VideoReport #364

Volume CCCLXIV-Godzillas in the Mist

For the Week of 8/7/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Just wanted to make sure you knew that…

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!

Is he or isn’t he? Andy and Brendan fight it out.

>>>Andy suggests Blade Runner (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). My friend Brandon has seen Blade Runner more than thirty times. It’s not so much his favorite movie as an obsession. He’s seen all of the versions (he says the work print is the best version), watched all the commentaries (he says the one with Hampton Fancher and David Peoples is not only the best Blade Runner commentary, it’s the best commentary ever recorded for any movie), seen the behind-the-scenes documentary, and read the Philip K. Dick novel (it’s called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It’s a good kind of movie to be obsessed with, since it appears to be a straightforward science fiction/action flick on the surface, but also has surprising levels of meaning, and its fans debate how to interpret the ending. !SPOILER ALERT! The most common interpretation is that the ending makes it clear that the main character, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who hunts replicants (androids), is himself a replicant, but he doesn’t know it. Well, I’ve only seen the movie three or four times, and for some reason that interpretation was not made clear to me. So recently I watched the movie again (I chose the International Theatrical Cut), then I wrote this e-mail to Brandon:

Hey, Brandon! I just wanted to mention, before it slipped my mind, some things that occurred to me while I watched Blade Runner recently. I watched it with the assumption that Deckard is definitely a replicant, to see if the movie supports that. And I was surprised that the movie not only supports that, it also seems to suggest that most of the characters are replicants! There’s that scene where Pris (or maybe it’s Roy) asks JF Sebastian why he’s still on Earth, and he replies that he couldn’t pass his medical exam. But that’s an odd question, right? Is it so strange that a human would live on Earth? Unless most humans have abandoned Earth for space! Also, Sebastian has his regular chess game with his boss, Tyrell, who is probably much more wealthy (and not in the same social circles) than Sebastian. Why would the head of a company play a game like chess with an eccentric underling, unless he is desperate to play with a real human instead of a machine? I’m assuming that a replicant would either be very, very good at chess, or else terrible at it. But certainly not as challenging, but potentially beatable, as a smart human. So maybe these two lonely humans, Tyrell and Sebastian, play their game to maintain some human contact in a world overrun by replicants. Later on, Deckard is surprised when Roy allows him to live when he could have easily killed him. Could it be that replicants can recognize other replicants? So Roy recognized something about Deckard that Deckard didn’t even know – that he’s a replicant – and, as Roy himself was dying, he felt sorry for Deckard and let him live. I just mention this to establish that replicants know their own. So when Gaff (Edward James Olmos) leaves the origami unicorn and, as Deckard picks it up, we hear Gaff’s voice: “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” it suggests (to me, anyway) that Gaff is also a replicant, and he knows that Deckard is one, too. He also realizes how tragically ludicrous it is that replicants are programmed to kill other replicants. You can’t go against your programming, as much as Deckard is attempting to. That’s a cynical way of looking at it. But Deckard could be a more advanced model of replicant, one who is actually capable of going against his programming. Anyway, I might have missed some things. Do you think I’m way off?

A couple hours later, Brandon called, and we talked about Blade Runner for about an hour. He seemed to think that I went a little overboard, and that most of the characters are human. But his interpretation is partially based on information that was in the novel, not in the movie. So there is nothing in the movie that disproves my theory. Anyway, have you seen Blade Runner recently? What’s your interpretation?

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!

>>>April says, “I don’t want to be left out of the 50 Movies You Might Have Missed club, so here it it! April’s 50 Movies That Are Awesome (the other lists are awesome too, but for some reason, these movies weren’t on them…)

1. Even Dwarfs Started Small (Incredibly Strange)

2. In the Realms of the Unreal (Documentary Arts)

3. Baxter (Foreign)

4. Bent (Drama)

5. Saved (Comedy)

6. Times Square (Incredibly Strange)

7. Little Otik (Incredibly Strange)

8. Freaks (Horror)

9. Linda Linda Linda (Made in Japan)

10. Forbidden Zone (Incredibly Strange)

11. Grave of the Fireflies (Anime)

12. Crank (Action)

13. Year of the Dog (Drama)

14. Equilibrium (Sci Fi)

15. Run Lola Run (Foreign)

16. The Book of Life (Comedy)

17. Mary and Max (Animation)

18. Buffalo 66 (Incredibly Strange)

19. Suicide Club (Made in Japan)

20. Basket Case (Horror)

21. Bad Boy Bubby (Incredibly Strange)

22. The Perfect Crime (Foreign)

23. Mystery of the Leaping Fish (Incredibly Strange)

24. Crumb (Criterion Collection)

25. Sweetie (Criterion)

26. Strait-Jacket (Mystery/Thriller)

27. The Host (Horror)

28. Off the Charts: The Song-Poem Story (Documentary Arts)

29. Nadja (Incredibly Strange)

30. Prick Up Your Ears (Drama)

31. Happy Times (Foreign)

32. Bandits (Foreign)

33. Nekromantik (Incredibly Strange)

34. The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser (Foreign)

35. The Proposition (Action)

36. Titan A.E. (Sci Fi)

37. The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (Incredibly Strange)

38. By Hook or By Crook (Drama)

39. My Sassy Girl (Made in Hong Kong)

40. My First Mister (Comedy)

41. Housekeeping (Comedy)

42. Double Dare (Documentary)

43. The Three Faces of Eve (Classics)

44. Mondo Cane (Incredibly Strange)

45. Taboo (Foreign)

46. Bartleby (Comedy)

47. Fando & Lis (Incredibly Strange)

48. The Interview (Mystery/Thriller)

49. Spider Baby (Incredibly Strange)

50. Cronos (Criterion)

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!

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Brain Donors (in Comedy.) Adding to my growing list of “Reasons Why Andy & I Should Run Away Together”, his recent recommendation of Brain Donors on his list of “50 More Movies You Might Have Missed”. Yes, I do base the majority of my decisions on innocuous details such as a mutual love of Brain Donors, In Good Company, and Arrested Development. Dear Andy, “soon I hope to take you on a Caribbean cruise, where we can hold hands on a soft summer’s evening and watch that old Jamaican moon. Why that old Jamaican will be mooning us, I have no idea.”  Stockman “doesn’t know the MEANING of the word ‘No!’ We’re also a little fuzzy on ‘panaglutin’ and ‘viscosity’.” That my friends is merely a taste of the Marxian speed dialogue that is the gem of Brain Donors! It’s fast and utterly inane, but deliciously delivered with the snappiest timing there is. You’ll get whiplash the lines are so well timed! John Turturro, as always, throws his whole being into the role and finds that perfect ledge of just over the top enough to not fall off.  As inane as the dialogue might look in written form, the delivery and timing of John Turturro and his two co-leads spin it into comedy gold. And bonus, that ballerina IS Jenny from Muppets Take Manhattan! I’m so glad you noticed! I recommend them as a brilliant double feature. You can throw in Dirty Dancing and make it a triple feature because the other major non-cameo human from Muppets Take Manhattan is that creepy sleazy guy that hits on Baby in the beginning. Andy & I will be a romance like Kermit & Miss Piggy. I will bludgeon him into affection!

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!

>>>JackieO ‎says “Torchwood” is to “Doctor Who” as decaf is to Kona. Yet I’m still drinking it in while I wait for more Amy and Rory. This most recent season of “Torchwood“’s cream and sugar are Mekhi Phifer and Bill Pullman. Also Lauren Ambrose from “Six Feet Under”, who would be the, uh, … shot of espresso?

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

>>> It’s a free movie. You know- for kids!

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests a show he can’t really recommend! You should watch Dead Like Me (in Sci Fi/Fantasy), at least until it frustrates you into dropping it. Should take about about a season and a quarter. A compellingly weird set up sets your hopes relatively high if you’re looking for something odd and dark and kind of funny. An aimlessly grumpy young woman (Ellen Muth, who looks like an even more squish-faced Martha Plimpton) is killed when a plummeting space station’s toilet seat creams her at her crappy temp job. Instead of moving on to any known or imagined afterlife, George (for ‘tis her name) finds herself conscripted into the role of a reaper, a post mortem gig involving taking people’s souls in the moments before or after their usually accidental and violent deaths so that they can progress on to a more final afterlife than poor George got. George is assigned to a small group of reapers who meet up at the local Waffle House to receive their daily assignments on post-it notes distributed by the avuncular yet aloof Rube, played with his scene stealing chops cranked up to eleven by Mandy Patinkin. As George finds out rapidly, it’s a pretty lousy gig, since reapers, while dead, have all the physical needs of the alive which means they have to find other jobs and/or scrounge up the money and belonging of the dead people they shepherd over in order to sustain themselves. Plus, they have to deal with missing their families (who won’t recognize them now) and they’re forbidden from visiting anyone from their old life, except when they do it anyway. Oh, and they’re not allowed to interfere in the upcoming deaths they’re assigned to, except when they do it anyway. Oh, and there are these little CGI gremlins called gravelings which supposedly cause all these accidental deaths and will attack and haunt any reaper who interferes with a planned demise, except when the show seems to forget they exist. If you’re getting the idea that I’m a little impatient with Dead Like Me, then gold star for you; if you’re gonna set up a show with a crazy, outlandish mythology, then I salute you, but you have to play by the rules that you set up. This show sets up rules and threads and scenarios and then drops them, ignores them, or contradicts them from episode to episode seemingly out of convenience, or laziness, or sheer disinterest. It’s disconcerting, confusing, and ultimately infuriating. I’m all for mystery, but if I have a sense that you’re just making crap up as you go or have no plan in place, I’m gonna tune out- after a season and a quarter (see also: Lost.) Which isn’t to say that there’s not a lot to like about Dead Like Me. Muth’s George grows on you; she’s saddled with some fairly deadly voice over in each episode (most narration is deadly unless it’s Morgan Freeman), but her bulldog resistance to the crazy, and ill-explained, predicament she’s thrust into, and she gets some truly affecting moments when her naivete and completely understandable annoyance with the seemingly arbitrary rules of her new gig cause her to break some rules. Callum Blue has a raffish Brit charm scoundrel thing going as one of George’s new reaper buddies. As a former flapper turned reaper, Rebecca Gayheart doesn’t make me dislike her, which is new. And Patinkin- man, how can you not love that guy. His Rube is, in one sense, what’s wrong with the show- he’s in charge of the reapers, but he doles out the rules only in scraps. He makes dire pronouncements about what will happen if George breaks the rules and gets furious, in that tight-lipped quietly menacing Patinkin way when she inevitably does, but then nothing really happens that lasts more than an episode or two. But he packs a lot of mysterious soulfulness into everything he does and when he shows a fatherly affection toward George, who he calls “Peanut”, it’s hard not to be moved in a weird way. So, to make a long review short (too late), I’d suggest renting Dead Like Me until it ticks you off too much; there’s some good stuff to be had.

>>>For Sunday, Planet of the Apes (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Get your stinking paws on it, you damned dirty ape! (But keep your stinking paws off the shiny side. C’mon, we might be apes, but we’re not animals.)

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Lorax (did Dr. Seuss intend for his humble little advocate for the trees to be transformed into the animated, Danny DeVito-voiced star of a big budget kids movie whose associated product endorsements promoted gas-guzzling SUVs? Well…), The Weight of the Nation (America’s obesity epidemic gets the 3-disc talking to in this HBO documentary series), Meeting Evil (Luke Wilson and Samuel L. Jackson star in this psychological thriller about a mild-mannered family guy taken on a murderous joyride by an unpredictable stranger), ‘Children’s Hospital’- season 3 (this hilarious Adult Swim doctor show parody series is packed with very funny people [Ken Marino, Megan Mulally, Nick Offerman, Rob Corddry, Rob Heubel, Jordan Peele] all doing very funny things indeed), Dorm (Thai horror about the titular haunted boys’ school), Bel Ami (Robert Pattinson sheds his fangs to star in this adaptation of the Guy de Maupassant novel about an ambitious, unscrupulous womanizer in turn of the century Paris), Marley (acclaimed documentary about the legendary reggae star), ‘Grimm’- season 1 (dark fantasy series about a pair of human cops dedicated to battling supernatural threats in a world where the Grimm fairy tales come to life), Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt (Tom Selleck is back as the rumpled yet manly sheriff of a tiny Maine town in this continuing series), Kathy Grifin: Pants Off and Tired Hooker (double feature of two of Griffin’s standup specials), ‘Parenthood’- season 3 (ask Videoport’s Regan about how good this family sitcom is…), ‘Strike Back’- season 1 (BBC espionage thriller series with top secret and hunky British agents battling global terrorist threats), Age of the Dragons (it’s like Moby Dick! But with a dragon instead of the white whale! I don’t know how much more you need to know…)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Evil Dead 2, Eastern Promises, Cop Land, The Lorax, Marley, Mars Attacks!, The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, Super, Age of the Dragons, ‘Strike Back’- season 1.

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