This week, our Video On Demand Power Ranker Supreme 3000 has been a little viral and under the weather (we told him to be careful when going on robot dates, but he says he loves and trusts Siri, and we think she gave him robot-mono) so it’s not exactly a quantity week. That said, with directors like Quentin Tarantino and Terence Malick leading the way, it sure is a quality week of VOD and digital releases.
1. Django Unchained
Django hit a number of services last week in an early digital release before hitting DVD and Blu-ray on April 16. Seeing as it’s perhaps the single best all-around film that released in 2012, it’s a shoe-in for number one on this week’s power rank. A love story disguised as a hardcore revenge story, a spaghetti western set in the slave-era deep south, another collaboration between Quentin Tarantino’s wildly entertaining dialogue and Christoph Waltz’s Oscar gold-worthy delivery. Yes, this it he movie you should be watching this weekend. Several times. Because, VOD. Available on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, YouTube, Cable on Demand and Google Play.
2. To The Wonder
In his final review before his seat in the balcony closed for good, Roger Ebert said that with To The Wonder, director Terrence Malick “is surely one of the most romantic and spiritual of filmmakers, appears almost naked here before his audience, a man not able to conceal the depth of his vision.” It’s not quite as ambiguous and scattered as his Tree of Life, but To The Wonder is the kind of movie that plays incredibly well for Malickites and lovers of contemplative cinema alike. It’s also the kind of release we should be supporting, as it released day-and-date with the theatrical run. It’s the right kind of film — about love, life, and film itself — that may not connect sight unseen with a mainstream audience. But here in the interconnected webs, there’s an audience for it. Available on iTunes, Vudu, Amazon and Cable on Demand.
3. Simon Killer
From the director of Afterschool and the star of Melancholia comes a film about a young American college grad who gets to live out one of those classic American college grad fantasies: he visits Paris and falls for a gorgeous young French prostitute. But there’s more to the story. There’s something that’s just not right with Simon. And is it just me, or does IFC really know how to cut a killer trailer? Available on iTunes, Amazon, Cable on Demand, Google Play, Vudu, XBOX and Playstation.
4. Gangster Squad
When director Ruben Fleischer decided to follow Zombieland with a period-piece about gangsters in Los Angeles, it didn’t sound like such a bad idea. When he began filling it with an incredible cast — the likes of Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone — it sounded even better. But after the Aurora, CO theater shooting left Warner Bros. with little choice but to reshoot an eerily similar scene and have the film recut, delaying it’s release and tossing it into the dreaded January film slate, things took a dark turn. The resulting movie isn’t half as fun as the original concept sounded, nor does it have the same energy we’ve come to expect from Fleischer’s work. It’s worth a look for it’s style and a few of it’s more wicked performances (looking at you, Mr. Penn), but it might not be a keeper. Sadly, in this case, it’s the kind of film that seems made for an on-demand rental. See it once and let it fade into the background. Available on iTunes, Vudu, and Amazon.
5. Broken City
Mark Wahlberg stars as a star detective who took a wrong turn and got himself in trouble. Russell Crowe stars as a New York mayor with his thumb on the button that could nuke Wahlberg’s life if he doesn’t help him find out who his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is playing around with outside of school. Crowe also has a terrible hair piece that would put even the most loathsome real-life politicians to shame. In fact, Donald Trump’s hair-dresser was even quoted as saying “NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!” This, of course, assumes that Trump’s hairdresser is a very old former-Nazi who was Hitler’s shave man. I’m just guessing here. Alas, Nazis or not, this crime thriller from 1/2 of the Hughes Brothers (Book of Eli), Allen, walks a straight, frustratingly narrow line down Mediocrity Lane and seems intent on wasting whatever talent and chemistry exists amongst its cast. Even the likes of Jeffrey Wright and Kyle Chandler are relegated to participating in lukewarm plot twists and delivering groan-inducing one-liners. It’s the sort of film that ends with the audience less satisfied, more bewildered and asking, “who the hell wrote this?” His name is Brian Tucker. He is also writing the Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance remake. Hopefully he gets a better sense of nuance before moving on to said project, because he displays very little of that here. Available on iTunes, Vudu and Amazon.
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