New Releases 2/10/15

Top Hits
Rosewater (Jon Stewart-directed political drama, Gael Garcia Bernal. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Among its virtues, ‘Rosewater,’ the directorial debut of Jon Stewart, is an argument for filmmakers to start their trade after they’ve looked beyond the limits of their own horizons. This fictional movie tells the story of the real Maziar Bahari, an Iranian-born journalist living in London who was arrested in Iran while covering the 2009 elections for Newsweek. Accused of being an agent for foreign intelligence organizations, he was thrown into the Evin Prison, where he was interrogated and beaten, partly for the surreal reason that he had appeared on ‘The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.’ Mr. Stewart’s interest in the material is obviously personal, but his movie transcends mere self-interest.” Read more…)

Predestination (science fiction, Ethan Hawkes. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 68. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Jumping across time and space is tough, thankless business in ‘Predestination,’ a slab of science-fiction speculation draped in old-fashioned detective story crepe. The story centers on a temporal agent, a futuristic enforcer [he tries to right wrongs before they happen] nicely played by Ethan Hawke with a hungry, hangdog look that suggests that his character has spent long nights howling in the wasteland, often without either a scrap or a prayer. Whether slinking through 1985 or another vintage year [usually while chasing down a bomber], the temporal agent looks like a classic lone wolf.” Read more…)

Laggies (romantic comedy, Keira Knightley. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 63. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Ten years after senior prom, Megan [Keira Knightley]  herself in limbo, no longer adolescent and not yet fully grown. It’s a familiar place for the protagonist of a movie comedy to be, and perhaps a further symptom of the shaky state of American adulthood. In Megan’s circle of high school friends, the one who is about to get married [Ellie Kemper] and the one who already has a husband and a kid on the way [Sara Coates] seem kind of awful. Who would want to be so judgmental and shallow, or so blissed-out and dim? Not Megan. But then again, it isn’t as if her own life were anything fabulous.” Read more…)

Nightcrawler (thriller, Jake Gyllenhaal. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Really, though, the chasing after important themes is a distraction. ‘Nightcrawler’ is a modest and effectively executed urban thriller, suspenseful and entertaining in its clammy, overwrought way. [actor Jake] Gyllenhaal’s performance, while not remotely persuasive, is disciplined and meticulous in its creepiness, and [writer and director Dan] Gilroy keeps the audience off balance, fascinated and repelled, half rooting for Lou to succeed, and half dreading what he will do next.” Read more…)

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (family, Steve Carell. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 54. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is the latest example of a wonderful children’s book turned into a mediocre movie. This kind of thing happens so frequently — exceptions like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and, arguably, ‘Shrek’ prove the rule upheld by every recent big-screen Dr. Seuss adaptation — that you could almost believe that there is malice involved. Movie studios do a pretty good job of making pleasing, sometimes transporting family entertainment out of original ideas or ancient folklore. Why do they keep messing up the kiddie lit? Are they doing it on purpose?” Read more…)

Kill the Messenger (political drama, Jeremy Renner. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The director Michael Cuesta started as an independent filmmaker [his credits include ‘L.I.E.’] but, like many other indies, also works in television. He directed the pilot of “Homeland” (he’s one of its executive producers) and helped establish its insinuatingly intimate, often claustrophobic feel and nervous rhythms, partly through its hand-held camerawork. The look that Mr. Cuesta and his director of photography, Sean Bobbitt, give ‘Kill the Messenger’ at times evokes ‘Homeland,’ but the movie’s cinematography isn’t as frenetic and self-consciously raw, and there’s less bobbing and weaving. Even so, the visual choices in the movie, including all the close-ups of Gary’s face as it lightens and darkens, help create the sense that something deeply personal is at stake.” Read more…)

Starred Up (prison drama, Jack O’Connell. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “The title of ‘Starred Up,’ David Mackenzie’s brutal and boisterous new prison drama, refers to the status of its main character, Eric. Though he is legally still under age, Eric, played with method actor inwardness and movie star magnetism by Jack O’Connell, has been promoted to adult status in the British penal system. It’s not hard to see why. Brawny and athletic, he looks less like a child than like a young bull, and his capacity for violence unnerves even some of the hardened older criminals in whose midst he finds himself.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Rosewater
Nightcrawler
Kill the Messenger
About Schmidt
A Late Quartet

New Foreign
Force Majeure (Sweden, drama, Johannes Bah Kuhnke. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “Just under the surface of a seemingly blissful marriage run fissures that a sudden jolt can tear open to reveal a crumbling edifice. That’s the unsettling reality explored with a merciless lens in the Swedish director Ruben Ostlund’s fourth feature film, ‘Force Majeure.’ This brilliant, viciously amusing takedown of bourgeois complacency, gender stereotypes and assumptions and the illusion of security rubs your face in human frailty as relentlessly as any Michael Haneke movie.” Read more…)

New TV
Olive Kitteridge (HBO Miniseries drama, Frances McDormand. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 89. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review: “‘Olive Kitteridge,’ directed by Lisa Cholodenko, is a rare treasure, a measured, understated portrait of a marriage that finds poetry in the most prosaic of settings and circumstances: flinty, stolid citizens of a small, insular town in coastal Maine. There is no glamour and little romance, yet there is a fine-grained mystery to the most ordinary, blunted lives.” Read more…)

Nurse Jackie: Season 6 (comedy/drama series, Edie Falco. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 64.)

Children’s DVDs
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (family, Steve Carell. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 54. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’ is the latest example of a wonderful children’s book turned into a mediocre movie. This kind of thing happens so frequently — exceptions like ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ and, arguably, ‘Shrek’ prove the rule upheld by every recent big-screen Dr. Seuss adaptation — that you could almost believe that there is malice involved. Movie studios do a pretty good job of making pleasing, sometimes transporting family entertainment out of original ideas or ancient folklore. Why do they keep messing up the kiddie lit? Are they doing it on purpose?” Read more…)