New releases 9/15/20

Top Hits
First Cow (drama, John Magaro. Rotten Tomatoes: 96%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 89. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “That patient, inscrutable animal is the title character, and in effect the female lead, of ‘First Cow,’ Kelly Reichardt’s deceptively simple and wondrously subtle new film. A parable of economics and politics, with shrewd insights into the workings of supply and demand, scarcity and scale and other puzzles of the marketplace, the movie is also keenly attuned to details of history, both human and natural.” Read more…)

Weathering With You (animated feature, Lee Pace[voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 91%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “The rain doesn’t simply fall in ‘Weathering With You,’ an anime about love in a time of catastrophe, it gushes. The record torrent that pounds Tokyo throughout is relentless: It floods streets and homes, wrapping the city in a heavy blanket of gray. There’s beauty here, though, in the shocks of color like the red latticework of an Eiffel-like tower and umbrellas that, when seen from above, look like promenading flowers.” Read more…)

Swallow (horror, Haley Bennett. Rotten Tomatoes: 89%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 65. From Kristen Yoonsoo Kim’s New York Times review: “It’s easy to mistake Hunter Conrad (Haley Bennett), the woman at the center of ‘Swallow,’ for a mid-20th-century housewife: She dotes on her husband while wearing pearls and cocktail dresses and has a Jackie Kennedy bounce to her bob. The one deviation is playing iPhone games to relieve her ennui. Viewers will anxiously wait for the ‘happy’ wife to crack in this feature from the writer-director Carlo Mirabella-Davis.” Read more…)

Becky (horror, Lulu Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 70%. Metacritic: 55. From Brian Tallerico’s review: “Cary Murnion and Jonathan Milott like to subvert horror expectations like having kids be the centerpiece of a violent zombie movie like ‘Cooties’ or the unbroken shot structure of ‘Bushwick.’ I’m not sure which counts as the subversion more in their latest, ‘Becky’—that it boasts Kevin James’ first dramatic role or that it’s an incredibly violent film with a teen girl protagonist. The former actually works. In fact, the most depressing thing about ‘Becky’ is how little Murnion and Milott do with the star of ‘The King of Queens,’ whose performance is far and away the best thing about this frustrating movie.” Read more…)

True History of the Kelly Gang (Australia, western, Russell Crowe. Rotten Tomatoes: 79%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “There are a couple of action scenes in ‘True Story of the Kelly Gang’ that show off the director Justin Kurzel’s technical chops and eye for novelty. A climactic shootout with startling strobe-like lighting effects is undeniably impressive. But the jumpy, springy qualities of the movie’s visual style are unfortunately undercut by its verbal content.” Read more…)

Retaliation (drama, Orlando Bloom. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Metacritic: 58. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘Retaliation’ isn’t the violent revenge picture its title promises. When this movie, directed by the brothers Ludwig and Paul Shammasian, had its premiere three years ago, it was called ‘Romans.’ Anyone who expects Orlando Bloom in Charles Bronson mode will instead get a serious-minded, if heavy-handed, British drama about a man coping with the trauma of having been sexually abused as a child by a priest.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Weathering With You
First Cow

New Foreign DVDs
Vitalina Varela (Cape Verde, drama, Vitalina Varela. Rotten Tomatoes: 98% Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “While Costa’s earlier work traded in a demanding, stylized, austere [some would call it punishingly so] realism, in recent years his view has taken on a stunning pictorialism. In the opening shots of this film, one thinks of Goya and Velasquez; the clouds in the night sky evoke El Greco. It is not inaccurate to call Costa an acquired taste. In the case of this reviewer, it was a road to Damascus experience with the 2007 film ‘Colossal Youth,’ which required a second viewing to yield its epiphany, Like that picture, ‘Vitalina Varela’ is socially conscious, but dreamlike, elegiac.” Read more…)

Caro Diario (Italy, 1993, comedy, Nanni Moretti. Rotten Tomatoes: 68%. From Janet Maslin’s 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There are social critics as lively and opinionated as Nanni Moretti on many a park bench, but they don’t share Mr. Moretti’s rare gift for captivating an audience. This funny, contentious Italian film maker, who was voted best director at this year’s Cannes International Film Festival, wanders through ‘Caro Diario’ [‘Dear Diary’] airing his thoughts in delightfully offbeat ways. As both a skillful director and a lovable oddball, he commands interest. It’s easy to follow him anywhere.” Read more…)

I Only Want You To Love Me (Germany, 1976, true crime dir. by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Vitus Zeplichal. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Stephen Holden’s 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Based on a true story from a German anthology called ‘Life Sentence,’ it offers a merciless view of bourgeois German society in the feverish grip of capitalism. The cost of West Germany’s postwar economic miracle, it suggests, was emotionally and spiritually devastating. The world it portrays is an environment in which the value of everything can be measured in monetary credit.” Read more…)

Proud (France, drama mini-series/gay & lesbian, Frédéric Pierrot)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Freedom Road (1979, historical drama, Muhammad Ali. From John J. O’Connor’s 1979 New York Times television review [requires log-in]: “A glaring distinction of ‘Freedom Road’ is that it takes Muhammad Ali, certainly one of the more vibrant personalities of this century, and makes him dull… The story offers an interesting revision of what used to be standard histories of the post‐Civil War years known as the period of Reconstruction. The old stories of dastardly ‘carpetbaggers’ ripping oft the South are transformed into a tale of moving harmony between newly freed blacks and struggling poor whites. The promise of this bond is seen being crushed by very wealthy whites in conspiracy with the Ku Klux Klan.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Beats (comedy/drama, Cristian Ortega. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 74. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “Like the party that serves as its climax, the retro teenage-friendship movie ‘Beats,’ set in 1994 in Scotland, owes its appeal to mood and vibe. The soundtrack provides a constant, toe-tapping thump.” Read more…)

New TV
Ozark: Season 1 (drama, Laura Linney. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%. Metacritic: 66.)
Succession: Season 2 (HBO drama, Brian Cox. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 89.)
Killing Eve: Season 3 (action, Sandra Oh. Rotten Tomatoes: 80%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 62.)
Outlander: Season 5 (action, Caitriona Balfe. Rotten Tomatoes: 95%. Metacritic: 73.)

New Documentary DVDs
Love, Antosha (bio, movie history, Anton Yelchin. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 78. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “[Anton] Yelchin had cystic fibrosis, a wasting disease he had told only his closest intimates about. The movie chronicles the incredible work ethic he developed even as he strove mightily to stave off the effects of the incurable disease. ‘Love, Antosha’ also goes to pains not to make Yelchin a plaster saint. His taste for night life wasn’t merely enthusiastic; some might call it risky. His ‘Star Trek’ co-star Chris Pine goes googly-eyed recalling some of his friend’s adventures.” Read more…)

Exporting Raymond (documentary/comedy, culture clash, media. Rotten Tomatoes: 72%. Metacritic: 55. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “Phil Rosenthal, the creator of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond,’ is a successful television producer who’s perhaps best known for being a frustrated actor and comedian. Now he has essentially cast himself as the star of ‘Exporting Raymond,’ a documentary he wrote and directed about the frustrations of adapting his creation for Russian TV. It has the structure and some of the pleasures of a well-made sitcom or docu-reality show, despite the nervous-looking, unhappy guy at its center; it could have been called “Nobody Understands Phil.’” Read more…)

And She Could Be Next (politics, feminism, women of color, Stacey Abrams)