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:
- Crystal Fairy. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Just because you make your lone female character titular doesn’t mean you can exploit her casually to imbue your movie with whatever “something” you think it lacks. Somebody should tell Sebastián Silva that, ideally before the Crystal Fairy writer/director starts his next movie. Somebody should also knock the “writer” credit for that next project, or at least have him write “I will not waste my audience’s time” on the blackboard a few hundred times. Maybe then the man’s obvious talent for visual art won’t be squandered on aimless garbage.
- The To Do List. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The To Do List is a teenage sex comedy that turns the table on gender ideals in a way that few films attempt. Instead of Jason Biggs putting his dick in a pie or Jonah Hill getting period blood on his plaid pants, it’s a girl being thrown into the depraved rituals of sexual coming of age. While this is an important reversal, the predecessors to The To Do List – the ones that this film is clearly trying to change the game on – doesn’t have as much heart to it as it should, making The To Do List come off as cold and almost mean.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The Way, Way Back. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The premise of The Way, Way Back is as well known, and well loved in America as a perfect slice of apple pie: the summer that changes your life, so it is fitting that it opens around the 4th of July, the most American of all weekends. A coming-of-age tale involving an awkward teenager, grown-ups that get it or don’t get it, and the awakening of one’s true personality has been done before and done before A LOT. It has also been done WELL enough times that we can truly notice when it is NOT done well. All of this made me a little trepidatious walking into The Way, Way Back but the good news is: the movie is a delight. Not a delight that will necessarily change your life or anything, but a well written, well acted, funny-AND-sad, well executed delight.
INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK (ACTION TRIFECTA EDITION):
- Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning. Here’s Ian Buckwalter over at The Atlantic:
For the latest installment, Hyams and co-writers Doug Magnuson and Jon Greenhalgh latch onto a fact that has oddly gone unaddressed in the series thus far: these are movies about what are, essentially, zombies. So while Reckoningdoesn’t go in for any zombie movie tropes, it is at its core as much a psychological horror film as it is action. That’s apparent from the very first frames, which are told strictly via a sustained point-of-view shot meant to be from the eyes of John (Adkins), who is woken by his young daughter, asking if she can join him and mommy in bed because there are monsters in the house. He goes monster hunting on her behalf only to find a team of masked soldiers in his kitchen, there to slaughter his family in front of him and beat him to within an inch of his life. They’re led by Deveraux, who removes his mask to reveal dead eyes and an expressionless face as he shoots woman and daughter in the head, the scene made all the more terrifying by that unbroken POV shot.
- Skyfall. Here’s what we said in our original review:
When today’s Bond slips, he lands on asphalt. He gets scars. He’s no less sexy for it, and he rewards you for keeping your brain turned on without making it a requirement. Skyfall delivers on the promise of the previous two movies, interlacing the captivating action and wit that mark the brand with oblique commentary on the modern intelligence game’s evolving technology and old-school morality. From the exhilarating chase through Istanbul that opens the movie to the Shanghai skyscrapers and Churchill bunkers and country manors that follow, the Neal Purvis/Robert Wade/John Logan screenplay weds badassery to humanity in satisfying, quiet ways. (This is most evident in Bond’s behavior and reasoning, but also shines in the movie’s only true Bond girl, Bérénice Marlohe’s former child sex slave masquerading as a gun-toting badass, ultimately dependent and expendable.) Sam Mendes’ direction and Roger Deakins’ cinematography help that marriage along with subtle touches, like the transitioning color palettes that move the good guys from light to dark, and the bad guys the opposite direction.
- 13 Assassins. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The centerpiece of the movie isn’t the lord’s crimes or the samurai’s valor, it’s the climax where swords are drawn and blood is spilled. Miike does not overlook any detail – the sequence is a staggering forty-five minutes long – and there is room for all manner of stylized action. There are large-scale skirmishes in which dozens of warriors clash swords. Explosions shatter pagodas and leave buckets of blood behind. Miike handles the battle with energy careful planning; the scourge never devolves into chaos, and we’re able to discern the good guys from the bad. Still, the climax reaches its high point when it becomes the most intimate. In a perfectly staged duel, Shinzaemon and Henbei, the lord’s protector, trade blows like two seasoned warriors. Both men are fatigued from the day’s battle, and each swing of the blade has a dire physical toll. It is thrilling action, rooted in character, with a satisfyingly sudden payoff.
That’s it for our weekly Netflix guide. Let us know what you’re watching in the comments!