New Releases 3/8/16

Top Hits
Peanuts_MovieThe Peanuts Movie (animated feature, Noah Schnapp. Rotten Tomatoes: 87%. Metacritic: 67. A New York Times Critic’s Pick—really! From Neil Genzlinger’s Times review: “‘The Peanuts Movie’ may be simultaneously the most charming and the most daring experiment in human genetics ever conducted. At issue is whether the character summaries and back stories of fictional pop-culture figures can be passed from one generation to the next solely through DNA. The movie is a pleasant G-rated grab bag of everything people over a certain age know and love from the Charles M. Schulz comic strip and its many offshoots, all centered, of course, on Charlie Brown. The question, though, is whether the 7-year-old demographic will fully grasp the intricate dynamics of the universe Schulz created around Charlie Brown over many decades.” Read more…)

Macbeth (Shakespeare adaptation, Michael Fassbender. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%. Metacritic: 71. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There’s no doubled trouble in the slickly handsome new version of ‘Macbeth’ with Michael Fassbender. The ‘double, double, toil and trouble’ is among the play’s most memorable passages, the one with three witches, a bubbling caldron and an eye of newt. A gang of weird sisters still roams the foggy Scottish moors, periodically speaking in riddles and giving Macbeth the evil eye. Yet the movie mutes the dark magic that swirls in the play, an alteration that itself stirs the pot, complicating the question of Macbeth’s freedom, his will and his guilt.” Read more…)

Life (1950s period drama/James Dean biopic, Robert Pattinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 58%. Metacritic: 59. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “Anton Corbijn’s ‘Life’ is one of those Great Encounters in History dramas, the kind that seeks to recapture (and remythologize) a magic moment. In 1955, a photographer for Magnum, Dennis Stock, shadowed and snapped an ascendant James Dean for Life magazine, a few months before Dean died in a car accident. Mr. Corbijn picturesquely frames the back story to the shoot, but his muffled retelling drifts with Dane Dehaan’s murmurous impersonation of Dean and Robert Pattinson’s almost perversely listless turn as Stock.” Read more…)

Heart_of_SeaIn the Heart of the Sea (action, Chris Hemsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 47. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “As the ice caps melt, the trickle of movies about nature’s revenge may turn into a deluge. There are oceans already sloshing through ‘In the Heart of the Sea,’ the latest from the director Ron Howard, about the shipwreck that was an inspiration for Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick.’ Epic in ambition, it spans decades and miles as it moves from Nantucket to a Pacific whale hunt that pits man [Chris Hemsworth] against Leviathan. It’s at once a biopic and an adventure yarn that, with harpoons and ploddingly good intentions, turns a story of survival into an ecological cautionary tale.” Read more…)

The One I Love (romance, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 66. From Manohla Dargis’  New York Times review: “Alfred Hitchcock liked to distinguish between surprise and suspense, between the bombs that shock us [boom!] and those that put us on edge [tick, tick, tick]. The modestly sized puzzler ‘The One I Love’ — a cunning, twisty tale about a marriage that has gone sour and is about to go pretty strange — detonates a few bombs, but also keeps a few ticking until the end. The unpromising setup is as banal as someone else’s shrink session. What quickly pulls you in, though, are the appealing stars and mysterioso circumstances that their characters — like the viewer — are sucked into as the story morphs into a quagmire of narrative uncertainty, marital gamesmanship and speculative foolishness.” Read more…)

The Forbidden Room (comedy/mystery, Mathieu Amalric. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 83. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Among the scores of whimsical notions paraded through ‘The Forbidden Room,’ a dense two-hour phantasmagoria directed by the Canadian vintage-film aficionado Guy Maddin, my favorite is one of the silliest. When a submarine crew trapped underwater panics as their oxygen supply is about to be exhausted, the captain suggests they survive on the air bubbles in their breakfast flapjacks.” Read more…)

The Salvation (western, Mads Mikkelsen. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 64. From Manohla Dargis New York Times review: “A luridly beautiful, lavishly violent western, ‘The Salvation’ takes place in an America shaped less by history than by the legacies of some of its chroniclers, from Sergio Leone to Clint Eastwood to Paul Thomas Anderson. Set in a nameless, dusty patch of the Southwest apparently forsaken by God as well as the law, it spins a far-fetched tale of a not-so-simple Danish homesteader, Jon [Mads Mikkelsen], turned avenger. Yes, there will be blood, as well as Eva Green as Madelaine, whose corset cups runneth over and tongue was once ripped out by her Indian captors.” Read more…)

Childhood’s End (sci-fi mini-series, John C. Reilly. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 61.)

New Blu-Ray
The Peanuts Movie
In the Heart of the Sea

New Foreign
Victoria (Germany, crime drama shot in one long extended take, Laia Costa. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘Victoria,’ is a sensational cinematic stunt. From its blinding strobe-lit opening, driven by pounding electronica, this German heist thriller directed by Sebastian Schipper conveys the queasy excitement of being dropped onto a roller coaster midride. Clocking in at more than two hours, it may be the longest such ride you’ll ever take. But on uphill loops, as the movie pauses to catch its breath, it is also a dry-eyed contemplation of millennial ennui in a hypercompetitive, winner-take-all climate.” Read more…)

10,000 km (Spain, romance, Natalia Tena. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Mr. Marques-Marcet is especially interested in the role technology plays in negotiating absence. Video chats create an illusion of immediacy [and the possibility of enhanced phone sex]. Social media can bring us closer, but can also sow suspicion. (Who is the untagged person in that picture? Where was the picture taken? Why didn’t she tell me she was going there?) Looking at zoomed-in satellite images of faraway cities can feel like a cheap and easy substitute for being there.” Read more…)

The Wonders (Italy, family drama, Monica Bellucci. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 76. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “‘The Wonders,’ a diffuse and quietly charming coming-of-age story, takes place under a Tuscan sun different from the one that usually shines in mainstream movies. It’s set in an isolated corner of the region, a place choked with dust and scrub, on a ramshackle farm far from the tourist hot spots, with their crowds and feverish commercialism. There, amid the bleats of children and animals, a young family scrapes by on love as well as on the honey it makes in an artisanal product that the Italian writer-director Alice Rohrwacher clearly identifies with.” Read more…)

Paris Belongs to Us (France, 1961, mystery, Betty Schneider. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%.)

New British
Playing Shakespeare (guide to performing the Bard with great actresses and actors)

New Television
The Spoils of Babylon (comedy miniseries, Will Ferrell. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 69.)

New Documentaries
We Come As Friends (foreign affairs, colonialism. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Planes also figure heavily in Mr. Sauper’s ‘We Come As Friends,’ a follow-up of sorts to ‘[Darwin’s] Nightmare’ that can stand on its own or play as a riveting and damning companion piece. Although it lacks a big hungry fish, the guiding metaphor is also the stuff of science fiction. Crisscrossing Sudan before and after South Sudan declared its independence in a 2011 referendum, Mr. Sauper likens his perspective [and that of the audience] to that of an alien approaching a planet called Africa. ‘We come as friends’ is the suspect message of the investors we see in the film. Part of the argument here is that South Sudanese independence was heavily driven by outside forces because of the potential for profit from development.” Read more…)

New Music DVDs
Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church (concert film, Jimi Hendrix)

New Children’s DVDs
The Peanuts Movie (animated feature, Noah Schnapp [voice])
Open Season: Scared Silly (animated feature)