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:
- Elle. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Elle is a remote film, one that maintains an icy distance from its characters. Huppert is crucial to that success, although filmmakers like Michael Haneke and Claire Denis use her to greater effect. The Piano Teacher, White Material, and others take the Huppert persona as a jumping point for broader themes. Elle, on the other hand, is about nothing more than the perversions of its antagonist. “Psychological thriller” is a misnomer to its true goals, since the term suggests depth. A truly provocative, subversive film understands the norms it upends, and what that means. But as an unsolved equation, Elle goes through the motions without a plan or a point. If other Huppert heroines could watch Elle, they would dismiss it as false after the second fantasy sequence, then leave the theater soon afterward.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Manchester by the Sea. Here’s what said in our list of 2016’s best films:
Kenneth Lonergan’s story about family about love, loss, anger, penance, and redemption is 2 hours and 17 minutes long and there’s not a wasted second in it. It is a movie you maybe don’t want to see because, well, it is 2 hours and 17 minutes long and that is a lot of time to spend in a dark room with loss and anger, but you should go see it. Lonergan approaches this ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances with operatic scope (aided immaculately by Lesley Barber’s fantastic classical score), and the ensemble led by the break-your-hear-and-then-break-it-again Casey Affleck (Michelle Williams is as close to perfect as we’re going to get this year). But, without giving too much away, there is this one moment you will never be able to let go. in a movie that never lets go of your jugular, the second when we find out that the precise nature of loss that’s been alluded to for the last hour or so is not even close to the biggest, most painful, most life altering loss he’s experienced of late, is when, I swear, there was not a dry male eye in the movie theater. And, in 2016, when bravado seems to be what America responds to best, letting yourself cry openly and unabashedly (even if it is in the dark, surrounded by strangers) may be just what the doctor ordered.
- Nocturnal Animals. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Most folks will hate Nocturnal Animals, or find some part of it repulsive. From its audacious opening credit sequence through its final shot, director Tom Ford does not compromise his lively, sinister imagination. Parts of the film are downright agonizing, and the only reprieve is spiteful, wry comedy. Ford is mostly known as a fashion designer; this is his second film, after the criminally forgotten A Single Man. Once again, he delves into the elegant, wealthy milieu of LA’s art scene, except Nocturnal Animals also indulges in a exploitation, B-grade trash cinema – in the best possible way. There is a point to his madness, even a sense of catharsis, but this thriller’s point of view is not exactly worth celebrating.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (literary thriller edition):
- Before I Go to Sleep (on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The best way to describe Before I Go To Sleep is that it’s a very well-executed Lifetime TV movie. It’s competently written and directed (though the grainy, super-saturated look of the flashbacks is worthy of the scholckiest made-for-television thrillers) and the acting is all quite good. But it also deals with the classic, specific paranoias of suburban domesticity: the fundamental unknowability of one’s spouse, the possibility of social seclusion, the loss of greater life purpose, fear for one’s children, and the ever-creeping threat of sexual temptation and infidelity. It’s a thriller built by dancing along the edge of the particular abyss that middle-to-upper class suburban stay-at-home wives and mothers spend a good deal of their time trying not to stare into. The plot conceit – a middle-aged house wife suffering from short-term amnesia, where her memory of everything after her 20s gets wiped clean every time she sleeps – is largely just the mechanism for getting at those underlying ideas.
- Cold in July (on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
There are many movies that are critic-proof, and the Adam Sandler comedy Blended is the most recent example. No matter what the Rotten Tomato score or how vicious it’s ripped apart, Sandler and his producers can be reasonably certain that their latest will have modest-to-good box office returns. What’s more rare, and what should be celebrated accordingly, are movies that are the opposite of critic proof: movies that need champions so that they find the audience they deserve. Jim Mickle’s Cold in July is like that. It’s a superbly-directed thriller, one with rich performances, black comedy, and flashes of brutal violence. It deliberately apes John Carpenter-thrillers, including a score full of moody synthesizers. Cold in July is brimming with confidence, not ambition, so it’s unseemly fun from the get-go.
- Phoenix (on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Most American films about World War 2 have a clear-cut divide between good and evil. Americans have the luxury of two massive aquatic barriers, which create and “us and them” dynamic between the soldiers and those they fought. Europeans and Japanese, particularly those Europeans in Axis countries, cannot rationalize their wartime behavior with such ease, and the films from those countries reflect that. Phoenix, a German postwar drama from director Christian Petzold, slowly enters a world of betrayal, love, and despair. Like last year’s terrific Ida and Petzold’s recent Barbara, here is a film that requires patience, yet concludes with quiet power, forcing us to reconsider the delicate mastery of what preceded it.
That’s it! Get streaming, nerds.