The 6 Best Movies to Buy or Stream This Week: ‘Missing Link,’ ‘Do the Right Thing’


LAIKA’s latest stop-motion animation adventure hits disc and VOD today, and I downright dare you to find a more enjoyable watch. But that’s not all: we’ve got three ‘80s favorites on disc, an over-the-top rock biopic on 4K, and an indie drama with a bunch of your pre-fame faves on Netflix. Let’s dig in:


Short Term 12 : Destin Daniel Cretton’s drama is set at a foster care facility for teens, and he uses the emotional intensity of the location well; it’s the kind of place where anyone can lose their grip at any time (including the staff). What’s more, it’s a film that gets what a cruel and hopeless place the world came seem like, when you’re a certain age and of a certain disposition. Cretton’s direction is personal and close, sometimes uncomfortably so, but he gets rich, nuanced performances out of his cast, which has become something of a Dazed and Confused-style “before they were stars” situation: Rami Malek, Kaitlyn Dever, Lakeith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, and especially Brie Larson, who transforms from an unknowable puzzle to a character of astonishing openness and vulnerability. It’s a kind movie, with a good heart.


Missing Link : The latest from LAIKA – the inventive stop-motion studio behind Coraline, ParaNorman, and Kubo and the Two Strings is probably their warmest and funniest picture to date, thanks in no small part to the character design and voice performance (by Zach Galifianakis) of its leading character. A lonely Sasquatch hiding out in Washington state, he begs a pompous gentleman adventurer (Hugh Jackman, also very good) to help him find a colony of his own kind, so that he won’t feel so alone anymore. Director Chris Butler tells the story in inventive angles and frisky compositions, and fills in the backgrounds with wonderful little details and tiny throwaway gags. It’s a charming, earnest, and often uproariously funny family entertainment. (Includes audio commentary and featurettes.)


The Doors : Sure, it’s pompous and self-important and overcooked; so was the subject. But Oliver Stone’s 1991 Jim Morrison biopic – looking and sounding incredible in its new 4K release – goes all in, cranking up the volume, the mood, and the crazy for all 140 of its nutso minutes. In the interest of capturing the chaotic energy of their best music and performances, Stone lets the narrative get away from him a bit. But it’s immersive as hell; to see it on a big home screen with the sound on blast is like going to a rock show where the hits just keep coming. (Also streaming on Amazon Prime Video.) (Includes audio commentary, new interviews, and choice of theatrical cut and new “Final Cut.”)


Do the Right Thing: Spike Lee’s 1989 masterpiece (an early entry in the Criterion Collection, finally getting the Blu-ray upgrade on its 30th anniversary) remains his defining work, a spicy stew of provocative drama, street-corner comedy, and social commentary. Brash and bold, confident and funny, this even-handed examination of race relations on one Brooklyn block on the hottest day of summer culminates with acts of violence as heartbreaking as they are inevitable; tensions that have been simmering all day finally boil over, as petty complaints about a wall of pictures and a blasting boom -box give way to an ugly, messy fist fight, a young black man’s murder by police, and the looting and burning of the neighborhood’s long-beloved pizzeria. The genius of Lee’s narrative is that, title notwithstanding, no one really does the right thing—or even seems to grasp, in the heat of the moment, what the “right thing” could be. (Includes audio commentary, documentary, featurettes, new and archival interviews, music video, deleted and extended scenes, storyboards, and trailers.)

1984 : State propaganda, rewritten history, inverted language, “though criminals,” “the resistance” – gee, I wonder why Criterion thought now was a good time to restore and release Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s dystopian novel? It is, to be sure, a tricky work to translate, and Redford occasionally gets bogged down. But in general, though grim, it’s not lifeless – the film is a marvel of production design (its future-but-past look, augmented by Roger Deakins’s fabulous cinematography, makes it a good match for the following year’s Brazil, which clearly also took some cues from Orwell), and the performances are aces. John Hurt makes an ideal Everyman protagonist, and Radford gets an excellent (and, for once, restrained) performance out of Richard Burton – one of his last. Often hard to watch, especially in the third act (the torture scene is long and agaonizing), but masterfully crafted and superbly acted. (Includes new interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and trailer.)

Weird Science : John Hughes’s 1985 sci-fi comedy gets the Arrow Video special edition treatment, and deserves it; this is one of the filmmaker’s trickiest balancing acts, taking what could’ve been a very typical drooly ‘80s sex comedy premise (two computer nerds use their skills to literally create a woman who’ll love them), but moving past the leering, easy jokes and into something altogether smarter, wiser, and funnier. Anthony Michael-Hall and Ilan Mitchell-Smith are spot-on as the nerds in question, but the picture’s strength is in its support: Kelly LeBrock is slyly funny as “Lisa,” their creation, while Bill Paxton creates one of the most memorable (and identifiable) villains of the era as the big, dumb, bullying “Chet.” (Includes “extended version,” deleted scenes, interviews, and featurette.)