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.
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OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Magic in the Moonlight. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Woody Allen has put out at least one movie a year, every year, since 1982. He’s damn prolific, more than any other major filmmaker working today, but after Adam Sandler recently admitted his films are basically paid vacations, it’s plain to see the same is true for Allen. Several of his recent films take place in posh European cities (e.g. London, Rome, Barcelona, and Paris). He always finds an excuse for a scene where a jazz band gets together to perform his favorite type of music (Allen plays jazz clarinet). There’s nothing wrong with combining work and pleasure – some of the European-set Allen films are the best he’s done – but his formula is downright annoying where there is not enough material to sustain a sketch, let alone a feature film. Set primarily in the French Riviera, Magic in the Moonlight is Allen’s worst film since You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, one that confirms the ickiest part of his longtime obsessions.
- The Wind Rises. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The beloved Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki prefers fantastical world. In classics like My Neighbor Totaro and Spirited Away, the animator creates rich, imaginative worlds that delight international audiences (Disney’s animation studio often cites Miyazaki as a major influence). The Wind Rises might be Miyazaki’s last film – he claimed it would be last year, only to waffle later – and it feels like a swansong. It’s a meditative biography of Jiro Horikoshi, an influential aeronautical engineer who designed military aircraft. Of course, it’s tricky to look at his work fondly – his planes were operated by kamikaze pilots – but Miyazaki sidesteps controversy by showing the uneasy tension between innovation and war.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The Skeleton Twins. Here’s what we said in our original review:
From the outset, it is easy to call The Skeleton Twins a small movie. After all, it does center on a small cast of characters, living small lives, in a small town, dealing with their life problems which, while maybe big to them, are small if put into the grand scheme of how the world works. But, much like most best “small” films, the topics it handles are so universal the movie maybe becomes bigger than it even set out to be, tackling issues such as love, family, tolerance and yes, failure, in ways that are both heartbreaking and instantly identifiable.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Wolf of Wall Street. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Jordan Belfort is eager to tell the audiences about his lifestyle, and show it off, too. Over breathless narration, Belfort brags about his daily drug intake (a cocktail of coke, ludes, booze, and more coke), and that snippet of dialogue is immediately before Belfort snorts coke off of a hooker’s asshole. Or does he blow the coke into her asshole? I’m not so sure. All this happens in the first minutes of The Wolf of Wall Street, Martin Scorsese’s three hour epic about drugs, corruption, and commitment to self-aggrandized excess. Scorsese may be over seventy, yet his latest shows that he’s in top form, and has no desire to slowdown. Those who don’t walk out of the movie will be exhausted by the time it’s over, and I mean that in the best way possible.
- The Gruffalo. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Gruffalo is the longest of the animated shorts, and also the most familiar. A Mother Squirrel (Helena Bonham Carter) narrates the story of a little Mouse (James Corden) and his journey into the “deep, dark wood.” When Mouse encounters predators such as Fox (Tom Wilkinson) and Owl (John Hurt), he outwits them with a clever lie: he says he’s meeting the Gruffalo, a fictional creature with a fearsome appearance. Mouse’s journey continues, at least until he discovers the Gruffalo (Robbie Coltrane) is very real and very hungry. Carter’s gentle narration, lifted directly from the bestselling kid’s book, has the familiar cadence of a children’s story. Repeated lines like, “Silly Owl, don’t you know? There’s no such thing as a Gruffalo!” evoke childlike wonder, a trait that’s both a blessing and a curse. Unlike Where the Wild Things Are , Lang and Schuh do not use the book as a basis for further exploration. The weirdly cute animation does the source material justice – I liked Owl’s conniving eyes in particular – yet a strict adaptation limits the audience. The Gruffalo will delight young children and perhaps their parents, but few others.
- It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Here’s Joseph Jon Lanthier over at Slant:
Despite all this macabre torment, It’s Such a Beautiful Day involves a lot of sweet, plucky humor that represents a discreet softening of the angry sarcasm for which Hertzfeldt has become known. Bill has an ex-girlfriend whose coyness strangely reassures him, and a mother who manages to be affectionate despite psychiatric afflictions of her own. An extended flashback in the middle of the film carves a path further through Bill’s family tree, many branches of which were prematurely pruned with terminal illness, spontaneous combustion, or train collision. An ironic motif also emerges in the various melancholy symbols that Bill encounters, such as the message “I Love You” etched in sand on a beach. Genuine beauty may be pervasive, but interpersonal trauma and reminders of life’s impermanence—the fact that such beauty is fleeting—keep it dormant.
That’s for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!