VideoReport #356

Volume CCCLVI- Tinker, Sailor Moon, Soldier, Spy

For the Week of 6/12/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day, people. This is not a drill…

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!

Just watch it. Don’t find out anything more about it.

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Martha Marcy May Marlene (in Mystery/Thriller.) Out of the blue one day, Andy asked me “Have you seen Martha Marcy May Marlene? Because I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT!” Well, I hadn’t. But now I have, AND I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE ABOUT IT! It’s an unsettling story told in an unsettling, deceptively quiet way, grounded by a wonderful cast and especially by the quiet excellence of Elizabeth Olsen as Martha. I knew little about MMMM before watching it, what little I did know, I wish I had allowed the film to reveal to me in its own time. Even the one-sentence summary on the front page of IMBd told me too much. Here is what you need to know about it heading in: it’s suitable for adults only, it gets deeply upsetting, and I WILL WANT TO TALK TO YOU ABOUT IT!

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 suggest Citizen Kane (in Classics.) In my continuing series of completely obvious recommendations from the Classics section, I’d say take this Orson Welles masterpiece home, if you want a serious laugh. Yeah, I said it. Of course, there’s more to Kanethan yuks, but its quite deserving reputation as “THE BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME” makes a lot of people think it’s something they should see as a duty, like a school assignment or something. But in Welles’ portrait of Kane, before his inevitable decline, the character is practically constructed of moments of alternating pure

Citizen Kane- barrel o’ laughs…

awesome/funny. One of may favorites is when the youngish Kane, having decided to take over one of his empire’s failing newspapers in order to promote his then-idealism (and, of course, himself) is being taken to task by his sour guardian for the fact that the paper has lost a staggering million dollars in the past year. To which Kane, sitting, looking slyly up at the old goat, replies, “You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place …in 60 years.” It’s seriously one of the most pure examples of onscreen cool in cinema history. Just watch Citizen Kane. You’ll have fun.

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!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests The Avengers (in British Comedy.) No, not that one, silly; that’s still in theaters. I’m talking about the oh-so-British pip-pip spot-on old-chum TV series The Avengers, starring Patrick Macnee (and his bowler and brolly) as aristocratic spy John Steed (and his bowler and brolly), accompanied on his missions by the saucy and sportive Emma Peel (Diana Rigg). (Before and

Mrs Peel.

after Diana Rigg’s tenure, Steed had other allies, but let’s be real: when we’re talking about “The Avengers,” we are talking DIANA RIGG, tricked out in ultra-mod style and rarely seen without a sly smile.) Despite its light sci-fi aspects, Ms. Peel’s avant-garde attire and arguably feminist role, and the show’s modernity in its insouciance to male-female friendship (or more), there’s something strikingly traditional about “The Avengers,” too — and maybe that something can be summed up in Steed’s hat-and-brolly full of tricks. The hat-and-brolly, the Saville Row suit, the poise and ease with which Peel and Steed spring through the most treacherous landscapes: these all speak volumes about their assumed privilege, a comfortable assurance (dated, even then) that emanates from both characters, an easy confidence not only in their power but of their righteousness in defending the empire against interlopers and traitors. “The Avengers,” now embraced as a nostalgic pleasure, was itself nostalgic for a time when the sun never set on the British Empire, when a snug, smug imperialism ruled the political landscape, when tea and cucumber sandwiches restored order and peace at tea time, when a bowler and brolly protected a man from censure.

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 (and Simon Pegg) suggest The Comic Strip Presents (in British Comedy.) Just finished reading Simon Pegg’s autobiography Nerd Do Well because, well, I’m a nerd myself, certainly, but also because, as every nerd knows, Pegg is one of the funniest people on the planet these days. Responsible for ‘Spaced’ (one of the funniest sitcoms of all time), Shaun of the Dead (one of the best films I’ve seen in the last ten years), and Hot Fuzz (one of the, well, you get the idea), Pegg, in his book, talks at length, and quite fascinatingly, about the cultural influences which formed his comic persona. Along with the universal touchstones like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, George Romero, and other American juggernauts, Pegg talks quite feelingly about such British-only stuff like The Wombles, The Goodies, and The Comic Strip Presents, a long-running series of TV films featuring a truly astounding array of British comedy royalty. Doubt it? Well I’ll counter with Adrian Edmondson, Rik Mayall, and Nigel Planer (The Young Ones), Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous, French and Saunders), Dawn French (French and Saunders, The Vicar of Dibley), Robbie Coltrane (Cracker, those Harry Potter things), and more British comedy celebs like Peter Richardson, Miranda Richardson, Alexei Sayle, Anthony Stewart Head (Giles from Buffy!), Tim McInerney, and on and on. Basically given a few quid and carte blanch to spend them, this comedy collective produced some 40 installments of unique, inspired comic brilliance. There’s no connective tissue other than a general sense of loopy inventive weirdness, but if you’re looking for a place to start, I’d recommend the following: Five Go Mad in Dorset (the first episode) is a genius parody of the sort of Bobsey Twins/Famous Five child detective genre, with all the cheery port-war classism, racism, and repressed everything being brought to the forefront (and season 2’s sequel Five Go Mad on Mescalin is just as good), A Fistful of Traveler’s Cheques features Mayall and Richardson as spaghetti Western poseurs getting in over their heads, hilariously, The Yob is a comically-frightening take on The Fly with an impossibly-effete music video director’s DNA getting mixed up with a football hooligan’s, and Mr. Jolley Lives Next Door gives Mayall and Edmondson the chance to indulge in the sort of scabrously-funny comic chaos they’d later perfect in Bottom. There are 9 whole discs of classic Britcom that I can almost guarantee you haven’t seen just waiting here, so head over to Videoport’s British Comedy section and start with the laugh-laugh.

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Free Friday double-features! Choose one FREE family movie to watch together, then rent another flick to watch after you put the kids to bed. Matching Cars with Maximum Overdrive puts a whole new spin on Pixar’s goofy world populated solely by automobiles, doesn’t it? You could rent Disney classic (which means it also has Disney’s occasional hallmark scenes of casual racism, be advised) The Aristocats for the whole family, then follow up with the impossibly bawdy and unabashedly obscene documentary The Aristocrats (in which comedians detail ever-changing versions of an age-old filthy joke) later on. (DO NOT CONFUSE THESE TITLES. Yikes.) Or treat your family to the marvelous Japanese film My Neighbor Totoro, a rare tale of ghosts and spirits that is exuberant and joyful and completely appropriate for even the youngest child, then tuck in the kids and settle down to the chills of Kwaidan, a spooky collection of subtle ghost stories. Warning: pairing up Escape to Witch Mountain and Escape from New York may result in an inappropriate desire to blurt out “I heard you were dead!” each time Eddie Albert appears on-screen.

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

>>>For Saturday, Regan suggests Fast Time at Ridgemont High (in Comedy.) Above the stove in my kitchen I have a framed picture of Spicolli with a bagel sticking out of his pants. My roommate never understood the reference because she never saw Fast Times at Ridgemont High! How did she escape adolescence without seeing this? Well, maybe due to all the sex and drugs in this fine coming-of-age film. Which is unfortunate because when you are old enough to watch it, you just don’t give a s*** because you’re too busy smokin’ butts and getting felt up. Rent this for your teenagers. They can handle it. PS: My favorite part is after the character Stacy has a shushmorshon and her brother Brad picks her up and asks her if she’s hungry and she is because she just had Damone’s spawn sucked out of her! So good!

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests Drive (in Mystery/Thriller.) Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s extraordinarily effective and affecting Drive shows us what makes so many action films hollow and trivial: too much action. Don’t misunderstand; Drive is a powerful action thriller with fast-moving chase sequences that will get you leaning forward in your seat, but Refn knows that a great movie needs contrast, needs respite from the pulse-pounding moments of pure thrill, that “action” is a genre, not a categorical imperative. Ryan Gosling is perfectly cast as The Driver; his character’s lingering looks and long silences need an exceptional actor to imbue them with any heart or humanity, and Gosling (Lars and the Real Girl, The Ides of March, Blue Valentine) is just that actor. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen the weirdly delightful Lars and the Real Girl yet, just rent it. Today. Have a Ryan Gosling double-feature.) With its studied silences laid against pulpy action and domestic set-pieces, Drive could feel contrived and artificial, but because the balance it so perfectly executed, instead it feels spare, agile, pared down, like a modern-day parable with not a single line wasted.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows (Robert Downey, Jr. continues his cinematic domination with this massively-requested Sherlock Holmes sequel; is it any good? Who cares- you’re gonna watch it…), The Woodmans (haunting documentary about Francesca Woodman, a photography prodigy whose suicide at 22 caused her artistic family to take refuge in their work), Accident (check out Videoport’s “Made in Hong Kong” section for this thriller about a hitman who specializes in staging accidents to kill his targets), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (Nicholas Cage is back in a slightly-less-dominating-than-Robert-Downey-Jr’s-Marvel-Comics-franchise sequel, with Cage as the fire-headed, motorcycle riding Johnny Blaze), Give Me the Banjo (banjo enthusiast Steve Martin narrates this documentary about all history’s favorite pickers), Good Deeds (Tyler Perry wears boy’s clothes for a change in this tale of a busy businessman finding out what’s truly important; SPOILER- Jesus may be involved), In Darkness (director Agnieszka Holland brings us the true story of Polish Leopold Soha’s attempts to rescue Jewish refugees during WWII; Oscar nominee), Something’s Gonna Live (film fans! Check out this documentary about Robert Boyle, a legendary production designer at Paramount from the 30’s up through his last film Flags of Our Fathers at age 91), Thin Ice (Greg Kinnear, Billy Crudup, and Alan Arkin star in this Fargo-esque black comedy/thriller about an insurance agent whose attempts to escape frigid Wisconsin run into trouble via a blackmailer and some dead bodies), ‘Chocolate News’- season 1 (old pro David Alan Greer attempts an African American Daily Show), ‘Entourage’- season 8 (our long national nightmare finally comes to an end…), ‘Freak Show’- season 1 (certified/certifiable comic geniuses David Cross and Jon Benjamin [Archer/Bob's Burgers] once made this bizarro animated series about carnival freak/superheroes; I’m gonna watch it…), ‘GCB’- season 1 (because America is collectively six years old, the full title of this saucy comedy about the perhaps-hypocritical churchy glitterati of Dallas; since we’re Videoport, we’ll let you in on a secret…it stands for ‘Good Christian Bitches’; please apply smelling salts to anyone who read that last part…), Superman vs. the Elite (based on one of the best Superman stories ever, this animated film’s about the time the Man of Steel is challenged by a brutal, ofttimes murderous team of superheroes whose ruthlessly-effective methods make people think that Superman’s code of ethics are passe; a metaphor for the ‘darker and edgier’ comics scene and/or, you know, real life), Too Big to Fail (an amazing cast [William Hurt, James Woods, Paul Giamatti, Billy Crudup, Edward Asner, Topher Grace, Matthew Modine, Bill Pullman, Tony Shalhoub, Cynthia Nixon] star in this HBO film detailing the 2008 economic near-apocalypse), Tosh.0: Hoodies (everyone’s favorite smirky pop culture wiseass comes to DVD to make fun of things for your cruel, cruel amusement), A Little Bit of Heaven (Kate Hudson continues her relentless campaign to be crowned America’s romcom sweetheart with this oddly-conceived tale of a woman whose cancer diagnosis won’t keep her from adorably pursuing her doctor [Gael Garcia Bernal]).

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: The Gold Rush (the Criterion Collection finally gets around to giving this Charlie Chaplin comedy classic the super-duper deluxe DVD edition), Harold and Maude (Criterion also gives its stamp of approval to this deluxe re-release of Hal Ashby’s classic love story between Bud Cort’s 20 year old Harold and Ruth Gordon’s 80 year old Maude), and gather the kids around, ’cause Videoport’s bringing in new DVDs of tyke-friendly things like Yo Gabba Gabba!, Wonder Pets, and Ni Hao Kai-lan!

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Breakfast Club, Sherlock Holmes 2: A Game of Shadows, Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance, In Darkness, Shallow Grave, The Machinist, Lady and the Tramp, Changeling, Killshot, Superman vs. The Elite, Too Big to Fail, Tosh.0: Hoodies, For a Few Dollars More, Insomnia, Me Myself and Irene, The Deer Hunter, Dr. No, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Prestige, The Shawshank Redemption.

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