New releases 11/11/14

Top Hits
Jersey Boys (musical biopic, John Lloyd Young. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘Jersey Boys’ is a strange movie, and it’s a Clint Eastwood enterprise, both reasons to see it. For those with a love of doo-wop, it also provides a toe-tapping, ear-worming stroll down rock ’n’ roll memory lane that dovetails with that deeply cherished American song and dance about personal triumph over adversity through hard work, tough times and self-sacrifice. It’s a redemption narrative that’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.” Read more…)

Jamie Marks Is Dead (horror, Cameron Monaghan. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 49. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “Temperate in tone but screaming with subtext, ‘Jamie Marks Is Dead’ climbs above the current glut of supernaturally inclined entertainment by dint of a hushed unease that permeates almost every frame…. Set in a wintry upstate New York and based on a 2007 novel by Christopher Barzak, this unconventional horror movie has little blood but atmosphere to spare. And if the narrative leaves a great deal unexplained, Carter Smith’s slow, seductive direction — perfectly paired with Darren Lew’s queasy, washed-out photography — grounds the actors in a convincingly dreamlike space between past sins and future choices.” Read more…)

Deliver Us From Evil (horror, Eric Bana. Rotten Tomatoes: 28%. Metacritic: 40. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “You know an exorcism is coming in the cop/horror film ;’Deliver Us From Evil,’ and you perhaps expect it to be a silly disappointment, as exorcism scenes so often are. But Scott Derrickson, the director, and his special-effects crew really deliver the creepy goods here, providing an apt climax for as taut and credible a movie involving demonic possession as you’re likely to see.” Read more…)

Tammy (comedy, Melissa McCarthy. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 39. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Tammy’s journey, as they like to say in movieland, is into self-worth. Yet the far more interesting trip here, at least until her self-actualization kicks in, is through an America of lousy jobs, tyrannical bosses, nickel-and-diming poverty and real-looking women. Tammy drives an old Toyota Corolla and works in a fast-food joint where, she discloses in a seemingly throwaway moment, she had to buy her own name tag. It’s the kind of nice detail, like the plus-size extras who are scattered in the background, that [actress Melissa] McCarthy and [director Ben] Falcone slip in repeatedly and that seem to be building toward something greater than the ornamental. Yet time and again, the pair resort to more blunt comedy bits, including scenes built around Tammy’s own penchant for junk food.” Read more…)

Let’s Be Cops (comedy, Damon Wayans, Jr.. Rotten Tomatoes: 19%. Metacritic: 30. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘You’ve been watching too many movies,’ says a detective [Andy Garcia] during an interrogation in ‘Let’s Be Cops.’ The same could be said for the filmmakers, who hit predictable beats in this disposable comedy.” Read more…)

New Blu-Rays
Maleficent
Jersey Boys

New Foreign
Mood Indigo (France, romance/fantasy, Audrey Tautou. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 54. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Does Michel Gondry dream of being a toymaker, a watchmaker or the master of his own private circus? That certainly seems likely, given the ingenious contraptions, live-action and animated, that motor and hum through his latest, ‘Mood Indigo.’ Nominally a romance about a boy and a girl, the movie is more rightly a feature-length expression of Mr. Gondry’s love of whirring, purring creations, including the doorbell that scuttles like a large ring-a-ding insect and the upright piano that whips up cocktails and the mouse that makes mischief and the mechanical cloud that sails over Paris and, and, and. …” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Two Films by Monte Hellman (on the Top Hits shelf):
The Shooting (1966, western, Jack Nicholson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
Ride In the Whirlwind (1966, western, Jack Nicholson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New British
Monty Python: One Down Five to Go (live reunion performance, in Top Hit)

New TV Series
True Blood: Season 7 (vampires. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 54.)

New Documentaries
Portrait of Jason (1967, personality, social history, gay and lesbian, Jason Holliday. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 87. From Bosley Crowther’s 1967 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Thanks to the responsiveness of the subject, and the cold simplicity with which Miss Clarke handles the camera, the film is a good deal more than an unusually frank interview with a homosexual who, at one point, exults: ‘I’m bona fide freaksville!’ The truth is, of course, that he isn’t. The portrait of Jason that takes shape from the bits and pieces of remembered orgies, profitless hustles and traumatic family confrontations is that of a black, sardonic Candide, who dreams one day of becoming a nightclub performer.” Read more…
From Manohla Dargis’ 2013 New York Times review of the new restoration of the film: “‘Portrait of Jason’ was shot in Clarke’s apartment in the Chelsea Hotel during a 12-hour heave beginning on the evening of Dec. 3, 1966, and was the first film she made after ‘The Cool World’ [1964]. It’s the most recent of her features to be lovingly, heroically brought back to exhibition life by Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, the husband-and-wife archivists and distributors who own Milestone Films and who have been engaged in a multiyear campaign to get Clarke’s work again into circulation, an endeavor they call Project Shirley. [Clarke died in 1997 at 77.] The restoration was a joint effort of Milestone, the Academy Film Archive and Modern Videofilm, and the beautiful results open April 19 in New York at the IFC Center.” Read more…)

The Dog (cinema history, true crime, personality, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “It turns out that the true story bit about ‘Dog Day Afternoon’ was, well, pretty true. That’s one of the jaw droppers in ‘The Dog,’ an absorbing, rollicking documentary about John Wojtowicz, who’s best known as the guy Al Pacino performed, with heart, soul and a river of flop sweat, in ‘Dog Day Afternoon.’ In Sidney Lumet’s magnificently squalid 1975 classic, Mr. Pacino plays Sonny Wortzik, whose new career as Clyde Barrow goes south as soon as he pulls out a gun in a Brooklyn bank. Thwarted by bad planning and legions of cops, Sonny eventually ends up in cuffs. The same pretty much happened to Mr. Wojtowicz, except that he was immortalized in a Hollywood masterwork.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
How To Train Your Dragon 2 (animated feature, Jay Baruchel [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 54.)