Volume CCCXII- From Russia with C.H.U.D.
For the Week of 8/9/11
Videoport: We know the hell out of movies! (Possible new Videoport motto #1…)
Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Zodiac (in Mystery/Thriller.) Procedural thrillers tend to have a few things in common: they have a well-defined stable of characters, they take place over a reasonably brief stretch of time, and they… y’know, resolve. If a procedural presents a whodunnit, the end will reveal who, in fact, dunnit, and usually why. David Fincher’s Zodiac necessarily throws these rules out. The Zodiac case covered many, many years of active investigation — and so does the film, showing us fourteen years of investigation, both by the police detectives (Mark Ruffalo and Anthony Edwards) and by a journalist (Robert Downey, Jr.) But the film really centers around Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhall), a cartoonist who became engrossed by the coded messages that the Zodiac Killer’s sent in to San Francisco’s newspapers. The film follows Graysmith through the years as he studies, decodes, and researches the messages, trying to tie them to any of the suspects — and there are plenty of suspects. Zodiac is a sprawling endeavor, trying to make sense out of a tangled mass of evidence. “Sprawling” isn’t usually something I look for in a movie, but Fincher makes it work with one simple, demanding choice: every single role is written and cast thoughtfully, intelligently, carefully. This is also true of the very difficult scenes of the Zodiac attacks. In the most vivid and disturbing depiction, which takes place during a picnic, Fincher uses close-ups and POV shots to narrow our focus: the entire outdoor scene shrinks down to a frantic, tight few feet. He forces us to identify in the most heartbreaking way with the terror and tension of the victims. The A.V. Club recently inducted David Fincher’s Zodiac into their New Cult Canon, and with good reason. It’s a modern classic, a resonant story of obsession and uncertainty circling endlessly around a series of senseless tragedies.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests Holiday and Indiscreet(both in the Classics section). These two movies have little in common, except both, made 20 years apart, demonstrate the dynamic physical
abilities of the wonderful Cary Grant. Grant was an acrobat before becoming a great movie actor. I’ll claim that he was, in fact, the most casually acrobatic great actor Hollywood ever saw! I say casually because he rarely did anything to draw unnecessary attention to his physical gifts, but was always in complete control of his entire body. That’s something that is easy to take for granted, and it’s also what makes him so damn great on screen. And every now and then Grant made a movie like Holiday (1938, directed by George Cukor), in which he, amazingly but easily, does flips and tumbles, handstands and pratfalls! That’s just part of his character, but it’s hard not to notice that his character seems awfully casual about his incredible acrobatic abilities. I also recommend Holiday for its sweet love story and Grant’s chemistry with Katherine Hepburn (they starred in Bringing Up Baby together the same year). Two decades later, Grant and Ingrid Bergman starred in Indiscreet(1958, directed by
Stanley Donen) as perhaps the most adorable middle-aged couple ever. Their maturity doesn’t keep them from acting like petty children when matters of love ‘n’ stuff are involved. It’s a straightforward romantic story, but the star power makes it worthwhile. There’s a scene in Indiscreet where the couple go dancing, and Grant especially seems to be having a blast. The way he dances in this brief scene, arms and legs flailing hilariously, but with an athlete’s precision, recalls the young acrobat of Holiday. Cary Grant is the best.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental…OR…get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)
>>> Regan suggests Baby Mama (in Comedy.) “I think she wants me to rub olive oil on your taint.”- Kate. I find the summer to be a total drag. The sun stinks. Shirtless guys stink. And no
new episodes of ‘Parks and Recreation’ really stinks. So I’m jonesin’ for Amy Poehler!! I know! I’ll get some Poehlerization with a repeat viewing of Baby Mama! I think Steve Martin is the best thing about this movie, but Amy is right up there. Plus, it features one of my favorite Videoport games, Is It? The way you play is, when a film comes back with a mysterious substance on it, you ask Andy IS IT…chocolate or poop? IS IT…p**s or beer? IS IT…wazz or milk? Andy is a surprisingly good sport about this.
>>> Dennis suggests you use the Wednesday mega-special 4 movies, 7 days, 7 nights) to become a movie/TV completist, all in one, easy step! Let’s see, you could rent:
-all of ‘Firefly’(in Sci Fi.)
-a whole season of ‘Mad Men’ (in Feature Drama.)
-two whole seasons of ‘The Upright Citizens Brigade’ (in Comedy), for Regan’s Poehlerization treatment.
-all of the British ‘Office’, including the ‘Office Christmas Special’ (in British Comedy), and Ricky Gervais’ standup special ‘Out of England.’ (in Comedy)
-every movie James Dean Ever did (East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, Giant) (in Classics) along with the James Franco as James Dean in the James Dean biopic James Dean (in Drama.)
-four sevenths of the fifteen hour German masterpiece Berlin Alexanderplatz (in Criterion.)
-all of ‘Party Down’ (in Comedy.)
-the three good Indiana Jones movies (in Action- seriously, the fourth one will just bum you out), along with Big Trouble in Little China.
-Last Tango in Paris (in Drama), Intimacy (in Drama), Maitresse (in Criterion), and In the Realm of the Senses (in Foreign), but only if you like your explicit sex alongside a serious helping of existential sadness.
-a David Lynch quadruple feature (I’d suggest Eraserhead, Mulholland Dr., the ‘Twin Peaks’ premiere, and Inland Empire), but only if you’re feeling relatively stable and well-adjusted beforehand. If not, we may never see you again…
-a quartet of Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes (in Incredibly Strange), but only if you like to laugh and be happy.
-a quartet of Russ Meyer movies (I’d suggests Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, Vixen, Mudhoney, and Lorna) (in Incredibly Strange), but only if you like enormous breasts.
-the entire run of two, immediately-cancelled but still very funny series ‘The Ben Stiller Show’ and ‘Andy Barker, PI’ (in Comedy.)
-all three versions (1933,1976,2005) of King Kong, plus Son of Kong, for a monkey-mania week!
-four of director Tsai Ming-liang’s beautiful, nearly-actionless, nearly-wordless dramas, like
Vive L’Amour, Goodbye Dragon Inn, What Time Is It There?, and I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (in Foreign.) It’ll be like a week watching a really fascinating people aquarium…
-full seasons of ‘The Shield’ (in Action), ‘The Sopranos’ (in Feature Drama), or ‘Sons of Anarchy’ (in Action.)
-the two good Spider Man movies (in Action) and the two good X Men movies (in Sci Fi.)
-Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek: First Contact (all in Sci Fi) to test the “every even numbered Star Trek movie is a good one” theorem.
Send in your suggestions for the perfect Wednesday special lineup! (Send ‘em to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page Videoport Jones!)
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Anime Ed suggests Summer Wars (in Anime.) Once in a while something truly great comes along that reminds us of why we love movies and cartoons so much. This is an excellent example; well-written, beautifully made. It tells the tale of an online community called Oz besieged by an A.I. released as a test by the American military (always the villain hiding in the shadows in anime land) and the effect it has on a family gathering in rural Japan for their matriarch’s 90th birthday. It’s charming, touching, thrilling and perfect in every way. What it has to say about the fragility of the internet world and how it can be strengthened/saved by real human and familial relations should be contemplated by us all next time we twat on twitter or post on facebook. Also you should look up the director’s first film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. BANZAI!
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> We give you a free kids movie every Friday, with no other rental necessary! Howsabout repaying our kindness by teaching your kids NEVER TO TOUCH THE SHINY SIDE OF A DVD!!! Seriously, people…
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Former Videoporter Stockman suggests In Good Company(in Comedy.) In the interest of full disclosure, I should probably warn you that my recommendation of this movie
spawns from it being a bus movie. Being trapped in a moving vehicle of any kind tends to color your perception of movies. You desperately cling to a positive glass-half-full perspective with the desolate knowledge that this movie is your only hope for entertainment, unless you use your imagination, of course. The imagination that TV and movies killed a long time ago to ensure you’d never turn your back on its tempting moving pictures. Not to discredit the recommendation I’m about to make, but this phenomenon is what directly resulted in my love and appreciation for the movie Mrs. Winterbourne starring Ricki Lake and Brendan Fraser. I’d like to think though that I have enough street cred to understand the difference between your In Good Company’s and your Mrs. Winterbourne’s. Note, I am not in fact recommending Mrs. Winterbourne! I think that matters! In Good Company actually has merit! I would go so far as to say it’s even a bit genre-defying. I think it got billed as a romantic comedy which was sure to disappoint the gaggle of girls hoping to titter over the dreamy Topher Grace. It makes for a horrible romantic comedy, but it makes for an amazing character-driven story. This is one of those movies that just surprise you; it manages to be vaguely realistic without being depressing. And it’s a layered movie, so it keeps you guessing (I mean comparatively to what you expect from it. If you’re thinking ha-ha I’ll show you, I’m going to guess everything, then you need to calm down. It’s not like this movie has super twists and really taxes you mentally. It’s still a movie with Topher Grace and Dennis Quaid in it).
>>>For Sunday, Former Videoporter Stockman (killing it this week) suggests Roger Dodger(in Feature Drama.) This movie isn’t for everyone. This is very much not a blanket recommendation. First, you need to be a person who has the patience for your classic independent feature. This is as classically independent as it gets. It has everything that your
average movie viewer probably thinks all independent movies are comprised of. It’s overly talky, has obvious crazy, shaky, close-up camerawork intended to be “avant-garde”, and features. Second, you need to be a person who is interested in or at the very least fascinated by douches. Roger is a douche, that’s partially the point of the movie. It’s kind of like watching Barney from How I Met Your Mother except take away his gimmicks, his humor and his friends. He’s a douche, but in my opinion there’s something genuinely interesting and worth watching about him. His ability to be both watchable and redeemable is assisted with the presence of his kind hearted and earnest nephew who appears quite abruptly. What proceeds is the adventure of a pretentious womanizer teaching his nephew the art of pretentious womanizing throughout an epic evening. It features, as an added hook, a young pre-fame Jesse Eisenberg and an old post-fame Jennifer Beals and Elizabeth Berkley.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Super(from James Gunn, director of the still-
underrated [and disgusting] Slither, brings us this super-dark comedy about a mild-mannered guy [Rainn Wilson] who goes off the deep end and decides to become a superhero; costarring nerd god Nathan Fillion!), Paul (a must-see for fans of ‘Spaced,’ Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, or just anyone who likes, you know, humor, this comedy, about two British comic nerds who find an escaped alien stars Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Seth Rogen, and is directed by Superbad‘s Greg Mottola), The Music Never Stopped (the great J.K. Simmons [‘Oz’, I Love You Man, Spider Man] stars in this touching drama/comedy about a father dealing with the fact that his son’s brain tumor makes it impossible for him to generate new memories by bonding with him through music), Exporting Raymond (weird, funny documentary [find it in the Comedy section] about the creator of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ trying to supervise the creation of a Russian television version), Quarantine 2 (remember how they quarantined everyone with that deadly, murder-causing virus in Quarantine? Well they didn’t!!! AAAIIIEEEEE!!!), Solomon Kane (based on the character created by Robert E. Howard [of Conan the Barbarian fame], check out the Action section for this tale of a mercenary cursed to walk the earth not killing people for money until, you know, he has to start killing people for perfectly good reasons), Jumping the Broom (the ever-lovely Angela Bassett leads the refreshingly-black cast in this comedy about a pair of economically-mismatched families uniting for a wedding on Martha’s Vineyard), Your Highness (there was a time when director David Gordon Green [All the Real Girls, George Washington, Undertow] seemed to want to be Terrence Malick, Bob Rafelson, or another of the 1970’s auteurs; but that was before he hooked up with the Judd Apatow crowd, making the very funny Pineapple Express and now this medieval sword & sorcery stoner comedy starring James Franco and ‘Eastbound and Down”s Danny McBride; I’m not complaining, it’s just weird…), Mars Needs Moms (Seth Green’s motion capture self stars in this animated comedy about a kid whose mother is kidnapped by, well, martians), ‘Secret Diary of a Call Girl’- season 3 (the final season chronicling the saucy adventures of former Dr. Who companion [no, not like that]-turned pricey prostitute Billie Piper), ‘Doctor Who’- season 6, part 1 (come and see what this floppy-haired new Doctor has to offer, now that his companion’s off being a hooker and stuff…), Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost (Tom Selleck is back as the handsomest broken down old small town cop your mom’s ever seen), The Concert (feel good French comedy about a former Russian orchestra conductor, reduced to being the building’s janitor because of a deep, dark secret, who recruits a ragtag orchestra to play a concert in Paris; costarring Inglorious Basterds‘ glorious Melanie Laurent), White Irish Drinkers (gritty drama about a pair of working class brothers in 1975 Brooklyn who decide to rob a Rolling Stones concert.)
New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Paul.