You’ve got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we’ll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you’ll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
Does the summer movie season really start next week? Wow. This year is flying by, and I guess it feels like it really just raced up on us this year. Still, there’s plenty of good stuff to see in theaters this weekend, so it’s not like you have to wait. Besides, it’s good to get in a few more small titles before the onslaught of wanna-be blockbusters begins.
We’ve also got a few winners you should check out at home, whether you like your movies streaming or on DVD or Blu-ray, and I hope at least one thing off this list ends up as part of your weekend.
IN THEATERS TODAY
I think Richard Linklater has one of the best ears for regional voices in mainstream filmmaking today, and his return to rural Texas for “Bernie” is a pure delight. Based on a true story, a point that star Shirley MacLaine wanted to emphasize when we discussed the movie last week, “Bernie” isn’t really a dark comedy, although it goes to some grim places and contains some big laughs. It’s not a love story, but it all turns on the mechanics of a very intimate relationship. It’s not a crime story, although the structure is built around a set-up, a crime, a trial, and a verdict. It is all these things in part, but the way Linklater combines these elements is very smart and very direct. Jack Black does some of the best work of his career in the film, and watching MacLaine work, she brings a tremendous amount of craft to a role that could have been pure caricature. This is a special little film, and I’d hate to see it get lost this weekend.
This was one of the unexpected highlights of Fantastic Fest last year, and you should see the film now before they remake it for America. It’s a smart satisfying thriller. Roger Brown is a corporate headhunter by day, art thief by night, and when his two lifestyles collide, it could cost him his marriage, his career, and even his life. The film is frequently funny, but in a very dark way. And, as I said in my original review, if you ever find yourself covered head to toe in human filth, driving a stolen tractor down a country road with a dead dog hanging from the front end, you may want to rethink your choices.
“Sound Of My Voice”
Brit Marling was a sensation at Sundance 2011, but of her two films, this was the one I thought worked. Even if you didn’t care for “Another Earth,” you may want to give this a try. It’s a creepy, moody piece about a journalist and his girlfriend trying to infiltrate and expose a cult that is led by Maggie (Marling), a woman who claims to have come to our time from the future. The film does not offer easy answers, but it’s an engaging experience that promises big things from director Zal Batmangllj. This is a small film, but Marlin is a big talent, and this is a heck of a showcase for her unusual gifts.
ALSO NEW IN THEATERS THIS WEEK: “The Five Year Engagement,” “The Raven,” “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” “Safe,” “Elles,” “The Broken Tower,” “The Giant Mechanical Man,” “96 Minutes,” “Citizen Gangster”
ON STREAMING THIS WEEK
“The Woman” – Netflix Instant
While Lucky McKee’s brutal look at gender politics and dysfunctional family dynamics may not be for everyone, I think it’s a gorgeous, strange, darkly hilarious film that features a great performance from Sean Bridgers and a memorable turn from Pollyanna McIntosh. Not for the faint of heart, but I’m betting you won’t forget it once you’ve seen it.
“Marwencol” – Netflix Instant
This odd little documentary is actually returning to Netflix this week, since it was on the service once before, but if you haven’t seen the film, you should. It deals with the way art can transform pain, and it’s a riveting film. The less you know walking in, the better, but I give it as high a recommendation as I can.
“Haywire” – Amazon Instant
Gina Carano. Steven Soderbergh. Michael Fassbender getting his ass whipped. Do you really need to have this one spelled out for you?
ALSO NEW ON STREAMING THIS WEEK: Netflix – “The First Grader,” “The People Vs. George Lucas,” “Roadie,” “War Of The Arrows,” “The Way,” “Fatso,” “Sweetgrass,” “The War Zone,” “Why We Laugh: Black Comedians On Black Comedy.” Amazon Instant – “The Confession,” “Rampart,” “New Year’s Eve,” “Joyful Noise,” “The Grey,” “The Chorus,” “The Closet.”
ON HOME VIDEO THIS WEEK
Ti West’s latest slow-burn ghost story is funnier than anything else he’s made, and it benefits enormously from the chemistry between Pat Healy and Sarah Paxton. You need patience to truly enjoy it, but it’s a lovely, charming film, and it really does feel like West is building one of the more unusual careers in modern horror.
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
This is the original production from the ’70s, starring Alec Guinness as George Smiley, and if you liked the new film starring Gary Oldman, you should check this out. There’s so much more included here from the original Le Carre novel that it almost feels like a different story altogether. This marks the first appearance of this mini-series on Blu-ray.
I have not seen this film in many years, but I remember being fascinated by this big-screen adaptation of the Lerner and Lowe musical when I first encountered it as a kid. Telling the story of the Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot love story, “Camelot” was a major hit in 1967 when it was released, and it even won some Oscars. I look forward to coming back to the material as an adult, now that I know who Franco Nero and Richard Harris and David Hemmings are, and I’m curious to see how the film plays for me now. I hope the transfer lives up to the high standards set by many of the Warner Bros. Blu-ray transfers.
ALSO NEW TO VIDEO THIS WEEK: “11-11-11,” “Cinema Verite,” “Contraband,” “Badge 373,” “Dark Tide,” “Eclipse Series 32: Pearls Of the Czech New Wave,” “Girl on A Motorcycle,” “Let The Bullets Fly,” “The Organizer,” “Pariah,” “Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour,” “Return,” “The Theater Bizarre,” “The Wicker Tree,” “Young Goethe In Love”
“The Weekend Watch” appears here every Friday.