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. This week we’re focusing on newer films that were shot in black and white.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Wonderstruck. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Whoever was in charge of marketing Wonderstruck did a bad job with it. They should have downplayed the involvement of biggest actors – Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams – and not even mentioned it was directed by Todd Haynes. You see, Haynes is responsible for art films like Carol and Far from Heaven, and while Wonderstruck has an arthouse sensibility, it is a film that has broad appeal. Adults and children will admire it equally. This film is indeed fun for the whole family, even if that phrase makes most folks involuntarily sneer. Here is an earnest, heartwarming drama that never condescends to its young, vulnerable heroes. It takes its time to get going, but the rewards are worth the wait.
- The Party. Here’s Bilge Ebiri over at The Village Voice:
Potter is not one of those directors with a signature shot, or a consistent mood. She’s a shapeshifting artist who makes shapeshifting films, often about people who are themselves in flux. And yet, watching her latest effort The Party — a tight, bitter, and very funny 71-minute dark comedy about a group of old friends who come together for a dinner party and realize just how utterly screwed up their lives are — it’s hard not to sense Potter’s sensibility and presence throughout. It’s politically charged without being sermonizing. It shows the ridiculousness of its characters’ actions without sitting in judgment of them. And it’s filled with terrific performances, including Kristin Scott Thomas as an earnest career politician, Bruno Ganz as a spiritually enlightened (and more than a little smug) Zen teacher, Patricia Clarkson as take-no-bullshit realist, and Cillian Murphy as a vengeful yuppie.
- I Kill Giants. Here’s Emily Yoshida over at Vulture:
With its bunny ears and underlying Phillies obsession and perfectly art-directed secret hideouts, I Kill Giants could have easily run the risk of becoming too precious for its own good. But it’s too dark and strange a film to ever be accused of being cute. There’s a radical energy running through it, partly due to the fact (which I realized very late into the film) that virtually all its speaking characters are women; all its conflicts and bonds are between girls and sisters and teachers and friends. Nothing is fixed by the film’s end, but a few things have been confronted and faced down. This is a film that is going to mean a lot to a certain kind of kid, whether they dig it out of a dusty yard-sale crate or out of an on-demand queue.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (GORGEOUS BLACK AND WHITE edition):
- Tabu (now on Filmstruck). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Sometimes it’s tempting to describe a movie by listing off others similar to it. I know I can succumb to that kind of reductive summary (among friends my most common phrase is, “it’s like [Movie X] and [Movie Y] had an [adjective] baby”). No matter how facile it may be, such a description would be a disservice to Tabu, the brilliant new Portuguese film by director Miguel Gomes. His influences are clear, yet he’s combined them into an unusual drama that’s lyrical and otherworldly. His style is as bold as his narrative choices, and he uses them to plunge the audience into a world of melancholy intrigue.
- Frances Ha (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Most of you will see parts of yourself in Frances, the subject of director Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha, or at least you’ll see parts of your friends. Co-written with Greta Gerwig, the film’s star, this is an observant, smart comedy that someone manages to preserve a light tone even as Frances’ life grows increasingly pathetic. Unlike Damsels in Distress and Lola Versus, Gerwig’s previous two films in which her character also experiences an identity crisis, Frances Ha never directly discusses her problems. Baumbach and Gerwig are too sharp for that, and since we can hear the quiet terror in her ongoing denial, it’s easy to care about her.
- Dawson City: Frozen Time (now on FilmStruck). Here’s David Ehrlich over at IndieWire:
Bill Morrison is a passionate archivist and a gifted collage artist, and sometimes — at his best — he is able to be both at once, using one area of expertise to deepen the other. In 2002’s brilliant Decasia, for example, he reassembled snippets of exposed and decaying nitrate film stock into a quasi-structuralist (and entirely non-narrative) meditation on death. Morrison recognizes that objects are endowed with their own unique histories, that raw material can be a medium unto itself, and his work invites viewers to think about cinema as a product of — and a witness to — its environment. In that respect at least, Dawson City: Frozen Time is vintage Bill Morrison. Almost entirely comprised of archival footage and monochromatic stills, the film tells the story of its own existence and does so in exhaustive detail. Fortunately, it’s an incredible story to tell.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.