Instant Picks of the Week 11/4/16
Gone are the days of scrolling mindlessly through your queue! No longer will you have to sift through the vastness of what’s coming to the instant viewing wastelands this month! Whether you’re looking for a stellar film or an exciting new show to binge, Instant Picks of the Week brings you the hottest releases in film and television on instant viewing platforms that we know you’ll love, or at the very least not despise.
Irreverent, deeply weird, and undeniably charming, PORTLANDIA gets it right. It’s a sketch show parodying the specific hipster free-range lifestyle of Portland, Oregon and it revels in its absurdity. However, its observations on a seemingly niche culture seen through the various permutations of coupledom are not in the least bit esoteric. There’s something for everyone; from headphone art to noodle monsters to angry owners of a feminist bookstore, it’s impossible to keep a straight face. It’s a show that gets better with time, as the later seasons focus on long form, character-based storytelling, a creative decision that frees the narrative to resonate on a more personal level. (See the season four finale, my personal favorite episode, for the best weekend getaway ever). And unlike many sketch pieces, everything is held together by the palpably sweet connection between Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, who perfectly complement each other. Armisen’s character work is so spot on it leaves you in stitches, while Brownstein’s humor radiates an intelligence and grace that perfectly compliments him, step for step. They’re so in sync it’s weird. But then again, that’s the whole point of the show. It’s simply a delightful medley of oddities too infectious to not want to be a part of. [April French]
The indigenous Australian aborigine culture demands that in order to be culturally considered a man, every young male must endure the harsh Australian outback for months unaccompanied. Upon completion of this “Walkabout,” he will be embraced as a full-fledged member of their community. The production of Nicholas Roeg’s eponymous film WALKABOUT paralleled that of an authentic one: shot void of a crew, throughout the outback with a single aborigine as a guide, and Roeg’s own son cast as one of the three characters. With a 14-page script, the film is the visually poetic masterpiece that Terrance Mallick never made. It sparsely depicts the chance meeting of a young aborigine with a teenage girl and her younger brother, who are lost in the outback on an unofficial and unintended walkabout of their own. Unorthodox for a coming of age film, it’s a story that speaks to race, youth, sexuality, responsibility, identity, nature, and nirvana — even though the characters hardly speak themselves. A foreign Criterion film, the technical marvel of this piece is better suited for cinephiles rather than casual viewers. Roeg (who was also the cinematographer) photographs the brutal and beautiful Australian outback with dreamlike imagery, but the true genius of the film lies in its cerebral cutting. The unique style of editing marks a precursor to Roeg’s better known 1973 surrealist horror piece, DON’T LOOK NOW. While both films are excellent, WALKABOUT excels with its ambiguous yet powerful message, conveyed with a genuine touch that can’t be fabricated. For Roeg, making this movie in the desolate Australian outback must have been a Walkabout of its own. It certainly is to watch it. [Phillip Vernon]