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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:

  • Avengers: Age of Ultron. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Whedon’s strong suit is not action, or the genres he helped define. Instead, he’s a terrific director of acting ensembles. Everyone has chemistry, whether their characters argue or joke around. The first Avengers is essentially a dialogue comedy with special effects: it has more in common with The Thin Man or Ocean’s 11 than the comic book films that precede it. Age of Ultron is like that, too, except with more self-doubt, existentialism, and maturity. The laziest complaint of comic book films is that they’re a feature-length sensory assault, and do not leave an impression beyond the inevitable headache of wearing 3D glasses. Not only does Age of Ultron have something to say about the sacrifice of heroes, it shows us that we ask a lot from our stars, too, on both sides of the camera.
  • Ten Thousand Saints. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Ten Thousand Saints is an unusual drama, one where its setting is more interesting than the characters in it. Adapted from the successful novel by Eleanor Henderson, director and co-screenwriters Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini focus on a dark period in New York’s history: one where the streets were still unsafe, squatters rights still mattered, and the AIDS epidemic loomed over everyone. The story, full of semi-functional people who have strange ideas of how to live, is about the clash between self-invention and more traditional values. The stakes are low, yet the characters have a lazy charm about them. Their story is not enthralling, but I wasn’t in a rush to leave, either.
  • When Marnie Was There. Here’s Jesse Hassenger over at The AV Club:
    There’s a lovely and fitting simplicity in 12-year-old Anna emerging as the heroine of When Marnie Was There, the last film from Japan’s Studio Ghibli animation house. (The company has placed production on hiatus while it reorganizes following the retirement of Hayao Miyazaki). Anna (voiced in the U.S. dub by Hailee Steinfeld) keeps to herself, distanced from the adoptive mother who she only calls “auntie,” and likes to draw, seeming to prefer the company of her sketch pad to most people. Early in the movie, she has an asthma attack, though the “condition” her foster parents refer to could easily be depression or social anxiety. The movie spends a lot of time with Anna on her own, wriggling out of social obligations and shunning any potential friends or sidekicks. It’s a portrait of a lonely artist as a young girl.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • The Duke of Burgundy (now on Netflix instant). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Before the opening credits for The Duke of Burgundy are over, it signals that we are in for a treat. The credits have two unusual entries: there is one for the film’s lingerie – which hints at its pervasive sexiness – then there is another for the perfume that’s in the film. That’s right, the perfumer gets a credit, and it’s is not in smell-o-vision, either. Writer/director Peter Strickland is ambitious in a unique way: he does not want to change how we watch movies, per se, so it’s more like he wants to change how we interact with them. The Duke Burgundy indulges our eyes, but also our ears and touch, and it’s the point where we imagine the smells, too. Few films are this sensuous, or romantic.
  • The Nightmare (now on Netflix instant). Here’s Scott Tobias over The Dissolve:
    The Nightmare isn’t a scientific inquiry any more than Room 237 is a showcase for out-of-the-box critical insight. Ascher limits his scope to these eight people, rather than attempting a sweeping overview of sleep paralysis, and as with Room 237, there’s plenty of room for skepticism on the audience’s part. What’s common to both films is a fascination with the brain’s capacity to create, to deceive, and to drift beyond the boundaries of the expected. With The Nightmare, Ascher abandons the strictures of a conventional documentary to frolic in the terrifying netherworlds of human consciousness. It’s not enough for Ascher, a sufferer himself, to tell his audience about sleep paralysis—they have to feel it, too.
  • Closer to the Moon. Here’s yours truly over at Tiny Mix Tapes:
    The story behind Closer to the Moon is so bizarre and bleakly funny that it’s difficult to make sense of it. Working with an English-speaking cast, Romanian filmmaker Nae Caranfil dramatizes the escapades of Ioanid Gang, a band of Romanian-Jewish intellectuals who subverted the Communist State with a bank robbery. The details of the robbery are theatrical, not violent, and there’s a surreal quality to its aftermath since the Party tries to make an example of them and fails. There are no heroics, and the gang are too realistic to think they’re martyrs. Instead, they achieve grace through black humor, which is sublime and defiant in its own right.

Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!

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