- Title: Swiss Army Man
- IMDb: link
If you mashed-up Cast Away with Weekend at Bernie’s it might look something like Swiss Army Man. Inexplicably, it’s also one of the year’s best love stories. Stranded in the wilderness, a suicidal man (Paul Dano) is given a reprieve when a dead body (Daniel Radcliffe) washes up on shore. Starved and lonely, Hank (Dano) immediately begins a friendship with Manny (Radcliffe) who not only soften’s Hank’s isolation but also proves quite adept at quite a number of useful skills which help keep Hank alive.
While the uses of Hank’s body provide most of the film’s humor (that and the best masturbation joke I’ve heard in some time), the extremes Hank goes to in order to explain the outside world and concepts like love are something right out of a Michel Gondry film. The movie by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert is oddly beautiful, ridiculous in the extreme, and impossible to forget.
[A24, Blu-ray $19.99, DVD $12.96]
- Title: Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World
- IMDb: link
Werner Herzog‘s new documentary takes viewers on a journey through the Internet. With stops as its birthplace and interviews with creators and early users, Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World also examines current uses for the tool in robotics and automobiles as well as the voyeuristic and bullying aspects fed by the anonymity of its users (in one of the documentary’s most emotional interviews).
The journey also makes a stop in Green Bank, West Virginia where all transmissions are restricted by the law and at a hospital for Internet addiction. Looking further the film also discusses solar flares, hackers and internet security, dreams, missions to Mars, and the possibility of artificial intelligence. While not as cohesive as I’d like at times, nonetheless Herzog delivers a fascinating historical journey on the Internet and how it has affected humanity, for both good and ill, since its creation. Like it or not, it’s firmly woven into our daily life, and Herzog pulls up the rug to show both its more troubling aspects as well as where it might lead us in the future.
[Magnolia Home Entertainment, $17.99]
- Title: Green Room
- IMDb: link
Notable mainly for its cast including a pair of Star Trek actors (Anton Yelchin and Patrick Stewart), Green Room is your basic wrong place, wrong time thriller when a broke band stumbles on a murder in the green room of a remote Neo-Nazi bar in the Northwest. With the help of a witness (Imogen Poots) to the murder, the band (Yelchin, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, and Callum Turner) barricade themselves in the green room in an attempt to hold off the inevitable as the club’s owner (Stewart) rounds up some of the gang’s less-savory types to clean-up the situation.
Writer/director Jeremy Saulnier delivers a fairly tense thriller featuring a cast of damaged individuals fighting for their lives against some pissed off Neo-Nazis. Other than Yelchin’s bassist, I’m not sure there’s a good person on-screen which means we’re interested to see what happens to the dickish rockers but not necessarily invested in rooting for or against them making it out alive. Stweart’s casting is intriguing as brains behind the outfit (although it’s fair to say he’s slumming it here).
[click to continue…]
- Title: Danny Says
- IMDb: link
The documentary Danny Says takes a look at the life and work of music manager Danny Fields who discovered signed, and managed a variety of noteworthy bands in the 60s, 70s, & 80s including Iggy and the Stooges, MC5, and the Ramones, and also worked with Jim Morrison, the Velvet Underground and the Modern Lovers.
Spending as much time discussing Danny’s sex and drug use than the music, Brendan Toller‘s documentary includes several photographs and recordings Fields has kept over the years. It may not be the in-depth look at the music scene of that time period I expected, but it is an intriguing (if completely self-congratulatory) glance at one man’s impact on the music scene. Presented entirely from Fields’ point of view, some of his stories (such as how he hid Jim Morrison’s keys) are more entertaining than others (such as him struggling to justify his role in the storm up after the Beatles “more popular than Jesus” remark”). Music fans and historians should get a kick out of it.
[Magnolia Home Entertainment, $26.98]
- Title: The First Monday in May
- IMDb: link
The subject of Andrew Rossi proves to be more fascinating the the movie itself. Following the near-year-long process of creating The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most attended fashion exhibition in history, “China: Through The Looking Glass,” the highlights of the documentary are the exhibits themselves while the behind-the-scenes of time and budget constraints, the jockeying of celebrity attendees (without ever naming names), battles with China of the historical (not modern) nature of the exhibit, the struggle to pay the headline act, and the actual design of the various pieces in the exhibits aren’t explored in much more than superficial detail. Like much of the fashion it highlights, it’s great to look at but doesn’t always have much to say.
As a snapshot into a world most won’t ever see personally, The First Monday in May is interesting (if never all that compelling) look at some of the work that went into The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most profitable exhibit. Available on DVD and On-Demand.
[Magnolia Home Entertainment, $14.99]