New Releases 7/14/15

Top Hits
Ex_MachinaEx Machina (sci-fi, Oscar Isaac. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “‘Ex Machina’ is itself a smart, sleek movie about men and the machines they make, but it’s also about men and the women they dream up. That makes it a creation story, except instead of God repurposing a rib, the story here involves a Supreme Being who has built an A.I., using a fortune he’s made from a search engine called Blue Book. Mr. Garland, who wrote and directed, isn’t afraid of throwing around big names or heavy ideas, and he has pointedly named the search engine after Ludwig Wittgenstein’s 1930s ‘Blue Book.'” Read more…)

Goodbye to All That (romance/drama, Paul Schneider. Rotten Tomatoes: 60%. Metacritic: 62. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “This poker-faced comedy, the directorial debut of Angus MacLachlan, who wrote the screenplay for the 2005 film ‘Junebug,’ everses the usual roles in a story that typically focuses on a wife blindsided by her husband’s infidelity. So stunned that he is left speechless, Otto might as well have been grazed by a sniper’s bullet. He later learns through Facebook that Annie has been having a torrid affair. Although the marriage had been sexless for two years, he was contented with the status quo.” Read more…)

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (comedy/drama, Maggie Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 51. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Beyond its blindingly colorful palette, the pleasures to be gleaned from the sequel to the 2012 hit ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ derive from watching its eminent, mostly British cast ham it up while trying to inflate dramatic molehills into mountains. To get away with pretending that less is more, strenuous overacting is required.” Read more…)

It_FollowsIt Follows (horror, Maika Monroe. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘It Follows’ opens nearly a year after winning the Next Wave award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Its acclaim derives from its masterly manipulation of mood by its cinematographer, Michael Gioulakis. The deadly menace, which seems to emerge from your peripheral vision, is initially hard to discern, but as it draws closer, never quickening its step, you sense its grim intention.” Read more…)

Maggie (post-apocalyptic thriller, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rotten Tomatoes: 52%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Zombies, Arnold Schwarzenegger and a certain Terrence Malick je ne sais quoi — what could go wrong? More or less everything in this low-budget head-scratcher and periodic knee-slapper. A bearded Mr. Schwarzenegger plays Wade Vogel, a strenuously humble American farmer who, not long after the movie opens, retrieves his 16-year-old daughter, Maggie [Abigail Breslin], from a world crammed with artfully uglified, zomboid victims of a ghastly virus. Cars burn, fields burn and every so often — as when Wade gasses up his truck — one of these hungry zombies goes on the attack.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Salt of the Earth
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

New Foreign
The Confession (France, 1970, political thriller, Yves Montand. From Vincent Canby’s 1970 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Costa-Gavras’s ‘The Confession,’ which opened yesterday at the Beekman Theater, is not, I think, a better movie than his prize-winning ‘Z,’ with which it will inevitably be compared, not only by the critics but also by those members of the public who may look for a repeat performance. The earlier film was a nearly perfect topical thriller whose form pretty much defined the substance of its liberal politics. However, because the subject of ‘The Confession’ is much more complex, much more human, I find it vastly more interesting than ‘Z,’ even when one is aware of the way Costa-Gavras manipulates attention by the use of flashy cinematic devices that sometimes substitute for sustained drama. It is a horror story of the mind told almost entirely in factual and physical terms, which is something of a contradiction.” Read more…)

State_of_SiegeState of Siege (France, 1972, political thriller, Yves Montand. From Vincent Canby’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Costa-Gavras’s ‘State of Siege’ is a riveting film and possibly an inflammatory one. It oversimplifies recent history, but raises so many complex and important moral questions that to attack it for oversimplification may be just a discreet form of rationalization, of looking the other way…. Strictly as an example of film-making, ‘State of Siege’ is exceptionally shrewd. Although we have no doubt what the outcome of the narrative will be, Costa-Gavras and Solinas maintain our interest at what is sometimes called (in admitted desperation) a fever pitch. Through the kind of rapid cross-cutting made familiar in both ‘Z’ and ‘The Confession,’ they manage to make straight exposition hugely dramatic.” Read more…)

Here Is Your Life (Sweden, 1966, historical drama, Eddie Axberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 78. From Vincent Canby’s 1968 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Here Is Your Life’ is a sweet, gentle, technically wise movie about a young man’s growing up in northern Sweden during World War I. It is a first feature by Jan Troell, the 27-year-old Swedish director who also photographed the movie, edited it and wrote the screenplay with Bengst Forslund.” Read more…)

The Treatment (Netherlands, thriller, Geert Van Rampelberg. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Black Hand (1950, crime drama, Gene Kelly. From bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Even though M.-G.-M.’s ‘Black Hand,’ which came to the Capitol on Saturday, might cynically be designated as just a period gangster film, it has more to recommend it than a good, adventurous gangster plot. It has, in its picturization of New York’s ‘little Italy’ back in the unrestricted period of this century’s first decade, some rather affecting indications of the crowded and troubled world, novel and mystifying, in which this city’s Italian immigrants lived. And it has some quite colorful acting by a generally well directed cast, of which the best—and the most—is contributed by Gene Kelly and J. Carrol Naish.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
Salt_of_the_EarthThe Salt of the Earth (photography, social issues, nature, Sebastião Salgado. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The Salt of the Earth,’ Wim Wenders’s new documentary about the life and work of the Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, elegantly inhabits a moral and aesthetic paradox. Mr. Salgado’s photographs illuminate some of the worst horrors of the modern world: starvation, war, poverty, displacement. They are also beautiful, dramatic visual artifacts, and their power has a double effect. We are drawn into the contemplation of terrible realities, but at the same time our attention turns to the person bearing witness.” Read more…)

Beyond Zero: 1914-1918 (World War I, history)
Animal Odd Couples (nature, animal emotions, science, Temple Grandin)
112 Weddings (photography, interpersonal relationships, marriage. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 74.)