VideoReport #321

Volume CCCXXI- The Bourne Redundancy

For the Week of 10/11/11

Videoport is the place where movie geeks dream of going when they die. (Although, if you do die, please do not haunt Videoport- we’ve got enough to deal with…)

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.

Go to this.

>>> Dennis suggests boning up on your zombies (and you know how I mean that) in time for the ZOMBIE NIGHT DOUBLE FEATURE at the State Theater on Halloween Night! Yup, we’re starting off with a shameless plug for the double feature at the State on Halloween night of the original Dawn of the Dead b/w Shaun of the Dead. It’s gonna be fun. So, to get you in the mood for undead corpse-monsters eating people’s faces off, howsabout checking out the zombie movie shrine in the ‘staff picks’ section of the middle aisle, where all the best (Dawn, Shaun, Night of the Living Dead [both versions], Day of the Dead [original version only], Diary of the Dead, Fido, Pontypool, Cemetery Man, Dead Alive, Deathdream [kinda]), and the worst (everything else, really), hang out with things which aren’t really zombie movies (28 Days/Weeks Later, anything with zombies sprinting around the place like Carl Lewis.) So grab some 2-for-1 Monday zombie goodness, greatness, and so-terrible-it’s-mildly-enjoyableness and then get your tickets to ZOMBIE NIGHT!!

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Andy suggests Cape Fear (in Classics). Ah, October, the perfect time to watch horror movies and creepy thrillers! So far this month I’ve revisited some old favorites: Night of the Demon (1957), Theater of Blood (1973), and, best of all, the original 1962 Cape Fear, starring Robert Mitchum and Gregory Peck. Martin Scorsese’s 1991 remake is another favorite of mine*, but it owes a great deal to the original, and the ’62 version more than holds up on its own. Cape Fearis about a lawyer (Peck) who helps put a psychopath (Mitchum) in jail for a violent crime. Years later, the psychopath is released from jail and

You probably don't want to show Mitchum that much leg, ma'am...

moves to the nice lawyer’s hometown and terrorizes him and his nice family. That’s a solid setup for a thriller no matter how you treat it, but Cape Fear treats it exceptionally well. Max Cady, the psychopath, is actually pretty smart, and he’s spent his years in the pen studying law. There’s something profoundly unsettling about a villain who knows the law, and who stays within legal limits. Cady is never caught doing anything wrong, he just hangs around and intimidates. Intimidation isn’t criminal if it’s not overtly threatening, even if it’s delivered with Mitchum’s spine-tingling southern drawl. Sam Bowden, the lawyer, tries to fight back, and he has the chief of police (Martin Balsam) on his side, but they can’t ever pin anything on Cady, so they set the madman free. How can you protect yourself against a law-abiding private citizen? As Balsam says, “You can’t arrest a man for what he’s capable of doing,” even if he’s capable of raping and murdering a man’s family! Cady is bent on getting revenge on Bowden by violating his wife and daughter–there’s a lot of implied sexual threatening, which is made much more explicit in the remake. Cape Fear features one of the best musical scores a thriller has ever been blessed with! Bernard Herrman’s score is so damn good, Scorsese recycled it for his remake. There are certain specific things that spring to mind when I think of Cape Fear (either version): Max Cady calling Bowden “Counselor” (unforgettable, and inexplicably scary), the whimpering of the Bowden family’s dying dog after it’s poisoned (presumably by Cady, but who can prove it?), and that classic, chilling, violent music by Bernard Herrman. Happy October!

*In fact, every version of this story thrills me, including the great “Lake Terror” episode of The Simpsons!

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!)

>>> Dennis suggests ‘Community’(in Comedy.) I’m just gonna say it- this is the funniest show on network TV right now. Starting from a very sitcommy premise (snarky lawyer has to go back to community college when his bogus educational credentials are found out), the show almost immediately

Funniest show on TV? Yup.

just went bananas, embracing all manner of absurdity and playing to the varied and considerable strengths of its uniquely-talented ensemble. My theory- once the pilot was picked up and the creator (Dan Harmon) had his foot in the door, he pulled a Trojan horse and let all his real ideas break out. And, as the show progresses, the cast and creator seem to be building on their own loony momentum, using the sitcom setup to try out weirder and more daring (and silly) comic ideas- and, improbably, pulling them all off. Where to begin? The Goodfellas-inspired chicken finger episode? The Dungeons and Dragons themed one (possibly the best ep so far)? The Secret Garden/secret trampoline? Zombies? The completely bananas/completely successful My Dinner With Andre/Pulp Fiction mashup? And, of course, the season ending tradition paintball episodes (which are quite possibly the best realized comic setpieces ever.) And, lest you think the show is all random cleverness, ‘Community’‘s real strength is its ability to ground all the self-referential silliness in some genuine, and impressively-moving, character development. And the cast- just wow. Joel McHale (the smarmy guy from ‘The Soup’) is a surprisingly-strong center to the show; his super-cool Jeff Winger can twist a turn of phrase, and his winking awareness of the absurdity of his predicament keeps him from becoming insufferable. Alison Brie (Trudy from ‘Mad Men’) is a loopy delight as the study group’s high-strung overachiever Annie, busting through a stock character and creating something original (and adorable.) It took a while for the show to figure out to do with Gillian Jacobs’ pretty, stridently-outspoken Britta, but when she became the group’s designated ‘fun vacuum’, it really took off. Yvette Nicole Brown, the group’s requisite “Christian housewife trying to get her life together,” also had a characterization hill to climb, but her Shirley has come along nicely (and Brown is just plain funny.) Donald Glover’s Troy (the dim-bulb high school jock) is simply made of comedy- every damned thing he does is just electrically-funny (he’s easily the most charismatic person on the show.) As the show’s breakout character, Danny Pudi’s Abed deserves all of the accolades that Jim Parsons is getting on the cute but far-inferior ‘Big Bang Theory’; he, too, is playing the clearly-Aspergers-afflicted, pop culture-obsessed outsider oddball, but Pudi turns Abed into something profoundly weirder, deeper, and more resonant (and funnier), plus, as the conduit through which the show’s hyper-referential geek vibe runs, he’s just indispensable to the show’s mission. ‘Community’ even pulls off the miracle of using Chevy Chase effectively; as Pierce Hawthorne, the gang’s resident old/sexist/racist/ culturally-disconnected comic foil, Chevy is deployed judiciously (you don’t want too much Chevy), often as an episode’s antagonist, and it’s brilliant. Especially in the second season, where Pierce’s turn to more outright villainy is used to tremendous effect (I genuinely thing Chase should have won an Emmy for the Dungeons & Dragons episode.) Throw in professional creepy/hilarious weirdo Ken Jeong (The Hangover) as the irascible (clearly insane) Spanish teacher Senor Chang, John Oliver bringing his impeccable Brit-wit as a soused Psychology professor, and Jim Rash as the school’s incompetent, desperately-ambitious Dean, and ‘Community’ is simply stacked with talent. Seriously- funniest show on TV. Just pure fun.

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)                 >>>Did you know that you can get free money at Videoport? Just throw down $20 on your rental account, and we’ll give you an extra five bucks in store credit. And $30 buys you $40 in store credit. Lots of people (the smart people) use these absurdly-generous deals to front-load their account with heaps o’ rental credit so they don’t have to bring any money. Others just like the convenience. savings, and feeling like a big man. We’re not here to judge- just to give you free money.

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).                                                                                                                                          >>>Free kids movie! Okay!

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests The Wrong Man (in Mystery/Thriller.) Let’s be frank- this is lesser Hitchcock. The plodding tale of a wrongly-accused family man (nope, I’m not going to put a SPOILER ALERT on a movie with this title), it just doesn’t have the immediacy of top-shelf Hitch. That being said, I can’t remember getting more pissed off watching a cinematic miscarriage of justice since The Shawshank Redemption, and at least that one had Morgan Freeman narrating things. This one is just a hundred

This is just a funny poster.

minutes or so of ‘kick the puppy,’ with poor, hangdog Henry Fonda, as innocent as only Henry Fonda can be, playing a struggling musician and family man railroaded by shaky eyewitness testimonies and, frankly, completely-believable police malfeasance on some robbery charges. He’s an ‘ethnic’ (but, you know, the whitest one on the earth), and, again frankly, the most overtrusting and passive dupe in the world, so he’s pretty easy to push around. It kind of blunts the high dudgeon at the blatant police bullying, witness incompetence, and thinly-veiled xenophobia that torments poor white/Italian Hank (as Elsa S. Customer says, “He can’t even pronounce his own name convincingly”), but it’s still damned upsetting watching him undergo the stacked-deck spanking machine. (Seriously, gang, never, freaking EVER talk to the police without a lawyer around- check out the documentary Paradise Lost [in Mystery/Thriller] or the real-life Texas execution record for more convincing.) And, hey, let’s not forget how precipitously blandy wife Vera Miles goes bananas dealing with her hubby’s ordeal- again, Hitch was, let’s just say problematic with the women-people (plus, all the women eyewitnesses are just babbling, dithering, swooning, easily-led unreliables.) And the trial- geez, that is not riveting stuff. Mostly just nondescript actors giving testimony intercut with Hank looking vaguely-bewildered and noble. Even when the ‘right man, as opposed to the wrong man, gets corralled, there’s no damned catharsis- Hank mildly tells off his double, and that a-hole cop pats him on the arm, but he never gets to really lay into anyone. Still, the whole “I hate cops and the justice system is deeply, terrifyingly flawed and could plunge an innocent guy into a completely-undeserved hell” is undeniably-upsetting. I suppose that’s entertainment…

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests letting Videoport fill your entertainment void (and you know how we mean that) now that it looks like the NBA is planning to take a little break from playing, you know, basketball and stuff with these hoops movies. You should definitely watch Hoop Dreams (in the Criterion Collection), which is, simultaneously, one of the best sports movies, documentaries, human stories, and movies you’ll ever see. And, of course, no human life is complete without watching Hoosiers (in Feature Drama), which features Gene Hackman’s best performance (yeah, I said it) as the no-nonsense coach of an undermanned 1950’s Indiana high school basketball team; based on a hard-to-believe true story, it will give you the sports-tingles. Then there’s Spike Lee’s compelling He Got Game(in Feature Drama) about a coveted high school hoops star (played by current Celtic/unemployed guy Ray Allen) trying to navigate the treacherous path to the pros and dealing with his former baller, and current jailbird, dad Denzel Washington. Their one-on-one game for all the marbles at the end will give

This is much better than the average NBA game anyway...

you a hoop-gasm. In the documentary section, you might check out The Heart of the Game (about a beleaguered high school girls team) or More Than a Game (about the now-hated Lebron James’ high school hoops dominance.) Or try Love & Basketball, a surprisingly involving sports story/romance about two childhood friends/hoop rivals (the very good Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps) dealing with their feelings, and the different ceilings their genders place on their dreams of pro stardom. Plus, you could check out Just Write with Queen Latifah’s physical therapist trying to get injured b-ball superstar Common back on his feet (I love Queen Latifah.) So dry your eyes on an ML Carr towel, hoops fans- Videoport’s got you covered.

New Arrivals on Blu-ray this week at Videoport: Horrible Bosses(comedy all-stars Justin

Again, we at Videoport do NOT wish our boss dead. Just want that to be clear...

Bateman, Jason Sudekis, and ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’‘s Charlie Day star in this hilariously-filthy comedy about a trio of beleaguered dudes who decide to knock off their titular, terrible bosses [Colin Farrell,Jennifer Aniston, and Kevin Spacey; on an unrelated note, we here at Videoport like our boss, Bill, and have absolutely no current plans to murder him), Green Lantern (man, DC Comics is getting its butt handed to it, movie wise [and comics-wise: I mean, seriously, you just retconned my entire childhood out of existence? Thanks a pantload]; anyway, this superhero flick, about a magic ring-slinging space cop was… fine- Ryan Reynolds’ snarky, cocky charisma suits the role well; it’s fine…), The Desert of Forbidden Art (fascinating documentary about a guy who squirreled away tens of thousands of pieces of ‘subversive’ art from the Soviet government deep in the Uzbekistan desert), Floored (gripping doc about the footsoldiers of capitalism, those hand-signaling nutjobs crowding the Chicago trading floors), ‘Aqua Teen Hunger Force’- seasons 7&8 (spazzy, animated cult weirdness, anyone?), Arena(the requisite hunky guy fights in futuristic gladiatorial games for the delectation of the internet in this out-of-nowhere action thingy that somehow co-stars Samuel L. Jackson; my theory is

Feel like being devastated tonight?

that the director once saved his life…), Beautiful Boy (undoubtedly-devastating drama about parents [the ever-excellent Michael Sheen and Maria Bello] forced to cope with the fact that their seemingly-perfect son is a school shooter), Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (for little girls of all ages…actually just for little girls), Mr. Nice (Ryhs Ifans stars in this rollicking true story of a legendary British drug lord/family man; co-starring Chloe Sevigny and the great David Thewlis [Naked]), The Princess of Monpensier (from legendary French director Bernard Tavernier comes this lavish historical 16th century drama romance full of corsets, warfare, sexual/political intrigue, heaving bosoms, the whole nine yards), Submarino (from acclaimed Danish director Thomas Vinterberg [The Celebration] comes this drama about two estranged brothers meeting at their mom’s funeral to hash out their grievances, and one of those deep, dark secrets you read about), Terri (quiet, moving little indie drama about a constantly-abused high school fat kid who cares for his slipping-into-senility uncle [‘The Office’‘s Creed Bratton] and gets some worldly wisdom from his vice principal [ever-money John C. Reilly]), The Trip(you want to see

Funniest movie of the week. Seriously.

this road trip comedy faux documentary with Brit comedy legends Steeve Coogan and Rob Brydon as they tour the country reviewing restaurants; trust me- hilarious), The Tree of Life (director Terrence Malick has really only made masterpieces [see Days of Heaven, Badlands, The

See this.

Thin Red Line, The New World, no, seriously, see them], and here’s his new one, a mysterious, multigenerational drama starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn), Moby Dick (William Hurt, Ethan Hawke, Gillian Anderson, and Donald Sutherland star in this 2010 miniseries adaptation of that book with the whale…), Nostalgia for the Light (fascinating documentary about the Atacama Desert in Chile, possibly the driest place on earth, where astronomers search the light-pollution-free skies and war widows from the Pinochet regime scour the desert for the bones of their ‘disappeared’ loved ones), Zookeeper (Kevin James continues to churn ‘em out; this time he’s the titular timid zookeeper who gets dating advice from his animal charges), ‘Bones’- season 6 (David Boreanaz and Zooey Deschanel’s sister return, solving crimes with bone-y science and making goo-goo eyes at each other), La Soga (action thriller from the Dominican Republic about a cop who starts to question his allegiance to the corrupt government), Bloodworth (Kris Kristofferson brings his legendary grizzled cool to the role of a wandering father/husband returning home and dealing with all the resentment simmering in family members Dwight Yoakum, Hillary Duff, and Val Kilmer), The 5th Quarter (very Jesus-y inspirational, based-on-a-true story tale of a brother taking on his dead brother’s position and number on the Wake Forest football team.)

New Arrivals This Week at Videoport: The Four Feathers (coming to the Criterion Collection section- this 1939 adventure classic about a British officer who seeks to redeem his reputation and save his former comrades [even after they accuse him of cowardice and start sending him insulting plumage]),

This is Penny.

Never Forever (Vera Farmiga [The Departed] stars as an unhappily-married woman whose affair with a Korean immigrant makes things even worse), Shilling Shockers- She Beast (Michael Reeves’ 1966 horror sort-of cult classic [starring genre icon Barbara Steele] gets the full Elvira treatment from Boston-based spook show host Penny Dreadful; find it in the Incredibly Strange section), The Queen of

Psycho Indonesian horror anyone?

Black Magic (utterly-insane Indonesian horror!!! Who’s with me?!?! Check out the ‘Assorted Asian Exploitation’ section), Including Samuel (the challenges of ‘mainstreaming’ children with severe disabilities is the subject of this thoughtful educational documentary), The Best of Times (Kurt Russell and Robin Williams attempt to relive their high school glory days on the football field in this actually-pretty-funny 1986 comedy), The Sunshine Boys (Walter Matthau and George Burns try to out-grump each other in this Neil Simon film about a pair of feuding vaudevillians), W.C. Fields Collection- vols. 1&2 (six Fields comedy shorts. Nothin’ wrong with that…), Last Exit to Brooklyn (Jennifer Jason Leigh is pretty astounding as self-destructive prostitute Tralala in this brutal adaptation of the notorious Hubert Selby, Jr. novel of working class 1950s NYC.)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week at Videoport: Horrible Bosses, The Tree of Life, Green Lantern, Zookeeper.

Videoport presents…ZOMBIE NIGHT!!

Halloween Night. The State Theatre. Zombie classic double feature. The original Dawn of the Dead. The zombedy (zombie comedy) classic Shaun of the Dead. Local zombie short Last Call in between. $8 at the door, only $6 if you buy tickets ahead of time at Videoport. Sponsored by Videoport. That is all…

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