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:
- Bridge of Spies. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Although they are set nearly a century apart, Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies bears striking similarities to Lincoln. Both films are dialogue-based procedurals where fundamentally decent men navigate through high-level negotiations. But while Lincoln is about the passage of the thirteenth amendment, Bridge of Spies tells a relatively unknown story, one that would set the basis for all major Cold War conflicts. Spielberg’s style is showy yet thoughtful, and the script (punched up by The Coen Brothers) juxtaposes canny diplomacy with unaffected humor. This thoughtful, involving movie might just be Spielberg’s best since Munich.
- Suffragette. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In the early twentieth century, “suffragette” was a four-letter word. In the public eye, it meant a dangerous point of view, and a shift away from conformity. Maud avoids the word at first, as if she’s afraid it will taint her. By the end of the film, she is proud of the label; men say the word with disdain, which only empowers her resolve. It is ironic, then, that the film’s most recognizable actor now avoids the label “feminist.” Part of the point of Suffragette is that words matter, and that collective action needs a name in order for it to stick. The film is mostly a fiction, yet it is instructive about today’s political battles (there is a strong connection between the climax and the tactics of Black Lives Matter). Since this film puts us into the mindset of an ordinary woman, it is then worth remembering that today’s political activists come from somewhere, too, and make sacrifices we dare not imagine.
- The Night Before. Here’s what we said in our original review:
In recent years, the more mature takes on the holiday film come from a cynical place, where its characters must learn the true meaning of Christmas despite their Grinch-like hearts. Disasters likeFred Claus, Surviving Christmas, and the more palatable A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas start off cold, building to warm its character and its audience’s hearts like chestnuts roasting on an open fire, despite how false it feels. Yet as The Night Before star Seth Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg proved with This Is the End, it’s better for a film to embrace whatever genre it decides to take on, rather than treat it with a certain level of disgust.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- The Look of Silence (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
It’s difficult to review a movie like The Look of Silence. Sequels always have a lot more riding on them than their predecessors. They don’t get a clean slate, especially when it comes to Joshua Oppenheimer’s second film. His first, The Act of Killing was the best documentary I have ever seen, and I’m sure many others have felt similarly. While Silence is not technically a sequel, it’s spiritually a continuation of the ideas explored during the first film, but instead of looking at the 1965 Indonesian killings from the perpetrators standpoint, it switches gears and looks at the from the point of view of a victim. Silence’s strength is that it complicates the concepts Oppenheimer showcases in his first film, instead of repeating them. In that way, it’s almost like a breath of fresh air, but Silence lacks the complex absurdity of The Act of Killing. It doesn’t have to work anywhere near as hard to get the audience on its side, but it still has important (and surprising) things to say.
- Finding Vivian Maier (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The strange, wonderful thing about the documentary Finding Vivian Maier is how it uncovers one story, only to veer off and tell another one entirely. On one level, it’s about a young man who discovers the forgotten work of a genuine artist, then takes it upon himself to share her work. It’s also a character study of an eccentric woman who worked as a nanny and fought mental illness. Then there are interviews with the children she helped raise, all of whom are now adults, and what they say sneakily reveals more about themselves than the nanny they’re discussing. Directors John Maloof and Charlie Siskel weave this dense material with sensitivity, although there are times where a digression gets the best of them.
- The Hunted (now on Netflix). Here’s Roger Ebert:
Consider an early hand-to-hand combat between Bonham and Hallam. We’ve seen so many fancy high-tech computer-assisted fight scenes in recent movies that we assume the fighters can fly. They live in a world of gravity-free speed-up. Not so Friedkin’s characters. Their fight is gravity-based. Their arms and legs are heavy. Their blows land solidly, with pain on both sides. They gasp and grunt with effort. They can be awkward and desperate. They both know the techniques of hand-to-hand combat, but in real life, it isn’t scripted, and you know what? It isn’t so easy. We are involved in the immediate, exhausting, draining physical work of fighting.
That’s it! Get watching nerds.