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 & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Noah. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Aronofsky never depicts God in Noah, and he only refers to Him as “The Creator.” This is ultimately a wise choice: not only would Noah and others have any concept of a biblical God – none of them could read, presumably – but this also adds a level of fear between man and his Maker. Aronofsky cements this relationship in a hallucinatory sequence, one that blends photography with animation, where we see the entire creation story (this is sure to be controversial since there is literal evolution from beast toward man). Noah obeys and fears God, even when His instructions are cruel. The masterstroke of Noah, one that makes it an important film, is that Noah’s ultimate mercy coincides with God’s. By the time we see the magisterial rainbow, it’s a reward full of humility since Noah and God surprise each other through reserves of goodness they finally could not deny.
- Finding Vivian Maier. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Finding Vivian Maier is a complex portrait of a complex woman, yet it ends with a note of measured happiness. Her work is getting the recognition it richly deserves, although Maloof and some of Maier’s friends correctly point out she would rather have had none of it. In fact, the film glosses over the uneasiness of spreading the work of an unknown artist: there is a perfunctory scene where Maloof uses an unsent letter as proof that yes, on some level, Maier wanted to share her photography (it’s not entirely convincing). But then there is another beautiful shot of an unhappy vagrant or a child who has probably seen too much, and we’re forced to agree with Maloof: we may not be honoring Maier’s wishes, but maybe that’s immaterial since the art world is a better place with her distinctive eye in it.
- At Berkley. Here’s Ben Kenigberg over at The AV Club:
Documentary legend Frederick Wiseman has made a career-long investigation of American institutions, and he finds perhaps his richest subject in At Berkeley, an exhilarating, four-hour immersion in life at the University Of California campus. It’s significant that the director, despite living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, alongside Harvard and MIT, has chosen to film at the nation’s most renowned public site of higher learning, at a time (fall 2010) of progressive disinvestment by the state. Funding shortages widen the gulf that separates idealism from pragmatism: How can Berkeley achieve its stated goals—the finest education, a diverse environment, preparation for the world beyond—and still mow lawns, retain faculty, and offer financial aid? Over the mammoth running time, university life is seen as an ongoing negotiation between the individual and the community: Professors debate whether their child-care services are a good investment and, elsewhere, listen to the chancellor, Robert J. Birgeneau, explain how furloughs have saved jobs. Students from disparate class backgrounds grapple with their views on social mobility. And even a famously tolerant campus can have a tense moment when a group elects to have a candid conversation on race.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Manhunter. Here’s Glenn Heath Jr. over at The House Next Door:
Mann’s sudden introduction of a blind woman named Reba (Joan Allen) late in the film complicates Dollarhyde’s evil during the character’s final waking moments, and the narrative decision works for the most part. The pair’s sudden first date, including an evocative petting session with a tiger, is unforgettably immersive and symbolic of Dollarhyde’s skewed version of the real world. But this is only a momentary narrative diversion from Manhunter‘s killer core. Fulfilling the promise of its title, Manhunter finally crashes Lecktor’s menacing influence, Dollarhyde’s titanic frame, and Graham’s seething anger together in a short but stunning last second shootout. Here, Mann’s masterpiece crystallizes its pristine examination of Dollarhyde’s urge to become a self-inscribed deity. Lecktor’s warning a few scenes earlier takes on new resonance: “If one does what God does enough times, one will become as God is.” That Graham perfectly understands his tormentor’s delusional words becomes Manhunter‘s most lasting and disturbing contribution to the horror genre. Some men may be born evil, but according to Manhunter, their dragon’s breath can seamlessly jump hosts and infect innocent minds like the Devil’s own airborne virus. It’s what nightmares are made of, so sleep tight.
- Homefront. Here’s what we said in our original review:
To the credit of Stallone and Homefront‘s director, Gary Fleder, they approach the latent class issues here with some level of awareness. The massive chip on the shoulder that both Cassie and Jimmy carry is painted with some complexity: you get a sense of Jimmy’s desperation over his wife’s addiction, and Cassie’s mounting horror when she realizes just how far Gator has taken things. Gator, too, is painted with multiple colors. Franco and the filmmakers leave a little room for us to sympathize with the character’s entrepreneurial panache, and the look on Franco’s face when all of Gator’s plans come crashing down is one of the movie’s more affecting moments.
- Gideon’s Army. Here’s Alan Scherstuhl over at The Village Voice:
As presented by Porter, these defenders’ efforts to do right even for people who have done wrong make for the most illuminating crime drama since The Wire went dead. For all the harrowing truth here, about race and poverty and justice, the film is brisk and tight, alive with everyday detail and flashes of humor. There are many revelations, chief among them the sad fact that this film shows us more high-achieving African-American professionals than the probably the entire last season of television combined.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!