Kneel Before VOD: April 18th
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.
Matthew McConaughey plays Kenny Wells, a prospector who has a dream one night that tells him exactly where to find the gold that he desperately wants. He goes to the jungles of Indonesia to seek it out along with a geologist, Michael (Édgar Ramírez). McConaughey reportedly gained 40 pounds just to play the role in this film loosely inspired by true events. He probably didn't pick the best movie to drastically alter his body for, the film made little impression at the box office or with critics, but he did make an otherwise not noteworthy comedy more interesting with his all out performance.
It took 12 years for third movie in the Ring franchise to get released and just over two months for that movie to become available for home viewing. Take that information how you will. The third entry updates very little for the digital age. It's still an old VCR tape that leads to the death of the viewer seven days after watching. While the first movie still feels rather unique and effective, Rings feels like it's a retread of everything that its predecessor inspired.
A Dog's Purpose (2017)
Everybody has at least one weepy dog movie that they absolutely love. A Dog's Purpose tries to not only capitalize on that absurdly specific genre, but it tries to do it multiple times. The movie tells a story of reincarnation by following a dog's spirit as it inhabits multiple different dog bodies from birth to death, each one finding it's owner Ethan, who is also played by multiple people. If you are in the mood to cry about a dog, you won't find more bang for your buck than with A Dog's Purpose.
Adam Sandler provides his strongest comedic character work in years as Sandy Wexler (based on Sandy Wernick, Sandler's real life manager), a quirky, chronic liar talent manager who talks a big talk while representing an eclectic but unsuccessful client base. Sandy overhears the beautiful singing voice of Courtney Clarke (Jennifer Hudson) wasting her talents at a children's storybook show at an amusement park. Wexler represents her all the way to a big record deal and a number one single, but for her sake decides he should step away, never being this close to success before and not knowing how to manage it. The film is among Sandler's best, being genuinely sweet and hilarious at times, but still comes with some of the caveats typical with Sandler's films, a soul-crushing length and a bad romantic subplot being the most egregious.
Now streaming on Amazon Prime, Park Chan-wook's The Handmaiden is strikingly beautiful for its entire 167 minute runtime. There were multiple times that I stopped the film just to admire a shot. Thankfully so, because while the narrative is interesting, going to some depraved and wild places, I didn't find it good enough to sustain interest for such a lengthy time. A conman posing as an art teacher (Jung-woo) hires a pickpocket (Kim Tae-ri) to be be the personal handmaiden to an eccentric elderly bookworm millionaire's wife and heiress (Kim Min-hee) in an effort to steal her inheritance. The two women slowly form an intimate relationship and the pickpocket begins to rethink her place in the plot as it spirals out of control.
The much derided Suicide Squad is a boringly plotted mess of a movie. The action scenes are a mostly boring means to an end, and the visual design is constantly at odds with the tone of the film, which is already all over the place as is. The story of a band of super villains being forced to work together to do some good is a great idea, but it is not capitalized on as the film nonsensically follows the exact same structure laid out by fellow buddy superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy. The film has its moments, most involving Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn or Will Smith's Deadshot. The two really go for it, acting as if they are in a significantly better movie, and I wish they were.
Brie Larson's work in Room was great, but I still prefer to pretend that she got her Oscar for her performance in Short Term 12. Larson is Grace, a worker at a home for at-risk youth. As her personal life begins to unravel, she finds solace in helping the troubled teens. Every single character is a well developed, lovably disturbed person. They all have their problems that you desperately want them to get in control of, but whether they will or not is not the point. It's all about the beautiful relationship that these damaged souls have, and it's a truly special thing to watch.
The Monty Python loving child me wanted to like A Fish Called Wanda, but as many times as he tried he couldn't finish it. I have not tried to watch it for years, and perhaps I never will, that's why I need you, brave FilmStruck subscriber. I need you to pick up the impossible task that I have failed in, actually watch a critically acclaimed and by all accounts hilarious heist movie that many consider a classic. I know it sounds difficult, and with a cast including John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Kevin Kline, I don't envy you, but I do believe in you. God dammit I believe in you.