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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.

OUT THIS WEEK & PROCEED WITH CAUTION:

  • Inferno. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Like most kids grew up in the 80s, I had plenty of exposure to the games, mazes, and puzzles on the back of cereal boxes. The more kid-friendly the cereal, the better the games and puzzles on the back of the box. Sadly for me, we were a Raisin Bran and Cheerios family. Since the people at Kellogg’s knew that cereal in shades of brown were mostly for adults, instead of helping Cap’n Crunch navigate passage through the Wild Berry Sea, we got summaries of research about whole grains and heart health along with the occasional half-assed fill in the blank word puzzles: “Rais_ns are f_n and hea_thy!!” I thought of those puzzles while watching Inferno, the latest film in a series based on Dan Brown’s books about brilliant historian Robert Langdon. Inferno is a perfectly tolerable action mystery, but it feels like a half-assed puzzle compared to the sophistication of the previous stories. The series is known for its historical puzzles and layered historical sleuthing, but the central mystery in Inferno feels like such an afterthought that it’s kinda like we’re switching to Raisin Bran after a couple of Fruit Loops and Lucky Charms movies.

  • The Girl on the Train. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Emily Blunt is a great actress, but her character in The Girl On The Train is let down by a disappointing plot and a lot of broad brushstroke characterization. The story is sold as a psychological thriller, supposedly in the vein of Gone Girl, but it has nowhere near the intrigue of its predecessors. This is the kind of film where visual parallels are vital elements, but are coincidentally unspoken by the characters. It takes things literally, as though the viewers are mindless, and directs things all too literally (e.g. a redheaded person plays a red herring). Parts of it are unbelievable, like when one character dials 911 and hangs up before they can state their emergency, and police show up at convenient time anyway.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • The Light Between Oceans. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    That issue notwithstanding, The Light Between Oceans is an inviting film of slow-burning power. It is always gorgeous, even when a storm threatens the small island. Cinematographer Adam Arkapaw gives the exteriors a primordial sense of beauty, while the close-ups suggest focus on the big cinematic power of small gestures. The film is ultimately about the impasse that defines Tom and Isabel’s marriage.  Cianfrance shrewdly realizes it would be a mistake to resolve the conflict with surprises, and instead lets it play out inexorably. In the arc of these characters, a mistake leads to forced wisdom, and so the final moments are poignant because, finally, the ability to forgive themselves means they can see the good in others.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (New administration edition):

  • Little Men (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Ira Sachs understands that new friendships develop quietly. They do not need drunken confessions, or major tests of loyalty. Instead, friendships come from a silent sense of comfort, and repetition. Like others my age, many of my oldest friendships have their basis in countless bike rides and games of Nintendo. Sachs’ latest film Little Men delves into that fragile bond, and how it can be ephemeral. It is also more ambitious that, using its young heroes to uncover the kind of urban story that is heartrendingly common. Gentrification is a thorny topic, particularly for a fictional film, and yet Sachs weaves the political and personal so that every character somewhat sympathetic, and kind of a jerk, too.

  • Inside Job (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our interview with director Charles Ferguson:
    Charles Ferguson is the policy wonk of the documentary film world. A self-made millionaire with a PhD in political science, Ferguson made his debut with No End in Sight, a persuasively insightful examination of the faulty intelligence that led the United States into war with Iraq. His approach is more analytical than similar filmmakers. With compelling interviews and data, the Oscar-nominated No End in Sight cites specific problems and details their implications. Ferguson’s follow-up is Inside Job, a scathing indictment of those responsible for the ongoing financial crisis. It articulates complex financial machinations in easily digestible terms, and its alarming conclusions make Inside Job one of the year’s most important movies. When I talked with Ferguson about his latest film, I was struck by the lucidity of his answers, as well as his quiet outrage over what he uncovered.

  • Farewell, My Lovely (now on Filmstruck). Here’s Roger Ebert:
    It is, indeed, the most evocative of all the private detective movies we have had in the last few years. It is not as great as Roman Polanski’s Chinatown, which was concerned with larger subjects, but in the genre itself there hasn’t been anything this good since Hollywood was doing Philip Marlowe the first time around. One reason is that Dick Richards, the director, takes his material and character absolutely seriously. He is not uneasy with it, as Robert Altman was when he had Elliot Gould flirt with seriousness in The Long Goodbye: Richards doesn’t hedge his bet.

That’s it! Get streaming, nerds.

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