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:
- Maggie. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Upon first glance, the zombie drama Maggie is different from its genre counterparts. Arnold Schwarzenegger has the lead role, yet director Henry Hobson’s feature debut has a somber core, without any action or big-scale scares. Still, the best zombie fiction is more character-driven nowadays (e.g. The Walking Dead television and videogame series, the Colson Whitehead novel Zone One). Once the novelty of Maggie’s tone and Schwarzenegger’s straight man performance loses its appeal, the film spins its wheels as a maudlin love story. There is some intrigue, particularly in terms of world-building, except Hobson does not have resolve the material requires.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Kingsman: The Secret Service. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The biggest target for Kingsman, beyond what’s in its literal crosshairs, are the most recent James Bond films. In particular, there are jokes at the expense of Skyfall, which sacrifices entertainment for solemnity (characters here discuss the Bond universe openly). Whereas Skyfall hides absurd plot points under the guise of droll meta-commentary, Kingsman embraces absurdity with cheerful abandon. Here is a spy film full of cliches and somehow still feels fresh, whether it’s the rogue agent infiltrating the villain’s secret mountain hide-out, killing scores of faceless henchmen, or finally rescuing a princess (the admittedly adolescent script falters in its broad handling of this sexy sub-plot). By the time Eggsy orders his a specific cocktail, absent any 007-pretense of watering it down, Kingsman might as well be giving James Bond the finger.
- ’71. Here’s what we said in our original review:
One of the more sobering things about ’71 is how Belfast looked back then. Aside from the occasional child playing, which does not last long, the whole city looks like a hollowed-out warzone. There is no sense of affluence or community, and that partially explains why these men felt they had no alternative beyond violence. Burke and Demange wants us to forget about the gung-ho nationalism of war films, and instead they focus on how war corrodes everything, whether it’s an individual or an entire city. Gary has little to show to his long night in Belfast, except for the difficult wisdom that he gets from the military pales in comparison to what they take.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Faults. Here’s Keith Phipps over at The Dissolve:
Set on the outskirts of some unnamed city in what appears to be the Carter-end of the 1970s, the film begins as an exercise in tense black humor, then slowly turns up the tension as the humor starts to bleed away. Stearns directs with a slow-burning intensity that becomes more unsettling the deeper Ansel goes into his task, and the more it becomes apparent he doesn’t have an easy way out. Faults doesn’t have one either, and while its finale is more shocking than satisfying, it still keeps with the tone of the film, which suggests that life walks over everyone, and wonders whether those who find ways to ignore this awful truth might not be better off.
- An Honest Liar. Here’s what we said in our original review:
This is a film about deception, kind of obviously, but in the end it’s one more entertaining than interesting, more clever than smart. This is a film where speechifying about the nature of deception is layered over multiple instances of hitting the sticks, because OH MY GOD MAYBE THE ART OF CINEMA IS INHERENTLY DECEPTIVE. Yet An Honest Liar is so concerned with fleshing out Randi as an on-screen personality, and so obsessed with the singular idea of deception and how it runs concurrently though its subject’s professional and personal life, that it itself engages in a kind of unwitting deception-by-omission. Well-crafted, fast-moving, never-boring, An Honest Liar is, after digestion, far from the best or most interesting biography of James Randi, but it might nevertheless be the one he deserves.
- Wild Canaries. Here’s AA Dowd over at The AV Club:
As with a lot of murder mysteries, Wild Canaries depends on an occasional suspension of disbelief: Characters are frequently seen crawling around under tables in close to plain sight, going miraculously unseen and unheard by those they’re hiding from. But that’s mainly because Levine treats his complicated detective-fiction scenario less than seriously; it’s a genre sandbox, a play space where he can unleash his capering neurotics. The results are consistently delightful: Takal exhibits a gift for madcap verbal and physical comedy, while Levine tethers himself to a grand tradition of beaten-and-bruised noir heroes, his Noah taking a constant licking even as he resists involving himself in the central mystery. (The actor-filmmaker spends much of the film’s second half in a neck brace, which leads to a hilarious and suspenseful scene of Noah using a car’s automatic chair incline to slowly dip out of sight, as his injury prevents him from simply ducking for cover.) At its core, Wild Canaries is a reminder that relationships require a sense of adventure, and maybe a little mystery, to keep the magic alive. Indie comedies, as the film proves, benefit from the same.
That’s it for weekly Netflix post! Let us know what you’re watching the in comments.