VideoReport #353

Volume CCCLIII- Terminator 5: I’m Not Very Good at Terminating, I Admit It

For the Week of 5/22/12

Videoport will give you a free movie every single day. You know, if you’re not careful…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, 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!

>>> Andy suggests The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (in the Mystery/Thriller section). I’ve caught Sherlock Holmes fever, and it has nothing to do with the recent Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey, Jr. movies. It has something to do with the new BBC show Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and the Hobbit, but my interest has more to do with the fun late ‘70s mysteries The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and Murder By Decree. Seven-Per-Cent, which was written by Nicholas Meyer and based on his novel, is similar to Time After Time (which Meyer wrote and directed). They’re both based on imagined meetings between famous characters (fictional and historical; to be honest, I keep forgetting that Sherlock Holmes never actually existed!). Time After Time is about H.G. Wells chasing Jack the Ripper through time to 1970s-era San Francisco after Ripper steals Wells’ real time machine. Seven-Per-Cent features Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud. I think Meyer was ahead of his time here, since the historical/fantasy mash-up is practically its own genre now, with things like Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. In Seven-Per-Cent, Dr. Watson (played with a stuffy British accent by Robert Duvall) lures Holmes (Nicol Williamson) to Vienna to meet Dr. Freud (Alan Arkin, also having fun with an accent), who he believes is the only doctor capable of curing Holmes of his cocaine addiction. After some pretty horrific drug withdrawal scenes (the movie doesn’t take addiction lightly), a weakened Holmes helps the doctors investigate the murder of one of Freud’s patients. The Seven-Per-Cent Solution somehow goes from heavy addiction drama to murder mystery to Indiana Jones-style adventure story. It all adds up to a total blast of a kind that I imagine Arthur Conan Doyle would never have thought to write.

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

>>>Dennis suggests The House on Telegraph Hill (in Mystery/Thriller.)Released under the “Fox Film Noir” banner, this post-WWII Rebecca-type mystery is in no way a film noir, but it’s still worth a look. In the over-explain-y introduction, set, rather shockingly in a concentration camp, heroine Valentina Cortese steals a deceased friend’s ID and heads to San Francisco to claim some freedom, and the dead woman’s inheritance. Sure, there’s a too-cute little son, but he’d been sent to America before he knew mom, so that’s not a problem, but the seemingly-welcome attentions of blonde and greasy lawyer Richard Basehart, and the suspicious and shiftily-Mrs. Danvers-like attentions of her new mansion’s caretaker threaten to derail her plans for a cushy retirement. All in all, it’s a serviceable little mystery (although you might want to hip check that overly-precious little kid over the house’s tempting cliff), with a surprisingly-well-and-thrillingly edited San Fran car chase/careen scene that’s genuinely thrilling.

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 using the 2-for-1 comedies rental special on Wednesday to rent a whole season of the show ‘Party Down.’ (It only lasted two seasons, and each season only has two discs. I’d recommend you use the 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks to get a third disc of ‘Party Down,’ but honestly I don’t know if your humor center can handle it; you might blow a gasket or something. Well, you know your limitations…

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 presents his “movies I watched on vacation that I didn’t like enough to actually recommend checklist!” Yup, took some time off and, me being me, I watched a lot of movies, some of which looked promising, some of which I thought I’d give a chance to, and some of which I think I was just feeling sort of perverse about watching. Sadly, as sometimes happens, we (the lovely Ms. Elsa S. Customer and I) reacted with a greater or lesser degree of “meh” to the majority of them, so I thought I’d share, so you can say “meh” as well! Enjoy! Meh!

-Boogie Woogie (in Comedy), a sour comedy about the contemporary art world made me as hostile as something you don’t really care about at all can. Decent cast, including Stellan Skarsgard, Gillian Anderson, Danny Huston, Jack Huston (he plays the half-face guy on Boardwalk Empire), Charlotte Rampling, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Alan Cumming, and Heather Graham and Amanda Seyfried if they’re your thing. Trouble is, I hated everyone and the film’s take on contemporary art was about as sophisticated as your drunk uncle angrily saying, “My kid could paint that!” while looking at a Jackson Pollock. (Instead, why not rent the documentary My Kid Could Paint That; it’s much more insightful.)

-Paranormal Activity 3 (in Mystery/Thriller.) I dunno- I continue to maintain that the whole “found footage” horror genre has a lot of potential, if only people were talented enough to take advantage of it. The first one in this series was okay, the sequel dipped below the “okay” line with diminishing returns, largely due to a lack of imaginative ways to utilize the gimmick and a collection of characters you actively rooted against. The third ticks up a bit, (I’d say it’s back to “okay”) thanks to one neat innovation (a character hooks his homemade surveillance camera up to an oscillating fan- never seen that before), and some characters you actually didn’t want to see turned into ghost food.

-The Debt (in Mystery/Thriller.) I may catch some heat for this one, as everyone seems to like it, but this bi-generational spy thriller left me with the blahs. Look, I love Helen Mirren, you love Helen Mirren, but that doesn’t mean everything she does is as great, and improbably sexy, as she is. There’s some good stuff in this tale of three Mossad agents whose late middle aged fame due to a legendary mission as younger agents is threatened by a deep dark secret, but considering how all of you guys hyped it up, I was disappointed. Sorry Helen.

-My Son My Son What Have Ye Done? (in Mystery/ Thriller.) Hoo boy, did I not get this. Not just the deliberately opaque symbolism (produced by David Lynch and directed by Werner Herzog, I was prepared for such eventualities), I just did not get the tone, or the very raison d’etre of the whole enterprise. Michael Shannon’s huge, very unsettling face at the center of it as a clearly-insane would-be actor/ messiah who finally does something really crazy and gets the police involved, the movie combines Herzog’s obsession with the chaotic evil of nature and madness with some of Lynch’s favorite actors (all doing their stylized Lynchian schtick) and it all just sits there, acting weird and daring me to try and understand it. It ain’t dull, that’s for sure. Actually, it was a little dull…

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

>>> Check out all the new kids stuff this week at Videoport! We’ve got three DVDs of ‘Phineas and Ferb,’ a new ‘Yo Gabba Gabba,’ ‘Jack’s Big Music Show- Let’s Rock!’ and two discs of the Japanese animated show ”Ni Hao, Kai-lan!” In gratitude, let’s not let kids actually handle these discs until they know how to do it correctly, huh?

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests that it’s getting nice out and that makes it the perfect time to take a nice walk, drive, bike, or rollerblade excursion to Videoport. We’re nice and helpful, we have the appropriate amount of air conditioning, and all the movies in the world. It’s a nice, fun, relaxing outing for a beautiful Spring/Summer day. And then you can scurry back home, sink into your couch and watch all the movies you rented indoors, away from all that stupid nature.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Tiny Furniture(in the Criterion Collection.) Now that everyone is

“Why did I read that internet message board?”

freaking out on the internet about writer/director/star Lena Dunham’s show ‘Girls’ on HBO, I thought I’d check out this, her feature film debut and see if all the white noise blather had any validity. (In case you’re not on the intra-nets [and more power to you, by the way], ‘Girls’ has been routinely jabbered at as racist (for concentrating on three relatively well-off white girls in Manhattan), superficial (for concentrating on three relatively well-off white girls in Manhattan), and/or classist (for, well, you get the idea.) Well, not having seen the show itself (I don’t pay for HBO; I rent shows when they come out on DVD from Videoport, like a smart person), I’d say it seems like a smarter, hipper, younger version of Sex and the City crossed with a Whit Stillman movie. (That’s the sort of completely valid, totally informed commentary you get from a guy who can’t afford cable!) Anyway, Dunham’s movie (picked up for release by the Criterion Collection, I’ll have you know) seems like a pretty good indicator of what to expect. In it, Dunham, in the grand tradition of young aspiring writers everywhere, plays a young aspiring filmmaker who, graduating from college, moves back in with her acclaimed artist mother (Dunham’s real mom, acclaimed artist Laurie Simmons) and her overachieving little sister (Dunham’s real little sister, presumably an overachiever) while she tries to figure out her next move. And, like all such vaguely-ambitious college grads, Dunham’s Aura sponges money, wine and food, goes to parties, sort of tries to find a job, and circles what she clearly can’t see are the wrong guys. Now, on the internets, Dunham (a 23 year old [at the time] writer/director/star presenting her own personal vision on the screen) is taking some serious abuse, for the three reasons stated above (plus some of those good ol’ ignorant, misspelled fratboy ridicule of her physical appearance), but I take umbrage on her behalf. Umbrage, I say. I liked Tiny Furniture just fine; every writer or filmmaker is entitled to one navel-gazing, autobiographical coming-of-age-as-an-artist story, and Dunham’s version of herself here is actually pretty affecting. Look, everyone’s movie doesn’t have to be about everything; if Dunham’s movie is about a normal-looking, relatively-well-off Manhattanite trying to find her way, then that’s her story, and it’s unfair to take her to task for not widening her vision to encompass things she wasn’t trying to talk about. Now, if she’s still telling the same blinkered, narrow-focused storied three movies from now, I think the internet crazies might have something to blab about (although they should really have learned proper punctuation and spelling by that point.) You know, like when Woody Allen didn’t have a black character in his New York stories for two decades or so. Until then, let’s give a young, female filmmaker a chance to tell her story. I liked Dunham’s. You probably will too.

What all the smart kids are renting…

New Releases this week at Videoport: Certified Copy (the Criterion Collection brings its patented deluxe edition treatment to this new film from the great Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami; in it, Juliette Binoche and handsome opera singer William Shimell seem to meet and tentatively fall in love in sunny Tuscany, only things aren’t as simple as all that…), Red Tails(the story of the Tuskeegee Airmen, the all-black

Say what you want about George Lucas, but that is a cool poster.

fighter pilot squadron who fought for their country against the Nazis in WWII only to see their country treat them like dirt back home; stay classy, America; starring Cuba Gooding Jr [who was also in the old HBO movie The Tuskeegee Airmen-check the Drama section],Terrance Howard and ‘The Wire”s Tristan Wilds and co-written by the unlikely pair of George Lucas and ‘The Boondocks”

Seriously, 773-1999 to reserve.

Aaron McGruder), ‘Sherlock’- season 2 (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are back as a modern day Holmes and Watson in this undeniably-fun BBC series [also undeniably popular- call 773-1999 to reserve your copy if you're smart...]), The Strange History of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (the long and storied history of discriminating against gay people wanting to serve their country never had a weirder period than the time when everyone essentially just agreed to stick their fingers in their ears and go, ‘LALALA- I’m not listening!’ for a decade or so; this documentary explains how the hell that happened…), The Woman in Black(Daniel Radcliffe trades in his Harry Potter togs for some Victorian big boy clothes in this spooky Gothic thriller

Huntin’ ghosts like a big boy!

about a grief-stricken young lawyer vs. a haunted house), Trailer Park Boys: Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys (after their ill-fated trip to cause trouble here in Maine, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles unsurprisingly get into more trouble crossing back into Canada…), Lights in the Dusk (a bored security guard falls under the spell of a loopy femme fatale and her conman partner in this 2006 film from Finnish master director Aki Kaurismaki), Downloading Nancy (check the Incredibly Strange section for this tragic thriller about a deeply unhappy wife who engages a man over the internet to torture, and possibly kill her; good cast, including Maria Bello, Jason Patric and Rufus Sewell), The Swell Season (touching musical documentary follows Glenn Hansard and Marketa Irglova, the stars of Once, as they set out on tour with a band and find their real-life relationship struggling to cope with their newfound fame), 11-11-11 (after the death of his family, a guy heads to Spain where his father and brother hint that he’s involved in some fishy religious spookiness because he keeps seeing the number eleven everywhere. From the director of three of the Saw movies, so you know it’s good…), This Means War (two hunky spies [played by Captain Kirk and Bane] decide that their dueling crushes on cute-as-a-bug Reese Witherspoon allow them to use the Patriot Act to violate everyone’s civil rights in order to win her; it’s the #1 romantic comedy in some Orwellian nightmare of America!), The Secret World of Arrietty (sure, Videoport’s owner Bill scored us an imported copy of this new film written by universally-beloved Japanese animator Hiyao Miyazaki, but now the rest of the world has caught up to Videoport finally so here’s the official release featuring an American dubbed version with Amy Poehler and Will Arnett), ‘Hell on Wheels’- season 1 (‘Deadwood’-style AMC series about the post-Civil War era and the building of the transcontinental railroad; starring solid character types like Colm Meaney and Tom Noonan), We Were Here (acclaimed 2012 documentary about the first arrival of the AIDS virus in San Francisco), My Piece of the Pie (comic French social satire about a laid off factory worker who finds herself the housekeeper of the rich industrialist who shut the factory down…and the nanny of his impressionable little son), My Perestroika (documentary examines the end of the Cold War through the eyes of five Moscow schoolmates and how they adjusted to the new Soviet Union), Golf in the Kingdom (a young American philosophy student on his way to India [Dirk Calloway from Rushmore] decided to play one final game of golf on a legendary course, only to have his plans hijacked by an eccentric, mysterious golf pro [The Matchmaker's David O'Hara]; costarring my buddy, Malcolm McDowell), Mutant Girls Squad (it’s like the X Men, only it’s set in Japan, so all the mutants persecuted by the government are hot chicks in schoolgirl outfits and there’s a lot more gore; check Videoport’s Made in Japan section for this, and much, much more just like it), Newlyweds (Ed Burns is still making New York-set relationship dramas, nearly 20 years after The Brothers McMullen, which is good I guess, even if I bailed out on them about 12 years ago…), Perfect Sense (Ewan McGregor and Eva Green steam things up in this odd, apocalyptic love story about a lonely scientist and a hunky chef whose intense coupling may or may not be responsible for a worldwide plague which robs everyone of their five senses), Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr. (the good people at Criterion give the boxed set imprimatur to Iron Man’s dad, a pioneering cult director of decidedly weird movies; the set includes his: Babo 73, Chafed Elbows, No More Excuses, Putney Swope, Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight), The First Beautiful Thing (vibrant Italian comedy/drama about a free-spirited single mother whose irrepressible optimism in the face of hardship sustains her young family), Birdsong (former Masterpiece Theater miniseries about a dreamy WWI soldier longing for the girl he left behind)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: A Tale of Two Cities (Videoport helps out all those kids who don’t want to do their homework, bringing in a DVD of the 1935 Ronald Coleman adaptation of this Dickens classic; which you really should read, kids…), Gypsy (who’s up for a big, brassy musical ’bout strippers! I mean, it’s from 1962, so don’t get too excited or anything…), The Sacrifice (Andrei Tarkovsky’s enigmatic classic about an old man’s birthday party, and the possible end of the world, gets a 2 disc deluxe reissue, and Videoport’s got it for you.)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Swingers, One for the Money, Underworld 3: Evolution, Rampart, Chronicle, Mother’s Day, This Means War, The Secret World of Arrietty, Red Tails, Hell on Wheels- season 1, The Others, The Devil Inside, Being John Malkovich, Sherlock- season 2.

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