Instant Picks of the Week 1/26/18

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.

Instant Picks of the Week Brawl

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BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (Amazon Video)

This is not a film for the faint of heart or stomach: this filmmaker’s penchant for the nasty and ultra-violent is so blunt, so without fanfare, that it oozes confidence. The movie doesn’t need to applaud itself, it already knows the audience is going buckwild. Vince Vaughn plays a hulking Frankenstein’s monster of a villain, punches landing on him as flat thuds, his hugs enough to snap spines. His journey, one that I dare not spoil but will reveal has a certain STREETS OF RAGE side-scroller je ne sais quoi, is one rooted in emotional truth. Though it wholeheartedly has him saving a damsel in distress, the tackiness of it somehow feels endearing. Vince Vaughn just sells it. It’s a performance of a lifetime: Vaughn establishes a signature cult character the very moment his head tattoo pops on screen. This is Tarantino meets Pedro Costa, the tongue-in-cheek dialogue and wonderfully self-acknowledged attribution of grindhouse tropes mixed with the horrific physicality of humans forced to their breaking points, switched from biological organisms to gut-churning mechanisms, all seen through mucky, DV-captured corridors. BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 is pulverizing—a BDSM session of a film that tests your patience, your stomach, and your bloodlust, but never pushes you to the extremities of pure transgressive cinema. Zahler’s having fun with it . . . he knows deep down there’s a sick part of you that will, too.

Instant Picks of the Week Protector

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THE PROTECTOR (Amazon Video)

This is grindhouse cinema. It’s so weirdly and sloppily edited and the music choices are just . . . What? The story makes no sense, to a hilarious extent, and for every rare moment that it sort of does, it can pretty much be explained as “this dude really wants his pet elephant back.” It’s by all accounts a generic, bad, bad, bad film. But, like so many other genre films, to really soak in this movie’s genius is to view it within its own context. The context here? Tony Jaa is a crazy motherfucker who performs jaw-dropping feat after cheer-inducing punch and he wants to show you just how cool he can be. The four-plus-minute tracking shot fight scene going up several flights of stairs is a spectacle to behold. One of the most unabashedly fun and kick-ass movies I’ve ever seen.

Deserted in a video store as an infant, Kevin was raised on Fulci, Tarantino, Kubrick, and Whoppers. Now he's a junior film production major at Chapman University who acts as guest contributor for Crossfader on the side: what a success story.

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