This Week at the Movies: ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ ‘The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’

Today is such a cluttered traffic jam of new movie releases, the New York Times ended up writing an article about it—well, using it as an entry point for a discussion about how release dates are chosen, but still. Here’s our weekly rundown of what’s out there, and what’s worth the effort:

    • Box office experts are expecting Straight Outta Compton, the story of N.W.A. as told by Friday and Set It Off director F. Gary Gray (and producers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, natch), to be the big winner of the weekend, and that’s a pretty reasonable assumption. It falls a bit too easily into hagiography and pat biopic beats, but for much of its running time, it’s an exhilarating recreation of a truly dangerous group—and the world that made them.
    • Also out in wide release this week is Guy Ritchie’s snazzy big-screen adaptation of the ‘60s spy series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It’s well-crafted and a lot of fun (if a bit too obviously stylistically beholden to Ritchie’s predecessor in the director’s chair, Steven Soderbergh), even if there’s a bit of a void at its center.

Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke in "Mistress America"

  • In limited release and on demand, you’ll find the wickedly funny and bitingly on-point Fort Tilden, the story of a day in the life of two young, privileged, self-obsessed, and semi-loathsome Brooklyn women who are just trying to get to the beach. A sort of daytime After Hours where you sympathize with the crazies, it’s a unforgiving comedy where the laughs stick in your throat. Read more about it in this month’s indie guide.
  • Also in art houses and your computer and television screens is People Places Things, a warm and funny and utterly charming story of a divorced dad trying to get his shit together. Said dad is played by Jemaine Clement, who’s very good; the one and only Jessica Williams is terrific in support. But the real star here is the perpetually undervalued Regina Hall, whose turn as a maybe-love interest is pure gold. More about that one in the indie guide as well.
  • Xavier Dolan’s Quebecois film Tom at the Farm has finally gotten its limited release in the US, though it debuted at the Venice Film Festival in 2013. The psychological thriller follows a man — played by the director — to his just-deceased boyfriend’s family’s farm, where he learns that their relationship was kept entirely secret, and that if he doesn’t want to be harmed, he, too, has to participate in the secrecy. It’s a chilling, sexual identity-based spin on the genre.
  • And our pick of the week is Mistress America, Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig’s delightfully zizzy screwball riff on growing up and growing out (with a bit of sly commentary on our old friend, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl). We’ve been raving about this one since Sundance; also be sure to check out our interview with co-writer/director Baumbach, in which he discusses his preoccupation with aging (“I mean, I don’t know if I’d call it preoccupation”), the comparative cynicism of While We’re Young (“I don’t feel cynical about young people, consciously, anyway”), and writing while romantically involved.

And if none of that strikes your fancy, hey, there’s plenty of good new stuff on disc and on Netflix this week too. Enjoy!