New releases 2/2/21

Top Hits
Synchronic (thriller/sci-fi, Anthony Mackie. Rotten Tomatoes: 81%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 66. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “There’s brainy sci-fi, and then there’s very brainy sci-fi. It’s rare that very brainy sci-fi packs a genuinely emotional, or even just sensationalistic, wallop. But the filmmaking team of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead [of 2017’s ‘The Endless’] are working up an impressive batting average in this department. Their new movie, ‘Synchronic,’ is inspired, at least to some extent, by the wreckage wreaked by designer drugs of dubious legality.” Read more…)

Let Him Go (drama/thriller, Kevin Costner. Rotten Tomatoes: 82%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 63. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. from Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “A high point of the mostly meh 2013 Superman movie ‘Man of Steel’ was the presence of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as the title character’s earth parents. These stars showed a mature chemistry that one would have wanted to experience in a mature motion picture. As it turns out, Costner and the screenwriter-director of ‘Let Him Go,’ Thomas Bezucha [adapting a novel by Larry Watson], seem to have thought similarly. In this drama set in the 1960s, Lane and Costner [one of the movie’s executive producers] play Margaret and George Blackledge. George is a former sheriff, now a horse farmer — although we learn that Margaret is the real rider.” Read more…)

I’m Not Here (Drama, J.K. Simmons. Rotten Tomatoes: 38%. Metacritic: 45. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “‘I’m Not Her’” makes reference to Schrödinger’s cat, which was simultaneously alive and not alive until observed. Watching ‘I’m Not Here” doesn’t bring it to life as a movie, any more than the screenplay’s allusions to quantum entanglement add novelty to its fragmentary structure or its hollow insights about regret.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese (music, concert, bio. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 86. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Manohla Dargis’ Times review: “Step right up, ladies and gentlemen and cine-revelers of every type, to the mesmerizing motion picture and humbly titled extravaganza, ‘Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story by Martin Scorsese.’ Thrill to Dylan, a troubadour with a white-smeared face and a peacock feather in his wide-brimmed hat, as he electrifies and sometimes confuses audiences with his melodious musings. Rejoice as Joan Baez sings and laughs and testifies about her old pal Bob. Gasp as Joni Mitchell warbles and strums her song ‘Coyote’ in Gordon Lightfoot’s pad as Dylan plays along.” Read more…)

New British DVDs
Agatha Christie’s Poirot: Series 11 (British Agatha Christie mystery series, David Suchet)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Sullivan’s Travels (1941, comedy/drama, Criterion Collection, Veronica Lake. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1942 New York Times review: “Preston Sturges need make no excuses for the dominance of comedy on the screen, since he has done more than any one over the last two years to give brightness and bounce and authority to this general type of fare. But apparently he thinks it time that some one break a lance in the muse’s defense—and maybe he also is anxious to quiet a still, small voice within himself. For his latest film, ‘Sullivan’s Travels,’ which rolled into the Paramount yesterday, is a beautifully trenchant satire upon ‘social significance’ in pictures, a stinging slap at those fellows who howl for realism on the screen and a deftly sardonic apologia for Hollywood make-believe.” Read more…)

I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1951, drama/romance, Susan Hayward. From Bosley Crowther’s 1951 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Stories about such chameleon-like characters as [actress Susan] Hayward plays in ‘I Can Get It for You Wholesale’ are difficult to put over with complete success and that is why this film falters as a character study, though Miss Hayward does nobly. She gets able assistance from Sam Jaffe as her other partner and George Sanders comes through as a heel with a heart of gold as the fashionable merchant prince.” Read more…)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
The Horror of Party Beach (1964, horror/musical/camp, John Lyon. Rotten Tomatoes: 0%. From Eugene Archer’s 1964 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The question in ‘The Horror of Party Beach’ is, Which is more horrible—the monsters or the rock ‘n’ roll? Or, for that matter, is the terror twist of this incredibly foolish quickie more offensive than its companion-piece at the Paramount, a little epic called ‘The Curse of the Living Corpse’? One man, Del Tenney, is responsible for both 20th Century-Fox movies. The most to be said for him is that he has not stinted on the gore.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
An Honest Liar: Truth and Deception in the Life of James “The Amazing” Randi (bio, magician, paranormal skeptic. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ Times review: “‘Magicians are the most honest people in the world,’ the illusionist James Randi says at the beginning of ‘An Honest Liar.’ ‘They tell you they’re gonna fool you, and then they do it.’ Documenting a lifetime spent gulling audiences and pursuing con men, the directors Justin Weinstein and Tyler Measom have produced a jaunty, jovial portrait with a surprising sting in its tail.” Read more…)

White Riot (music, racism, anti-racism, British cultural history. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 80. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Glenn Kenny’s Times review: “Since rock is no longer the dominant form of popular music, it’s hard to say how much good reviving the story of the British-born organization Rock Against Racism could do. But one of the many things that ‘White Riot,’ a documentary about RAR directed by Rubika Shah, brings home is that the world could still use more somethings against racism.” Read more…)

Belushi (bio, show business, John Belushi. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 72. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “John Belushi’s entrances onstage raise a grin with the promise of unruly energy. But his early exit from life after a drug overdose in 1982 left a legend that tends to seal his tomb. So it’s touching to learn something new from ‘Belushi,’ R.J. Cutler’s warmly told documentary: the man who once impersonated a zit also wrote soul-baring [and sometimes adorable] love letters.” Read more…)

Nationtime (race, American history, Jesse Jackson. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 77.)
Ken Burns: Here & There (bio, cinema history, filmmaking process)