Instant Picks of the Week 8/11/17
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.
THE DEFIANT ONES (HBO GO)
As relentless in style as the music trailblazers it follows. THE DEFIANT ONES is peak talking-head documentary filmmaking: controlled, whimsical, funky, fresh. Jimmy Iovine is as charismatic as you’d expect a man of his stature to be, and Dr. Dre delivers some breathtaking vulnerability. From Springsteen to Stefani, each subject offers wonderful insights on the history of the music industry, illuminating the trajectory of these two complex, genre-defining, and culturally impactful careers. It might not be O.J.: MADE IN AMERICA—often falling into the trap of only being a documentary for music fans—but that isn’t exactly a huge criticism either. This is absolutely compelling filmmaking, each episode highlighting a distinct era in Iovine and Dre’s prolific careers. I’d love a more in-depth case study on the cultural tidal wave of Napster, Eminem, Tupac, and Dre’s early days as a DJ, but this should do for now. For what it’s worth, THE DEFIANT ONES could easily be the most cohesive documentary for any one of these artists’ careers. It careens through facts, tidbits, and emotional ups and downs at a breakneck pace, and it works like gangbusters.
UNBREAKABLE (HBO GO)
UNBREAKABLE is a complicated work to discuss. It came out in 2000, years before the superhero boom took Hollywood by storm, turning every holiday season into a caped crusader’s latest outing. And yet, it registers as a film that is directly riffing on that culture. UNBREAKABLE is a film that was a solid decade ahead of understanding just how superheroes would dominate the pop culture playing field, and in doing so, M. Night Shyamalan had huge leverage. There’s a zany, mysterious, almost ethereal quality to this that is wholly unique, tinged with Shyamalan’s trademark flair for sentimentality amidst drab milieus. This isn’t a film about actually putting a stop to an all-encompassing evil, but rather about how a hero psychologically deals with the epiphany of who he and his enemy are. If it wouldn’t be for the fact that the Shyamalan twist comes just a little too late (the film should honestly be 10-to-15 minutes longer) the film would stick the landing in an even more impressive manner, but as it stands, UNBREAKABLE is a historical relic like few others. Wildly inventive and shockingly competent in its display of the hero’s journey despite its budgetary limitations, it proves that, just as always, Shyamalan works best on a financial leash.