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WEEKLY BYT GUIDE TO DVD RELEASES / ON DEMAND / INSTANT NETFLIXING
December 3, 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 Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    What follows is two or so hours of complete chaos and (in my opinion) hilarious, with some legitimately scary and thrilling moments (kudos to the demon makers), some hopefully-intented funny moments (I want to believe this is true), and some absolutely cringe-worthy romantic moments (Miss Clare, who also wrote the screenplay, has a certain never-been-kissed flair to her romantic writing which is both endearing and totally mortifying at times), as well as a few twists you may or may not see coming. When you find out that Miss Clare got her start writing fan fiction, it all becomes clear. This movie is fan fiction porn. It has EVERYTHING. Well, everything aside from zombies, since in this parallel universe zombies don’t exist (duh, how can you have high cheekbones if they are FALLING OFF?).
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OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Drinking Buddies. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    I’ve long been bothered with how the movies treat heavy drinking. Many movies use drinking as a symptom of a bigger problem; there have been countless scenes where our lovelorn hero turns to booze after the guy/girl of their dreams just dumps them. When there are movies where a character drinks a lot from the get-go, it’s usually considered problematic (e.g. The Spectacular Now). Drinking Buddies is the rare movie where people drink heavily, and it’s just part of who they are. This is refreshing (pun intended), and it also recognizes an uncomfortable truth. A drinking buddy is only as reliable as when they’re sober, and without the beer goggles, you may not necessarily enjoy the company of the person who always orders shots after you told them they shouldn’t.
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INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • Faust. Here’s Roger Ebert in his great 2005 essay of appreciation:
    Like all silent-film directors, Murnau was comfortable with special effects that were obviously artificial. The town beneath the wings of the dark angel is clearly a model, and when characters climb a steep street, there is no attempt to make the sharply angled buildings and rooflines behind them seem real. Such effects, paradoxically, can be more effective than more realistic ones; I sometimes feel, in this age of expert CGI, that I am being shown too much — that technique is pushing aside artistry and imagination. The world of “Faust” is never intended to define a physical universe, but is a landscape of nightmares. When the elderly Faust is magically converted by Mephisto into a young man, there is a slight awkwardness in the way one image is replaced by another, and oddly enough that’s creepier and more striking than a smooth modern morph.
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  • Alps. Here’s Scott Tobias over at The Onion AV Club:
    Three years ago, Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos burned up the festival circuit with Dogtooth, a brilliant isolationist allegory about adult-age children who are kept on the family compound by parents who control (and wildly distort) information from the outside world. Lanthimos’ disappointing follow-up, Alps, isDogtooth’s mirror image: Where the earlier film concerned young characters finally trying to break out of their proscribed roles, the new one is about a woman who desperately hangs on to false identities, because her real life gives her no satisfaction. Aggeliki Papoulia, who played the eldest sibling in Dogtooth, stars as a hospital nurse who moonlights as the member of the eponymous organization, which provides an unusual service: The recently bereaved can hire Papoulia or one of her three colleagues for a few hours a day to stand in as their deceased loved one, as a way of easing the transition.
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  • V/H/S 2. Here’s what we said in our original review of the short film Safe Haven:
    Holy crap, this one is by far the best short from the two V/H/S films. It’s directed by Gareth Evans, who is best known for the taut action film The Raid: Redemption. By applying his no-nonsense sensibilities to horror, he creates a film that’s relentless and bat-shit insane. It starts off with a documentary film crew in a non-specific Asian country. They’re trying to get access to a cult leader and his compound, and creepy things start to happen once their interview with the leader goes bad. I don’t want to spoil exactly how weird things get on the compound, except to say that Evans veers from disquieting realism to implausible grotesqueries at the drop of a hat. His cameras are everywhere – the crew has their own, and the compound is brimming with surveillance cameras – and he uses the free space to delve into a truly sick brand of horror. Safe Haven ends with a moment of black humor, and it only exacerbates the terror that precedes it. Action is Evans’ wheelhouse, but his shift to horror is masterful.
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That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!

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