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 Shack. Here’s yours truly at The Washington Post:
The novel The Shack was a surprising literary phenomenon. After author William Paul Young self-published the book in 2007, it went on to sell more than 20 million copies, to a predominantly Christian audience. (The Shack overtly deals with evangelical ideas of God.) The film adaptation captures the meat of Young’s text, focusing on the didactic aspects of its premise. As a film, The Shack works best as a thought experiment, because its promise of big answers to big questions is so appealing. But whether taken as an emotional experience or an intellectual exercise, The Shack falters under its own inconsistency.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- A Dog’s Story. Here’s what we said in our original review:
On the whole, A Dog’s Purpose has all of the parts it needs to be the movie it’s trying to be. The acting won’t win anyone any awards, but it gets the job done. Director Lasse Hallström (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules) moves the film along nicely, aside from an extra 10 or 15 minutes in the initial section of the film focused on Bailey and Ethan’s family. There are some jokes that will land with almost all audiences, and a handful more that will especially delight dog-lovers. In that same vein, it’s probably pretty obvious that this is a movie that is more likely to appeal to people who love dogs, but it’s also surprisingly engaging for those of us who merely wish dogs well from afar. A Dog’s Purpose is not sophisticated, and there are no complex themes. But it’s meant to be broadly accessible, simple, and emotionally manipulative. As films with those traits go, you could do worse. Just be sure to skip the mascara and bring your Kleenex.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Tilda fucking Swinton edition):
- Doctor Strange (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Sometimes Doctor Strange is downright delightful. In terms of style, it is different enough from the Marvel Cinematic Universe so that it effectively answers the criticism that all the films look the same. Director Scott Derrickson takes his hero to some wacky places, since this is more of a fantasy than a traditional comic book film. But for all its inventiveness, there are things about Doctor Strange that are frustratingly familiar. Not all superheroes require an origin story, and yet this one labors yet another one for most of its run-time. Derrickson squanders a talented actress with the thankless love interest role. And for a film that mostly takes place in Nepal – when it’s on Earth, anyway – there is icky Orientalism that would make most Everest climbers blush.
- I Am Love (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Last year I gushingly reviewed Julia, a thriller in which Tilda Swinton plays an alcoholic degenerate. The performance is honest and without remorse – her Julia is a despicable person, yet remains fiercely magnetic. Just when I thought I couldn’t be surprised by her gifts, Swinton comes out with I Am Love, a lush melodrama about a wealthy Milan family. Even if you ignore the feat of speaking pitch-perfect Italian and Russian, Swinton’s work is remarkable for the depth she’s able to project. Her understated approach is a stirring counterbalance writer/director Luca Guadagnino‘s style. His bold gestures and sumptuous cinematography dominate the screen, making this director/actor collaboration uncommonly moving.
- Moonrise Kingdom (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The best thing about Moonrise Kingdom is how it never condescends to children. It can be funny when a group of preteens hatch escape plans or prepare for battle, but what matters is how they never seem like they’re in on the joke. Using his unique perspective on behavior, Anderson creates a peculiar situation and lets the conflict play out with logic and empathy. As in Fantastic Mr. Fox, the director seems to understand children better than they understand themselves. Precocious kids will see themselves as they watch Moonrise Kingdom, and older audiences will remember what it was like to feel like them. It’s a strange miracle how Anderson evokes our most awkward years and has us laugh, not cringe.
That’s it! Get streaming, nerds.