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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:

  • Allied. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Allied is an old-fashioned, romantic World War 2 melodrama. Director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Steven Knight are ambitious: the story spans several years, with its lovers hopping from one country to another. Whereas most end of year films are too long nowadays – I’m looking at you, The Revenant – Allied suffers from being too short. Some sequences are rushed, and there is so much incident in just over two hours that it’s hard to follow characters along their complex emotional journey. There are some bravura action sequences, and yet it falters in its saccharine, pat mix of the personal and political. By striving for poignancy, Knight robs his heroes of plausibly human choices.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Moonlight. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Moonlight is simply a superior piece of storytelling and filmmaking. And if critics and voters alike can’t think about the black boys of Moonlight, hemmed in by societal and institutional neglect and undermined by the scars their world’s left on the adults in their lives, without looping back to the suburban bicycles-and-bowling divorce nostalgia that won Richard Linklater accolades, that’s a failure not just of imagination but of empathy. That would be bizarre, since watching Moonlight taps adroitly into your empathy banks with a long, sharp, high-voltage jack.

  • Queen of Katwe. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Mississippi Masala) takes what could have been a generic film into a rich and colorful panorama of life in Katwe. The children of the slum have an incredible liveliness that is awakened by learning, just the same as any other child. They are not pity cases; they are not to be ogled. They are whip smart, often adding hilarious lines to conversations, and have energy that is purposefully in contrast to the struggles of the main characters. When Phiona’s self esteem starts to bloom, her smile is infectious, and leads to her mother’s understanding of the importance of the game to her children.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Viggo Mortensen edition):

  • Captain Fantastic (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    As someone who grew up in western Washington State with five siblings, I could tell you that Captain Fantastic does not represent the normal childhood experience in a large Pacific Northwest family. But you don’t need my first-hand account. This is a film wherein children become adults by killing deer with knives, an eight-year-old knows more about Noam Chomsky than soda, and “interesting” is a banished word but “fuck” is not. Anyone will be able to tell quite quickly that Captain Fantastic is an atypical movie about an atypical family. The fact that it’s also very good helps to make it a welcome departure from the norm.

  • The Two Faces of January (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    The Two Faces of January is a moderately successful two-character movie – Amini has some fun with a triangle of slow-burn sexual tension – although Isaac and Mortensen are well-suited rivals. Rydal and Chester have their strengths (cultural knowledge versus pure malevolence, respectively). Amini forces an uneasy balance between hatred and necessity. Like the best Highsmith rivalries, their relationship is complex because it combines anger with respect, deception with collusion, and an increasingly-intricate web of lies. Highsmith and Amini know that only character will make out of Europe alive, and since we know the outcome before they do, it’s quietly satisfying to see who can think the fastest, and how.

  • Witness (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s Roger Ebert:
    We have lately been getting so many pallid, bloodless little movies mostly recycled teenage exploitation films made by ambitious young stylist without a thought in their heads – that “Witness” arrives like a fresh new day. It is a movie about adults, whose lives have dignity and whose choices matter to them. And it is also one hell of a thriller.

That’s it! Get watching, kids.

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