New Releases 2/9/16

Top Hits
Spectre (James Bond action, Daniel Craig. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 60. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “There’s nothing surprising in ‘Spectre,’ the 24th ‘official’ title in the series, which is presumably as planned. Much as the perfect is the enemy of good, originality is often the enemy of the global box office. And so, for the fourth time, Mr. Craig has suited up to play the British spy who’s saving the world one kill at a time, with Sam Mendes occupying the director’s chair for a second turn. They’re a reasonable fit, although their joint seriousness has started to feel more reflexive than honest, especially because every Bond movie inevitably shakes off ambition to get down to the blockbuster business of hurling everything — bodies, bullets, fireballs, debris, money — at the screen.” Read more…)

Love the Coopers (comedy/romance, Diane Keaton. Rotten Tomatoes: 20%. Metacritic: 31. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “Classic Christmas movies have a magic that can’t be manufactured, but ‘Love the Coopers’ desperately tries to do just that. It employs a familiar conceit — dysfunctional family gathers for holiday meal — and enlists recognizable actors to deliver it, but the result plays like a collection of ideas and jokes borrowed from other movies. The film is occasionally amusing but rarely feels genuine.” Read more…)

GrandmaGrandma (comedy, Lily Tomlin. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In need of cash — we’ll get to why in a minute — Elle Reid, a poet and sometime professor in her 70s, decides to sell some precious old books. She figures that even though they’re a bit worse for wear, her first editions of Betty Friedan and Simone de Beauvoir should fetch a few hundred dollars at the local feminist bookstore-cafe. Her outrage when she’s grudgingly offered a lot less than that compounds her dismay at her teenage granddaughter’s cluelessness about the authors of ‘The Feminine Mystique’ and ‘The Second Sex.’ What’s wrong with the world these days? That’s a long conversation, but as of this writing one thing that is absolutely right with the world is the existence of ‘Grandma,’ Paul Weitz’s wry and insightful movie about an eventful day in the life of Elle and her granddaughter.” Read more…)

Crimson Peak (fantasy/horror, Jessica Chastain. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 66. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Beware of Crimson Peak!’ So goes the warning hissed by one of the skeletal, agitated ghosts appearing in the movie of the same title. It isn’t bad advice. Not that I’m saying you should avoid ‘Crimson Peak,’ the new film from Guillermo del Toro, modern cinema’s No. 1 genre geek. On the contrary: If you know what you’re getting into and you’re in the mood for blood, velvet and a director’s sincere commitment to excess, then this might be just the ticket.” Read more…)

Black Mass (gangster drama, Johnny Depp. Rotten Tomatoes: 75%. Metacritic: 68. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘Black Mass,’ Scott Cooper’s new film, puts some of that luster back. It’s not that Mr. Cooper necessarily set out to portray Mr. Bulger as a charismatic antihero whose actions are both appalling and exciting. [The screenplay by Mark Mallouk and Jez Butterworth is based on the book by the reporters Dick Lehr and Gerard O’Neill of The Boston Globe.] His protagonist, played by Johnny Depp and called Jimmy by most of his friends and associates, does terrible, unforgivable things, nearly all of which the real Mr. Bulger actually did. But the conventions of popular culture, conventions to which Mr. Cooper hews with slavish or perhaps unthinking devotion, treat those things with a certain reverence. This guy is evil, but you have to admit he’s also kind of cool.” Read more…)

99 Homes (drama, Michael Shannon. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “With ’99 Homes,’ which [director Ramin Bahrani] wrote with Amir Naderi, Mr. Bahrani has recovered his balance and sharpened his already formidable knack for concise, emotionally potent storytelling. True to its neorealist pedigree, the film works partly as a fable, an illustration of how impersonal forces shape individual human destinies. Its palette of feeling includes a bright streak of anger at the way banks, judges and politicians conspire to bully and bamboozle hard-working people like Dennis, and also at the way the pursuit of wealth has eclipsed all other sources of value in our lives. But if ’99 Homes’ is a scolding look at a society gone astray, it is also a minor masterpiece of suspense, as tightly wound as ‘Sicario,’ Denis Villeneuve’s white-knuckle drug-war thriller, and almost as brutal. Not that there’s much in the way of physical violence: fists are raised now and then, and weapons are sometimes brandished. But the threat of destruction is pervasive, and everything — the hand-held camerawork, the swift editing, the anxious music by Antony Partos and Matteo Zingales — contributes to an overpowering sense of danger.” Read more…)

Sinister 2 (horror, Shannyn Sossamon. Rotten Tomatoes: 13%. Metacritic: 32. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘Sinister’ trafficked in musty horror riffs [old technology à la ‘V/H/S’; almost-other-dimensional house interiors, as in ‘Insidious’; very naughty kids, as in ‘Children of the Corn’], but benefited from actors like Mr. Hawke and inestimably from Christopher Norr’s high-contrast, deep-focus cinematography. Despite Mr. Ransone’s goofy charm, ‘Sinister 2’ can’t claim the same finesse, substituting pedestrian plotting and a more graphic gore for the original’s restraint.” Read more…)

Second Coming (drama, Idris Elba. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%.)

New Blu-Ray
Crimson Peak

New Foreign
EmigrantsThe Emigrants (Sweden, 1971, period drama, Max von Sydow. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. From Vincent Canby’s 1972 New York Times review prequires log-in]: “Jan Troell’s ‘The Emigrants,’ a big, long, carefully detailed Swedish film about Swedish emigration to America in the middle of the 19th century, is an example of a type of drama much more common to the stage, especially to the regional stage, than to film. Although its characters are peasants rather than great personages, it is, at heart, a historical pageant of the sort you might expect to encounter at Colonial Williamsburg or Roanoke Island in midsummer.” Read more…)

The New Land (Sweden, 1972, period drama, Max von Sydow. From Lawrence Van Gelder’s 1973 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “With ‘The New Land,’ which opened yesterday at the Little Carnegie theater, Jan Troell, the Swedish director, brings to an end the arduous saga of 19th-century migration from his homeland to America, which he began in ‘The Emigrants.’ What he has achieved seems no less than a masterly exercise in film-making, a rare union of carefully nuanced performances from a cast led by Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann, a use of sight and sound that beggars, at least by its aspirations, the work of more easily satisfied men and a long but selective narrative as alert to the sins that taint national history as it is sensitive to the small dramas that ultimately seal the course and quality of lives.” Read more…)

Marshland (Spain, mystery. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%.)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
These_ThreeThese Three (1936, social drama based on Lillian Hellman play, Miriam Hopkins. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1936 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The Hays office would not sanction a film of Lillian Hellman’s ‘The Children’s Hour,’ but Miss Hellman had an idea for a different and acceptable treatment, Samuel Goldwyn thought well of it and yesterday the considerably amended, but basically recognizable, version of her play opened at the Rivoli under the title, ‘These Three.’ Miss Hellman’s job of literary carpentry is little short of brilliant. Upon the framework of her stage success she has constructed an absorbing, tautly written and dramatically vital screen play. To it, in turn, a gifted cast headed by Merle Oberon, Miriam Hopkins and Joel McCrea has contributed lavishly of its talents, aided by superb direction and exceptionally fine photography. In its totality the picture emerges as one of the finest screen dramas in recent years.” Read more…)

Edge of Doom (1950, film noir, Dana Andrews, Farley Granger. From an unsigned 1950 new York Times review [requires log-in]: “A young man in violent revolt against poverty and the moral precepts of the Roman Catholic Church is the central figure in the new Samuel Goldwyn production, ‘Edge of Doom,’ at the Astor Theatre. Like Leo Brady’s novel, on which it is based, the picture is a somber study of a tortured victim of frustration, spun out with rising and falling dramatic impact. Emotionally over-wrought by his mother’s death, Martin Lynn kills a priest who listens casually to his grief and refuses to grant the impoverished youth’s loud and abusive demands for a lavish funeral with all the trimmings of religious ritual and costly flowers.” Read more…)

New British
Shetland: Seasons 1 & 2 (murder mystery series, Douglas Henshall)

New Documentaries
Welcome to Leith (white supremacy, neo-Nazism, extremism. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. Metacritic: 78. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “There are a few moments in ‘Welcome to Leith,’ a documentary about a North Dakota town that resists being taken over by white supremacists, when the film might be mistaken for a horror movie about an alien invasion… The film, directed by Michael Beach Nichols and Christopher K. Walker, documents how the town, led by its mayor, Ryan Schock, mobilized against Mr. Cobb’s takeover plan, which if successful might have paved the way for similar operations in other small towns.” Read more…)

Secundaria (Cuba, ballet)