On Demand Movies: What to Watch This Month

Cut Bank
Courtesy of A24 Films
Cut Bank

These movies, now available On Demand, might make your weekend watch list:

Cut Bank (April 3)

The title of this serviceable, blood-splattered, deadpan thriller with a generic indie vibe, set in a cold climate and built of recycled Coen brothers parts, refers to the small Montana city in which the escalating mayhem takes place. But Cut Bank also relates, in its way, to Fargo–both the movie and the FX series–in its bemused relationship to violence.

Like its fictional North Dakota relative, Cut Bank is home to restless citizenry, personified by a bland mechanic and former high school football star (Liam Hemsworth) who dreams of grabbing his equally bland beauty-pageant girlfriend (Teresa Palmer) and blowing town. Naturally, there’s a hard-working sheriff, here played (with welcome understatement, considering) by John Malkovich, swinging a lucky rabbit’s foot on a chain. (The sheriff at least has the moral good grace to vomit when confronted with scenes of violent death.) And then there are the town crazies, led by Bruce Dern as an irascible, unreliable postman and Coen vet Michael Stuhlbarg as a seriously creepy loner who engages in seriously creepy hobbies (he also wears thick eyeglasses and stutters, naturally). Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Platt cross the border from TV’s Fargo to help round out the cast.

Cut Bank is the first big feature-film project for former Growing Pains child actor Matt Shakman, who has also directed episodes of Fargo, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and The Good Wife (among others) and screenwriter Robert Patino (Sons of Anarchy, Prime Suspect). The duo’s TV chops and Hollywood cred are evident in the plum actors they have assembled and in the efficient flow of the storytelling. But that same uninflected procession of story beats becomes Cut Bank‘s undoing. Even as the dangers multiply, our investment in crime solving lessens: We know the mysteries will get worked out and the town will stay generically weird.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

93 mins., R

Courtesy of Lionsgate

Last Knights (April 3)

With its Korean funding and Japanese director, everything about this wandering-knights-avenge-their-dishonored-master action pic is a loony international muddle. That includes the setting (Asia? The Shire? Westeros?), the time period (long ago or long, long ago?), and the United Nations of a cast: Morgan Freeman plays the wise leader (of course); Clive Owen is the good knight; and Peyman Moaadi, so great in the 2012 foreign-language Oscar winner A Separation, is wasted in his brief scenes as an evil emperor.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

115 mins., R

Tribeca Film

Misery Loves Comedy (April 14)

Because he is one of them, Kevin Pollak could get a mob of famous comics–including Christopher Guest, Amy Schumer, Martin Short, Larry David, and Jimmy Fallon–to talk about why they’re such a gloomy group…until they’re on stage, working for laughs and feeling alive. The result is an engaging, pleasurably depressing documentary, simply structured and nicely shot, with a powerful kicker dedication to the late sad-clown king, Robin Williams.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

95 mins., not yet rated, April 14