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. Now all you need is someone to watch these movies with:
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Bethlehem. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Bethlehem is the latest low-tech spy thriller that conflates acts of terrorism with a series of personal betrayals. Set largely in Israel and Palestine, director Yuval Adler avoids easy political conclusions by doggedly preserving a sense of ambiguity in his characters. What compounds the ambiguity is the agenda of the different factions: there are disagreements among different groups on the anti-Israel side, for example, and there’s also racism among different types of Arabs. Adler’s primer on this conflict is fascinating and confusing in equal measure, yet his grasp of the Mideast tumult does not match his capacity for suspense.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The Grand Budapest Hotel. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Without the Russian doll narrative device, The Grand Budapest would be lighter entertainment. Three narrators are there for context, and also so the story may capture the correct measure of sadness. The elderly Zero cannot tell the story without bursting into tears, and when it’s over, the young writer feels profound melancholy. While the writer has this feeling in a general way, Zero’s feelings are more acute. Wealthy eccentrics and lowlifes butt heads around a place like the titular hotel, and we turn our attention there since death and loss are just beyond its pristine grounds. The reader clutches to her book, just like the writer clutches to the story, just like Zero clutches to his memory. Each subsequent iteration is felt less than the last, which means they become increasingly fun. Where does that leave us?
- Under the Skin. Here’s what we said in our original review:
As I type this review the sun is finally shining over our heads, the birds are singing, and the patios around us are filling up with people clinking glasses, exposing their shoulders and knees for the first time in months and in general, coming alive. If the thought of all this is filling you with the kind of nihilist dread and you need a respite from all the joy that, suddenly, seems to be truly all around, may we point you in the direction of Under the Skin. Jonathan Glazer’s first film in ten years (he previously made the elegantly brutal Sexy Beast and the brutally elegant Birth) is a sci-fi vacation into a permanent winter of everyone’s discontent. The story is this: an alien lands in a field near Glasgow, and embarks on a white mini van tour in which men on the roads of Scotland are preyed upon for no clear and/or apparent reason. The situation is grim and beyond comprehension and there is nothing even remotely resembling hope involved. And that is all you, as a filmgoer, are given to work with.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Immigrant. Here’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky over at The AV Club:
The Immigrant’s title and opening shot—a slow zoom out from the Statue Of Liberty, its back turned to the camera—suggest a monumental scale and subject. It’s not An Immigrant, but The Immigrant—a drama about New York in the early 1920s, lit gold and gray, set on bustling streets, in cramped apartments, and within the chilly holding quarters of Ellis Island. A magician levitates before an audience of detainees, who are awaiting deportation back to their homelands. “Don’t give up the faith, don’t give up the hope,” he says at the end of his act. “The American Dream is waiting for you!” Strippers in exotic costumes, eroticized immigrants, turn tricks on the side. When they fall on hard times, they put on boas and headbands and ply their trade in a public park. “The daughters of millionaires!” shouts their pimp to anyone within earshot. These are the cornerstones of national myth, eroded by ambivalence and irony. The visual and thematic palette immediately brings to mind Michael Cimino’s once-maligned Heaven’s Gate—except that The Immigrant accomplishes more in two hours than Heaven’s Gate did in nearly four.
- The Master. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Freddie Quell has a habit of taking a joke too far. On a beach, he’s wrestling with the other soldiers, and constructs an anatomically correct woman out of sand. Freddie pantomimes sex with the sand woman, and the men around him recoil in disgust. Whether it is booze or affection or violence, this persistence makes him extraordinary. After returning to the States, Freddie flourishes (for better or worse) when a cult leader takes him under his wing. The relationship between Freddie and the leader is the subject of The Master, the new Paul Thomas Anderson film. Anderson revisits the themes of his previous work, and the parallels weaken his movie’s power.
- Patton. Here’s James Berardinelli over at Reelviews:
Into the role stepped George C. Scott, giving the performance of a long and impressive career. Indeed, Scott became so identified with the character, and played the general so perfectly, that the Patton of documentaries has since occasionally been referred to as “an imposter.” In a part that requires a skillful scaling of the emotional ladder, Scott finds the perfect balance between bombast and subtlety. From the opening scene (the famous speech to the Third Army in front of the giant American Flag), the viewer’s attention is riveted to the screen, and only when the final credits roll do external distractions reassert themselves. It is no exaggeration to say that, in the decade of the seventies, only men like Brando, Pacino, Nicholson and De Niro equalled what Scott accomplished in Patton.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!