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:
- The Fate of the Furious. Here’s what we said in our original review:
During one of The Fate of the Furious’ biggest action sequences, the new villain Cipher (Charlize Theron) simply pushes a button and proclaims, “It’s zombie time.” This action allows Cipher to hack into hundreds of cars, barreling them through New York City, smashing willy-nilly and raining from skyscrapers. For the first time in quite awhile, the Fast & Furious franchise is as lifeless and hollow as Cipher’s cyphers. Instead of the near-perfect action bliss the series honed with Fast Five, The Fate of the Furious skids into mediocrity once more, with disappointing CGI-laden action sequences, bland villains, and a completely nonsense story that even pushes the limits of believability in this series where Dwayne Johnson once flexed out of a cast.
- Going in Style. Here’s AA Dowd over at The AV Club:
It’s probably worth noting that the whippersnapper behind the camera is none other than one-time sitcom star and indie darling Zach Braff. Did he owe someone a favor, or is this his attempt to break into the studio system he scorned with his last feature, the gooey Kickstarted passion project Wish I Was Here? Anyone looking for Garden State echoes will have to suffice with a couple of conspicuous needle drops and a few ostentatious tricks during the heist-planning montage. Otherwise, Braff is working for hire, anonymously delivering the mugging cameos (Kenan Thompson; an overbearingly over-the-top Josh Pais) while lining up the usual platitudes about only being as old as you feel. Here and there, the actors manage some real acting, illuminating the melancholy inherent to the original and deliberately marginalized here, lest anyone accidentally think about death while watching a movie about septuagenarians planning one last hurrah. Maybe seeing these aging headliners talk about their age carries an automatic power. Or is that just grading on the Last Vegas curve again?
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The Exception. Here’s Christopher Gray over at Slant:
What’s nonetheless engaging about this film, adapted from Alan Judd’s novel The Kaiser’s Last Kiss, is how cannily it incorporates elements of spycraft and sheer trash into this familiar formula. After a dreamy prologue, the film opens on the formidable chest of Stefan Brandt (Jai Courtney), a disgraced SS officer with an appetite for sex and schnapps. As a sort of punishment for his weak leadership serving in Poland, Brandt is sent to Wilhelm’s (Christopher Plummer) estate in the Netherlands, where there are reports that a British loyalist has infiltrated the kaiser’s domestic staff. Moments after being warned against fornicating with the help, Brandt is called to dinner by the housemaid Mieke de Jong (Lily James). “Take your clothes off, please,” he says. She obliges, and the parties quickly reverse roles in a subsequent scene.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Michael Keaton edition):
- The Founder (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Founder ends with legal conflicts between Ray and the McDonald brothers. Its conclusion and hostility are like a precursor to The Social Network, another film about a hungry businessman whose meteoric rise is unprecedented. The differences between The Founder and The Social Network are like a time capsule of different periods of American prosperity: while Ray Kroc is sued after a lengthy business arrangement, Mark Zuckerberg is sued almost immediately – facing more defendants. There is an innocence to the McDonald brothers, and that innocence applies to Ray as well: no one quite knew where their business would lead, except The Founder argues Ray was more than eager to jettison any idea or any person that slowed him down. This the cinematic equivalent of a Big Mac: delicious, easily consumed, and ultimately forgettable.
- Spotlight (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
The other two members of Spotlight are Matt Carroll (Brian d’Arcy James), a ruffled shoeleather reporter, and Robby Robinson (Michael Keaton), the leader of the team. Robby’s good friend is Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), another editor who provides support at crucial moments. All the performances, including the bit parts by actors like Michael Cyril Creighton and Billy Crudup, are solid. But Ruffalo stands out as a classic journalism character: Mike is an introvert and a ball of awkward, nervous energy. But he’s also deeply empathetic and bull-headedly determined: he even sleeps outside a court office to get first crack at some documents when they go public. Meanwhile, Keaton is quietly moving as a Boston native – accent and all – who must reckon with how profoundly both his profession and he himself failed for so long to break the story.
- Jackie Brown (now on Netflix). Here’s Roger Ebert:
A lot of crime films play like they were written by crossword puzzle fans who fill in the easy words and then call the hot line for the solution. (The solution is always: Abandon the characters and end with a chase and a shootout.) Tarantino leaves the hardest questions for last, hides his moves, conceals his strategies in plain view, and gives his characters dialogue that is alive, authentic and spontaneous. You savor every moment of Jackie Brown. Those who say it is too long have developed cinematic attention deficit disorder. I wanted these characters to live, talk, deceive and scheme for hours and hours.
That’s it! Get streaming, kids.