Instant Picks of the Week 4/22/16
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 shows 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.
THE FACULTY (Netflix)
What I personally consider to be a highlight of Robert Rodriguez’s filmography, one that has seemingly slipped past the radar of many, THE FACULTY is a willfully campy send-up of the tropes of both science-fiction thrillers and romantic high school melodramas. Although it indulges in telling a familiar tale of communal parasitic possession common across many texts in the greater pantheon of sci-fi horror, the palpable and undeniable “teen” atmosphere makes it endlessly endearing. Distorting and morphing the parameters of high school drama archetypes by filtering them the through the lens of the alien invasion (for example, the “drug dealer” character discovers that his product is a litmus test for who has been overtaken by the alien invaders), THE FACULTY is occasionally prone to an explicit homage (there’s a crawling head on tentacles late in the film that’s a blaring visual reference to a certain John Carpenter film), but that can’t stop its gleeful gore and acerbic young adult wit from rendering the viewing experience entirely enjoyable. If you can forgive the early attempts at computer graphics that the film possesses (I personally find them optimistically charming), THE FACULTY is sure to ensure a fun late-night romp.
Like many of the best documentaries, SOMM takes an extremely microscopic conflict and manages to successfully convey the larger truths about humanity and the world around us that said conflict signifies. Telling the story of a group of individuals preparing for the test that will potentially certify them as a master sommelier, an expert of all things wine related, especially the pairing of wine with food, SOMM is endlessly entertaining, detailing just how demanding and myopic the profession can be. The documentary deserves praise for its ability to make the story of four anonymous, would-be wine experts full to bursting with tension and undue duress as they prepare for their extensive final examination, but far more notable is the film’s stark portrayal of the desperation, obsession, and self-doubt that consumes anyone with a burning passion for something that isn’t even recreationally engaged with on a widespread level. Yes, I can identify with the general anxiety and stress related to the preparation for a task of personal, nearly mythical proportions, but I can far more readily identify with the constant consideration of the fact that that which I love may be totally, irreparably inconsequential. And that is where SOMM exceeds most wholeheartedly; if a film about wine nerds can make me question who I am, what I love, and why I love it, then it’s a winner in my book.