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:
- Miss Sloane. Here’s what we said in our original review:
Part of the underlying message of Miss Sloane – and it is a “message movie” – is that Washington is corrupt to the bone. Madden and Perera showcase in the scenes away from Sloane, where we see the slop that greases the wheels of our system. To the film’s credit, it mostly sees Sloane as more of an anti-hero: she is cavalier with people and facts, and knows she’s an effective cog in a broken machine. In its climax, however, all that character development and well-earned cynicism goes out the window. Miss Sloane ends with a twist that would embarrass Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the hit show Scandal. At least that show knows its place, letting the absurd plot twists push the story beyond the plausible and into camp territory. In its attempt to preserve a sense of good taste, Madden inadvertently makes the trashy plot mechanics all the more pungent.
- Live by Night. Here’s what we said in our original review:
As a filmmaker, Ben Affleck trades in thrillers that aspire for more than the constraints of the genre. His best film, Gone Baby Gone, achieves those heights with clever twists and a perfectly articulated moral quagmire (it also helps that it’s the only film where he does not appear onscreen). Argo is a handsomely mounted prestige thriller, one that plays into the Academy’s biases, since it is literally about Hollywood saving the hostages. Affleck’s latest is Live by Night, a violent gangster film that lays the moralizing on a little too thick. Like an overeager chef, he stuffs us with portentous metaphor and dialogue long after we’re full.
OUT THIS WEEK & WORTH YOUR TIME:
- The Founder. Here’s what we said in our original review:
The Founder, a docudrama about the ascendancy of McDonald’s, remembers a period before chains restaurants took over the country. It remembers when you could go into a small town, and you wouldn’t expect to find Walmart or countless fast food places. That context is key to the film’s success, because without it the idea of McDonald’s is not revolutionary. Directed by John Lee Hancock, who previously made Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side, this film is sentimental and cutting in equal measure. The labor innovations of fast food are revolutionary, as are the nationwide proliferation of mediocre burgers, so the restaurant’s legacy is a mixed bag. The Founder is also uneven, juxtaposing meandering plots alongside a sharp character study.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (non-Disney animation edition):
- Kubo and the Two Strings (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Laika does not conform to the trends of modern animation. Their films use a mix of computers and painstaking stop-motion techniques. Their characters are hardly cute, at least not in the Pixar sense, and their stories draw from painful childhood feelings: alienation, rejection, and loneliness. But because their films are always visual delights – with strong characters – they arrive with wisdom, too. Laika’s latest Kubo and the Two Strings is no different. Director Travis Knight sets his film in an exaggerated, austere vision of feudal Japan, one where magic coexists with agrarian life. The narrative is stripped to its essentials, in terms of ambition and heroes/villains, so Knight uses that simplicity to his advantage.
- Coraline (now on Netflix). Here’s Tasha Robinson over at The AV Club:
Selick’s script plays up the colorful fantasy possibilities of Gaiman’s perfect world, in a series of amazing sequences where mechanical mice, independently mobile flowers, and hideously near-naked old ladies perform for Coraline’s pleasure. But he also taps into a playfully Burton-esque streak of delicious dread that’s as much Beetlejuice as Nightmare. Gaiman poised the story—one of his tightest and slyest—at the nightmarish border of traditional fairy tales, and Selick expands it while respecting its strong characters and eerie tone. He brings it to life as a piece of stunningly mobile art, a lovingly detailed, beautifully constructed clockwork contraption with CGI fluidity and handmade soul. Like Selick’s Nightmare, it demands repeat viewings for the craft alone. Also like Nightmare, it seems like an act that no one could possibly follow, except maybe Selick himself.
- Ernest and Celestine (now on Netflix). Here’s what we said in our original review:
Most importantly, Ernest & Celestine doesn’t feel like it’s in a rush to some goal, but rather focuses on the budding friendship between these unlikely friends and how their relationship impacts the different lifestyles they both live. We even get a brilliantly edited sequence in which they both must explain their friendship, where we see that even though they both seem like polar opposites, they are basically going through the same fundamental experiences. Directed by A Town Called Panic’s duo Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar, along with Benjamin Renner, Ernest & Celestine has the heart and general fun that often feels lacking in the usual animated films. They create a film that brings Gabrielle Vincent’s children’s books to life, making a beautiful film that is adorable, sweet and filled with love for its characters.
That’s it! Get streaming, nerds.