Kneel Before VOD: April 11th
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.
La La Land (2016)
Damien Chazelle went all out for the follow up to his brilliant but small scale Whiplash. Harkening back to the days of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Chazelle created a bombastic Hollywood movie musical the likes of which has simply not been made for decades. Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone (in her Academy Award winning performance) star as two would be stars, Sebastian (a jazz musician) and Mia (an actress), respectively. The two's relationship goes through ups and downs as they attempt to make something of their careers. The critical darling's largest successes lie in its lavish musical numbers and strong performances, but more importantly it has a sense of pure joy that few films achieve so fully.
Toni Erdmann (2016)
It's time to get in before the forthcoming American remake almost certainly disappoints. Ines (Sandra Hüller) is a no-nonsense businesswoman dealing with a large project that relocates her to Bucharest when her father, Winfried (Peter Simonischek), unexpectedly makes a visit to rekindle their relationship. Winfried is an eccentric, not so happy with his daughter's strict life. The two argue and he agrees to return home, only to reappear with false teeth and a wig as "Toni Erdmann". Winfried uses the alter ego to get closer to Ines, making her realize that maybe she does want him in her life after all.
Underworld: Blood Wars (2017)
The highly stylized blockbuster action franchise built on watching Kate Beckinsale fight werewolves comes to a close with the fifth and final outing. This time around the mythical asskicker Selene (Beckinsale) is being pursued by two different factions, the vampires and the lycans for some reason blah blah blah who cares. Look, it doesn't matter what happens. There are two types of people in this world: Those who want to watch Kate Beckinsale shoot a bunch of vampires and werewolves for a fifth time and those who don't like fun.
The latest film from masters of stop-motion Laika Studios is a fantastical masterwork that fully utilizes the studio's powerhouse animation style to tell a surprisingly complex story for a younger audience, who are never talked down to unlike a majority of the film's contemporaries. Young Kubo (Art Parkinson) lives a peaceful life in an idyllic Japanese village until he accidentally stays out too late and through a bit of his mother's last magic finds himself lost in a snowy expanse. His charm of a monkey has turned into an intimidating protector named Monkey (Charlize Theron), and the two quickly meet a beetle named Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), a student of Kubo's father, Hanzo, who was considered the greatest warrior in the world before he mysteriously died. The three go on a quest to acquire three items that belonged to Hanzo and defeat fearsome creatures along the way to find out what exactly happened to Kubo's father.
Also on Netflix: The BFG
The previous Barbershop films were not much more than fun diversions, but the third installment that came a full 12 years after the second trades the silly comedy of the originals for a more subdued slice of life style that tackles serious issues, both large and those harder to quantify, such as race relations and gang violence head on. The Barbershop and the Beauty Shop next door have combined into one store. The store's change puts the two sexes at odds, forcing the usual what-happens-here-stays-here banter out into the open. It's an unexpectedly complex film with a who's who of black actors doing what they do best.
Miles Teller and Jonah Hill are two actors quickly wearing out their welcome in the press, but it's tough to deny that they are good actors. War Dogs is at its best when the two are fucking around, partying and making snappy quips at each other. Unfortunately, in typical Todd Phillips fashion, the film drags on for far too long, sticking around in scenes for longer than needed. The film's plot follows the typical rise and inevitable downfall that you've already seen too many times in your lifetime. There is enjoyment to be found, but it is surrounded by unoriginal bore.
Also on HBO Now: The Human Thing
A quaint movie with a lot of heart, The Station Agent is something special. Peter Dinklage gets the platform he deserves to deliver a beautiful performance as Finbar, a loner who is gifted a defunct railway depot from his deceased boss. He goes to live in the station and meets Joe (Bobby Cannavale), a food truck owner, and Olivia (Patricia Clarkson), a disgruntled housewife. The two are friendly, but total goofballs, contrasting starkly with Finbar who just wants to be left alone. Over the course of the film, the three slowly become unlikely friends. It's a sweet small scale film with a lot of laughs with career best performances from the three leads.
Masterful horror actor Vincent Price gives one of his wildest performances as a fed up actor determined to get the better of his critics by way of death. After a failed suicide attempt following the loss of a prestigious acting award, Edward Lionheart (Price) decides to hunt down the critics that he hates so. He disposes of thepundits using famous deaths from Shakespearean plays that he has starred in. The kills are inventive and gory, seeing each one is a treat in and of itself, let alone being performed by a late-career Vincent Price going full Vincent Price.