Since we know how important at-home-entertainment is for all of us – every week we do a little “what’s getting released on DVD/on demand/Netflix this week” round up for you, with nice little excerpts of our past reviews and more. You’ll love it. Trust us. Now all you need is someone to watch these movies with:
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Upside Down. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The problems here are three-fold. First, Solanas’ story isn’t nearly as interesting as his world, and it crashes and burns completely by the end. Two, he hasn’t really thought out the rules of his world. If matter from the two planets burns after a certain time of contact, why don’t Adam and Eden eventually combust during their make-out sessions? Does this only apply to non-organic matter? It’s never explained. Solanas concocks an ingenuous gimmick of hidden counterweights that Adam uses to walk on Up Top — which of course bursts into flames after a certain time, giving Adam a ticking clock in his encounters with Eden. But the failure to properly flesh out the concept nags.
OUT THIS WEEK & DEFINITELY WORTH YOUR TIME:
- No. Here’s R. Kurt Osenlund over at Slant:
A winning retelling of the Chilean national plebiscite of 1988, which resulted in dictator Augusto Pinochet falling from power, No is part three of a trilogy by director Pablo Larraín that began in 2008 with Tony Manero and continued in 2010 with Post Mortem, which depicted the start of Pinochet’s 17-year reign. For the capper, Larraín employs a vintage aesthetic that’s wholly immersive, with the filmed action not just intercut with archival footage, but matching it as well. A shoddy-looking film by typical standards, No sees its characters awash in the alternately grayed and saturated hues of retro video, and as adamantly un-sharp as the figures in decades-old home movies. Playing René Saavedra, an advertising hotshot enlisted to aid the campaign against Pinochet (supporters were known as the “Yes” party; those in opposition, the “No”), Gael García Bernal is filmed, alongside his co-stars, with a U-matic video camera circa 1983, dug up by a committed Larraín to present a uniform visual scheme. Naturally, watching No isn’t a totally seamless experience, but as the film unfolds, Larraín’s technique proves far more than mere novelty, pulling the viewer further into the period and evolving to become uniquely and unexpectedly beautiful.
- Supporting Characters. Here’s Andrew Schenker over at The Village Voice:
In Daniel Schechter’s Supporting Characters, the non-featured players of the title are a pair of film editors whose behind-the-scenes craftsmanship has the ability to make potentially disastrous projects passable. Since Schechter cut this film himself, Supporting Characters is presumably unaffected by the director/editor tension it dramatizes—and, happily, it’s more than passable. Starring Alex Karpovsky and co-writer Tarik Lowe, the film charts longtime New York–based editors Nick and Darryl’s relationships with each other, with their respective romantic partners, and with the cast and crew of the film they’re working on over the course of a tumultuous postproduction stint. Frequently funny, Schechter’s movie is also shrewd in its handling of the tensions between longtime friends and co-workers as professional opportunities dwindle and off-the-job romantic drama trickles into the cutting room. Although the low-grade DV doesn’t do the film any favors, and there are some dispiriting off-the-mark moments (can we call a moratorium on jokes blaming female behavior on “that time of the month”?), in its sharply etched sketches of personal and professional frissons, Supporting Charactersbelies the modesty of both its lo-fi setup and its self-effacing title.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Mystery Men. Here’s James Berardinelli over at Reelviews.net:
This is an impressive debut for director Kinka Usher. Mystery Men is based on the comic book by Bob Burden, and, as with most comics transformed into movies, it boasts eye-popping set designs. Champion City is an amazing spectacle – it’s too bad we aren’t afforded the opportunity to see more of it. And, even though the movie runs nearly 120 minutes, it never seems that long (unlike about 90% of motion pictures with similar lengths). By combining impressive visuals and first-rate special effects with a clever, snappy script (by Neil Cuthbert), delightful performances, and fast-paced action sequences, Usher has created a summertime winner.
- A Late Quartet. Here’s Sam Adams over at The Onion AV Club:
Yaron Zilberman’s first feature has a solid structure, but as with a piece of music, the way it’s played makes all the difference. His principal actors aren’t great at faking their instrumental prowess, but they’re perfectly in tune with each other, playing artists who’ve postponed life’s decisions in the name of pursuing their craft. None ventures too far outside their comfort zone: Hoffman has played any number of frustrated underachievers, and Keener can probably do the regretful middle-aged woman in her sleep by now. But it’s still a pleasure to watch the two of them as a long-married couple, peeling back the layers of pain and love, trying to discover what, if anything, still binds them together. Likewise, Zilberman is breaking no new ground, but he gives his actors strong material and room to breathe. When the playing is strong enough, even a few notes can be as rich as a symphony.
- A Shock to the System. Here’s the late Roger Ebert over at the Chicago Sun-Times:
They have a scene together that’s a small masterpiece, one everyone can recognize from real life, where the two office workers meet at the nearby bar and find that they are in complete agreement that they are right and good and brilliant and unappreciated, and that everyone else is full of it. There’s some delicate comic acting here: Caine with his fragile male ego so easily bruised, and McGovern with psychic bandages and eyes that say “there, there.” Movies have been growing depressingly nice lately, and A Shock to the System is a refreshing change of pace. It isn’t a nice movie. There once was a time when movies were allowed to be embittered, dark and brooding, and when evil was occasionally allowed to have a momentary victory. Now the conventional movie ends with a cheerleading scene. But A Shock to the System confounds our expectations and keeps us intrigued, because there’s no way to know, not even in the very last moments, exactly which way the plot is going to fall.
What are you Netflixing this week? Let us know in the comments!