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 & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Guardians of the Galaxy, volume 2. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Let’s just start with the first thing: Baby Groot is adorable and I don’t care what anyone else says. I fully expect to see him everywhere, a la Frozen, but I don’t work in retail anymore or have children, so for me it is *great*. The second thing is that Guardians 2 is, thankfully, Good Enough. It has a story that is both self-contained to the Guardians Universe, and also sets itself up as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). It is a film that revels in joy, with awesome action scenes, and a story that gives all of the characters their shine. It also deals with some heavy issues, ranging from child abuse to the meaning of the universe itself. Yeah. Let’s deal with the fun stuff first.
- The Big Sick. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Big Sick is a film defined by its specificity. In all its characters and sub-plots, screenwriters Kumail Nanjiani and Emily Gordon zero in on a unique experience, and yet the emotions that guide this experience are universal. Of course, this film is also a true story, with Nanjiani and Gordon basing the plot on their unconventional courtship. They find humor in awkward, sometimes intense situations, and yet The Big Sick is not a film that distinctly veers between comedy and drama. Jokes are weaved throughout the story, so part of its delight is laughing in a moment where the expected payoff is the exact opposite. I knew The Big Sick would be funny. I did not expect to hear the best 9/11 joke I’ve ever heard, in an gut-bustingly inappropriate moment.
- The Hero. Here’s what we said in our original review:
From the moment The Hero opens, director Brett Haley is so confident in Sam Elliott’s iconic deep, rumbling voice that you hear him before you see him. As Lee Hayden, a washed-up western film star, Elliot is shilling for “Lone Star Barbeque Sauce: the perfect partner for your chicken.” The audio clip plays over a black screen before you finally see Lee in the sound booth. And Elliot’s voice really is something, which makes it even more incredible that much of the best work he does in The Hero is done silently. In one scene, for example, Lee is being honored with a lifetime achievement award, and just before he goes to receive it, he has to sit through a clip of his best-known film – the only one he’s proud of. Lee can’t watch, and he can’t look away. He’s proud of the film and embarrassed that the peak of his career was so long ago. He’s high (literally), and he’s sobered by the moment. Elliot doesn’t say a word, but over the 15 or 20-second scene, he brings you through the whole spectrum of Lee’s uneasy emotions.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (rousing adventure edition):
- The Lost City of Z (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The film is a little long at 140 minutes, but it’s surprisingly efficient and moves quickly, as it needs to in order tell the stories of multiple quests to the Amazon and a World War. Even as the efforts to convincingly age the cast in appearance over a quarter century leave something to be desired, the natural growth and change in the characters’ personalities and perspectives is more authentic when stretched over decades than in stories that don’t have the same luxury of time. To be clear, no one changes drastically, but Costin, Nina, and Percy and Nina’s oldest son Jack all slowly shift in their views of Percy’s devotion to his discovery. The changes aren’t dramatic; they come from the natural evaluation of aging and maturity, fitting the timeline of the movie and story. More importantly, they stand in stark contrast to Percy’s own static nature related to the would-be discovery. The Lost City of Z is an epic adventure story without being an action story, and in Grey’s hands that style is well balanced and effective. There are exciting moments along the way, but nothing is more compelling than Fawcett, his drive to succeed, and the confidence he has in his mission. As more than two hours pass in the theater and two decades pass on the screen, The Lost City of Z is engaging in a way that makes it easy to get caught up in the journey.
- The Man Who Would Be King (now on Filmstruck). Here’s Roger Ebert:
John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King is swashbuckling adventure, pure and simple, and in the hands of a master. It’s been a long time since there’s been an escapist entertainment quite this unabashed and thrilling and fun. The movie invites comparison with the great action films like Gunga Din and Mutiny on the Bounty, and with Huston’s own classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: We get strong characterizations, we get excitement and, best of all, we get to laugh every once in a while. The action epics of the last 20 years seem to have lost their sense of humor; it’s as if once the budget goes over $5,000,000, directors think they have to be deadly serious. Lawrence of Arabia was a great movie, but introspective and solemn, and efforts such as Dr. Zhivago and War and Peace never dared to smile. Huston’s movie isn’t like that. It reflects his personality and his own best films; it’s open, sweeping and lusty – and we walk out feeling exhilarated.
- Theeb (now on Netflix). Here’s Nikola Grozdanovic over at IndieWire:
In craft and execution, the picture has zero trace of being a debut feature. Even the non-professional actors have a remarkable chemistry in front of the camera, and the dark brown buttons that are Jacid Eid’s eyes will make audience members empathetic in an instant. Lane’s score, like the song about the forsaken home near the beginning of the film that emphatically spills over into the next scene in VO, coats the film with a reverent layer. Thaler’s cinematography makes impressionable use of the vastness, and Nowar symbolically frames his characters against the mountainous backdrop — the final shot rank among the most painterly of the year. Without a trace of forcefulness, exposition, or stilted humor, Theeb is the kind of film cinephiles might choose over something like Beasts Of No Nation, the more publicized coming-of-age wartime story of the year. On the flip side, though, the latter is much more accessible in terms of Western-style storytelling. In any case, “Theeb” is an arthouse gem that celebrates world cinema through a Middle Eastern perspective, and as an unfamiliar approach to familiar themes, should be lauded and sought out by those in the mood for some serious, and seriously good, cinema.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.