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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:

  • Collateral Beauty. Here’s Alan Schersthul over at The Village Voice:
    Here’s a promise few movies can make. If you sink two hours into Collateral Beauty now, it’s guaranteed that for the rest of your life, when conversation stalls, you can save the night by asking, “Did you ever see that movie where Will Smith plays an ad executive so shut down with grief over the death of his daughter that his business partners — played by Edward Norton, Kate Winslet, and Michael Peña — hire actors to confront him in public in the roles of Death, Time, and Love, the abstract concepts to whom he has been penning and mailing angry letters?

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • Lion. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    There’s a fair amount of ambiguity in the first half of Lion, where the details of what’s happening are unclear. It’s a little disconcerting if you’re a viewer, but it would certainly be far more unsettling if you were the five-year-old boy navigating the chaotic and dangerous events that make up the early part of the story. And that’s the point of tying viewers to the main character’s limited understanding of what’s happening: Lion is entirely built around the perspective of its central character – Saroo Brierly.

  • Toni Erdmann. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Toni Erdmann is at times perplexing, uproariously funny, and at times a bit sad. It appreciates father-daughter relationships in a way that Hollywood will surely copy in the coming years, but it likely won’t be a true copy, as the sensitivity shown in Winfried is often absent in American major films. If it wins the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, I wouldn’t be surprised, but it may not translate into American success.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Joe Swanberg edition):

  • Win It All (now on Netflix). Here’s Mike D’Angelo over at The AV Club:
    This is far and away the most conventional and accessible movie that Swanberg—a prolific, often idiosyncratic no-budget filmmaker—has helmed to date. Narrative expectations are cheerfully fulfilled: Having grown to appreciate his new, stable life, Eddie is forced to take part in a climactic high-stakes poker game, as his gangster pal is about to get sprung from prison early and thousands of dollars are still missing from the duffel bag. (The plot has a lot in common with Rounders, actually, minus Edward Norton’s enabling Worm character and the attention to realistic poker detail.) Even the sex scene is uncharacteristically chaste for Swanberg, fading to black before either party so much as removes a single article of clothing. It’s as if Swanberg, like Eddie, wants to demonstrate that he can play by the system’s boring old rules. They both make it look at once laudable and slightly enervating.

  • Drinking Buddies (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    I’ve long been bothered with how the movies treat heavy drinking. Many movies use drinking as a symptom of a bigger problem; there have been countless scenes where our lovelorn hero turns to booze after the guy/girl of their dreams just dumps them. When there are movies where a character drinks a lot from the get-go, it’s usually considered problematic (e.g. The Spectacular Now). Drinking Buddies is the rare movie where people drink heavily, and it’s just part of who they are. This is refreshing (pun intended), and it also recognizes an uncomfortable truth. A drinking buddy is only as reliable as when they’re sober, and without the beer goggles, you may not necessarily enjoy the company of the person who always orders shots after you told them they shouldn’t.

  • Happy Christmas (now on Netflix). Here’s Eric Kohn over at Indiewire:
    From the first frame of Joe Swanberg’s Happy Christmas, there’s an immediate sense of change afoot. The director’s first feature shot on 16mm film has the look of a far more polished narrative than of the countless features he has produced over the past decade. That perception is validated by the ensuing story, a cohesive dramatic comedy about the strain of married life and its absence, with the best performances in Swanberg’s ever-expanding oeuvre. Sweetly funny and relatable, Happy Christmas builds on the director’s previous work by channeling its strong aspects — naturalism and self-effacing, true-to-life humor — into a relatively straightforward but utterly enjoyable character study.

That’s it! Get streaming, kids.

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