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 our favorite genre, the thriller.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Annihilation. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In his first film as a director – Ex Machina – Alex Garland knew exactly how to play his audience. Not only did he play his characters against each other through the knowledge each character had, he played his audience against their expectations for this type of film. With Annihilation, Garland throws all of his characters and his audience’s preconceived notions out the window, presenting the idea that a foreign entity from another place would be so baffling, so confounding, that we wouldn’t know where to begin in describing it. Fittingly, Garland has made a film that defies expectations of science fiction, creating a world that is equal parts eerie, stunning, and overpowering.
- Game Night. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Even with moments of genuine anxiety, you won’t stop smiling. On top of Bateman and McAdams, Kyle Chandler plays against type as the rakish, Elon Musk-esque tycoon older brother of Bateman’s character. He’s hilarious as a Mr. One-Up-Man. His character and performance seems to be almost poking fun at the uber-perfection of his previous roles. Jesse Plemons plays a creepy, stone-faced, humorless cop neighbor with the dryness of someone who knows perfectly well how to play the heel (because he’s had lots of experience). Billy Magnussen plays a beautiful, dumb jerks which he does so very well and has played similar roles in Ingrid Goes West and Into the Woods. Lamorne Morris is delightful and basically playing the same character he does in New Girl. These aren’t slams on the acting in this film. Not at all. It’s just that this film allows these actors to play their typical roles, just to a really fun extreme.
- Red Sparrow. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Director Francis Lawrence has never been one to reinvent the wheel. All seven of his feature length films have been adaptations of some sort, each workmanlike at best. When Lawrence took over The Hunger Games franchise, he brought a slightly more mature approach to the teen series, making the series a bit more sophisticated with moments of surprising intensity and politically charged issues. With his first non-Hunger Games film in six years, Lawrence makes his most adult film thus far with Red Sparrow, an occasionally shocking spy thriller that again, doesn’t revamp the genre, but brings enough ideas to keep the film thoroughly entertaining.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (DARK THRILLERS edition):
- Wind River (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
If you can stomach violent films, Wind River may still be too much. Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) has written and directed a great story, but the film’s graphic rape scene is the dark center, where he demands the audience not look away. The importance of highlighting Native American stories that star Native actors cannot be understated, but the emotional toll of some of the scenes – combined with the graphic violence – make this a film I’m unlikely to re-watch even though the movie and its performances were great. It’s hard for me to recommend a film that left the person sitting behind me audibly sobbing through its last thirty minutes. That is demonstrative of the power of film to connect to the audience, but rape and murder are a lot even before the details of the picture are filled in. And this film is all about the details.
- The Gift (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Hall and Edgerton are reliable actors – Hall unfortunately is typecast as the spouse of a brooding men – so the real surprise in The Gift is Jason Bateman. Bateman has no problem with unlikable character (e.g. Juno and Up in the Air), yet here he sheds his comic chops and adds menace instead. Simon starts the film as an everyman, the sort who seems decent in an inoffensive way, but Gordo unearths the dormant monster underneath. I don’t want to reveal Simon’s exact nature, except to say Bateman can play the roles that Michael Douglas would take in his prime. If anyone ever decides to remake Fatal Attraction, Bateman would be a terrific choice for the lead role (Edgerton would be a good choice to direct that imaginary project, although it would wallow in clichés that Edgerton seems averse toward).
- Thief (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s Roger Ebert:
Michael Mann’s Thief is a film of style, substance, and violently felt emotion, all wrapped up in one of the most intelligent thrillers I’ve seen. It’s one of those films where you feel the authority right away: This movie knows its characters, knows its story, and knows exactly how it wants to tell us about them. At a time when thrillers have been devalued by the routine repetition of the same dumb chases, sex scenes, and gunfights, Thief is completely out of the ordinary.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.