Instant Picks of the Week 2/9/18
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.
A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE (Netflix)
A FUTILE AND STUPID GESTURE is BOOGIE NIGHTS by way of David Wain, for all that’s worth to the viewer. The filmmaker behind WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and ROLE MODELS blends his most absurd tendencies with his sweet hearted screwball goofiness into an encyclopedic and surprisingly moving biopic of National Lampoon co-founder Doug Kenney. It’s an impressively ambitious project that drifts through styles and modes of storytelling, with the tone being chaotically flung around behind it, resulting in something somehow both trite and inspired. The big takeaway here is Will Forte’s performance, which gives stage to everything that makes him a gifted performer. His timing and tone are so infectiously affable, but in a grounded enough way that when get gets into dramatic territory, it’s not only convincing, but emotionally stirring, or in some cases, scary. The mania that Kenney experiences in this picture, though at odds with its otherwise irreverent sensibility, is reasonably crippling, and if there’s one reason to see this film to the end, it’s in Forte. For people unaware of this chapter in comedy history, it’s a fun way to learn. For the already familiar, it’s a unique experiment (seeing how they handle portrayals of classic comedians played by contemporary ones is half the fun), that is either entertaining and moving, or lives up to its title. As biopics go, it’s a weird salute, nonetheless. [Rocky Pajarito]
THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO (Amazon Video)
An unequivocal delight, THE SEARCH FOR GENERAL TSO may not set out to change the world, but still offers up a delicious plate of foodie-friendly cooking imagery, history, and the social implications of immigration and cultural assimilation. Structured around the premise of uncovering the roots of General Tso’s chicken, a uniquely Chinese-American dish with no basis in traditional Chinese cuisine and culture, the film takes us on a journey through the Chinese immigrant experience, shining a light on the tenacity and ingenuity of members of the diaspora spread to some of the least welcoming locations in America. Those feeling a little munchy are sure to salivate at the countless shots and discussion of Chinese-American restaurant kitchens, but the accessible appeal of its outward veneer soon gives way to some more pensive and somber considerations of the challenges of staying true to your cultural roots while everything around you screams at you to adapt. With a delightful and eclectic series of interviews, with everyone from a man with the largest collection of Chinese restaurant menus in the world, to the two dueling chefs laying claim to the original General Tso recipe, to the descendant of General Tso himself, no stone is left unturned on the journey; it’s one well worth taking. [Thomas Seraydarian]