New Releases 1/13/15

Top Hits
Gone Girl (drama/thriller, Ben Affleck. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 79. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “[Director David] Fincher’s compositions, camera work and cutting are, as always, superbly controlled. Working again with the cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth and the production designer Donald Graham Burt, he fashions an ever more haunted, haunting world that wavers so violently between ordinariness and aberration that, as in his other movies, the two soon blur.” Read more…)

Men, Women & Children (comedy, Jennifer Garner. Rotten Tomatoes: 31%. Metacritic: 38. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times revew: “‘Men, Women & Children,’ Jason Reitman’s glum and thoughtful new film, is not quite as comprehensive as its title suggests. Based on a novel by Chad Kultgen, it surveys a handful of white, middle-class households in a suburban Texas town, each one including a teenager with a smartphone, an Internet connection and some of the attendant problems. Every kid seems to suffer from some kind of digital malaise, and the parents are hardly immune to the seductive, soul-imperiling glow of the interactive screen.” Read more…)

A Walk Among the Tombstones (thriller, Liam Neeson. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Nasty, brutal and unforgiving, ‘A Walk Among the Tombstones’ is one of those rare contemporary cinematic offerings: intelligent pulp. It was written and directed by Scott Frank, a script writer whose credits include ‘Get Shorty’ and ‘Minority Report,’ which means that he’s spent time transposing the likes of Elmore Leonard and Philip K. Dick to the screen.” Read more…)

Jimi: All Is By My Side (musical bio-pic, Andre Benjamin. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “A kaleidoscopic, impressionistic portrait of the artist as a far-out genius, ‘Jimi: All Is By My Side’ doesn’t profess to be either the first or last word on James Marshall Hendrix. Rather, it looks at the year he went from discovery to detonation. It happened fast: In 1966, Hendrix — played with dreamy reserve here by André Benjamin, a.k.a. André 3000 of Outkast — was a cool cat who was calling himself Jimmy James and playing with Curtis Knight and the Squires, an R&B band. The following year he was off to London, where after changing his name and threads, he emerged as the star child Jimi Hendrix. The writer and director John Ridley ends his movie right before Jimi plays at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival, where he would burn down the house and his guitar with it, dive-bombing into history.” Read more…)

Two Faces of January (thriller, Viggo Mortensen. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Graced with a superb cast — Mr. Mortensen and Mr. Isaac have the juiciest roles — Mr. Amini adds embellishing details and plot layers, hints at a grave Oedipal disturbance, turns up the sexual heat and smoothly increases the narrative torque. He keeps you guessing about the twists and turns but also about the strange kinks of character, which are in keeping with [novelist Patricia] Highsmith’s trademark psychological complexities and parade of deeply unbalanced characters [who keep readers unbalanced in turn]. There’s a mystery here, some thrills and blood, but mostly there are beautiful people and the kind of human hunger that devours everything and everyone in sight.” Read more…)

Land Ho! (comedy, Paul Eenhoorn. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The road movie, that asphalt playground of fast cars, masculine prerogative, gangland sprees and occasional feminist cri de coeur, is such a durable American genre that you can fly the idea halfway around the world, drop it on Iceland, rev up a car the size of a military tank and still make it work. This pretty much describes what happens in ‘Land Ho!,’ a delightful tale of two longtime friends of a certain age, Colin [Paul Eenhoorn] and Mitch [Earl Lynn Nelson], who embark on a classic journey of self-discovery generously embellished with laughter, otherworldly beauty and philosophical inquiries into the nature of existence perfumed by the aroma of cheerfully smoked joints.” Read more…)

Viktor (action, Gerard Depardieu. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 27. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Last year, Gerard Depardieu accepted Russian citizenship from President Vladimir V. Putin after leaving his native France in a huff over a tax dispute. Which probably is what brings us to ‘Viktor,’ Philippe Martinez’s sluggish revenge drama shot in Moscow and Chechnya and starring Mr. Depardieu as an ex-convict searching for his son’s killers.” Read more…)

Love Is Strange (romance/drama, Alfred Molina. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “From the first moments we see them together — waking, washing and dressing in the Manhattan apartment they have shared for decades — it is clear that Ben [John Lithgow] and George [Alfred Molina] are a walking illustration of the phrase ‘old married couple.’ They know each other so well and have adapted, graciously and sometimes a little fractiously, to each other’s peculiarities. State law, at long last, has caught up with the reality of their relationship: The first scenes in Ira Sachs’s ‘Love Is Strange’ take place on the morning of George and Ben’s marriage, which is solemnized in an alfresco ceremony followed by a relaxed and lively party at home. But the couple’s bliss is disrupted by bigotry that is at once unexpected and sadly unsurprising.” Read more…)

Middle of Nowhere (drama, Emayatzy Corinealdi. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The writer and director Ava DuVernay [who most recently directed ‘Selma’] is after something exquisitely simple in ‘Middle of Nowhere’: she wants you to look, really look, at her characters. Mostly, Ms. DuVernay, who won the directing award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, wants you to look at Ruby, a lonely young nurse [Emayatzy Corinealdi], whose husband, Derek [Omari Hardwick], is serving time. At once tethered to the world and seemingly detached from its thrum, Ruby dedicates herself to Derek, whom she regularly visits by riding a bus to the prison with all the other dutifully waiting women.” Read more…)

Memphis (drama/music, Willis Earl Beal. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 63. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘Everything is artifice,’ declares Willis [Willis Earl Beal], the melancholy, creatively blocked singer, songwriter and restless dreamer at the heart of ‘Memphis,’ a soulful cinematic tone poem written and directed by Tim Sutton. This luminescent second feature from Mr. Sutton was inspired partly by the legend of O. V. Wright, an African-American blues and gospel singer who had several R&B hits in the 1960s and early ’70s and died in 1980 at 41.” Read more…)

In Secret (thriller, Elizabeth Olsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘In Secret,’ the latest adaptation of Émile Zola’s ‘Thérèse Raquin,’ opens with a dip in the water and quickly comes ashore with furiously galloping horses and sweeping camera movements. The galloping suggests urgency; the camera movements imply narrative grandeur, or maybe directorial ambition. The darkly muted colors, evoking gathering storms and winter chill, add a brooding note. The river that runs alongside the road like a parallel boulevard will probably mean something only to those who have read Zola’s book, a classic of literary naturalism, which was published in 1867 and greeted by one appalled critic as “a pool of mud and blood.'” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Gone Girl
Land Ho!

New Foreign
Wetlands (German, dark erotic comedy, Carla Juri. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “The title of ‘Wetlands’ strongly suggests a nature documentary, and that’s not so far off the mark. Doing — and smelling and tasting — what comes naturally is the singular obsession of the film’s rollicking heroine, Helen [Carla Juri, sensational], an 18-year-old student of vaginal flora and bodily fluids. Helen’s cheerfully experimental sex life and rebellious attitude toward personal hygiene may shock her Catholic mother, but her unwavering affection for her body, in all its secreting glory, is nothing less than thrilling.” Read more…)

Bird People (France, drama/fantasy/romance, Josh Charles. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 70. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “It is not inaccurate to describe ‘Bird People’ as the story of an encounter between a drifting young woman and a man facing the confusion of impending middle age — a variation on the themes of Sofia Coppola’s ‘Lost in Translation,’ perhaps, though, of course, the premise could be exploited in tawdrier or more provocative ways. You may, based on this description — or during the first half of the movie — think that you know where this story is going. I guarantee that you are wrong.” Read more…)

The Skin (Italy, 1981, war/drama, Burt Lancaster)

New TV
Boardwalk Empire: Season 5
The Bridge: Season 2

New Documentaries
Finding Fela (biography, music, African politics, Fela. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 64. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The small gesture was not Fela Kuti’s style. With his band the Africa 70, this Afrobeat pioneer rolled out monster-size grooves, chugging along with soulful beats, keyboards and horns. His lyrics, partly in pidgin, called out the Nigerian military dictatorship; at home he declared his Lagos house to be an independent territory. As for marriage, he embraced polygamy, in the cultlike double digits. With the perilously stuffed documentary ‘Finding Fela,’ the director, Alex Gibney, tries to reckon with this audacious child of the Nigerian elite who courted execution with his brickbats, and megalomania with his extravagance.” Read more…)

Keep On Keepin’ On (jazz bio, Clark Terry. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “By happy coincidence — though it might be a cultural trend of profound significance — we are in a season full of movies about musical mentors. Next week brings ‘Whiplash,’ Damien Chazelle’s tale of a jazz instructor whose main pedagogical methods are sadism and terror. Ethan Hawke’s “Seymour: An Introduction,” part of the New York Film Festival’s documentary lineup, portrays a more benign teacher, who attends to his pupils’ spiritual health as well as their musical skills. And opening on Friday is ‘Keep On Keepin’ On,’ Alan Hicks’s affectionate and moving look at the relationship between the great trumpeter Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin, a talented young pianist.” Read more…)

New Music
Finding Fela (biography, music, African politics, Fela. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 64. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The small gesture was not Fela Kuti’s style. With his band the Africa 70, this Afrobeat pioneer rolled out monster-size grooves, chugging along with soulful beats, keyboards and horns. His lyrics, partly in pidgin, called out the Nigerian military dictatorship; at home he declared his Lagos house to be an independent territory. As for marriage, he embraced polygamy, in the cultlike double digits. With the perilously stuffed documentary ‘Finding Fela,’ the director, Alex Gibney, tries to reckon with this audacious child of the Nigerian elite who courted execution with his brickbats, and megalomania with his extravagance.” Read more…)

Keep On Keepin’ On (jazz bio, Clark Terry. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “By happy coincidence — though it might be a cultural trend of profound significance — we are in a season full of movies about musical mentors. Next week brings ‘Whiplash,’ Damien Chazelle’s tale of a jazz instructor whose main pedagogical methods are sadism and terror. Ethan Hawke’s “Seymour: An Introduction,” part of the New York Film Festival’s documentary lineup, portrays a more benign teacher, who attends to his pupils’ spiritual health as well as their musical skills. And opening on Friday is ‘Keep On Keepin’ On,’ Alan Hicks’s affectionate and moving look at the relationship between the great trumpeter Clark Terry and Justin Kauflin, a talented young pianist.” Read more…)