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 appreciate Ben Mendelsohn just a little bit more:
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Tully. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In 2011’s Young Adult – the last collaboration between director Jason Reitman, star Charlize Theron, and writer Diablo Cody – Theron played a woman who couldn’t move past her childish behaviors. With a character completely motivated by her own desires and narcissism, this trio created the ultimate archetype of self-absorption, a black comedy that didn’t hold back on showing the weakness of only caring about yourself. With their second collaboration – Tully – Theron takes on the exact opposite character, the personification of The Giving Tree, as she puts her family before herself to a level that could break her. It’s in this more generous extreme where Theron, Cody, and Reitman provide some of their finest work in years.
- Ready Player One. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Thankfully, Ready Player One doesn’t become engulfed with its own references and takes a more balanced look at increased entertainment intake. The story still remains silly, and the virtual world can often look comical. Plus a person’s pop culture knowledge still seems to outweigh anything else about a person to a troubling degree. Yet for all the flash and ridiculousness of Ready Player One, Spielberg’s adaptation is a solid step up from Cline’s story, repairing its biggest flaws and embracing nostalgia in just the right ways to make one of Spielberg’s finest blockbusters in years.
- Isle of Dogs. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Wes Anderson likes to impose tight restrictions on his characters, then watch them wriggle out of it. Think of the forbidden love between adopted siblings in The Royal Tenenbaums, or another kind of forbidden love between two twelve year olds in Moonrise Kingdom. His work invariably echoes his past work, to the point that the most recent Wes Anderson film always feels like “the most Anderson-y.” This is certainly true of Isle of Dogs, a stop-motion animated adventure about thoughtful pups and how they cope within a draconian Japanese prefecture. There is no restriction tighter than our own innate natures – and that is particularly true for animals bred to be pets – so one of the film’s many joys is to watch his furry, soft-spoken heroes handle an absence of nurture.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Ben Mendelsohn edition):
- Mississippi Grind (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Mississippi Grind begins with a curious image: there is a rainbow over a farm, one that appears faded and grows more defined. The unlikely image serves as a totem over the relative darkness of what follows. Curtis and Gerry bond over the rainbow, and they return to it when their chips are down. The point of the rainbow is that it has no point. The rainbow could be a black cat, or a friendly puppy, or finding a twenty in your pocket, whatever. Gamblers use arbitrary things to make sense of the world since gambling is all they got. Gerry and Curtis have more than that, and they do not realize it until they surprise each other. Mississippi Grind may have affection for Gerry and Curtis, but since it does not let them off to the hook easy, it’s all the more satisfying when – against the odds – they finally find some wisdom.
- Slow West (new on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The real rewards in Slow West happen in its final half hour, when all the heroes and villains approach Rose’s home. Maclean lays out the action with simple editing, defining the house and its surrounding land so we know the precise location of each encroaching threat. The shoot-out has the fatalist, macabre logic of the shoot-out at the climax of LA Confidential, another modern genre film, except Slow West has the added advantage of striking imagery that could belong in an issue of National Geographic. The exteriors are made all the more poignant with bizarre, mean-spirited visual gags that veer into dark comic territory. While it does not earn its ending, exactly, Maclean has the wisdom to realize that he can have sympathy for his characters, even if he lets them befall one calamity after another.
- The Place Beyond the Pines (now on Netflix). Here’s Nathan Rabin over at The AV Club:
Derek Cianfrance’s Blue Valentine was defined by an almost unbearable intimacy, an eagerness to plumb deep into the most wrenching emotions of a doomed romance, captured with raw candor and honesty. The Place Beyond The Pines, Cianfrance’s remarkable but overreaching follow-up, initially shares those qualities, as well as another riveting star turn from Ryan Gosling, who lends his soulful trick motorcycle rider turned outlaw antihero the minimalist magnetism of a young Steve McQueen. Few actors are as riveting doing absolutely nothing, and The Place Beyond The Pines perfectly typecasts Gosling as a noir staple: the decent but rudderless drifter driven to violent and desperate action. To the film’s credit, it’s damn near impossible to imagine where The Place Beyond The Pines will end based on where it begins, even though its ever-widening scope causes it to lose some of the grubby intensity of its early scenes.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.