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 & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Wild. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Reese Witherspoon is surprisingly restrained as Cheryl, with none of the bubbly charm she often uses in roles. This choice works. If the audience were more entwined in her mind, the film might come off as didactic. As Cheryl’s saintly mother, Laura Dern evokes nostalgia for childhood memories I never had. Existing only in Cheryl’s memories, Dern is part mythic mother and part human. Supporting characters include two actors quickly becoming typecast: Thomas Sadoski is the boyfriend who always gets dumped, and Gaby Hoffman as the woman who sits with her friend as she takes a pregnancy test. Why fix it if it ain’t broke, right? In short amounts of screentime, Sadoski and Hoffman both evoke deep, credible relationships with Witherspoon’s Cheryl.
- Last Days in Vietnam. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Last Days in Vietnam does do a few things exceptionally right – like using computer generated models to quickly and clearly frame key geographies – but it is definitely not perfect. Gary Lionelli’s score is straight out of a NatGeo dramatic reenactment and never stops, ever, for any reason, at its best ignorable and at its worst uncomfortable emotional dictation. Another issue is the framing – the film does a pretty good job framing 1973-1975, but if you don’t actually know very much about the Vietnam War to begin with – and fewer and fewer Americans do – you may feel a little lost. Most troubling, though, is the film’s relentlessly narrow focus on its subject matter, which in its less carefully-handled moments has the implicit effect not of explicating the complexity and ambiguity of what happened in Vietnam and why, but instead collapsing it into a simple morality tale. The film’s final moments (and a few others as well) risk making this implicit effect explicit.
- Mommy. Here’s Xavier Dolan over at The AV Club:
If it merits no other superlative, Mommy is unquestionably the most hyperactive movie of the year. It begins at a fever pitch and maintains that degree of in-your-face intensity for well over two hours, to either exhilarating or exhausting effect, depending on one’s tolerance level. Imagine an entire film that takes its cue from Brad Pitt’s performance in 12 Monkeys. Such reckless energy could only come from a youngster, and, indeed, French-Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan is just 25 years old, though this is already his fifth feature. He’s made better films, and he’ll likely make worse films (given his prolific nature and general fearlessness), but it’ll be hard for him to top this one for sheer maniacal exuberance.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Here’s what we said in our original review:
What do you think of when you hear the words “a girl walks home alone at night?” Is there a specific image that creeps into your brain? Is it scary? Is it dull? Does it involve vampires? It does now. Take all of your preconceived notions about vampirism, flip them on their heads, throw them in a blender with a healthy mixture of French New Wave, expressionism, and Jim Jarmusch and you have Ana Lily Amirpour’s feature length directorial debut, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. Hailed as the first Iranian Vampire Western ever made (although it was filmed in Bakersfield, California), A Girl feels like more a fever dream than a traditional film. With its shallow field of depth, expressionist shadows, and haunting music, it’s the kind of movie that’s packed to the brim with style and doesn’t seem to bother much with plot (in a good way).
- Tracks. Here’s Glenn Kenny over at RogerEbert.com:
Tracks isn’t interested in falsely flattering its audience, but it is interested in ravishing it: the nature imagery presented in widescreen by the director and cinematographer Mandy Walker is breathtaking; striking and poetic, but very different from that of Walkabout, the 1971 outback exploration classic that this movie doesn’t really recall all that much despite some thematic parallels. That’s a compliment. Tracks has a flavor, a resonance all its own. Curran, returning to the continent where he began his movie career after a period in America that saw him making the too-little-seen drama Stone, seems to me a consistently underrated director with a distinctive voice and vision: both come through loud and clear in this movie.
- They Came Together. Here’s Amy Nicholson over at The Village Voice:
Together lurches with anti-humor, those awkward pauses that have taken the place of punch lines. No one knows how to end a conversation; several scenes end with people repeating themselves like robots waiting to be rebooted. The film’s margins are crammed with disorienting visual jokes: doorknobs with arrows illustrating how to open them, casual parties that abruptly turn into sit-down dinners, sex scenes where Joel and Molly wake up in an underwear-strewn bedroom while somehow still fully dressed. Major characters appear and vanish, beholden only to the contrivances that keep the couple from making out. Halfway through the movie, around when Wain’s target shifts from You’ve Got Mail to Jerry Maguire, we learn Molly has a sister and a son. Then both evaporate before we bother to learn their names, away on convenient fishing trips.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide! Let us know what you’re watching in the comments.