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.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Suburbicon. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Clooney knows the eras and the classic types of stories he wants to tell, but can never find the right tone, whether it’s in a World War II caper (The Monuments Men), a lighthearted 1920s football comedy (Leatherheads), and especially not in the late 50s macabre rural humor of Suburbicon. As an homage to classic Hollywood, Clooney the actor knows how to show his adoration for the past. But as a director, his nostalgia for the past and failed attempts to recreate the past and mimic better filmmakers has become increasingly embarrassing.
- A Bad Mom’s Christmas. Here’s Derek Smith over at Slant:
As it bounces from one family to the next, A Bad Moms Christmas gradually devolves into a set of loosely connected vignettes, spreading itself thin and subsequently leaving most of the on-screen relationships feeling too undeveloped to carry much emotional heft. The almost complete absence of a narrative through line is less of an issue early in the film when Amy, Kiki, and Carla are flinging around one-liners that have a fresh, improvised flair to them. Hahn once again outshines her co-stars as the overtaxed spa worker, selling lines like “Since when did every woman in America need a completely hairless vagina on Christmas?” as if her job depended on it. Even the introduction of their three mothers initially adds some humorously awkward interactions to the story while also providing insight into the ways that Amy and her friends’ maternal anxieties and idiosyncrasies are tied to the dysfunctional relationships they have with their own mothers.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Only the Brave. Here’s Emily Yoshida over at Vulture:
Are firefighter movies secretly the most potent antiwar movies? I’ll admit, I haven’t seen any firefighter films since Backdraft, which was about a crew on the trail of a serial arsonist. Still, fire is a faceless and merciless cinematic foe, and watching people fight it, whether in film and TV or on the news, looks the most like fighting God than any other human activity. Only the Brave is at its core much more of a man-versus-nature story, less about getting bad guys and more about dealing with the horror that ensues when nature occasionally sets itself ablaze. There’s less of a moral question about trying to stop a fire from destroying people’s homes than, say, fighting in any war since WWII, and no anxiety-inducing hails of gunfire. But you still get the band-of-brothers mechanics of war narratives, and the smoke and struggle and life-or-death situations. It feels like a win-win to me.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (horror movies with good actors edition):
- The Cloverfield Paradox (now on Netflix). Here’s a word of caution from Sam Adams over at Slate:
The Cloverfield Paradox’s script is only credited to two people, Oren Uziel and Doug Jung, but it feels as if it was written by several dozen, or by pulling slips of paper out of a bowl at random. That goes for the cast as well, which includes David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, Chris O’Dowd, Zhang Ziyi, Aksel Hennie, John Ortiz, and Elizabeth Debicki—fine actors all, but putting them all in the same movie is the equivalent of a cooking-show challenge to make an entrée with parsley and motor oil. Great(ish) ideas and terrible ones sit cheek by jowl, original notions and blatant thievery corralled together with no discernible logic. It’s a horror movie one moment, a comedy the next, as if Netflix were streaming several different titles at once.
- Europa Report (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
There is a feeling of plausibility through Europa Report, and that’s because the voyage is based on actual science. Europa’s surface may be frozen, but underneath it may be warm enough to sustain life (at one point, Cordero includes speculations from famous astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson). The ship looks futuristic yet familiar, and there’s the sense that Cordero’s production team did not have to invent too much of what’s on screen. The movie is at its best, however, when it applies its sense of verisimilitude to conflict and death. The lead-up to the first death is sudden, almost perfunctory, and yet its aftermath is chilling and relentless. Cordero understand that space can be fucking terrifying, and he doesn’t need aliens to quicken the pulse of his audience.
- It Comes at Night (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
From the very beginning of It Comes At Night you’re infected with dread. That feeling never stops, but by the time Will’s family joins up with Paul, Travis and Sarah, it doubles down. There have been a rash of horror movies in the last few years that have boastfully thrown away some of the genre’s most used tools, like loud sweeping scores and jump scares. These movies instead go full throttle on the atmosphere. They don’t want to resort to cheap tricks, so they fill every frame with quiet horror. If you can’t have a spooky, CGI-ed to hell face pop up in a mirror to earn your scares, then you have to think outside of the box. It Comes At Night feels like the first movie to do this entirely successfully. Don’t get me wrong, I loved The Witch and The Bababdook and Get Out. I love this new smarter horror genre that refuses to take the easy way out, but when you’re trying to consistently build dread without utilizing cheap scares, you lose a different kind of subtlety. You lose the ebb and flow of feeling safe and then having that safety taken away from you. Although It Comes At Night exists in a world where safety as we know it no longer exists, it nails that power exchange between the movie and the audience. It’s a gorgeously paced film that feels organic, like it popped out of Schults’ head fully formed and ready to take on the world.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.