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 scope out some modern Westerns that might turn your stomach over:
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- The Wife. Here’s Diego Simerene over at Slant Magazine:
Close’s stare, whenever we’re allowed a few seconds to bask in it, keeps reminding us of the triteness behind the film’s attempts at concocting a traditional narrative—one with villains, flashbacks, and drinks spilt on fancy gowns. When Close isn’t in the frame to subtly distill Joan’s pent-up emotions, The Wife beats us over the head with a morality tale of women not standing a chance in the workplace. This is particularly true in a flashback scene where the young Joan (Annie Starke) meets a cartoonishly bitter female author who tells her she shouldn’t write because she’ll never get men’s attention and her books will end up, at best, in the alumni shelf of some university bookstore, never to be read. Though there may be truth in that message, it’s one that already lives in Close’s face in less literal ways. As such, pairing an actress of Close’s caliber with such banal material makes everything that isn’t articulated by Close herself feel like soap-operatic redundancy.
- Hunter Killer. Here’s Monica Castillo over at RogerEbert.com:
Another anchor weighing down “Hunter Killer” are the occasional serious moments that veer into parody—like when senior officials hold top-secret conversations in the center of a busy government building, instead of a private office. It’s also laughable how the movie portrays Glass the Merciful as a nonviolent man at heart, by showing how he spares the life of a deer when he sees it has a family. Glass also spends ample time reminding everyone around him that he’s just like his working-class crew and not one of those Annapolis guys from the Naval Academy—channeling the conservative attitude against people who went to college. It’s those kinds of forgettable scenes that are only memorable because they’re so odd.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Boy Erased. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Unlike Cameron Post, Boy Erased centers on many characters who believe that this therapy is what they need and are intent on curbing their “ungodly” desires. Edgerton’s finest trick with Boy Erased is that even the people who are pro-conversion therapy aren’t entirely villains. While Jared’s parents are clearly in the wrong, they’re sending their son away out of a misguided love and fear for their child and his future. Even Sykes is so ignorantly determined that homosexuality can be cured that it’s hard to completely see him as a legitimately evil character. These are people who have allowed their faith to blindly dictate the awful way they treat the people in their care, and they do it out of compassion rather than malice.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (neo Western edition):
- Damsel (now on Hulu). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Damsel opens with two characters trying to escape their fates, trapped in the Wild West of 1870s Utah. Waiting for a ride out of town, an old preacher (Robert Forster) sits with Henry (David Zellner), as they both get ready for a fresh start. Henry is on a search for something new after the death of his wife, and while tired of being the “man of faith,” the preacher disrobes, hands Henry his Bible and clothes, then he runs into the desert, never to be seen again. For decades, lost souls in Westerns have come to the town preacher for advice, but never before has it taken such a 180 turn, a complete switch of roles, especially in a Western’s opening scene. Throughout David and Nathan Zellner’s Damsel, they constantly swap the preconceived notions of the Western and completely eschew any ideas that the standard Western would fall into.
- The Proposition (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s James Berardinelli over at ReelViews:
The strength of The Proposition is its relentless moral ambiguity. Characters that would be heroic in more conventional movies show their darker sides, and the blackguards are given lighter, less ominous shades. It comes down to survival and justice. In a harsh land where so many are fighting to attain the former, is the latter an unreachable dream? And when does revenge as a means of justice cross over to become revenge as a means of survival?The Proposition may not answer these questions, but it addresses them and leaves it to the viewer to draw the conclusions. The result is as unsettling as it is compelling.
- Hostiles (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
One great aspect of the film is the inclusion of Native actors in these roles, speaking their language to other characters with no need for a translator. The soldiers show respect to the Chief who would otherwise be an enemy. The last few years have been productive in terms of increased visibility for issues raised by Native Americans, and this film prioritizes their humanity (and that of the sole black character) as equal to that of the white characters. Even though some of the film gets muddled in some of these slower moments, they are essential, and will continue to impact and advance the genre.
That’s it! Get streaming, varmints.