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:
- Midnight Special. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Midnight Special is an intriguing look at the many directions that Nichols has decided to go in his still young film career and as one of the most fascinating directors working today, it’s exciting to see where his imagination and ambition can take him. But Midnight Special is lacking in that sort of Nichols’ magic that made his earlier films so captivating. There’s still some there, just not as much as their was. Midnight Special is almost too small to reach Nichols’ ambition, too big to play to his strengths. It’s still an enjoyable, fun ride that shows how great middle-budget film making can be and showcases Nichols’ gifts that he’s still trying to hone just right, but it’s also a slightly disappointing fourth outing.
- Elvis and Nixon. Here’s what we said in our original review:
As a fan of the absurd as well as the weird-yet-true, I was pleased to learn that Cary Elwes had a hand in the co-writing the script, and that so many of the events actually occurred, and that the documentation of the events are housed in The National Archives. When Elvis has to pull out all of his weapons during the Secret Service’s check, it’s no joke that he was carrying. One of the characters from the film, Egil “Bud” Krogh, played by Colin Hanks, actually wrote an entire book on this—The Day Elvis Met Nixon, which is one of the sources for the film. However, the subplot with Schilling and his girlfriend (played by Sky Ferreira) seemed to exist solely to remind us that there was a real world outside of this story. I’m not sure that it was entirely necessary, but it gave Elvis a chance to have a heart-to-heart with one of his few true friends. This bit of character development is hard to pull off in a biopic, let alone a historically based comedy. Shannon is funny as Elvis, but he also takes care to show that Elvis wanted to be treated like a regular person. I’m just not certain that the film has the same goals.
- Miles Ahead. Here’s Mike D’Angelo over at The AV Club:
That’s a shame, because Cheadle demonstrates some talent behind the camera, especially in the film’s deliberately jagged leaps from present to past and back again (which often pivot off of violent movement in the frame). He’s also predictably charismatic as Davis, capturing the man’s raspy voice, hard stare, and infinite swagger. Had Miles Ahead taken a different unorthodox approach—focusing exclusively on Davis’ lost years, for example, without all the pseudo-gangster nonsense—Cheadle’s performance alone might well have made the result worthwhile. Instead, his onscreen electricity gets continually short-circuited by the sheer idiocies of the story in one timeframe and by the usual biopic quagmire (burnout, drug abuse, shouting matches with an abused spouse, etc.) in the other. This genre’s minefield is almost unavoidable, no matter how strenuously one tries to find a unique path through it. Cheadle did try. Give him that.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK:
- Mustang (now on Netflix). Here’s Andy Crump over at Paste Magazine:
The film couples these sobering truths with images so beautiful as to snatch the breath from our lungs. Selma takes another virginity test against her will, this time after her nuptials; she stretches out on the exam table, bedecked in her wedding gown, as the doctor’s light shines beneath the dress. It’s a gorgeous shot, one of many in the arsenal displayed by Ergüven, whose camera has a sense of movement, whether it’s documenting or participating in the action. Most of all, her pen is keen, passing judgment on masculine rule through naked contempt and nuanced critique while allowing her protagonists room to rail against their confinement. We applaud the sisters’ rebelliousness as much as we reel at the abuses they endure. (Akdoan plays the rebel well, though ?ensoy is the film’s true heroine. She’s like a pint-sized Furiosa in training.)
- The Invitation (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
We all have friends with whom we have grown apart. Sometimes the process is natural, sometimes it is acrimonious, and sometimes it happens because our friends have bought into a philosophy/lifestyle that doesn’t feel right. The Invitation taps into that experience in a savage way. The filmmaker correctly realizes that while we may not recognize ourselves, we’ll recognize the situation they’re in. After all, who hasn’t been to a party where they felt they wanted to leave the second they arrived? Luckily, most parties do not end as badly as The Invitation, but then again, getting the opportunity to say “I told you so” is its own kind of sickly pleasurable reward.
- We Have a Pope (now on Hulu). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The papal conclave is a fascinating process because of its spiritual implications. According to Catholic dogma, the pope is infallible when he acts in any official capacity. What does that say about the cardinals who elect him? Do they temporarily have the power to grant infallibility? And what about the ones who vote for the wrong guy? Perhaps God denies them the power and/or wisdom to decide St. Peter’s successor. These are the thoughts I had during the opening of We Have a Pope, which begins with a conclave. Director Nanni Moretti addresses these questions in an oblique way since his film is not a grave religious drama, but a gentle human comedy.
That’s it! Let us know what you’re watching in the comments.