New releases 2/28/16

Top Hits
Moonlight (coming-of-age drama, Trevante Rhodes. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%. Metacritic: 99. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “To describe ‘Moonlight,’ Barry Jenkins’s second feature, as a movie about growing up poor, black and gay would be accurate enough. It would also not be wrong to call it a movie about drug abuse, mass incarceration and school violence. But those classifications are also inadequate, so much as to be downright misleading. It would be truer to the mood and spirit of this breathtaking film to say that it’s about teaching a child to swim, about cooking a meal for an old friend, about the feeling of sand on skin and the sound of waves on a darkened beach, about first kisses and lingering regrets. Based on the play ‘In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue’ by Tarell Alvin McCraney, ‘Moonlight’ is both a disarmingly, at times almost unbearably personal film and an urgent social document, a hard look at American reality and a poem written in light, music and vivid human faces.” Read more…)

Allied (romantic thriller, Brad Pitt. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 60. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “[Director Robert] Zemeckis has made more ambitious, more dazzling films — as a dogmatic anti-Gumpian, my list of favorites would include ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Cast Away’ — but this one may be the purest and most relaxed demonstration of his mastery. Like Steven Spielberg’s ‘Bridge of Spies,’ it infuses a venerable genre and a familiar period with new interest.” Read more…)

Rules Don’t Apply (1950s Hollywood period drama, Lily Collins. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 59. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In his 1998 comedy, ‘Bluworth,’ [actor/director Warren] Beatty reinvented himself as a truth-spouting politician disseminating his liberal message in the language of rap: a vocabulary that, as wielded by Mr. Beatty, rang as simultaneously ridiculous and pointedly articulate. And in the smart, hugely entertaining ‘Rules Don’t Apply,’ Mr. Beatty expands his absurdist vision of politics and show business to take in Hollywood, where he has reigned as an enigmatic glamour boy turned statesman with serious talent for nearly 60 years.” Read more…)

Chronic (drama, Tim Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 69. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “In the quietly devastating ‘Chronic,’ Tim Roth, never more impressive onscreen, plays David, a palliative care worker whose intimacy with death and dying both scares and shames family members who nervously peek in on loved ones they have more or less abandoned. The first English-language film by Michel Franco, the Mexican director of ‘After Lucia,’ a harrowing study of high school bullying, ‘Chronic’ stands back from its characters, which it views with a cold documentarylike detachment. Radically unsentimental, it portrays the end of life largely without the emotional concomitants of grief, suffering and solace. Its icy aura of inevitability befits a film whose central character goes from client to client like a polite, expressionless deputy of the Grim Reaper.” Read more…)

Shut In (psychological thriller, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 6%. Metacritic: 25. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “f you’re in any doubt as to the dearth of decent movie roles available to women of a certain age — certain never to see 40 again, at any rate — then buy a ticket for ‘Shut In.’ In this achingly inept thriller, you will see Naomi Watts do what she can to sell a plot of such preposterousness that the derisory laughter around me began barely 20 minutes in.” Read more…)

Doctor Strange (comic book action/fantasy, Benedict Cumberbatch. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 72. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Most Marvel movies open like Robert Downey Jr.’s stand-up routine in ‘Iron Man’ before it goes south. They deliver quips and silky come-hither nonsense, only to end up like a big green monster stuck on rewind: “Hulk smash!” again and again, ad infinitum. In between start and finish, there are moments of levity and discovery in the machined product, but too often you can’t see the movie for Marvel’s action plan. Its latest, the giddily enjoyable ‘Doctor Strange,’ is part of Marvel’s strategy for world domination, yet it’s also so visually transfixing, so beautiful and nimble that you may even briefly forget the brand.” Read more…)

London Road (true crime, Olivia Colman. Rotten Tomatoes: 77%. Metacritic: 71. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “An ungainly yet strangely captivating oddity, ‘London Road’ snags your attention from the get-go in the manner of any razor-edge experiment: By making you wonder, what on earth? As soon as that question is answered, however, you’re hooked, and this unconventional examination of the ripple effect of real-life killings on a quiet English town has worked its curious magic.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Moonlight
Rules Don’t Apply
Doctor Strange

New Foreign
The Weissensee Saga: Season 1 (Germany, 1980s period drama, Uwe Kockisch)
Kiki: Love to Love (Spain, erotic comedy, Alex Garcia. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%.)

New British
A Place to Call Home: Season 4 (Australia drama series, Marta Dusseldorp)

New Documentaries
Kate Plays Christine (documentary/thriller, psychology, journalism, cinema, Kate Lyn Sheil. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 75. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review; “This all-but-forgotten story is dredged up in Robert Greene’s ‘Kate Plays Christine,’ a movie that provocatively blurs the line between documentary and fiction. It follows the New York actress Kate Lyn Sheil as she researches the life of Ms. Chubbuck before portraying her in this unsettling cinematic hybrid. The suicide is wrongly thought by some to have inspired Paddy Chayefsky’s screenplay for Sidney Lumet’s 1976 satire, ‘Network,’ whose protagonist, Howard Beale, a network anchorman, inveighing against the evils of television, creates a national sensation by threatening to kill himself while on the air.” Read more…)

Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story (jazz, drug abuse, Frank Morgan. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 75. From Jaworowski’s New York Times review:”In the 1950s, some jazz musicians believed they couldn’t get that Charlie Parker ‘happy-sad feeling without using drugs.’ So says a friend of the saxophonist Frank Morgan in ‘Sound of Redemption,’ a documentary that revels in the happy despite some seriously sad events.” Read more…)

Utopia (Australia race relations, racism, indigenous people, John Pilger. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
Rachel Carson (bio, environmentalism, Rachel Carson)

New Music
Sound of Redemption: The Frank Morgan Story (jazz, drug abuse, Frank Morgan. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 75.)

New Children’s DVDs
Christmas All Over Again (holiday family comedy filmed in Connecticut last year, Amber Montana.)