Two men on the cusp of utter meme-ification craft one last masterpiece together before they let go, fizzling into the dying light. An elegy, perhaps—for America, maybe, or for the concept of law and order within an America that’s long abandoned both concepts—Werner Herzog’s predictably singular vision for a loose sequel (reboot) to Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant hangs Nicolas Cage from an imaginary hook, the actor’s baggy suit and wincing, glazy visage seemingly draped uncomfortably over every crime scene, line of coke and hallucinated iguana he comes across. New Orleans lieutenant Terence McDonagh is in a lot of pain, due mostly to a back injury he suffered saving an inmate from a flooding jail cell in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, exacerbated by all the extra drugs he consumes, plus the long horrible hours he maintains navigating the surreal wasteland of a city that’s seemingly made no progress since the natural disaster. Herzog makes no apologies about the obvious ties between McDonagh’s degradation and that of New Orleans’, concerned less with his plot’s procedural aspects (McDonagh’s trying to solve the murders of a family involved with low level drug dealing) and more with the oneiric geography of a once-thriving city lost to time. McDonagh, then, is our addled Virgil, guiding us through the Hell that made him, the Hell from which he can’t escape, the Hell he’ll never save despite his best efforts. Suffused with absurdity, and hilariously bleak as fuck, The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans serves as the last of Herzog’s fiction films able to withstand the director’s hardheaded anti-narrative inclinations, as well as the last of Cage’s films in which his unhinged weirdness isn’t so obviously performative. Together, the two men offer no hope for those whom America’s abandoned. Instead they offer a moving, odd bit of comfort: At least some of us are still trying. —Dom Sinacola
Ai is not a man you can easily cow. If you’ve read about his trials in China, or watched Alison Klayman’s excellent 2012 documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, then you know this well enough. But watching his mettle in action in Human Flow inspires a different reaction than it does in Never Sorry. Rather than admire his boldness, we’re invited to search out that boldness in ourselves. The problem that Human Flow documents is massive and gaining in scope, chronicled first as a trickle, then a stream, then a torrent, now a deluge—soon a tsunami. The crisis of our refugees all over the world isn’t a problem one fixes merely by, for instance, banging away at a keyboard or saying pretty things in public spaces. Instead, the problem requires action, and Human Flow, generously taken at face value, is a tribute to those in the trenches: relief workers, volunteers, doctors, academics and lawmakers fighting to give refugees fleeing disease, famine and violence unimaginable to many of us the respect and protection they deserve. In turn, the film asks the audience to what lengths they would go to safeguard innocent people from harm, to give them opportunities to make their lives better. Ai has no vanity; he does not position himself as the hero. Through his devotion to his subjects, Human Flow reminds us how much work it is to help the helpless. The tragic conclusion is that we’re not doing enough. —Andy Crump
Amazon Prime is an unheralded streaming treasure trove of some of the best movies to come out in the past couple years, though good picks can feel nearly impossible to cull cometimes from the sometimes overwhelming glut of weirdly terrible titles buried in Prime’s nether regions. Take, for example, our recent discovery of just how deep Amazon Prime’s stash of martial arts classics goes, with more than a handful of our top picks for the 100 best martial arts movies of all time. Who knows how long they’ve been there.
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There need not be a documentary about the Syrian catastrophe to rally the world around its cause—just as, in Matthew Heineman’s previous film, Cartel Land, there was no need to vilify the world of Mexican cartels or the DEA or the paramilitaristic nationalists patrolling our Southern borders to confirm that murder and drug trafficking are bad. The threats are known and the stakes understood, at least conceptually. And yet, by offering dedicated, deeply intimate portraits of the people caught up in these crises, Heineman complicates them beyond all repair, placing himself in undoubtedly death-defying situations to offer a perspective whose only bias is instinctual. So it is with City of Ghosts, in which he follows members of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group committed to using citizen-based journalism to expose the otherwise covered-up atrocities committed by ISIS and the Assad regime in Syria. In hiding, in Turkey and Germany and at an event for journalists in the U.S.—in exile—these men, who Heineman characterizes as a very young and even more reluctant resistance, tell of both the increasingly sophisticated multimedia methods of ISIS and their hopes for feeling safe enough to settle and start a family with equal trepidation about what they’ve conditioned themselves to never believe: That perhaps they’ll never be safe. Heineman could have easily bore witness to the atrocities himself, watching these men as they watch, over and over, videos of their loved ones executed by ISIS, a piquant punishment for their crimes of resistance. There is much to be said about the responsibility of seeing in our world today, after all. Instead, while City of Ghosts shares plenty of horrifying images, the director more often that not shields the audience from the graphic details, choosing to focus his up-close camera work on the faces of these men as they take on the responsibility of bearing witness, steeling themselves for a potential lifetime of horror in which everything they know and love will be taken from them. By the time Heineman joins these men as they receive the 2015 International Press Freedom Award for their work, the clapping, beaming journalists in the audience practically indict themselves, unable to see how these Syrian men want to be doing anything but what they feel they must, reinforcing the notion that what seems to count as international reportage anymore is the exact kind of lack of nuance that Heineman so beautifully, empathetically wants to call out. —Dom Sinacola
A.: Amazon Households allow two adults and up to four children to share digital Amazon content. Two adults in the same household can share a number of Amazon Prime benefits, including two-day shipping, streaming video and access to the Kindle Lending Library. To add yourself to — or remove yourself from — a household, follow the instructions on the Amazon website.
In 2005, Amazon announced the creation of Amazon Prime, a membership offering free two-day shipping within the contiguous United States on all eligible purchases for a flat annual fee of $79 (equivalent to $99 in 2017), as well as discounted one-day shipping rates. Amazon launched the program in Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom in 2007; in France (as "Amazon Premium") in 2008, in Italy in 2011, in Canada in 2013, and in India on July 26, 2016.