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:
- The Sea of Trees. Here’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky over at The AV Club:
The screenplay for The Sea Of Trees, penned by Chris Sparling (Buried), is one of those narrative Rube Goldberg machines where everything falls into place in the unlikeliest, corniest, and worst possible way. Its protagonist is Arthur Brennan (Matthew McConaughey), a science adjunct who buys a one-way ticket to Japan so he can kill himself in Aokigahara, the notorious “suicide forest” at the base of Mount Fuji, only to have his plans upended by Takumi (Ken Watanabe, miscast), a magical salaryman who stumbles out of the bushes with slashed wrists and a bad case of second thoughts. So off they go, the two would-be suicides, trying to find a path out of the dark wood on an odyssey of bad monologues, misguided contrivances, and lengthy flashbacks about Arthur’s alcoholic wife, Joan (Naomi Watts). As it turns out, there is something worse than Nicholas Sparks, the king of morbid romantic kitsch, and that’s a Nicholas Sparks pretender with highfalutin pretensions.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- X-Men Apocalypse. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The X-Men franchise is like candy: it’s not really good for you, but it’s always there when you want it. One of the more unfortunate things that can happen to a movie is for it to receive a deluge of negative reviews weeks prior to its release, and to come out just after the release of one of the biggest superhero films of the year. Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse is a lot better than a lot of these reviews suggest, and I’m not sure I would agree that Apocalypse is the worst of the rebooted trilogy. It’s a fun escape into a familiar world that left the other critics at the screening excited as they exited the theater; the lone complaint I heard was from someone who didn’t care for X-Men anyway. The divide between the demands of Singer’s more successful films and this one are in the attempts to tell a refreshed version of old comic stories, yet the meat and potatoes of the franchise are nonetheless satisfying.
- Imperium. Here’s Oleg Ivanov over at Slant:
At its core, Imperium is a examination of misdirection, of the idea that we’re often deceived by others into seeing what they want us to see, rather than what’s actually there in front of us. Yet, in implicitly arguing that the war on Islamic terrorism has distracted Americans from the equally dangerous national security threat posed by white supremacists, the film itself uses narrative deception to misdirect the audience from its own flawed plot construction, which unfortunately blunts the impact of its otherwise cogent insights about the nature of modern terrorism and the war against it. As Orson Welles’s F for Fake and other cinematic deconstructions of film’s fundamentally illusory nature have taught us, movies inherently manipulate audiences into seeing only what filmmakers deem necessary, which is always at best only a part of truth, and at worst a distortion of it.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Into the Inferno (now on Netflix). Here’s Matt Zoller Seitz over at RogerEbert.com:
Two factors prevent Herzog’s documentaries from becoming purely narcissistic. One is the fact that he’s always been as much of a self-portrait artist as a portrait artist, treating the universe and all of history as his mirror, then projecting himself onto his audience. The other factor is the humble attitude his films adopt toward people who live in unusual or dangerous circumstances, and whose obsessiveness seems driven by curiosity and love. Every single person interviewed in this film is in some way a mirror of Herzog, which means that even though they are real people, they become Herzog characters. If you look at the structure of this film, or almost any of Herzog’s recent films, you’ll see that they’re broken into discrete sections of five to ten minutes apiece, each focusing on obsessive individuals or “tribes.” If you go into a Herzog documentary hoping for a definitive, deep look at a certain subject, you’re bound to come away disappointed. But if you go into them expecting a series of portraits of obsessed people, each painted by one of the most likable obsessives in cinema, you’re likely to come away satisfied.
- Eye in the Sky (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Eye in the Sky is unlike most war films. Sure, there are explosions, deaths, and soldiers who face a moral reckoning over what they do for their country. But director Gavin Hood and screenwriter Guy Hibbert have the laser-like precision of their subject: they focus on one operation, over the course of about twelve hours, and all the decisions involved. If most war films are about action, then this one is about procedure. The characters are all professionals, and the way they think interests Hibbert more than what they do. This is modern warfare at its most impersonal, which is why it stumbles with maudlin attempts to engage our emotions.
- I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (now on Netflix). Here’s AA Dowd ovet at The AV Club:
Can a horror movie get by on nothing but atmosphere, on the the je ne sais quoi of its unsettling mood? I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House suggests that maybe it can. This curious object with a curious title is the second feature from writer-director Oz Perkins, son of Psycho star Anthony Perkins. Does horror run through the filmmaker’s veins or is he just a very fast learner? Perkins’ first feature, a kind of new-millennium Suspiria called The Blackcoat’s Daughter, is still awaiting its theatrical release, more than a year after it freaked out festivalgoers under the title February. With his follow-up, arriving on Netflix tomorrow, Perkins commits even harder to his singularly strange approach to the genre, turning a simple ghost story into an exercise in extremely prolonged unease. It could give Norman Bates the willies.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.