New Releases 08/20/13

Top Hits
Amour (France, drama, Jean-Louis Trintignant. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A masterpiece about life, death and everything in between, Michael Haneke’s Amour takes a long, hard, tender look at an elderly French couple, Georges and Anne — played by two titans of French cinema, Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva — in their final days. Set in contemporary Paris, it begins with the couple’s front door being breached by a group of firemen. One moves through the rooms, delicately raising a hand to his nose before throwing open several large windows. He may be trying to erase the smell that probably brought the firemen there in the first place and which has transformed this light, graceful, enviable apartment into a crypt.” Read more…)

Scary Movie 5 (comedy/horror, Mike Tyson. Rotten Tomatoes: 4%. Metacritic: 11. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “The ‘Scary’ movies are noted for its cameo appearances, and ‘V’ is no exception: Molly Shannon, Snoop Dogg [I thought he was Snoop Lion!], Heather Locklear, Usher, Mike Tyson and Tyler Perry as his Madea character parade through the scattershot skits. Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan have a faintly amusing bit at the start in which they’re in bed and Mr. Sheen mocks his sexual appetites as Ms. Lohan gamely pokes fun at her arrest record.” Read more…)

Shadow Dancer (thriller, Clive Owen. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In the prologue of James Marsh’s taut, somber conspiracy thriller “Shadow Dancer,” the 12-year-old Collette McVeigh (Maria Laird), idly stringing beads into a necklace, ignores her father’s request to go out and buy cigarettes. It is 1973 in Belfast, and the city is a powder keg. Her younger brother goes instead, and is shot to death outside the house in cross-fire between British and Irish Republican Army forces. As the McVeigh home erupts in anguished chaos, the father casts a recriminatory glare at Collette, who is guilt-stricken.” Read more…)

Epic (animated feature, Amanda Seyfried. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Epic [from the creators of the Ice Age movies and Rio] is much better at visualizing the woods and its residents than at constructing a resonant pop allegory. The best it can come up with is the motto ‘Many leaves, one tree,’ about all things being connected. You can read whatever else you like into a soothing fable for flower children that gently preaches that nature is good and its destruction bad. There is no suggestion of political axes being sharpened.” Read more…)

Highland Park (comedy/drama, Parker Posey)
Boardwalk Empire: Season 3 (in Top Hits)

New Blu-Ray
Amour
The War Within

New Foreign
Post Tenebras Lux (Mexico, drama, Adolfo Jimenez Castro. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The film’s title is Latin for ‘after darkness, light,’ which, after the Reformation, became a motto of Geneva. Post Tenebras Lux isn’t an overtly religious film, but it is — as its opposing scenes of the luminous child and that red-hot devil suggest — a deeply personal, intermittently hermetic exploration of innocence and sin, good and evil. The vessel for much of this metaphysical investigation is an architect, Juan [Adolfo Jiménez Castro], who with his wife, Natalia [Nathalia Acevedo]; their somewhat older son, Eleazar; and the toddler, Rut, lives in rural splendor in an isolated house. It looks like a little bit of paradise, though one that needs an armed guard.” Read more…)

The Big City (India, 1963, drama, Madhabi Mukherjee. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The second New York Film Festival was concluded Saturday night with the showing of the latest production of the distinguished Indian director, Satyajit Ray. It is Mahanagar [The Big City], a comedy-drama of modern Indian life, and it served as a commendable finale for the not-always-commendable program of festival showings in Philharmonic Hall. In contrast to several other of the highly touted festival films, there is nothing obscure or over-stylized about this characteristic work by Mr. Ray. It is another of his beautifully fashioned and emotionally balanced contemplations of change in the thinking, the customs and the manners of the Indian middle-class.” Rread more…)

Charulata (India, 1964, romance/drama, Madhabi Mukherjee. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From Howard Thompson’s 1965 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In a sense, the very opening shot—Miss Mukherjee’s hands darting a needle into an embroidery hoop—keys all that follows. Arranging every single camera frame to convey nuance, mood or tension, Mr. Ray has photographically embroidered a steady flow of quiet images with precise, striking acuity. One montage—when the day-dreaming wife, in a garden swing, rocks to and fro like a pendulum—is unforgettable. And the final shot in the film—a stop-motion close-up of two hands—is a memorable period to Mr. Ray’s structure.” Read more…)

The Inspector Vivaldi Mysteries (Italy, mystery series, Lando Buzzanca)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The World, the Flesh and the Devil (1958, sci-fi/drama, Harry Belafonte. From Bosley Crowther’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In this Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer picture, made in black-and-white CinemaScope and directed by Ranald MacDougall, the initial assumption is that most of the people in the world have been destroyed—apparently disintegrated—by some sort of radioactive salt. There are only three evident survivors, two men and a beautiful girl, who eventually find themselves together and isolated in a completely deserted and dehumanized New York. Up to this point, the drama is graphic and interesting, presenting a science-fiction idea in good, vivid cinematic style. The arrival of the first man in the city to find the George Washington Bridge clogged with hundreds of empty and silent automobiles, the barren streets flecked with telltale litter, the buildings and apartment houses stark and still, stabs the imagination and gives the viewer the creeps. Mr. MacDougall has portrayed this awesome phenomenon with pictorial force and clarity.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
George Gently: Series 5

New TV
Boardwalk Empire: Season 3 (in Top Hits)
The Good Wife: Season 4

New Documentaries
No Place on Earth (Holocaust survival story. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 58. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “For the Ukrainian Jews in Janet Tobias’s No Place on Earth, going underground was both a brute necessity and a literal reality. After the Nazi invasion their families sought improbable refuge in caves outside their village. There they stayed and lived — without sunlight — for more than 500 days. Some emerged at night to forage; at one point hostile villagers sealed an entrance with dirt.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Epic (animated feature, Amanda Seyfried, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 52. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Epic [from the creators of the Ice Age movies and Rio] is much better at visualizing the woods and its residents than at constructing a resonant pop allegory. The best it can come up with is the motto ‘Many leaves, one tree,’ about all things being connected. You can read whatever else you like into a soothing fable for flower children that gently preaches that nature is good and its destruction bad. There is no suggestion of political axes being sharpened.” Read more…)

Scooby-Doo: Stage Fright (animated movie)