New Releases 1/12/16

Top Hits
The_MartianThe Martian (sci-fi, Matt Damon. Rotten Tomatoes: 93%. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis Times review: “A space western and a blissed-out cosmic high, ‘The Martian’ stars Matt Damon as an American astronaut who, like a latter-day Robinson Crusoe, learns to survive on his own island of despair. At once epic and intimate, it involves a dual journey into outer and inner space, a trip that takes you into that immensity called the universe and deep into the equally vast landscape of a single consciousness. For this accidental castaway, space is the place where he’s physically marooned, but also where his mind is set free — a dynamic that of course invokes moviegoing itself.” Read more…)

Irrational Man (drama/romance, Joaquin Phoenix. Rotten Tomatoes: 42%. Metacritic: 53. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The exchange is in keeping with Mr. Allen’s oft-repeated insistence, on-screen and off, that life is meaningless, which may be true even if he seems feverishly bent on refuting it with his prodigious cinematic output. If you’ve seen any of that yield, you have seen a version of ‘Irrational Man.’ As tends to be the case with his work, this new light and dark film looks, sounds and plays a lot like some of his previous titles. That isn’t a dig. One of the givens of Mr. Allen’s screen work and sometimes its attractions is how each new film registers as another chapter in a project that, in its scale and scope, and in the way in which it seems to speak to his personal life, has come to resemble a weird metafiction.” Read more…)

When_Marnie_Was_ThereWhen Marnie Was There (animated feature, Hailee Steinfeld [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Beneath its calm, exquisitely detailed surface, ‘When Marnie Was There’ bubbles with half-formed ideas and undeveloped themes. Suggestion and subtext jostle for attention, and the extent to which they intrude will depend mainly on the age of the viewer. To the tinies, this gorgeously animated adaptation of a 1967 young-adult novel by the British author Joan G. Robinson will seem a simple tale of friendship found and unhappiness banished. Others, however, could experience the story’s sweetly supernatural drift as a veil for gnarlier intimations of child abuse, sexual awakening, ethnic confusion and even mental illness.” Read more…)

Copperhead (Civil War period drama, Billy Campbell. Rotten Tomatoes: 21%. Metacritic: 34. From Neil Genzlinger’s New York Times review: “It was, apparently, a war to end all subtlety. Ron Maxwell, director of the Civil War drama ‘Copperhead,’ renders everything in capital letters in this story of dissent and repression on the home front. Though the tale, based on a novel by Harold Frederic, remains relevant to our time, the film is too self-conscious and tedious for the message it delivers.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The Martian
When Marnie Was There
Herzog: The Collection (16 Werner Herzog movies on Blu-Ray, generously donated to BVFCC by member and friend John McNamara): Even Dwarfs Started Small, Land of Silence and Darkness, Fata Morgana, Aguirre The Wrath of God, The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser, Heart of Glass, Stroszek, Woyzeck, Nosferatu the Vampyre, Fitzcarraldo, Battle of Little Soldier, Where the Green Ants Dream, Cobra Verde, Lessons of Darkness, Little Dieter Needs to Fly

New Foreign
Bitter_RiceBitter Rice (Italy, 1949, neo-realist drama, Silvana Mangano. From Bosley Crowther’s 1950 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘Bitter Rice,’ which is the picture that opened there yesterday, is as earthy and elemental as any picture you are likely to see. Passion toils and tumbles through it like the wrestlers in a gas-house free-for-all, and torments of carnal hunger are boldly and rawly exposed. Towards the end, all its passion and concupiscence go swirling down the melodramatic chutes, but while they’re bubbling and boiling in this picture they make quite a gamey peasant stew.” Read more…)

New British
Sherlock: The Abominable Bride (mystery series, Benedict Cumberbatch)
The Bed Sitting Room (1969, Richard Lester-directed comedy, Dudley Moore. From Vincent Canby 1969 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The movies of Richard Lester, the Philadelphia-born director who makes most of his films in England, seem to get worse in direct relation to the seriousness of their intentions. ‘The Bed Sitting Room,’ which opened yesterday at the Little Carnegie Theater, is Lester’s most seriously intended film to date—an apocalyptic warning about the Bomb, dropped in the form of a surreal farce.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Yes Men Are Revolting (activism, politics, climate change, Andy Bichlbaum. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%. Metacritic: 61. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “It’s one thing for political pranksters to play dirty tricks on corporations whose agendas they oppose, but it’s quite another for their shenanigans to be carried out with the ingenuity and humor of comic performance art. Take the Yes Men, Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum [not their real names], subversive political satirists who dream up elaborate stunts to embarrass climate-change deniers.” Read more…)

Ballet 422 (dance, New York Ballet. Rotten Tomatoes: 86%. Metacritic: 74. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Works of art are made from the inside out, as the passions, ideas and instincts of artists blossom into objective forms. Most movies about the making of art tend to proceed in the opposite direction, inviting us, as we observe the labor of creation, to infer what we can about the inspiration behind it. ‘Ballet 422,’ Jody Lee Lipes’s new documentary about a young choreographer bringing a new dance to the stage, scrupulously limits its attention to the procedural details of rehearsal, costume design and music.” Read more…)

New Children’s DVDs
Hotel Transylvania 2 (animated feature, Adam Sandler [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 55%. Metacritic: 44. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “In the 2012 animated picture ‘Hotel Transylvania,’ the comedy stalwart Adam Sandler voiced a Dracula who juggled concerns over his troubled spooky-lodging business with concerns over losing his vampire daughter, Mavis, to the outside world. Mr. Sandler’s cronies and frequent co-stars in live-action movies voiced Dracula’s classic-monster cohort. As a homage to beloved old-movie myths, it fell into the “each man kills the thing he loves” category of tribute, setting a level of sacrilege so high that its sequel, ‘Hotel Transylvania 2,’ directed by the returning Genndy Tartakovsky, is more tolerable simply by dint of inoculation.” Read more…)

When Marnie Was There (animated feature, Hailee Steinfeld [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%. Metacritic: 71. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Beneath its calm, exquisitely detailed surface, ‘When Marnie Was There’ bubbles with half-formed ideas and undeveloped themes. Suggestion and subtext jostle for attention, and the extent to which they intrude will depend mainly on the age of the viewer. To the tinies, this gorgeously animated adaptation of a 1967 young-adult novel by the British author Joan G. Robinson will seem a simple tale of friendship found and unhappiness banished. Others, however, could experience the story’s sweetly supernatural drift as a veil for gnarlier intimations of child abuse, sexual awakening, ethnic confusion and even mental illness.” Read more…)