New releases 2/8/22

Top Hits
Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (music, race, culture, history, Nina Simone. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 96, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Wesley Morris’ Times review: “Sometimes these archival-footage documentaries don’t know what they’ve got. The footage has been found, but the movie’s been lost. Too much cutting away from the good stuff, too much talking over images that can speak just fine for themselves, never knowing — in concert films — how to use a crowd. The haphazard discovery blots out all the delight. Not here. Here, the discovery becomes the delight. Nothing feels haphazard.” Read more…)

King Richard (bio-pic/sports, Will Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From A.O. Scott’s Times review: “In modern Hollywood terms, the movie might be described as a two-for-one superhero origin story, in which Venus [Saniyya Sidney] takes command of her powers while Serena [Demi Singleton] begins to understand her own extraordinary potential, each one aided by a wise and wily mentor. But this is a fundamentally — and I would say marvelously — old-fashioned entertainment, a sports drama that is also an appealing, socially alert story of perseverance and the up-by-the-bootstraps pursuit of excellence.” Read more…)

Encanto (animated feature, Stephanie Beatriz. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Maya Phillips’ Times review: “For better or worse, Disney has always been in the business of making magic. We all know the worst: the unimpressive secondhand sorcery of formulaic plots, flavorless songs and lifeless animation. But the best — well, that’s the kind of magic that gets passed on for generations. So it’s not unlike the magic of Casita, the living house of the Madrigal family in Disney’s brilliant new animated film ‘Encanto.’” Read more…)

The Spine of Night (horror/animation, Richard E. Grant [voice]. Rotten Tomatoes: 76%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 57. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “While there’s a lot of content out there these days that can be described as ‘adult animation,’ we don’t see much in the tradition pioneered by 1980s stoner semi-classics like the sci-fi anthology ‘Heavy Metal’ or the racy sword-and-sorcery saga ‘Fire and Ice.’ Admittedly, it’s not as if there’s a mainstream outcry for such fare. Nevertheless, the existence of ‘The Spine of Night,’ an unabashedly bloody series of interconnected tales about otherworldly cultures and eras, is kind of heartening. The co-directors, Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King, who both wrote the picture as well, are pitching for a venerable dirtbag-nerd sensibility here.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
King Richard

New British DVDs
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency: Season 2 (British comedy series, Samuel Barnett. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%.)

The Indian Doctor: Complete Series (medical drama/comedy, Sanjeev Bhaskar)

New American Back Catalog DVDs (post-1960)
12 Angry Men (1997, made-for-TV drama remake, Ossie Davis. Rotten Tomatoes: 92%. From Caryn James’ 1997 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The new Showtime version does reveal an uneasy truth, but it has nothing to do with justice. The film highlights the way ‘Twelve Angry Men’ has always been a theatrical stunt, an excuse to bring together a dozen top actors, lock their characters in a sweltering room and let them go at it. This all-star version, with a cast that includes Jack Lemmon, George C. Scott and Ossie Davis, is a great success as an actor’s tour de force. Even Tony Danza, who would seem to be the lightweight, more than holds his own in this heavyweight company. But the script has been updated in a sparing and half-baked way by the original author, Reginald Rose.” Read more…)

The Ipcress File (1965, espionage/action, Michael Caine. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1965 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Producer Harry Saltzman] has built up the proper atmosphere in which a daredevil-challenging mystery might conceivably occur and daring detective might acceptably take wing. His Techniscope setting of London, in which this espionage thriller takes place, is full of rich and mellow colors and highly official goings-on behind dark-paneled doors in old, gray buildings and in cozy bachelor digs and gentlemen’s clubs.” Read more…)

Buried Alive (1990, horror, Jennifer Jason Leigh)

New Documentaries
Julia (bio, food culture, history, Julia Child. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 71. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “According to this movie, if you own a garlic press, you probably have Julia Child to thank for it. The opening scenes of ‘Julia,’ a lively documentary directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, paint a dire picture of suburban American home cooking in the post-World War II era: frozen entrees and Jell-O molds and Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam — an ethos that put convenience ahead of delectability. With the double-whammy of an unlikely best-selling cookbook and a series that helped put public television on the map, Child changed all that.” Read more…)

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