Kneel Before VOD: May 9th
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.
Get Out (2017)
The biggest unexpected breakout hit of the year from first time director Jordan Peele is a legitimate horror masterwork that directly takes on racism in ways more clever than we usually get in film. The plot is so simple it's a wonder why it took so long to get made: a white woman brings her black boyfriend home to meet the parents, who try a little too hard to hide their sinister racism. Tension effortlessly builds through micro-aggressions, and the twist works considerably. The most important movie of the year for many reasons. (Check out Aaron Hendrix's review)
The Great Wall (2017)
The Great Wall is one of the many movies of 2016 to get caught up in a whitewashing controversy. Matt Damon stars as a man taken prisoner inside the Great Wall in 11th Century China. He soon joins a special task force of killers trained specifically to fight a great horde of monsters that appear once every sixty years. The Great Wall may be colorful, but it doesn't have much to offer beyond a few decent action moments amid the boring exposition. (Check out Rockie Juarez's review)
My Life as a Zucchini (2016)
With the release of My Life as a Zucchini, all of the film's nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars are now available for home viewing. Much like fellow nominee Kubo and the Two Strings, Zucchini provides a complex and adult story told through stop-motion animation. My Life as a Zucchini plot revolves around a recently orphaned little boy who befriends a police officer. The impressive animation tells the sad but resilient story incredibly well.
Rock Dog (2017)
The second animated release this week, although this one's a little less acclaimed. As the title suggests, Rock Dog is about a dog that plays guitar. The only problem is that he lives in a Footloose style village where music is outlawed, but Rock Dog is undeterred, he wants to be a Rock Star and he's going to achieve the dream by any means necessary. Thankfully, Rock Dog is less of a straightforward jukebox musical than Sing, but that's not to say it's any more enjoyable for the parents who are going to be forced to watch this over and over.
Netflix: The Host (2013)
After the end of the Twilight Saga, Stephanie Meyer started a new series that would hopefully kick off another billion-dollar franchise. Unfortunately, The Host was a critical and box office bomb, and after four years there has been little talk of a sequel. The sci-fi plot is too much of a mess to summarize accurately, and the effects and performances leave much to be desired.
Hulu Plus: Rent (2005)
Rent is a lovingly faithful adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, and that's the problem. The musical itself suffers from a thin plot and one too many less than stellar songs that are all safely ported over, for better or worse. That being said, there is a reason why it's an everlasting smash. While the numbers themselves aren't that memorable, they are sung with heart by the talented crew of actors, most of whom reprise their roles for the film. While it's full of cheese, you're almost guaranteed to cry somewhere along the line.
Also Streaming: Flubber, The Recruit, What About Bob, A Fistful of Dollars, Terms of Endearment, Black Beauty, LA 92, Chocolat, Black Hawk Down, Fatal Attraction, Major League, Hannibal, Gladiator, The Naked Gun
HBO Now: Sully (2016)
Tom Hanks turns in yet another prestige performance in Sully, playing the titular real life pilot who successfully landed a plane in the Hudson River with zero casualties. Clint Eastwood's latest is full of the typical "rah rah America" that you would expect from him, but it's a far better movie than he has made in a decade, largely thanks to Hanks and Aaron Eckhart. The landing sequence is intense and worth seeing.
Amazon Prime: Manchester By the Sea (2016)
The Amazon production Manchester By the Sea, written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan, finally makes it to the company's streaming service today. The devastating film stars Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges (all nominated at the Academy Awards for their roles, with Affleck winning Best Actor.) After his brother dies, Affleck is left in charge of his nephew, so he returns to the life he left behind. (Check out Rob Trench's review)
FilmStruck: Blow Out (1981)
Brian De Palma's masterpiece is finally available to stream on FilmStruck. The film stars John Travolta as a sound engineer who believes that he's unwittingly recorded an assassination. The film is full of leftovers from 70s era political paranoia and intrigue, and De Palma's visual style is stronger than it's ever been. It wasn't a hit in its time, but in later years it has been rightfully hailed as one of the best in its genre.