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The Quick Take for February 7, 2014

Streaming Picks

About Time, the romantic comedy that goes a little beyond just romance, is available On Demand this week (read our review here). For family night, Free Birds also came out this week (though check out our review for that one first). The classic Clint Eastwood Western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is now available to stream on Netflix. And if you're a Calvin and Hobbes fan, Dear Mr. Watterson, a documentary on the beloved comic strip, is on Amazon Instant Video this week (read our review here).

Critics Roundup

Labor Day, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, was released in theaters last Friday. When a single mother takes in a criminal on the run over Labor Day weekend, he wins her heart by cooking her chili and playing baseball with her son. And critics really hated it. Richard Corliss for Time calls Labor Day a "weird hostage love story." The A.V. Club says it is, for director Jason Reitman, "a major miscalculation." Christa Banister with Croswalk says the film "lacks everything that's made Reitman's past work so memorable." But to his credit, "he fully commits to this schlock . . . Labor Day makes forbidden love look as appealing as possible." (Read Banister's full review at Crosswalk.com.)

On Sunday, February 2, actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away of an apparent heroin overdose. Colleagues are mourning the death of one of the most gifted actors of our time. Eric Kohn, for Indiewire, says of his acting, "He was so incredibly on the mark each time out it seemed as though he was invincible." But those who ran into him at different events and screenings in New York say, "He was just so human." A.O. Scott says Hoffman did not care if we liked the characters he played: "The point was to make us believe them and recognize in them—in him—a truth about ourselves that we might otherwise have preferred to avoid." Rather than picket his funeral, as some plan to do (read CT's coverage here), Jeffrey Overstreet writes, "I have no place to speak any words of judgment over the circumstances of Hoffman's death. In my moments of clear-thinking, I know that I have my own addictions." You can read Overstreet's reflection on his Patheos blog, read Alissa Wilkinson's reflections at Christ and Pop Culture, and find out more about Hoffman's experience with the Christian faith from James Martin, S.J.

Movie News

Last weekend Lifetime aired The Gabby Douglas Story about the young champion's journey to the Olympics. Watch clips here, and for a discussion on the role of faith in Douglas' life, read Crosswalk's review here.

The hard-hitting drama House of Cards' highly-anticiapted second season will be available in week, and the word is Netflix has ordered a third season. Read about it here and here. We looked at it through the lens of Shakespeare and Christians' call to remain in the public square here.

If you're hoping for more glee club shenanigans, you'll be glad to hear that Pitch Perfect 2 is set to star Anna Kendrick and Rebel Wilson, and will be directed by Elizabeth Banks. Read more about it here and here.

Heather Cate is a spring intern with Christianity Today Movies and a student at The King's College in New York City.

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