New Releases 4/7/15

Top Hits
A Most Violent Year (thriller, Oscar Isaac. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “J.C. Chandor, the writer and director of this pulpy, meaty, altogether terrific new film, and Bradford Young, its supremely talented director of photography, succeed in giving this beat-up version of the city both historical credibility and expressive power. The light is harsh, the shadows are dense, and forces of chaos seem to gather just outside the frame, their presence signaled by Alex Ebert’s anxious musical score. In the course of ‘A Most Violent Year,’ there is an occasional gunshot, and some blood is shed, but the violence alluded to in the film’s title is largely a matter of mood rather than action — of whispers, not noise.” Read more…)

The Immigrant (period drama, Marion Cotillard. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In American popular culture, and in the private lore of millions of American families, the immigrant experience of the late-19th and early 20th centuries is often presented as a chronicle of struggle and triumph, a parable of dreams come true. In ‘The Immigrant,’ James Gray [who directed the film and wrote it with Richard Menello] tries to push through this rosy nostalgia and recapture some of the terror and strangeness of the journey from the Old World to the New. The first shot is of the Statue of Liberty shrouded in harbor mist, and the film unfolds in the gap between the promise that lady embodies and the harsh realities a newcomer encounters once she gets off the boat.” Read more…)

The Voices (comedy/crime, Ryan Reynolds. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%. Metacritic: 58. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Is Jerry, who works in the shipping department of a small-town bathtub factory and who is played by Ryan Reynolds, a quirky misfit or something more dangerous? This question hovers for a little while over ‘The Voices’ but resolves itself even before Jerry starts filling his refrigerator with severed heads of women.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
A Most Violent Year

New Documentaries
Happy Valley (Penn State scandal, college sports, child sex abuse. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. Metacritic: 76. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The people on screen in ‘Happy Valley,’ Amir Bar-Lev’s powerful new documentary, frequently describe Penn State football as a religion. This is almost not a metaphor. The film pays periodic visits to a large outdoor mural in State College, Pa., where Nittany Lion luminaries are depicted as if they were figures in an Italian Renaissance tableau of biblical luminaries. At one point, a halo is painted in over the head of Joe Paterno, the former Penn State head football coach who died in 2012, a few months after being fired from the position he had held for 46 seasons. Mr. Bar-Lev’s interview subjects sometimes describe Paterno as a god or a saint, and he is almost universally recalled as a beloved and benevolent patriarch.” Read more…)

Monk with a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland (spirituality, photography, art. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 56. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “Becoming a Buddhist monk and “renouncing worldly ways” apparently don’t preclude starring in a documentary about your life. In ‘Monk With a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland,’ the conceit is that the subject, known to his friends as Nicky, went from a lifestyle of privilege to one of asceticism and simplicity. Mr. Vreeland, a photographer who worked with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon and a grandson of the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland, is now an abbot at a monastery in India.” Read more…)