New Releases 10/13/15

Top Hits
San Andreas (action/disaster, Dwayne The Rock Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 43. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The big earthquake in ‘San Andreas’ — excuse me, the ‘seismic swarm event’ — has its pros and cons. On one hand, it tears the state of California asunder. On the other, it brings a family together. As is the custom in movies of this kind, destruction is both universal and selective. Two major American cities are pretty much obliterated, catastrophes that presumably cause death on a huge scale. But the half-dozen or so people we care about struggle for survival with what the conventions of genre if not the laws of nature assure us are reasonably good odds.” Read more…)

Tomorrowland (Disney action/family, George Clooney. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 60. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “My son briefly had a youth baseball coach whose way of inspiring his demoralized players was to stand at the dugout entrance screaming at them to have fun. ‘Tomorrowland,’ Brad Bird’s energetic new film, a shiny live-action spectacle from Disney, reminds me of that guy. There is nothing casual or whimsical about this movie’s celebration of imagination, optimism and joy. On the contrary: It’s a determined and didactic argument in favor of all those things, and an angry indictment of everyone who opposes them.” Read more…)

Dope (crime comedy/drama, Shameik Moore. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 70. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Written and directed by Rick Famuyiwa [‘Our Family Wedding,’ ‘The Wood,’ ‘Brown Sugar’), ‘Dope’ has a lot going on, and also a lot going for it. Mr. Famuyiwa has a way of cutting and pasting influences that demonstrates a fan’s sincere enthusiasm. He swerves from bouncy jokiness to violence — and from long, talky takes to quick, syncopated edits — with the dexterity of someone who has studied the early work of Quentin Tarantino. He shoves disparate genre elements together as if pulling jigsaw puzzle pieces from a half-dozen different boxes, and if the finished work isn’t quite convincing, it’s still fun to look at.” Read more…)

The Little Death (risqué comedy, Bojana Novakovic. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 46. From Daniel M. Gold’s new York Times review: “Early on, ‘The Little Death’ helpfully explains that its title comes from the French idiom for orgasm. That eagerness to enlighten characterizes this comedy’s gentle, considerate tone. It also underscores why, in the end, the film doesn’t work. Written and directed by Josh Lawson, an Australian actor [‘House of Lies’], ‘The Little Death’ has some dramatic aspirations as well. While pursuing those, it seeks to be naughty, yet largely inoffensive.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
San Andreas
Aladdin

New British
Indian Summers (historical drama mini-series, Chloe Webster. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 76. From Mike Hale’s New York Times television review: “With the end of ‘Downton Abbey’ in sight — only nine more episodes, already being shown in Britain! — the search for a reasonable substitute takes on new urgency. PBS makes a major play to keep the ‘Downton’ audience with the premiere of ‘Indian Summers’ on Sunday night on ‘Masterpiece.’ It’s a different animal — leaning more toward sex-charged melodrama than genteel parlor comedy — but if you have a taste for good-looking British people misbehaving in beautiful surroundings, it may do just fine.” Read more…)

New TV
Mad Men: The Final Season Part 2 (conclusion of acclaimed, addictive period drama, Jon Hamm. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 83.)

Wayward Pines (supernatural thriller mini-series, Matt Dillon. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 66. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times review [running against the positive consensus]: “‘Wayward Pines’ does have more than a hint of ‘Twin Peaks,’ but it’s not nearly as weird and imaginative. It’s a 10-episode thriller based on a series of novels by Blake Crouch that feels plodding. A small town can be sleepy, but the mystery that binds its residents shouldn’t also be soporific.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Misery Loves Comedy (art of humor, comedy, Larry David, others. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 51. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “It’s a truism that stand-up comedy is harder than it looks. Though it may seem like something anyone can do, telling jokes in a room full of strangers is something best left to professionals. It’s a demanding craft, and also, when approached with the proper mix of discipline and inspiration, an art. All of that applies equally to documentary filmmaking. Comedians don’t get points for trying, and documentaries should not be judged on their intentions. ‘Misery Loves Comedy,’ Kevin Pollak’s survey of the opinions of a bunch of professionally funny people, is an evident labor of love and also a work of grating amateurism.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Aladdin (Disney animated feature, diamond edition, Robin Williams [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Janet Maslin’s 1992 new York Times review [requires olg-in]: “‘Master, I hear and obey,’ said the Genie in the storybook version of ‘Aladdin,’ and his comments seldom went further than that. For an exercise in contrast, consider the dizzying, elastic miracle wrought by Robin Williams, Walt Disney Pictures’ bravura animators and the Oscar-winning songwriting team of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman in ‘Aladdin,’ the studio’s latest effort to send the standards for animated children’s films into the stratosphere. It may be nothing new to find Mr. Williams, who provides the voice of a big blue Genie with a manic streak, working in a wildly changeable vein. But here are animators who can actually keep up with him.” Read more…)