New Releases 11/3/15

Top Hits
Inside Out (Pixar animated feature, Amy Poehler. Rotten Tomatoes: 98. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Can movies think? This is a longstanding critical question, usually answered in the negative. Literature, the thinking goes, is uniquely able to show us the flow of thought and feeling from within, but the camera’s eye and the two-dimensional screen can’t take us past the external signs of consciousness. We can look at faces in various configurations of pleasure or distress, but minds remain invisible, mysterious, beyond the reach of cinema. One of the many accomplishments of ‘Inside Out’ — a thrilling return to form for Pixar Animation Studios after a few years of commercially successful submasterpieces — is that it demolishes this assumption.” Read more…)

Vacation (comedy, Ed Helms. Rotten Tomatoes: 26. Metacritic: 34. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “The kid with the potty mouth may cost Warner Bros. some business at the box office, but in a strange way he elevates ‘Vacation,’ a very funny R-rated movie with a PG-13 heart. The film is a sort of sequel to “National Lampoon’s Vacation,’ the 1983 comedy in which Chevy Chase played Clark Griswold, a father determined to drag his family across the country for a vacation at an amusement park called Walley World. One of those children, Rusty, has grown up and now embarks on the same ill-advised odyssey with his wife and two sons.” Read more…)

The End of the Tour (drama, Jesse Eisenberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 92. Metacritic: 82. A New York Times Critic’s Pick, with screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and Yale Professor of English and Theater Studies Donald Margulies. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “And since I’m about to praise a movie about David Foster Wallace that claims fidelity to at least some of the facts of his life, I should perhaps identify myself as a devoted nonconsumer of literary biographies, an avowed biopic skeptic and, unless someone offers me a lot of money to write one, a habitual avoider of celebrity profiles. So by all rights I should hate ‘The End of the Tour,’ James Ponsoldt’s new film, a portrait of the writer that has its origins in a (never-published) magazine profile. In fact, I love it.” Read more…)

She’s Funny That Way (comedy, Owen Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 38. Metacritic: 45. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “If only the title of ‘She’s Funny That Way’ were true, then maybe this creaky throwback padded with Hollywood names and fake accents could be forgiven its many failings. But there’s barely a whiz-bang punch line or smoothly executed setup to be found in a movie that longs to be a sparkling bedroom comedy and winds up a tortured, fizz-free farce.” Read more…)

Dark Places (thriller, Charlize Theron. Rotten Tomatoes: 26. Metacritic: 39.)

New Blu-Ray
Vacation
Inside Out

New Foreign
About Elly (Iran, thriller, Golshifteh Farahani. Rotten Tomatoes: 97. Metacritic: 87. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “If the setup of the Iranian filmmaker Asghar Farhadi’s devastating film ‘About Elly’ sounds familiar, it’s because this story of a young woman who disappears during a festive weekend outing at a coastal resort resembles that of Michelangelo Antonioni’s classic ‘L’Avventura.’ In both movies, a frantic and futile search ensues. But in “L’Avventura” that search is soon abandoned. In ‘About Elly’ the tension mounts, and accusations fly over who is to blame. With reputations at stake, lies are told.” Read more…)

Güeros (Mexico, drama, Tenoch Huerta. Rotten Tomatoes: 93. Metacritic: 77. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Shot in black-and-white, in the boxy, old-fashioned aspect ratio that seems to be the latest thing in art-cinema retro fashion, Alonso Ruizpalacios’s ‘Güeros’ manages to feel both sweetly nostalgic and exuberantly now. It takes place in 1999, during a period of student unrest in Mexico, and many of the young people on screen, militants and slackers alike, live consciously in the shadow of 1968, when campus uprisings shook the country and were murderously suppressed by the military.” Read more…)

New TV
Manhattan: Season 1 (historical drama series on the building of the Bomb, John Benjamin Hickey. Rotten Tomatoes: 90. Metacritic: 80.)

New Documentaries
Los Angeles Plays Itself (cinema history, urban history. Rotten Tomatoes: 95. Metacritic: 86. From A.O. Scott’s 2004 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “According to Thom Andersen, ‘Los Angeles is where the relationship between reality and representation gets muddled.’ This is in no small part because the misrepresentation of reality drives that city’s most prominent industry, the movies. In ‘Los Angeles Plays Itself,’ his sober and indignant new documentary, Mr. Andersen takes movies involving his hometown as his subject, his source of evidence, and the target of a thought-provoking if sometimes crabby indictment. ‘This is the city,’ he writes in the film’s first-person narration [read by Encke King]. ‘They make movies here. I live here. Sometimes I think that gives me the right to criticize.’ And criticize he does, using clips from more than 200 films over nearly three hours in his defense of exploited and beleaguered Los Angeles against the cultural imperialism of Hollywood.” Read more…)

Seymour: An Introduction (teaching, music, Seymour Bernstein, Ethan Hawke. Rotten Tomatoes: 100. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “As its title suggests, ‘Seymour: An Introduction’ doesn’t try to offer the final word on its subject, Seymour Bernstein, the pianist, composer, teacher, philosopher and ultimate New Yorker. Instead, in 81 transporting minutes, this intimate, big-hearted documentary draws you so completely into his world that you feel as if you know all there is to know, even as questions linger. So effectively does it close the distance between you and Mr. Bernstein that afterward you may find yourself scanning the streets, hoping to catch sight of him, as if for an old friend.” Read more…)

Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal (politics, media, history, Gore Vidal. Rotten Tomatoes: 94. Metacritic: 77. From A.O. Scott’s new York Times review: “In 1968, as the summer political-convention season approached, ABC News decided to take a gamble. The network seemed permanently stuck in third place, and its news division in particular suffered from the lack of a brand-name on-air authority figure to compete with Chet Huntley and David Brinkley at NBC or Walter Cronkite at CBS. Back in those days, the two leading networks covered the conventions live from beginning to end. [Can you imagine?] Instead of comprehensiveness, ABC went for provocation and at least the illusion of intellectual heft, hiring Gore Vidal and William F. Buckley to conduct a series of debates during the Republican circus in Miami and the subsequent Democratic debacle in Chicago. ‘Best of Enemies,’ Robert Gordon and Morgan Neville’s  lively new documentary, an accessible assemblage of archival footage and talking-head analysis, mines the Buckley-Vidal skirmishes for nuggets of historical insight.” Read more…)