I’ve been sent an online screener of Nancy Buirski‘s By Sidney Lumet, but won’t watch it until this weekend. The 109-minute PBS “American Masters” doc opens theatrically tomorrow (Friday, 10.28) in New York, and in Los Angeles the following Friday. It sounds like a cut-to-the-chase examination of Lumet’s long career (what’s not to like?), but for whatever reasons a few critics have taken a dump on it, and so By Sidney Lumet only has a 71% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

An excerpt from Owen Gleiberman’s 10.22 review: “To me, early Lumet and ’70s Lumet have always seemed as different as early and late Beatles. But the way the clips line up here, we see the psychodramatic depth charge that unites them. [The doc] is built around an extensive interview with Lumet that was recorded in 2008, three years before his death, and the filmmaker’s narration of his life and art is literally the only commentary in the movie. There are no other talking heads. The movie is simply Lumet and his films, which turns out to be an astonishingly satisfying experience, because he’s an incredible talker, with the same earthy electric push that powers his work.”

HE’s eleven favorite Lumet flicks (in this order): Prince of the City, Twelve Angry Men, Network, The Verdict, Serpico, Until the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Dog Day Afternoon, Find Me Guilty, The Fugitive Kind, Q & A, Fail Safe. HE’s least favorite Lumets (in this order): Last of the Mobile Hotshots, Daniel, Running on Empty, Family Business, The Anderson Tapes.