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The 10 Best Streaming and DVD Choices of February

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | February 27, 2013 | Comments ()


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Celeste and Jesse Forever -- The indie romantic comedy from Rashida Jones got mixed praise from Dan, who appreciated that the film sought to dig deeper into relationship: "Not all the emotions ring true, though: Celeste and Jesse have been friends since childhood, but we're given no real reasons for their separation aside from Celeste's vaguely worded worry, nor do we get the feeling that any real thought went into their separation. They demonstrate no anguish or remorse over the situation, which would play if they weren't together but clunks a little when they have to still be best buds. Large parts of the movie feel like things happening to real people, but there are also plenty of moments and set-ups that feel too clearly contrived to bring about a situation instead of letting it unfold on its own. For digging deeper into relationships than most other movies in the genre, the film deserves praise."

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Flight -- Courtney wrote of the single most disturbing thing about Flight, a post that was far more enjoyable than the film, which was incredibly misleading in its promotion. As I wrote in my review, "Very few movies have been as disappointing versus the expectations that marketing established for us than Flight. I had expected, like anyone who'd seen the trailer and television spots for Flight, a studio contrived, feel-good legal drama pitting an underdog against corporate overlords that would perhaps be elevated above formula by another powerful performance from Denzel Washington. What I did not anticipate, however, was an incredibly expensive public service announcement for the 12-Step Program, or a movie about the random, unexplained nature of "God's plan."

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Anna Karenina -- Joe Wright's Karenina didn't kick up much of a splash at either the box office or during the awards season, but Amanda was a somewhat enthused fan: "Beautiful and thoughtful, Anna Karenina is worth seeing for the strength of the performances and the lavish design. People who love the book will likely be disappointed, but as an adaptation, it's fresh and exciting, never too much, audacious. While most versions of the film tend to cast Anna as a heroine, director Joe Wright has taken care to present the multifaceted nature of Anna. The film lays waste to the idea of romantic love conquering all, and perhaps the only real moments of respite come between Levin and Kitty, (the remarkable Alicia Vikander who also appears in this month's A Royal Affair) as two souls who attempt to make a good life together. Still, Wright is infatuated with the possibility, as are we all, that perhaps this new love is worth it, that by leaving our old life behind we can become the person we imagine ourselves to be, shining and bright, filled with possibilities and purpose. Yet, as Anna learns, all that glitters is not gold."

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The Man with the Iron Fist -- RZA, Eli Roth, and Russell Crowe is a batshit combination, and the result is a batshit movie that TK got a huge kick out of: "The film is an homage to the martial arts flicks of old, films that RZA and his fellow Wu members have been lifelong fans of. It's a ridiculous, off-the-wall splatterfest featuring plenty of wire work, absurd weapons, flying punches and kicks, and a hint of the supernatural to tie it all together. RZA plays a nameless blacksmith in a tiny little hamlet called Jungle Village, forced to make elaborate, wicked-looking weapons for the warring factions that vie for control. The editing is a bit spastic at times, and there's a touch too much slow-motion for my tastes, yet it's still pretty indicative of the genre that they're trying to emulate. What makes it ultimately satisfying is a wickedly grim cheekiness and an absolute dedication to being as beautifully, chaotically bloody as possible. "

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Sinister -- I haven't personally seen Sinister yet, but if my Facebook feed is any indication, the horror film is scaring the bejesus out of a lot of people. It certainly worked its magic on Agent Bedhead: "On paper, the movie looks like hell, but in practice, it will likely scare the hell out of you at some point. To wit: My feet, which I propped up on the seat in front of me, kept jumping despite my efforts to maintain a cool control; during the third act of the movie, I got up out of my seat and moved closer to other audience members (who I generally try to stay as far away from as possible) to provide the illusion of comfort; upon arriving home, my poor daughter had to accompany her own mother into the bathroom because I couldn't be alone in a room after watching this movie; at this very moment (the morning after), I cannot even sit in the office with the lights out (as is the custom) to write this review. Was it worth it? Obviously! It's been a long time since a movie creeped me out like Sinister does, and that's refreshing in a year where the horror movies have generally been laughable.

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Perks of Being a Wallflower -- Your mileage could certainly vary on Perks. I thought it was great, and the last few minutes absolutely floored me. But I like quirky, maudlin flicks, and I'm a sucker for coming-of-age movies. Amanda, who reviewed the film and also put it on her worst movies of 2012 list, was decidedly not a fan. I guess I'm not ready to grow up yet! "I'm bored of the faux-intellectual life. I'm tired of meeting people spoon-fed on this exact Perksian diet of liking the right music, the right movies and the right books, thinking they somehow invented The Catcher in the Rye or their appreciation for "obscure" bands such as Radiohead. I think I'm mostly sick of coming of age movies. I'm sick of feeling like I'm living through that confusing time over and over again, watching other teens and young adults come to the same startling, new-to-them realizations, over and over. People miming intelligence and experience at us because they simply don't have it yet. Perhaps the book was more shocking at its time of release, the year 1999, but with the advent of shows such as "Skins" and "My So-Called Life," the phenomena of this particular era of teenage angst has been explored rather thoroughly, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower simply has nothing new to add to the conversation. Aren't we all ready to grow up a bit?"

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Robot and Frank -- A very little seen but ultimately fantastically charming and sweet movie, Robot and Frank got big ups from Amanda, who I forgive for her Perks review: "Robot and Frank is a remarkable testament to the power of keeping things simple, with such a strong singular grain of an idea there's nothing to hide behind, no magic tricks or obfuscation, just powerful comedic and dramatic performances and pitch-perfect pacing. From love to friendship, parenthood and the responsibilities that all entail, Robot and Frank manages to be touching and honest without sacrificing humor and intellect."

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The Master -- I loathed The Master, but it was definitely a divisive film, as several among the staff put it in their ten best of 2012 (see, we don't always agree with each other around here). The problems I had with the film somewhat echo the problems that Dan has had with Soderbergh's films in recent years. Dan, who reviewed the The Master, was a big fan: "The Master is a cold film, but not an unfeeling or unforgiving one. Its greatness -- in terms of scope and achievement, from narrative and performance on down -- can't be denied. Anderson's style may have changed over the years, but he's still a student of small moments and little changes, and of the minor instances that can change lives. His latest work is mesmerizing and challenging, gripping and damning, funny and confounding. It says something that he intended it to be seen in 70mm, too, on actual film instead of the digital projection that's taken over today's theaters. I was fortunate enough to see the film in that format, and I found myself marveling at how movies -- real movies -- can look. Instead of the slick edges and occasional noise of a digital image, I saw grain and light flickering on screen. Over the dim rattle of the projector, I remembered that film's brightness is always complemented by those instantaneous flashes of darkness as the gate closes over the lamp and the sprockets push the next frame into view. The light and dark come together to carve dreams out of color and space, and it's that symbiotic method of creation that best defines The Master. It's a film about people trapped by their desperation to be understood, only occasionally able to make their true selves known. The answers here are in the little moments, flashing by so quickly your eye might not catch them. But they're there. Paul Thomas Anderson knows they are. And I believe him."

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Skyfall -- I am again in sync with Amanda's assessment of Skyfall, which she calls the best Bond yet: "Skyfall is beautiful and brilliant, blunt and precise, wielding violence, contemplation and excellence in equal measure. The kind of movie that holds your rapt attention and makes you glad you went and saw it, which is a rarity these days, to be sure. Skyfall is wonderful, everything a Bond film should be -- meditations on purpose almost always overruled by a more pressing, immediate need for action on the part of our hero."

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Argo -- Amanda also echoes most opinions on this week's Best Picture winner (it was Pajiba's second best of 2012), although I have seen a groundswell of folks turn on the movie of late. "Argo is a movie that will happily please a wide swath of the population, captivating and realistic, moving and intricate, broad and simple enough, and tinged with the thrill of reality. Whenever you base something on a true story you run the risk of failing to include some important detail, some small matter, but Argo feels wonderfully full, complete with the details and tension that elevate a great script and premise into something more -- a fantastic film."


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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • whut_whut

    'Celeste & Jesse Forever Annoying' is a more apt title for that flick. Ugh

  • Shazza

    Wait-so you hated 'Flight' but enjoyed 'The Man With the Iron Fists'? Is this part of the snark Pajiba is famous for?

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I'm looking forward to watching 'Robot and Frank' and 'Argo'; the Oscar win of the latter got a rise out of several journalists around here who argued that it is a glorification of the CIA, which only makes it more interesting to me.

  • Kballs

    I thought Skyfall was a bit clunky, actually. I could've done with a lot more Javier Bardem.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    I'm with kb here. I liked Skyfall, but many things were just overdone. Yes yes yes, we get that this movie is making a break from the past Bonds, but just how many times do you need to show the old DB-7 being riddled with bullets? Or the old underground MI-6 being blown to bits? and on and on.

    Oh, and the computer hacker who tied this device into the ENTIRE FUCKING MI-6 SYSTEM?????????? (I don't think my keyboard has enough questionmarks on it for this facepalm of a plot device).

    Yeah, it was pretty and well acted, but the director was only slightly less ham handed than an episode of 2 and a half men.

  • Jezzer

    Um, I hate to be That Guy*, but the picture for "Sinister" is verging on Total Spoiler territory.

    *(false. I love being That Guy. You can tell by the snotty little "um.")

  • pajiba

    It's only a spoiler IF YOU TELL us it's a spoiler. Having not seen it, it's just a still image available on the Internet to me.

  • KatSings

    To echo people on here - it would be great if this post listed which releases were available in which formats. Not a single one is something I can watch on my Netflix, which gives me a sad. And I can stream Sinister with Amazon Prime but I'd have to pay for it. Bah.

  • eat.a.peach

    Most of you cinephiles likely use this app/website already, but canistreamit.com is a go to for things like this. I love it.

  • eat.a.peach

    or .it rather

  • leuce7

    This. is. Awesome. I spend so much time looking for random movies I remember watching as a kid, and it's such a pain in the butt to go to each site to check. Thank you for sharing!

  • Ah, Andy Samberg, when're you finally gonna open that mouth fully and swallow the universe whole?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I can't watch him.

  • Lindsey Gregory

    Am I missing something? NONE of these are streaming on Netflix..are there even other streaming options besides Prime? Can y'all like, start noting what is streaming where??? Please???

  • pajiba

    Apologies. These are NOT on Netflix yet, although many of them you can rent on Amazon, on YouTube, and on ITunes. But DVD Releases is not accurate anymore since nobody actually buys physical DVDs. Even new releases are typically streamed or downloaded or rented VOD. There's not a good succinct way to describe it. "10 Movies Now Available at Best Buy, on YouTube, Itunes, Amazon Rentals, on Your Cable Box, or Via Other Illegal Means."

  • ShagEaredVillain

    You will experience Sinister the same way I did: overly hyped and ultimately disappointing. I didn't hate it, but I did regret spending the money to see it in theaters.

    And maybe I was alone in this, but:
    The Deputy played Tate in Ken Park. Once you've seen someone indulge in auto-erotic asphyxiation, you REALLY can't watch them do anything ever again.

  • Joe

    I agree very much so on Sinister. I saw it in theaters, and it wasn't awful, but it certainly wasn't good or scary, either.

  • the dude

    he was pretty good in the wire dude. And he was good in sinister. The fact that he did that in Ken Park should just make you respect him more if anything don't you think?

  • ShagEaredVillain

    Oh, he was great in Sinister. Goofy but grounded. But when was Ken Park, 2002? I was an impressionable wee lad. Shit sticks with you.

    I'm also that one guy who hasn't sat down to watch The Wire yet.
    That alone, by my own self-admission, makes my argument invalid.

  • the dude

    lol no problem then, it's all good.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    And I'm forever pissed off the academy hadn't tied the cinematography Oscar for Life Of Pi and Skyfall. They were equally flawlessly shot.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Anna Karenina is an awful movie. It is actually unwatchable. And Keira Knightley is even a bigger miscast as Karenina than when she'd been a miscast Elizabeth Bennet. She is so miscast, they had to cast everyone younger than her with people who actually look like they're still going through puberty. And those horrid costumes. That horrid concept. No. I won't be swayed. That movie sucked.

  • Lee

    Knightley is miscast in anything she's in. I'm sick of her jaw.

  • thatstrangewoman

    THIS. ^ Yes! I was on a flight last week and watched "A Dangerous Method" with her, Fassbender and Viggo. I thought the air marshals were going to haul me to the back of the plane with my howling every time she was having a spasm and jutted her jaw and showed us her lower teeth. The hell?

  • BWeaves

    A few of these are on my Netflix list but haven't been released yet. Some have been seen by my husband, but I wasn't interested in them.

    Then again, we both just watched Cowboys and Aliens, and Looper, and I want those 4 hours back. There were so many plot holes in both movies, that it was driving me insane. I knew they were B movies going in, but I wasn't expecting Z movies.

    I remember watching Sneak Previews when Eating Raoul came out. They said that it was a Z movie, but as long as you knew that going in, you'd have a good time. And I did enjoy it. But if they had sold it to me as a good movie, I would have been very disappointed.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    'Looper'. Oh gods. So much promise, such stupid execution.

  • Robert

    Anna Karenina is really good. It's wild. There's an onscreen theatrical conceit that actually makes the novel seem more cinematic. My one disappointment was that they didn't fully commit to it. If you have painted plywood flats and show off the exposed plywood in half the scenes, why do the other half of the scenes have lavish, expansive, real world sets? Great acting, excellent score, and a very smart adaptation make Anna Karenina very accessible but not watered down.

  • BWeaves

    Beards! (Cough, cough, cough)

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Did you swallow yours?

  • Mrs. Julien

    I really, really want to watch Anna Karenina and not because Matthew Macfadyen will be speaking, but for the production design AND because Matthew Macfadyen will be speaking. I blasted through Bel Ami yesterday for the same reason:

    Nowomen, nowomen, DRESS!; nowomen, sexscenenakedwhocares, SHAWL!

    I had to tell Mr. Julien to pipe down (he kept asking questions about the plot), so I could drool in peace.

  • Uriah_Creep

    I certainly hope that your TV package includes "Ripper Street", Mrs. J. All the Matthew Macfadyen you could hope to see (and hear) every week, as well as beautifully written dialogue for him to speak.

  • Resa Anderson

    Would it be possible to list which ones are dvd and which ones are streaming when posting these?

  • Archie Leach

    DVDs *when* they show up at the Redbox kiosk. Streaming at Hulu and Amazon. Forget Netflix. You'll be lucky if Argo or Lincoln make it to Netflix by next year. (mummble.mmmmmmumble veetle.com mmmumble....)

  • Lee

    I find that once any of them have been out for a while, they will stream.

  • JJ

    Which are now streaming and which are out on DVD?

  • NateMan

    Welp, I can tell you not a one is on Netflix. Not unexpected but still crappy.

  • Robert

    Most of these are DVD releases or digital rentals. Sinister is streaming with Amazon Prime.

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