Kneel Before VOD: May 23rd
Welcome to Kneel Before VOD, where the latest offerings on various video-on-demand platforms are highlighted for your streaming pleasure. With so many options these days from a range of different services, it can be daunting to select just one film without ending up making a list of a couple dozen. Below, find what we've selected as great entertainment choices to keep things simple.
John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017)
The sequel to Keanu Reeves' 2014 action vehicle is full of more tightly choreographed gunplay that's more well put together than any other current franchise. The world surrounding Wick has been greatly expanded, adding more depth to his interaction's with businesses and further explaining how the whole complex hitman system works. It's a claustrophobic world where any random passerby could easily be a working assassin. Somebody finally made a good sequel to a Keanu Reeves movie. (Check out Rockie Juarez's review here)
A favorite of the 2016 Cannes Film Festival and a critical darling for the better part of the last year, Raw is a disturbing but visually alive tale. A vegetarian veterinary student turns into a violent cannibal quickly after she gets her first taste of meat, and she goes to some sickening lengths to get more flesh. Garance Marillier gives a charged lead performance, shepherding the weak stomached through all the blood. (Check out Rob Trench's review here)
Amazon Prime: A Hologram for the King (2016)
Tom Tykwer's adaptation of Dave Eggers's 2012 novel certainly looks pretty and features another great performance from Tom Hanks. Hanks stars as an American businessman trying to close the deal of his career to the Saudi Arabian government. It's a fish-out-of-water tale that suffers from a plodding, aimless plot and underwhelming comedy. Tykwer last directed the best parts of Cloud Atlas, but when given feature length he comes up short.
Netflix: The Place Beyond the Pines (2012)
Another case where poor marketing hurt a brilliant movie in the long run. The film was marketed as a film about a daredevil carny and his friend going on a bank robbing spree. The Place Beyond the Pines is that in part, but it is so much more. If you have not had any of the twists spoiled for you I won't dare ruin them here, I will instead implore that you watch the deeply personal epic story of fathers and sons unfold for yourself. It is one of the most memorable movie-going experiences of my life, and a personal favorite.
HBO Go/HBO Now: Jason Bourne (2016)
Beloved action antihero Jason Bourne returns after nine years MIA with director Paul Greengrass in tow. What could go wrong? A lot, apparently. Jason Bourne is duller than dull, somehow reaching a new low for the franchise after the completely average 2012 reboot Bourne Legacy was a nonstarter. Unexciting, disorienting action scenes are few and far between the same hard to follow politics we've been seeing in spy flicks for years.
Also Streaming: The Wizard of Lies
Hulu Plus: The Host (2006)
South Korean director Bong Joon-ho's 2006 monster movie is hailed as a masterpiece by most genre fans. A gigantic sea-creature (born of American ignorance) attacks a city, killing or kidnapping whatever it sees and leveling buildings. The Host focuses on one particular family trying to get their daughter back from the monster, braving further attacks and military interference. I personally found the film tiresome, but it's ideas and effects are impressive.
Also Streaming: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
FilmStruck: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
You probably know game show host Chuck Barris. At his peak he seemed like he had it all, multiple successful gigs and loads of public adoration. But the public doesn't know about his secret life as a CIA assassin. We don't really know if that is the case or not, but Chuck went to his grave swearing it was the truth. George Clooney's directorial debut (he also costars) walks a fine line between telling the known version of events and Barris's version, never dipping into mockery and without making a concrete decision as to what is reality or fantasy. Clever in-camera effects and an enveloping performance from Sam Rockwell make the uneven tale worth experiencing.
Also Streaming: Das Boot