Today's DVDs: The Housemaid, If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle and The Company Men
The Housemaid stars Do-Yeon Jeon and Deo-Hyeon Ahn, Sang-soo Im directed.
The set up: A young woman, working as a maid for a rich couple, is seduced by the husband and gets pregnant, which brings out the wife's evil side.
Here's what our critic Nicolas Rapold said about the movie: Despite eccentric touches, like a handheld street-shot overture and Grand Guignol Omen references, there's little difference between this story and soap-opera intrigue. [The] hectically surreal finale feels like the work of a director who wanted to end with another bang, but wasn't sure how.
Here's our take: Yes, this story has been done before and yes, Im's version is on the camp side, but it's still steamy, sexy, if not all-together suspenseful. The Housemaid is worth a look.
The Housemaid is available on Netflix today (DVD only).
The set-up: Silviu (George Pistereanu) is in juvenile detention and only a week away from release when a family situation causes him to attempt a breakout.
Here's what our critic J. Hoberman said about the movie:If I Want to Whistle is slack yet taut--tension builds whenever [director] Serban hits the narrative pause button. Even once all hell finally breaks loose, the suspense is enhanced by lengthy stand-offs, real-time delays, and pervasive confusion on how to best handle a situation gone wildly out of control. The viewer is prompted to ponder the crisis' possible (and unpredictable) resolution as well as the degree to which Silviu's freak-out was premeditated. It's a measure of the movie's success that one oscillates between two despairs--noting the abject failure of the system and the utter futility of revolt.
Here's our take:The pretty sociology student that's come to interview the inmates (Ada Condeescu) has more of a role here than might be imagined. Yes, Silviu wants to save his younger brother from their mom's insanity, but he also wants to kiss a pretty, full-lipped girl. That he can't have her just adds to his frustration - and ultimate meltdown.
There's lots of build-up, showing Silviu's living conditions and seriously dysfunctional family, but once he let's go, he's a mesmerizing madman.
If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle is available on Netflix today ( DVD and streaming).
The Company Men stars Ben Affleck and Tommy Lee Jones, with John Wells directing .
The Set-up: A group of successful businessmen are downsized and each responds in a very different way. Writer/director John Wells worked with several successful television series, including ER and The West Wing.
Here's what our critic Karina Longworth said about the movie: [John Wells] takes his time setting up the distinct social strata, almost as if he has a full season to flesh out arcs. But the whiplash-quick happy ending, probably intended as inspirational wish fulfillment, actually comes off as kind of a joke.
Here's our take: The story loses some of its umph since everyone on screen is rich and handsome (even if Tommy Lee Jones is a little wrinkly), and none of them are in any danger of being out of a job anytime soon. Ben Affleck has a hard sale convincing audiences that he's broke or sad or unsatisfied with is life. That said, the ensemble cast turns in decent, though not completely satisfactory, performances. And the story is sure to resonate with middle-class, middle-aged men who are afraid of going through the same thing.
The Company Men is available on Netflix today (DVD and Blu-ray).
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