New Releases 6/9/15

Top Hits
Project Almanac (sci-fi/thriller, Jonny Weston. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 47. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “‘Project Almanac,’ a teenage time-travel fable, begins with its hero delivering a college admissions essay to the camera and continues to pretend that everything we see was filmed by the characters. It’s the latest example of the “found-footage” conceit, which apparently reflects a misperception among screenwriters that the filmmakers have to be part of the story, or else the movie doesn’t happen.” Read more…)

Kingsman: Secret Service (action/comedy, Colin Firth. Rotten Tomatoes: 74%. Metacritic: 58. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “If you don’t mind the church full of parishioners who are slaughtered to the sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Free Bird’ or the ‘Arab terrorists’ who are blown to smithereens or the guns that are pointed at pet dogs or the human heads that explode like firebombed melons as ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ plays, it may be possible to enjoy ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service.’ That said, as this bludgeoning movie grinds to a halt, its gears clogged by viscera and narrative overkill, even those who enjoy go-go gore may end up yearning for the soft touch and subtleties of Guy Ritchie.” Read more…)

Serena (drama, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence will probably get a lot of grief and negative reviews for ‘Serena,’ but this isn’t the kind of fiasco you can entirely pin on its stars. Miscast and misdirected from first ridiculous scene to last, they play George and Serena Pemberton, 1929 glamour-pusses who, soon after the story opens, marry and move to his timber camp. There, he plans to build an empire or dominate nature or something — it’s telling that it is never wholly clear what he has in mind beyond felling trees — while Serena, well, she intends to dominate poor George.” Read more…)

A Master Builder (drama/theatre, Wallace Shawn. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 67. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “As both an actor and a playwright, Wallace Shawn, at his most audacious, goes for the jugular, but in sneaky roundabout ways. In ‘A Master Builder,’ a filmed version of Henrik Ibsen’s play ‘The Master Builder,’ which he also freely adapted, Mr. Shawn stars as the despicable title character, Halvard Solness. As is his wont, Mr. Shawn employs insidious sleight of hand to score moral points. Halvard may not be a murderer, but he relishes crushing the hopes and dreams of everyone around him.”  ‘Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Kingsman: Secret Service

New Foreign
Cupcakes (Israel, comedy/music, Anat Waxman. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 64. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “The gaudy excesses of the annual Eurovision contest have inspired filmmakers before [Farah Khan’s 2014 Bollywood extravaganza, ‘Happy New Year,’ comes to mind], but rarely have they been employed as sure-footedly as in Eytan Fox’s dramedy ‘Cupcakes.’ This candy-coated confection is so irresistible that you’re captivated by its sentiment even as you acknowledge its manipulations.” Read more…)

Eastern Boys (France, drama/gay & lesbian, Olivier Rabourdin. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 74. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘Eastern Boys,’ the most compelling film to be shown at last year’s Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series at Lincoln Center and just now getting an American release, is impossible to shoehorn into a generic box. This story of a lonely middle-aged businessman whose involvement with a scrawny rent boy he meets at the Gare du Nord in Paris explores interlocking themes of sexuality, immigration and power dynamics with a cleareyed sensitivity and refuses to demonize even its shadiest characters.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The Love-Ins (1967, teen rampage exploitation period piece, James MacArthur. From Bosley Crowther’s 1967 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The hippie couple who submitted to matrimony in the Victoria Theater yesterday morning before the opening of ‘The Love-Ins’ [it was, as you may guess, a publicity stunt], were more fortunate than the gaggle of customers who astonishingly sat through this shrill and predictable Hollywood cop-out on the whole current hippie happening.” Read more…)

New British
Above Suspicion: Set 1 (police drama series, Ciaran Hinds)

New Television
Science Fiction Theatre: The Complete Series (1950’s TV sci-fi series, in New Classics)

New Documentaries
Red Army (sports, international politics, history. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “This stirring, crazy story — a Russian novel of Tolstoyan sweep and Gogol-esque absurdity — is recounted in ‘Red Army,’ Gabe Polsky’s jaunty collage of a documentary. Mr. Polsky is a tireless researcher and a dogged interviewer, sometimes to the annoyance of his subjects. In an early sequence, his pushiness earns a raised middle finger from the great defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov, but Mr. Fetisov’s occasionally grumpy participation is crucial to the film. As handsome as any movie star, thoughtful and temperamental, he is both narrator and hero, and serves as a guide to the curious, vanished world of high-level Communist athletics.” Read more…)

New Gay & Lesbian
Eastern Boys (France, drama/gay & lesbian, Olivier Rabourdin, in New Foreign. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 74. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “‘Eastern Boys,’ the most compelling film to be shown at last year’s Rendez-Vous With French Cinema series at Lincoln Center and just now getting an American release, is impossible to shoehorn into a generic box. This story of a lonely middle-aged businessman whose involvement with a scrawny rent boy he meets at the Gare du Nord in Paris explores interlocking themes of sexuality, immigration and power dynamics with a cleareyed sensitivity and refuses to demonize even its shadiest characters.” Read more…)