Video on Demand
By Alex Sitaras
Our Most Anticipated selection for VOD this month features a trio of films on HBO Max: Badlands, Just Mercy, and The Invisible Man. First up, Badlands is the debut film of Terrence Malick. A crime story, Badlands is based on the real-life murder spree of Charles Starkweather and his girlfriend Caril Ann Fugate. Malick’s story features a couple, Holly and Kit, who are on-the-run after Kit kills Holly’s father for disapproving of the relationship Kit has with Holly. Like Bonnie and Clyde before it and Queen & Slim after, Badlands is a vital piece in the ‘criminal couples running for their lives’ genre and has maintained its place in the collective headspace of American cinema.
Released last year, Just Mercy (dir.Destin Daniel Cretton) is an underseen legal drama featuring Michael B. Jordan as defense attorney Bryan Stevenson who attempts to appeal the murder conviction of Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx). Like Badlands, Just Mercy is based on a real story and the film chooses to tell the story from the angle of Bryan, a modern-day hero who provides legal representation for poor people who cannot afford proper legal representation. A Harvard law graduate who grew up in Delaware, Bryan could not have been more of a fish out of water than he was in Alabama. Just Mercy is a stirring story about racial & criminal justice that is immensely human. Both Jordan and Foxx are consumed entirely into their roles and guided by director Destin Daniel Cretton, they form a potent force in Just Mercy that reminds us just how life-affirming cinema and people are capable of being.
Last up from HBO is the recent horror The Invisible Man. Directed by Saw actor Leigh Whannell as his third film, The Invisible Man was a smash success, attaining a box office total of more than $130 million on a budget of $7 million. The film’s financial success may in part be contributed to its release just before the shut-down of theaters earlier this year, but a film directed by Whannell featuring Elisabeth Moss is not one to belittle. The Invisible Man proved to be a critical success as well, and Moss stars as a woman who believes she is being stalked by her abusive boyfriend following his suicide. She is convinced that he has learned how to become invisible, and this premise makes for a satisfying horror film like so many others where the scares come from the unseen. The Invisible Man will even generate a spin-off, The Invisible Woman, to come in the future, as well as a sequel from Leigh Whannell. HBO’s addition of the film to their streaming catalog comes at an excellent time for those looking to find their next favorite horror franchise.
On Hulu this month comes the Denis Villeneuve breakout film Prisoners. Featuring a cast of Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, and Paul Dano, Prisoners is an actors’ showcase in addition to being a formidable work of cinema. The film focuses on two couples whose daughters are abducted. Displeased with the work of the police detectives, the father of one of the girls decides to kidnap a potential suspect of the crime. Prisoners is an eerie yet beautiful film with a strong religious subtext. To those who haven’t seen the film before, Prisoners will linger in their minds, and those who wish to revisit the film will no doubt remember why Prisoners made such an impression on audiences back in 2013.
Last up to note is the only new film released this month that we are sharing, Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things. After lackluster performances at the box office with his previous two films Synecdoche, New York and Anomalisa, Kaufman was able to forego a theatrical appearance and the expectations it brings with the release of his latest film on Netflix. Starring Jesse Plemons and Jessie Buckley as a couple, and Toni Collette and David Thewlis as the boy’s parents who the couple visit and later become trapped with at their family farm, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is surprisingly Kaufman’s first outright go at making a horror film despite his intensely bleak writing style. Buckley’s appearance in the film as ‘The Young Woman’ marks another promising choice in the young actress’ career, having already landed roles in Wild Rose, Chernobyl, and the upcoming season of Fargo.
Continue to the next page to read about our most anticipated films coming to home media this month!