Instant Picks of the Week 2/2/18
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.
BUFFALO ‘66 (Amazon Video)
So Josh and Benny Safdie’s GOOD TIME is obviously an unofficial prequel to BUFFALO ‘66, right? The sheer amount of mirroring in terms of characterization and verite stylings is unquestionalbe—that’s not to mention that Shawn Christensen literally copy-pasted the bowling alley dancing scene into his Oscar-winning short film, CURFEW! Anyhow, I digress. Telling the story of BIlly Brown, a wrongfully accused convict fresh out of prison who kidnaps a young tap dancer and forces her to pretend to be his wife, Vincent Gallo and Christina Ricci are really sublime in this. Yes, the film wears its Cassavetes influences on its sleeve, but there’s something so sincere about the morbidity of this entire affair that really digs under your skin. BUFFALO ‘66 is saccharine to the bone, a sardonic portrait of failure and the redemption one can find at the bottom of a barrel. Really a wonderful feature debut; it’s a shame that apparently Gallo turned out to be disgustingly arrogant. At least he didn’t take Ricci down with him, as she’s the real MVP here.
COLUMBUS is a bewilderingly strong debut from director Kogonada, a powerhouse accomplishment from a truly skilled auteur. It’s quiet, contemplative, but never boring. It is a film that wrings out the psyche of its deeply human protagonists like a wet towel. Unfortunately for the rest of you, there’s no catchy marketing I can do on Kogonada’s behalf. I mean, how does one pitch a romance set to the backdrop of Indiana’s architectural legacy? For what it’s worth, it’s delightfully charming, and boasts a unique visual beauty that we far too often ignore come awards season. Why does COLUMBUS tick like a finely tuned watch? Well, for starters, it is so aesthetically adroit. Countless films try to impress through camera movement, whether handheld or machinated dexterity. But COLUMBUS is in the ilk of an Edward Yang project. It is photographic. Each composition serves the buildings in the camera’s three-dimensional space just as much as it does the characters. And I mean three-dimensional quite seriously here. The way Kogonada understands the framing of background and foreground imagery is blissfully inspiring. A low-angle shot of a brick archway (you’ll know it when you see it) is easily the most exciting static shot I’ve seen all year. Take any still from COLUMBUS and frame it; you’d have an architectural gallery like few others. All this nuance is captured through the gestures and stillness of Kogonada’s filmmaking. Just like LATE SPRING, it is about accepting our place in a perpetually changing world and making sense of what surrounds us, whether inanimate or not. It is about transparency, and how the truth is hard to swallow. COLUMBUS uses its postmodern architecture as a foundation for the subtlety of its narrative. Just because nobody cares to park their car here doesn’t mean there isn’t something to see.