New Releases 11/5/13

Top Hits
White House Down (action, Channing Tatum. Rotten Tomatoes: 50%. Metacritic: 52. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “White House Down, the latest conflagration from that master blaster Roland Emmerich, is as demented and entertaining as promised, and a little less idiotic than feared. Once again, for reasons best left to him and his therapist, he has created a pop diversion about the near-destruction of the world. Maybe he just likes playing with matches.” Read more…)

Grown Ups 2 (comedy, Adam Sandler. Rotten Tomatoes: 7%. Metacritic: 19. From Andy Webster’s New York Times review: “‘The party’s over, fellas,’ says Adam Sandler’s character, Lenny, to his buddies in Grown Ups 2. ‘We’re irrelevant.’ And though the box office may disagree, his words aren’t far from the truth. The first Grown Ups, in 2010, grossed more than $271 million worldwide; the sequel will probably rival that amount, reaping lavish dividends for Mr. Sandler and his co-stars, many of them his fellow Saturday Night Live alumni. Once again Mr. Sandler milks middle age for lucre, nostalgia and clunky, ham-fisted humor. But he has cause for concern.” Read more…)

Lovelace (drama/bio-pic, Amanda Seyfried. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 51. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Lovelace, a movie about the chasm between public perception and private experience, pulls off a sly bait and switch. It’s inspired by the autobiography of one Linda Boreman, who when she was young, permed and under the spell of a violent pimp earned her place in hard-core history by suppressing her gag reflex in the 1972 film Deep Throat. With its Boogie Nights typeface and mustachioed dudes as slick and artificial as their Qiana threads, Lovelace promises the down-and-dirty best [or worst] with a snigger and pulsating beats. It delivers just as promised only to do a 180 in order to tell another, uglier story, this one involving beatings, rape and 24/7 terror.” Read more…)

Clear History (comedy, Larry David, Jon Hamm. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 69. From Alessandra Staney’s New York Times television review: “Clear History, the title of a delicious new HBO film by Larry David, refers to the humiliating steps a loser takes to wipe his billion-dollar belly flop from the world’s memory drive. And it is obvious from the opening moments, when Nathan Flomm, played by Mr. David, is driving a convertible in San Jose, Calif., singing along to a song by the band Chicago, that Mr. David is back in Curb Your Enthusiasm form.” Read more…)

Passion (thriller, Rachel McAdams. Rotten Tomatoes: 33%. Metacritic: 52. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “‘There’s no back-stabbing here. It’s just business.’ That line is uttered twice in Brian De Palma’s Passion, once disingenuously, once sarcastically, even though it is, literally speaking, true. A slashed throat is not the same as a stabbed back. And the kinky, convoluted plot is all about business if you expand the definition to include romantic obsession, sexual jealousy and sadomasochistic mind games.” Read more…)

As I Lay Dying (Faulkner adaptation, James Franco. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 50. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying, published in 1930, is about a family hauling the dead body of one of its members on a journey of several days over rough terrain in a mule-drawn cart. That might be one definition of a fool’s errand, the primary fool being Anse Bundren, a stubborn, suspicious and toothless Mississippi farmer who insists on burying his wife, Addie, in her hometown. Another definition might be the attempt to turn Faulkner’s splintered, lyrical book into a movie. In this case the fool would be James Franco, who directed and stars in the first film adaptation of a book that has long been considered unfilmable. But in rushing in where wise men might fear to tread, Mr. Franco has accomplished something serious and worthwhile.” Read more…)

Broken (crime drama, Tim Roth. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 53. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Kitchen-sink realism for the 21st century: that would describe the first three-quarters of Broken, the fine but unnecessarily convoluted first feature film by the British theater director Rufus Norris about the tensions in a grubby middle-class neighborhood of North London. The movie lacks the visual austerity and despairing tone of its forerunners in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These people are not poor. But most are unhappy, coarse and highly stressed, and the social climate is claustrophobic. ” Read more…)

Parkland (historical drama, Zac Efron. Rotten Tomatoes: 47%. Metacritic: 51. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Parkland, Peter Landesman’s taut but unsatisfying docudrama about the Kennedy assassination, is mercifully short. For the events depicted, no matter how familiar, still hurt. Watching the movie is like enduring dental surgery without anesthesia. You clench your fists, suck in your breath and remind yourself that the pain will end. And when it does, sooner than expected, you sigh with relief. ” Read more…)

Under the Dome (mini-series based on Stephen King book. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “You can say goodbye to your next two Monday nights, and possibly — if past for once is not precedent — the whole summer’s worth. Under the Dome, a 13-part CBS mini-series based on the Stephen King novel, gets off to an addictive start on Monday, so much so that it’s hard to imagine any second-episode falloff in viewership. Bite on Part 1 and you’re going to be there for Part 2, or at least the start of it.” Read more…)

Mad Men: Season 6 (Acclaimed TV drama series. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review of Season 6: “The pleasure of Mad Men is not in discovery anymore; it’s in the affirmation that there is still some invention left in a series that took audiences by surprise and then kept them hooked even when the novelty wore off. Most dramas that last more than a few years have difficulty keeping up with the times. Mad Men is defined by its period, and each tremor in that convulsive decade — the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, Vietnam, drugs — has shaped a season and helped drive the narrative. So it’s a tribute to the writers and the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, that most characters are so well imagined and enigmatic that they never seem like mere caricatures of the period — even when gray flannel suits and skinny ties give way to paisley ties, vests and go-go boots.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
White House Down
Grown Ups 2
Passion

New Foreign
Renoir (France, artist bio-pic. Rotten Tomatoes: 69%. Metacritic: 64. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “‘I refuse to paint the world black,’ declares Pierre-Auguste Renoir [the great French actor Michel Bouquet] in Renoir, Gilles Bourdos’s compassionate late-life portrait of this French Impressionist painter, infirm with rheumatoid arthritis. ‘A painting should be something pleasant and cheerful,’ he adds. ‘There are enough disagreeable things in life. I don’t need to paint more.'” Read more…)

Blancanieves (Spain, art house drama, Maribel Verdu. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 82. From A.O Scott’s New York Times review: “Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves combines two recent movie trends: the updating of classic fairy tales and the rediscovery of silent film. Hollywood studios have lately been turning venerable children’s bedtime stories — Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel and of course Snow White, Mr. Berger’s source — into special-effects-heavy action spectacles. Meanwhile a handful of European directors [notably Michel Hazanavicius, in The Artist, and Miguel Gomes, with Tabu] have been drawn to the archaic glamour of monochrome images, boxy frames, heightened gestures and unheard dialogue. What unites these tendencies might be a desire to find a way toward the new by means of the old, or else a more basic nostalgia, a longing for magic and wonder in a cynical time. Blancanieves deftly blends cinematic antiquarianism, period atmosphere and primal emotions.” Read more…)

New British
Broken (crime drama, Tim Roth, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 62%. Metacritic: 53. From Stephen Holden’s New York Times review: “Kitchen-sink realism for the 21st century: that would describe the first three-quarters of Broken, the fine but unnecessarily convoluted first feature film by the British theater director Rufus Norris about the tensions in a grubby middle-class neighborhood of North London. The movie lacks the visual austerity and despairing tone of its forerunners in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These people are not poor. But most are unhappy, coarse and highly stressed, and the social climate is claustrophobic. ” Read more…)

New TV
Mad Men: Season 6 (Acclaimed TV drama series, in Top Hits. From Alessandra Stanley’s New York Times television review of Season 6: “The pleasure of Mad Men is not in discovery anymore; it’s in the affirmation that there is still some invention left in a series that took audiences by surprise and then kept them hooked even when the novelty wore off. Most dramas that last more than a few years have difficulty keeping up with the times. Mad Men is defined by its period, and each tremor in that convulsive decade — the Kennedy assassination, civil rights, Vietnam, drugs — has shaped a season and helped drive the narrative. So it’s a tribute to the writers and the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner, that most characters are so well imagined and enigmatic that they never seem like mere caricatures of the period — even when gray flannel suits and skinny ties give way to paisley ties, vests and go-go boots.” Read more…)

Under the Dome (mini-series based on Stephen King book, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 72. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times television review: “You can say goodbye to your next two Monday nights, and possibly — if past for once is not precedent — the whole summer’s worth. Under the Dome, a 13-part CBS mini-series based on the Stephen King novel, gets off to an addictive start on Monday, so much so that it’s hard to imagine any second-episode falloff in viewership. Bite on Part 1 and you’re going to be there for Part 2, or at least the start of it.” Read more…)

Vikings: Season 1