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WEEKLY BYT GUIDE TO DVD RELEASES / ON DEMAND / INSTANT NETFLIXING
November 26, 2013 | 1:00PM

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:

  • The Canyons. Here’s Matt Cohen over at The Week:
    There are scenes in the long-awaited The Canyons — a Kickstarter-funded film that gained instant notoriety for including a four-way sex scene featuring Lindsay Lohan — that recall Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic The Room. Whether that’s an endorsement or a reason to avoid The Canyons probably depends on your tolerance for the overall, so-bad-it’s-good ineptitude that has turned The Room into a cult classic that plays in packed midnight screenings to this day. Unfortunately, The Canyons is more muddled than Wiseau’s perfectly misbegotten project. While The Canyons director Paul Schrader seems, at times, to be trying to create his own so-bad-it’s-good cult classic, The Canyons also occasionally displays sudden flashes of masterful auteurism. Is The Canyons a campy joke on filmmaking itself, or a pulpy, stylish critique of Hollywood ennui? In the end, it’s neither. Whatever Schrader’s ultimate intention really was, one thing is clear: The Canyons is a mess.
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  • RIPD. Here’s Nathan Rabin over at The Dissolve:
    R.I.P.D. begins from a place of endless possibilities and imagination, then follows the breadcrumbs of formula to a wholly generic end. The film teases intriguing details of the afterlife, like the ubiquity of Steely Dan, whose music soothes the dead in addition to relaxing and enraging the living. Then it fills in the remaining contours of its universe with bits and pieces borrowed from the Men In Black and Ghostbusters movies. The film’s monsters, meanwhile, often amount to little more than computer-generated variations on Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers trilogy. A film that grows less compelling and original by the minute, R.I.P.D. serves due notice that the mismatched-buddy-cop movie is wearing out its welcome all over again. Let’s hope filmmakers and studios learn their lesson before they attempt to give the dormant mismatched-interspecies-buddy-cop comedy a CGI twist, or even worse, attempt to resurrect the mentally ill hijinks of Loose Cannons for a new, unsuspecting generation.
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OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Red 2. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    As I said, the construction of the movie is also weird, beyond the humor. It isn’t poorly designed, per se, but cuts occur at weird moments, ideas are left hanging, and the whole project just feels a bit off kilter. It’s not off-putting, but RED 2 doesn’t rise to the dark and screwball comedic goals it sets for itself either. It also doesn’t have enough fun with its premise. There are two moments that maximize the inherent absurdity and joy of elderly action stars, when Mirren takes out some bad guys on the highway with superhuman aim and some precision stunt driving from Lee, all while furious heavy metal guitar crunches propel the soundtrack froward. Both instances are hella fun, but RED 2 doesn’t have nearly enough of them.
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INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • The American. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    George Clooney is an actor who is equally at home with over-the-top performances and quiet ones, and here he communicates a great deal with little dialogue/emotion. The performances harkens to Le Samourai, in which Alain Delon plays a similarly stoic killer. Unlike Delon, Clooney lets his eyes reveal Jack’s emotion, even when his interactions are strictly professional. The performance culminates with a scene of quiet frustration, one that transcends its thriller mold and becomes tragic. Here is a confident genre exercise that easily accomplishes its modest goals, but it’s even more successful as a well-acted character study. I just hope audiences aren’t turned off by misaligned expectations, and accept The American for what it is.
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  • Kon Tiki. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    For a generation of people all over the planet, the Kon-Tiki voyage was an early precursor to the fascination with space exploration. Explorer Thor Heyerdahl his crew of five drifted from Peru to Polynesia, just so he could prove a historical thesis. My dad remembers reading Heyerdahl’s subsequent book about the journey when he was a boy (he’s from Bucharest, and the edition was conveniently translated into Romanian). I can see why everyone was attracted to the material: it’s a stunning yarn with a happy ending. Kon-Tiki, the Norwegian film by Joachim Rønning and Espen Sandberg, handsomely dramatizes the trip. Even with a few embellishments, it’s still a stirring story of survival.
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  • Melancholia. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Von Trier lets his metaphors and allegories run wild during this time (after all, it is CHAOS we’re talking about here), but he does it with such style and assuredness that you have no choice but to just go along for the ride. Talking about the last moments of this film is something one writes a senior thesis about, not just neatly wrap up a movie review with. I won’t insult your intelligence trying to explain it all (what do I know, after all?) and I’m not sure it all can even be explained, but I urge you to see this movie so when we’re at a dinner party together, we can talk about it for hours. It will be glorious, I promise.
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That’s for your weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!

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