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:
- Listen Up Philip. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Listen Up Philip is wretched, spiteful, arrogant, and nasty. The “story” (it doesn’t actually have one) of a writer who is a terrible person, it opens with the mystery of why anyone would want to spend even a minute in the presence of this despicable ass, first and foremost his live-in girlfriend and photographer Elisabeth Moss. The short answer is that she hangs onto him for no reason at all, which is the only reason anyone in this movie does anything, and the slightly-longer answer is that, once she does inevitably dump him, the movie meanders after her for a while and it turns out she, too, is a mopey mess with no redeeming qualities. Eventually the movie meanders back to other characters, who do things like “alienate their friends and relations” and “dramatically self-destruct” in ways that are almost impressive for their lack of humor, compelling interest, or even tangential relationship to the way human beings actually act.
- Kill the Messenger. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The film, which chronicles mid-90s the efforts of journalist Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) to blow open a story about tacit CIA involvement in the U.S. crack epidemic, is ostensibly a throwback to 70s-style political thrillers. Its hero is a driven and troubled individual with a bit of a counter-cultural streak; the direction by Michael Cuesta favors handheld camerawork and a gritty, low-tech feel; and themes of political corruption, paranoia, and veiled threats in half-finished sentences are sprinkled throughout. But the 1970s thrillers also went beyond this, to the vertiginous experience of having the powers-that-be decide you need to be disposed of, either through intimidation, threats, character assassination, or career sabotage.
- Nightcrawler. Here’s yours truly over at Tiny Mix Tapes:
With an obsession over the local news and Louis’s low-tech climb up the professional ladder, it’s tempting to see Nightcrawler as a dated film. Sure, there are references to FTP drives and Louis knows how to use a laptop, yet Gilroy’s themes are more like a reaction to the White Ford Bronco era, not a tech-savvy media landscape where a hashtag starts a cultural conservation (for better or worse). Still, there is something undeniably timeless about Louis’s footage and Nina’s willingness to drag the news into the journalistic gutter. Their misanthropy serves a base need that’s unmoored by technology, and it’s undeniably human fun to indulge in it. Nightcrawler does not invite us to point at Louis and condemn him. Instead, it forces us to applaud Louis’s efforts, even as we fight off the nausea.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Resolution. Here’s what we said in our original review:
With creepy twists and plausible characters, Resolution is like what would happen if Michael Haneke directed a buddy comedy. Curran and Cilella have lived-in chemistry, and their easy rhythm suggests they have been friends for years. The addict story is where Benson and Moorhead find humor and pathos; Chris can be funny or desperate in his pleas with Mike, depending on what the scenes require. The mix of dramedy with horror also works on a meta-level, since Mike becomes convinced he and Chris are stuck in a narrative and the string-pullers require an ending. It’s heady stuff, yet Benson’s script veers from one tone to the other with ease. What helps preserve the movie’s grip are the effects, which are subtle and effective. Towards the end there is a creepy image that’s so well-timed that it literally sent a shiver down my spine. That sort of reaction is part of why I love going to the festivals like this. Amid predictable indie fare, something visceral comes along and movie fatigue becomes a distant memory. Resolution is the real deal.
- Teenage. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Wolf lays out his thesis early. Young people feel a need to assert themselves, and the establishment’s attempts to quash their voices will only make them more defiant. The problem with Teenage is how it lays its cards on the table too quickly: Whishaw, Malone, and the others repeat the same argument without elaborating. Editing and music are the documentary’s saving grace: the score by Deerhunter’s Bradford Cox establishes a couple themes, all rooted in post-punk, and music guides us through all the emotional cues. This type of montage is effective – many music videos use the same technique – and it’s surprising to see how Wolf uses it for a feature-length film. Teenage is not a historical record of adolescence, but it does succeed in giving an idea what it felt like to be a kid back then, which is precisely what the kids wanted all along.
- Oslo August 31st. Here’s what we said in our original review:
As its title indicates, Joachim Trier’s Oslo, August 31st looks at a specific time and place, showing us how the city and its people churn forward. It also looks at the series of small decisions made by one man. The man is Anders (Anders Danielsen Lie), and his choices have an additional level of significance sine he happens to be a recovering drug addict. While everyone goes through their day with relative comfort, Anders must always decide that he’s not going to use. This additional challenge makes it seem as if Anders has free will, and we worry for him. Trier sees recovery is a constant trial, and nonstop temptation gives his film a level of gnawing suspense.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix post. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!