Kneel Before VOD: March 21st
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.
Live By Night (2016)
Ben Affleck's fourth and most ambitious directorial outing fell flat on its face upon release, barely squeaking past $10 million at the domestic box office and receiving a dismal 35% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although the drama of the crime film's prohibition era gangster tale falls short, Live By Night still ends up having a few things to offer. In his review for Talk Film Society, Marcelo Pico mentions the "gorgeous shots of Florida beaches and marshes that push the boundaries of digital filmmaking." So, if nothing else, Live By Night does have some beautiful vistas and competent action scenes to make it a pretty failure.
Assassin's Creed (2016)
Calling this adaptation of the popular video game franchise of the same name a success is hardly apt. A majority of the action scenes are edited too frantically for you to fully follow them and the story is a bit confusing at times, but in my review I also found it to be one of the most exciting beginnings to a blockbuster franchise to come out in some time. The game's high concept plot of diving into an ordinary man's lineage to uncover a bevy of secrets about an unseen war between two historic groups translates well to the big screen, perhaps being an even better place to tell the story. At the very least the film provides stellar performances from the always great Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard.
20th Century Women (2016)
Nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, 20th Century Women is a personal tale focused on the owner and tenants of a boarding house at the tail end of the 1970s. Annette Bening turns in another beautiful performance that earned her her eighth Golden Globe nomination. Writer-director Mike Mills fully comes in to his own here, where his subtle laid back style allows the movie's excellent performances and writing to shine.
An all star cast lend their voices to this animated jukebox musical about a koala who sets up a singing competition in order to save his beloved but dying theatre. The measly sum of $1,000 is offered to the winner, but thanks to a typo in all the flyers, the grand prize accidentally inflates to $100,000 and soon the whole city is abuzz and a ton of animals hoping to use their talents to win enter the competition before being whittled down to five. Sing is your typical children's animated film affair. Easy gags that have been done to death are to be expected, but thankfully the musical performances are surprisingly decent and the film's central message stays true throughout. It'll most certainly become insufferable as it's played ad nauseam at home for the kids, but at least for the first watch it's inoffensive family entertainment.
Train To Busan (2016)
Zombie movies are a dime a dozen these days. That's why it's so important that when we get one that's special we cherish it. Train to Busan is that special one. It's so significantly better than a vast majority of zombie films that it towers over the genre, only allowing such classics as Dawn of the Dead and 28 Days Later to come close. If you're in the mood for some undead violence or a tear jerking drama, you can't get much better than this. Check it out on Netflix.
Everybody Wants Some!! (2016)
Richard Linklater's recent nostalgic period piece calls back to his second and still most popular feature Dazed and Confused. The director once again gathers a large cast of unknown teenage talents for a slice of life tale, watching them as they ignore authority to party and pick up women with the light touch that he has made signature. Everybody Wants Some!! is one of Linklater's best, and all around one of the most fun movies to be released in some time. Check it out on Amazon Prime.
Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)
One of last year's biggest comedy hits, Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates is the rare comedy that makes full use of it's R-rating to provide dirty comedy that hits hard. What little plot there is is spelled out for you right there in the title, but what it lacks in substance is makes up for in entertaining banter between the titular brothers and their dates that are more than they seem at first glance. The A-level comedic cast, including Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Aubrey Plaza, and Anna Kendrick, play off each other well to elicit large laughs consistently throughout it's refreshingly short runtime. Check it out on HBO Now.
Romy and Michele's High School Reunion (1997)
Mira Sorvino and Lisa Kudrow's cult classic 1997 buddy comedy feels just as fresh now as it ever has. The not so bright but inseparable duo apprehensively go on a road trip to their ten year high school reunion, where they hope to impress the fellow alumni with a ludicrous lie about their careers to cover up the fact that one of them is a cashier and the other is unemployed. Sorvino and Kudrow have a great chemistry, achieving both broad laughs and subtle touching moments when needed. Check it out on Hulu.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006)
Legendarily illusive independent director Ken Loach won a Palme D'or for this feature, an impressive feat that he achieved again very recently for his 2016 film I, Daniel Blake. The two films tell similarly compassionate human stories, but The Wind That Shakes the Barley does it on a sweeping epic scale centering on two brothers that join the IRA to fight for Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom. Check it out on FilmStruck.