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:
- Fifty Shades Darker. Here’s Katie Rife over at the AV Club:
Johnson and Dornan do have a little more heat between them this time around, whether as a result of Foley’s direction or just through familiarity. As a more mature and confident Ana, Johnson once again steals the show, although you have to feel a little sorry for Dornan, who has basically nothing to work with character-wise. The rest of the cast, particularly Kim Basinger as enigmatic older woman Elena Lincoln, is woefully under-utilized. (The only one who seems to be having any fun is Marcia Gay Harden as Christian’s adoptive mother Grace.) The sex scenes—which do get kinky eventually, but very mildly so—are similarly brusque, as if they can’t wait to get this shit over, either. But the plot just keeps coming, all of it driven by the romantic idea of the redemptive power of love. It’s a female-driven fantasy, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not toxic. And God help the poor woman who believes it.
- Aftermath. Here’s Ed Gonzalez over at Slant Magazine:
Several times throughout its running time, Elliott Lester’s Aftermath, which evokes nothing more strongly than a live-action adaptation of a Crate and Barrel catalog, picks up strange transmissions from the avant-garde film that could have been: a shot of a plane’s wing, rattling in the night, about to shatter into pieces from the torque of an imminent mid-air collision. These abstractions are haunting for how they seem sprung from the mind of someone struggling to imagine the unbearable, though you’d never think that mind belonged to either of the film’s two main characters: Roman (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a construction foreman who loses his wife and pregnant daughter after two planes crash into each other, and Jake (Scoot McNairy), the air traffic controller whose error was responsible for the accident.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Fist Fight. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The film’s juvenile humor is at times groan-worthy, but some audience members may find the storyline involving the guidance counselor-on-meth unsettling. The counselor (played with gusto by Jillian Bell) is often very funny, but her desire for relations with her male high school students is less funny and more uncomfortable. Her counterpart, the gym coach (Tracy Morgan), is a welcome breath of weird, but he still somehow comes across as more level than most of the other faculty. When Tracy Morgan plays one of the sanest adults around, you know there’s a problem. By the end of the film’s quick 90 minutes, you’ll probably forget a lot of things, because the fist fight is, surprisingly, worth the wait. It’s a massive and well-choreographed event that satisfies whichever side you may fall on, be it Campbell’s, Strickland’s, or that of the student’s. The fight is chaos personified if that’s your jam, but don’t expect there to be a Fist Fight 2.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Samuel L. Jackson narrator edition):
- I Am Not Your Negro (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
I Am Not Your Negro admittedly has a dry premise, so Peck’s true masterstroke is casting Jackson as Baldwin. I’ve seen the film twice now, and the first time I had no clue I was hearing Jackson’s voice. He dials down his familiar, over-the-top cadence, speaking with the measured tones of a man with a pained conscience. Jackson does not attempt a Baldwin impression, exactly, and instead gives the words the dignity and heft they deserve. Peck includes a few flourishes that betray Jackson’s performance – some musical cues are incongruous – and yet those, too, draw from the same history as everything else. By the time Jackson reaches the final stretch, the language is so halting and spare the cumulative effect is devastating. I Am Not Your Negro can do more than change minds. It can challenge and disabuse your assumptions, recalibrating how you think.
- Chi-Raq (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s yours truly over at The Week:
But for all the sight gags and racy innuendoes, this is clearly the work of a serious filmmaker who wants to shake his viewers into realizing no one is innocent. He achieves this by engaging our emotions — there is a long, heartbreaking shot in which a grieving mother (Jennifer Hudson) washes up the blood of her dead daughter off the street — and providing some harsh insight, too. The political centerpiece of Chi-Raq is the stand-off between Lysistrata’s allies and a paramilitary force that will do anything to get things back to normal: threats of violence, baby-making music, and even a “sex-off.” But the politics are also grounded in reality. In an effective scene, John Cusack’s preacher uses a eulogy to highlight one policy and institutional failure after another, to the point where his character is essentially a direct mouthpiece for Lee and co-screenwriter Kevin Willmott’s outrage.
- Inglourious Basterds (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The varied dialogue distinguishes Inglourious Basterds from Tarantino’s earlier efforts. In Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the characters had similar attitudes, and spoke with the same rhythm. Here the characters come from varied backgrounds, so Raine’s Patton-esque syntax is wildly different than Hicox’s posh condescension. The actors embody their characters comfortably, and easily veer from comedy to pathos. Pitt in particular is the most resolutely badass, and his near-parody twang is the source the movie’s biggest laughs. As the theater owner, Mélanie Laurent is a believable heroine, and her profession gives Tarantino the chance to unleash his film nerdery (there are numerous references to early German filmmakers). Curiously, Laurent and Pitt’s characters provide the movie with a moral center, one that is resolutely vengeful and deceptively simple-minded. I could go on – Inglourious Basterds is so rich with ideas and entertainment, and I have barely touched upon the movie’s numerous successes. Let’s just say the movie delivers its promised Nazi murder porn, and oh so much more. This is one of the year’s best.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.