New Releases 07/16/13

Top Hits
42: The Jackie Robinson Story (sports biopic, Chadwick Boseman. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%. Metacritic: 62. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Biographies of great athletes can be roughly sorted into three categories. There are hero-worshiping fables suitable for fourth-grade classrooms, scandalous feet-of-clay exposés and, rarest of all, narratives that link sports with significant, nonathletic historical events and social issues. In America those events and issues almost always have to do with race, which makes the life of Jackie Robinson especially ripe for sweeping, comprehensive treatment. But while 42, Brian Helgeland’s new film about Robinson, gestures toward the complicated and painful history in which its subject was embroiled, it belongs, like most sports biopics, in the first category. It is blunt, simple and sentimental, using time-tested methods to teach a clear and rousing lesson.” Read more…)

Evil Dead (horror remake, Jane Levy. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The new Evil Dead has none of the first movie’s handmade charm or hilarity, intentional or otherwise. [It also lost its ‘The.’] The director, Fede Alvarez, approaches the creaky material with a surprisingly straight face and a fair amount of throat clearing.” Read more…)

The Jackie Robinson Story (1950, sports drama, Jackie Robinson. Rotten Tomatoes: 63%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The true-life story of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ great star who initially made baseball history as the first Negro in the major leagues, is one which might have been written by the creator of Frank Merriwell, assuming that author had been conscious of the foul play of race prejudice. For, as everyone faintly acquainted with the details of modern sports knows, it’s a story that fits the pattern snugly, with prejudice in the villian role. And so it is not surprising to find The Jackie Robinson Story on the screen a frank and familiar pursual of the old pluck-and-luck routine, with the hero smacking a grand-slam off Jim Crow in the ninth.” Read more…)

The House I Live In (legal system, War on Drugs. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 77. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A call to national conscience, the activist documentary The House I Live In is persuasively urgent. Directed with heart by Eugene Jarecki, the movie is an insistently personal and political look at the war on drugs and its thousands of casualties, including those serving hard time for minor offenses. It is, Mr. Jarecki asserts — as he sifts through the data, weighs the evidence and checks in with those on both sides of the law — a war that has led to mass incarcerations characterized by profound racial disparities and that has created another front in the civil rights movement.” Read more…)

History of The Eagles (musical bio, concert, The Eagles. Metacritic: 74.)
Wild Bill (UK, drama, Charlie Creed-Miles. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

New Blu-Ray
42: The Jackie Robinson Story
Evil Dead

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
The Jackie Robinson Story (1950, sports drama, Jackie Robinson, in Top Hits. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The true-life story of Jackie Robinson, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ great star who initially made baseball history as the first Negro in the major leagues, is one which might have been written by the creator of Frank Merriwell, assuming that author had been conscious of the foul play of race prejudice. For, as everyone faintly acquainted with the details of modern sports knows, it’s a story that fits the pattern snugly, with prejudice in the villian role. And so it is not surprising to find The Jackie Robinson Story on the screen a frank and familiar pursual of the old pluck-and-luck routine, with the hero smacking a grand-slam off Jim Crow in the ninth.” Read more…)

New British
Wild Bill (UK, drama, Charlie Creed-Miles, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)
Jack Taylor: Set 1 (detective series, Iain Glen)

New TV
Longmire: Season 1 (western series, Robert Taylor)
Damages: Season 5 (legal drama series, Glenn Close)
Hell on Wheels: Seasons 1 & 2 (western series)

New Docs
The House I Live In (legal system, War on Drugs, in Top Hits. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 77.A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “A call to national conscience, the activist documentary The House I Live In is persuasively urgent. Directed with heart by Eugene Jarecki, the movie is an insistently personal and political look at the war on drugs and its thousands of casualties, including those serving hard time for minor offenses. It is, Mr. Jarecki asserts — as he sifts through the data, weighs the evidence and checks in with those on both sides of the law — a war that has led to mass incarcerations characterized by profound racial disparities and that has created another front in the civil rights movement.” Read more…)

Bidder 70 (activism, environmental issues, Tim DeChristopher. Rotten Tomatoes: 78%. Metacritic: 61. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Bidder 70, for all its clumsiness, nails the way that a spontaneous act of courage can focus the mind and clarify an ideology. A handful of social-justice notables, including Robert Redford and the conservationist Terry Tempest Williams, weigh in, but it’s Mr. DeChristopher’s journey that resonates. Observing him as he ponders nonviolent protest, quotes Edward Abbey and visits mountaintop-removal coal mines in West Virginia, where he was born, we hear not the legal machinery humming inexorably in the background but the mental gears of an activist clicking into place.” Read more…)

The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power (energy policy, history of oil exploration, Daniel Yergin)

New Music DVDs
History of The Eagles (musical bio, concert, The Eagles, in Top Hits)