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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 & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Blue Jasmine. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    It is difficult to discuss Blue Jasmine without making it sound depressing. Few of the characters are sympathetic, and many of them end worse off from where they started. This drama is watchable because Allen has such a natural instinct for these characters, and who they are. Like Clay and CK, each major character has an opposite, and Allen creates fascinating conflicts for them, which play out naturally. Some scenes are mirror images of each other, whether they pair one character or repeat the same conflict with different people. These parallels reach their climax in the final scene, shortly after we learn an important secret about Jasmine. Thanks to Allen’s clear script, it is easy to understand why Jasmine is who she is. It’s a testament to Blanchett’s acting that we almost care about her, too. Almost.
  • In a World. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    In a World is a playful, confident comedy about movie trailer voice-overs and the inherent misogyny in the entertainment industry. While the anger is never constant, there’s the sense that writer/director/star Lake Bell was inspired by her frustration. Hollywood celebrates men who can do it all – as filmmakers, George Clooney and Ben Affleck are the toast of the town – yet Bell must eke her through a system where old men ignorantly flaunt their privilege. Frustration may inform In a World, but her movie moves at a pleasant clip because she has the wherewithal to hire several gifted comic actors. Terrific one-liners pepper the script even when the plot veers toward formula.
  • Captain Phillips. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Other critics compared Captain Phillips to A Hijacking, another realistic drama about Somali pirates and the seemingly insurmountable problems that follow. Both films bear a superficial resemblance to each other, but they have different ambitions: whereas A Hijacking is about the uncomfortable consequences of a protracted negotiation, Captain Phillips is a intense look at determined men who slowly realize their lives are out of their control. The SEAL snipers cast a shadow over what happens in that lifeboat, and Greengrass counts on the audience to worry about the full power of the Navy. There are no heroics when it’s all over, and instead we’re left with a man who is shown just how frail life can be. The power of the military is awesome, even if it’s utterly dehumanizing.

INSTANT NETFLIX VIEWING OF THE WEEK:

  • The Act of Killing. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The Act of Killing is one of the best films of the year, certainly the most important, and yet it made me think of Hot Shots Part Deux. The parody of the Rambo movies includes a scene where our hero Topper Harley (Charlie Sheen) continuously fires an automatic weapon. A little kill counter appears on the bottom of the screen, and title cards inform us the movie is more violent Robocop and Total Recall. Eventually the screen trumpets, “BLOODIEST MOVIE EVER.” The joke is about how movies treat death cheaply, and The Act of Killing is its complete opposite. By its end, we watch as memory warps the soul of murderer.
  • Jack Reacher. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The back story behind Jack Reacher, a former military policeman who now lives as the world’s deadliest hobo, is beyond ridiculous, and Tom Cruise’s celebrity only makes it worse. With Cruise providing the money, there is more movie-star posturing than necessary, including the evitable scene of him without a shirt. Now the Cruise-produced action vehicle is an annual tradition, so the surprising thing about Jack Reacher is how it’s an old-school, blue collar thriller at its heart. In the capable hands of writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, the hard-boiled dialogue and tersely economic action sequences overcome Cruise’s massive ego.
  • The Last Stand. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Arnold Schwarzenegger has always been the most physical action star. When he was crushing a fist or firing an automatic machine gun, his deft movements had a peculiar grace about them. Now at age sixty-five, the director had to deal with an actor who is nowhere as fast as he used to be. The solution is to put him in more car chases, and have the hits be slower, harder. When Cortez and Owens finally face off, Schwarzenegger shows us that he’s preserved his raw strength even though speed escapes him. His work does not dominate the film, yet his understanding of his limits suggests that he’ll chose his future projects carefully. The Last Stand is more than a return to form for Arnold because his oddly humble, self-aware performance has us rooting for him more than the character he plays.

That’s it for weekly Netflix guide. Enjoy the snow day!

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