New releases 9/16/14

Top Hits

The Fault In Our Stars (drama, Shailene Woodley. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 69. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘The world is not a wish-granting factory.’ That line, from ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ is undoubtedly true, and it is also true that the movie, like the book before it, is an expertly built machine for the mass production of tears. Directed by Josh Boone [‘Stuck In Love’] with scrupulous respect for John Green’s best-selling young-adult novel, the film sets out to make you weep — not just sniffle or choke up a little, but sob until your nose runs and your face turns blotchy. It succeeds.” Read more…)

Godzilla (sci-fi action, Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Appreciation of a movie like this requires an almost morbid degree of connoisseurship, which may, in practice, be hard to distinguish from bored acquiescence. Evaluating its components is a little like scoring gymnastics or figure skating. You factor in degree of difficulty, technical accomplishment and various subjective responses, and it is always helpful to have points of comparison. How does the obliteration of, say, Honolulu stack up against the smashing of Chicago in that ‘Transformers’ movie?” Read more…)

God’s Pocket (comedy, Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rotten Tomatoes: 34%. Metacritic: 51. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “With a screenplay adapted by John Slattery and Alex Metcalf from a 1983 novel by Pete Dexter, and a star-filled cast led by Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘God’s Pocket’ is the first feature film directed by Mr. Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling on ‘Mad Men.’ From the outset, it is painfully clear that he stumbled into the wrong neighborhood.” Read more…)

Think Like A Man Too (comedy, Michael Ealy. Rotten Tomatoes: 24%. Metacritic: 38. From Anita Gates’ New York Times review: “Well, you can’t fault ‘Think Like a Man Too’ for being a sequel too much like the original. The first film, inspired by Steve Harvey’s how-to-get-your-guy best seller, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, was a blatant product promotion, complete with bookstore signings and author appearances.” Read more…)

Batman: Assault on Arkham (animated comic book action, Kevin Conroy [voice])

New Blu-Ray
Godzilla

New Foreign
The German Doctor (Argentina, drama, Alex Brendemuhl. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 62. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The Argentine writer and director Lucía Puenzo, shooting in wide screen, takes an effective, largely low-key approach to her fictionalization of [Nazi death camp doctor Josef] Mengele’s time in South America. Adapted from her novel, Wakolda, the story revs up once Lilith’s parents reopen the lakeside hotel in which Eva was raised, and both the family and Helmut settle in with the area’s German-speaking inhabitants.” read more…)

Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter Episodes 1-3 (Sweden, mystery series, Shailene Woodley. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 62.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Beggar’s Opera (1954, costume drama/musical, Laurence Olivier, in New British. From A.W.’s 1953 New York Times review [may require log-in]: “Although the ideal marriage between films and opera is not effected in ‘The Beggar’s Opera,’ on which the curtain was rung up yesterday at the Baronet, it is a generally happy liaison and one that is a credit to both media. For this Technicolor screen version of John Gay’s 225-year-old work is a kaleidoscopic view of truly colorful facets of the London dear to Hogarth and is as unrestrained as its author’s name. While it deviates from its original intent and now lampoons neither opera nor political personalities, it is still a spirited musical. And, though its songs sometimes brake the action, it does retain a large majority of those lilting folk tunes and ballads that have bulwarked its charm through two centuries.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog (post-1960)
Love Streams (1984, drama, Gena Rowlands. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Janet Maslin’s 1984 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There’s no other American director who can do what John Cassavetes does on the screen. There may not be many who would want to. Mr. Cassavetes’s work, in ‘Love Streams,’ as in his earlier films, is as overflowing with emotional constructs as it is barren of other forms of thought. It’s excessive and idiosyncratic all the way. Yet Mr. Cassavetes, as both actor and director, is never without his own peculiar magnetism and authority. Once again, he is able to galvanize a long, rambling, quirky psychodrama through sheer force of personality.” Read more…)

The Razor’s Edge (1984, drama, Bill Murray. Rotten Tomatoes: 53%. From Janet Maslin’s 1984 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Let’s talk,’ says Bill Murray as the idealistic young hero of W. Somerset Maugham’s Razor’s Edge as he prepares to tell his fiancee that he wants to postpone the wedding and is not yet ready to settle down. ‘Seal talk,’ Mr. Murray adds, since he is playing the scene in a swimming pool. And at this he begins to arf. If ‘The Razor’s Edge’ is Mr. Murray’s first ‘serious’ movie, he can hardly be accused of bringing an excess of seriousness to its central role.” Read more…)

The Legend of Billie Jean (1985, drama/action, Helen Slater. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. From Janet Maslin’s 1985 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Legend of Billie Jean,’ which opens today at the Gemini and other theaters, is another unfortunate film about a nobody who gets to be a somebody, 80’s-style. This entails appearing on television, getting one’s name on Frisbees and T-shirts and ‘I H So-and-So’ bumper stickers, being mentioned on talk shows, and winning the spontaneous applause of the crowd. Here, as in ‘Turk 182!,’ the main character need hardly do anything in order to win this adulation.” Read more…)

New British
Father Brown: Season 1

The Beggar’s Opera (1954, costume drama/musical, Laurence Olivier. From A.W.’s 1953 New York Times review [may require log-in]: “Although the ideal marriage between films and opera is not effected in ‘The Beggar’s Opera,’ on which the curtain was rung up yesterday at the Baronet, it is a generally happy liaison and one that is a credit to both media. For this Technicolor screen version of John Gay’s 225-year-old work is a kaleidoscopic view of truly colorful facets of the London dear to Hogarth and is as unrestrained as its author’s name. While it deviates from its original intent and now lampoons neither opera nor political personalities, it is still a spirited musical. And, though its songs sometimes brake the action, it does retain a large majority of those lilting folk tunes and ballads that have bulwarked its charm through two centuries.” Read more…)

New Television
Hannibal: Season 2
Sleepy Hollow: Season 1

New Documentaries
Ken Burns: The Roosevelts—An Intimate History (history, biography. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 88. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “‘The Roosevelts: An Intimate History,’ Ken Burns’s seven-part documentary about [sorry, Adamses, Kennedys, Clintons and Bushes] the most important political bloodline in American history, may constitute more than you really want to know about Theodore, Franklin and Eleanor. But look at it this way: If you commit to the whole series, which begins on Sunday on PBS, you’ll also be getting, at no extra charge, a survey of an amazingly transformative half-century that made the United States what it is today.” Read more…)

Burt’s Buzz (personality bio, business, environment. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 49. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “The word ‘icon’ is given quite a workout in ‘Burt’s Buzz,’ a documentary about the man whose likeness adorns Burt’s Bees products. It’s to the film’s detriment. Not only is the word overused these days, but it also has no business being applied to a pitchman for a product line that may have fans but is hardly a dominant cultural force. The film, by Jody Shapiro, seems so hagiographic that when it finally gets around to its 20 minutes’ worth of interesting stuff, you’re not sure whether to trust it.” Read more…)

Hanging Shadows: Perspective on Italian Horror Cinema (movies, horror, Dario Argento)