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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:

  • 300: Rise of an Empire. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    I wouldn’t go so far as to say this makes Rise of an Empire a good movie. There’s still a lot of juvenile grandiosity sloshing around the thing. The plot is mechanical and flat. A lot of the action, while impressive in its isolated chunks, bleeds together after a while, without orchestration or differentiation. Still, it had 300′s anarchic and juicy sense of fun. And I was struck by the degree to which it distanced itself – conceptually, aesthetically, and morally – from the worst aspects of its predecessor.
  • Winter’s Tale. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The deepest problems in Winter’s Tale are not in the execution, however, but in the very conception. As the movie goes on, it increasingly seems like everyone except for Peter, Beverly, and Connelly’s reporter is in on the film’s supernatural undercurrents. Peter is rendered the lucky plaything of a cheap deus ex machina, prodded along by forces beyond his control and comprehension to the inevitable conclusion.The flying horse, whom Peter amusingly refers to as “horse” (natch), saves the day multiple times over; there’s Cecil (Maurice), the stable boy who’s only there to make sure Peter makes certain cosmically scheduled appointments (and who’s black, natch); and Humpstone (Graham Greene) who clues Peter into the existence of miracles and spirit animals (and who’s Native American, natch again). The casting and character presentations fall into the “magical mystical negro” trap, except with multiple ethnicities. That failure betrays a privileged breeziness that infects the whole film.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Blue Ruin. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Countless films depict violence, to various degrees of grisliness, but too few films are about violence. In the past month, the stylized action in The Raid 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier were meant to provide a sense of exhilaration through well-choreographed thrills, without much thought toward plausibility and real-world consequences. This is a feature of the action genre, not a criticism, yet it’s sometimes worthwhile to have a film that focuses on ugly realism instead of well-choreographed excess. Blue Ruin, the new thriller from writer/director Jeremy Saulnier, may be about violence due to budget constraints more than anything else. Still, there’s a blunt, melancholy forcefulness here that elevates the premise beyond a mere revenge tale.

INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • Like Father, Like Son. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The logistics of the exchange force the Nonomiyas into regular interactions with Yukari and Yudai Saiki (Yôko Maki and Rirî Furankî). They wound up raising Ryusei, the Nonomiyas’ biological son. Here, Like Father, Like Son is smart and honest enough to acknowledge that biology does matter. Keita clearly gets his laid-back nature from the lackadaisical Yukari, whose relationship with Yudai is a mirror reflection of the one between Ryota and Midori, as Yudai chides him for not taking life’s logistic seriously enough. But Yukari is also emotionally open in a way Ryota is not, cavorting without shame with his children on the playground and always ready to repair their toys.
  • Particle Fever. Here’s Josh Modell over at The AV Club:
    For most people, “the big picture” doesn’t stretch much beyond their own existence and its impact on the world immediately around it. For particle physicists, it extends in ways that are both vast and incredibly difficult for non-scientists to understand, and therein lies the challenge of Particle Fever, a documentary that seeks to distill an un-distillable subject into something at least partially understandable for those without decades of schooling under their belts. The film mostly rises to that challenge by humanizing the field, and by focusing on one specific angle—proof of the so-called “God particle.”
  • Downloaded. Here’s what we said in our interview with director Alex Winter:
    The first mp3 I ever downloaded was “Sweet Home Chicago” by The Blues Brothers. I downloaded it on Napster, and I remember the experience clearly. I fired the song up on Winamp, and I was so excited by the possibilities. The song was immaterial; I didn’t have buy CDs at Best Buy for $12 anymore. I wasn’t the only one who was excited: Napster fundamentally changed how the user interacts with culture, to the point where record companies definitely noticed. Founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker found themselves facing the ire of a very pissed off Record Industry, and the subsequent record battle left them reeling. VH1 rockDoc’s Downloaded captures that late nineties zeitgeist, in all its glory and anger, and unspools the multi-faceted conflict with grace and a torrent (ha) of information.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OO62vBK-KMw

That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching the comments!

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