, Indonesian genocide. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There are, nonetheless, a few movies that try to take us inside the minds and motives of [those] guilty [of genocide], and to show us the familiar — the banal — face of evil. Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah [recently reissued on DVD by the Criterion Collection] is a notable and still notably rare attempt to explore genocide not only as a historical cataclysm but also as a result of innumerable instances of actual, ordinary behavior. Though his methods differ from Mr. Lanzmann’s, and his aims are less comprehensive, the 38-year-old filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer undertakes a similar inquiry in The Act of Killing, his dogged, inventive, profoundly upsetting and dismayingly funny documentary about the Indonesian massacres that began in 1965 and claimed, by some estimates, as many as 2.5 million lives over the next year.” Read more…)

Captain Phillips (action thriller, Tom Hanks. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Captain Phillips, a movie that insistently closes the distance between us and them, has a vital moral immediacy. It was directed by Paul Greengrass, the British filmmaker who quickened the pulse of contemporary action cinema with the second and third installments in the Bourne franchise, features that proved yet again that big-screen thrills and thought need not be mutually exclusive. Kinetic action and intelligence are similarly the driving forces in Captain Phillips, which, like Mr. Greengrass’s Bourne movies, shakes you up first with its style and then with its ideas.” Read more…)

Instructions Not Included (Mexico/U.S., comedy, Eugenio Derbez. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55.)

New Blu-Ray
Blue Jasmine
Captain Phillips
In the Heat of the Night

New Foreign
Instructions Not Included (Mexico/U.S., comedy, Eugenio Derbez, also in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 55.)

New Documentaries
The Act of Killing (history, Indonesian genocide, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “There are, nonetheless, a few movies that try to take us inside the minds and motives of [those] guilty [of genocide], and to show us the familiar — the banal — face of evil. Claude Lanzmann’s Shoah [recently reissued on DVD by the Criterion Collection] is a notable and still notably rare attempt to explore genocide not only as a historical cataclysm but also as a result of innumerable instances of actual, ordinary behavior. Though his methods differ from Mr. Lanzmann’s, and his aims are less comprehensive, the 38-year-old filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer undertakes a similar inquiry in The Act of Killing, his dogged, inventive, profoundly upsetting and dismayingly funny documentary about the Indonesian massacres that began in 1965 and claimed, by some estimates, as many as 2.5 million lives over the next year.” Read more…)