New releases 9/8/20

Top Hits
Bad Education (dark comedy based on true story, Hugh Jackman. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 79. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Ben Kenigsberg’s Times review: “‘Thoroughbreds,’ the 2018 debut feature of the playwright Cory Finley, was not to every taste, but for acid wit and gliding camera moves, it could hardly be beat. Finley’s second feature, ‘Bad Education,’ which airs Saturday night on HBO, traffics in a kindred casual misanthropy. The movie offers an agreeably slick account of an early-2000s scandal in which a former superintendent of schools in Roslyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty to stealing $2 million from his district.” Read more…)

Straight Up (comedy/romance/gay, James Sweeney. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. Metacritic: 66. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “[Actor/director James] Sweeney and [actress] Katie Findlay are both likable actors, and a description of ‘Straight Up’ — to say nothing of its title — makes it sound more high-concept than it is. But the movie comes across as a rush of bouncy one-liners and arch formal conceits.” Read more…)

Marriage Story (drama, Scarlett Johansson. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 94. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “Traditionally, a story that ends in matrimony is classified as a comedy. But what about a story that begins with the end of a marriage? Noah Baumbach’s tender and stinging new film, ‘Marriage Story,’ doesn’t quite answer the question. It’s funny and sad, sometimes within a single scene, and it weaves a plot out of the messy collapse of a shared reality, trying to make music out of disharmony. The melody is full of heartbreak, loss and regret, but the song is too beautiful to be entirely melancholy.” Read more…)

The Big Ugly (action/crime, Malcolm McDowell. Rotten Tomatoes: 41%. Metacritic: 52. From Leslie Felperin’s Guardian review: “Although technically an ‘eastern’ rather than a western – it unfolds in the lush hills and shady honkytonks of West Virginia – this macho, contemporary-set crime thriller feels like something that got cooked up after a bender guzzling a Sam Peckinpah box set. Maybe chased with a few British gangster pics like ‘Get Carter’ and ‘The Long Good Friday.’ Indeed, it plays like several plots, genres and mood boards all mashed together, which makes the end result interesting but not entirely successful.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
The Cordillera of Dreams (Chile, documentary dir. by Patricio Guzman, Chilean history & geography. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%. Metacritic: 83. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “The great Chilean documentary filmmaker Patricio Guzmán does not grapple with the idea of eternity in his new picture, ‘The Cordillera of Dreams.’ He sits with it, patiently. He considers it through metaphor, as his camera slowly considers the chain of Andes Mountains that makes up the cordillera of his movie’s title. Drone shots are overused in movies, often predictably so; this sublime film, though, abounds in great, distinctive ones. Guzmán’s lens flies the way you would wish your own eye could, unveiling incredible natural beauty and revealing secrets: a labyrinth of gorges for instance.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
Deathtrap (1982, comedy/mystery, Christopher Reeve. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. Metacritic: 54. From Janet Maslin’s 1982 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “There hasn’t been a stylish, sneaky, cat-and-mouse movie like ‘Deathtrap’ since ‘Sleuth.’ Actually, in the case of ‘Deathtrap,’ it’s cat-and-mice. Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon play Ira Levin’s trio of blithe schemers, with two of them in cahoots to bump off the third. This is only half the story, but it’s all that can be described here without giving too many twists away.” Read more…)

The Grey Fox (Canada actually, 1982, period crime drama, Richard Farnsworth. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Vincent Canby’s 1983 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “‘The Grey Fox,’ Phillip Borsos’s Canadian film that opens today at the Baronet, is a gentle, intelligent, very leisurely paced western with one terrific asset: Richard Farnsworth. Mr. Farnsworth is the stunt man who turned actor and received an Oscar nomination for his work in in the otherwise not memorable ‘Comes a Horseman.’ Like Greta Garbo, Walter Brennan, Cary Guffey and Catherine Deneuve, Mr. Farnsworth has the sort of face the camera adores.” Read more…)

New Documentary DVDs
Los Reyes (Chile, dogs at a Santiago skate park. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Bilge Ebiri’s Times review: “In Santiago’s oldest skate park, the kids come and go but the dogs stay the same. According to its directors, Iván Osnovikoff and Bettina Perut, ‘Los Reyes’ got its start as a look at the inner lives of the youths that congregate around this aging sprawl of half-pipes, pools and ramps. But the filmmakers eventually realized that two stray dogs who lived in the park, Football and Chola, were their real stars.” Read more…)

King In the Wilderness (Black history, bio, Martin Luther King Jr.’s last few years. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 97. From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: “Racially, America had become a cauldron that was boiling over, and King was at the center of it, to the point that his non-violent stance looked more extreme than ever. [It was now seen as a provocation.] What ‘King in the Wilderness’ shows us, through close-up archival footage, is the sweat and dread King lived with every day — and probably did back in the Bus Boycott era, too. It just wasn’t made public.” Read more…)