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:
- Serena. Here’s what we said in our original review:
If your film’s likely to be remembered as a train wreck, it’s probably not the greatest idea to start your film off with an actual train wreck. In Serena’s opening moments, we see an accident at the lumber empire owned by George Pemberton (Bradley Cooper), where a loose train goes awry, with Cooper running after it in an attempt to make sure it doesn’t start an actual train wreck or go off the rails. George is able to stop the train from wrecking, the same can’t be said for Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Serena.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The DUFF. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Like most romantic comedies produced these days, The DUFF makes it easy to guess what happens over the course of its run time. Plot aside, though, the movie deserves credit for being experimental. In a number of fantasy sequences, the audience gets access to Bianca’s imagination in clever and often hilarious ways. While this playfulness doesn’t always pay off (the aforementioned graphics and text written on the screen are a bit much), it always keeps things interesting.
- Blackhat. Here’s what we said in our original review:
For a small sub-set of pop culture nerds, a new Michael Mann film is something to celebrate. His style and themes have a lean specificity to them: over moody cinematography and electronic music, Mann crafts thrillers about intelligent, handsome men who are defined by their personal code, not their actions (although almost all of them are violent). All his characters, even the ostensible villains, are taciturn, collected, and above all competent (e.g. Heat, Miami Vice, and Collateral). There is a bit of wish-fulfillment to this kind of masculinity; Mann traffics in rugged individualists who could also appear in a GQ catalog. Mann’s latest is Blackhat, a procedural about terrorist hacker and the good guys who try and stop him. By approaching the material with deathly seriousness, Mann and his actors heighten its overall silliness, which is part of the fun.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Quiet American. Here’s why we called it the best movie of the aughts (no, really):
What’s fascinating about this story is how political motivation gives way to a personal vendetta. In the end, The Quiet American combines a love triangle with a political thriller for an truly chilling effect. Caine is still a reliable actor, but not since The Quiet American has be given a chance to play character who combines sophistication, vulnerability, and ferocity. Caine simply embodies the character effortlessly. Whereas experience defines Fowler, Pyle’s open face hides the terrifying potential of a True Believer, one who’ll stop at nothing to achieve his goal. Nation-building helped define the aughts, and in an entirely unexpected way, Pyle symbolizes the misplaced confidence of American foreign policy. The movie succeeds as a thriller, but has hidden layers that’ll only be revealed through careful thought or spirited discussion.
- Touching the Void. Here’s why we once called it the best documentary of the aughts (no, really):
Easily the most horrifying film of the decade, Kevin Macdonald‘s documentary is an incredible tale of survival. Along with friend Simon Yates, mountain climber Joe Simpson climbed a dangerous slope in the Andes. Their trip did not go according to plan. Simpson suffered a severe injury (his tibia shatters his kneecap), and is later left for dead after falling into a crevasse. I wouldn’t believe Simpson survived such an ordeal if Macdonald didn’t film an engrossing interview with him. I still remember watching this movie with friends. No one spoke afterward – all were visibly shaken, as if they have just underwent a similar experience. The Saw movies focus on the viscera and function as mere torture porn. Touching the Void, on the other hand, evokes blind terror and desperation in a way I haven’t experienced since.
- The Believer. Here’s why we said it has once of the best performances of the aughts (no, really):
Far more than a hilarious tumblr meme, Ryan Gosling is a scarily intense actor. His character, Daniel Balint, shares nothing in common with the handsome hunk of The Notebook. Balint is an articulate antisemite who catches the eye of a journalist and a cabal of Neo-Nazis. The big secret is Balint is also Jewish, and his antisemitism is the product of deep self-loathing. Director Henry Bean examines his subject with unblinking clarity, and even some sympathy. The end result is a character study more searing than Edward Norton‘s American History X. The Believer is a must-see for those who can stomach bitter hate speech. Trust me, you won’t find any dialogue beginning with “Hey Girl.”
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!