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:
- After Earth. Here’s what we said in our original review:
What Shyamalan and the Smith regime have created is an unoriginal, uninspired sci-fi film that isn’t nearly as deep as they think it is. If After Earth had the pedigree of these filmmakers in their prime, maybe there would be something to it. Shyamalan used to be great at creating tension and fear, but now he’s only good at generating generic looking dreck. Smith might be too boggled down in ideology to focus on silly things such as story or anything remotely interesting. Instead Shyamalan and Smith made a generic bore that is now a frontrunner for worst film of 2013.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- We Steal Secrets. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Ostensibly, We Steal Secrets — the fascinating, well-paced, and artfully crafted new documentary on Wikileaks — is a story about how the socio-technological frontier of the internet is reshaping global society and institutions. But what’s striking about director Alex Gibney’s story is that it isn’t driven by the technology or the seats of power. It’s driven by the broken and poignant human characters at its core.
- Europa Report. Here’s what we said in our original review:
I don’t know whether Sebastián Cordero saw Prometheus before he made Europa Report, but his stripped-down sci-fi thriller made me think of a famous quote from Jean-Luc Godard: “The best way to criticize a movie is to make another movie.” Broadly speaking, both films have the same premise: a group of scientists travel to a planet on the hunch there might be some life there. WhereasPrometheus devolves with inane plot logic, Cordero and screenwriter Philip Gelatt stay true to their characters. Up until the bitter end, the scientists act like intellectually curious professionals, and while they care for each other, there are no heroics.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK (GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN EDITION):
- Room 237. Here’s what we said in our original review:
It’s a relatively new phenomenon for movies to comment on other movies. One of the most notable early examples is Quentin Tarantino’s rant from Sleep with Me where he argues that Top Gun is the ultimate homoerotic fantasy. Now even more and more characters in movies are passionate about the movies, and directors devote significant time to off-kilter deconstruction. Room 237, the fascinating and weird documentary from Rodney Ascher, takes this idea further by having real people unleash their bizarre theories on The Shining. Ascher takes several formal risks, and the payoff is a film that’s about much more than what his subjects are saying.
- Disgrace. Here’s Keith Phipps over at The Onion AV Club:
Malkovich is ideally cast as a man seemingly incontrovertibly set in his ways, one whose powerful intelligence never entirely masks an absence of introspection. An expert on Byron, a poet forever in rebellion against his times, he fails to see how the world has changed, making references to “peasants” with no irony and no thought to the consequences of his thinking. His performance and the studied reverence of Jacobs’ direction make Disgrace worth a look. But Jacobs’ style captures the spareness of Coetzee’s prose without conveying its forcefulness, and the film takes on the author’s difficult obsessions with race, power, and animal rights without really digging beneath their surfaces. It’s admirably true to a source that eludes it.
- Upstream Color. Here’s what we said in our original interview with writer/director/composer/star Shane Carruth:
Like Primer, Upstream Color has a challenging narrative, yet attentive audiences will find it accessible. It tells the story of Kris (Amy Seimetz), a woman who’s the victim of a dangerous kind of mind control. A thief (Thiago Martins) infects her with a worm, which leaves her completely open to the power of suggestion. She hands over her livelihood while she’s under hypnosis, and her life is in shambles afterward. Kris tries to rebuild afterward, and then she meets Jeff (Carruth), who instinctively feels a kinship with her. The two form a bond, one that’s fractured by their respective pasts. Kris and Jeff also connect with the Sampler (Andrew Sensenig), a mysterious scientist who uses the Thief’s victims for bizarre experiments. All these elements coalesce into a narrative that’s more life affirming than it is obscure. In addition to writing, directing and starring in the film, Carruth also composed the score. And since the last third of Upstream Color unfolds without dialogue, our conversation began there.
That’s it for what we’re watching on Netflix. Let us know what you’re watching during the shutdown in the comments!