The big blockbuster adventure films of summer aren't for everybody, which is why our critic David Edelstein has put together a list of small-screen alternatives:
I'd like you to see movies in a theater: They look grander and, face it, you and I both need to get off the couch.
But if your multiplex has "Guardians of the Galaxy" on 10 screens and you don't have grown-up-friendly theaters nearby, you have access to first-run, in-theaters-now movies at the touch (well, several touches and a credit card) of a remote. There are more than ever, because they're a viable market for studios.
Take the bloody, insane action picture "Snowpiercer" (Radius-TWC), which someone deemed too long and weird for a big release but has been boffo on-demand.
It's Korean director Bong Joon-ho's look at a frozen world where the only survivors ride a huge, looping train, and the have-nots in the back (led by Chris Evans) storm the fascist guards and richies in the front, car by crazy car.
It's like a stoned, lefty version of "The Poseidon Adventure."
To watch the trailer for "Snowpiercer" click on the video player below.
Equally as stoned is a movie not yet in theaters that will stretch your mind like taffy: Ari Folman's "The Congress" (Drafthouse Films) -- half-live, half-animated, half-based on Stanislav Lem's pioneering dystopian novel about a world where it's preferable to live in a state of druggie, cartoon bliss than real squalor.
It begins with the terrific Robin Wright as an actress named Robin Wright -- great casting! -- who takes money so her image can be digitized and reused in movies for eternity.
Then it gets really weird.
To watch the trailer for "The Congress" click on the video player below.
Two more, less bloody but just as multiplex-unfriendly: "The One I Love" (Radius-TWC) is a farce of sorts about a couple played by Mark Duplass and "Mad Men"'s Elisabeth Moss who take a country house to repair their marriage and meet up with . . . themselves.
Or, copies who act the way they wish each other would act.
It's a what-the-bloody-hell? comedy with a surprisingly bitter kick, and Moss is one of my new neurotic dreamgirls.
To watch the trailer for "The One I Love" click on the video player below.
Another one is Anna Kendrick, who stars in Joe Swanberg's teeny psychodrama "Happy Christmas" (Magnolia Pictures) as an inept child-woman who moves into the house of her brother (played by Swanberg) and his wife (Melanie Lynsky), and by her presence opens up vast fissures in their lives.
It's minimalist with maximum emotional heft.
To watch the trailer for "Happy Christmas" click on the video player below.
Two others to consider: the moving Roger Ebert documentary "Life Itself" (Magnolia); and a doc on gangster Whitey Bolger called "Whitey" (Magnolia).
To watch the trailer for "Life Itself" click on the video player below.
- "Whitey: United States of America v. James J. Bulger" (Official site)
- Order "Whitey" on Amazon, iTunes and other VOD platforms
To watch the trailer for "Whitey" click on the video player below.
And a suggestion: I put the remote in the next room. If I take away the element of control, I pay closer attention. And most of us are too lazy to get off the couch.
And for those who are trekking out nonetheless to see a movie, Edelstein endorses:
More from David Edelstein:
- "Boyhood": A film whose time has come
- Edelstein on Adam Sandler's comedies: Quotes from his reviews of the comedian's oeuvre
- David Edelstein on the politics of movies
- The Best Actor also-rans
- "American Hustle" and "Her": Two great American comedies
- David Edelstein on the scariest movie ever
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