New Releases 04/30/13

Top Hits
Silver Linings Playbook (drama/comedy/romance, Bradley Cooper. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 81. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Silver Linings Playbook, the exuberant new movie from David O. Russell, does almost everything right. The story tracks the feverish, happy, sad, absurdly funny ups and downs of a head case named Pat Solatano, played by a surprisingly effective, intensely focused Bradley Cooper, just as he returns to his parents’ home after eight months in a mental institution. Pat had been put away for a scarily violent crime, but now, having shed fat and the defense it offered him, and feeding on the shiny philosophy of the title instead, he feels ready to tackle the world. The world may not be ready.” Read more…)

The Details (comedy, Tobey Maguire. Rotten Tomatoes: 45%. Metacritic: 56. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “What upper-middle-class suburbanite wouldn’t be apoplectic to find his newly sodded front lawn torn up by raccoons? In The Details, Jacob Aaron Estes’s surreal moral fable cloaked as a romantic comedy, getting rid of those pesky creatures becomes the obsession of Jeff Lang [Tobey Maguire], a smug, mild-mannered Seattle physician accustomed to getting his way… Instead of turning soft and squishy, this examination of karma gets tougher as it goes along. Its refusal to settle into a cozy niche may be commercially disastrous, but I take it as a sign of integrity.” Read more…)

Broken City (thriller, Mark Wahlberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 30%. Metacritic: 49. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The screenplay remains the weak link in [director Allen] Hughes’s work. But if you don’t listen to the dialogue too hard, if you tune out a bit and instead watch the screen — notice how the restless cameras prowl around the actors and how shards of bright color pierce the pooling black night — then Broken City satisfies like the solid B movie it is.” Read more…)

Not Fade Away (drama/1960’s rock  music, James Gandolfini. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 65. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “There is plenty of hope but little glory in Not Fade Away, David Chase’s sympathetic, acutely drawn portrait of a young Italian-American musician in New Jersey chasing 1960s rock ’n’ roll dreams. That character, Douglas Damiano [the perfectly cast John Magaro], is not a baby Bruce Springsteen or Jon Bon Jovi surrogate ascending to the pantheon while the whole world cheers. Near the beginning of the movie, a voice-over narrator, Douglas’s younger sister Evelyn [Meg Guzulescu], remarks, ‘Like most bands, you’ve never heard of them.’ As you watch the group come together, squabble and fall apart, the movie — written and directed by Mr. Chase, the creator of The Sopranos — offers an extremely knowledgeable and affectionate yet barbed survey of rock’s explosive evolution.” Read more…)

Guilt Trip (comedy, Barbra Streisand. Rotten Tomatoes: 37%. Metacritic: 50.)

New Blu-Ray
Silver Linings Playbook
Broken City

New Foreign
The Sexual Chronicles of a French Family (France, comedy/drama, Mathias Meloul. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. Metacritic: 34. From David DeWitt’s New York Times review: “Let’s agree that too many American movies find it hilarious when teenagers, in all sorts of crass ways, rush to lose their virginity. Sexual Chronicles of a French Family takes that primary objective more seriously. It aims to break the taboo and show sex as it really is: banal.” Read more…)

Young and Wild (Chile, erotic comedy, Alicia Rodriguez. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “A teenager follows the lead of her healthy libido in Young and Wild, from the Chilean director Marialy Rivas. Named after the character’s popular, no-holds-barred blog, this playful, drifting film opens with morning-after masturbation and takes its desultory structural cues from the Web. It’s more about adolescent attitudes than the thrust of a story, yet the film’s sexual intelligence is undone by a paralyzing voice-over and an encroaching case of the blahs.” Read more…)

New British
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56.From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

Daniel Day-Lewis Triple Feature:
How Many Miles to Babylon (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “He is at the center of the 1982 TV movie How Many Miles to Babylon?, a World War I story based on a novel by the Irish writer Jennifer Johnston that packs a lot of themes into its 111 minutes: Irish nationalism, British prejudices, the violent horrors of trench warfare and the Freudian horrors of a childhood in the Anglo-Irish gentry. He plays Alex, the son of Anglo-Irish landowners… The lead role gives Mr. Day-Lewis’s natural charisma more of a chance to assert itself, but his portrayal feels muffled — he’s constrained by the stiff-upper-lip sentimentality of the story and the clichés of repression and nobility that Alex represents.” Read more…)
The Insurance Man (drama. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “His most memorable performance on these DVDs, however, is the smallest one, or, to be more accurate, the shortest one. In The Insurance Man (1986), from the anthology series Screen Two, Mr. Day-Lewis is completely commanding in the key supporting role of Kafka, the most sympathetic and magnetic of a group of insurance adjusters working in a nightmarish, highly stylized bureaucracy in 1945 Prague.” Read more…)
Dangerous Corner (thriller. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “The self-consciously daring [and claustrophobically staged] proceedings feel like a less florid precursor to Suddenly Last Summer — set in an English drawing room rather than a Southern asylum — and Mr. Day-Lewis, as a young and somewhat simpering member of the group who tends toward genteel hysteria, doesn’t transcend the material. Most of the time he looks outclassed by the more experienced performers around him. But he does manage to steal a number of scenes by sitting silently in the background and scowling, nodding, pursing his lips or intensely examining his fingernails — an early indication of his ability to strike a pose.” Read more…)

My Brother Jonathan (family drama mini-series, Daniel Day-Lewis. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review of this DVD release: “As socially conscious Edwardian soap opera, My Brother Jonathan isn’t at the level of Downton Abbey, but it’s moving and entertaining in a modest way [at least until the tear-jerking mechanics really kick in during the fifth episode]. Jonathan is a reasonably complex character — his good intentions are touched with arrogance, his judgment clouded by infatuation and pride — and Mr. Day-Lewis gets to display his intelligence and sardonic humor in satisfying portions.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)

New Music
Wagner & Me (classical music doc, Stephen Fry, in New Docs. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 56. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “In the documentary Wagner & Me, the actor Stephen Fry, an ardent admirer of the music of Richard Wagner, wrestles with a longstanding problem for Wagner fans: how to reconcile that composer’s musical genius with his racism. Tracing the creation of masterpieces like ‘Parsifal’ and the ‘Ring’ cycle, Mr. Fry, who is Jewish, explores Wagner’s virulent anti-Semitism and Hitler’s co-optation of his music during the Third Reich. In the process he alternates between aesthetic rapture and moral repulsion.” Read more…)