New Releases 12/2/14

Top Hits
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (sci-fi/action, Andy Serkis. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick! From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The sylvan, simian Athens in the Muir Woods is a remarkable achievement and an important part of what makes “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves from a script by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Mark Bomback, the best of this summer’s large-scale, big-studio franchise movies. Granted, this isn’t a very high bar to clear: “better than ‘Transformers 4’ ” barely counts as praise, even with an exclamation mark. But unlike that toy-smashing extravaganza — and unlike 2014’s visitations from the “Spider-Man,” “X-Men” and “Godzilla” money trains — “Dawn” is more than a bunch of occasionally thrilling action sequences, emotional gut punches and throwaway jokes arranged in predictable sequence. It is technically impressive and viscerally exciting, for sure, but it also gives you a lot to think, and even to care, about.” Read more…)

The Congress (sci-fi, Robin Wright. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 63. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Ari Folman’s genre mash-up ‘The Congress’ could use a freakier title, something either more appealing or appalling to go with the weird, sometimes wonderful visions flowing through it. Not that it’s all entirely strange. There’s the opening image, for starters — a close-up of Robin Wright’s face, a familiar, delicate facade that’s well enough known to ignite a chain of signification: beauty, actress, star, Sean Penn, ‘House of Cards,’ ‘The Princess Bride,’ middle age, under-sung, career rebirth.” Read more…)

As Above So Below (horror/thriller, Perdita Weeks. Rotten Tomatoes: 27%. Metacritic: 38. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “The experience of watching ‘As Above So Below’ is much like observing a colonoscopy in the hands of a particularly inexpert and excitable physician. Instead of human intestines, we have the bowels of Paris — the mass cemetery known as the catacombs — into which a small group of rash young folks spelunks in search of the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.” Read more…)

Best Offer (crime/drama, Geoffrey Rush. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 49. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Here the excesses come courtesy of Mr. Tornatore [‘Cinema Paradiso’], the Italian filmmaker who sometimes seems to deliver his handsome, vintage 1990s art-house fare by the yard. His latest, which takes place in a generic European city, looks set to introduce a collision of pathologies, or at least some overwrought dueling like his Depardieu-Polanski face-off, ‘A Pure Formality’ [1995]. But ‘The Best Offer’ settles in for a dull courtship leading to a bad end.” Read more…)

The Hundred-Foot Journey (comedy/drama, Helen Mirren. Rotten Tomatoes: 67%. Metacritic: 55. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Helen Mirren and Om Puri are the top-billed players here, and time spent watching them is never entirely wasted. Mr. Puri is Papa Kadam, the patriarch of an Indian family that has been in the restaurant business for generations. He and his four children arrive in a small town in the south of France and set up Maison Mumbai, where the smell of their spices and the sound of their music offends the sensibilities of Madame Mallory [Helen Mirren], proprietress of the venerable Michelin-starred establishment across the street. The clash of imperious and irascible that these two well-seasoned actors perform is spirited and effortless, but there is nowhere near enough of it.” Read more…)

Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It (comedy, John Paul Tremblay. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%.)

New Blu-Rays
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

New Foreign
Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas (France, historical drama, Mads Mikkelsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 51. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Brooding and intransigent, ‘Age of Uprising: the Legend of Michael Kohlhaas’ undertakes a brave and foolhardy act, not unlike the prideful horse merchant of the title. Its striking story of rebellion in an age of aristocracy is set in 16th-century France, adapted from a 19th-century novella by Heinrich von Kleist, a text ripe for reappraisal. But the severely beautiful film is painted in a dauntingly austere manner, as if lost in a war against itself, with confrontations underplayed and the rural landscapes making more of an impression than the detoured drama.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Remember the Night (1940, holiday drama/romance, Fred MacMurray. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1940 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “After dallying too long with the leftovers of 1939, the screen has awakened finally to a new year and new entertainment responsibilities. ‘Remember the Night,’ presented at the Paramount yesterday, is the real curtain-raiser for 1940, the first word of reassurance Hollywood has offered since ’39 went into the past. It is a memorable film, in title and in quality, blessed with an honest script, good direction and sound performance. Perhaps this is a bit too early in the season to be talking of the best pictures of 1940; it is not too early to say that Paramount’s nomination is worth considering.” Read more…)

The Quatermass Xperiment aka The Creeping Unknown (1955, horror/sci-fi, Brian Donlevy. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%.)

New Television
Justified: Season 5
Strain: Season 1