New Releases 12/22/15

Top Hits
Queen_of_EarthQueen of Earth (drama, Elisabeth Moss. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “By the time Catherine exits ‘Queen of Earth,’ her frown has turned upside down and a grimace of abject misery has transformed into a vision of manic happiness as if she had traded in her tragedy mask for a comedy one. That it’s unclear which face is scarier, more unnerving, is in keeping with the director Alex Ross Perry’s gift for destabilization, for setting a mood only to violently upend it with cutting looks, dissonant musical chords and off-kilter camera angles. That Catherine seems to be swapping theater masks even as Ms. Moss brings tremendous depth of feeling to the role is in line with the arch self-consciousness of ‘Queen of Earth,’ an art film in quotation marks.” Read more…)

Nasty Baby (drama, Kristen Wiig. Rotten Tomatoes: 64%. Metacritic: 64. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s’ Times review: “But what had looked like a meandering, anecdotal story turns out to be a carefully constructed narrative machine, one that dispenses a brilliantly nasty series of surprises. Mr. Silva’s accomplishment is not just in pulling off a jarring plot twist, but in handling a change of tone that turns the movie — and the audience’s assumptions about it — upside down.” Read more…)

PanPan (family action/fantasy, Hugh Jackman. Rotten Tomatoes: 26%. Metacritic: 36. From A.O. Scott’s New York Ties review: “Peter Pan, who flew through the air in a costume, was in many ways a prototype of the modern superhero. He has certainly been a lucrative entertainment franchise for a very long time, with durable merchandising potential, from feathered hats to peanut butter. All of which may help to explain the otherwise baffling existence of ‘Pan,’ a hectic and labored attempt to supply the boy who never grew up with an origin story.” Read more…)

Manglehorn (drama, Al Pacino. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 56. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Ties review: “[Director David Gordon] Green’s latest small-town portrait has its romantic-eccentric touches: hazy scene transitions, Harmony Korine gabbing away as a wheeler-dealer who idolizes Manglehorn [his former Little League coach], and a trippy traffic-jam tribute to Jean-Luc Godard’s ‘Weekend.’ But as Manglehorn reads aloud letters to a long-lost love (in voice-over), the movie clicks into place as the tried-and-true story of a tough old guy who’s locked his heart up tight.” Read more…)

Soldier’s Girl (drama, Troy Garity. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%.)
War Room (drama, Priscilla Shirer. Rotten Tomatoes: 35%. Metacritic: 26.)

New Blu-Ray Discs
Pan

New Foreign
The Kindergarten Teacher (Israel, drama, Sarit Larry. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 68. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Can a 5-year-old boy be a literary genius? And if so, how might his precocious gift be nurtured and protected? These are, on the surface, among the main questions posed by ‘The Kindergarten Teacher,’ a self-assured, remarkably powerful film from the Israeli writer-director Nadav Lapid.” Read more…)

New Classic (pre-1960)
Forbidden_HollywoodForbidden Hollywood Vol. 5:
Hard to Handle (1933, comedy/romance, James Cagney. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “James Cagney’s shadow burst into Warner’s Strand last night as the dynamic publicity man in ‘Hard to Handle,’ an adaptation of a story by Houston Branch. It is a violent, down-to-the-pavement, slangy affair which has many a mirthful moment. In the course of the hectic happenings, which run from promoting a marathon dance to boosting grapefruit as a reducer for stout persons, Mr. Cagney as Lefty Merrill leaps from the frying pan into the fire, from the fire into the frying pan and lastly from the pa nto the kitchen floor.” Read more…)
Ladies They Talk About (1933, crime/romance, Barbara Stanwyck. From A.D.S.’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “When a reformer and a dashing female bank bandit fall in love, their home life may be somewhat as illustrated in the lingering finale of ‘Ladies They Talk About,’ which was unreeled at the Capitol yesterday. After a torrid argument in which Nan, the gun-girl, accuses her beloved of frustrating a jail-break in which two of her pals were killed, she loses her temper, draws a gun from her handbag and shoots him. ‘I didn’t mean to do that,’ Nan remarks a moment later as David Slade falls to the floor with a bullet in his shoulder. ‘Why, that’s all right, Nan,’ responds her husband-to-be. ‘It’s nothing.'” Read more…)
The Mind Reader (1933, drama, Warren William. From Mordaunt Hall’s 1933 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In a rather lame but frequently ingenious production bearing the title of ‘The Mind Reader,’ Warren William appears as a cheap trickster who, after devoting his time to pulling teeth and selling fake medicines with no great success, decides to become a clairvoyant. He elects to be known as Chandra the Great and to impress his clients he wears Oriental head-gear and talks in sepulchral tones.” Read more…)
Miss Pinkerton (comedy/mystery, Joan Blondell. From A.D.S.’s 1932 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Even so staple a dramatic commodity as homicide should keep up with the times; terror may be expected to change its mask occasionally, and mystery to wear a new camouflage. In ‘Miss Pinkerton,’ which was revealed at the Strand yesterday, the aging handmaidens of the murder melodrama perform their grisly dance in the gloomy mansion of old Juliet Mitchell, but the sound and the fury have gone out of them. There were heretics in the audience who laughed.” Read more…)