New releases 1/19/21

Top Hits
Dreamland (crime drama set in 1930s, Margot Robbie. Rotten Tomatoes: 59%. Metacritic: 57. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The myth of Bonnie and Clyde dies hard, especially because of Arthur Penn’s romanticized crime film, which hit screens with a splatter in 1967. That movie’s special mix of Hollywood chic and frenzied violence rekindled the legend and kept it smoldering. Americans love their outlaws and really love them running wild, partly because the world’s most powerful country clings to its foundational us-versus-them identity. The hollow genre exercise ‘Dreamland’ is the latest to take its lead from America’s favorite bandit couple, even as it tries to chart its own course.” Read more…)

Wander (thriller, Aaron Eckhart. Rotten Tomatoes: 40%. Metacritic: 54. From Glenn Kenny’s review: “‘Wander’ does pick up when we meet Arthur and Jimmy. Not just because they’re played by Aaron Eckhart and Tommy Lee Jones, respectively. Also because their roles are unusual: They’re the hosts of a podcast investigating conspiracy theories, broadcasting from near their RVs in the remotest of locales, the better to avoid detection.” Read more…)

The Climb (comedy, Michael Angelo Covino. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 82. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “The comedy of male immaturity reached its peak a little more than a decade ago, when ‘Step Brothers’ brought the genre to obnoxious perfection. ‘The Climb’ takes what seems to be a more elevated — more grown-up — consideration of some of the same themes. It’s about two best friends from childhood struggling with some of the challenges of heterosexual adult life, principally women.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Martin Eden (adventure/adaptation of Jack London novel, Luca Marinelli. Rotten Tomatoes: 85%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “The entirety of the 20th century — its promises, illusions and traumas — sweeps through the audacious and thrilling ‘Martin Eden.’ An ingenious adaptation of the Jack London novel, the film follows its title character, a humble young man as he embarks on a program of self-improvement. Like a hero out of Horatio Alger, Martin strives to change and to advance. A voracious autodidact, he succeeds. But his rags-to-rich path with its hard work, perseverance and bourgeois education, proves far more complicated and finally more shattering than most upward-mobility fairy tales.” Read more…)

A Special Day (Italy, 1977, drama, Criterion Collection, Marcello Mastroianni. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1977 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In Ettore Scola’s funny, humane ‘A Special Day’—an acting tour de force for Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni—Antonietta and Gabriele are never really a couple, but their brief encounter lights up the screen with the kind of radiance you get only from great movie actors who also are great stars. ‘A Special Day,’ which opened yesterday at the Beekman Theater, takes place on the day of Hitler’s 1938 state visit to Rome, where he was given a gigantic, hysterically enthusiastic reception by Mussolini, the King, the diplomatic corps, leading Italian industrialists [whose names are still familiar] and 90 percent of the city’s population and a military parade that lasted almost as long as Mussolini’s campaign in Ethiopia.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Sudden Fear (1952, film noir, Joan Crawford. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From A.W.’s 1952 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Since she is an actress who is sturdy enough to bear the weight of an unsensational yarn, Joan Crawford should be credited with a truly professional performance in ‘Sudden Fear,’ which came to Loew’s State yesterday. In this romantic suspense story, Miss Crawford, playing a rich, successful playwright, who gives her heart and hand to the wrong actor, does notably well in an exercise which involves practically all the emotions.” Read more…)

New TV
Westworld: Series 3 (sci-fi series based on Michael Crichton novel, Evan Rachel Wood. Rotten Tomatoes: 73%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 64.)

New Documentaries
Born To Be (transgender issues, LGBTQ. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “In 2016, Mount Sinai Hospital opened its Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery in Manhattan. The documentary ‘Born to Be,’ directed by Tania Cypriano, follows the work of one of that center’s pioneering surgeons, Dr. Jess Ting.” Read more…)

Driving While Black: Race, Space And Mobility In America (race issues, American history, civil rights. Metacritic: 92. From Brian Lowry’s XNN review: “‘Driving While Black’ has a specific modern meaning. “Driving While Black: Space, Race and Mobility in America” turns out to be an extremely rich and detailed PBS documentary, exploring the long history of restrictions on Black movement, from slavery through the present. As part of that journey, the two-hour film addresses not only modern-day issues of policing but deeper ones about the American Dream denied.” Read more…)