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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 helping you see more films from prolific French filmmaker Agnes Varda.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Black Panther. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    It’s not surprising the newest Marvel superhero movie is getting a lot of buzz. In a time in which white supremacists are so openly prevalent, it’s an even bigger deal that Black Panther was made at all. For the record, the comic book preceded the Black Panther Party, and it is purposefully political. I don’t expect every person who buys a ticket opening weekend to like that it is political, but I hope that it at least makes everyone stop and think. This is a big deal, and it’s a big deal worldwide. The film does more than follow the paint-by-numbers of superhero blockbusters; it builds an entirely new nation that feels futuristic, and examines why this seeming utopia appears to be untouched by colonialism, advanced far beyond our current technological understanding.

  • Frantz. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Melodrama can be tricky, especially for modern audiences. We have seen it all before, and we’ve been conditioned by contemporary entertainment to be detached and ironic about, well, everything. Frantz, the new melodrama from Francois Ozon, nevertheless persists with an old-fashioned romance that doggedly avoids modern storytelling techniques. The characters have depth, and Ozon mostly denies them the opportunity to express themselves physically. There is a deeper purpose here, one that goes beyond homage and experimentation. By setting his film in the immediate aftermath of World War One, he focuses on people who guard their feelings, especially when they go against the national mood. This is a gently-expressed celebration of individuality and misguided hope.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Agnes Varda edition):

  • Faces Places (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    You don’t have to be familiar with Agnès Varda to appreciate Faces Places, her playful film that blurs the line between documentary and fiction. Like Jean-Luc Godard, Varda is one of the few French New Wave filmmakers who is still active well into her eighties. Her films are decidedly feminist, with a hyper-realistic approach to the inequities woman face. This film is like that, with the added complication that she co-directed the film with JR, a semi-anonymous French photographer who is fifty years her junior. Together they made a film that celebrates high art, dismantling the notion that it is only for the culturally sophisticated. The film is also about themselves, so the art takes on a personal dimension as JR and Varda narrate their collaboration.

  • Cléo from 5 to 7 (now on FilmStruck). Here’s Peter Bradshaw over at The Guardian:
    The rerelease of Agnès Varda’s 1961 classic underscores its claim to be a pioneering glory of the new wave. Corinne Marchand is Cléo, a beautiful singer and glamorous young woman-about-town; in a kind of real time, we follow her eventful Paris whirl from 5 to 7 one evening. Traditionally, that’s the moment for married men to meet their mistresses, but here it’s the time Cléo must wait for the results of cancer tests, uneasily keeping an ear open for news of Edith Piaf’s recent illness. Cléo befriends a young soldier (Antoine Bourseiller) about to ship out to Algeria – does he face his own death sentence? – and when they together hear the results of Cléo’s tests, it is an extraordinary, ambiguous moment. The Parisian streetscapes are beautiful and thrilling, and the tarot scene at the beginning, combined with overheard fragments of anxious city lives, give this something of TS Eliot. A farcically comic film-within-a-film sequence shows Jean-Luc Godard in larky cameo, not so very different from the wacky, childlike quality of his own early works.

  • Vagabond (now on FilmStruck). Here’s Roger Ebert:
    What a film this is. Like so many of the greatest films, it tells us a very specific story, strong and unadorned, about a very particular person. Because it is so much her own story and does not seem to symbolize anything – because the director has no parables, only information – it is only many days later that we reflect that the story of the vagabond could also be the story of our lives: Although many have shared our time, how many have truly known us?

That’s it! Get streaming, kids.

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