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 Judge. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Judge is indistinguishable from a mediocre satire of movies just like The Judge. It’s hard to say what the worst thing about this movie is, because almost everything was bad but almost nothing was exceptionally or outrageously bad, which is really the most telling part of it. There is a space for bad movies in the cultural pantheon, but those are for the bad movies with heart, with vision, with crazy gumption. The Judge is nothing but undermicrowaved, undersalted gruel, and it’s only useful function is to tell us what the people who made it think of our intelligence.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Whiplash. Here’s what we said in original review:
The final fifteen minutes of Whiplash are all build-up without any relief, and I mean that in the best possible way. While there are the usual clichés of the battered hero, the cruel villain, and the big public display, Chazelle dismantles the hope for lasting catharsis. Jazz percussion is the sole weapon in a two-person battle of psychological warfare, with the public barely understanding what is happening. Some criticisms of Whiplash point out its underdeveloped sub-plots, and its superficial interest in jazz history. While accurate, those criticisms are beside the point. Whiplash ends with two talented men who harm themselves because their sense of spite is stronger than their sense of self-preservation. It takes genuine passion – and genuine hatred – for such a brazen, selfish two-person climax. When Andrew plays one last time, does his musical prowess matter? In one sense, it’s the only thing that matters. In another, it’s too late because Andrew already lost his mind. There is room for both in Whiplash, which helps make it one of the year’s best films.
- Before I Go to Sleep. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The best way to describe Before I Go To Sleep is that it’s a very well-executed Lifetime TV movie. It’s competently written and directed (though the grainy, super-saturated look of the flashbacks is worthy of the scholckiest made-for-television thrillers) and the acting is all quite good. But it also deals with the classic, specific paranoias of suburban domesticity: the fundamental unknowability of one’s spouse, the possibility of social seclusion, the loss of greater life purpose, fear for one’s children, and the ever-creeping threat of sexual temptation and infidelity. It’s a thriller built by dancing along the edge of the particular abyss that middle-to-upper class suburban stay-at-home wives and mothers spend a good deal of their time trying not to stare into. The plot conceit – a middle-aged house wife suffering from short-term amnesia, where her memory of everything after her 20s gets wiped clean every time she sleeps – is largely just the mechanism for getting at those underlying ideas.
PARKS AND REC INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- In a World. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In a World is a playful, confident comedy about movie trailer voice-overs and the inherent misogyny in the entertainment industry. While the anger is never constant, there’s the sense that writer/director/star Lake Bell was inspired by her frustration. Hollywood celebrates men who can do it all – as filmmakers, George Clooney and Ben Affleck are the toast of the town – yet Bell must eke her through a system where old men ignorantly flaunt their privilege. Frustration may inform In a World, but her movie moves at a pleasant clip because she has the wherewithal to hire several gifted comic actors. Terrific one-liners pepper the script even when the plot veers toward formula.
- Our Idiot Brother. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Lets face it, “Our Idiot Brother,” the new Park Slope based comedy about siblings written and directed by the well-heeled sibling offspring of the man that created “The New Republic”, which stars all sorts of actors well-heeled people love to see on the screen (Emily Mortimer, Paul Rudd, Steve Coogan, Adam Scott, Zooey Deschanel and Elizabeth Banks for starters), has equal likability and instant backlash potential. I mean, the film may as well be be called “White People Problems”.Blessedly, it is fully aware of everything it is, so much so that I, in fact, not only liked it BUT ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. There, I said it (and what it says about me, I don’t want to know).
- Life After Beth (available on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Life After Beth looks different from zombie films. The cinematography has an aggressive orange hue, so it looks more like a suburban satire than, say, the sickly greens of The Walking Dead. It’s captivating, weirdly, at least until the final act where the gore is a mere afterthought, instead of being front and center. But the biggest problem afflicting Life After Death is the zombie rules: are all the dead rising from the grave, even those that are several generations old? Baena is not so sure, and his attempt at world-building has little cohesion. That wouldn’t be a problem, except he presents us with background details once the central relationship putters out. Somewhere in Life After Beth, there is a terrific, darkly funny two character movie that pushes its premise toward a violent, heartbreaking conclusion.
That’s it! Let us know how you’re dealing with the loss of Parks and Rec in the comments.