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:
- A Brilliant Young Mind. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Director Morgan Matthews’ prior film Beautiful Young Minds was a documentary about the real IMO and it’s hard to imagine the people he followed were as simple as the ones he creates for A Brilliant Young Mind. By making its characters so one-sided, they become almost inhuman and spoils A Brilliant Young Mind from the very beginning into a tedious failure of supposed genius.
- Goosebumps. Here’s what we said in our original review:
A character actor with the willingness and ability to play it straight in an absurd situation – think Paul Giamatti in that remarkable Amy Schumer parody of 12 Angry Men – would have been able to elevate the material. It’s especially unfortunate because Goosebumps does have one genuine twist I did not see coming, and it uses the surprise to create some real resonance between Zach and Stine’s emotional arcs. Unfortunately, the script’s dialogue is too on the nose about it, neither Minnette nor Black are able to really capitalize on the situation, and Letterman isn’t helping them out either. If matters had been otherwise, and if the film had been willing to follow the emotional logic of this twist to its inevitable conclusion, it could have generated some real pathos. But this is a kids movie, with a preordained happy ending, so the filmmakers of course whiff on the opportunity.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Chi-Raq. Here’s yours truly over at The Week:
But for all the sight gags and racy innuendoes, this is clearly the work of a serious filmmaker who wants to shake his viewers into realizing no one is innocent. He achieves this by engaging our emotions — there is a long, heartbreaking shot in which a grieving mother (Jennifer Hudson) washes up the blood of her dead daughter off the street — and providing some harsh insight, too. The political centerpiece of Chi-Raq is the stand-off between Lysistrata’s allies and a paramilitary force that will do anything to get things back to normal: threats of violence, baby-making music, and even a “sex-off.” But the politics are also grounded in reality. In an effective scene, John Cusack’s preacher uses a eulogy to highlight one policy and institutional failure after another, to the point where his character is essentially a direct mouthpiece for Lee and co-screenwriter Kevin Willmott’s outrage.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Overnight (now on Netflix). Here’s AA Dowd over at The AV Club:
Like Mike Nichols’ Virginia Woolf adaptation, The Overnight makes the minor mistake of briefly straying from its single setting, in this case sending two of its players into the night for a naughty detour. (The scene almost seems engineered as trailer bait, a punctuation to reel in the curious.) On the other hand, it’s impressive that Brice never provokes doubt that Alex and Emily would stick around; there’s an emotional logic to them staying planted, even when—to paraphrase Emily—things start to get crazy. What the film best captures is one of those long, meaningful nights where bonds are forged so quickly and intensely that they have almost no hope of surviving past the dawn. If that sounds a little too heady, though, keep in mind that The Overnight also features a scene of Adam Scott and Jason Schwartzman dancing naked together, each actor sporting a comically over- or under-sized prosthetic penis. So, yeah, it’s a little bit the movie it first appears to be.
- Hard Candy (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s James Berardinelli over at ReelViews:
Hard Candy is the kind of uncompromising independent motion picture that is likely to foster ambivalence in a significant portion of its audience. Admittedly, the film doesn’t stand up well to a careful postmortem (many psychological thrillers don’t), but it remains powerful and disturbing during the viewing experience, with flaws only surfacing after the credits have rolled. This movie will be most appreciated by those who don’t demand viewer identification with an on-screen individual, because neither of Hard Candy‘s characters is the sort of person a healthy movie-goer would sympathize with.
- World of Tomorrow (now on Netflix). Here’s Charles Bramesco over at The Dissolve:
Hertzfeldt shoehorns five features’ worth of complex philosophizing into the film’s svelte runtime, all without leaving the impression of being overstuffed or underdeveloped. He grapples with death and life and the things that happen afterward, floating lofty suggestions while simultaneously embracing the mystery of such weight topics. Endlessly rewatchable, visually ravishing, densely theoretical, yet eminently quotable, World Of Tomorrow is one of the finest achievements in sci-fi in recent memory.
That’s it for our weekly guide! Let us know what you’re watching in the comments.