Pretty slim pickings this week on Netflix, but there’s a few highlights. The most notable is “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” (available October 22), which suffers a bit from too much table-setting for “Mockingjay,” but benefits from having an infinitely more capable director at the helm in Francis Lawrence. Also on Netflix this week: the Wyatt Cenac stand-up film “Wyatt Cenac: Brooklyn” (October 21) and “Liberal Arts” (October 18) a comedy-drama starring Josh Radnor (who also wrote and directed) and Elizabeth Olsen.
New VOD releases are looking a bit better this week, with today bringing “Camp X-Ray,” an uneven Guantanamo Bay-set drama that nonetheless features strong performances from Kristen Stewart as a conflicted soldier and “A Separation’s” Peyman Moaadi as a prisoner. Also out today: Jake “brother of Gwyneth” Paltrow’s post-apocalyptic western “Young Ones,” featuring a characteristically intense Michael Shannon, and “Rudderless,” the directorial debut William H. Macy. The essential VOD release of the week, however, is “Listen Up Philip,” the new film from “The Color Wheel” director Alex Ross Perry. Starring Jason Schwartzman as a misanthropic novelist and Jonathan Pryce as his Philip Roth-like mentor, the film is being called the year’s most acerbic comedy, and one of its funniest. It arrives on VOD Tuesday, October 21.
More thoughts from the Criticwire Network:
Mike D’Angelo, The Dissolve
He’s cast the two lead roles extremely well, however, and that helps enormously. Stewart isn’t the revelation here that she is in Olivier Assayas’ forthcoming “Clouds of Sils Maria” (which asks her to do more with less), but she does a superb job of silently conveying the internal struggle between Cole’s innate compassion and her desire to embody a badass military ideal. Her strained stoicism bounces nicely off of Maadi’s winningly garrulous performance, which he has to give almost entirely through a small window in the door of Amir’s cell. Read more.
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, The A.V. Club
But, the thing is, “Listen Up Philip” is a comedy — a howlingly funny black comedy with really sharp teeth. It plays like a how-to guide for destroying relationships, alienating acquaintances, and undermining any and every conceivable social interaction. The ill-advised entrances are perfectly timed, the asides are impressively insensitive, and the patronizing gestures ooze entitled resentment. Read more.
Dusty post-apocalyptic sci-fi, stripped-down Western, soberly tragic melodrama: Writer-director Jake Paltrow blends multiple genres and stylistic tics in “Young Ones.” (Even the end credits, during which the actors strike fourth-wall-breaking portraiture poses, resemble the cast roll call in a ’30s Hollywood programmer.) Would that there were more beneath the surface of this strange brew, but it’s certainly compelling while it lasts. Read more.