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:
- Friend Request. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Friend Request is absurd in every way. Its characters – especially Laura’s one-note friends – are nothing but fodder for Marina’s horror, the ideas are muddled and provide no commentary about the internet-obsessed and Verhoeven can’t settle on what he should attempt to scare his audience with. Friend Request’s only success is being the type of bad horror film that people will watch to laugh at its ridiculous jump scares and poor presentation of ideas. Friend Request ends up becoming as shallow as the social media it’s trying to criticize, an embarrassing wreck of a movie that is easily one of the year’s worst.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- Battle of the Sexes. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The climactic match is also fun to watch after all that build up. The payoff following the win for Stone as an actress isn’t quite the same payoff as King does as a tennis player, of course, though she does have a post-game locker room scene that is one of the most affecting moments in the film, conveying the burden tied up in King’s victory and the loneliness tied up in her success. It’s a bittersweet moment, and a reminder that even as progress has been made, there is a long way still to go. Perhaps inadvertently, Battle of the Sexes reminds us that the same is true more than four decades later.
- Marshall. Here’s yours truly in The Washington Post:
Despite simplistic moments and needless digressions, Marshall still makes for an engaging legal drama that largely avoids giving its subject the Great Man treatment. Boseman plays Marshall as cocky and smart but with no inkling of the giant he would become. Many of us know about Thurgood Marshall because of the landmark case striking down school segregation, Brown v. Board of Education, which he argued before the Supreme Court. By avoiding his most famous case, while at the same time preserving history — and adding pulpy thrills — Marshall is more involving than any textbook or documentary could be.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (indie angst edition):
- Brawl in Cell Block 99 (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s Mike D’Angelo over at The AV Club:
Ultimately, it’s the playful postponement of what the title promises that gives Brawl In Cell Block 99 its pleasurably shaggy-dog vibe. Toss those expectations aside and there’s no wasted energy to be found. Every scene has verve and wit and a clear purpose, getting Bradley closer to his destination and destiny—it’s just a more roundabout path than this sort of movie usually takes. Zahler throws in a couple of first-rate twists (including the revelation about why Bradley has been ordered to do the hit), and the entire supporting cast—Clark Johnson as an understanding cop; Fred Melamed as an officious intake employee; Don Johnson as a sadistic warden; Udo Kier as the latest in his endless roster of creepy dudes—is superb. Gorehounds, too, will eventually get what they came for, as the so-called brawl involves less punching than it does skull-stomping and face-scraping. (Anyone with phobias about severe damage to the human head should stay far away.) The film’s true target audience, though, is patient connoisseurs of highbrow-lowbrow combo platters who are eager to watch a modern Lee Marvin (yes, still talking about Vince Vaughn; really, you’ll be amazed) navigate a slow-motion descent into hell. Settle in and luxuriate.
- A Ghost Story (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said in our original review:
David Lowery’s A Ghost Story is a fragmented tale of the fingerprints we leave behind on the world, the individual moments that explain who we are, and the places that have made us who we are. Lowery’s take on grief and memory is shot like a home movie, and for better or worse, A Ghost Story is like dusting off an old family tape. It is scattershot medley of moments, some of which are beautiful and transcendent to behold, while others ill-advised and awkward. In some scenes, Lowery evokes the dreamlike wonder of Terrence Malick, the constantly-questioning mysteries of Stanley Kubrick, or the slow contemplation of Andrei Tarkovsky. As a counterpoint, Lowery also presents moments of complete pretense and frustration. There is a point where a character known solely as M (Rooney Mara) eats an entire pie in real-time, only to throw it up as a ghost watches in the background. Unlike Lowery’s previous two films Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Pete’s Dragon, A Ghost Story is likely to stick with its audience, either because they’ve experienced a profound, moving experience, or because they’re questioning what the hell they have just witnessed.
- The Dinner (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Perhaps a brutal vivisection of rich white dysfunction set in an exclusive, obnoxious restaurant where the only black characters serve as plot pivots rather than human beings strikes you as an ugly reinforcement of the cultural setting of such characters, and not the wicked lampooning of both the people and the setting that it is. Skip it, then, if you must, but you’ll cheat yourself of something that’s become rare in American movies: a story well shown, under-told, artfully constructed, and subtly built. The Dinner’s topic area may is ultimately trite, even tired. But it’s rare as hell to see a flick treat it with such intelligence, subtlety, and artful filmmaking technique.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.