VideoReport #358

Volume CCCLVIII- Tinker, Tailor, Mall Cop, Spy

For the Week of 6/26/12

Videoport is the place for people who love movies, low prices, and all the good things in life. Redboxes are the place for people who love standing around in a garbage-strewn parking lot and pulling a tiny selection of scratched DVDs from a plastic vending machine. C’mon…

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!

Invading Earth is one thing, but tagging? That’s just low…

>>> Videoport customer Josh the Schmuck (he told us to bill him that way) suggests ‘Falling Skies’ (in Sci Fi.) Noah Wyle (of E.R. fame) stars in this TNT series about an alien invasion. The hook for the series is this: the alien invasion is over. They basically won. All that is left are the straggles of humanity, a few random military resistance groups, and a lucky few. Noah plays a history professor with a specialty in military history, and when the series begins he is working with the leader of the 2nd Mass as an XO, providing valuable insight. He has three sons, but one of them has been captured by the aliens. The aliens are taking children and fitting them with some kind of mind control “harness” attached to their spines. What the aliens’ long term goals are or reason for doing this isn’t understood. Noah’s quest to save his son and the mystery of the harnessing drives a good deal of the narrative in the beginning of this season. I found as I watched it, that I wasn’t too compelled initially by the characters. As a fan of science fiction in general and alien invasion stories particularly, I was following along to see where they went with it. But somewhere around episode 9 or 10 I suddenly realized I was very invested in these characters and quite compelled to see where the writers were going with this. The season ends on a spectacular cliffhanger, and season two has just started on TNT, so now is an excellent time to catch up. I thought the overall pacing of season one was good, and there are a good deal of interesting developments. Noah portrays his character excellently, and I find I like a few of the others a good deal too, especially his son he is trying to save. Season two is shaping up well already, and seems to be moving at a brisk pace. If you like alien invasion stories, you could definitely do a lot worse (Galaxy Invader, Battleship, Robot Monster, Breeders...)

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!

>>>ElsaS. Customer suggests Singin’ in the Rain (in Musicals.) What’s not to like? Singin’ in the Rain is one of the great American films, accessible to the whole family, and a rare example of a musical comedy that works marvelously as a musical and as a comedy. If it’s been a while since you saw it, treat yourself. Singin’ also makes a wonderful companion to the delightful silent comedy The Artist, new on DVD this week! Take them as a two-pack and laugh yourself silly.

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 suggests you get to know Dana Gould! Over the weekend, Videoport’s own Jackie recommended a podcast interview with writer/ comedian/ actor Dana Gould. (It doesn’t matter which one; any podcast, interview, or clip with Dana Gould is worth your time, folks.) Check out his work on “The Simpsons” (writer/producer, 2001-2007), hear him appear “as himself” on the episode “Snow Day” of the fantastic animated series “Dr Katz, Professional Therapist,” and if you’re burning with curiosity to see what he looks like, you can just catch a glimpse of him in the excellent “Parks & Rec” episode “The Bubble,” as the cranky guy who asks for Mort (for which he is cleverly credited as “Guy who asks for Mort.”

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 using the 3 movies for 7 nights for 7 bucks deal to dive into the funny, welcoming world of Mystery Science Theater 3000! You may have noticed the pillar in the middle aisle festooned with colorful little posters featuring a couple of robots in odd situations. Or the same robots, in action figure form, up at the counter. Well, that’s because Videoport loves Mystery Science Theater 3000, the long-running cult favorite series about an ordinary guy whose evil, mad scientist bosses shoot him up into space on a satellite in order to drive him insane by showing him the worst movies ever made. It’s sort of an eccentric plan for world domination, but it’s thwarted nonetheless when the guy in question uses his tinkering skills to build himself a couple of robot buddies for companionship, and the three set about deflecting the destructive power of awful movies with the force of their wisecrackery. From that premise, a bunch of knuckeknobs from Minnesota started out on public access tv before migrating to the big time (Comedy Central, then the Sci Fi Channel) and made the world that much funnier and, let me check my figures, 4% less evil. Seriously, before these episodes were officially released, fans like me (spurred on by the creators’ encouragement to “keep circulating the tapes!”) built up our collections of static-y VHS tapes; I remember, in particularly bad times, putting on one 6-hour tape’s worth of MST3k as I fell asleep and just letting it play. Most of the time I fell asleep to it, and woke up with it still playing. MST3k is the cure for what ails you. A few MST3k facts:

Joel’s on the left, Mike’s on the right. No need to fight about who’s funnier…

1. The guy on the Satellite of Love (as it was christened), was first Joel, and then Mike. Joel is the one with the sleepy eyes, the gadgets, and the more paternal relationship with the ‘bots, while Mike is the tall blonde guy who is treated more like one of the guys (meaning the ‘bots torment him a bit). Mike and Joel are different, but they’re both hilarious; no need to fight about it.

2. The ‘bots (in all their low-tech, puppety glory) are Tom Servo (with the bubble-gum machine head)

Tom Servo docking with the mothership.

and Crow T. Robot (the gold guy with the basket head and the clamps.) Over the course of the series, their voices may change from time to time, but fear not- they’re the funniest, weirdest best pals a movie fan could ever want.

3. Our heroes’ tormenters change too. First, it’s Professor Clayton Forrester (he of the lime green lab coat and two-tone hair) and lackey Dr. Earhart (glasses.) Earhart gets replaced after season 1 by TV’s Frank (white hair in a spit curl) who is pure comedy. Eventually Dr. F and Frank get replaced by Forrester’s evil mother Pearl, a talking ape, and a robe-y guy with his brain in a jar. But no matter what permutation of evil is calling the shots, they always make time to torment our pals with the worst movies of all time.

4. Each film (edited for time and boobies and stuff) is shown in the Satellite’s theater, with Joel or Mike and the ‘bots sitting silhouetted in the front row right. They are unable to leave the theater because the scientists steal all the oxygen outside of it for the duration. Oh, except when they’re coming back from commercial when the gang on the SOL often performs weird little skits (the “host segments.”) As the show’s theme song advises in such cases, “Repeat to yourself/it’s just a show/ I should really just relax.”

5. The comic riffing comes fast and furious inside the theater, cracking wise on the awful events on the screen. With three distinct comic voices always trying to outdo each other, the whole enterprise just zips on by, buoyed by pop culture references, absurdity, and generally anything that sticks. You might not get every reference and not every joke can land, but by the time you’ve registered it, the next gag is already on the way.

6. Videoport’s got literally about a hundred episodes on DVD in the Incredibly Strange Section. They will all make you happy. But if you’re looking for my favorites, I’d make the following suggestions: Mitchell, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, Night of the Blood Beast, Master Ninja 1, Manos the Hands of Fate, Space Mutiny, Warrior of the Lost World, any of the Gamera movies, I Accuse My Parents, The Amazing Colossal Man, Pod People, Laserblast, and on and on… Seriously, just watch one. It’ll make you happy.

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

>>> You know- for kids!

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

>>>For Saturday, Piehead suggests Shut Up, Little Man! (in Documentary.) Man, who remembers the early 90s? Back when computers were for nerds! Ok, this documentary tells the story of two young alternative rock types who move to San Francisco (back in those early 90s I was talking about) and find themselves in a certain circle of hell. See, right next door to them live these two old alcoholics, Peter and Raymond, who sleep all day and drink all night, literally SCREAMING the most insane, blood-curdling invective at each other (If you want to talk to me, shut your f***ing mouth!” is probably the only thing that can be reprinted in this family video store newsletter.) Our two bros start taping the nightly carnage (tapes! see-early 90s!), at first so that they’ll have something to play for the cops in case one of the bozos kills the other. But then they start inviting friends over to listen in. They start using choice bits of dialog to fill up space on mixtapes they make for friends. The tapes spread far and wide…and suddenly there are comic books, a stage play, three different movie projects in the works (none of which were made) and the excited (and horrified) bros, and the two oblivious drunks who have no idea there voices have been sampled into a song by a Devo side project. Ethical dilemma! And, to be fair, the bros (and the filmmakers) don’t shy away from the ethical questions, like: is it art to just passively record something? Is it ethical to make money selling these recordings? Do these bros owe the drunks anything? What happened to our youth? Who drinks vodka mixed with orange soda?

>>>For Sunday,Elsa S Customer suggests a sci fi triple feature of Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. I looked up Planet of the Apes on IMDb and, incidentally, checked the purportedly similar movies they suggest with their “people who liked this movie also liked…” feature. And, hey, you guys, I think someone at the ol’ Internet Movie Database might be asleep at the switch, y’all. Among their picks: Solaris, Stalker, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. … Um. Because brawny astronaut Charlton Heston in his space-skivvies being herded by the apes who rule over this planet is very much like a series of obscure, moody, meditative, largely silent space allegories by the great master directors of the ’60s and ’70s. Sure. Let’s go with that.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Artist (winner of Best Picture and Best Actor, this charming love letter to silent Hollywood features French comic genius Jean Dujardin [OSS: Cairo Nest of Spies and OSS117: Lost in Rio] as a silent film star whose career is threatened by the coming of talkies, and whose life may be saved by the beautiful ingenue who becomes those talkies first star; seriously, I went through this movie with a big, goofy smile on my face), Mirror Mirror (in the first of last year’s reinventions of old fairy tales, Julia Roberts is an aging evil megalomaniac who tries to hunt down her younger, prettier rival threatening to take her place; in this movie, I mean…), Wrath of the Titans (what happens when the Kraken’s already been released? Well, if you’re Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes, and the many other overqualified actors in this mythological action franchise, yo slap on a fake beard and start hurlin’ some thunderbolts!), Cleanflix (religious nuts who violate copyright so they can save us from seeing all the naughty bits of our favorite movies are the subject of this documentary which makes me want to throw things), ‘Damages’- season 4 (Glenn Close is back playing the head of the most stylish, evil law firm in the land in this series costarring the likes of John Goodman, Rose Byrne, Martin Short, and others), 21 Jump Street (A comedy version of a silly old cop show that’s actually funny and doesn’t just make everyone all sad inside and the world worse? Amazingly, that seems to be the case in this cop comedy about Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum who get sent undercover as high school students), Bullhead (acclaimed Russian crime drama about a young rancher tempted to make a deal with a shady meat guy), Identical (Two identical twin brothers! Only, one is evil! Isn’t that always the way? This thriller stars that guy who was on CSI Miami...no, not any of the ones you’ve heard of…), Oranges and Sunshine (Samantha Morton and Hugo Weaving star in this true story of a righteously pissed-off social worker in 1980s England who uncovers the fact that the British government had a long-standing policy of taking children away from their parents in order to transplant them to Australia; stay classy, Britain…), Sound of Noise(oddball Swedish film about a

Oh Eddie…really?

tone deaf cop who’s sent to track down a group of masked “musical terrorists” whose loud guerilla performances are terrorizing the city), A Thousand Words (Eddie Murphy’s career continues to be what it is, I guess… In this one, some magical whim-wham endures that he’ll die as soon as he utters his one thousandth word), Attenberg (acclaimed Greek drama/comedy about a saucy young Greek lass who escapes her boring small town life by watching nature documentaries, acting odd, and generally hating everyone), Ptown Diaries (the long, strange history of Provincetown, Massachusetts, form Puritan settlement to haven for artists like Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neil to gay mecca), Norwegian Wood (based on the novel by Haruki Murakami, this Japanese drama follows the troubled romantic life of a student in the 1960s), ‘Dead Set’ (gory British awesomeness in this satirical horror miniseries about a zombie outbreak that eventually makes its way onto the sealed-off set of a fictional series of Big Brother), ‘Rizzoli and Isles’- season 2 (everyone’s favorite pair of lady buddy cops are back, solvin’ crimes and inspiring lots of internet slash fic), Demoted (Sean Astin and Michael Vartan are a couple of prank-playin’ tire salesman whose incessant shenanigans get them demoted to the secretarial pool by their hardassed boss [David Cross]), Pastorela (Spanish comedy about a guy names Jesus who’s always played the Devil in his town’s nativity play and who goes off the deep end when the new priest casts another guy as his beloved Satan), Fastest (narrated by noted bike-jockey Ewan McGregor, this documentary about a legendary motocross race promises some death-defyin’ thrills and spine-manglin’ spills!)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Artist, Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection, Stand By Me, ‘Wilfred’- season 1, Wanderlust, Project X, ‘Louie’- season 2, Seeking Justice, Cat Run, Jeff Who Lives at Home.

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