Kneel Before VOD: April 25th
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.
Fifty Shades Darker (2017)
It's a slow week regarding new releases, the most notable being this adaptation of the second novel in the mega popular Fifty Shades series of romance novels. I've never seen either movie, but from what I hear they aren't exactly the exciting whips-and-chains kinky fantasy that they are purported to be. Well, it is that, but as mainstream Hollywood vanilla as possible. Still, you could do a lot worse than to watch Dakota Johnson flip the script on Christian's domination for your date night. Also, this version is billed as "Unrated", so maybe it's a little sexier.
Hulu Plus: As Good As It Gets (1997)
Jack Nicholson once again delivers an all time great performance as a successful New York writer struggling with OCD. Nicholson gets a dog from his friendly gay neighbor (Greg Kinnear) after he ends up in the hospital after getting attacked one day. He slowly grows attached to the dog, who melts his curmudgeonly ways and inspires him to pursue his crush on a waitress at a local restaurant (Helen Hunt). The scenes between Nicholson and the dog are magic. The whole movie has a whimsical carefree tone that is part and parcel with James L. Brooks movies, at its most charming here.
Oprah Winfrey makes her first return to feature film acting since her work in Ava DuVernay's Selma, in HBO's latest original movie, the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The made-for-TV movie (based on Rebecca Skloot's best seller) follows the story of a journalist (Rose Byrne) pursuing to tell the story of Henrietta Lacks by connecting with her daughter Deborah (Winfrey). Before she succumbed to cancer in the early 1950s, Lacks's cells were harvested from her unknowingly and are still being used in research at Hopkin's University to this day. HBO's last two originals played like an oversized Lifetime movie, luckily Lacks is an incredible true story that actually gets treatment on par with what you would expect from the cable giant.
Netflix: The Prestige (2006)
Christopher Nolan's tale of two competing magicians in 19th century London is inherently silly. Seeing Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman dress up in disguises to sabotage each other's tricks under any other hands would elicit comedy, but Nolan makes you buy into it. Even knowing the twists going in I was impressed by the film's final act, where it really comes into its own to satisfyingly pay off all that has been set up earlier. When the film dives into the supernatural is when it's at its most intriguing.
Amazon Prime: The Warriors (1979)
I don't know how a film, entirely centered on a turf rivalry between multiple street gangs, featuring a few large bloody fight scenes can be this boring, but it is. Those scenes themselves are not particularly noteworthy in any way, despite their massive scale and decent choreography. The Warriors is considered essential cult classic viewing, although why that is is entirely beyond me. I suppose it's worth watching to see if the hype lives up for you, and if you're one of the many pre-existing fans you now have another place to stream it if Hulu Plus wasn't enough.
FilmStruck: Antichrist (2009)
Lars Von Trier is nothing if not challenging. The controversial but masterful director's 2009 epic Antichrist sees the director tackle the stages of grief in extreme ways. A couple (Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg) are having sex one night when their child crawls out of his crib and falls out the window to his death. The couple is unable to cope, spending the rest of the film in a cabin in the woods in agony. To call the film tough to watch is an understatement. One scene in particular is among the most stomach-churning in cinema history. But if you can manage to make it through you're rewarded with arresting unique visuals and a captivating sensationalized portrait of despair. Chaos reigns.