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:

  • Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    At this point, Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets is most famous for its pre-production details. It is both the most expensive French film ever made, and the most expensive independent film ever made. It has more special effects shots than Rogue One. Director Luc Besson raised $80 million at Cannes with a script and a handful of sketches. These are all interesting details, and point to Besson’s passion for the project. But for all his chutzpah and refusal to work within the studio system, Valerian is an oddly inert film. Like The Fifth Element, Besson imagines a dense future that bursts with life and odd creatures. It is a fun world to play in, and yet it lacks the key components that elevate science-fiction above mere world-building.

  • Good Time. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Good Time is a dour, nihilistic slog. Directors Josh and Benny Safdie follow an inventive bank robber on an all-night crime spree, with all the curiosity of a Bumfights video. Their style is unique, with harsh colors and unflattering close-ups. Interiors and production values are incidental, since they plunge into the inner lives of characters who are pure id. No one in this film could tell you anything about their futures, or what matters in their lives. That is not necessarily a bad thing, and there are indeed great films about wild, impulsive criminals. The difference is that those aspire for significance, instead of provocation for its own sake.

OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:

  • The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Some of the strongest comedic moments come from Sam Jackson, of course, who is seemingly un-killable. His pairing with the murderous Salma Hayek is an unexpected but welcome one. The man is willing to do anything for his lady, and if it means getting chased across two countries, so be it.If you’re looking for a movie that is mindless but is full of familiar faces, this is it. It’s not as violent as Reynolds’ Deadpool, but much of it has a similar feel, especially as Reynolds’ character becomes more and more jaded. If you like Samuel L. Jackson, you’ll enjoy this, but don’t expect much.

INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (that’s so 90s edition):

  • Landline (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
    Given that Landline is so firmly grounded in the 1990s – so firmly that there are Blockbuster, DustBuster, and skipping CD references – it’s sort of a nice coincidence that the film reminded me of a plotline on a 1998 episode of the television show Friends. In the episode, “The One Where Phoebe Hates PBS,” Phoebe and Joey have an ongoing argument about whether there is such a thing as a selfless good deed. The way Joey keeps turning the positive feelings of a kind act into its own self-interested reward was, to me, reminiscent of the way Landline explores relationships and what people put into and get out of them. Landline isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s a more interesting examination of the way we invest connections we have than just about anything you’ll see in theaters this season.

  • Slums of Beverly Hills (now on Netflix). Here’s Roger Ebert:
    You can see the sitcom possibilities. The film, written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, is pitched pretty firmly at that level of ambition: Broadly drawn characters, quick one-liners, squabbling family members, lots of sex. Yet it also has a certain sweetness, a good-hearted feeling for this family, which stays together and plugs away. Arkin is the key to the good feelings. He is a poor provider but a good father, who may skip out on the rent and be a lousy car salesman, but he insists that his kids do their homework. One senses that his kids will grow up to be all right. Then there’s his rich brother Mickey (Carl Reiner), who starts paying the rent in return for Murray taking his troublesome daughter off his hands. Mickey makes lots of money but has no class, and there’s a painful scene in an airport restaurant where he blurts out crass insults and Murray–who has been taking his handouts all his life–decides he’s had enough.

  • Secrets & Lies (now on Film Struck). Here’s Mike D’Angelo:
    I felt a bit depressed as I walked out of Secrets & Lies, the latest film written and directed by Mike Leigh. Not because I hadn’t enjoyed the film — it’s terrific, as the rating above attests; and not because the film is grim or pessimistic or in any way downbeat — it concludes with a scene of quiet hopefulness, and compared to Leigh’s Bleak Moments or Naked, it’s positively sunny. No, I was mildly depressed because Secrets & Lies, for all of its virtues, is not an unqualified masterpiece. That’s how high my expectations for Leigh’s work have become; he is, in my opinion, the world’s greatest living (and currently working — I have to add that caveat until Billy Wilder dies) filmmaker. Like all of his previous films, Secrets & Lies grew out of improvisations; Leigh begins his process with only the vaguest idea of what the subject of his film will be, and allows his actors to create their characters from whole cloth. Unfortunately, he’s hampered a bit this time out by the melodrama inherent in his initial idea: white working-class mom meets the baby she gave away at childbirth, and finds that she’s a well-to-do black woman.

That’s it! Get streaming, kids.

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