VOD PICKS

January 2012

VIDEO ON DEMAND PICKS — JANUARY 2012


***PICK OF THE WEEK***

Kill List (IFC Films) — To be honest, after one viewing, I’m still not sure what to fully make of Ben Wheatley’s genre-sodomizing follow-up to Down Terrace. Suffice to say, whatever you are expecting, it will deliver much differently than that. It’s impossible to ruin the surprise by describing this thing, and without a second viewing I find it nearly impossible to write about it. But it is an undeniably bold, original work, and it is very much recommended. That said, you have been warned! (Available now through Cable VOD)

***THE REST, ALPHABETICALLY ARRANGED***

The Innkeepers (Magnet Releasing) — It’s virtually impossible not to compare Ti West’s follow-up to The House of The Devil—particularly if you found that film to be as masterfully executed as yours truly did—but in this case, I was able to check my expectations at the door and appreciate West’s latest as the fun ride that it is. At 100 minutes, West certainly pushes the boundaries of how many slowwww walkssss downnnnn hallwayssss weeee neeedddd tooooo geetttt theeeee pointtttt acrosssss, and many less patient viewers will undoubtedly check out. But what I find to be so exhilarating about an effort like this is how West updates the old-school haunted house movie for the modern generation—both Pat Healy and Sara Paxton are great at conveying the soul-sucking, time-numbing burden of service jobs like these. He also infuses the film with a genuine sense of humor. West’s recent films are in many ways intellectual filmmaking exercises, but his command of the craft and childlike enthusiasm for the visceral thrills inherent in his genre of choice help them to succeed as popcorn entertainment. (Available now through AT&T, Brighthouse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Insight, RCN, Time Warner, Verizon, VUDU, Amazon Instant, Xbox, iTunes)

Lbs. (FilmBuff) — I can’t recall the last time I watched something in which my pistons were firing so rapidly at both ends of the cylinder. In its message, its spirit, and its overriding ambition, Lbs. is to be fully commended. But in many other ways, it feels like a conventional festival film that wears its age rather unwell. This strange dichotomy is what makes Lbs. such a curio for me, and it’s what made me want to write about it instead of ignoring it as I usually do in cases such as these. Read my full HTN review. (Available on iTunes, Amazon VOD, CinemaNow, Vudu, Sony Playstation, and Xbox 360)

Melancholia (Magnolia Pictures) — Melancholia is arrestingly rendered from first frame to last, nowhere more so than in its opening montage. Here the end of the world is personal first, planetary second, and seamlessly woven together in breathtaking fashion. What happens after that doesn’t always sustain the same visual and thematic concision (how could it?) and may be viewed in one of two ways: as von Trier shrinking a cosmic event down to the size of one woman’s depression or as him ballooning that depression into a cosmic event of its own. (Or is it both?) As a portrait of self-destructive despondency and the inability—or perhaps even unwillingness—to help oneself, it’s pitch-perfect. Kirsten Dunst is distant, often unlikeable, and rarely dependent on more than her hauntingly expressive face in mournfully conveying Justine’s permeating grief. Read Michael Nordine’s full review. (Available now through AT&T, Brighthouse, Cablevision, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Insight, RCN, Time Warner, Verizon, VUDU, Amazon Instant, Xbox, iTunes)

Northeast (Tribeca Film) — At first glance, it would be easy to think that Gregory Kohn’s feature debut, Northeast, is about womanizing, of which Will does plenty. Or that it’s about New York City, because the grit and cacophony of the city almost seem to drip from the screen. Or that it is just another film about the well-documented, perhaps over-documented, post-collegiate malaise that tends to befall Gen Yers and Xers. Or even that it’s a film about nothing, as the characters almost seem to gravitate into the empty spaces around them and in their lives. To varying degrees, it is about all of these things. But, at its heart, it’s a film about relationships and, more so, the lack thereof. In this way, Kohn has painted one of the most accurate portrayals in recent memory of what “dating” is like in New York City today for the post-collegiate set. Read Vinay Singh’s full review. (Available now through Cable Movies on Demand, Amazon Instant, VUDU, iTunes)

The Other F Word (Oscilloscope) — In its early chapters, Andrea Blaugrund Nevins’s The Other F Word ambles along congenially yet unremarkably. Perhaps it’s the popumentary aesthetic—snappy editing, uptempo guitar rock soundtrack, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the daily lives of notable musicians—that might have you thinking this project would have been better served as a half-hour MTV show rather than a 100-minute feature film. But something unexpected happens along the way. Insights are shared and emotions are exposed that turn The Other F Word into a genuinely poignant statement on fatherhood. Considering the source, that’s saying something. Read my full HTN review. (Available now through Cable VOD)

Perfect Sense (IFC Films) — David Mackenzie’s film plays a bit like Terrence Malick’s Contagion, and while I certainly wouldn’t call it great, it has a sincerity about it that makes it worthy of a perusal (chalk much of that sincere emotion up to Max Richter’s score). Ewan McGregor and Eva Green make for a handsome couple, and even if things don’t add up, I personally found it to be warmer and more compelling than Mr. Soderbergh’s aforementioned entry into the “world is ending?!” genre. (Available now through Cable VOD)

A Screaming Man (Film Movement) — For the first half of Mahamet-Saleh Haroun’s A Screaming Man, you might think Haroun’s sole mission is to deliver one of those poignant little personal fables that feel warmly contained within their own worlds. But something happens along the way. The news reports of civil unrest that filter through the background of so many early scenes maneuver their way into the forefront, to the point where the film’s scope widens dramatically. But here’s the trick, and it is what most likely resulted in its winning of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival: Even as that external scope widens, A Screaming Man retains its small, personal, internal purpose. Haroun’s deft balancing act between an actual civil war and the civil war in one’s man mind is a quietly groundbreaking achievement. Read my full HTN review here. (Available on Cable VOD through Verizon and Charter)

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2 Responses to “VOD PICKS”

  1. Rich Says:

    I really enjoyed your video store story – read it “cover to cover”. I miss the experiennce – the interaction – hunting for film gems –

    Richard Wolff
    Breaking Glass Pictures 

  2. Xmliqq2012 Says:

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