Our weekly round-up of new releases, ranked for your viewing pleasure, by their indispensability and watchability. Yes, we made up that word.
SEE IT NOW!
1. The Dance of Reality: A most welcome return by one of cinema's true visionary madmen, Alejandro Jodorowsky, who finally has seen fit to create another enigmatic masterpiece after a 23-year hiatus (not that he hasn't been busy writing graphic novels and other works in the meantime). This film has something to do with his philosophical notion that reality is completely subjective. Anyone who got the chance to see the recent doc Jodorowsky's Dune, knows they can expect all sorts of stream-of-consciousness religious allegory and hallucinatory imagery. Giddy up!
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
2. Cold in July: Sam Shepard has been flying from genre to genre the past couple of years -- from Killing Them Softly to Mud to August: Osage County -- so it should come as no surprise that the actor/playwright should find himself in Jim Mickle's jet-black thriller about a family man (Michael C. Hall) who kills an intruder in his home one night, only to be terrorized by the man's father (Shepard). Based on the early buzz, the film is brutally violent but seriously engaging.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 90%
3. Ida: A gorgeously moving Polish film from filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski concerning a young orphan woman at a post-war Polish nunnery (Agata Trzebuchowska) about to take her vows, before she meets her last surviving family member, a hard drinking aunt (Agata Kulesza), who informs her that she is, in fact, Jewish. Like Bergman's devastating Wild Strawberries, the film's simple premise belies the difficult, twisty emotional truths buried underneath.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 95%
FEEL FREE TO WAIT FOR DVD
1. Maleficent: Angelina Jolie returns from a lengthy sabbatical (her last live-action film was way back in 2010) to play the titular character, the villainess from "Sleeping Beauty." It turns out, the evil witch started out a sweet and innocent girl, who was betrayed most cruelly and as a result got to wearing shimmering black capes and casting curses about all over the kingdom. As it's a full-on Disney production, I believe we can expect all things to be eventually restored to glorious harmony and assume a serious bit of redemption for our witchy-poo.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 44%
2. Chinese Puzzle: Romantic comedies transcend language and culture, you understand, so this French film about a man (Romain Duris) whose wife (Kelly Reilly) leaves him in Paris for someone more fetching in New York, which forces him to move there as well in order to be with their kids, appears to offer much in the way of whimsical humor. Wait, let me guess, is the film also some kind of sweet homage to New York being amazingly vibrant and wonderful? Oh, please, let's do hope so.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 78%
SKIP IT ALTOGETHER
1. A Million Ways to Die in the West: Seth MacFarlane brings his usual arsenal of gross-out spectacles, dick jokes, and racial poking to this story about a nebbish sheep farmer (played by MacFarlane), who inadvertently runs afoul of the baddest outlaw in the territory (Liam Neesan), when he falls for the gangster's beautiful and sharp-shootin' wife (Charlize Theron). MacFarlane can be clever -- and doesn't he know it! -- but as a live performer, he's pretty weak, and the rest of his much more capable cast can't do much with him so much in the spotlight.
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 37%