VideoReport #453

Volume CDLIII—The Indie Video Stores Strike Back

For the Week of 4/22/14

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Does that make us heroes? That’s not for us to say…

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 Hannibal (in Mystery/Thriller.) At the outset, I have to stress how completely uninterested—bordering on hostile—I was when I heard NBC was making this show. Not because I have any great affection for Thomas Harris’ books or the movies made from them—but because I felt like this was a shameless, desperate cash-grab attempting to cash in on the fading reputation of an overrated book and movie franchise. Look, I’ll give you Silence Of The Lambs (book and movie), and Red Dragon (book, but only Michael Mann’s movie Manhunter, not that crappy Brett Ratner movies Red Dragon). But even there, the whole serial killer thing is played out—seriously, how many serial killers are there in America? Do they all need their own movie? Plus, as fun as Anthony Hopkins was in SOTL, it was a hammy, limited turn that I don’t need any more of. (Brian Cox is his equal in a smaller role as Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter—give it a try.) Anyway, I was prepared to ignore/hatewatch what was sure to be a watered-down, lazy series engineered to lure in fans of the books/movies (which, do they still even exist) and doomed to fail. The fact that the thing was being helmed by the usually interesting Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies) just made me madder—while all three of those shows bombed hard ratings-wise, they each had a singular, unique vision and sense of humor that made them challenging, gratifyingly weird television. This Hannibal thing seemed like makework for hire and, frankly, beneath someone I’d always respected. Then—I watched the damned thing. Hannibal is easily one of the best shows on TV right now, and has been for almost two seasons. It takes the skeleton of Thomas Harris’ plots and characters and uses it as the scaffolding upon which Fuller has built something terrifying and alive—and strangely beautiful. It pushed the limits of what you can show on television, sure—there’s some serious gore here. But it also performs the seemingly impossible feat of making police procedurals, serial killer stories, and a moribund book/film franchise into its own, riveting monster. And I’ll say it—it’s got the best Hannibal ever in the impeccable Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt, A Royal Affair, After The Wedding). Better than Hopkins? Better than Hopkins. He’s less showy, for sure, and also less pleased with himself. Was it just me who got entirely bored with Anthony Hopkins’ performances as Lecter immediately after Silence Of The Lambs? Well, Mikkelsen has been playing the character for two straight seasons—a seemingly unplayable character, an unsustainable one—and he’s continually alive and thrilling on the screen. Even when (especially when) he’s doing little more than talking. As his nemesis/friend/victim Will Graham, British actor Hugh Dancy (Adam, The Big C) matches him. Graham, the FBI profiler with the curse-like ability to get inside the head of serial killers is drawn to Hannibal’s intellect, his insight—too bad he’s worse than any of the killers-of-the-week Will seeks help in catching. Add in the great Laurence Fishburne as Will’s boss Jack Crawford, whose gravitas and steely resolve help turn a character whose main function is to be wrong all the time into someone formidable. That’s partly due to Fshburne’s natural talent, but also due to Fuller’s writing—Jack’s great at his job, as long as he’s not up against Hannibal Lecter. There are some more good supporting turns from Aaron Abrams and The Kids In The Hall’s Scot Thompson (of all people) as a pair of bickering lab techs, and the ever interesting Caroline Dhavernas (of Fuller’s Wonderfalls) as a fellow shrink casting suspicious eyes at everyone, but it’s mainly Dancy and Mikkelsen’s show, and their ongoing dance of friendship and gamesmanship is pretty damned spellbinding. Hannibal’s so good at being what it is that the occasional intrusions of the well-known plots and characters from the books and movies, when they crop up, seem unnecessary. They stick out, reminding me that, “Oh, yeah—this is based on those books and movies I got so sick of.” And then I go back to watching one of the best shows on TV.

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 Dial M For Murder (in Mystery/Thriller, but it’s a classic, so there.) You’ve seen Hitchcock’s small-scale domestic thriller Dial M for Murder, surely. But have you really seen it? Have you picked up the quiet, insistent symbolic language of the superficially unassuming film? Well, that’s okay, because I did. Can I tempt you to revisit Dial M for Murder with me as your guide? Read Dial M for Murder: Symbols of Objectification in Hitchcock’s Classic http://the-toast.net/2014/03/31/dial-m-motif-symbols-objectification-hitchcocks-classic/view-all/ for the full critique, but be warned: this analysis gives blow-by-blow SPOILERS, so don’t read it until or unless you’ve seen the film.

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 Community (in Comedy.) Now that Community has just wrapped up its improbable fifth season, it’s time for you to go back and check out one of the best sitcoms in recent memory, a weird, too-smart-for-TV-ratings, stealthily heartfelt tale of a ragtag group of disparate characters bound together by their attendance at one of the world’s worst, and oddest, community colleges. First, let’s tell the story of that “improbable” fifth season, as its genesis goes right to the heart of what makes Community so good. Creator Dan Harmon (by all accounts a brilliant, bearishly difficult guy) got fired after the show’s third season by the networks/suits/dimwits. Despite being low-rated, a fourth season went ahead anyway, with a couple of well-meaning guys in charge—and it was a disaster. It’s not that the resulting season (called “the gas leak season” hereafter, due to a later joke and the fact that everyone in season 4 acted just enough off for the show to resemble nothing so much as wobbly fan fiction of itself) was terrible. It’s that it, under the guidance of people who were not the one guy who created and guided such a singular show, looked like a show trying too hard to resemble itself. I watched all of season 4—I recommend doing so as an exercise in proving how corporate meddling in artistic endeavors is wrong 100% of the time. Then, after season 4 was over, the stars of the show (most notably main star Joel McHale who plays disbarred lawyer and snarky cool guy Jeff Winger) sad they wouldn’t return as the network wanted them to unless they hired back…Dan Harmon. And they did! It’s completely unprecedented as far as I can tell—fired showrunner rehired after staff walkout and reinstalled in old position by the very suits who canned him. Hired back against the will of the suits, in other words. Wow. Was season 5 the best the show had ever produced? No. For one thing, there was a lot of unexpected turnover, with the hilarious and talented Donald Glover (as former jock turned happy goofball Toy Barnes) leaving partway through the season, and renowned character actor and grump Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad’s Mike Ehrmentraut to you) taking the place of renowned pain in the ass Chevy Chase. (Banks was shockingly funny, by the way.) And some of the big, daring moves the show made didn’t pay off as well as they have in the past. But who cares—this is one of the most inventive, hilarious shows I’ve ever seen. It gives you more the more you watch it—and I watch and rewatch it a lot (except for season 4 which doesn’t exist.) Community—it’ll just make you happy.

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 Stories We Tell (in Documentary).  After months and months of planning (and failing) to watch Sarah Polley’s documentary The Stories We Tell, I finally sat down with it expecting to incorporate it into a piece I’m already writing. Maybe 30 minutes in, I realized I couldn’t include it – at least, not without explaining and expounding enough to ruin many of its meandering charms for other viewers – but by that time I was hooked. No matter how fast my deadline was hurtling toward me, I knew I was going to sit with the domestic drama artfully unreeling in this film, and with the layers of self-aware construction of personal histories playing and replaying in different people’s stories, until the very last minute, and laugh and cry all the way there.

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

>>> It’s free! It’s for kids! Or the very immature!

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Fargo (in Mystery/Thriller.) Not that I’m prepared to go all gooey over it, Hannibal-style, but the new Fargo TV series (which has only aired one episode and is not on DVD yet, so cool it) is similarly much better than it has any right to be so far. Sure, the Coen Brothers are on board in some sort of executive producer capacity, but they’re not creatively involved with the show which, apart from taking place in the same part of the world and dealing with unlikely Midwesterners getting involved in murder and the like, doesn’t have anything to do with the Coen’s brilliant dark comic crime thriller. It’s got Martin Freeman as the central poor sad sack (and doing a creditable accent), and Billy Bob Thornton as the No Country For Old Men-like hired killer Freeman gets mixed up with. There’s a deceptively formidable lady cop and lots of colorful characters—and it’s actually pretty great so far. So rent Fargo, then watch Fargo and then try not to feed anyone into a wood chipper or anything.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests getting some serious free money at Videoport! I mean, you can do this any day, but since nobody gave me a Sunday review this week (send your reviews to denmn@hotmail.com—we’re all in this together, people!), I thought I’d use the space to remind everyone out there about Videoport’s too-good-to-be-true payment plans! Any time you want, you can pay $20 on your Videoport account and we’ll give you $25 worth of rental credit. And any time you pre-pay $30 on your account, we’ll give you $40 worth of rental credit. It’s 5 or 10 free bucks right there—all you’ve gotta do is pick it up, gang! The credit never expires or any of that nonsense, you can use it for rentals or any of those pesky extra day fees, and—did I mention?—it’s free-freaking-money! Call it 5 or 10 free dollars you would have spent here anyway, call it 20 or 25% off Videoport’s already so-low rental prices—call it anything you want. It’s still free money!

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Address (historical documentarian wildman Ken Burns is back! This time lending his meticulous skills to a study of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and how it continues to resonate, despite being only 272 words! In contrast, this newsletter routinely runs 2500 words and is immediately forgotten by all! There’s a lesson in there somewhere…), Big Bad Wolves (the makers of this Israeli thriller about three different men on a violent collision course are thanking their lucky stars tonight that no less than Quentin Tarantino has proclaimed it “The best film of the year!”; it’s right there on the box!!), okay kids—sometimes the studios take what you might call a little break from, you know, releasing anything whatsoever on DVD!! Seriously—there was just a vast wasteland o’ nothin coming out this week. So take the time to catch up on the new releases you might’ve missed—let us help you find ‘em. Things are back on track next week, we promise.

 

New Arrivals at Videoport: The Pawnbroker (Rod Steiger stars in this acclaimed, powerful 1964 drama from director Sidney Lumet about a Jewish pawnbroker and Holocaust survivor whose loss of faith in humanity colors his everyday interactions with the customers in his New York neighborhood), The Vanishing Of The Bees (Ellen Page narrates this documentary that asks, “Hey—what’s the deal with all those bees?”), Breaking The Waves (Criterion).

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: A Band Called Death (attention all fans of: Searching For Sugarman, music, underdog stories, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me, Muscle Shoals, 20 Feet From Stardom—here’s the next documentary you’re gonna want to watch, a portrait of the band Death, an all-black Detroit proto-punk outfit that didn’t make it but are still acclaimed to this day), Breaking The Waves (Criterion finally put out a super-duper blu ray edition of Lars von Trier’s super-duper wrenching film starring the great Emily Watson as a virginal bride who goes to some seriously disturbing lengths to satisfy the needs of her newly-crippled husband)

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Indie Video Store Fights Back: Episode 2—We Have Everything!

A LOT of movies. That's what we're sayin'.

A LOT of movies. That’s what we’re sayin’.

Okay, here’s the thing:

Videoport has everything!

Of course, that’s a lie. We have a finite amount of space in our cavernous basement lair, and to have everything ever made, we’d have a teetering, piled to the ceiling hoarders-type situation on our hands, and our shorter customers (and April) would be in constant danger. But we’ve got a hell of a lot of stuff, all gathered, curated, and carefully selected from over 27 years of openness and awesomeness. From the newest-latest stuff you simply must have right now (but which will sit disregarded once the hype wears off and you realize that Johnny Depp makes a lot of really mediocre movies) to the most obscure, weird stuff that only one person in ten thousand would be interested in—Videoport is your destination for, well, everything.

“Now hold on a second,” I hear you saying somehow. “That crappy vending machine around the corner from my house in the garbage-strewn convenience store parking lot with the scary teens bumming cigarettes has fifty movies I have to give my credit card information to get and which are usually scratched and terrible!” To which I reply, wow—it really seems like you’re setting your argument up for failure already there. Still, while it’s true that that super-great gumball machine might have some of the newest-latest movies, we’ve got them, too, and often a lot sooner. See, the studios hold a lot of the big movies back for a long time. Man, it’s like they don’t want their movies associated with a ludicrous, impersonal vending machine. Weird.

“Okay,” you reply, “Maybe you tore through my first objection to renting at a locally-owned, independent video store instead of from a massive corporation which decided which movies I can see and when. But what about Netflix—you know, that massive, impersonal corporation that decides what movies I can see and when?” Again, I can see you’re really on the fence here, so I’ll help you out. Apart from the myriad class action lawsuits against said company from the beginning of its benighted existence, you know that Netflix regularly pulls movies and TV shows from its library, right? Why do they do this? Shady corporate backroom deals? Just to f@%$ with you? We don’t know. What we do know is that Videoport never does that. We’ve curated our collection of movies over decades. We love them. We cherish them. We bring them in and keep them as part of our collection for you to enjoy. Forever. “But wait a minute,” you say, although you really sound sort of guilty about doubting us. “Haven’t you sold off some of your movies over the years?” It’s okay, tiger—we forgive you. While we do reluctantly let an underperforming title go from time to time, we do it judiciously, and with much geeky deliberation. We never get rid of anything essential, and—we’ll bring it back if there’s suddenly a groundswell of desire for, say, Space Jam (as happened lately), we’ll bring it back!! 

Yes. We have it. The movie you were about to ask about? Yeah, that one. Have it.

Yes. We have it. The movie you were about to ask about? Yeah, that one. Have it.

Check out the purple notebook by the computer when you enter the store. That’s the customer request book. If we don’t have what you want (a rarity, but it happens), then write it down in the book. We go through it, and, when owner Bill’s feeling spendy, we’ll buy it. Make a stink. Pester us. That’s the beauty of an independent video store—there’s no bureaucracy, no middle men. There’s just Videoport‘s owner—and he’s very susceptible to manipulation and begging. Basically, if there’s the sense that an obscure movie or TV show has enough people clamoring for it, then we’ll get it. We love movies, too. And we want to have them for you. It’s you and us in this together. Again—indie video stores.

“But,” you continue, actually sounding sorta afraid at this point, “Since you have so many movies, how do I know what to rent?” Take it easy, little buddy—that’s what our staff is here for. As has been written before, they know everything—about movies in general and about every movie and TV show we’ve got on our shelves. They’ll help you find it if you know you want it and they’ll point you in the right direction if you don’t. Again, that’s the beauty of an independent video store where the employees know their stuff and actually love their store. They take pride in knowing what we’ve got and in bringing you together with the movies you really want.

That’s an indie video store for you.

VideoReport #452

Volume CDLII-The Return Of Tax Day: The De-Walleting

For the Week of 4/15/14

 Videoport give you a free movie every single day. Just to repeat: free movie. Every single day. Any questions? Good—now get rentin’.

 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!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Hannibal (in Mystery/Thriller.) If you’re watching Bryan Fuller’s audacious “Hannibal” – and you are, aren’t you? – now is an excellent time to rewatch the first season. In addition to creating the most artful, dreadful, intoxicating television in years, maybe

Soooo  much better than you think...

Soooo much better than you think…

decades, Fuller is a masterful plotter, laying subtle groundwork for the second season’s actions and revelations in even the first few episodes of S1. Here’s a spoiler-free hint at the kind of background the show lays down: at the mid-point of S2, the show revealed (as this reviewwill not) what precisely was in Hannibal’s cellar to shock a seasoned FBI agent, but meticulously attentive viewers already knew, because as early as the very first episode, the show began describing techniques and layering in suggestive motifs and symbols. Bryan Fuller’s attention to the long arc elevates “Hannibal” from just an arty thriller to a work of art.

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 Arrow (in Action/Adventure.) Look, I was as skeptical as the next aging comics nerd when this show was announced on the CW, the WB, or whatever second-string tv network that is. Not only was it advertised as being along the lines of the dreadful Smallville (the younger days of a DC superhero), but, like Smallville, it also starred a male model whose super-sexy abs were the focus of much of the pre-air publicity. Plus, unlike Superman, it was about one of the DC Comics second-stringers, Green Arrow. I love the second stringers and Green Arrow—a millionaire playboy who, um, is really good at shooting arrows—is one of my favorites. But somehow, this show works like Smallville never did. Introducing elements of the DC Universe not currently snapped up my the lawyers of the major studios (hello, Suicide Squad, Deadshot, Deathstroke, Huntress, Bronze Tiger, the Flash), the show is energetic, witty, and, even with the aforementioned ab-factory Stephen Amell in the lead as Ollie Queen/Arrow, compelling for nerds and the rest of you alike. And sure, Amell’s “secret identity” being protected by a smudge of eye makeup and a voicebox isn’t especially convincing, but give the show a chance anyway.

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 Bob’s Burgers (in Comedy). The best sitcom on TV right now (yeah, I said it) is this shaggy, unheralded animated comedy about a family that runs a tiny, unassuming burger joint in a small New England tourist town. Very few American television comedies deal with class as an essential ingredient, and the hardscrabble Belchers (for ‘tis their unfortunate name) are, like the Conners of Roseanne), just barely getting by. It’s surprising more shows don’t incorporate that element into their world, really—here, Bob (voiced by the brilliant Jon Benjamin) is a regular husband and dad trying to keep his business afloat. That means that when the usual sitcom conflicts come up, he’s got to balance his innate desires and instincts to do the right thing by his family and as a man with the material considerations of making rent and making sure his family has a roof over their heads. (They live in an apartment over the restaurant.) And the more we get to know Bob, a classic everyman with a hot streak and a keen eye for nonsense, the more we come to sympathize with the dilemmas his life and family constantly put him in. And what a family—there’s his wife Linda, loving and eccentric, and constantly trying to prod the exhausted Bob into some of her enthusiasm. Daughter Louise, manic and weird and always wearing a pink bunny ears hat (and voiced with manic glee by the great Kristen Schaal). There’s son Eugene, also manic and weird, and obsessed with bodily functions and prone to outbursts of creative enthusiasm (played perfectly by Eugene Mirman). And, stealing the show, there’s eldest daughter Tina (voiced by Dan Mintz) who, on the cusp of adolescence, rides her strange, obsessive flights of erotic fantasy to some very funny places. It’s weird to say, but this character (voiced by a dude) is one of the most insightful and hilarious female characters on television. I know that doesn’t make sense, but Tina Belcher is less the product of a guy’s voice and a couple of drawn lines and more a very specific and funny person of her own. This is a great show which only gets better the more you watch it.

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 getting some free money at Videoport! Sure, Monday-Thursday you can get 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks, which is a pretty savvy entertainment move. But did you know you can also get 5 or 10 free bucks from Videoport whenever you want? It’s true. Prepay 20 bucks on your account and you get 25. Prepay 30 and you get 40. You’re gonna use that money to rent all Videoport’s great stuff anyway eventually, so why not get yourself a little something-somethin? No reason I can see…

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

>>> Emily S. Customer says: When I was a little kid, back in the dark days before VCRs, we had to rely on television rebroadcasts to see our favorite films, and a handful of films were shown nation-wide on certain holidays. My childhood memories of The Wizard of Oz are also memories of chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, of picking cellophane “grass” off the blanket we snuggled under (and pulled over our heads when the flying monkeys appeared). It’s hard now, in our text-rich environment where we can watch almost anything at any time on our magical pocket-phones, to imagine having to wait a whole year to watch a childhood favorite, and I’m not saying the relative paucity of choice in the ‘70s and early 80s was better; on the contrary, I revel in the wide availability of choices we have now. But it’s worth recognizing the trade-offs that we make for this abundance. One thing we’ve lost: that commonality, the shared experience of seeing and savoring a cherished film, of those happy, frivolous memories forming and washing over whole swathes of a generation at the same time. That experience is gone, and I don’t suppose it will come back in my lifetime.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests some Justice League! Forget all this Marvel Comics big screen domination—good ol’ DC Comics is where it’s at! Do, not with their big screen movies—god, no. Apart from Christopher Nolan’s Batman stuff (which are hardly superhero movies at all), DC has gotten its spandex-clad butt seriously handed to it as far as live action movies go. They screwed up Green Lantern, botched Superman—twice in the last decade—and handing the keys to the upcoming Batman/Superman crossover movie to Zack Snyder seems like a very, very dumb idea. Nope, for true DC Comics greatness, I’s direct you to the animation and kids sections, where the DC animation wing have quietly built up a pretty impressive resume. In the kids section, you’ll find the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited series, where the greatest superhero team in history (yeah—suck it, Avengers, bite me, X-Men) ply their noble trade in cartoon adventures as energetically animated and acted as they are written. There’s a truly shocking number of good actors on board in the series, voicing heroes and villains alike, and the stories they tell, drawing liberally from some of the best JL comics, are surprisingly mature and nuanced. (Look for the likes of Nathan Fillion, Gina Torres, Jeffrey Combs, Keri Russell, Carl Lumbley, Kevin Conroy, Mark Hammill, and more). Plus, look for the appearances of some of the lesser known DC heroes—like The Question, Vixen, Elongated Man, Booster Gold, Wildcat, and more.This ain’t the Super Friends, people. Over in the Animation section, things get even a little more grown-up, with the series of JLA feature length films. More great voice acting, more violence, even a few PG-13 ratings—this is good stuff. (Marvel’s cartoon offerings pale in comparison—although their live action movies are better and make about one jillion dollars. So what—DC forever! Who’s with me! Anyone?)

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests a double-holiday triple feature! This Sunday is Easter, sure. It’s also 4/20. I don’t observe either holiday, but for those of you who do, we’ve got the weekend laid out. For Easter, let’s have the classic giant-bunny three-pack: Donnie DarkoSexy Beast, and Harvey, a tonally diverse series of stories to give you shivers, laughs, and a little dose of whimsey. For 4/20 celebrants… actually, imma say, yeeeeah, same three-pack: Donnie Darko, Sexy Beast, and Harvey.

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Nightmare Before Christmas (in Feature Drama.) The Easter Bunny’s a skittish beast, infrequently captured on film, and even when he (she? gender is both hard to determine in such a poorly documented creature and, y’know, not the most interesting aspect of a giant immortal rabbit that creeps into your home at night to leave candy) is, the appearances are fleeting. In The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack Skellington sends his minions to kidnap – ahem, I mean retrieve – Santa Claus, whose sage tutelage Jack hopes will inspire fresh enthusiasm and artistry in the denizens of Halloween Town. But when his ghastly henchmen return, it’s not Santa they have in their sack. One guess who it is, and really one should be enough.

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Philomena (everybody’s mom wants to see this one [mine sure does], a touching drama about the real life journey of an old woman trying to discover the child she was forced by the Catholic church to give up as an unwed pregnant woman long ago; Judi Dench and Steve Coogan star), The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller stars in this big budget adaptation of the James Thurber story about a lonely daydreamer whose escapes into fantasy cast him as a daring hero adventurer; when his love for a coworker [Kristen Wiig] and his job are threatened, he has to be that hero in real life, etc), The Nut Job (everyone made fun of this cheap-looking animated comedy about squirrels trying to steal nuts and so forth, but your kids are gonna make you watch it; sorry…), Ride Along (Kevin Hart and Ice Cube star in this comedy about a high school security guard and wannabe cop who tries to impress his tough cop prospective brother-in-law by going on a dangerous ride along! Hart’s funny!), The Bletchley Circle- season 2 (the BBC mystery series about a group of female former WWII codebreakers who band together to solve crime continues!), Interior. Leather Bar. (James Franco’s strange movie career continues to lurch all over the place, this time with this semi-truthful depiction of the legendary behind-the-scenes filming of the infamous 1980 Al Pacino thriller Cruising), Life Of A King (Cuba Gooding Jr. stars in this inspirational biopic about an ex-con who sets up a chess club for troubled, inner city kids in Washington DC), Flowers In The Attic (Ellen Burstyn and Heather Graham star in this new adaptation of the creepy VC Andrews thriller about a group of siblings forced to endure the psychotic cruelty of their grandmother after their father’s death), Mobius (great cast [Tim Roth, Jean Dujardin] star in this thriller about a Russian agent ill-advisedly falling for the American banker he’s assigned to spy on),The Making Of A Lady (from Frances Burnett Hodgson, author of The Secret Garden, comes this BBC period drama about a poor but spirited young woman who accepts a nobleman’s proposal of marriage and gets swept up into one of those rich family webs of madness and intrigue you read about in old novels), The Invisible Woman (Ralph Fiennes and Felicity Jones star in this drama about the latter days of Charles Dickens, when he threw over his long-suffering wife in favor of a teenaged actress; it’s a love story!)

 

 

New Arrivals at Videoport: The Group (Sidney Lumet directed this 1966 drama about a group of eight young women graduating from Vassar in 1933 and coping with post-graduate life up until WWII; starring the likes of Candace Bergen, Joan Hackett, Jessica Walter, Shirley Knight, and Elizabeth Hartman)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Better Living Through Chemistry (the ever-cool Sam Rockwell stars in this indie comedy as a mild-mannered pharmacist who finds his stuffy life turned upside down when sexy, possibly crazy Olivia Wilde sweeps him into a joyride of debauchery), August: Osage County, Paranormal Activity 5: The Marked Ones, The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug, The Nut Job, Philomena, Ride Along, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Grudge Match, Breaking The Waves, Invisible Woman. 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #451

Volume CDLI-Smurfs 3: The Reckoning

For the Week of 4/8/14

 

Videoport will give you a free movie every single day, see if we won’t…

 

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 Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). This BBC America series comes back on the TV April 19th, so now’s the prefect time to catch up on the first season, or revisit it. One of the unsung joys of last year’s TV season, this one’s a showcase for an actress you’re going to start seeing come Emmy time (there was something of an internet anger-storm when she wasn’t nominated this year). Her name’s Tatiana Maslany (she showed up as a potential girlfriend of Tom’s on Parks & Rec last year as well), and she’s simply astound ding as the lead…and that’s pretty much all I can tell you about the show. (Even the word “lead” would be a spoiler if I went into it, and since only Mr. and Mrs. Hitler thoughtlessly blurt out important plot twists, I’m gonna be cagey from here on out.) In Orphan Black, Maslany plays a British con artist named Sarah who, on the run from yet another of her mistakes, sees a woman on a railway platform who looks exactly like her. Then the woman jumps in front of a train, leaving her bag (and identification) behind. Sarah steals it, aaaaand that’s where I have to stop describing things in all good conscience. All I’ll say is that the show is smart and exciting and funny, and Maslany is just astoundingly good. You’re gonna have to trust me on this, people—it’s for your own good.

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 renting all the Best Director Oscar Winners at Videoport! Do the Oscars usually get everything wrong? Well, yeah, sure—but even a blind monkey with a handful of darts is gonna hit the target once in a while! Enjoy!

o    Lewis Milestone (All Quiet On The Western Front)

o    Frank Lloyd (Cavalcade)

o    Frank Capra (It Happened One Night)

o    Frank Capra (Mr. Deeds Goes To Town)

o    Leo McCarey (The Awful Truth)

o    Frank Capra (You Can’t Take It With You)

o    Victor Fleming (Gone With The Wind)

o    John Ford (The Grapes Of Wrath)

o    John Ford (How Green Was My Valley)

o    William Wyler (Mrs. Miniver)

o    Michael Curtiz (Casablanca)

o    Billy Wilder (The Lost Weekend)

o    William Wyler (The Best Years Of Our Lives)

o    Elia Kazan (Gentleman’s Agreement)

o    John Huston (The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre)

o    Joseph L. Mankiewicz (A Letter To Three Wives)

o    Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve)

o    George Stevens (A Place In The Sun)

o    John Ford (The Quiet Man)

o    Fred Zinneman (From Here T Eternity)

o    Elia Kazan (On The Waterfront)

o    Delbert Mann (Marty)

o    George Stevens (Giant)

o    David Lean (The Bridge On The River Kwai)

o    Vincente Minnelli (Gigi)

o    William Wyler (Ben-Hur)

o    Billy Wilder (The Apartment)

o    Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins (West Side Story)

o    David Lean (Lawrence Of Arabia)

o    Tony Richardson (Tom Jones)

o    George Cukor (My Fair Lady)

o    Robert Wise (The Sound Of Music)

o    Fred Zinneman (A Man For All Seasons)

o    Mike Nichols (The Graduate)

o    Carol Reed (Oliver!)

o    John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy)

o    Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton)

o    William Friedkin (The French Connection)

o    Bob Fosse (Cabaret)

o    Geroge Roy Hill (The Sting)

o    Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part 2)

o    Milos Forman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest)

o    John Avildsen (Rocky)

o    Woody Allen (Annie Hall)

o    Michael Cimino (The Deer Hunter)

o    Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer)

o    Robert Redford (Ordinary People)

o    Warren Beatty (Reds)

o    Richard Attenborough (Gandhi)

o    James L. Brooks (Terms Of Endearment)

o    Milos Forman (Amadeus)

o    Sydney Pollack (Out Of Africe)

o    Oliver Stone (Platoon)

o    Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor)

o    Barry Levinson (Rain Man)

o    Oliver Stone (Born On The Fourth Of July)

o    Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves)

o    Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs)

o    Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven)

o    Steven Spielberg (Schindler’s List)

o    Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump)

o    Mel Gibson (Braveheart)

o    Anthony Minghella (The English Patient)

o    James Cameron (Titanic)

o    Steven Spielberg (Saving Private Ryan)

o    Sam Mendes (American Beauty)

o    Steven Soderbergh (Traffic)

o    Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind)

o    Roman Polanski (The Pianist)

o    Peter Jackson (The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King)

o    Clint Eastwood (Million Dollar Baby)

o    Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain)

o    Martin Scorcese (The Departed)

o    Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men)

o    Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire)

o    Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker)

o    Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)

o    Michael Hazanavicious (The Artist)

o    Ang Lee (Life Of Pi)

o    Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

 

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 The Ritz (in Comedy.) My lunchtime parade of forgotten 70’s movies continues with this deliriously risqué 1976 film version of the Terrance McNally play about a hapless, hopelessly naïve Midwesterner (stout everyman Jack Weston) who, on the run from his psychotic brother-in-law (Jerry Stiller, psycho but still less broad than on Seinfeld) has his cabbie take him to “the last place in town anyone would look for me). Where he ends up is the titular gay bathhouse, whose seedy lobby full of weirdos conceals an interior incongruously made up of a series of luxurious theme rooms (pool, disco, nightclub, bar) where seemingly all of New York City’s gay men come to lounge around in bathrobes and be free to do whatever they want. It’s a broad bedroom farce of a movie, with the amiable but seriously flustered Weston being confronted with “the gays” behind every door, and constantly having things explained to him, but it’s also shockingly good-natured about all things homosexual, especially from a studio film from the 1970s. Obviously, any play by legendary playwright McNally was going to be sympathetic to its gay characters, but it’s still shocking that even so essentially silly a movie would be made by a Hollywood studio at the time, dealing as it does so frankly—if farcically—with gay guys being gay guys, and so cheerfully at that. Sure, plenty of the characters are screwed up, but so are the straights, and for 70s audiences, the sheer amount of onscreen, matter-of-fact gayness must have been a shocker. What seems most surprising is how, in a studio comedy of the time, gay men are allowed to have agency—this is a world where gay guys could be funny, weird, menacing, kinky, sad, and helpful—you know, like people. McNally insisted that director Richard Lester keep on most of the cast of his Broadway production, including a shockingly young and skiny F. Murray Abraham as Weston’s sweetly funny guide to The Ritz, Treat Williams affecting a silly high voice as a greenhorn private eye tracking Weston, and Rita Moreno as the ludicrously-untalented nightclub singer Googie Gomez, who latches onto Weson, thinking he’s a big time producer. (Oh, and look for Cheers’ John Ratzenberger slinking around in the background.) Honestly, it’s a funny, frenetic movie that I can only imagine freaked the living hell out of unsuspecting audiences at the time.

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 getting some free money at Videoport! Sure, Monday-Thursday you can get 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks, which is a pretty savvy entertainment move. But did you know you can also get 5 or 10 free bucks from Videoport whenever you want? It’s true. Prepay 20 bucks on your account and you get 25. Prepay 30 and you get 40. You’re gonna use that money to rent all Videoport’s great stuff anyway eventually, so why not get yourself a little something-somethin? No reason I can see…

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

>>> It’s free! It’s for kids! Or kids at heart!

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

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Buffet Feline suggests an alternative to the new Captain America movie in theaters right now. Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the 17th annual installment in Marvel’s cash grab Avenger’s franchise. Anthony and Joe Russo of You, Me and Dupree fame direct a cast of witless tropes in a convoluted, sense-punishing film with enough backflips, bullets, and explosions to make Jackie Chan, John Woo, and Michael Bay simultaneously poop their pants. Eye candy Chris Evans returns as everybody’s favorite imperialist posterboy Captain “Cap” America while contemporary thespian Scarlett Johansson slurs her way through as Natasha Romanoff, playing her just the way self-proclaimed feminist Joss Whedon likes her: as an object of sexuality and barbaric hyper-violence puking up an endless stream of throwaway quips. Best bro turned titular communist boogieman Winter Soldier is played by the charismatic Josh Saunders, AKA GothicKingCobra, who delivers inarguably the best performance of the piece as a broody robot man who’s good at guns or whatever. Samuel L. Jackson plays Samuel L. Jackson as agent Nick Fury. It’s a confused mess of a cold war superhero flick that does little to stray from Marvel’s tired formulas; instead, consider heading to Videoport to pick up a copy of the superior Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s a film that knows what it is: campy, simple, and fun.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Fall (in Mystery/Thriller.) Now you might be asking yourself, do I really need another damned cop show? Yeah, you do—especially one starring Gillian Anderson. Set in very tense Belfast, The Fall sees Anderson’s smart, incredibly capable and independent British copper being brought in to oversee the stalled investigation of a particularly nasty sex crime, and discovering that there’s a serial killer on the loose. Again, doesn’t sound very interesting amidst the clutter of same-sounding police procedurals out there, but it’s all about Anderson who has never been more assured or luminous.

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (Peter Jackson is back, making The Hobbit into three huge movies for some reason; Whatever—Martin Freeman’s Bilbo Baggins is just a lovely creation and this time your weird boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch is on hand, giving creepy voice to the titular dragon fellow), Grudge Match (Robert DeNiro and Sylvester Stallone [combined age 139] team up in this boxing comedy about a couple of really old actors who should know better making a boxing comedy; Oh, wait—that’s the story behind the movie…), August: Osage County (Meryl Streep is the mean matriarch of a dysfunctional family in this drama comedy with a cast and a half: Julia Roberts, Sam Shepard, Dermot Mulroney, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Chris Cooper, Juliette Lewis), Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (more scares from ghosts who are really not very good at avoiding security cameras in this fifth entry in the series), Spiral- season 3 (foreign TV is so hot right now…at least at Videoport. So that’s why we’ve brought in another season of this acclaimed French detective series—you guys simply wouldn’t have it any other way. Same thing with shows like Borgen, Wallander, Lilyhammer, Detective DeLuca, and more—foreign TV, so hot right now), Camille Claudel 1915 (Juliette Binoche stars in this portrait of the titular artist who, once the muse and lover of Rodin, has gone mad and been committed to a notorious asylum; directed by Bruno Dumont [Humanite, Flanders] the film continues the director’s divisive plan of using unexpressive nonprofessional actors [this time including actual mental patients] for effect, only with the ever-great Binoche at the center), The Past (French drama about an Iranian man coming back to France to finalize his divorce from a French woman [The Artist’s Berenice Bejo]), Museum Hours (Austrian film about a lonely guard at Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum who gets drawn into the life of a poor foreign museum visitor in the city because of a medical emergency), A Touch Of Sin (strange, visually striking Chinese film about four stories of seemingly random acts of violence), I Am Devine (documentary about the former Harris Glenn Milstead who became the friend and muse of legendary shock filmmaker John Waters as the inimitable Divine; check Videoport’s front doors and see how we feel about her!), A Field In England (strange, artsy drama about a group of deserters from the 17th century English Civil Wars captured by an alchemist and forced to help him search the titular field for buried treasure), Everyday (Michael Winterbottom [24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy, Wonderland, 9 Songs, etc] is stealthily becoming a major director—this time, it’s another of his meticulously observed dramas, about a family coping with the father’s five year prison sentence), Bastards (the great Claire Denis [Friday Night, Beau Travail, White Material, 35 Shots Of Rum] brings us this drama about a man determined to avenge his brother’s suicide who finds out things are never as simple as revenge would have them be)

 

New Arrivals at Videoport: Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles (why all the Lego all of a sudden? Ask your kids…)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: The Past, August: Osage County.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #450

Volume CDL- The Fool Of Some Unspecified Date

For the Week of 4/1/14

 

Videoport doesn’t give you a free movie every day, isn’t independent and awesome, and thinks Netflix is a great, not-evil corporation. (Check the date, people…)

 

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!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (in Horror.) Only for the strong of stomach and of heart. It’s all there in the title: this rural collection of chainsaws just… gets … MASSACRED. Oh, those poor, poor chainsaws. [Be sure to see Tobe Hooper's 1974 original, and not the remake which – SPOILER ALERT – rounds up the chainsaws moments before the titular massacre and delivers them to a fix-it shop.]

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 Taxi Driver (in Action/Adventure.) Taxi Driver. Straying from his gritty roots, Scorsese anticipated the 1980s indie anthologies like Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train and Night on Earth with this lyrical glimpse into the stories of New York as told in the back of a cab. Titular Taxi Driver and nominal star Travis (Robert DeNiro) is the strand that weaves together the disparate tales of love, loss, and harrowing pain that spill out in the back seat of his cab as he pilots it around the dark streets of the city. Travis’s vantage point allows him to see a cross-section of humanity, and as the film reels on, his interests expand into everything from child welfare to the national election. But his sociological and political pursuits don’t keep this Everyman from expounding on the simple questions of life, like chewing the fat about the weather. As for Travis, he likes New York City when it rains and the streets are washed clean.

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!                                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Silence Of The Lambs (in Mstery/Thriller.) A sort of Babette’s Feast of the American West, Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs shows how the strength of one determined woman can save a ranch, a flock of sickly sheep, and a family – with a little bit of help, and a lot of quid pro quo. Determined to save her elderly uncle’s foundering sheep ranch, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) gives up her demanding training with the FBI and moves to rural Montana to take over the operation. When the struggle becomes too much for one set of hands, veterinarian and father-figure Dr. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) pitches in, joining her on the lonely landscape of the isolated ranch, and proves to be as adept in the field and the kitchen as he is in the clinic. Be sure to have a good Chianti on hand for the luscious dinner scene.

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 A Streetcar Named Desire (in Classics.) Clang clang clang went the streetcar! Who knew Vivienne Leigh could sing?! Or, for that matter, that Elia Kazan, known for taut, gritty dramas like On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd, could – or wanted to – pull off a big-budget musical in the style of Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis? When elegant older sister Blanche (Leigh) travels from the family’s country estate to visit sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and husband Stanley (Marlon Brando) in their working-class apartment in New Orleans, the fun begins! A Streetcar Named Desire pulls out all the bells and whistles and buttons and bows, sparking such musical-theater standards as Blanche & Mitch’s duet “Alpaca,” the haunting street chorus “Flores,” and Stanley’s rousing “Never Once Touched ‘er.”

>>>Dennis suggests F Is For Fake (in the Criterion Collection.) Orson Wells had his last laugh on the filmmaking word which notoriously rejected him in the last decades of his life by making this fascinating, fiendishly-clever documentary about fakers, forgers, and faux flim-flammers of all kinds. Ostensibly a portrait of the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory, whose impeccable fakes, the film claims, hang in art galleries and museums all over the world. Then the film weaves in footage of de Horys supposedly shot by the infamous Howard Hughes hoaxer (see the film The Hoax) Francois Reichenbach, and then weaves in another story about an art swindle supposedly perpetrated on Pablo Picasso by a mysterious, beautiful woman who appears in the background of both stories. And then Welles, ever the sleigh of hand-man, pulls a final rabbit out of his stylish fedora. It’s a fascinating, prankish masterpiece—the last great Welles film in a career littered with unfinished projects.

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

>>> “A free movie—for children?! Why, back in my day, children worked in the fields all day and played with sticks to entertain themselves! Bah!”

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Jaws (in Horror.) A sort of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for the super-spy set, Jaws is a witty, bittersweet character study of the often-disregarded henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel). The James Bond franchise typically focused on Jaws’ attention-grabbing superficial attributes and abilities: his towering height and massive strength, his nine-lives-style survival skills, and, of course, the steel-capped teeth that allow him to bite through metal cables and human bones alike. But Jaws is more than a pair of murderously-powerful hands and a terrifying bite radius. More than any other character in the 007 universe, Jaws has insight into the daily lives, motives, and machinations of the most elite villains ever to threaten the earth’s very existence. He’s been employed at high levels in at least three different supervillain consortia, yet never before has a film addressed the ins and outs of Jaws’ no-doubt fascinating life.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Godfather (in Feature Drama.)  Get ready to laugh! In this 1972 kneeslapper, Vito (Marlon Brando), is just trying to get to the chapel on time. Vito’s single and schlubby; Tom’s settled down with his new wife, a house in the ‘burbs, and now a baby! Standing up as the baby’s godfather during his baptism will give Vito a chance to cement their once-vital friendship – but first he’s got to get to the chapel on time, and the Metro-North ain’t cooperating! Slapstick adventure turns to a farcical buddy-pic reminiscent of The Out-of-Towners when Vito finally calls on Tom for help (and a ride in Tom’s station wagon), culminating in a hilarious and heartwarming scene at the Causeway toll plaza where both men spill their guts in admiration for each other.

>>>Dennis suggests not emulating these prank-y movies (but definitely suggests renting them from Videoport.) Pranking is a pretty douche-y thing to do if you do it wrong (it’s pretty douche-y regardless, rally.) But some people have raised the art of making other people look stupid to, well, an art. Now a lot of you are gonna throw the Jackass dudes at me here, and, all right, I’ll concede that they occasionally make me laugh. When I’m not trying not to hurl. Look, I’m a grown man—I need to see less footage of dirtbags eating their own pee than they seem to think. That being said, there’s a certain genius in making people feel really uncomfortable by violating the social contract with seeming heedless glee, so more power to ‘em. Plus, it’s perversely satisfying to watch an obnoxious guy get really, really hurt. The one prank I remember liking most is in one of the Jackasses (don’t ask which one) where several of them stand overlooking a golf course and blast an air horn every time one of the rich golfers tries to take a swing, eventually provoking the upper-class twist to start winging their golf shots right at them. I think golf and country clubs are ridiculous and awful—it just appealed to the Caddyshack in me. The art of the prank phone call is another thing, and the show Crank Yankers takes some very funny people (Billy West, Tracy Morgan, Sarah Silverman) and has them do characters while calling to complain that, say, they can’t get a tee time at the local country club (golf, again, is stupid), or that they’re going to sue the strip club they’re applying to because they’re blind and have to bring their seeing eye dog onstage with them. That sort of thing. As with all pranksmanship, a little goes a long way, but the performers throw themselves into the necessarily improv-y performances with gusto, and, as I say, they are very funny people. Oh, and did I mention it’s all reenacted in puppet form? It’s an inspired idea, adding a whole other level of loopy rudeness to the proceedings. Of course, the mack-daddy of all current pranks is an unassuming Brit named Sacha Baron Cohen who, whether as alter-egos Borat, Ali G, or Bruno has taken the simple Candid Camera gag and turned it into something like satirical genius. His stuff (the Ali G Show and the movies Borat and Bruno) are certainly a tough watch, partaking in all the grossness and squirminess the genre requires, but his fiendish idea is to confront people with a character which brings out the worst in them. So that when they react, they’re unknowingly revealing some very ugly truths about themselves—and us. Cruel, sure—but there’s some stuff that Cohen pulls off which is like a sociology experiment masquerading as gross, dumb comedy bits. Getting fratboys to chant gleefully hateful things, or red staters to join in with the ignorant Borat’s racist song, or nearly provoking a homophobic riot at a mixed martial arts competition—Cohen is fearless and much smarter than the average prankster. Oh, there’s also a lot of poop. So please don’t try this stuff at home—you’re just not very good at it—but rent ‘em from Videoport. They will all make you very, very uncomfortable.

 

           An April Fool’s Day DVD-Handling Primer

So it’s totally okay to touch the shiny side of one of Videoport’s pristine, precious DVDs. Oh, and please, whatever you do, leave the disc our of its case so that your baby, dog, monkey, or just irresponsible friends and family can spread peanut butter, grit, dirt, grime, sand, crumbs, bongwater, and humus on it! Videoport definitely doesn’t need that movie to work properly! Oh, and if you have a chance, go ahead and let your young kids—who you don’t let operate anything more complicated than a nerf ball—handle and play with our DVDs without supervision—in fact, we insist you do that. Videoport is not a small, independent video store which depends on the health and safety of its hard-bought, precious DVDs! And if it’s not too much trouble, go ahead and play floor hockey with a Videoport DVD—Videoport’s employees don’t feel like screaming and crying and setting things on fire when they see one of their precious DVDs (which are all inspected and cleaned going out the door so we know exactly who’s messing them up every time) come back looking like they’ve been used to sand an antique coffee table. Seriously! All of these things! In no way ironic! Make it happen, people!

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Ron Burgundy is back! Sure, it’s a sequel, but it’s a sequel to one of the funniest, most quotable films ever—Will Ferrell’s vain newsman is one of the most inspired comic creations ever and I’m going to watch this about 50 times and then annoy you with quotes until you punch me!), 47 Ronin (The very not-Japanese Keanu Reeves stars in this bananas big-budget retelling of the legendary Japanese tale of the titular samurai who, when their master is treacherously killed, go on a serious arse-kicking spree; fun fact—Keanu Reeves? Not Japanese! Like, in the slightest!), Psych—season 8 (say goodbye to everyone’s favorite comic crimefighting team with James Roday’s fake psychic detective and his sensible—and hilarious—pal Burton Guster solving crimes with the power of lying and comic timing), Broadchurch—season 1 (David “Doctor Who” Tennant and Olivia “Really Good Actress” Coleman star in this gripping British detective series about a pair of mismatched coppers teaming up to solve the murder of a young boy in a seaside town), The Bag Man (oddball crime thriller about John Cusack’s hitman tasked with delivering a mysterious bag to boss Robert DeNiro—without looking inside, no not even one little bit! No spoilers, but I bet he looks inside. Also starring Crispin Glover for added weirdness!), Knights Of Badassdom (a group of LARPers [that’s live action roleplayers to you] find themselves having to swap out their foam swords for the real things when some dope accidentally reads from a real spell book and raises demons; starring cool people Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, and Game Of Thrones knight of awesomeness Peter Dinklage!!), At Middleton (Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga star in this grown up romantic comedy about a pair of mismatched parents taking their respective kids on a college tour who decide to play hooky and have a lovely day making moony eyes at each other), The Truth About Emanuel (Jessica Biel stars in this thriller about a disturbed young woman who becomes obsessed with the woman who moves in next door), The Pirate Fairy (Tinkerbell is back! And now she’s a pirate or something? Ask your daughter—she’ll fill you in)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 47 Ronin, King Of The Hill

An April Fool’s Money-Saving Tip from Videoport!

When you put $20 on your Videoport account, it magically turns into $25 worth of rental credit! And $30 buys you $40 worth of rental credit! Just kidding—it doesn’t! Just kidding—it totally does! (Seriously, these are real specials you can do any time to stretch your movie renting dollar. We’d never kid about things like that. Except we totally did that one time just now. Just get some free money, you…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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