Instant Picks of the Week 2/16/18
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.
PHENOMENA (Amazon Video)
Now look, we’ve never said Instant Picks of the Week have to be good, merely that we’d recommend watching them. And falling squarely into that category of being more memorable than traditionally meritable is Dario Argento’s contentious film PHENOMENA. Buried in his filmography amidst his renowned giallo work, PHENOMENA is perhaps most well-known by video game aficionados who seek it out for its obvious and unofficially credited influence on the classic survival horror series Clock Tower. And my oh my is it bonkers! In what really should have been a video game as opposed to a feature film, a young Jennifer Connelly finds herself able to commune with bugs, the ideal special ability to have when there’s a serial killer on the loose terrorizing a remote school for young girls. Toss in the requisite icky gore effects, an aggressively incongruous incorporation of Iron Maiden’s “Flash of the Blade,” and a monkey wielding a goddamn straight razor and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a beer-soaked night in. It doesn’t really add up or make much sense, even when watching the version without 20 minutes cut out of it, but as far as curiosities from the VHS era go, this one leaves a mark. And yes, it is literally 1995’s CLOCK TOWER. [Thomas Seraydarian]
How is it that we live in a world where Errol Morris can release a documentary and nobody bats an eye? We ought to run straight to our Netflix queue when a film like WORMWOOD becomes the streaming service’s latest acquisition. In 1953, an Army scientist by the name of Frank Olson took a fatal plunge from his hotel window. Roughly 20 years later, a news report begs the question as to whether or not Olson’s death was a suicide, a murder, or the unfortunate result of a devious government experiment. Fusing Morris’s legendary interview style with the macabre, confounding identity of Frank Olson’s son, Eric—a man who has seemingly never recovered from his father’s mysterious disappearance—WORMWOOD becomes a dissertation on the opacity of truth, a query into how far we will go to put our mind at ease, and whether we can let sleeping dogs lie at all. WORMWOOD isn’t concerned with the subjects of guilt, nor does it care to seek justice. All of this is secondary to a far more essential question: What does uncertainty do to one’s psyche? WORMWOOD can sit comfortably as Morris’s most aesthetically pristine picture, and the brilliant, intermittent use of collage work not only gives the viewer a palpable insight into the mind of its subject, but hauntingly captures the incendiary skepticism that boils in one’s head once the facts have been eroded and reality feels like a distant memory. This feels like a welcome entry into an oeuvre that has been searching for a seat beside the likes of THE JINX. [Sergio Zaciu]