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 Hollow Point. Here’s Glenn Kenny over at RogerEbert.com:
You can almost hear the execs in a boardroom making their calculations: take one thriller storyline in the No Country for Old Men mode, shoot in Utah, add one cult actor with a rep familiar to viewers of a particular “gritty” TV Western and put him in a similar role, add one competent but not overly costly leading man, bring the picture in for less than X number of dollars and voila, here is a genre picture that will likely yield a not stratospheric but perhaps not insubstantial return on investment. The cynicism, which the actual filmmakers have to try to rise above (and which in this case they fail to do) is almost blood-curdling.
- Train to Busan. Here’s Simon Abrams at The Village Voice:
Yeon’s patient direction and clever plot twists make Seok-woo’s transformation from selfish antihero into brave caregiver consistently compelling. Especially riveting are scenes in which Seok-woo uses athletic tape, fire extinguishers, and cellphones to rescue Su-an from train cars full of zombies. Better still: Yeon’s creative use of an already claustrophobic setting — particularly door locks, shatter-proof windows, and luggage racks — will make you yelp at every predictably moralistic death scene. Train to Busan won’t surprise you, but it will get under your skin.
INSTANT VIEWING OF THE WEEK (Pусский Cюзерену Edition):
- Leviathan (now on Amazon). Here’s what we said in our original review:
In interviews, Zvyagintsev explains that Leviathan is a modern update of the Book of Job. While parts of his film are about the limits of wisdom and piety, a religious allegory limits his ambition. His title is more revealing: it refers to a gigantic whale skeleton, one that rests on an abandoned seashore that Roma visits when he’s at his most desperate. With patient interest, the camera regards the whale and the abandoned ships the line the beach where Kolia and his beach live; these are totems of past, once revered, that now have no modern purpose. This is not the story of Kolia and his notion of God, exactly, and it’s instead about what happens when an ordinary man tries to make sense of an indifferent world, one that’s forgotten him. Because the man happens to be in Russia, a place defined in part by its contradictions, he is also an intriguing, sympathetic example of the country’s unique character.
- 12 (now on Amazon Prime). Here’s what we said our original review:
12 is at its best when considering it alongside the American original. For example, it’s fascinating to think how differently Americans and Russians express anger. Emotions play an even higher role here. At one point the Cab Driver uses a protracted anecdote to appeal directly to a juror’s fears, and successfully switches his vote. All the characters seem obsessed with the wisdom one gains from suffering. The Nervous Man uses a descent into alcoholic abyss as justification for his decision. Another one discusses the Russian over-reliance on laughter as a means to disguise fear. Together the jurors reconstruct the famous sequences from 12 Angry Men. Remember when Henry Fonda deliberately walks around the jury room to determine how long it would take the old man to reach a window? It’s recreated here, but with an animated zeal that takes on a strangely comic tone. Like the Lumet classic, the performances are all uniformly strong. No character is given a name, yet they all have distinct personalities. I particularly liked the crazed Cab Driver and the Chechen surgeon who knows how to bust a move with a military-issue knife. Of course you already know the verdict this jury reaches. Yet there is one final fascinating debate, one that calls into question the value of mercy over justice.
- Hard to Be a God (now on Netflix). Here’s Ignatiy Vishnevetsky over at The AV Club:
“This isn’t Earth,” declares the narrator at the very beginning of the movie. Of course, it sort of is Earth, or maybe just one country in particular—a country with a weakness for political strongmen, a storied history of imprisoning intellectuals and artists, and a tendency to explain away cultural repression through the rhetoric of populism. Perhaps it’s because these kinds of things tend to be cyclical and predictable that Hard To Be A God, a project begun in the mid-1960s as a commentary on Stalinism and filmed in early- to mid-2000s, looks, at least in part, like an attack on Putin-era Russia. It sure as hell wasn’t intended that way, but that’s how it plays. Go figure.
That’s it for your weekly streaming guide. На здоровье!