VideoReport #362

Volume CCCLXII- Redbox Massacre

Don’t let his face fool you- Burt loves Videoport…

(where either a bunch of people get murdered waiting in line to get scratched copies of one of the fifty movies contained in a crappy vending machine in a garbage-strewn convenience store parking lot or a bunch of people go on a rampage destroying crappy movie vending machines with aluminum baseball bats- we’re not sure which.)

For the Week of 7/24/12

Videoport- locally owned. Independent. Inexpensive. Knowledgeable. More movies than anyone. Helpful. Not a heartless corporate entity hell-bent on dumbing down America and driving principled, independent businesses out of business. Tell your friends…

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!

>>> Dennis suggests the best tv series in the Sci Fi section (in Sci Fi. Try to keep up.) Sometimes people overrate shows that got cancelled too soon, or movies that no one went to see, their rose-colored hindsight lending unwarranted weight to short-lived yet indifferent works. This show, a brilliantly-written, impeccably-acted sci fi masterpiece about a tiny spaceship’s-worth of rebellious, vaguely-criminal outlaws trying to scrape out a living in the face of the oppressive reach of an encroaching fascist multi-world government is not one of those. In fact, it is one of the best shows ever on television. Yeah, I said it. Led by an actor creating one of the most iconic antiheroes in sci fi history (yeah, I said it), and surrounded by a boatload of seven of the most fully fleshed out characters in sci fi history (uh huh-said it), this series is a perfect little gem, a snapshot of what a team of dedicated, creative people (led by the creative force behind several other, equally-brilliant genre shows) can accomplish. Of course, no one watched it when it was on (largely because a certain dumbass network which also airs the worst excuse for a news network the world has ever known screwed with its schedule), but it gained new life on DVD where enough fans bought the tragically-truncated complete series (14 transcendent episodes), enough so that said brilliant creator was able to reunite his dedicated crew for a theatrical film which, while an exceptional coda to the show, also no one went to see. If ever there were an example of why we, as a culture, can’t have nice things, this series is it. And no- I’m not gonna give you the name. If you already know what I’m talking about, then you don’t need it. If you don’t, I envy you- just ask, and we’ll steer you towards one of the best shows you’ll ever see.

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 you rent an armload of the “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen” and marvel at how cool Videoport is at the same time! Recently, Entertainment Weekly compiled a list of the 50 best movies you havent seen yet. Now of course, they don’t know what you’ve seen, plus they don’t know that Videoport customers are so freaking cool that they no doubt have seen far more of these than the average person not lucky enough to live in the greater Portland area. Still, there’s some good stuff on their list, and Videoport’s got ‘em all (of course), so here’s a checklist for ya’: Happy renting:

50. 24 Hour Party People (in Incredibly Strange)

49. Backbeat (in Drama)

48. Bamboozled (in Incredibly Strange)

47. Box of Moonlight (in Drama)

46. Broken English (in Drama)

45. Bubba Ho-Tep (Incredibly Strange)

44. The Century of the Self (okay, so there’s one out of 50 we don’t have…we’ll look into it, okay? Jeez…)

43. Chuck & Buck (Incredibly Strange)

42. Cold Comfort Farm (Comedy)

41. The Daytrippers (Comedy)

40. Devil’s Playground (Documentary)

39. Dig! (Popular Music)

38. Enter the Void (Incredibly Strange)

37. Eve’s Bayou (Drama)

36. Fish Tank (Drama)

35. Fly Away Home (Children’s section)

34. George Washington (Criterion Collection)

33. Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (Drama)

32. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (Children)

31. Happy Accidents (Incredibly Strange)

30. Idiocracy (Incredibly Strange)

29. The Iron Giant (Sci Fi)

28. I’ve Loved You So Long (Foreign Language)

27. Last Night (2011) (Drama)

26. Layer Cake (Mystery Thriller)

25. Lilya 4-Ever (Foreign)

24. Love & Basketball (Drama)

23. The Magdalene Sisters (Drama)

22. Marwencol (Documentary)

21. Memories of a Murder (Assorted Asian Exploitation)

20. Moon (Sci Fi)

19. Murderball (Popular Sports)

18. My Summer of Love (Drama)

17. Next Stop, Wonderland (Drama)

16. The Orphanage (Foreign)

15. Perfect Blue (Anime)

14. Prime (Comedy)

13. Primer (Sci Fi)

12. Rare Exports (Incredibly Strange)

11. The Ref (Comedy)

10. Rescue Dawn (Action Adventure)

9. The Rules of Attraction (Incredibly Strange)

8. Safe Men (Comedy)

7. Smiley Face (Comedy)

6. Surfwise (Popular Sports)

5. Together (2000)(Foreign)

4. Two Family House (Drama)

3. Walking and Talking (Drama)

2. Wendy and Lucy (Drama)

1. Wristcutters: A Love Story (Incredibly Strange)

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 you check out his list of the 50 best movies you’ve never seen! Sure, Mr. Fancy Entertainment Weekly has his list (see Wednesday), but they missed a lot of the good stuff. Here’s another checklist. Seriously, get rentin’!

1.The Brother From Another Planet (Sci Fi)

2. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (Comedy)

3. I Like It Like That (Drama)

4. Turkey Bowl (Comedy)

5. Last Night (1998) (Drama)

6. Wetherby (Drama)

7. Cutter’s Way (Mystery Thriller)

8. Police Beat (Mystery Thriller)

9. Choose Me (Drama)

10. Smoke (Drama)

11. Naked (Criterion)

12. Basquiat (Drama)

13. Mystery Train (Criterion)

14. Fool for Love (Drama)

15. Modern Romance (Comedy)

16. Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (Incredibly Strange)

17. Dead Ringers (Criterion)

18. Sugar (Drama)

19. Withnail & I (Criterion)

20. Fall (1997)(Drama)

21. The Station Agent (Drama)

22. The Fallen Idol (Criterion)

23. Matewan (Drama)

24. Hedwig and the Angry Inch (Incredibly Strange)

25. After Dark, My Sweet (Mystery Thriller)

26. Amateur (Mystery Thriller)

27. Humpday (Comedy)

28. The Freebie (Drama)

29. Baghead (Incredibly Strange)

30. Dogfight (Drama)

31. Sandra Bernhard: Without You I’m Nothing (Comedy)

32. Heavy (Drama)

33. Le Dernier Combat (Foreign)

34. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (Drama)

35. The Grifters (Mystery Thriller)

36. Six Degrees of Separation (Drama)

37. California Split (Classics)

38. Chungking Express (Foreign)

39. Without Limits (Drama)

40. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (Foreign)

41. Love and Death on Long Island (Comedy)

42. Mountains of the Moon (Action Adventure)

43. Mumford (Comedy)

44. Suture (Incredibly Strange)

45. Hellcab (Incredibly Strange)

46. Proof (1992) (Drama)

47. Killer of Sheep (Drama)

48. Show Me Love (Foreign)

49. The Baxter (Comedy)

50. There are about 300 movies tied for this spot, so I’ll end it here. Seriously, gang- there’s a whole world of movie out there, so work of these lists, do some research yourself, or just ask any of your Videoport drones. We love to recommend things you haven’t seen before. (And send in your recommendations or lists to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”.

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!

>>Videoport customer Josh suggests you can watch Freaked (in Comedy) if you want. Can’t really recommend it, and wouldn’t quite argue against it. It’s a mixed bag, alright. On the one hand you have some really excellent set designs, special effects, and I thought the camerawork was pretty good too. However, the film falls apart due to the poor plotting, hokey writing, and silly direction. Another attempt at a “live action cartoon” film that doesn’t quite work. All that said, it will appeal to a fair sized audience who will enjoy its kookiness and amusing cast. Sadly, it makes a pretty good point about companies like Monsanto, but the message doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head for being so goofy, and it’s rather buried in parody-like representations of early 90s environmental and “be yourself” platitudes. May make for a good drinking game.

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

>>> Dennis suggests E.T. First, rent the original version. Spielberg, following in the footsteps of pal George “Greedo shot first” Lucas, put out a version of this nigh-perfect film with the peril (and the adorably-innocent profanity) digitally cut out. Don’t rent that one. But whichever you rent, you’re gonna laugh, you’re gonna cry, and you’re gonna- yeah, you’re gonna cry your eyes out. Not even necessarily at the heart-wrenching, beautiful parts (although, yeah, you’re gonna weep like the little kid you’re renting it for), but at the pitch-perfect relationship of little Henry Thomas and a puppety creature that shouldn’t work, but totally does. It says something about innocence, about goodness, about childhood and wonder. If you’re kids haven’t seen this yet, you’re making them miss all the good things in life.

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

>>>For Saturday, Regan suggests ‘Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations’ (in Documentary.) I have two categories for famous people: Hate their work (Sandra Bullock, Barenaked Ladies) but think they’d be a blast to hang out with, OR I like their work (Alec Baldwin) but would rather pull out my eyelashes than hang out with them. Because all of those scenarios will totally happen, right? I am not interested in ever sharing a meal with this Anthony Bourdain guy (kind of a blowhard), but I do enjoy his show where he not only eats a sh*t-ton of great food, but he also shares the history of the places he visits, gets totally blotto, and slams many glorified American celebrities. It’s much fun! Plus! Fetus stew! Yay!

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Better This World (in Documentary.) (Recycled from his review in the Press Herald.) I’m going to go ahead and call SPOILER ALERT at the top of this review (even though it’s about widely reported events). That’s because 1) I don’t want to wreck anyone’s experience watching a genuinely gripping documentary, and 2) since those events don’t involve sex, celebrities or celebrity sex, I’m assuming they’ve been largely forgotten.Like the best “political” documentaries, “Better This World” focuses on a single event which, as its story unfolds, becomes more and more layered. Regardless of your political predilections, this movie, about a pair of clean-cut American boys arrested for “domestic terrorism” at the 2008 Republican national convention, will swing your sympathy pendulum enough to make you dizzy. Hunter S. Thompson memorably said, “The weakest link in any civil rights case is always the defendant,” but on many levels, defendants Brad Crowder and David McKay are the most palatable “terrorists” American audiences could want: articulate and polite in interviews, Texas-born, idealistic (and, you know, white). Finding themselves kindred, rebellious spirits in opposing the (second) Gulf War and the (second) Bush administration, the two rapidly became politicized — especially upon meeting Brandon Darby, an older, more experienced and more militant organizer who fueled their nascent activism and youthful machismo, and preached direct action rather than just talk and peaceful protest. As the film convincingly portrays, it was under Darby’s guidance that Crowder and McKay decided to travel to Minnesota (a trailer full of homemade riot shields in tow) to join protests designed to disrupt the GOP convention. Once there, and seeing the extent of the police harassment of their fellow protesters, the pair seemed to be inspired to take their activism to a darker level before they were arrested. But, as “Better This World” directors Kelly Duane and Katie Galloway reveal (in a plot twist worthy of a Hollywood thriller), Darby was an FBI informant. And the resulting court cases bring to light some troubling questions about the role of government infiltration of protest groups. Here’s where the pendulum swings (even for a lefty like me): On one hand, there’s compelling evidence that Darby’s role in motivating his new pals was as close to entrapment as you can get, and that his actions may have inspired them to do things they otherwise would not. On the other, what Crowder and McKay did was make eight Molotov cocktails which, they claim, they intended to use (on inanimate, symbolic targets, but still). On one hand, the FBI was acting on seemingly credible information that a real threat was imminent. On the other, their methods, both in using an undeniably questionable informant and in being seemingly determined to cut deals intended to keep the defendants from having their day (and say) in court, smack of the worst in post-9/11 civil rights violations. On the one hand, I don’t want to get blown up. But on the other, not everyone is willing to give up their constitutional rights in exchange for the promise of safety. And so on … “Better This World” benefits as well from some deft filmmaking. Its quick pace, skillful editing and riveting story make for one of the most thought-provoking films I’ve seen this year.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Deep Blue Sea (Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston [Loki from The Avengers] star in this tragic romance about a judge’s wife having an affair with a dashing RAF pilot), Better This World (see Sunday’s review), Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Turkish crime thriller about a group of local officials whose search for the body of a murder victim starts to bring up troubling larger issues), Phillip the Fossil (indie drama about an aging party guy whose aimless life is put to the test during one traumatic weekend), ‘Boss’- season 1 (Kelsey Grammer stars as the hard-nosed mayor of Chicago who decides to hide his increasingly-debilitating neurological disorder from his staff and family in this tv drama), Silent House (Elizabeth Olsen [from Martha Marcy May Marlene] stars in this thriller about a young woman trapped in her family’s lakeside house by some unexplained force; filmed POV style, seemingly in one, long take), Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Rob Lowe dons a porn ‘stache and a bad attitude for this TV movie about the real life serial wife murderer), Footnote (heartfelt Israeli film about a father and son, both Talmudic scholars, whose strained relationship comes to a head as the father is preparing to be honored for his life’s work), Jiro Dreams of Sushi (calling all foodies- this documentary about a wizened old sushi chef whose tiny subway station sushi stand is rated one of the best in the world will make you very, very hungry), Endeavour (Masterpiece Theater mystery about a young constable tracking a murderer at Oxford University in 1965), My Way (friendship and tragedy in wartime in this WWII Korean war film about childhood friends ripped apart when Japan invades; based on a true story)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Not Forgotten, Frida, Silent House

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