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 & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
- Hardcore Henry. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Hardcore Henry is one of the most unpleasant, ugliest films ever made. I don’t mean to say that it is about ugliness, or the darker aspects of the human condition. Instead, director Ilya Naishuller shoots in muddy colors, with chaotic editing that will undoubtedly make his audience nauseous. This is a feature, not a bug, of Naishuller’s bold experiment. He filmed entirely in a first-person perspective; we see everything from Henry’s eyes, as we would in video games such as Call of Duty. Control is the key difference between films and video games: while a game allows the player to move and interact within their environment, a film eliminates dynamic participation. As passive observers of Naishuller’s hyper-violent imagination, parts of Hardcore Henry are worse than an endurance test. It is more like torture.
- The Man Who Knew Infinity. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Man Who Knew Infinity does not know infinity. It doesn’t know anything. Using a verb like “know” when using this film as the subject of your sentence does a disservice to the idea of knowledge itself. At no point does this film ever evince any belief in, or understanding of, the power and beauty of mathematics. One thing The Man Who Knew Infinity surely believes, though, is that its audience has a similar disinterest in its nominal subject. In fact, when you take the baseline level of brain cell death that occurs in 108 minutes, then exacerbate that by forcing the brain to consume content so vapid it must be at least a mild neurotoxin, The Many Who Knew Infinity may have achieved the distinction of being the first movie about math which will leave its audience knowing less about math than they did going in.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Barbershop: The Next Cut. Here’s yours truly over at The Washington Post:
Just as the men and women at Calvin’s Barbershop are older and have more responsibilities, so too is Barbershop: The Next Cut more mature than its cinematic predecessors. Director Malcolm D. Lee and his screenwriters raise the stakes of Barbershop and its 2004 sequel by taking Chicago’s ongoing gang violence seriously, making it the focus of the plot. But since the film is a comedy first, the one-liners serve as a welcome form of levity. This is a delicate balancing act — one which the large acting ensemble pulls off, with effortless chemistry.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Mission: Impossible: Rogue Nation (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Every Mission Impossible film has been an opportunity for the director to indulge in their preferred kind of visual storytelling, whether it’s Brian DePalma’s career-long Hitchcock riff or John Woo’s operatic approach to action choreography. McQuarrie does not have the same visual fetishes, yet he’s a workmanlike director who is comfortable with several different modes. There is a terrific high-speed motorcycle chase, one where Cruise’s knee nearly touches the pavement during sharp turns. There’s the big high-tech set-piece, and this time it involves Hunt spending three minutes in a large underwater hard drive (my favorite dialogue is the shamelessly expository stuff where secondary characters breathlessly explain the high level of danger). Still, the best sequence in Rogue Nation happens at the Opera. McQuarrie borrows from DePalma (and Hitchcock by extension), so hair-trigger decision accompanies the low-tech danger. Also, the use of Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” creates a level of drama/camp that would make DePalma smile.
- American Ultra (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The most impressive thing about American Ultra is how many genres it drifts between. There are moments of comedy, action, heartbreak, and intrigue. Nourizadeh, who previously directed the dubious found footage film Project X, has no problem with the abrupt changes in the screenplay by Max Landis. In fact, the shifts are his strength: by juxtaposing a character-building moment alongside brutal violence,American Ultra amplifies the feeling of both. The approach also puts us in Mike’s headspace: we laugh while we’re reeling from an action scene, not exactly sure how to take either, except to keep plodding ahead. At a crisp ninety-three minutes, the script scarcely barrels forward so we don’t exactly have time to think.
- My Golden Days (now on Netflix). Here’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky over at The AV Club:
Roubaix (population: 95,000) is a small working-class city on the northern edge of France, located just minutes from the Belgian border. It is the former center of a textile industry, the finish line of the storied Paris-Roubaix bicycle classic, and the hometown of the gifted French writer-director Arnaud Desplechin. Desplechin’s latest, My Golden Days, represents a three-point return: to Roubaix, previously the setting of his family ensemble piece A Christmas Tale; to the rap and college rock 1980s of his youth; and to the archetypal characters of what’s still one of his best films, My Sex Life… Or How I Got Into An Argument, the freeform, three-hour hip relationship drama to end all hip relationship dramas. Desplechin tackles drama with wildly confident eclecticism, sometimes even besting Martin Scorsese in pure movie-mad feverishness: iris shots, radically different camera styles, unexpected musical and literary quotations, theatrical flourishes, scenes broken up in collage. His take on the coming-of-age film, however, is one of those cases where the framing devices and framing stories are more compelling than what’s being framed.
That’s it! Get streaming, nerds.