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 movies about how the social contract is a joke, and we’re all monsters or victims underneath.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- 12 Strong. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In the wake of 9/11, the immediate reaction was that the United States must do something – anything – after being attacked. Before the quagmire of multiple wars, spread over close to two decades, there was the simple desire to teach the bad guys a lesson. 12 Strongoccurs in this period following 9/11, when this sentiment was prevalent, and asks its audience to forget everything they’ve learned about these wars in the seventeen years since. 12 Strong revels in black-and-white morality in this overly simplistic look at a single operation that would’ve been outdated even a year after it took place.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Peter Rabbit. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Peter Rabbit is just plain adorable. I’d only seen advertising for a the film a few weeks ago around the Golden Globes, before all the coverage about the perfection of Paddington film franchise, and I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes. Why exactly was Domhnall Gleeson, well known for playing a simpering villain in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, acting opposite a CGI rabbit? Don’t get me wrong, I think Gleeson is a great actor and capable of being a leading man, but not necessarily for children’s films. But that’s the charm of Peter Rabbit, Gleeson is allowed to play that uptight, wimpy character he does so well as a foil to Peter Rabbit, perfectly voiced by James Corden. Love or hate Corden on Late Night, the man is built for children’s films. He has enough goofy sweetness for kids and always that cheekiness that gets adult viewers on his side, too. Corden is the only voice in this film that’s truly recognizable and that’s because he’s essentially playing himself in CGI rabbit form and that’s just fine. There are other big stars providing their voices, such as Daisy Ridley, Margot Robbie, and Sia, but their voices fit without distraction.
- In the Fade. Here’s what we said in our original review:
I don’t know what it’s like when you sit down and decide to make a movie. Since Fatih Akin both directed and co-wrote the story, I like to imagine he sat down with his co-author Hark Bohm and they hashed out the different types of stories that come out of the loss of a loved one. For instance, you can do a study of grief, with lots of crying and David Fincher approved blue toned rain scenes. Or you could do a nail-biting-edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama, with its inspirational monologues and greasy looking lawyers. Or, you could go full on bonkers revenge flick, with all of the frenzied planning and gut punch action your heart desires. Of course, there are many more kinds of movies you can make that spring from loss, but I’d say this is a solid summary of some of the most popular options. What’s fun about In the Fade is that Akin chose all three. This is also what’s weird and, ultimately, off-putting about the film.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (civilization is a joke edition):
- Experimenter (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
There is a scene in Experimenter where Milgram watches an old episode of Candid Camera. In the scene, a man walks into an elevator and finds that everyone is facing the direction opposite the elevator doors. Of course, the man follows their behavior, to the delight of the audience. This is a light extension of Milgram’s ideas, although the real implications are deeper than that. Along with his initial experiment, Milgram is responsible for the scholarship informing the phrase “the banality of evil.” Experimenter makes the case that Milgram was one of the most important thinkers of the twentieth century, as his findings dismantle our notion of individuality. While Steve Jobs had similar insights and would get rich off them, Milgram was after something far more important and sinister. Instead of a feel-good arc, Almereyda shocks us into grappling with Milgram’s research. It’s important stuff, and worth remembering the next time we follow the herd on autopilot.
- The Stanford Prison Experiment (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Alvarez and his young cast, full of up-and-coming actors and familiar faces, do the material justice by downplaying it. Aside from Angarano, who gets the nickname “John Wayne” from his affected guard accent, the other standout is Ezra Miller, a would-be revolutionary who uses words like “solidarity” in order to create a schism among the guards and prisoners. After the experiment ends more than a week early, there is disarming footage of Miller and Angarano discussing the experiment while still in character. I have no idea whether their dialogue is real, although it’s presented that way, yet the back and forth effectively obliterates words like “good” and “evil.” The inexorable conclusion of The Stanford Prison Experiment is that everyone is merely human, and our limits must disturb us.
- Shot Caller (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s Peter Bradshaw over at The Guardian:
The last film by Ric Roman Waugh I caught was the fantastically improbable and overblown Snitch, about the war on drugs. My expectations here were tepid. But Shot Caller turns out to be a really taut, tense, prison-set thriller, a little like Jacques Audiard’s A Prophet and longform television such as Breaking Bad or The Wire. Game of Thrones’ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Jacob, a blameless financial trader and family man who is sent to prison for accidentally killing someone while driving through a red light. Advised by his nervy lawyer to play it tough on his first day in the yard, Jacob catastrophically gets involved in a fight with an African-American prisoner and gets befriended by an extreme white-power gang – persuaded that hanging with them is the only way to survive. So he gets sucked into prison culture, discovers in himself a capacity for ruthlessness and morphs into a seriously tattooed gangbanger with the nickname “Money”.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.