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:
- We Are Your Friends. Here’s what we said in our original review:
And that is maybe the film’s biggest strength and weakness: for all its buzzy voice-over narrations, and beat breakdowns, and animated drug sequences (actually, there is only one), deep down We Are Your Friends is an old-fashioned movie: it asks you to stick it out with these characters, it asks you to trust the filmmakers, it even invites an old-fashioned tearjerk moment or two towards the end. It is all the things I imagine 19 year olds going to the Electric Daisy festival (or whatever) may hate (do those kids even go to the movie theatres anymore?). Yet it seems too young and glitchy on the surface for the non-19-year olds to be attracted to it. We Are Your Friends is somehow, against all odds, an underdog of a film. Let’s hope it finds its legs and stays the distance, at least a little.
- Wolf Totem. Here’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky over at The AV Club:
China, in the early years of the Cultural Revolution. College student Chen Zhen (Feng Shaofeng, a good decade too old for the role) is sent from Beijing to the wilds of Inner Mongolia, where he becomes obsessed with the local wolves, going so far as to adopt a pup to raise as his own. It would take a director on the order of Nicholas Ray to make sense of this grab bag of landscapes and wannabe-mythopoeic themes, but the most Jean-Jacques Annaud can seem to do with the material—drawn from a popular autobiographical novel by academic Lü Jiamin—is to compose sun-dappled telephoto close-ups through swaying steppe grass, while late composer James Horner does the heavy lifting. The choice of 3-D as a shooting format may seem conceptually spot-on for a movie about the appeal of vast stretches of open land, but here it rarely does more than add a pop-up book foreground layer.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Tom Cruise has been on a hot streak lately, and for unusual reasons. Unlike most actors, even those on the A-list, Cruise enjoys unparalleled control over the movies he makes. He does not direct them, but as a producer, he can choose directors, screenwriters, and high-level creative decisions (the only other actor who had such power was Schwarzenegger at his peak). Cruise commits to entertainment through sheer spectacle – namely, his recent stunt work – so I can only imagine that the rest of his team must meet that standard. Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation features Cruise in peak form, both in terms of star power and as a physical specimen, and it also happens to be a terrific thriller.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Mend (now on Netflix). Here’s Bilge Ebiri over at Vulture:
One of the very best American independent films you’ll see this year, John Magary’s The Mend, takes what could have easily been a mundane tale of brotherly dysfunction and turns it into something abstract and electrifying. It tells you in its opening scenes the kind of movie it is — and the kind of movie it isn’t. In a few brisk frames, we see scruffy fuck-up Mat (Josh Lucas) get kicked out of his girlfriend Andrea’s (Lucy Owen) apartment right after having sex with her. We never learn why he’s been given the boot, because Magary jumps around these scenes with seeming abandon — skipping over what might have been, in a different film, important details. Then we see Mat’s straitlaced lawyer brother Alan (Stephen Plunkett), in his apartment, arguing with his girlfriend Farrah (Mickey Sumner), over … well, let’s just say it’s another matter of a highly sexual nature. This time, Magary slows down — so that we hear every single excruciating detail of their rather intimate argument. As played by the fantastic Plunkett, Alan is frustrated and defensive, yet also obliging and apologetic. He’s everything Mat is not; Mat just balls, or bails, or balls and bails. And the movie’s very form reflects this division between the two men.
- Time out of Mind (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
With Time Out of Mind, his third film as director, Moverman takes a different approach, holding back almost all information about Richard Gere’s George, to the point that we don’t even know this homeless man’s name until over a half-hour into the film. By giving only the smallest amounts of information about its main character and especially through his direction, Moverman creates an often compelling, often monotonous look at indifference towards the homeless community.
- Selma (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Selma wouldn’t feel quite so necessary and urgent, though, if it didn’t work as a work of narrative cinema on its own terms. It is a riveting story with an unshakable moral core, an increasing rarity in an age when Hollywood seems to have fully abandoned craft and conscience in favor of pander and ethical infantilism. Selma is that rare movie that understands, embraces, and clearly communicates a theory of change, avoiding every pitfall of the inveterate tendency of mass media to self-congratulate or depoliticize. Selma is about how change is work and change is hard, not as a lecture but as an open challenge. This is a film that is good because it’s great, and great because it’s good.
That’s it for our streaming guide! Enjoy the holiday movie marathon, nerds! Beats time with family, amirite?