New releases 9/22/20

Top Hits
Babyteeth (drama, Eliza Scanlen. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 77. From Manohla Dargis’ New York Times review: “Directed by Shannon Murphy from a script that Rita Kalnejais adapted from her play of the same title, ‘Babyteeth’ is such a fragile, earnest and inoffensive thing that I almost feel bad for not liking it more. It’s a coming-of-age story in a gently if overly studied eccentric key that follows Milla [Eliza Scanlen] as she finds love and grapples with her parents.” Read more…)

Waiting for the Barbarians (drama, Mark Rylance. Rotten Tomatoes: 54%. Metacritic: 52. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The stark sight of a western-style military outpost in the middle of a whole lot of desert nothingness, where ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’ begins, may remind cinephiles of the 1976 Valerio Zurlini film ‘The Desert of the Tartars.’ It’s unclear whether the director of this picture, Ciro Guerra, meant the scene as a homage to Zurlini’s film, but he didn’t even need to. As it happens, J.M. Coetzee, whose novel of the same name inspired this film, was likely influenced by Dino Buzzati’s book ‘The Tartar Steppe,’ the source for ‘Tartars.’” Read more…)

Military Wives (drama/inspiration, Kristin Scott Thomas. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 55. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The title ‘Military Wives’ is plain to the point of blandness. This good-hearted comedy-drama, starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan, deserves a little better. The movie is directed by Peter Cattaneo, who also oversaw the 1997 phenom ‘The Full Monty.’” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
The City Without Jews

New Foreign DVDs
On A Magical Night (France, comedy/romance, Chiara Mastroianni. Rotten Tomatoes: 65%. Metacritic: . From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “The original title of this French film, ‘Chambre 212,’ is also the hotel room its lead character, Maria, checks into after an argument with her husband, who’s discovered profanely erotic texts from a student with whom she’s been carrying on. Maria, played with exemplary candor and feistiness by Chiara Mastroianni, is a woman who, in early middle age, clearly feels like stirring the pot.” Read more…)

The Girl With a Bracelet (France, courtroom drama, Melissa Guers. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%. From Peter Bradshaw’s Guardian review: “There’s a cool, forensic reserve to this French movie, mimicking the legalistic procedure that makes up most of the running time. It is a remake of The Accused, a 2018 film from Argentinian director Gonzalo Tobal about a teenage girl on trial for murdering her best friend, allegedly as revenge for putting a sexually explicit video of her online. Guilty or not guilty?” Read more…)

The City Without Jews (Austria, 1924, satiric critique of anti-semitism lated banned by the Nazis. Johannes Reimann. From Jordan Hoffman’s article at Slate on the restoration of the film: “For a story about the forced expulsion of an entire ethnic group, Hans Karl Breslauer and Ida Jenbach’s The City Without Jews is oddly good-natured. Adapted from Hugo Bettauer’s novel, the 1924 satire is not dissimilar from other light silent films of the era. The scenario was topical, but intended as ludicrous, a “be-careful-what-you-wish-for” fable whose moral argues for tolerance, if of a somewhat backhanded kind.” Read more…)

The Koker Trilogy (Iran, dir. by Abbas Kiarostami):
     And Life Goes On (1992, adventure/drama, Farhad Kheradmand. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Stephen Holden’s 1992 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “In ‘And Life Goes On,’ that catastrophe is a devastating earthquake in the north of Iran. The Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami, accompanied by his young son, drives into the area only a day or two after the quake. Although his ostensible goal is to find out what happened to some young actors who live in the area and who once worked with him, his real quest seems to be the gleaning of as much spectacular post-quake film as possible. The film… is a visually gripping travelogue in which the more the director is thwarted, the more his journey acquires metaphoric weight.” Read more…)
     Through the Olive Trees (1994, drama, Mohamad Ali Keshavarz. Rotten Tomatoes: 83%. From Stephen Holden’s 1994 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The film… is the story of one persistent man’s pursuit of a woman who believes he is beneath her. It is also a richly textured quasi-documentary portrait of a rural Muslim society in which the people display a remarkable resilience in the face of catastrophe. In ‘Through the Olive Trees,’ the Iranian director has some serious cinematic fun in the manner of Truffaut’s ‘Day for Night.’” Read more…)
     Where Is the Friend’s House (1987, drama/family, Babek Ahmed Poor. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From a New York Times “Watching” recommendation: “Though director Abbas Kiarostami’s films would later head off into more overtly challenging and esoteric terrain, ‘Where Is the Friend’s House?’ has all the qualities that put Iranian cinema on the map: formal simplicity, emotional directness, and the use of children as a window into societal ills. As the film’s resolute hero wanders off in search of his friend, Kiarostami contrasts his moral courage and determination with the grown-ups who misinterpret him, condescend to him, or snort at the urgency of his mission.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Never Steal Anything Small (1959, musical/comedy/drama, James Cagney. From A.H. Weiler’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Working on the somewhat startling premise that union politics simultaneously can be rough, funny, chivalrous, profitable, romantic and tuneful, scenarist-director Charles Lederer and a company of energetic players headed by James Cagney have not made anything especially big out of ‘Never Steal Anything Small.’ For the comedy with music that was unveiled at the Capitol yesterday is merely an amiable antic that is only partly successful on any of these counts.Perhaps the fault lies in an indecisive script that evolves is a combination of a Damon Runyon lampoon, a serious inspection of the sordid side of New York’s waterfront union machinations and a medium-grade musical.” Read more…)

New TV
The Good Fight: Season 4 (legal drama, Christine Baranski. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 84.)