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 Salvation. Here’s yours truly over at Tiny Mix Tapes:
Mads Mikkelsen has played everyone from a James Bond villain to Hannibal Lecter, yet in his native Denmark he gets the opportunity to play good guys, too. The new Danish export The Salvation is the latest example of a European filmmakers taking on a genre that’s resolutely American: the Western. The trouble is that director Kristian Levring is no Sergio Leone. Rife with unimaginative violence and xenophobic paranoia, this a Western with the right look and the wrong ambition.
- Child 44. Here’s Stephanie Zacharek over at The Village Voice:
Child 44 isn’t always so grimly exciting: For long stretches, it’s dull and plodding, chugging along on the fumes of its earnest intentions. Still, there are worse ways to kill two hours than watching Hardy work his sturdy magic. Demidov starts out as a true believer in the system, only to become undone by doubt, a transformation Hardy navigates with great subtlety. He’s the manliest of actors, but there’s also a somber softness about him, as if he’s more worrier than warrior. Stout of heart, he’s the movie’s most vital organ.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME
- Insurgent. Here’s what we said in our original review:
What makes it all worth the time is, once again, the cast. Woodley is a decent balance of tough and tender, but being the only actually balanced character in the film does make her the least amusing to watch in this context of, essentially, a cartoon. It is really everyone else that steals the show from right under her doe eyes, playing up their specific caste strengths and weaknesses to maximum effect. Theo James is devoted and square jawed to a flaw. Miles Teller (whom we’d watch in ANYTHING) is hilariously mercurial. Kate Winslet is relentlessly focused. Jai Courtney is 80s teen movie villain kind of villainous. Ansel Elgort is painfully eager to please. Naomi Watts is painfully uneager to please. You get the picture.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Hurt Locker. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Bigelow eschews a traditional plot. Using an episodic structure, she follows the last days of the soldiers’ tour. The daily missions become deadly, and Bigelow directs these set pieces with uncanny precision. She gives you a sense of space, and where the soldiers are in relation to their enemy; when a deadly third element is introduced, the suspense becomes almost unbearable. One sequence in particular, in which James and Sanborn meet British special forces, is absolutely perfect, and is the best action scene I’ve seen in years. Like the entire movie, it ends on a note that’s abrupt but appropriate, so that you have few answers and many questions. War becomes like a drug for the audience – I found myself craving action in a way similar to James. Mackie and Renner do superlative work. James does not love the bombs he diffuses, but they provide him with a sense of purpose. He approaches the bombs with an odd combination of respect and curiosity. And when James takes off his protective suit, Sanborn sees the reckless behavior and nonetheless reacts like a professional. This is an uncompromising action movie, and you should see it ASAP.
- The Skeleton Twins. Here’s what we said in our original review:
From the outset, it is easy to call The Skeleton Twins a small movie. After all, it does center on a small cast of characters, living small lives, in a small town, dealing with their life problems which, while maybe big to them, are small if put into the grand scheme of how the world works. But, much like most best “small” films, the topics it handles are so universal the movie maybe becomes bigger than it even set out to be, tackling issues such as love, family, tolerance and yes, failure, in ways that are both heartbreaking and instantly identifiable.
- Revolutionary Road (now available on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The movie has both empathy and scorn for the Wheelers. There’s no denying that they are selfish people. Both are unfaithful. Their kids are ancillary – they are props during photogenic moments, and otherwise ignored. In spite of their flaws, there is empathy because the Wheeler’s unhappiness is real. DiCaprio and Winslet deserve much of the credit. When Winslet observes that she and her husband are “just like everyone else,” it sounds appropriately hollow. When DiCaprio observes the similarity he bears to his father, he sounds appropriately resigned. Their only moments of emotional honesty occur when they fight. The fights demonstrate that these two actors still share the chemistry from their Titanic days. Using words as weapons, they say unbelievably hateful things. Of course they don’t mean what they say, but the emotion which provoke such confessions are quietly terrifying. Mendes is a thoughtful director, and here he shows the same attention to detail that he brought to his earlier pictures. Special recognition should go to Michael Shannon, who shows us that in the 1950s, someone was certifiable if they consistently said what they thought.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!