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 & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Barbara. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Barbara gets off the bus, looks at a time, and sits on a bench. The doctors watch her smoke a cigarette from a window and one of them remarks, “She’s like that. She’ll never show up to work early.” It’s an important line, one that separates from her colleagues. And since Christian Petzold’s Barbara is set in East Germany during the early eighties, that kind of independence has its consequences. Petzold’s film is moody and atmospheric, with remarkably restrained performances. It would work as a thriller if Petzold weren’t so interested in his characters and their specific behavior.
- Pacific Rim. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Compared to the other summer blockbusters, Pacific Rim is a rarity because it’s not a sequel, prequel, or franchise reboot. Director Guillermo del Toro and his co-screenwriter Travis Beacham may not base their science fiction epic on anything specific, it nonetheless draws inspiration from decades of science fiction and pop culture. With Godzilla and its offshoots as his heaviest influence, del Toro internalizes the inherent silliness of his larger-than-life presence, and adds some gravity with a clever mind-melding conceit. There are character moments alongside the destruction, so there is even a little intimacy as the robots and monsters destroy major cities.
- Blackfish. Here’s what we said in our interview with director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and Samantha Berg:
SeaWorld wants you to think that Orcas, or Killer Whales, are cute and cuddly. They’re far more complex and deadly than that. Sure, they’re highly intelligent mammals whose sense of family is stronger than ours, but they’re also deadly predators, capable of jumping fifteen feet into the air to catch its prey. SeaWorld has built its empire on ignoring their complex biology, which might explain why whales in captivity behave erratically. Documentary filmmaker Gabriela Cowperthwaite heard about the death of Dawn Brancheau, a seasoned whale trainer, who was dragged into a pool by an orca. By digging deeper into the story of her death, Cowperthwaite uncovered SeaWorld’s disquieting history. All her interviews and research culminates with Blackfish, a searing documentary that’s effective because of how it holds back. Instead of pummeling the viewer with emotionally manipulative material, it invites them to make their own conclusions.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Frances Ha. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Baumbach and Gerwig are not monsters: once the lengthy middle section is over, Frances’ story has a restorative, life-affirming conclusion. It ends with her channeling her creative forces into something solid. Frances dances through the movie – she pirouettes through the streets of New York while David Bowie’s “Modern Love” plays in the background – and it’s impressive how the final dance performance is a reflection of her personality. Many of Baumbach’s films are about educated people who struggle to get their shit together. Gerwig is at his side, personally and professionally, so he finally has the patience to consider one flawed person instead of several. We do more than care for Frances. We fall for her, too, just like they intended.
- Pieta. Here’s Matt Biancardi over at Tiny Mix Tapes:
Kim Ki-Duk has been pulling a viscera-strewn vision of life from the slaughterhouse floor of the human condition for years. Sitting atop a mountain constructed from animal cruelty and nihilistic violence, his films over the past decade-plus articulate the moral and spiritual failings of our species via narratives spawned from an unholy marriage somewhere between Schopenhauer and Sade. Electrocute a fish with a car battery? We’re helpless at the feet of capricious gods. Fierce rape prying at the stuff of Noé? We all acquiesce to greater external force. A platitude has accompanied nearly all the shock-and-awe tactics in his films, like a sycophant PR rep tidying up after a pederast senator. In his past films, Kim managed to jar you with his imagery, but he failed to stain the memory with a compelling story or a lingering moral. It’s taken a lengthy career to do so, but the director has finally realized his potential and birthed a haunting, eerily unshakable meditation on violence, philos, and redemption: Pieta.
- Blancanieves. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The movie is bound to draw comparisons not just to the recent variations of its original inspiration material, but also to that other little silent movie that could The Artist which is a disservice to the job Berger and company are doing here. Sure, the throw back visual and narrative approaches are similar to some extent, but Berger’s movie walks the fine line between melodrama, camp and pure glee (you get a feeling the director is a man with the kind of sense of humor that would make him a prize dinner party guest). This reaches the true emotional depths that The Artist in its wink-wink-nudge-nudge spirit never quite plunged into. Blancanieves opens today at Landmark E Street Cinema. Do yourself a favor and go see it.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!