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 catch up on unconventional recent films about women:
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Final Portrait. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The disarrayed studio space is just so. The casting is spot on. The enjoyment of minutia is ever-present. For some, it may all be a little too much about too little. After all, the main thing that happens during the 90 minutes we are invited in, is painting (save for one break which leaves not too much of a mark on the already ravaged surroundings Giacometti works in). It is an open ended proposition to essentially watch paint dry. But for those of us who relish a look behind the curtain, no matter how messy it may be, Final Portrait is a perfectly imperfect little cinematic morsel to relish.
- 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.
- Sweet Country. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Ultimately, Sweet Country doesn’t break the mold, but it has no aspirations for that. It’s a solid bit of genre execution that, rather like Get Out, reorients itself around the perspectives and experiences of people usually shoved to society’s silent margins. Thornton relies on long takes and spare editing to create a dream-like world that is both gorgeous and unremittingly harsh. The pacing is modest but steady, creating a methodical slow-burn film that builds to quietly powerful effect.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (unconventional movies about women edition):
- Under the Skin (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said when we called it one of the best films of 2014:
With a torrent of middling entertainment that dominates the Oscar season, I keep returning to Under the Skin because it’s cinema at its most pure. There are no character names, no explanations for its frightening absurdist imagery, and the only thing that resembles an emotional arc is a creature who falls victim to patriarchy. By stripping the film to its essential elements, Glazer shows how purity of form can lead to depth. Scarlett Johansson stars as an alien succubus, one who drives around Scotland, seduces men, than saps their essential life fluid in servitude of, well, I don’t know, exactly. Glazer does not make this conceit easy: there are long stretches of Under the Skin that are repetitive and obtuse, yet our patience leads to gorgeous, haunting rewards. Two interesting things happen to Johansson’s creature: it develops curiosity, and internalizes the limits of its existence (there is a moment where it attempts a meal, failing miserably in a way that would be funny if it weren’t so pathetic). With a modicum of intelligence and self-awareness, the creature in Under the Skin learns that its Black Widow methods are no match for a world where men are dominant, controlling, and ultimately cruel. In a year when the media failed women, Under the Skin is a stark illustration of how #NotAllMen leads to another lost, naked, terrified casualty.
- Obvious Child (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
It is a timely, honest look at what modern romance can be and often is. Sometimes things get messy and sometimes those strangers you meet are possibly the “nicest, best possible strangers you can meet” and owning your mistakes and victories equally and, well, being human is ok as is not being afraid to admit to it, even if sometimes that happens on a stage. Sometimes those mistakes end up being more like missteps and we have to focus on the bigger picture in order to make it through to the inevitable next stage (nothing is the end of the world, the movie screams/whispers/hi-fives at us from every corner). Obvious Child is a good movie through and through but it is also partially A GREAT movie because all (surprising?) optimism aside, it doesn’t try to tie up things all too neatly. It clocks in at a trim 83 minutes (kudos to everyone involved for not trying to stretch a short movie into an “epic”) and while some people may have thought that at some point, as Max and Donna start being in the same room more and more, things would take a sudden turn for the “and now we raise this kid together” route, Robespierre and Slate are too empathetic and honest of filmmakers to try and serve us that/any cloying pre-packaged happiness.
- Certain Woman (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Slow films are not necessarily bad. Sure, they require more patience than fast-paced Hollywood thrillers, but that can also mean that slow films can reveal a lot through very little. More than any other American director, Kelly Reichardt’s work is meditative and quiet. Her last film Night Moves was about domestic terrorism, and yet at abandoned suspense in favor of downtrodden characters who avoid introspection until it is too late. Even by Reichardt standards, her latest Certain Women is a big ask. Divided into three distinct chunks, it is about the inward lives of women in a depressed Montana town. The recognizable actors is a trick, since their characters are too unhappy and reserved to betray their feelings. This film has its rewards, which are more than modest, although its audience must meet Reichardt more than half way to experience them.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.