New Releases 5/19/15

Top Hits
American Sniper (war drama, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 72. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “As a young boy, which is to say before he grows up into a burly, bearded Bradley Cooper, Chris Kyle receives a lesson in life from his strict Texan father. The world, according to Dad, is divided into sheep, wolves and sheepdogs, those rare, righteous souls called to protect the innocent from the wicked. It’s a tough, stark view of the order of things, one that guides Chris in his subsequent career as a Navy SEAL sniper and one that has, with some modification, informed much of the work of Clint Eastwood, the director of ‘American Sniper.’ Faithful in shape and spirit to the real Chris Kyle’s memoir, ‘American Sniper’ also reaffirms Mr. Eastwood’s commitment to the themes of vengeance and justice in a fallen world. In the universe of his films — a universe where the existence of evil is a given — violence is a moral necessity, albeit one that often exacts a cost from those who must wield it in the service of good.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
American Sniper

New Foreign
Leviathan (Russia, Oscar-winning drama, Aleksey Serebryakov. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%. Metacritic: 92. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As its imposing title suggests, the Russian drama ‘Leviathan’ is something of a monster movie. It turns on a modern-day Job who endures trials and tribulations in an Arctic town in northern Russia. Some of his miseries are self-inflicted — he’s a boozer, not the pious soul of the Bible story — but many of his agonies originate with corrupt authorities, including the local mayor, a Hobbesian brute who sits at his desk under a photograph of Vladimir V. Putin. The director, Andrey Zvyagintsev, has a heavenly eye but a leaden hand, and his movie is as heavy as it is transporting, filled with stirring shots of the natural world and deep dives into a human realm flooded with tears and vodka.” Read more…)

Girlhood (France, drama, Karidja Touré. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 85. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Céline Sciamma’s ‘Girlhood’ can be described (like so many movies these days) as a coming-of-age story, and it honors the genre, and its main character, with exemplary sensitivity and sympathy. But even as she stops at familiar stations on the road to maturity — problems at home and school, new friendships and first love — Ms. Sciamma revels in the risky, reckless exuberance of adolescence and in the sheer joy of filming it.” Read more…)

The Blue Room (France, drama, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “There’s a shot at the start of ‘The Blue Room,’ an elegant psychological freak-out about adultery and other madness, of a vacated hotel room. The calm gray-blue walls and understated furnishings paint a tranquil scene. Yet it’s here that Julien [Mathieu Amalric] and Esther [Stéphanie Cléau] have routinely broken their marriage vows in a frenzy of tangled and sweat-slicked limbs. With its covers thrown back, the large bed that dominates the room seems less empty than ravaged. It looks like a stage after the final performance. It also looks like the scene of a crime.” Read more…)

The Last Sentence (Sweden, historical drama, Jesper Christensen. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “It’s plausible that Torgny Segerstedt, a crusading Swedish journalist, was every bit as heroic, freethinking and sexually irresistible to women as he is portrayed in ‘The Last Sentence.’ But you will need to take it on faith even after seeing this stultifying movie, a fictionalization of how Segerstedt [1876-1945] positioned himself on the right side of history by writing an editorial that declared ‘Herr Hitler is an insult.’ Hermann Göring sent a telegram objecting to this boldly tossed gauntlet, one of many such complaints that challenged Segerstedt’s lonely fight.” Read more…)

New Television
Orange Is the New Black: Season 2 (TV prison drama series. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 89. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “But there’s a lot to be said for smart entertainment. I suspect I’m not the only viewer who looks back with nostalgia, after less than a decade, to the macabre whimsy of HBO’s ‘Six Feet Under’ [or, more recently, Showtime’s ‘Dexter’] and wonders when cable drama got so grim. ‘Orange Is the New Black’ reminds me in spirit of ‘Six Feet Under,’ except that it’s better and funnier.” Read more…)