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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:

  • Hellion. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Jacob begins the film by refusing to accept responsibility for his actions, and Hellion ends with him learning how that acceptance is an important part of being a young man. Heroism and sacrifice does not accompany this epiphany: instead, Candler puts Jacob in a horrifying climax where he has no choice but to discover his moral compass. This climax, which borrows elements from a thriller and even horror, crosses a line into unintentional parody since the first two acts do not set up for it adequately. I knew I should have felt horrified, and instead I felt disbelief at the chaotic, misogynistic violence. While Jacob and Hollis both feel hopeless, the difference between them is that Hollis has more a choice. Hellion is all about how fathers and sons hurt more than just each other, but without much curiosity it’s hardly worth the journey.
  • Ivory Tower. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Ivory Tower, the new documentary by Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside the New York Times), posits itself as the long-overdue expose on the as-broken-as-our-healthcare higher education system. Sadly, this far too diffuse and roving film takes on too much, in the end, not really succeeding in offering a cogent, tidy argument. It would have benefited from a strong dose of good ol’ critical thinking and thesis-honing. The film opens on the premise that there are problems in all sectors of higher education, problems so large that they are undermining the very idea of higher education and its life value. We are introduced to an African-American freshman with a rather compelling story–”from homeless to Harvard.” Ivory Tower follows his experience through the hallowed halls of Harvard, which actually appears to be well-deserving of its rarefied status and remains one of the last remaining bastions of meritocracy in higher ed. It also is a part of a rather small group of only 1.25% of U.S. colleges that grant full-need financial aid packages and have fully transparent, need-blind admissions.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOU TIME:

  • Cold in July. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Cold in July begins and ends with a family man who is trying to do what is right. The intense climax has more atmosphere than incident, so every shot and step counts. It’s a neat inverse toward the beginning, with Mickle shifting his attention toward a conclusion that’s both tragic and inevitable. Weirdly, part ofCold in July resemble the flashier moments of True Detective, except without all the pretense. Mickle’s admirably refuses to leave the trappings of the genre where he’s working, which both makes his work approachable and the sort of stuff over which cinephiles obsess. This is not reinvention. This is a reminder that assured, careful filmmaking will never go out of style. If someone told the characters in Cold in July that, “Time is a flat circle,” they’d laugh in their face.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • The Double. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The world of The Double is aggressively bleak. It’s always night, for one thing, and pale pools of yellow light make everyone look sickly. The film’s retro science fiction is a reminiscent Brazil, except Terry Gilliam at least had the mercy to populate his sets with inventive flourishes. Working from a Dostoevsky novella, director Richard Ayoade is more relentless: there is a minimalist vision here that’s admirable. The look of his film is depressing, through and through, but at least he has a sense of humor about it his main character. The hero of The Double is easy to identify with, and the joke is that he also happens to be a loser.
  • The Master. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The saving grace, of course, is how the film is shot. In terms of composition, nearly every image in The Master is beautiful, and worth poring over. Some images, like when Freddie dangles over ship while water rushes past either side of him, make me wonder why no one thought of it before. Anderson’s camera can never stay still for too long, and here he restrains himself instead of showing off his skill. As Dodd and Freddie walk toward mountain, the camera glides slightly and it seems as if a crevasse opened just for them. Like his previous work, Anderson focuses on symmetry and movement. His tight camera work puts our mind into focus; he forces us to think at his level, or at least try.
  • Reds. Here’s the late, great Roger Ebert on a 195 minute that’s totally worth your time:
    As for Beatty, Reds is his bravura turn. He got the idea, nurtured it for a decade, found the financing, wrote most of the script, produced, and directed and starred and still found enough artistic detachment to make his Reed into a flawed, fascinating enigma instead of a boring archetypal hero. I liked this movie. I felt a real fondness for it. It was quite a subject to spring on the capitalist Hollywood movie system, and maybe only Beatty could have raised $35 million to make a movie about a man who hated millionaires. I noticed, here at the end of the credits, a wonderful line that reads: Copyright copy MCMLXXXI Barclays Mercantile Industrial Finance Limited. John Reed would have loved that.

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

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