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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #449

Volume CDXLIX- Wait, “Videoport?” Because we rent videos and are in Portland. I just now got that.

For the Week of 3/25/14

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Like, every single day. A free movie. I genuinely cannot see anything bad about that.

 

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 Game (in Mystery/Thriller). James Rebhorn’s role in David Fincher’s 1997 thriller The Game is small but crucial. When corporate titan Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) takes his mysterious birthday gift and wanders into the slick, nondescript offices of Consumer Recreation Services to see what the heck his feckless little brother Conrad (Sean Penn) has signed him up for, presence provides a vital sense of reality. Unlike Conrad, James Feingold (James Rebhorn) knows the power of a necktie, a handshake, an office with your name on the door. Even his self-introduction oozes salaryman confidence: “Jim Feingold, V.P, E.D.A. – engineering and data analysis” as he plows over Van Orton’s questions and gets to business, the business of filling out forms. But it’s more than that. Rebhorn endows him with an undeniable naturalism, the bustling, mundane ease of a professional who’s maybe running a little late, maybe a little rushed, eager to brush past the questions he’s heard a hundred times, briskly ushering one more elite customer through his initial interview before he can finally sit down and shovel in the just-delivered lunch that sits cooling and leaking on his desktop. Some of this is the writing, of course, but Rebhorn’s Feingold gives the entire enterprise a concrete authenticity that anchors the film’s reality in a way that allows us to swallow what’s coming next. And there is plenty coming next.

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 checking out all of the Best Supporting Actor nominees! In honor of the passing of stalwart character man James Rebhorn this week, Why not take home some of the movies where guys in smaller roles stole the show. Seriously—we need guys like Rebhorn (never nominated for an Oscar, but he could have been), otherwise we’re stuck watching Kate Hudson and Gerard Butler make goo-goo eyes at each other. And no one wants that.

o    Joseph Schildkraut (The Life Of Emile Zola)

o    Thomas Mitchell (Stagecoach)

o    Donald Crisp (How Green Was My Valley)

o    Charles Coburn (The More The Merrier)

o    Harold Russell (The Best Years Of Our Lives)

o    Edmund Gwenn (Miracle On 34th Street)

o    Walter Huston (The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre)

o    Dean Jagger (Twelve O’Clock High)

o    George Sanders (All About Eve)

o    Karl Malden (A Streetcar Named Desire)

o    Anthony Quinn (Viva Zapata)

o    Frank Sinatra (From Here To Eternity)

o    Edmond O’Brien (The Barefoot Contessa)

o    Jack Lemmon (Mister Roberts)

o    Anthony Quinn % For Life)

o    Burl Ives (The Big Country)

o    Hugh Griffith (Ben-Hur)

o    Peter Ustinov (Spartacus)

o    George Chakiris (West Side Story)

o    Ed Begley (Sweet Bird Of Youth)

o    Melvyn Douglas (Hud)

o    Peter Ustinov (Topkapi)

o    Martin Balsam (A Thousand Clowns)

o    Walter Matthau (The Fortune Cookie)

o    George Kennedy (Cool Hand Luke)

o    Gig Young (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?)

o    John Mills (Ryan’s Daughter)

o    Ben Johnson (The Last Picture Show)

o    Joel Grey (Cabaret)

o    John Houseman (The Paper Chase)

o    Robert DeNiro (The Godfather Part II)

o    George Burns (The Sunshine Boys)

o    Jason Robards (All The President’s Men)

o    Jason Robards (Julia)

o    Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter)

o    Melvyn Douglas (Being There)

o    Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People)

o    John Gielgud (Arthur)

o    Louis Gossett Jr. (An Officer And A Gentleman)

o    Jack Nicholson (Terms Of Endearment)

o    Hang S. Ngor (The Fields)

o    Don Ameche (Cocoon)

o    Michael Caine (Hannah And Her Sisters)

o    Sean Connery (The Untouchables)

o    Kevin Kline (A Fish Called Wanda)

o    Denzel Washington (Glory)

o    Joe Pesci (Goodfellas)

o    Jack Palance (City Slickers)

o    Gene Hackman (Unfogiven)

o    Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive)

o    Martin Landau (Ed Wood)

o    Kevin Spacey (The Usual Suspects)

o    Cuba Gooding Jr. (Jerry Maguire)

o    Robin Williams (Good Will Hunting)

o    James Coburn (Affliction)

o    Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules)

o    Benicio Del Toro (Traffic)

o    Jim Broadbent (Iris)

o    Chris Cooper (Adaptation)

o    Tim Robbins (Mystic River)

o    Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby)

o    George Clooney (Syriana)

o    Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine)

o    Javier Bardem (No Country For Old Men)

o    Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)

o    Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds)

o    Christian Bale (The Fighter)

o    Christopher Plummer (Beginners)

o    Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

o    Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)

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 works of character actor James Rebhorn. Man, I it when The VideoReport is easy to write. That usually means someone we admire and respect has died, often too soon. This week, it’s James Rebhorn who made the Videoport Jones household utter a shared “awwwwwww, no!” You might recognize him as Carrie’s father, Frank Mathison, on “Homeland,” as charismatic corporate titan Charles Szidon on “Enlightened,” as the distracted, affable doctor for the shadowy corporation that runs the titular game in David Fincher’s The Game, as the war-hawk Secretary of Defense in Independence Day, or as the irascible DA prosecuting the “Seinfeld” gang in the 2-part series finale, But in the Jones house, he’s most often quoted as Dr. Kaplan, the oral surgeon who gets so tired of Liz Lemon asking “When can I eat hard cheeses again?” that he has a pamphlet entitled “Hard Cheeses and Your Root Canal, Liz” printed up just for her and, when she vexes him, withholds her turn at the good-patient treat bin, costing her the wind-up Batman she’s had her eye on. “Yeah,” he taunts her, “and if you wind him up, he swims in the bath.” Goodbye, James Rebhorn, and thank you for giving us even greater joy than a wind-up Batman who swims in the bathtub.

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 great roles of April Grace. It’s important to honor our great character actors before they leave us, and this week I’d like to raise a salute to April Grace. If her name isn’t familiar to you, she herself will be. Her resume is thanklessly laced with roles like “police stenographer” and “ICU nurse #2,” but April Grace is a memorable face, a memorable voice, and a memorable presence. You may remember her as the mysterious Bea Klugh on “Lost,” as Joe’s shrewd and sympathetic partner, Detective Lee Bridgewater, in SciFi Channel miniseries “The Lost Room,” as transporter chief Maggie Hubbell on “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” or as Sgt. Toni Williams on “Joan of Arcadia.” But perhaps her most memorable role is in Paul Thomas Anderson’s staggering Magnolia as Gwenovier, the quiet, shrewd reporter who interviews pick-up-artist guru Frank Mackey (Tom Cruise). Frank makes his reputation and his living teaching angry, frustrated men tactics of rhetoric to disarm and te women, but Gwenovier is unflustered, unflappable, and impressively sanguine in the face of his bluster. And with good reason.

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

>>> It’s a free movie! It’s for kids! Or kids at heart! Only a monster would deny a free movie to the children! A monster, I say!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!                                                     >>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Enlightened (in Feature Drama.) This is an outstanding (tragically short-lived) HBO series about an executive (Laura Dern, doing the best work of her career) who, after a breakdown and a transformative stay at a new age-y rehab, comes back to her high-powered position at a typically corrupt corporation to find that her newfound zealotry is incompatible with her duties. Exiled to the basement with a roomful of similar outcasts (including creator Mike White, stealing every episode as the contented nonentity Tyler), Dern’s Amy Jellicoe foments dissent, eventually drawing the attention of smiling corporate head Charles Szidon (played by the late James Rebhorn.) The great thing about Enlightened is how creator White plays with audience empathy. Upon her return, Amy Jellicoe is largely insufferable—even though she’s clearly saying things that White thinks are essentially correct. And Rebhorn’s reasonable, pragmatic, and outwardly avuncular Szidon is the opposite of insufferable, seemingly listening to Amy’s concerns about what’s wrong with his company and the world, and even offering to make some cosmetic changes to diffuse her wild-eyed reformer’s passion. If Szidon is a bad guy, he’s the kind of bad guy not only common, but necessary to be a successful American businessman, and Rebhorn cannily plays him that way. At least for a while. Rebhorn’s performance perfectly captures the shifting points of view on the show—and how viewer’s, unlike Amy, are never allowed to get too comfortable with their convictions.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests If Lucy Fell (in Comedy.) I remain one of the only fans of this forgotten indie comedy from the 90s (hi, Matt McMillan!), but while I concede that it’s got its problems, I maintain that its oddball energy lifts it above the average romcom—and it contains one of my favorite performances from recently-late character actor James Rebhorn. The story of a pair of platonic pals (writer/director Eric Schaeffer and Sarah Jessica Parker) as they, tired of the mid-thirties romantic and professional malaise in which they find themselves, revive a decade-old act to kill themselves if they don’t find someone to love in the next 30 days. One of the problems is that the stakes are never that great—as mopey as the two get, there’s never really a sense that the pact is a serious possibility. That being said, I really like the movie—Parker is weirder and more appealing than she ever would be on And The City, playing along gamefully with the undeniably weird Schaeffer. Look, I like Schaeffer and his work. And while I recognize that he’s a polarizing figure (that a lot of people find irretrievably creepy), and that his movies all have some weaknesses and self-indulgent touches, I think he’s got a unique voice and can really bring the comedy and the pain. Here, he’s Joe, would-be painter and enforced celibate who has been “saving himself” for the leggy supermodel type (played by leggy supermodel Elle MacPherson) who doesn’t know he’s alive. As part of the pact deal, though, he has to talk to the woman and his eccentric attempts to break through are weird and funny and actually kind of affecting. Schaeffer’s got a singular comic persona which, sure, is sort of creepy—but again, he just works for me. So does Parker, whose control freak shrink allows herself to be wooed {thanks, pact!] by flamboyant pop artist Ben Stiller (also funnier here than I generally find). There are laughs, there are tears, there’s talk of es and bowel movements—it might not be everybody’s thing, but again, I like it a lot. And Rebhorn, as Parker’s distant father, only has a few scenes but he makes them—especially the last one, finally telling his daughter how proud of her he is—count. James Rebhorn was one of those guys you figured would always be around—and that the movies always need. Bummer.

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn stars in this feel-good comedy about an aimless middle aged guy [and one time champion sperm donor] who discovers that his many, many deposits over the years have produced 533 children—and that some of them are suing to find out his identity; co-starring the very funny Chris Pratt from Parks & Recreation, this one’s a remake of the Canadian film Starbuck, which Videoport also has of course since we’re so awesome), The Great Beauty (winner of this year’s Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, this crowd-pleasing Italian film is about an aging writer and ladies’ man forced to look back on his life on the eve of his 65th birthday; plus—gorgeous Italian scenery!), Cold Comes The Night (just remember—you love Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston; he stars in this thriller about a Russian mobster who, going blind, takes a woman and her daughter hostage in order to retrieve a big bunch o’ money; you love Bryan Cranston…), Wrath Of Vajra (No, this is not a giant monster movie about a rampaging monster [I would totally watch that]; instead, this one’s a martial arts action flick from China about a guy, kidnapped and turned into a machine by the Japanese in WWII, who throws off his conditioning and goes on one of those roaring rampages of revenge that make such exciting movies), Easy Money: Hard To Kill (Joel Kinnaman [The , the RoboCop remake] returns in this sequel to the acclaimed Swedish thriller Easy Money [which Videoport has of course since we’re so awesome] with his coke smuggler attempting to go straight, which goes about as well as those plans do…), Walking With Dinosaurs (animated big screen dinosaur action for the whole family, with John Leguizamo and Justin long, and did I mention DINOSAURS!?), Veep- season 2 (Julia Louis-Dreyfus is back after winning all the Emmys in this rudely hilarious HBO sitcom about the first female Vice President of the United States and how she copes with her squabbling, eccentric staff and the fact that her job is essentially meaningless), The Punk Singer (some of you saw this rockumentary when it played at SPACE Gallery a while ago; for the rest of us, this is the time to check out this portrait of pioneering lead singer of Kill Kathleen Hanna and why she hasn’t been heard from in a decade), Odd Thomas (the cool Antonin Yelchin [Star Trek, Huff] stars in this quirky horror adaptation of the Dean Koontz series of books about a small town fry cook who uses his ability to see people to fight ghosts and the like), Geography Club (comedy about a group of closeted and confused gay teens who form the titular after school activity in the hopes that no one else will be interested and they can all work out what their hormones are telling them in a safe space), The Conspiracy (when two young filmmakers pick as their documentary subject a crazy conspiracy theorist, their lives get seriously complicated when he disappears in this indie thriller with the crazy cover), Californication- season 6 (David Duchovny being all douche-y and , and y—if that’s your thing and you’ve come this far…), Avengers Confidential: Black Widow and Punisher (when the gun-nut killer [and somehow hero] Punisher discovers a conspiracy that might take more than his brand of t gunplay to solve, he teams up with Avenger and former spy Black Widow in this animated movie from Marvel Comics), The Broken Circle Breakdown (acclaimed Dutch film about a couple who love bluegrass music, tattoos, and all things American trying to cope with life and stuff; featuring a ton of great bluegrass music), Loves Her Gun (when a young woman flees big, bad, violent New York City for the presumed peace of rural Texas, her involvement with the local gun culture brings home the fact that isn’t just for city folk in this acclaimed indie drama), The Wolf Of Wall Street (Martin Scorcese and Leonardo Dicaprio team up again, this time for a raucous, filthy, exuberant portrait of real life swindler and Wall Street shark Jordan Belfort), Key & Peele- season 2 (HEY! Sorry to yell, but not enough people are watching this show and that annoys me; Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele are hilarious and brilliant and this is the best sketch comedy show in a decade; so watch it already…), Welcome To The Jungle (the improbably welcome Jean Claude Van Damme comeback trail marches on, this time with the former laughingstock actually trying to get laughs as the gung ho former Marine leading a corporate retreat gone wrong; costarring certified funny people like Kristin Schaal, Rob Heubel, and Dennis Haysbert), La Bestia (searing documentary follows several Central American migrant who, trying to cross illegally into the United States, must first traverse Mexico in the titular train, a legendarily brutal and dangerous journey)

 

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: King Of The Hill (long forgotten Steven Soderbergh film about a young boy coming of age during the Depression gets the full Criterion Collection treatment; one of those movies that’s called “a forgotten gem” so often that it’s practically your duty to see it now), The Spoilers (John Wayne, Randolph Scott, and Marlene Dietrich star in this 1942 film about the rambunctious, claim-jumping times of the Alaskan gold rush; oh, and John Wayne wears blackface at one point! Because he’s John Wayne!), and four, count ‘em four new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000!!! (Woo-hoo! If you’ve never watched MST3k, then you don’t know what joy is, so come get some joy at Mike, Joel and the robots make fun of four more classically terrible movies for your delight! This box set includes: Untamed Youth, Hercules And The Captive Women, The Thing That Couldn’t Die, and the gloriously inept The Pumaman!)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Delivery Man, The Great Beauty, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Frozen, Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, Walking With Dinosaurs, Odd Thomas, King Of The Hill.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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