Instant Picks of the Week 6/23/17
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.
DRUG WAR (Amazon Prime)
A compositional tour de force. DRUG WAR satiates my craving for high velocity cinema like few other crime pictures do. Telling the kinetic story of an undercover cop who finally has a chance at toppling the faceless leaders of China’s drug network when he nabs an underling, Johnnie To demonstrates that he’s a master of his craft when it comes to understanding action. His use of repeated frames to establish geography and juxtaposition of sweeping wides with intense close-ups, constantly zooming from expressions to vital objects, feels part Paul Greengrass, part John Woo. It’s outstanding in its precision, and fuels the film’s most extraordinary set pieces, with fight scenes later in the film crafted in an intense, visceral way that makes a strong case for this being a textbook of action choreography that all others could stand to learn from. For a film that’s in a language I don’t understand, it’s a testament to To’s visual storytelling that a film with constant twists, elaborate drug drops, and character impersonations remains so legible to a foreign viewer. This is how you make crime films! [Sergio Zaciu]
An innovative documentary that deserves the buzz it’s accumulated, Keith Maitland’s festival darling is now readily accessible on Netflix. As you may have heard, the film’s main draw is its treatment of recollections of the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas at Austin through a rotoscoped animated format. And yes, it works perfectly and provides a breath of fresh air for those tired or indifferent to the standard documentary! But greater than its unique method of presentation is the fact that it never feels like a glorification of the killer or a strange fetishization designed to satiate bloodlust, as many true crime films and documentaries do. Focusing on the survivors instead of offering a deep exploration of the psyche of Charles Whitman, Maitland tells an evocative tale of bravery and resilience in the face of extreme tribulation, with the animation offering a heightened textuality that concurrently gets us to consider the fact that these are recollections of memories. Warmly human and never exploitative, TOWER is a powerful viewing experience everyone should have. [Thomas Seraydarian]