Essentially a beautifully shot, really expensive home movie, Pedro González-Rubio’s Alamar (meaning “to the sea”) chronicles the meeting of a Mexican father, Jorge Machado, and his 5-year-old son, Natan, who lives in Rome with his mother, Roberta. (Jorge was Roberta’s tour guide during her vacation to Yucatán – must’ve been a great trip.) The roles are played by their real-life counterparts, which muddles the film’s genre a bit, but what comes out of the idyllic, back-to-nature summer – a genuine father-son bond and a priceless worldview-broadening experience for Natan – plays like a parallel-universe Somewhere; both patriarchal pairings drift in the breeze and manage to pull wisps of truth out of thin air. If I had to choose, though, I’d take Natan’s vacation over Somewhere’s Elle Fanning’s any day. (available now)
Special Features: Short film No Corras Tanto
The concept is simple: A girlfriend-boyfriend couple and the third-wheel best friend of the boyfriend talk their way onto a ski lift in Utah just before the slope closes. A series of misunderstandings leads to the park shutting down for the week, leaving the three stranded on the lift. They’re too high up to jump, and a pack of hungry wolves lies at the bottom licking their chops, and the only remaining option is that they all freeze to death. What would you do? This elegantly handled human drama from Adam Green, director of the Hatchet movies, is excruciating to endure, fascinating to witness and at times utterly heartwrenching. Although Green takes great delight in teasing the big moments – 127 Hours has got nothing on this one in terms of nail-biting dilemmas – there’s nothing exploitive or unearned in Frozen. Also: fuck wolves, man! (available now and streaming on Netflix)
Special Features: Audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scenes
The great thing about funnyordie.com is that major comedic talents (executive producers Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, and stars John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, Thomas Lennon, James Franco and many others) provide morsel-sized comedy intended to break up the work day or enliven lunch at your desk. That’s also its curse, as this set brings to light; stringing these nuggets into any kind of TV narrative drains the sketches of their immediacy. Still, I’m not sure I saw anything funnier last year than Ferrell, Cheadle and Zooey Deschanel reenacting a nonsense scene involving Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglas and Mary Todd Lincoln in “Drunk History.” That’s why I bookmarked the link. (available now)
Special Features: none
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