VideoReport #473

Volume CDLXXIII- Portland, Je T’aime

For the Week of 9/9/14

Videoport is the locally-owned, independent video store of your dreams. Assuming you love movies and have very specific dreams about great video stores with all the movies ever.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

Rip Torn...as you may never have wanted to see him!

Rip Torn…as you may never have wanted to see him!

>>> Dennis suggests Coming Apart (in Incredibly Strange.) If you ever wanted to see a young Rip Torn’s butt, have I got a movie for you! Seriously, though, this ahead-of-its-time erotic drama is a fascinating, intense trip right into the heart of the madness of a psychiatrist who’s, well, coming apart. Like, at the seams. Torn, still snarly but oddly handsome, plays a married shrink whose office/bachelor pad is under constant surveillance by the movie camera he keeps hidden in plain sight (he calls the bulky casing “kinetic sculpture”)—and which he uses to film his numerous trysts with a succession of women. Sure, he’s a creep, but Torn digs deep into the soul of a guy running right off the rails, his obsession with filming every encounter also capturing his self-aware torment. This 1969 drama sees director Milton Moses Ginsberg anticipate the self-filming confessional indie genre by decades, and Torn, alongside remarkably natural performances from Sally Kirkland and Viveca Lindfors among others, uses the levels of self-awareness inherent in the film’s gimmick to provide some pretty searing insight. (Kirkland’s film-ending rampage upon discovering the depths of Torn’s betrayal is stunning.) Raw, risqué (there were serious ratings controversies), and ultimately more gripping than you’d imagine.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Stranger (in Classics). Orson Welles directed this 1946 film in which an agent of the U.N. War Crimes Commission (Edward G. Robinson) travels to a sleepy New England town in pursuit of a Nazi fugitive. Is Charles Rankin (Orson Welles), the popular young teacher at the local boys’ school, something more sinister than he seems? Welles’ only undisputed box office success, it’s an entertaining but undistinguished little film, but it will always have a place in my heart—not only for Welles’ chilly charm but for the easy wit jammed in around the edged. My vote for best line that got past the censors: when Rankin and his new wife Mary (a doggedly cheerful Loretta Young) return from their skiing honeymoon, her little brother Noah (Richard Long) asks his sister with a breezy lack of irony “Did you remember to keep your knees together and your apparatus in?” MIND YER BEESWAX, BROTHER.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                                        

>>> Dennis suggests getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                        

>>> April suggests The Big Bird Cage (in Incredibly Strange but currently residing in the Blaxploitation tribute shelf in the Middle Aisle.) Don’t pass this movie by just because it has chained, half-naked ladies on the cover. The Big Bird Cage is super entertaining! Yes, it’s a 197s women in prison film where the ladies are treated terribly by the men, but these women are strong and defiant. Anitra Ford (1978s The Longest Yard) is one of these tough as nails inmates who tries to break out, and Pam Grier (Coffy, Jackie Brown) is the revolutionary who breaks in to the prison to get the girls out and start her revolution. Also starring the awesome and sleazy Sid Haig (Spider Baby, House Of 1000 Corpses).

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!            

>>> It’s a free movie! And you don’t have to rent anything else to get it! Just take it—take a free movie! Do it!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                    

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Abby L. suggests Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (in Documentary). In the last few days, like millions of other people, I have been reflecting on the death of Joan Rivers and why her passing affected me so much. Unlike most octogenarian entertainers, Rivers remained active and vital until the very end of her life; in fact, with her hit show on E!, Fashion Police, she was experiencing somewhat of a career renaissance. She had obtained a kind of cultural omnipotence which is nearly non-existent in our fractured popular culture, and doubly rare for a woman. For such a controversial figure, I expected a more mixed reaction to her death, as cold as that sounds. Then again, I never seriously considered that Rivers would ever die. She seemed immortal to me (here, Rivers would have been the first to joke about her quest for immortality through never-ending plastic surgery). Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the rightly-heralded 2010 documentary about the comedienne, meditates upon the sacrifice behind such ubiquity. The film follows Rivers behind-the-scenes for fourteen months and mostly eschews flattering historical treatises on her fabled comedy career, favoring instead the nuts-and-bolts behind it. It is as flinty and unflinching about Rivers as Rivers is about virtually everyone else on the planet. Unsatisfied to dwell on her status as a pioneer of “women in comedy,” the entertainer battles ageism and takes on gigs that could be categorized as selling-out in order to stay relevant, everything from the Celebrity Apprentice to stand-up shows in Mid-West casinos. The pursuit of steady work is an obsession for Rivers. About facing the the twin challenges of sexism and age discrimination, she states in a voice-over, “If one more woman comedian comes up to me and says, ‘You opened the doors for me,’ you wanna say, go f*** yourself, I’m still opening doors.” For a woman who spent the latter-half of her career slinging zingers about celebrities, Rivers shows a surprising amount of fear when preparing for her own Comedy Central Roast. She is touchingly vulnerable as she speaks of personal regret in the face of family tragedy and craving acceptance for her writing and acting talents with her biographical theater production. None of these representations inspire pity, though; the woman who was once blacklisted by Johnny Carson has done pretty well for herself, with her Louis XII-style apartment and dedicated support staff. Still, Rivers is dogged by her own work ethic, at an age where many have a hard time even getting out of bed. One of the most poignant parts of A Piece of Work comes when Rivers handles an angry heckler in the middle of her act and explains, ferociously and without missing a beat, her compassion-through-catharsis motive behind her cynical yet self-effacing comedy routines. For this moment alone, I can recommend the film even to those who find the comedienne’s point-of-view excessively vicious and catty. Such sharpness is the byproduct of mandatory toughness in a brutal industry. Rivers personified a quality that’s somehow refreshingly-classic and exceptionally rare in contemporary comedy: jokes with actual punchlines. In an era where mere awkwardness seems to pass for humor, Rivers had a practically Vaudevillian work ethic and dedication to making her audience laugh. To many, including myself, her absence leaves a palpable void in entertainment.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Road Movie (in Incredibly Strange). The world (meaning Videoport) is crowded with movies that just aren’t going to get rented often. Or ever. It’s not fair—but that’s just the way it is. Nondescript cover art, unmemorable title, no stars, tucked away in a corner of the store (in the Incredibly Strange section in this case), a little movie like Road Movie fits all those categories and is doomed to obscurity. Well, not on my watch! Nope, I make it my mission to watch random crap from time to time, just because I love weirdness, I’m an ornery cuss, and because Videoport has such things. In fact we love them. So Road Movie it was recently—and, as is often the case, dipping randomly into Videoport’s deepest crevices yielded something interesting. In this grubby little indie from 1974, writer/director Joseph Strick (Ulysses), who worked as an independent long-haul trucker in his youth, presents a strikingly stark tale of two long-haul truckers and the unstable “lot lizard’ hooker they hire to service them on a trip to Chicago. One of the tuckers (a very young, unrecognizable Barry Bostwick) seems the gentler country boy, while his macho pal Robert Drivas, appears harder, and not averse to roughing up their hired companion. And the hooker herself (played with unsettling, smudge-faced edginess by Regina Baff), has some surprises herself. It’s a decidedly low-rent, realistic tale of three losers using each other, but Road Movie also presents a creepily vivid portrait of the American underclass, where three people without any connections try to hustle their way through each day. Not every movie is for everyone (and how boring would a movie for everyone be?)—so why not just take a chance on something you ordinarily wouldn’t? That’s what makes having a Videoport in your life so valuable.

New Releases this week at Videoport: They Came Together (David Wain and Michael Showalter, the alums of The State who made the modern comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer have a new movie out—and, not surprisingly, it’s hilarious! Comic genius sweetie-pies Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star as a pair of mismatched lovebirds in this spoof of all things romantic comedy. Costarring the likes of Ken Marino, Jason Manzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Meloni, and basically everyone you like.), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (When Captain America was fighting the Nazis in WWII, he had a kid sidekick named Bucky. Strangely, sending a teenager into battle in a funny costume didn’t go well, and Buck was killed—or was he?!? [He wasn’t.] So now the star-swaddled Avenger has to battle his seriously pissed-off former sidekick in a superhero movie everyone is saying is pretty darned good indeed. Chris Evans continues to impress as Cap.), It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia—season 9 (That this show is still as funny as it is after nine seasons is something like a miracle, especially since it’s one of the most high-wire comedy balancing acts in TV history. Five of the worst people in the world run the worst bar in Philadelphia while doing the worst things they can conceive of, to each other and to the unsuspecting citizens of the City of Brotherly Love.), Crossbones—season 1 (Pirates!! John Malkovich hams it up big time in this network pirate drama about pirates doing pirate things. Malkovich is a pirate, people!), The League- season 5 (Full of funny people [Paul Scheer, Maine’s Katie Aselton, Jason Manzoukas, Mark Duplass, Nick Krohl, and that other guy] who are very, very good at improv, this sitcom is reliably hilarious and rude even if you care 100% nothing about fantasy football.), The Galapagos Affair (Pulled from one of the oddest true stories around, this documentary explores the reasons why a disparate group of people looking to set up an Eden-like existence in the then-isolated Galapagos Islands turned into a vipers’ nest of sex, betrayal, and murder.), Night Moves (New thriller from always-interesting director Kelly Reichardt [Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy, River Of Grass, Old Joy] about young environmentalists Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard edging deeper into environmental terrorism when they contemplate bombing a hydroelectric dam), Homeland—season 3 (More intense spy vs. terrorist vs. sleeper agent thrills with Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and Damian Lewis double-crossing he hell out of each other.), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—season 1 (From the lucrative world of The Avengers comes this spy series about some fairly dull agents with a cool plane fighting some of the more marginal bad guys of the Marvel Universe. At least it’s got the always-cool Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.), Fed Up (Katie Couric narrates and is mad as hell in this documentary outlining how the government and BIG FOOD have conspired to make Americans fat and docile.), Brick Mansions (Remember that coolly ludicrous French action flick about a walled-off slum where everyone uses their insane parkour skills to fight for their freedom? Well, here’s the American remake—at least they brought over the French guy who, you know, actually knows parkour to prop up deceased stiffy Paul Walker. RZA also appears, for some reason.), Doctor Who: Deep Breath (The great Peter Capaldi [check out his BBC series The Thick Of It in Videoport’s British Comedy section for proof] is the new Doctor! And here’s his first adventure since he transformed from floppy sweetie Matt Smith into the formidable, frightening new version of the immortal Time Lord!), Borgman (Super creepy Dutch thriller about a menacing homeless guy who insinuates himself into the placid household of a typical family.), Korengal (In this sequel to the acclaimed documentary Restrepo, co-director Sebastian Junger [the other director was killed acting as a war correspondent], the unbelievable stress of the young men and women patrolling the most dangerous valley on the planet is examined once more.)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Love Streams (John Cassavetes last film was this typically wrenching, improv-heavy drama about a pair of adult siblings [Cassavetes and real-life wife and screen legend Gena Rowlands] trying desperately to find their way through their own problems. Check out Videoport’s Criterion Borgman-Poster-01Collection section—that’s where all the good stuff lives!)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Homeland- season 3, Brick Mansions, 13

Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get your movies duplicated at Videoport!

You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #472

Volume CDLXXII- Portland, When It Sizzles

For the Week of 9/2/14

(Click the pics for more reviews!)

Videoport, your locally-owned, independent movie store also gives you a free movie every single day. Look—we’re not trying to be braggy over here. It’s just the truth.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests the Videoport Blaxploitation tribute shelf (in the Staff Picks section). In a time when Hollywood had little use for strong black movie heroes (you know, not like now…oh, wait—sort of like now quite a bit), the Blaxploitation genre emerged. Sure, there were some problematic aspects of the genre (apart from the fact that such an alternative cinema for talented black actors, writers, directors, and composers was necessary in the first place)—the “ploitation” part of the name wasn’t joking around. Violent, filled with the same sort of junkie, hooker, pimp, and hustler roles that Hollywood shunted black actors into, the genre nonetheless provided some charismatic, talented black entertainers an opportunity at stardom. The main difference was, these actors got the chance to play leads just as cool, sexy, and central as their mainstream white counterparts—and that the best of these films presented black culture from the inside out. Of course, once Hollywood saw that there was a huge, untapped market for action flicks with black heroes, they swarmed in and watered the genre down, but still, if it weren’t for Blaxploitation, we’d likely never have seen some exceptionally talented, exciting actors and actresses (unless they were being arrested on Starsky and Hutch or something). People like Richard Roundtree (Shaft), Ron O’Neal (Superfly), former NFL-er Fred Williamson (Black Caesar, Bucktown, Hell Up In Harlem), impossible to describe party comedian turned improbable camp action hero Rudy Ray Moore (Dolemite, Petey Wheatstraw), and character actor with the greatest name of all time Thalmus Rasulala (say it out loud). And, of course, the greatest gift the genre gave to us all, the stunning Pam Grier (Foxy Brown, Sheba Baby, Friday Foster) who, like most of the Blaxploitation stars, found her career left high and dry when the genre dies out. At least until Quentin Tarantino pulled one of his most successful career reclamation projects, casting Grier as the star of his brilliant Jackie Brown. The most stellar example of Tarantino’s signature mining of old exploitation genre films for new purposes, it’s his best film (yes, even better than Pulp Fiction), and provides the glorious Grier with the role she always deserved.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests Buchanan Rides Alone (in Classics). The great Randolph Scott/Budd Boetticher Western classic catchup continues with this, their oddest collaboration. In this one, Scott is Buchanan, a preternaturally cheerful cowpoke who crosses the border into Texas in the creepy, corrupt town of Agry, where everything seems to cost ten dollars, and the bent town government and law are all controlled by the same crooked family. When the worthless son of the clan is killed by a justifiably vengeful Mexican lad, the helpful, smiling Buchanan is roped into jail along with him. Bad move, Agry jerks. What’s so odd about the film is how passive and pleasant Scott’s Buchanan remains as bodies continue to fall all around him. It’s sort of like Yojimbo, with both sides of the feud dropping like dusty flies—except that Buchanan, unlike Toshiro Mifune’s mercenary samurai, doesn’t appear to be that invested in what’s going on. Weird little Western, but not in a bad way, and the rangy, genial Scott, as ever, is pretty much the soul of the Western genre.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                                        

>>> Dennis suggests getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Big Trouble In Little China (in Action/Adventure). As earlier editions of The VideoReport will attest, I have a long-time fondness for John Carpenter films. You might even call it a weakness. But there’s one much-admired Carpenter movie for which I’ve never had much affection. Big Trouble in Little China always left me cold, maybe (I thought) because I’m not steeped in the action and martial arts flicks of which it is such an affectionate parody. Then I heard a John Carpenter quote that blew the movie wide open for me. It’s so simple and so obvious, and somehow I missed it every time. Big Trouble protagonist Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is “a guy who thinks he’s the action hero when he’s really the comic sidekick.” BOOM. 

>>>Dennis suggests, as a follow-up Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins (in the Incredibly Strange section). Then there’s this beefy macho action flick from around the same time where…it’s not entirely clear how in on the gag everyone is. Sure, it’s based on The Destroyer series—you know, those slim secret agent books your weird uncle loved, and it was clearly setting itself up as the first in a series (that did not happen). On the other, it’s got Fred Ward in the lead—now I love Fred, but he plays Remo like a big lunkhead most of the time. Also, it stars the very not-Asian Joel Grey (Cabaret) as the very racistly Korean martial arts master Chun, who teaches former cop Remo how to dodge bullets, punch his fingertips through hard stuff, and dive right through big piles of sand while running without leaving footprints. Is it a satire? I honestly don’t know, but it’s got a huge fight setpiece at the then under-repair Statue Of Liberty! Plus, Wilford Brimley as a grumpy spymaster!

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!            

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests My Neighbor Totoro.  I recommend My Neighbor Totoro so often as a gimme-grab for Free Family Friday, and I rarely tell you why. Today I will. It’s been a tough month, Videoporters. It’s been rough on me, it’s been rough on people I love, and a glance at the news tells me it’s been tough all over. When life puts too much on your plate, it’s okay to take a two-hour respite, to escape for the length of a favorite film to a world that’s less alarming, less painful, less tumultuous. But most movies don’t provide such a world: most movies thrive on amped-up conflict. But not the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and especially not the sweetly balanced world of My Neighbor Totoro. In this world, a mother can be ill—so ill that she’s stuck in the hospital, away from her husband and daughters, but never so ill that the specter of death looms over this sunny emotional territory. A family can move to a new home and discover it’s inhabited by mysterious supernatural creatures to first the shock and then delight of the tiny girls who’ll be living with them. It’s a world in which changes are sometimes challenging but not inherently scary, in which tiny girls can wander a field and waterfront full of excitement and curiosity. Totoro is filled with an unfettered joy and thrills that thoughtfully reproduce the actual joy and thrills we see in real children as they push the boundaries of their ever-expanding worlds, and it shows that thing we forget so easily, so early: that the world is bigger and brighter than we ever imagined, and magical in a thousand unexpected ways.

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                    

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests A Mighty Wind (in Comedy). Easily my favorite of the Christopher Guest mockumentaries, A Mighty Wind walks the uneasy line between snark and sentiment without sacrificing compelling characters and affecting stories. Upon the death of a venerated folk music producer, his grown children ask three of his most memorable acts to gather for a tribute concert to commemorate his life. Its familiar loose, naturalistic style give the often broadly drawn characters punch and depth, and the drama ramps up naturally: will the rusty old musicians handle the pressure of media attention and a live audience? Will the slick, plastic perfection of a revamped, commercialized line-up evoke the heartfelt spirit of its original? Will the long-separated lovers rejoin to sing a duet for which the world has waited decades? There’s a reason A Mighty Wind holds a place in my affections higher than any of Guest’s other work: it balances so delicately between sweet and acid, sometimes bittersweet without ever quite dropping into true bitterness. The music is lovely, hilarious, and pitch-perfect… and the crowning song, “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow,” rightfully won an Oscar for its composers, star Michael McKean and his wife Annette O’Toole. 

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests exploring the delicate pleasures of the “so bad it’s good” cinema. Now, not to get down on the shole Syfy channel original movie nonsense—I know you crazy kids love your mega-piranhas, sharktopuses, and frognadoes and so forth, and I’m not trying to steal your fun. But what’s so galling to me about these deliberately awful, cynical crapfests populated by cringing D-list former celebrities waving chainsaws at CGI hybrid animals is that they represent a fundamental betrayal of the joys of actual hate-watching. These movies (all the rage, I’m told) are one giant, smirking wank-fest of audiences and filmmakers goosing each other for recognizing that they’re doing something essentially meaningless. What’s really entertaining for the seasoned hate-watcher is a movie that has absolutely no freaking idea it’s terrible. Watching a movie that a group of people have made flush with the confidence that they are, indeed, engaged in creating something beautiful which is, in reality, jaw-droppingly, funnybone-ticklingly awful. There’s a special glory in discovering a movie that is just…simply…wrong in every aspect—it’s like you’ve discovered the first, stumbling attempts of an alien species attempting to emulate human entertainment. Maybe as part of a plan for world domination—we can’t be sure. What am I talking about? Well, it can’t be winkingly bad, like those pandasaurus movies. And it can’t be something you find morally reprehensible—unless it’s also completely inept (if that’s your bag, I’d suggest the right-wing “satire” An American Carol, which proves, once again, that “conservative comedy” is a paradox). Nope, I’m talking about stuff like Birdemic: Shock And Terror (think Hitchcock’s The Birds made by your college sophomore roommate who just discovered iMovie). Or Miami Connection (neon drenched 1980s Miami Vice clone fueled by cocaine and actors rounded up off the street). Or even the big budget remake of The Wicker Man, where director Neil LaBute’s grim self-seriousness combines with Nicholas Cage sailing gleefully over the top while spin-kicking middle aged women in the face for the last third of the movie. Or the infamous Showgirls, which delves so deeply into cheesy sleaze (while obviously convinced it was going to be an erotic masterpiece) that you can only watch it in sort of glazed awe. Or Troll 2 (completely unrelated to Troll 1 and completely disconnected from storytelling or acting competence). Or Road House, which is the most 1980s thing that’s ever existed, with every single line an unintentional parody of macho, tough guy awesomeness. (Plus, Swayze at his Swayze-est!) Or notorious disaster Howard The Duck, which you can only watch in a sort of horrified nauseous schadenfreude (“at least I’m not George Lucas”). Or the insane, slurring grandfather of them all, The Room. Oh God, The Room. Written, directed by and starring something called Tommy Wiseau, this is what I’m talking about when I refer to aliens trying to make human movies. This erotic (I guess) drama (I suppose), in the hands of the burly, oddly-accented Wiseau (who gives himself numerous sex scenes where it looks like the poor lady involved is being humped by a butcher shop), seems like a Martian in a human suit who’s spent a year watching only Cinemax after dark and tried to make a softcore porn love triangle flick despite not knowing how human sexuality or human communication work. It…is…glorious. So keep your lazy octosquids—real “so bad they’re good” movies are so enjoyable because they’re not in on the joke. (Of course, for a master class in this form of entertainment, check out Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section for over 100 episodes of the classic movie-mockery series Mystery Science Theater 3000!)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Draft Day (Kevin Costner stars as a slicky-boy NFL agent trying to land all the guys who are the best at the blocking and the throwing and the hitting and so forth in this Jerry Maguire-looking football drama), Eastsiders (indie drama about a group of friends gathered for a wild party on the eve of the 2012 Mayan apocalypse [which, weirdly enough, did not happen] only to have their fun ruined when one guest realizes that his boyfriend has been cheating on him with another guest; adapted from the acclaimed webseries, you can find this one in Videoport’s Pride section), Mom’s Night Out (When some tired moms leave the kids with their significant others and head out for a night on the town, you know there’s gonna be some saucy, wacky hijinks—unless, as in this case, the whole thing is one of those “faith-based” Christian movies that have been coming out of late [see: God’s Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, whatever Tyler Perry is up to this week], in which case lessons will be learned about being a good mother and lovin’ the Lord! Sean Astin is in here somewhere), For No Good Reason (Entertainingly weird documentary about cartoonist/artist Ralph Steadman, whose savage, jagged creations put some of the fear and loathing into infamous Gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson’s best works. With cool guy celeb fans JohnnyDepp, Richard E. Grant, Terry Gilliam, and Jann Wenner along for the ride.), The Musketeers- season 1 (Swashbuckling series from BBC America about…well, you know who it’s about. Starring the great Peter Capaldi [The Thick Of It, plus he’s the new Doctor Who] as the villainous Cardinal Reichelieu )

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Draft Day, For No Good Reason

Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get your movies duplicated at Videoport!

You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!

VideoReport #471

Volume CDLXXI- Big Trouble In Little Portland

For the Week of 8/26/14

(Click the pics for more reviews!)

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day! Let’s all just kick back and think about how undeniably cool that is.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Videoport customer Abby L. suggests Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains! (in Incredibly Strange.) Punk is a barbed knot of contradictions, and anyone who tries to untie that knot is going to get hurt. Like its tough female protagonists, the 1982 cult classic, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, tries to untangle it anyway. Stains features a 15 year-old Diane Lane as Corinne “Third-Degree” Burns, the recently-orphaned lead singer of the titular punk group she’s formed with her sister, Tracy, and cousin, Jessica, played by fellow future heavy-hitter Laura Dern. Set against the misty gray backdrop of a fading Pennsylvania steel town, Corinne’s inevitable future in her hometown is laid out clearly before her: be someone’s girlfriend, be someone’s wife, be someone’s mother, and die. Her dreams of marriage and family having been extinguished by the death of her mother, Corinne develops a defensive snarl and cynical attitude. The Stains hit the road as a supporting act for the prophetically-named Metal Corpses, KISS-like glam rock dinosaurs, and the Looters, a sniveling English punk band played by members of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, on a failing tour of the Midwest. The mismatched groups are managed by a long-suffering Rastafarian nicknamed Lawn Boy, who’s a symbol of the political camaraderie between punk and reggae which linked the seemingly disparate musical genres in the 1970’s. The film drifts in and out of a somewhat clumsy mockumentary format as the Stains become a continuing human interest story on the local news, spurred by a sympathetic female newscaster. Looking like a cross between X-Ray Spex and the Misfits from Jem, the group is a near-literal overnight sensation because of a the media attention (a primitive version of going “viral”) and a galvanizing slogan, “We don’t put out.” A few gigs later, they have a devoted following of young girls dressed just like them. But Corinne and her bandmates have clearly given more thought to their clothes and their mission statement than their music, and in punk rock, it’s a very fine, nearly invisible, line between success and “selling out.” The third-act moralizing in the Fabulous Stains is emblematic of punk’s central conflict. If pop music stars are disposable, then punk stars are combustible. Punk fans demand contradicting values from their idols: rawness and purity, steely ideology and strident apathy, toughness and relatability, youth and wisdom. In weeks, the Stains go from heroes to hypocrites. Regardless of its philosophy, the Fabulous Stains is a valuable document of the original punk rock scene and features a fascinating cross-section of music legends and budding stars. Lane channels admirable depths of both perseverance and vulnerability. Mercifully, the musicians aren’t forced to do much acting. Most of all, it’s a loving tribute to American punk music and rust-belt grit. Stains is absolutely mandatory viewing for anyone who dares to call themselves a riot grrl, past, present and future.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests The Big Sleep (in Classics.) With the death of Lauren Bacall, here’s my pick to see her at her best. She and Bogart were a great team, their offscreen chemistry translating in the way that most real couples don’t Here, he’s private dick Philip Marlowe and she’s Vivian Rutledge, wild and wealthy daughter of the wealthy Sternwood clan. There’s a case—a particularly confusing one (author Raymond Chandler admits even he doesn’t know who killed a certain character)—but the real attraction is Bogart and Bacall, their verbal sparring and obvious smoldering making them one of the hottest screen couples in history. (All without much physical contact at all.)

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                                        

>>> Dennis suggests getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests The Simpsons (in Animation.) You know how you know that this is one of the greatest TV shows of all time? With a cable network no on watches otherwise running the entire run of The Simpsons for 12 straight days, people are still coming in to rent i. Maybe they missed the episodes they really wanted to see because they were on at 4:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. Or maybe they saw some episodes they loved and just had to see them again immediately. Or maybe they realized the horrifying scam cable TV is and have no idea what FXX is. Regardless, Videoport’s got all the best seasons of the show (let’s say, up ‘til season 10) and the diminishing returns thereafter.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!            

>>> You can just come in and get a free movie here, people. No other rental necessary. Who else does that? No one, that’s who.

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                    

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Jeremy A. suggests The Sacrament (in Horror). Ti West should make a fast paced film called Slow Burn. Slow burn is the primary description attached to Ti West’s films. It’s a tad lazy and implies most other films are fast burners. I enjoyed West’s last two efforts, The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. Indeed his films are deliberate in their glacial pace and often retro styled in the vein of late 70’s horror films. Back when studio execs and audiences didn’t demand a jump scare every 8 minutes. You could get to know characters, build upon a situation and create genuine atmosphere. A Ti West film is an investment of time and patience. The payoff being, you earn tension and ultimately care about what transpires. In real life crazy sh*t doesn’t happen every 8 minutes. There’s usually a slow escalation of circumstances and before you know it you’re in too deep. So it’s interesting that The Sacrament draws heavily from the very real and tragic Jonestown Massacre of 1978. Even more fascinating that such a retro-centric filmmaker would use the exhausted and unimaginative found-footage style to tell this story. Presented as a VICE documentary, The Sacrament focuses on documentarians Sam and Jake (AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg) accompanying fashion photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) to a remote commune called Eden Parish. Patrick’s troubled sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) has invited them to visit her at the spiritual sanctuary. Initially it appears to be a bona fide utopia, where good people have escaped the racism and hassles of modern life to live off the land. Enter the commune’s enigmatic leader, Father (Gene Jones) in easily the best performance and scene of the film. Sitting down for an interview with the outsiders, Father’s disdain for the media quickly becomes apparent. If you scratch at the surface of paradise, things are often not quite what they seem. Due to the found-footage constraint, we never truly know what’s going on behind the scenes at Eden Parish. Nor gain any real insight into the mindset of what drives folks to join such a cult, or follow it to an unholy conclusion. There’s also straight up technical flaws as to who is filming what, when all cameras are accounted for. I honestly thought the movie may go in a Wicker Man direction, revealing far more sinister reasons for Caroline’s invite to the compound. The tension of waiting for a twist or unexpected turn was exciting, but a huge disappointment when it embraced the Jonestown template and staggered toward the obvious ending. In The Sacrament West is basically recreating the Jonestown Massacre on a smaller scale with artistic liscense. The problem is I wish he’d taken more artistic liberties or simply done a film on the 1978 Peoples Temple. See Kevin Smith’s underappreciated Red State for similar themes about religious cults and their silver tongued leaders. Or watch any of the numerous Jonestown documentaries. Terrifying cause they’re true. I can only hope the found-footage genre is in the death rattle phase. Out of options, ready to drink the kool aid, lay down the video camera and film itself crawling off into the sunset. 

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Rectify (in Feature Drama) and Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). Now that the Emmys are over, we can all stop complaining about who/what got nominated/won, right? Hahahahaha…mercy, no! Like all the big awards shows, they get most everything wrong, inevitably erring on the side of bland/safe/pleasant (Modern Family, I’m looking at you…), and this year was no exception. Although Breaking Bad—yes. So I’m going to use my time here for some stumping on behalf of two of the best performances that didn’t even get nominated. In Rectify, Aden Young plays Daniel Holden, a man imprisoned on death row since he was 17 who’s released to his small Georgia hometown and family when DNA evidence voids his conviction. There’s simply nothing like this show, maybe ever, and Young’s performance as the wary, courtly Daniel is truly remarkable. There’s a mystery still at the heart of Rectify (one that the show is in no hurry to clear up), but the real mystery is of what makes Daniel tick. I’ve tried to explain the effect this show and Young’s performance has on me, that I watch both in a sort of rapt, meditative attention unique in all my millions of TV watching hours. Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany is a wonder as well, except her gift is for knocking your socks off with versatility. Virtuosity, even. I don’t want to spoil anything if you don’t know the premise of this fun, exciting Canadian thriller series, so I’ll just say that Maslany gives several of the best performances on TV. Like, eight of them. (Think Dollhouse, only with a lead actress who can actually play anyone other than that one character and you’ll get what I’m talking about.) So again—in Smart World, these two would have been there on Emmy night, listening to Breaking Bad win all the drama awards, but at least they’d be there. Plus—if neither gets nominated next year, I may do something drastic. Like…write another snarky blog post! Watch your back, Emmy voters!

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Walking Dead- season 4 (ZOMBIES!!!!! Ahem—I mean here is the fourth season of the AMC drama where a rag-tag group of survivors of an unthinkable apocalypse fight for survival against external dangers and the darkest recesses of the human soul. Plus—ZOMBIES!!!!), Sons Of Anarchy-season 6 (BIKERS!!! Yeah, this one is pretty much just about a bunch of smelly, ignorant, violent bikers. BIKERS!!!!!!!), Elementary- season 2 (Go ahead and swoon over your precious Benedict Camblebooblebobble, but, improbably, this American update on the whole Sherlock Holmes deal is actually pretty interesting. Starring Lucy Liu as Watson and the unfortunately not-ridiculously-named Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes), The Double (Directed by cool British comedian Richard Ayoade and based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevshy, this thriller sees meek government clerk Jesse Eisenberg finding his humdrum existence turned upside down when his exact physical double comes to work at his office—and seems to be living his life better than he does), Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in this period piece about the mixed-race daughter of a British admiral trying to deal with all the awfulness of fitting in with an 18th century British society), Blended (Adam Sandler reunites with pal Drew Barrymore in this typically goofy, sort of lazy comedy about a couple of single parents who have a disastrous blind date and then find themselves on the same vacation tour of Africa! Womp-womp. It does co-star the very funny Terry Crews, so that means something… ), The League- season 5 (Full of funny people who are very, very good at improve, this sitcom is reliably hilarious and rude even if you care 100% nothing about fantasy football), The Love Punch (Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star in this comedy about a divorced couple who reluctantly reunite in order to go after the scammer who stole their retirement fund), The Normal Heart (Acclaimed, award-winning cable movie from AIDS activist and hero Larry Kramer about the struggle of an activist to bring the fact of the early days of the AIDS epidemic to the attention of a public all too happy to ignore it. Starring the likes of Mark Rufalo, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer, BD Wong, Denis O’Hare, and Alfred Molina), Portlandia- season 4 (Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s delightfully odd sketch comedy series about the denizen’s of the other Portland continues), Trust Me (Everybody’s favorite Marvel movie universe also-ran Clark Gregg [aka Agent Coulson] writes, directs, and stars in this dramedy about a former child star turned agent trying to hustle his prepubescent clients into the big time. Co-starring the great Felicity Huffman, who also teamed with Gregg in the last season of the great TV show Sports Night, which you should also really rent.), Legends Of Oz: Dororthy’s Return (Indifferently worthy animated sequel to that movie about that wizard from Oz features the voices of Lea Michelle, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bernadette Peters, Brian Blessed, Martin Short, Oliver Platt, Hugh Dancy, and a whole lot more people than you’d expect in this sort of thing), Age Of Uprising: The Legend Of Michael Kolhaas (The great Mads Mikkelsen—you should really be watching Hannibal—stars in this French/German historical epic about a wronged horse trader who assembles an army to get some justice against the lord who swindled him)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: The Normal Heart, Belle

VideoReport #470

Volume CDLXX- The Criterioning

For the Week of 8/19/14

(Click the pics for more reviews!)

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Just somethin’ to keep in mind…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests checking out the sadly-relevant Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall tribute shelves in the Staff Picks section in the Middle Aisle. We’ve got a lot of movies by these two screen legends [and yes, I’m promoting Williams to legend.] Many you haven’t seen before. So now that the shocked grief-renting has subsided a bit, take home some of their movies and appreciate what’s been lost. Also, Death—we get it, you’re Death, you always win. But why not take it down a notch, just for a little while. No more cool dead actors, whattaya say?

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Videoport customer Abby L. suggests Saturday Night Fever (in Musicals). In his 1914 short story collection, Dubliners, James Joyce captured the lives of everyday working-class Irish-Catholics and their struggles to prevail over not only poverty but a spiritual, emotional and mental hurdle known as “paralysis.” In Joyce’s world, paralysis was a combination of fear, self-doubt and self-sabotage that renders one immobile even in the opportunity for escape, a symptom of a hopeless life where endless struggle stunts the growth of one’s imagination and causes them to hesitate in the potential realization of even small, attainable dreams. Cut to 1977. At first glance, Tony Manero, the hero of the disco touchstone Saturday Night Fever, has little in common with the protagonists of Joyce’s English language masterpiece (most notably because he spouts gems like, “It’s a decision a girl’s gotta make early in life, if she’s gonna be a nice girl or a c**t”). Yet, the Catholic Damoclean sword of his blue-collar Italian family swings over his head. His hyena-like pack of goombah friends keep him preserved in childish arrogance and provincial Bay Ridge in-fighting. His followers and groupies, based in a single neighborhood disco, slobber over him with near-religious devotion and foster in the 20-year-old an unearned sense of accomplishment. The cautionary specter-like appearance of his disgraced older brother, who has just left the seminary, fuels Tony’s intense but impotent drive towards escape. The greatest articulation of class tension and anxiety in this film is the relationship between Tony and Stephanie, the upwardly-mobile, name-dropping fellow Brooklynite whom Tony befriends through dance. Stephanie is the only local the prodigy can call a peer, and she continually challenges his immaturity by reminding him of her own pursuit of glamour and betterment on the other side of the bridge. In the name of encouraging Tony to capitalize on his talent, she reminds the reigning king of the dance floor of what he really is: a big fish in a small pond. But her elaborate cosmopolitan act proves to be a smokescreen for her own crippling insecurity, an overcompensation for her naiveté which, as it turns out, presents itself constantly in her own professional life in Manhattan. Saturday Night Fever transcends its reputation as a mere 70’s time capsule in this delicate friendship, where the primary vulnerability shifts ceaselessly between Tony and Stephanie. In many ways, this film is the inversion of a film like Annie Hall, which also came out in 1977. Woody Allen’s depiction of the Manhattan intelligentsia so perfectly personifies the ranks Stephanie hopes to join, you can picture her character desperately trying to fit in at Alvie Singer’s cocktail parties. There are elements of this film that leave it stranded somewhere between class-conscious drama and 70’s camp. The dance sequences feature absorbing-but-dated visuals that today, despite the beauty of the flashing lights and smooth-flowing fabrics, are more at home in a thrift store than a dance club. A hackneyed action sequence between Tony’s friends and a cartoonish Hispanic rival gang only proves how un-tough these characters are. In short, these guys, in their silk shirts, salmon-colored skin-tight polyester pants and dainty gold disco chains, look like they got their laundry mixed up with their sisters.’ Today, John Travolta’s public image is closer to Battlefield Earth alien than Italian-American everyman. But the soundtrack, a record-shattering behemoth laden with the Bee-Gees at their most helium-voiced, is unimpeachable. It was Gene Siskel’s favorite movie, for God’s sake! The film’s shockingly dramatic conclusion reveals a few inevitable sacrificial lambs and reminds us that Saturday Night Fever is not the escapist slab of nostalgic, kitschy gouda the uninitiated viewer may expect. Tony’s future in dance, the ever-present threat of realizing fully his own greatness, fills him with the same internal doubt and dread Joyce’s Dubliners felt, the skepticism that dreams can be real, and the unanswerable question of who enjoys salvation, and why.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                                        

>>> Dennis suggests getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                        

>>> Jeff el Customer recommends The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (in Feature Drama). The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was not a movie I wanted to run out and see. All I could think of was some boring short story they made us read in 7th grade. Maybe that’s what most of the reviewers were focused on when they panned this movie, too. But I, and the reviewers, were so wrong. Walter Mitty is brilliantly updated and made into a movie that will keep you pleasantly engaged for the entire 114 minutes. This is a fun time – from the moment Walter launches himself out the window of one skyscraper and crashes through into the burning building next door to save everyone inside (!) That scene is from Walter’s imagination, but soon he starts to take control of his life and his adventures become a reality of skateboarding, sharks, volcanoes, and mountain climbing. Great performances by Ben Stiller in the titular role, Kristen Wiig as his co-worker/love interest and tasty bit parts by Sean Penn as a deep, visionary photographer, Adam Scott as Walter’s annoying boss, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as a drunken helicopter pilot in Iceland, and Patton Oswalt as the best CSR in online dating. My favorite part: check the look on Walter’s face when a friend is trying to drive him away from the erupting volcano – I see real terror there, the kind that can’t be faked – as he screams, “Holy sh*t! Drive faster!” Have the rewind button at the ready kids, you’ll want to watch some parts of Walter Mitty over and over, or rent it often from your friends at Videoport!

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!            

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Aladdin And The King Of Thieves. So, there have been many conversations both online and in person that have started with, “what’s your favorite Robin Williams film?” That’s always an easy question for me and I reviewed it last Videoreport, The Fisher King. As a person who has long adored making lists I want to immediately have an answer in my own head as to what the runner ups would be. Of course I love Dead Poet’s Society in every over the top inspirational way possible. But in all honesty I think the number two slot goes to Aladdin with a special nod to its underrated cousin Aladdin and the King of Thieves. We shall not speak of the Return of Jafar. It is not worth our time. Aladdin and the King of Thieves however, surprisingly entertaining! It brought back the original cast including Robin Williams who of course shines bringing the same level of humor he brought to the first. I always think it’s a sign of great character when a movie star is willing to participate in something straight to video. Aladdin and the King of Thieves ends up being sort of an Aladdin-Ali Baba hodge podge as Aladdin meets his long lost father. Spoiler alert…he’s a king…of thieves. Voiced by the ridiculously phenomenal John Rhys Davies which you would know from Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and/or equally phenomenal cartoon series Gargoyles. The other cool aspect of this movie you get to see a post happily ever after that legitimately covers what a real couple would struggle and worry about it. Kudos to you Jasmine and Aladdin! I really think those crazy kids are going to make it work!  

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                    

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests closing you eyes and picking three movies at random from Videoport’s Criterion Collection section! Seriously—the CC is a company that has the best taste in movies anywhere. They put out deluxe editions of an impeccably chosen roster of classics, foreign films, choice new indies, and the occasional nutball head-scratcher (I’m looking at you, Equinox, Sweet Movie, and House). Basically, if you watched every film in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section, you’d be the most well-rounded movie expert in town. So take any three (you’ll get one for free all weekend) and begin the glorious journey into movie awesomeness. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Kevin H. suggests Adore (in Feature Drama). “Adore” is, apart from anything else, a stunningly beautiful movie. The setting is an isolated, lushly beautiful stretch of Australian coast. Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have grown up together in this paradise as neighbors and best friends. Now in their 40’s, they each have a son; Lil’s Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Roz’s Tom (James Frecheville), respectively. As with their mothers, the boys are the same age (now 19) and have grown up together. Mothers and sons are rooted to this place, to their lovely beach homes, and to each other. (And let me be clear, they are all exceptionally beautiful people). Other people seem extraneous. There have been husbands, but Lil’s died years ago, while Roz’s spouse Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) is clearly just far too drab of a person to really fit in, and soon it’s just the four of them. The natural beauty of the surroundings functions, I think, like an enchanted forest in a Shakespeare play –  a place where normal rules and conventions cease to exist. The four of them live more or less communally, moving between their neighboring houses, and….each woman takes up with the son of the other. They all decide, rather frankly and openly, that they like this state of affairs, and carry on in this way for at least a couple of years. The mothers, at least, seem to accept that this cannot continue forever. Yet none of them are really willing to stop, so long as they can keep the outside world out (they can’t. Or, maybe they can?). The movie asks us to accept this conduct as a matter of fact; it shows intimacy without dwelling on it, the characters are not spared consequences. Underneath it all there are questions circulating about female desire, the roles women are nominally allowed, how aging affects one’s view of self; the movie’s literary pedigree is from a Doris Lessing story titled “The Grandmothers.” Watch it for that, or watch it for just how beautifully and artfully it’s all put together.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Boardwalk Empire- season 4 (Steve Buscemi is back as Prohibition-era gangster Nucky Thompson in this HBO series set in an Atlantic City even more decrepit than the Atlantic City of today; with a great supporting cast including Michael K. Williams, Geoffrey Wright, Michael Shannon, and Kelly Macdonald), The Quiet Ones (Mad Men’s Jared Harris stars in this horror thriller about an Oxford professor who decides to test his theory about poltergeists on a disturbed young woman in an old, creepy house. I’m sure everything turns out fine…), Only Lovers Left Alive (The cool Videoport pick of the week, this is the latest film from ever-fascinating independent film legend Jim Jarmusch [Down By Law, Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers, Mystery Train]. This time, he brings us his version of a vampire tale, with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston starring as a pair of artsy immortal bloodusuckers who are more interested in lounging around and listening to music than cruising for victims.), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Andrew Garfield returns in this superhero sequel to the superhero reboot. This time, both Paul Giamatti and Jamie Foxx are on hand as the baddies trying to spoil the downtrodden spider-guy’s high school experience by smashing up New York City and occasionally kidnapping his girlfriend.), The Good Wife- season 5 (Julianna Magulies returns as the politician’s wife-turned-lawyer in this series that seemingly everyone loves. Great supporting cast helps, no doubt: Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming, Chris Noth, and more.), Low Winter Sun- season 1 (Someone who works at Videoport got paid to watch this cop show about a Detroit cop on the edge. He suggests that that’s probably the way to watch this grim ‘n’ gritty series, but you can pay to watch it, too…), Fading Gigolo (John Turturro, in addition to being a hell of a character actor, is also an

Click the pic to read a Videoporter's reviews in the AV Club. If you dare.

Click the pic to read a Videoporter’s reviews in the AV Club. If you dare.

interesting director [Illuminata, Romance & Cigarettes] and here he plays the titular sex-for-hire guy of a certain age, selling his greying wares to the likes of Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. Oh, and Woody Allen plays his pimp—wrap your mind around that one.), The Sacrament (Indie horror director Ti West has made two very good horror movies—House Of The Devil and The Innkeepers—so you should probably check out his new one, about an investigative news team whose investigation of a creepy cult goes very, very wrong.)

New Arrivals At Videoport This Week: Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Two, count ‘em two new releases from the kooks at the Criterion Collection this week—first up is this sexy, controversial film from the master of such things, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. One of the first NC-17 films, it stars Antonio Banderas [never better than in Almodovar], an unstable former mental patient who kidnaps a porn star [the great Victoria Abril] in order to convince her to marry him.), Y Tu Mama Tambien (And speaking of sexy new Criterion releases, here’s the super-deluxe Criterion release of Alfonso Cuaron’s sexy, moving, funny road movie about a pair of Mexican teenagers [Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna] who find themselves taking an unexpected road trip with a mysterious, sensual older woman [Maribel Verdu])

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: The Quiet Ones, Boardwalk Empire- season 4, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down!, The Sacrament

VideoReport #469

Volume CDLXIX- Wherein We Could All Use A Good Laugh

For the Week of 8/11/14

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Maybe a free Robin Williams movie will cheer us all up. Maybe…

 (Click the pics for more reviews—and a couple of great articles about Williams.)

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests The Fisher King (in Drama) and The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). In the onslaught of sadness after Robin Williams passing I was exceptionally moved by the words of Terry Gilliam. “Robin Williams, the most astonishingly funny, brilliant, profound and silly miracle of mind and spirit, has left the planet. He was a giant heart, a fireball friend, a wondrous gift from the gods. Now the selfish bastards have taken him back. F*** ‘em!”. There’s something comforting and particularly poignant I’ve always found in the marriage of anger and death so when someone lashes out while still remaining respectful and expressing love it sticks with me. If I were to spend an evening appreciating the career of Robin Williams I think I would choose the two Terry Gilliam films that I’ve seen him in. For one I think Terry Gilliam is a brilliant filmmaker and artist. For two I think he utilized Robin Williams in a way not enough people did. People so often get awards for drama, but rarely for comedy. I think comedy is often considered lesser as though it is easy to do whereas drama is difficult. And yet I see comedic actors time and again wipe the floor with drama and when a dramatic actor does comedy they more often than not fizzle. The ones I fall the most in love with of course are the ones that display a comedic actor making the most of both sides of their abilities. The Fisher King runs Mr. Williams through the gamut of his abilities and I think the result is one of my favorite movies. I can only imagine now as I think of the character he played, someone struggling significantly with reality being too great to bear with any sanity, how much it must have resonated with him as a person. The other film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen Robin Williams played only a small role, but as always he gave it everything he had. Munchausen, like the persona I knew as Robin Williams is light hearted in nature, but as might have been the person that was Robin Williams is also deeply dark.  Both movies have always made me appreciate the marriage of comedy and drama and how well Robin Williams could pull off both. 

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests The Best Of Times (in Comedy.) Robin Williams and Kurt Russell make an unlikely successful comedy team in this 1986 comedy about middle aged desperation and what guys will do to redress the humiliations of their past. 20 years before, Russell was the star high school quarterback and Williams was the lowly receiver who dropped the ball in the big game. Now they’re both facing divorce and lives of gradual humiliation, so Williams cooks up the unlikely, movie-friendly plan to replay the big game and set things aright. The burly, laid-back Russell humors his friend until the prospect of recapturing that old teenage mojo and winning wife Pamela Reed’s affection back causes him to give in. This was one of those films where Williams was allowed to goof around, but that actually works here, livening up the predictable premise. Plus, he injects a dose of that Williams sentimentality as his nebbish becomes more and more desperate to give his disappointing life a do-over.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                                        

>>> Videoport customer Abby L. suggests The Birdcage (in Comedy.) One element that made Robin Williams’ career legendary was the element of surprise. The Juilliard-trained actor-comedian could shift effortlessly from comedy to drama, and The Birdcage is an admirable showcase for his many talents. Williams plays Armand, the devoted partner of and director for Albert (Nathan Lane), who moonlights as the marquee drag queen, Starina, in the film’s titular nightclub, which the couple own and live above. The cabaret they stage nightly is an institution in South Beach, and the decadent home they share is maintained by their kooky, effete housekeeper, Agador (Hank Azaria). When Armand and Albert’s son, Val, the product of Armand’s lone experimentation with a woman, announces that he intends to marry the daughter of conservative senator Kevin Keeley (the 20- and 18-year-old lovebirds are played, per usual, by 30-somethings Dan Futterman and Calista Flockhart), a number of screwball accommodations must be made to futilely convince Armand and Albert’s future in-laws (Gene Hackman and Diane Weist) that they’re a wholesome natural family (that’s papa bear, mama bear and baby bear) who just happen to live in the gay epicenter of Florida. Naturally, the meeting dinner is arranged hastily as the Keeleys escape the scandal caused by the death of the senator’s conservative counterpart in the arms of an underage hooker. Ironically, Williams must play the straight-man in this wild Miami setting, which frequently appears to inhabit the same pastel-heaven universe as The Golden Girls. Lane’s performance as the mincing, shrieking grand-dame Albert, hilarious as it is, relies heavily on a sort of caricature, as does Azaria’s role. Williams plays the humane, patriarchal, sensible center of the film, the glue that keeps his family together. Many may remember this film by the clip of Williams hastily performing a brief history of American dance, concluding with frenetic voguing and shouts of, “Madonna, Madonna, Madonna!” In fact, this is one of very few instances in this film where Williams utilizes his signature physicality and feverish celebrity impersonations. At one point, Armand tells his son authoritatively, “Yes, I wear foundation. Yes, I live with a man. Yes, I’m a middle-aged fag. But I know who I am, Val. It took my twenty years to get here, and I’m not gonna let some idiot senator destroy that.” Armand proves to be a tough, fiercely protective, loyal father and partner, even when he’s delivering lectures to his son poolside in a tacky tiger-print robe or wise-cracking the love of his life in the middle of one of her diva tantrums. It’s easy to forget that almost 20 years ago, when The Birdcage was released, it was a bold choice for Williams to take a role like this. For a straight actor to avoid the low-hanging fruit of tired tropes and stereotypes to bring humanity to this character, to make such surprising and delightful choices, it is a testament to his skill and compassion as a performer and one of the many reasons Williams will be sorely missed.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Fisher King (in Feature Drama).  Like all of director Terry Gilliam’s best work, The Fisher King is hilarious, heartbreaking, and often hard to watch. Shock-jock Jack Lucas (Jeff Bridges) is at the crest of his career — his radio show a smash success, a sitcom deal in the works, his glib badgering of minor celebrities feeding an ugly hunger in his audience and himself. Badgering a politician’s mistress, he lectures “we want to hear about the backseats of limos, about the ruined lives of people we want to be,” but it’s not just the glamorous or outrageous that Lucas targets; he’s got a stable of sad-sack listeners who call in for a helping of invective and bile, and Jack delivers it unstintingly, unthinkingly, cloaked in the confidence of certain success. But success is never certain. The only thing certain is loss, and Jack Lucas is about to find that out. And no matter how much you’ve lost, you could always lose more. When he meets Parry (Robin Williams in an Oscar-nominated role), a man whose life he unwittingly destroyed, Jack determines — perhaps for the first time in his selfish life — to atone for his sins. The entire cast delivers tremendous performances. Mercedes Ruehl deservedly won an Oscar for her incandescent, ever-shifting blend of love and rage and pain and tenderness. Amanda Plummer scuttles in suspicion, her entire body as narrows and tight as her eyes. Michael Jeter radiates a fragile flamboyance that touches me every time. But the leads — well, the leads. Both Bridges and Williams reach down into themselves to delve into something that’s lovely and hateful and playful and somber. Like Robin Williams himself, The Fisher King is a mercurial mess of a film, beautiful and chaotic, silly and sentimental and sardonic, overblown and loud. And it uses Robin Williams’ rare talent for mayhem with an unabashed glee that keeps teetering over into terror. 

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!            

>>> Aladdin and Ferngully

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                    

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Club Paradise (in Comedy). Robin Williams anchors this shaggy 1986 comedy as a Chicago firefighter who spends his big injury settlement on a rundown Caribbean resort. Directed by the late Harold Ramis (and can we just cool it the f*** out with killing all the best people, 2014? Seriously…), and written by Ramis, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Harry Shearer, the film is a rambling, genial goof-around—everyone in the absurdly talented cast was encouraged to contribute to the dialogue. It’s more a collection of set-pieces with the likes of Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Peter O’Toole, Mary Gross, Robin Duke, and others playing off each other and seemingly having a great time. Is it the best comedy ever? Well, no—but it’s incredibly likable and silly, and Williams presides over the hijinks as occasional straightman, who still has plenty of room to screw around. Plus, reggae legend Jimmy Cliff is on hand to sing and kick the plot (about the exploitation of the island’s population) into gear from time to time. If you’re looking for a relaxed Williams sleeper you might not have seen, this one’s worth a rental.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests the Robin Williams tribute shelf (in the Middle Aisle). I know it’s ghoulish that everyone rushes to watch someone’s movies right after they die, but with something like this, it’s so unexpected and shocking, I think we can be let off the hook. Look, this sucks. I’m old, but there isn’t a time in my life when I wasn’t aware of Robin Williams as a constant, welcome presence in my life. And sure, I got annoyed—even sort of contemptuous at times, to my shame—at some of his movie choices. But even in movies I genuinely loathed (if I ever meet the real Patch Adams in person, he’s going to have to cheer himself up in the emergency room), there was always something unusual, something weird, or warm, or off-the-wall funny. One example is the drippy, nonsensical What Dreams May Come—in the midst of the shameless schmaltz, Williams is in there acting his heart out and damned if he’s not affecting. So watch the great stuff (Moscow On The Hudson, Good Morning Vietnam, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, World’s Greatest Dad [a pitch-black comedy featuring his best performance], Insomnia, One Hour Photo, The Fisher King, Popeye), and then watch some of the rest—there’s always something to see. Robin Williams was funny and comforting. Again—this sucks.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Filth (Based on a novel from Irvine Welsh, author of Trainspotting, in this one James McAvoy stars as a, well, filthy Scottish copper whose actions revolve more around drugs, sex, and cash than doing cop things. Costarring a lot of good British actors), The Railway Man (Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman star in this fact-based drama about a former British army officer who sets out to confront the Japanese guard who tormented him as a prisoner of war during WWII), Bears (Disney documentary about bears! They’re bears! They’re adorable and will rip your face off! Bears!), Muppets Most Wanted (Tina Fey, Ty Burrell and Ricky Gervais join in on this, the second reunion Muppets movie where the Muppets find a Kermit The Frog double who may be up to no good), A Haunted House 2 (Marlon Wayans returns as the spazzily beleaguered boyfriend of women who keep getting possessed in this sequel to that horror spoof he did and some people enjoy. Costarring Gabriel Iglesias, Jaime Pressley, and Cedric The Entertainer), The Past Is A Grotesque Animal: A Film About Of Montreal (Another acclaimed documentary about a cool indie band [see last week’s film about The Magnetic Fields for more], this one concerning the band Of Montreal, which all the cool kids are listening to and such), Batman: Assault On Arkham (Priming the ground for the upcoming video game, here’s a DVD film about the Bat infiltrating Gotham City’s most notorious—and poorly-secured—insane asylum), The Blacklist- season 1 (James Spader seems alternately bored and delighted by the responsibility of hamming it up in order to save this middling TV crime series. In it, he’s a criminal mastermind who turns himself in to the authorities in order to bring down a series of criminal masterminds slightly less mastermind-y than he is), Stand Off (From the director of Hotel Rwanda comes this Irish crime caper thriller about a botched heist at a fish market. Starring Brendan Fraser [who plays an American, thankfully], and cool guy Irish actors Colm Meaney and David O’Hara), Breathe In (The first of two Guy Pearce movies out this week, this one starring as the father of a typical American family thrown into confusion upon the arrival of a sexy exchange student. Good cast, including the great Amy Ryan [The Wire, The Office, Gone Baby Gone], and Felicity Jones), Hateship Loveship (And here’s the second, with Pearce starring alongside former SNL-er Kristen Wiig in a drama about a wild teenage girl who conspires to pair up her addict father and Wiig’s family nanny), Locke (Ever-fascinating Tom Hardy [The Dark Knight Rises, Bronson] stars in this intense, unusual thriller about a building executive who spends the evening before the start of the biggest project of his career driving frantically around and fielding a series of mysterious phone calls which threaten the project—and his entire existence)

New Arrivals At Videoport This Week: Fun With Dick And Jane (No, not the Jim Carrey remake, this is the 1977 original, a comedy starring George Segal and Jane Fonda as a professional couple whose sudden poverty causes them to turn to armed robbery to make ends meet), Moon Over Parador (perhaps in response to the recent death of director Paul Mazursky, Videoport brings in the DVD release of his 1988 political comedy about an out of work actor [Richard Dreyfuss] roped into impersonating the deceased dictator of a South American country. Costarring the Sonia Braga and the ever-outstanding Raul Julia. Former Videoporter Jeremy loves this movie—and since he’s the funniest person in the world, you should probably listen to him), Doctor Detroit (Back in 1983 when Dan Aykroyd could open a movie, this comedy still flopped. In it, Aykroyd stars as a timid college professor who reluctantly steps in the alligator shoes of a pimp and finds himself enjoying the pimp life. Pair it up with Night Shift, where Henry Winkler and Michael Keaton discover the same exact thing. Different time, the 80s…)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Filth, Locke, Bears, Muppets Most Wanted, A Haunted House 2

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,690 other followers