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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 & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl is a nasty gimmick, a coming of age comedy that bears little semblance to actual human behavior. Everything about it, including its style and characters, is an affectation. There are references for film nerds, including nods to Werner Herzog and David Lynch, as if screenwriter Jesse Andrews and director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon think name-dropping can compensate for a lack of curiosity about their characters, or how they think. Andrews tries to hide his cynicism with cancer, a favorite topic in recent young adult fiction, which only highlights the dearth of his imagination. This is the sort of movie where voiceover has to teach its lesson to the audience – I mean that literally – since there would be no depth otherwise.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • The Gift. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Joel Edgerton is known in the United States as a hunky character actor, but his work in his native Australia is more ambitious than that. He’s written several screenplays, including the excellent thrillerThe Square, that unfold with the sort of implacable logic that The Coen Brothers might admire. The Giftis Edgerton’s debut as a director, and he succeeds at something that eludes most directors: he is able to create tension and suspense from nothing. The Gift shifts gears often – we think we are watching one film, only to discover another layer of intrigue – and while it tilts toward the absurd, the performances lift the material anyway.
  • Magic Mike XXL. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    But let’s be honest: you may not have come to Magic Mike XXL for its thoughtful cinematography or stirring take on male friendship. If you came to watch the Kings of Tampa get down with exhilarating moves, you will not be disappointed. The choreography is on point and these are men (except for Tarzan), who can really move. In one delightful scene, Big Dick Richie is suffering from an existential crisis when he goes into a gas station. His friends note that the cashier looks like someone who has never smiled and tell him, “You’re a male entertainer. Make her smile.” We are all the cashier and Magic Mike XXL is Big Dick Richie. I challenge you to try and resist smiling.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • Seymour: An Introduction (now available on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    There’s choreography in classical piano that can seem a little childish. When a player starts and stops a note, the way they move their arm/torso around the finger has a small, perceptible impact on the note’s quality and timbre. I played piano for years – I stopped when I was eighteen – and I always thought sighing into the keyboard (or whatever) was silly. Not only was I dead wrong, but immature about it, too. Part of the joy of Seymour: An Introduction, the new documentary directed by Ethan Hawke, is that goes deep into the virtue of practice, and how it intertwines with talent. Many documentaries are about creative people; this is one of the few that is also about creativity.
  • Last Days in Vietnam (now available on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    This is not a revolutionary documentary – it sticks closely to established conventions, weaving contemporary interviews with still-living participants in the events to narrate footage from those events. What makes the documentary work so well is the lively honesty of the interviewees, both American and Vietnamese, who openly grapple with the moral ambiguity of their moment while also justifying extra-legal heroism with a simple ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. It also works because the footage from the moment is kind of amazing, a coda to Vietnam’s infamy as the moment war reached American televisions, as almost every moment described by the interviewees is on film somehow. This especially helps with the anecdotes that, while secondary to the narrative, explicate the chaos and mood of the moment, like the cutting down of a tree, streets full of boots, or the burning of a million dollars in cold hard cash. They take on a profound power when you can really see it.
  • August Osage County (now available on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    That list of actors – each of them note-perfect here, none moreso than Streep and Roberts who seem likely to sweep the Actress/Supporting Actress prizes for their impeccable, frayed, and brutal performances – don’t just turn up for a paycheck. The magnet that lured them is Tracy Letts’ script, which he adapted for the screen from his Tony Award-winning play. The dialogue pops with dark humor incandescent violence that punctuate its darkly comic overall simmer. Letts bounces constantly between the loose joy of group laughter to sudden, frightful tension, creating a pervasive sense of menace that makes it impossible to relax all the way even when the Westons happen to be playing momentarily nice with one another.

That’s it for our latest Netflix post! Get watching, kids!

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