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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. Now all you need is someone to watch these movies with:

OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:

  • Trance. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Rube Goldberg got famous by conceiving needlessly elaborate mechanical systems to perform mundane tasks. Goldberg’s art flipped the core task of engineering, by solving non-problems in the least efficient, most amusing way he could imagine. The superfluous stuff is what made Goldberg a more-or-less household name, but his crackpot setpieces are right up there with David Macaulay’s “The Way Things Work” in terms of the educational value of making practical mechanics fun. However zany a Rube Goldberg device was, it was stuffed with screws, levers, pulleys, sluices, and a dozen other individual technical objects that hinted at real, sophisticated physical mechanics. Danny Boyle isn’t usually such a perfect filmmaking analogy to Goldberg, but Trance is about as useless as any 35-stage process for cracking an egg. It’s almost as much fun to look at, too. You can walk away from a Rube Goldberg sketch whenever you want, though. Boyle’s new art heist-cum-psychological thriller requires 101 minutes you’ll never get back.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Amour. Here’s Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon:
    We all know the end of the human story, at least on an individual level, and so it is in Michael Haneke’s extraordinary Amour. At the beginning of the film, firefighters break into a large and luxurious Parisian apartment, which appears abandoned, to discover that one of the interior rooms has been locked and sealed with tape. Once they gain entry to that room, they find the body of an elderly woman, wearing an elegant black dress and posed serenely on a bed that has been scattered with flowers. Then we go to blackout, and then come the opening credits, in total silence. One way of describing Amour is to say that the rest of the film is an explanation of this macabre tableau and how it came to be, but one might equally say – especially since we’re in the universe of Michael Haneke – that it resists explanation, or does not require one. On its surface, “Amour” is the most straightforward and gentlest of all Haneke’s films, a delicate and wrenching tale of an older couple facing what awaits us all. In a recent conversation, Haneke told me that he intends no irony with the title, and indeed I see Amour less as a tale of suffering and death – although some of it is admittedly difficult to watch — than as one about the dignity and nobility of human life even in the face of those things. 
  • Post Tenebras Lux. Here’s Mark James over at Film School Rejects:
    In Carlos Reygadas’ new feature, Post Tenebras Lux, he allows us into the deep recesses of his dreams. It is a visually stunning work that begs to be seen on the big screen and proved to be one of the most cerebral, reflective, and daring films I’ve seen this year. The film, which premiered at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival where it won the Best Direction award, takes its title from the Latin phase meaning “light after darkness.” Though it has been described as non-narrative drama, it does follow a clear story, if through a somewhat oblique pattern. It is a semiautobiographical drama that meditates on family life and Mexican class divisions, with added elements that include a trip to a European sex bathhouse, an English rugby game and a home invasion from a CGI devil.

INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • Super 8. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    J.J. Abrams’ Super 8 is bold, confident entertainment that attempts to recreate the success of early Steven Spielberg. Like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET, the suburban setting exudes both familiarity and danger. The story includes family drama, science-fiction, and a touching love story. Abrams does not usurp the movies that inspire him, but then again, how could he? Spielberg was innovating back then, and Abrams’ sense of nostalgia hinders the material from feeling fresh. Unfair comparisons notwithstanding, Super 8 is brimming with enough thrills and heart to make us forget its lack of movie magic.
  • Detropia. See whether you disagree with what we said in our original review:
    In terms of square miles, Detroit is gigantic. To give a sense of perspective, here is a map where San Francisco, Boston, and Manhattan fit inside its city limits. There is room to spare. An urban policy analyst references the map in Detropia, the documentary directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady. It looks haunting: their camera ably captures the blight and decay that plagues the once-promising city. But in terms of message, Ewing and Grady have nothing new to say. Anyone interested in urbanism already internalizes what they present.
  • Arbitrage. Here’s what we said in our interview with writer/director Nicholas Jarecki:
    Robert Miller (Richard Gere) has it all. His hedge fund is a massive success. His wife Ellen (Susan Sarandon) and daughter Brooke (Brit Marling) love him. As you probably expect, a man who has it all always wants more. This gets him into a lot of trouble: he’s in danger of being arrested for vehicular manslaughter after a car crash kills his mistress, and the books for his company are not as clean as they seem. Arbitrage, the new film by Nicholas Jarecki, is about how Robert tries to elude the police and salvage his family. It unfolds like a high-stakes thriller, and underneath its slick sheen, there is a cynical message about how business elites are untouchable. With terrific performances, including Tim Roth as a cop and Nate Parker as Robert’s accomplice Jimmy, Arbitrage uses a formula to get us thinking bigger questions.

What are you watching on Netflix this week? Let us know in the comments!

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