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‘Straight Up’ and our critics’ 15 best choices to watch at home

Katie Findlay and James Sweeney in a scene from the movie "Straight Up."
Katie Findlay and James Sweeney in a scene from the movie “Straight Up.”
(Strand Releasing)

Straight Up In the classic “His Girl Friday,” Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell sling verbal jabs at the virtually unheard-of rate of 240 words per minute. I didn’t keep a running count of the dialogue in the breathlessly hyper-articulate “Straight Up,” mainly because I was too busy enjoying it. But as two pop-culture-obsessed L.A. millennials trying to see if they can build a relationship on snark rather than sex, James Sweeney and Katie Findlay make their own winning contribution to the motormouthed rom-com canon.

Sweeney, who also wrote and directed, plays Todd, a professional housesitter who’s beginning to question his homosexuality. He meets and bonds instantly with Findlay’s equally whip-smart Rory (cue the “Gilmore Girls” references), and the two decide to give dating a go, based on their undeniable if strictly platonic chemistry. “Straight Up,” which will be available for streaming April 17, may court your eye-rolls with its arch visual style and precision-tooled one-liners, but its insouciant sensibility is the work of a fresh and disarming new talent.
— Justin Chang

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More movie recommendations from Times critics Justin Chang (J.C.) and the recently retired Kenneth Turan (K.T.). Titles are available via video-on-demand (VOD) platforms or streaming services as noted.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood A deeply moving companion piece to last year’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” Marielle Heller’s subtly directed drama casts an excellent Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers and Matthew Rhys as a cynical journalist who is transformed by their encounter. (J.C.) PG. VOD

Clemency Chinonye Chukwu’s gripping movie, starring Alfre Woodard as a death-row prison warden, is a sterling piece of American realism, powered by the transfixing spectacle of a great actor at the peak of her powers. (J.C.) R. VOD

Emma A very satisfying new version of Jane Austen’s sprightly novel has been directed in high style by Autumn de Wilde, making her feature debut, with a shrewd selection of gifted young performers, starting with Anya Taylor-Joy, very different than in her breakthrough role in Robert Eggers’ “The Witch,” in the title role. (K.T.) PG. VOD

The Invisible Man Led by a superb Elisabeth Moss, this Universal reboot of a classic horror title is a gaslighting thriller expertly retooled by writer-director Leigh Whannell for the era of #MeToo. (J.C.) VOD

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Invisible Life Directed by the gifted Karim Aïnouz and set in 1950s Rio de Janeiro, it’s a drama of resilient women, thoughtless men and crushingly unrealized dreams, told with supple grace, deep feeling and an empathy that extends in every direction. (J.C.) R. Amazon Prime

Knives Out Rian Johnson’s deliriously entertaining country-house murder mystery brings together a splendid cast (led by Daniel Craig and Ana de Armas), an ingenious script and a razor-sharp indictment of class inequality and moral rot in contemporary America. (J.C.) PG-13. VOD

Les Misérables Like the celebrated Victor Hugo novel with which it shares its title and setting, the film is both culturally relevant and dramatically compelling, finding a way to balance artistic metaphor, hugely involving storytelling and criticism of a system that allows crushing poverty to survive and prosper. Directed and co-written by Ladj Ly. (J.C.) R. Amazon Prime

Little Women As written and directed by Greta Gerwig and starring a transcendent Saoirse Ronan, the seventh and latest big-screen version of Louisa May Alcott’s novel is here and it’s a pip, with its strong, unmistakable message and even stronger emotions reinforcing each other to splendid effect. (K.T.) PG. VOD

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The Lighthouse Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe give towering performances as a pair of feuding 19th century lightkeepers in this mad, magnificently crafted New England gothic from “The Witch” writer-director Robert Eggers. (J.C.) R. VOD

Never Rarely Sometimes Always Winner of major prizes at the Sundance and Berlin film festivals, Eliza Hittman’s beautifully observed and acted drama, about a Pennsylvania teenager (Sidney Flanigan) trying to secure an out-of-state abortion, tells a haunting story of solidarity and survival. (J.C.) PG-13. VOD

Parasite Winner of the best picture Oscar and Cannes’ Palme d’Or, Bong Joon Ho’s deviously entertaining thriller about two very different families is an ingenious weave of domestic dark comedy, class allegory and, ultimately, devastating tragedy. (J.C.) R. Hulu; VOD

Portrait of a Lady on Fire Looking and seeing become quietly radical acts in Céline Sciamma’s rapturously intelligent love story, starring Noémie Merlant and Adèle Haenel as an 18th century portrait painter and her subject. (J.C.) R. Hulu

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Uncut Gems Adam Sandler gives the performance of his career as a Manhattan jewelry dealer and gambling addict pinballing from one bad decision to the next in Josh and Benny Safdie’s relentlessly tense thriller. (J.C.) R. VOD

Waves Kelvin Harrison Jr., Taylor Russell, Sterling K. Brown and Renée Elise Goldsberry play a South Florida family weathering tragedy in this emotionally turbulent, formally astonishing drama from writer-director Trey Edward Shults (“Krisha”). (J.C.) R. VOD

What You Gonna Do When the World’s on Fire? In this extraordinary, galvanizing film, Italian-born filmmaker Roberto Minervini turns a sharp and unfailingly sympathetic eye on a black community in Louisiana, where his battered, resilient subjects include a bar owner, a pair of young brothers and a member of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. (J.C,) NR. VOD


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