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.
OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- The Two Faces of January. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Crime novelist Patricia Highsmith is responsible for some of the brilliant most thrillers of the twentieth century. Her books typically involve handsome bespoke Americans in exotic European locales, with money as a catalyst to explore the uglier sides of human behavior. The most famous adaptation of her work, The Talented Mr. Ripley, is fascinating because the anti-hero squirms out of one trap after another. The Two Faces of January, the latest Highsmith adaptation from writer/director Hossein Amini, emphasizes psychology over plot. Sometimes there is suspense, particularly when we try and second guess what the characters will do next, but the predictable twists overshadow their careful development.
- Young Ones. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Young Ones is an amalgam of several genres, imitating them without much reverence. Writer and director Jake Paltrow awkwardly combines the simplest tropes of science-fiction and western, seemingly with little attention or research about why they’re effective, and so they mix together like oil and water. His film looks great, with plenty of sun-scorched landscapes and strange special effects, yet he relies on cheesy flourishes to the point they become a distraction. His heavy-handed style continues into his plot, which favors melodrama and allegory, minus all the implied thematic heft. Indulgent and overwrought, his film masquerades as pulp.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Love is Strange. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Most movie romances get it wrong. They either focus on the beginnings, where love is exciting and vibrant, or they put romance into a vacuum. Last year’s The Spectacular Now is terrific, yet it is about characters who lack the maturity to understand their tenuous connection. Michael Haneke’s Amourfeels like it’s hermetically-sealed, as if the universe is nothing but an aging married couple. Ira Sachs’Love is Strange, on the other hand, is a unique love story that also brims with authenticity and a lived-in sense of place. In less than two hours, it presents an emotional verisimilitude that rivals Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy. With a gentle, careful focus on its characters and shrewd direction, Love is Strange somehow feels more true-to-life than most documentaries.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Wetlands. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Everyone must have some secret ritual with their bodies that they secretly cherish. Seinfeld once devoted an entire episode to nose-picking, for one thing, and Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher would shove her hands into her armpits. I know I have my own weird quirks, and I’m not going to share them for you (for your sake and mine). This strange comfort with our bodies is what fuelsWetlands, a bizarre German sex comedy. Director David Wnendt’s adaptation of Charlotte Roche’s controversial novel is gleefully disgusting – the hero’s butthole is literally the catalyst of the plot – and while a plucky performance elevates the scatological humor, the film misfires in its attempt for an emotional arc.
- Frank. Here’s yours truly over at Tiny Mix Tapes:
From Vincent Van Gogh onward to Robin Williams, there is a fallacy in culture that all geniuses must suffer. Whether through addiction or mental illness, legions of fans think their favorite artist is great specifically because of the problems that befall him or her. Frank, the new comedy about a brilliant eccentric musician, is an angry retort to this misguided idea. It starts as a pleasant screwball comedy, only to view its subject with pity and sadness. Working from a screenplay by Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan, director Lenny Abrahamson successfully disabuses the audience from this cruel notion.
- 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).
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!