New Releases 1/28/14

Top Hits
Rush (action, Chris Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 75. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Several times in Rush, Ron Howard’s excitingly torqued movie set in the Formula One race world, the camera gets so close to a driver’s eye that you can see each trembling lash. It’s a startlingly beautiful but also naked image, partly because there’s no hiding for an actor when the camera gets that close. In moments like these, you’re no longer watching a performance with its layers of art and technique: you’ve crossed the border between fiction and documentary to go eye to eye with another person’s nervous system. Mr. Howard doesn’t just want you to crawl inside a Formula One racecar, he also wants you to crawl inside its driver’s head.” Read more…)

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Last Vegas (comedy, Robert De Niro. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 48. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “A mild geezer comedy full of jokes that might have sounded tired at a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, the movie has no reason for existence and nothing much to recommend it. Nothing much, that is, apart from four exceptionally interesting actors, who bring charm and professionalism to a project that requires very little of them. If you approach Last Vegas expecting an emotionally engaging, in any way surprising, moviegoing experience, you will be disappointed. But if you want the equivalent of an old-fashioned television variety show — a Very Special Evening with Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas and Kevin Kline — you might not have such a bad time.” Read more…)

Bad Grandpa (comedy, Johnny Knoxville. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 54. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Attending Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Johnny Knoxville’s new prankfest, could be life-changing. It may cause you never to use another vending machine, never to enter another bingo parlor, never to put your child on one of those coin-operated rides, never to eat in another diner.” Read more…)

The Fifth Estate (Wikileaks drama, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 54. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “In the weeks before the film’s release, the real Mr. Assange has not been shy about sharing his feelings, publishing an open letter to Mr. Cumberbatch on the WikiLeaks site and describing The Fifth Estate in an e-mail to a New York Times reporter as ‘a reactionary snoozefest that only the U.S. government could love.’ As of this writing, the government has not weighed in, but it seems to me that Mr. Assange’s judgment is only half right. This version of the WikiLeaks story, directed by Bill Condon from a script by Josh Singer, is a moderate snoozefest, undone by its timid, muddled efforts at fair-mindedness.” Read more…)

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 (animated feature, Bill Hader. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 59. From Miriam Bale’s New York Times review: “There are moments of visual humor in the animated sequel Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 that are so inventive they feel like a glimpse of a cartoon masterpiece Jerry Lewis might have made. Most of the best scenes, set in a place called San Franjose, eerily capture the pink light of the Bay Area better than anyone since Wayne Thiebaud or Richard Diebenkorn. These scenes also sum up the tech culture there of shiny white start-ups and endless lattes.” Read more…)

Museum Hours (drama, Mary Margaret O’Hara. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A. O. Scott’s Times review: “The distinction between life and art is one that all genuine works of art live to unmake, even if the circumstances in which we experience art have a way of maintaining the barrier. An art museum, for example, is designated as a place apart from the zones of ordinary existence. We enter to gaze upon beautiful artifacts at a safe distance, standing at the boundary between tedium and rapture. But really, and fortunately, a museum is no different from anywhere else, since beauty and meaning are everywhere, provided we know how to look. Museum Hours, Jem Cohen’s quietly amazing, sneakily sublime new film, is partly a reflection on such aesthetic puzzles.” Read more…)

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House of Bodies (horror, Terrence Howard)

New Blu-Ray
Bonnie & Clyde (4-hour made for TV movie, Emile Hirsch. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “The television Bonnie & Clyde, written by John Rice and Joe Batteer and directed by Bruce Beresford, is thoroughly inoffensive and resolutely middle-of-the-road, a big slab of a story about a doomed love affair between two nice, good-looking kids who had some really bad luck. As Barrow and Parker, Emile Hirsch [Into the Wild] and Holliday Grainger [The Borgias] are both older than their characters were when they died — Barrow was 25, Parker 23 — but they seem too young, too feckless, too clean. You don’t believe that these lightweights grew up in poverty or lived on the run or gunned down a series of lawmen, even as you watch them doing it.” Read more…)

Last Vegas
Rush
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
The April Fools (1969, rom-com, Jack Lemmon. From the unsigned 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The April Fools, written by Hal Dresner and directed by Stuart Rosenberg, manipulates its stereotypes with elegance and style. Lemmon may be doomed to playing this sort of role forever, but he does it well, even though he’s beginning to look very tired. Miss Deneuve simply has to exist to be effective, her face a kind of tribal mask of upper class beauty and sensitivity.” Read more…)

New British
Downton Abbey: Season 4 (UK series, Hugh Bonneville. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 72.)

New Documentaries
Carbon Nation (environment, economics)