New releases 1/26/21

Top Hits
Come Play (horror, Azhy Robertson. Rotten Tomatoes: 56%. Metacritic: 56. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “The Babadook goes paperless in ‘Come Play,’ a thriller in which a spindly creature from another realm torments a child and his family through phone screens and tablets. The monster’s name is Larry, and his deal, we learn from a nursery rhyme in a spontaneously manifesting e-book, is that he wants a friend. He has selected Oliver [Azhy Robertson, from ‘Marriage Story’], a boy with autism who does not speak — he uses a phone app to vocalize — and who, like Larry, is lonely.” Read more…)

Monsoon (drama, Henry Golding. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Ben Kenigsberg’s New York Times review: “This is a thoroughly personal film, in ways that don’t always translate. Driven more by mood than plot, the movie spends a great deal of time absorbing the sights and sounds of the former Saigon [now Ho Chi Minh City] and, later, Hanoi. But the ambience doesn’t register with full force, or do the heavy lifting entrusted to it.” Read more…)

Fatman (dark Christmas comedy, Mel Gibson. Rotten Tomatoes: 46%. Metacritic: 40. From Jeannette Catsoulis’ New York Times review: “Hoping to deliver a Yuletide story for our dark, divided times, the directors and brothers Ian Nelms & Eshom Nelms came up with ‘Fatman,’ a soot-black comedy with a heaping side of social commentary.” Read more…)

The Cleansing Hour (horror, Ryan Guzman. Rotten Tomatoes: 71%. From Adam Vaughn’s Film Festival Today review: “The most unfortunate obstacle in the way of director Damien LeVeck [‘Dark, Deadly, and Dreadful’] is the overused and worn subgenre of supernatural/possession films, particularly when said subgenre is currently at max capacity in our pop culture. That being said, ‘The Cleansing Hour’ gives the possession genre a fresh new angle and incorporates a modern, social-media driven aesthetic.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray
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…)

New Foreign DVDs
That Man From Rio/Up to His Ears (France, comedy, 1964/1965, Jean-Paul Belmondo. Rotten Tomatoes (That Man from Rio): 92%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review of “That Man from Rio” [requires log-in]: “Call it a comedy thriller or a tongue-in-cheek travesty on all the archeological mystery-adventure movies and all the ‘chase’ films that have ever been made. Virtually every complication, every crisis involving imminent peril, that has ever been pulled in the movies, especially the old silent ones, is pulled in this. And they are pulled in such rapid continuity and so expansively played, with such elan and against such brilliant backgrounds, that they take your breath away.” Read more…

From Robert Alden’s 1966 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Philippe de Broca, a man who all but single-handedly has been restoring fun to the movies, is back in town again with a dandy. His latest effort, a French film called ‘Up to His Ears,’ landed at the Paris Theater yesterday. It is a wild one, a funny one, a motion picture that the aficionado of slap-stick will be talking about for years to come. Would that the whole trouble-filled world were one larger-than-life De Broca movie.” Read more…)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
In Name Only (1939, drama/romance, Carole Lombard. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From an unsigned 1939 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “The story, while obvious, is thoroughly convincing, thanks to the ‘natural’ attack which John Cromwell has taken upon it and to some delightfully pleasing dialogue. Mr. Grant is in top form as the done-wrong-by husband who—unlike the husband in Bessie Bruer’s original novel—is a thorough gentleman, a surpassing wit and a charming fellow withal. Miss Lombard plays her poignant role with all the fragile intensity and contained passion that have lifted her to dramatic eminence. Kay Francis, on the other side of the fence this time, is a model cat, suave, superior and relentless. And a generally excellent cast contribute in making this one of the most adult and enjoyable pictures of the season.” Read more…)

Address Unknown (1944, drama, Paul Lukas. From T.M.P.’s 1944 New York Times review: “To reveal the new climax would be unpardonable, but take it from one who read the book that the film ends with a bang—a bang which had the audience bolt upright in their seats yesterday afternoon. ‘Address Unknown’ is not just another anti-Nazi picture. It is an absorbing study of a man being driven crazy through fear, and the central character is played with dynamic forcefulness by Paul Lukas.” Read more…)

Swing High, Swing Low (1937, musical/comedy, Fred MacMurray. From Frank S. Nugent’s 1937 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray skip through the formular devices of ‘Swing High, Swing Low’ [nee ‘Burlesque’] with their usual ease at the Paramount, raising a routine story to a routine-plus picture. The plus is extremely small, sometimes being almost invisible.” Read more…)

Tom, Dick & Harry (comedy/romance, Ginger Rogers. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Bosley Crowther’s 1941 New York Times review: “The Cinderella complex hasn’t been recognized in the psychology books yet, but four out of five young ladies are pleasantly afflicted with it, we suspect. And it is of these day-dreaming maidens, of one especially who thinks in wildly romantic terms, that Director Garson Kanin and Writer Paul Jarrico are telling with much humor and charm in RKO’s ‘Tom, Dick and Harry,’ which was wafted airily into the Music Hall yesterday. Of all the Hollywood bubbles which have been blown this way of late, here, we are happy to report, is one which doesn’t go poof in your face.” Read more…)

New TV
Snowpiercer: Season 1 (sci-fi based on 2013 movie, Jennifer Connelly. Rotten Tomatoes: 61%. Metacritic: 55. From Mike Hale’s New York Times review: “It took seven years, and some stops and starts, for the 2013 South Korean film ‘Snowpiercer’ to get remade as an American television series. It was just long enough for the film’s director, Bong Joon Ho, to give the show a publicity boost by winning multiple Oscars this year for ‘Parasite,’ his latest violent allegory about the haves and have-nots. There was never any question, though, that the series [premiering Sunday on TNT] would have the brutal, bloody single-mindedness of Bong’s ‘Snowpiercer’ ironed out of it for commercial TV.” Read more…)

New Documentaries
The Changin’ Times of Ike White (music, bio, Ike White. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. From Frank Scheck’s Hollywood Reporter review: “A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. The description comes from Winston Churchill about Russia, but it could just as easily be applied to the subject of Daniel Vernon’s documentary about musician Ike White. If you haven’t heard of White, you’re not alone. An accomplished singer, composer and guitarist, he released only one album, 1976’s ‘Changin’ Times,’ which received critical acclaim but quickly lapsed into obscurity. But his music, as good as it is [you can hear the album in its entirety on YouTube] pales in comparison to his story, unearthed in this endlessly fascinating film.” Read more…)

The Ventures: Stars on Guitars (music documentary, rock ’n’ roll history, surf music)