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:
- Fort Bliss. Here’s what we said in our interview with star Michelle Monaghan:
In our second interview with documentary filmmaker Sebastian Junger, the documentary filmmaker is annoyed with how veterans appear in the movies. He says “Redeployment,” a collection of short stories by Phil Klay, is the only modern storytelling that gets it right. Having read the book, the recent war drama Fort Bliss may force Junger to reconsider his position. Written and directed by Claudia Myers, the film follows Maggie (Michelle Monaghan), an army medic who returns to Texas after a tour in Afghanistan. Her civilian life is a readjustment: her young son does not recognize her – she was gone for fifteen months – so he calls the ex-husband’s girlfriend, “Mom.” Maggie also suffers from mild PTSD, which creates another set of challenges since the army still expects her in top form. Fort Bliss is unsentimental and empathetic, an involving drama because it forces the audience to constantly evaluate what they think about the characters (and the military in general).
- Godzilla. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Godzilla is so close to what a modern telling of this classic monster needs. It has a great cast, exciting action and a director who is an intriguing choice that will likely push the story into an interesting direction. Unfortunately Godzilla relies too heavily on emotion that isn’t there, action that we’re always just missing and a cast that deserves meatier roles. There’s a great film somewhere in all these combined elements, but instead the mishandling of all these pieces leaves us with something that deserves to be so much more.
- Chinese Puzzle. Here’s Heather Baysa over at The Village Voice:
In this final installment, Xavier (Romain Duris) and the friends he originally made in L’Auberge Espagnole (2002) are on the brink of 40. Two kids and two unsuccessful novels into life, intrepid writer Xavier is off to New York this time, as a last-ditch attempt to salvage his family in the wake of an impromptu divorce. The gang’s all here — Audrey Tautou, Kelly Reilly, and Cécile de Francereprise their roles as the women in Xavier’s life, all somehow just as fresh-faced and vivacious as they were at 25.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Venus in Fur. Here’s AA Dowd over at The AV Club:
Venus In Fur works where the facile Carnagelargely didn’t because the play itself is something of a delight—a straightforward but sharply comic twofer about roleplaying and control-based relationships (be they artistic, romantic, or otherwise). The casting, too, is impeccable. Amalric, who bears a faint resemblance to a young Polanski, makes Thomas a repressed coward tiptoeing around his own desire for submission. He’s matched—outmatched, even—by Polanski’s wife, Seigner, in what amounts to something of a dual role, given its fluid shifts from the coarse irreverence of Vanda to the more elegant seductiveness of her character. Vanda is a force of comeuppance, both mastering and neatly deconstructing the “S&M smut” for which she auditions. Thomas, hiding behind fidelity to his text (“It’s in the book!” he pleads more than once, when Vanda calls out the sexism of his work), can do nothing but bend to the logic and raw talent of his muse. Polanski, performing his own act of cross-medium translation, is in the same boat.
- Chicken Run. Here’s James Berardinelli over at Reelviews:
Many fans of Nick Park have been wondering what the animated filmmaker has been doing recently. Known to millions across the globe as the creator of the characters Wallace & Gromit (a British inventor with a penchant for Rube Goldberg devices and his smart dog), Park can no longer live in the obscurity he once enjoyed. It has been half-a-decade since the last Wallace & Gromit short reached audiences, and Park has been quiet since then. The reason can be summed up in two words: Chicken Run. An ambitious, full-length motion picture employing Park’s signature clay-animation style (albeit without Wallace or Gromit), Chicken Runrepresents an attempt by Park to break free of his status as a cult figure and move into the mainstream. To that end, he has recruited some instantly recognizable voices (such as Miranda Richardson and Mel Gibson) to voice his characters and struck a distribution deal with Dreamworks Pictures. If Chicken Run doesn’t broaden Park’s audience, nothing will.
- Norwegian Wood. Here’s what we said in our original review:
At first, the cast captures the earnestness that sometimes accompanies early romance. Speaking in hushed tones, they ably convey that they’re feeling these feelings for the first time. And when Wantanabe has sex with Naoko, the direction highlights the intimacy and awkwardness of the encounter. The first act defines these characters well, yet the cool direction squanders any further connection to them. A telling example is when Tran cross-cuts between Wantanabe visit to the mental institution, and a static, unremarkable shot of him at a swimming pool. We are made to think Wantanabe is a state of constant-reflection, and while endless analysis is a hallmark of young love, this kind of editing deadens the movie’s pace. Deliberate, languid film-making is hypnotic when it’s done well. With Norwegian Wood, Tran attempts to add depth by testing our patience.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide! Let us know what you’re watching in the comments.