VideoReport #505

Volume DV—The Town That Dreaded Brunch

For the Week of 4/21/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every, single day. What movie should you get? Well, since you have seven movies a week for free to choose from, there’s really no pressure to narrow it down. Go nuts, people. 

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

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That’s her. One of her, anyway.

>>>Dennis suggests Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). Season three of this BBC America/Canadian series, so here’s my annual reminder that Tatiana Maslany is your favorite actress—you just don’t know it yet. Here’s also my annual warning that, unless you have seen this show, STOP READING NOW. Okay—for the rest of us, Maslany gets to play about, oh, 426 roles on this show, and she’s outstanding in all of them. The premise—again stop if you don’t want to get spoiled (as only inhuman, narcissistic monsters thoughtlessly spoil things for other people)—is that there’s this conspiracy to produce clones for nefarious purposes. Only thing, most of the clones have no idea they’ve got identical twins running around the world, so, when we meet the series’ main heroine, Sarah Manning (Maslany) sees a woman who looks just like her jump in front of a train, she—seeing an opportunity and being something of a rascal—steals her identity. Bad move, Sarah, as her chicanery embroils her in a tangled web of badness. All the sci-fi clone stuff you may have seen before, but believe me when I tell you that you’ve never seen anyone like Maslany, who creates a seemingly impossible array of characters as the series winds its way through its appealingly outlandish plot. Honestly, at times, Maslany’s skills are even more outlandish, especially when she’s sharing the screen with different versions of herself—sometimes with one or more characters pretending to be other characters at the same time. One more time—Tatiana Maslany. Your new favorite actress.

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 $7.99!

>>>Dennis suggests Goin’ South (in Classics.) Okay, let’s just get this out of the way—a 1978, mostly forgotten Western comedy belongs in the Classics section because we said so. Also because it wasn’t renting where it was and we didn’t want to get rid of it. (It rented almost immediately as soon as it moved to Classics, so there.) Is it “classic”? Well, no—it’s something of a mess, really. But the Classics section is more about time, and the movie is actually a lot of grubby fun, with Nicholson—directing himself—playing the grimiest, most lecherous character he’s ever played—and that’s saying something. In it, he’s a disreputable cowpoke/bandit who’s set to be hanged until a bizarre local loophole allows frontier spinster Mary Steenburgen to claim him as a husband. See, she’s got a gold mine and needs a man to work it—plus, you know, spinster. The two spar, and sneer, and Nicholson flirts like a rutting dog, and eventually they fall in dusty Western love. Naturally, there are complications in the form of Nicholson’s old gang (including John Belushi, Veronica Cartwright, and Christopher Lloyd) and the local law. Honestly, though, the main attraction is Nicholson on Nicholson—if you’ve never seen Jack Nicholson without anyone but himself to rein in his hammiest instincts, then you haven’t seen Jack at his Jackiest. Here, he scratches, and leers, and bats his lashes, and grins his Nicholson grin, and raises those eyebrows more than in any other ten movies combined.

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 $7.99!  

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (in Comedy). I’m going to be frank with you: even the most avid critic gets worn out by churning out reviews and recommendations every day, every week, every month, for years. It can start to feel like you’ve recommended everything you’ve ever enjoyed. But it’s the small moments that remind you how powerful even the lightest of entertainments can be. The moment when you stumble ontoAnchorman’s “Afternoon Delight” sequence and watch in a combination of bellylaughs and stunned appreciation, and the moment after the scene ends when you rewind and rewatch it, just because you can.

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 $7.99!                                        

>>>Dennis suggests The Babadook (in Horror). There are so few good horror movies that come out in a year that the tendency is to overpraise any horror flicks that aren’t outright terrible. Sadly, this year was no exception. Not sadly, the two BABADOOK-POSTERmovies that got overpraised—this one and It Follows (which is not out on DVD yet)—weren’t overpraised by much. The story of a terminally exhausted single mother and her overactive, over-imaginative son, The Babadook is a lot of things—and the horror movie aspect isn’t even the most effective. As the mother, Essie Davis channels every single mom who struggles to deal with work, loneliness, grief (her husband died horrifically on the way to the hospital where she gave birth), and a difficult child—she’s capable, well-meaning, and at the absolute end of her rope, especially when the kid’s hyperactivity gets him tossed out of school. Essentially trapped alone in their house by their isolation and near-poverty, their loving but strained relationship starts to show more and more strain—and that’s even before the Babadook shows up. In trying to lull her son (an impressively obnoxious Noah Wiseman—you get to like him eventually) to bed one night, she reads to him from a book she doesn’t recall buying. It’s—a disturbing book, and she gets rid of it. But, well, you know how well that sort of thing goes. First-time director Jennifer Kent has an assured plan for her film—and if its homages to past films (The Shining, Repulsion, Nosferatu, Home Alone, believe it or not) aren’t subtle, they’re also really effective, especially once the Babadook starts bleeding into the mother and son’s reality. Or, you know, does he? This is one of the best horror movies in years, slightly overrated or not.

Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Cutter’s Way (in Mystery/Thriller). Some movies just grab you. Maybe you saw them at the right (or wrong) time. Maybe there’s just something you can’t put your finger on that one un-definable moment that just 3991243b7912d9581f3e58c5379362camakes sense. (Or sometimes you read about the film in Danny Peary’s Cult Movies and rush out to rent it, finding it as mysteriously moving as he claimed.) Cutter’s Way is like that for me. Sort of a mystery, it is more like a meditation on war and madness and America in the form of a mystery. In it, a young Jeff Bridges is Bone, prettyboy playboy beach bum, sleeping his way through the bored, rich housewives of sleepy Santa Barbara. John Heard is his best friend, Alex Cutter, one-legged, one-armed, and one-eyed after being maimed in Vietnam, a brilliant but bitter alcoholic berating everyone around him in his impotent rage—especially draft-dodger Bone and his long-suffering wife Mo (Lisa Eichhorn, in a remarkable performance that should have made her a star, but didn’t). One night after another assignation, Bone’s car breaks down just in time to see someone dump something into a trashcan—when it turns out to be a murdered teenage girl, the disreputable Bone is both a suspect and a witness. When the trio drunkenly attends the city’s patronizing, Mexican-themed parade, Bone impulsively says, “It’s him” when he sees a local millionaire arrogantly riding his horse down the main street, which is all the cynical—yet wrenchingly idealistic—Cutter needs to hear, as he sets out on a quest to hold responsible just one of the fat cats he blames for sending him, and thousands of poor guys like him, to Vietnam. Director Ivan Passer displays a poetic, unnerving lyricism to what follows, as Cutter and Bone quickly see their friendship tested—and just as quickly get in over their heads. Bridges and Eichhorn are great, but it’s Heard (best known now as the go-to unlikable authority figure or alcoholic cop in everything) who snarls and limps away with the movie. The scurrilous, drunken vet has a poetic soul—and a sense of justice and heroism that seems to have to place in a world where powerless people are considered disposable. Some movies just get to you. This one gets to me.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Ryan M. sugests Possession (in Incredibly Strange). The best way to go into what is perhaps director Andrzej Zulawski’s most notorious slice of sheer cinematic insanity is to know as little as possible about it. Indeed in today’s day and age, with the all-knowing Internet and all, it can be a tad difficult at times to experience a film isabelle_adjani_possession_movie_poster_2acompletely spoiler free, so there are surely images from Possession that have resonated deeply with audiences over time. Ask anyone who’s seen it, and they will most likely refer to it as “the movie wherein Isabelle Adjani cheats on Sam Neil with an octopus”, although to do so would doing Zulawski’s art-house genre-bender a great disservice. This isn’t a B-horror picture, nor can it be pinned down into a single category. In fact, Possession is one of the few movies that I feel is truly uncatagorizable- a strange mixture of divorce drama and monster movie; the anti-romantic and the chase thriller; and finally, the spiritual and the political. It seems like it’s biting off more than it can chew, but it’s not. Both Adjani and Neil are fully committed to a couple of over-the-top and nakedly emotional performances and Zulawski’s camera gives off the illusion of constant, often aggressive motion. The scenes don’t transition into one-another so much as they glide, shake, and twirl – guaranteed to get under your skin. It is an experience like no other, one that will surely only appeal to a select audience of adventurous movie-goers, but to them it is essential. And for those who are constantly looking for a horror film which branches out successfully into other genres so often to the point where it almost doesn’t come off as a horror film at all; well, this is it.

Taken 3 New PosterNew Releases this week at Videoport: Taken 3 (Let Liam Neeson tell you about this second sequel: “Listen to me carefully. I have a very particular set of skills. They are hungryforchangeneither preventative nor especially filled with foresight. But, once you have kidnapped one [or more] of my female relatives, and once I have determined that you are not American, but some sort of foreign person, then—blammo—those skills of mine kick right in. They will imbue me with the strength and, let’s be honest, age-inappropriate martial arts and face-kicking skills to retrieve my female relatives from your not-American, not white clutches with only minor collateral damage to various European cities and any female friends of my female relatives who have been snatched up alongside them, especially if those female friends are more promiscuous MV5BMTczNDkyODA1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIwOTI4MjE@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_than my virginal female relatives. At that point, my mighty elderly skills will take your henchmen’s guns away and smash them in the faces with them repeatedly until everything comes out okay), Hungry For Change (Hey, you know all jennifer-aniston-cake-movie-poster-sosnation.com_those unbelievably optimistic claims made by diet, nutrition, and food companies about how you can lose weight with minimal effort as long as you buy their products? Well, shockingly, this documentary suggests that said companies are misleading you. I know—weird, right?), You’re Not You (Hilary Swank made her unsuccessful bid for another Best Actress Oscar when she played a talented classical pianist who finds out she has ALS [aka Lou Gehrig’s disease] in this weeper. Emily Rossum plays the spunky college student who tries to help her cope), Cake (Jennifer Anniston makes her own unsuccessful Oscar bid in this acclaimed [but award-less] drama about a woman in a chronic pain support group who finds herself obsessed url-1with why a fellow group member committed suicide), Frontera (Contemporary western sees Ed Harris as a hard-bitten former Arizona sheriff who goes on a racist rampage after his wife is murdered by, he assumes, an illegal Mexican immigrant. Presumably, he learns a lesson in tolerance 169c6f081c49a875dcbff5246a7ab4e7and understanding actual Arizonans seem to have trouble wrapping their heads around), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Black and white, Iranian vampire movie, anyone? This artsy foreign horror film about a spooky young woman stalking the streets of an isolated village has all the arthouse buzz about it), Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed (In this Spanish comedy, an English teacher picks up two young hitchhikers on his journey to find and meet his idol, John Lennon. Points if you know what Beatles song the title’s from), The Missing (Riveting British livingiseasywitheyesclosed.poster.ws_thriller series about a pair of grieving parents [James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor] who receive cryptic hints that their son is alive, some years after he was abducted on a holiday in Paris), Tracks (Certified cool actors Mia Wasikowska [Stoker, Maps To The Stars, Only Lovers Left Alive] and Adam Driver [Girls] star in this drama about a youngtracks_ver3_xlg woman on a trek across the desolate Australian desert with only her loyal camels and an odd-looking guy for company), Fortitude—season 1 (Great new mystery series you haven’t seen! How do I know you haven’t seen it? Well, it aired on a network called Pivot—anyone out there heard of Pivot? Anyway, this series, about the very first murder in the history of the titular Arctic town, boasts a great cast including Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, and Christopher Eccleston and is, as I mentioned, Fortitude-season-2-renewalreally good), Little Accidents (Elizabeth Banks tries out her dramatic side, starring in this small town mystery drama about a mine accident, a missing teenager, and a whole lot of depressed people)

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free little-accidents-character-poster-2money, people.

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VideoReport #504

Volume DIII—The Tax Day Wallet Massacre

For the Week of 4/14/15

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. If there’s something wrong with that, then…well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

 Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Interstellar (sort of) (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Never been a rabid science fiction fan, but I have a fond memory of being freaked out watching “Logan’s Run” with my Dad in 1976. Anyway, I liked the metaphysical questions raised in “Interstellar”, a movie that we watched last night. If you like outer-space survival epics where there’s a lot of oops-we-wrecked-the-planet-and-we-better-find-another-one and you live to cling to hopes that there are loving beings (aliens) out there somewhere giving us signs about how and where to survive, you’ll like this. I always love the odyssey of the return home — which is where all these space-time continuum travelers end up wanting to go. What I did NOT love at all was the nearly incoherent too-cool-for-school-mumble-mouth-whisper-talk-over-accented-ramblings that Matthew McConaughey was allowed get away with. Ugh. I kept asking Peter, “what the heck did he just say?”

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 $7.99!

>>> Dennis suggests Hud (in Classics). Everyone loves the late Paul Newman. It’s pretty much mandatory now, but there was a time when Newman was thought sort of as a bit of a stiffy—a prettyboy, Actors Studio hunk plying his sub-Brando leading man skills in mediocre movies. But this 1963 modern western was a hint of the super-cool Newman we’re all required to love and respect. In it, Newman is Hud, the materialistic, pragmatic scion of a ranching dynasty led by boringly righteous old-timer Melvyn Douglas. Stifling under his pa’s dully decent practices, Newman’s Hud acts out by tomcatting around and trying to sell dad’s infected cattle out from under him, while occasionally attempting to force himself on rangy, sensible ranch hand Patricia Neal and providing a very bad example for manhood to ranch youngster Brandon De Wilde (the grown-up kid from Shane). All-time great film critic Pauline Kael called foul on the film’s moral stance, saying that “casting Newman as a mean materialist is like writing a manifesto against the banking system while juggling your investments to make a fortune.” Simply put, Newman’s scaliwag, for all his greed and shed moral values and date-rapiness, is by far the most magnetic character in the movie.

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 $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests In The Loop (in Comedy). The feature film continuation of the Bristish comedy series The Thick Of It (which you should rent first from Videoport’s British Comedy section), this movie is the creation of acerbically brilliant Brit Armondo Ianucci, who also came over here right after to create the great HBO political comedy Veep (which you should also rent from Videoport’s regular Comedy section). Like The West Wing, except that all the fast-talking denizens of the British and American halls of power are vain, self-serving, variously incompetent a-holes, In The Loop sees a (very) minor British government official saying one minor, slightly stupid thing, which sets off a chain reaction of political catastrophe that proves—as we all imagined—that governments are run by people who may actually have the public good foremost in their minds. The chief attraction here—as it is in The Thick Of It—is Peter Capaldi (miles away from the sweet goof he played in my favorite movie of all time, Local Hero). As creatively, incessantly profane British government minister Malcolm Tucker, Capadli (now killing it as Doctor Who—available in the Sci-Fi section at Videoport!) tries to keep the US and England from getting into an unnecessary and deadly war, not becase he’s opposed to war really, but because he despises the @(*&% stupidity behind the latest international cock-up. His scene squaring off with American general James Gandolfini is an all-time classic, with both unbending badasses insulting each other—and their respective countries—with escalating brilliance. As cynical, yet hilarious, a political comedy as you’ll see anywhere, this is just the movie to get you prepared for the terrifyingly farcical presidential election season about to take us in its grip.

>>>Dennis suggests Scrubs (in Comedy). One of the unique things about working in a video store is the chance to see what pieces of pop culture retain their popularity in the zeitgeist and which ones fade. At Videoport, we will—reluctantly—let go of some TV shows that fade. We’ll run a list of things than haven’t rented (not one single disc) in years, and then hold out nose and let ‘em go. Sometimes, we choose to hang on to something that hardly rents any more (sometimes because an employee throws a hissy fit—on an unrelated note, rent Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel or things are gonna get messy). So, in that spirit, howsabout saving this hospital sitcom which—perhaps because of the general distaste for star Zach Braff’s efforts as director—has dropped off the cultural map. This is a really good show, you guys, following Braff as the goofy, good-hearted, slightly naïve first-year intern at a teaching hospital as he copes with learning the ropes, dealing with death, and looking for love, all the while desperately trying to win the respect of his insanely demanding would-be mentor John C. McGinley. Forget how annoyed you’ve been with Braff since, in movies like Garden State and Wish I Was Here (they’re not that bad), and enjoy how exceptionally well the show uses Braff’s inherent spazziness as the epitome of the neophyte doctor, and how the show undercuts the unflinching examination of the realities of doctoring with hilarious flights of fancy. If you’ve ever loved one of the ubiquitous hospital shows cluttering TV, Scrubs is the antidote, telling the same stories and having its exceptional cast of supporting characters learn the same lessons with an unrelentingly smart and silly sense of humor. Don’t let Scrubs go the way of, say, the indifferent and increasingly forgotten Rescue Me, people. Good show.

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 $7.99!                                       

 >>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Birdman (Or The Unexpected Value Of Ignorance) (in Feature Drama). Many of you likely saw this film before the Oscars, but last night Peter and I watched “Birdman” (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) by Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu, with Michael Keaton in the lead. It’s filmed in mostly real time in a sort of stream of consciousness style. I loved the big dose of magical realism. At first it felt like a pretentious vehicle to play out the narcissistic woes of actors, but it’s more layered than that. Who hasn’t had some version of an existential crisis? Freud’s idea of the human psyche divided into 3 — the ID, the EGO and the SUPEREGO are at work here (though never spoken of overtly) as the lead character battles his demons and insecurities. He seeks for redemption (always compelling)– regarding the choices he’s made that have affected his career and consequently his relationships with his former wife and his daughter. I love movies, but what I love almost as much is the conversations and questions brought out by movies of substance.

Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Do The Right Thing (in the Criterion Collection). Spike Lee has proven himself an inconsistent filmmaker, sometimes an outright dopey one over the years. But his constant engagement with social issues in America has produced some of the most devastating portraits of the country’s racial divide, none more devastating that this 1989 portrait of a single day in a Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. SPOILER TIME. At the end of the day, a young black man is choked to death by the New York City police. He’s not a particularly nice young man—Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) is something of a neighborhood fixture, the scowling, boom-box carrying guy everyone’s afraid of. But the film masterfully ramps up the tension of a single block on a single day until Radio Raheem’s death seems like the inevitable result of America’s inability to overcome its ingrained prejudices. This is a masterful movie, a furious, energetic, and—yes—thrillingly entertaining. And, in an America some 26 years later, where “police killing unarmed black men” has, thanks to the proliferation of cell phone cameras, been brought into daily internet breakfast viewing, Lee’s outraged cry of despair has come to seem both prescient and depressingly ordinary. In 1989, I wandered out of the theater showing it in a daze, stumbled to a park bench nearby, and wept, openly. Now, I open my computer every morning and see irrefutable evidence that things like that have been happening all along, and my youthful confusion and outrage at a fictional representation of what Lee knew all along was the product of my privileged, blinkered belief that only the “Bad apples” of institutionalized racism did that sort of thing. What can I say—I was young.

>>>For Sunday, Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests This Is Where I Leave You (in Feature Drama). “This is Where I Leave You” is not great cinema, BUT as the old “family-gathering story vehicle” genre goes, it’s pretty entertaining and there are some genuinely funny moments and some moving ones too. For me, there was too much fighting and too much family dysfunction for it to be deeply enjoyable and for me to care too deeply about most of the characters — it just never plunges deep enough, but the movie is redeemed by nice performances by Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. And bonus: Bateman has a beard in this one. Yum.

>>>Dennis suggests Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (in Comedy). You probably know comedian/character actor Oswalt from his stints on shows like Justified, Dollhouse, Parks & Recreation, or movies like Young Adult or Big Fan, all of which he’s great in. But his bread and butter is standup comedy, where his smart, nerdy, allusive voice makes him one of the best comedians working today. In this, his best special, Oswalt is simply a giddy, intelligently hilarious delight. There are only a handful of comedians out there who I’d call some of the best who’ve ever been, and Oswalt’s one of them, so you should wildcard-posterrent this (or the other two specials of his we’ve got.) (In case you were wondering, you should also pick up specials from Maria Bamford and Louis CK while you’re at it.) Oswalt’s become a divisive figure, thanks to his aggressive Twitter presence, LFB3but I choose to admire his chutzpa in taking on high-profile topics in such a public forum—even though he and I actually got into it online recently. It’s cool—we settled things with some comic book references.MV5BMTk0NTYzMjQ3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAwODU2MzE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ We both might be dorks, but it’s okay.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Liars, Fires & Bears (Acclaimed indie drama about a neglected 9-year-old foster child who tries to make her way back to her brother with the help of an immature, alcoholic 30-year-old drifter), Killers (Dark Japanese thriller about a psychotic businessman who begins to The-Babadook-Movie-Postermess with a reporter over the internet, only to find out that the journalist has his own secrets), The Babadook (YOU NEED THIS. The best reviewed horror film in years sees a single mother discovering that the imaginary monster in her son’s closet might not be so much imaginary.), Big Eyes (Tim Burton continues his stylized paeans to oddball artists with this biopic about painter Margaret Keane [Amy Big-Eyes-Poster1Adams], the woman who painted those terrifying, huge-eyed children pictures your grandmother loved, and her creepy manager/husband [Christoph Waltz] who took all the credit for the aboniations—and all her money), Maps To The Stars (The great and disturbing director David Cronenberg [Videodrome, A History Of Violence, The Brood, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method] takes on Hollywood, which, shockingly, he views as a twisted and horrifying maps-to-the-stars-posterfreakshow. Starring Julianne Mooore and John Cusack), The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (Certified insane genius RZA is back, writing and starring in a sequel to his over-the-top martial arts extravaganza about an inexplicably African American blacksmith with a Brooklyn accent in ancient Japan), The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (You know that horror movie starring Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe? Well here’s the sequel—whichMV5BODkyMTMwMjA0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQ3MDc4NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ does not star Daniel Radcliffe, this time about the same haunted house housing WWII orphans some 40 years after the first movie. There may be some woman—possibly wearing clothes of a particular color), Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (Anthony Hopkins stars in this heist/kidnapping thriller about the real-life abduction of the titular tycoon responsible for that notoriously skunky faux-fancy beer. Also—check out the woman_in_black_angel_of_death_ver5_xlg1Dutch original The Heineken Kidnapping, starring Rutger Hauer in Videoport’s foreign language section), The Missing- season 1 (Riveting British thriller series about a pair of grieving parents [James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor] who receive cryptic hints that their son is alive, some years after he was abducted on a holiday in Paris), Antarctica: A Year On Ice (Visually stunning documentary about what it’s like to spend an entire year on the most inhospitable continent on the planet. At least there are Kidnapping-Mr.-heineken2penguins), Wild Card (Strutting human headbutt Jason Staham stars in this action thriller about a top-flight Las Vegas bodyguard with a gambling problem who—spoiler!—gets into trouble with the mob)

 New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at The Missing - Promotional Key ArtVideoport: The Immigrant

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.

VideoReport #503

Volume DIII— The Punchening

For the Week of 4/7/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Does that make us superheroes? Well, we are also, collectively, Batman, so yes.

 

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>> Dennis suggests The Specials (in Incredibly Strange). It’s superhero week here at the VideoReport! (Which means that no one sent in any reviews, leaving me to cobble together this community newsletter on my own and freeing me to babble on specabout stuff I like! Send in your reviews to denmn@hotmail.com to prevent this in the future!) Anyway, superhero movies have never been hotter—the coffers of Marvel and DC Comics (well, mostly Marvel) fairly burst with all the cash. Some might find it annoying, and it sort of is, especially to comics geeks (like me) tired of yet another damned Spider Man origin story. (Seriously, Marvel—“with great power comes great responsibility”—we get it.) But, as with any genre, there’s a lot of potential for greatness in the superhero idea. Playing it straight and doing it great is one way to go, although only the Christopher Nolan Batman movies have managed that (and only really The Dark Knight, flawlessly). Instead, the idea of people dressing in theatrical costumes and beating the crap out of similarly clad bad guys offers filmmakers with a more analytical—perhaps odder—sensibility to turn the genre inside out and see what falls out. Case in point, this 2000 superhero comedy, written by the now-insanely-famous James Gunn (The Guardians Of The Galaxy), which examines the dysfunctional dynamics of The Specials, “the fifth or sixth most powerful superhero team in the world.” As with the monster hit GOTG, Gunn applied his innately perverse sense of humor to undermine the concept of superheroism in every way possible. Not that The Specials don’t do good, it’s just both that they’re not very good at it, and most of the team is cynical about the gig and crabby about their own less-than-impressive powers. The cast is outstanding, underplaying the comedy of their roles to various, rewarding degrees. Thomas Hayden Church (laser beam hands) is The Mighty Strobe, team leader, who applies is super-serious, Shatner-esque bombast which clashes with his hidden insecurity. He’s being cuckolded by his bored wife Miss Indestructible (guess), played by Paget Brewster with a sad, funny weariness. Her paramour, The Weevil (“weevil’s speed and agility”?), played by a very funny Rob Lowe as the only Special remotely popular—he’s being courted by the creepily CIA-backed Crusaders, and mulls leaving the team. Then there’s Gunn himself as Minute Man (he shrinks), an unassuming guy who really only gets mad when people misinterpret his name (“Am I wearing a tri-corner hat? No!). Judy Greer is Deadly Girl (unspecified supernatural powers—one time, she summoned zombies that ate people’s faces), who, in Greer’s signature disdainful sensibleness, barely tolerates her superhero life, while conceding that she doesn’t have much choice but to stay with them. Jamie Kennedy is Amok, the sort-of reformed supervillain, whose unpredictably dangerous anti-matter powers are only second to his abrasive personality in the reasons why people don’t like him. There’s strong-but-dim American Bill, Mr. Smart, Alien Orphan Doug, Power Chick, and new recruit Nightbird, whose powers are—well, “uniquely unimpressive” might be the kindest description. What’s equally unique about this low-budget comedy is that we never see any o The Specials use their powers, instead watching them bicker over money, relationships, and the pending release of their own action figure line. It’s an odd, inventively funny little movie summed up perfectly by its tagline: “Not as good as regular superheroes, but slightly better than you.” What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s a job, it doesn’t solve your personal problems, and not everyone gets cool powers.

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 $7.99!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Futurama, “Less than Hero” (S4, ep4). Here’s why you should always read your medication labels carefully. When Leela and Fry sooth their sore muscles with an application of Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle 006_the-new-justice-team-fry-leela-bender_by-kik0thek1llerCream, they experience some minor side effects… like superhero strength, invulnerability to attack, and lickety-speed. (Okay, not so minor. So sure me! No, wait, only sue Dr. FlimFlam, and only if you have a solid case to present.) Suddenly endowed with superhero abilities, the two take on secret identities of Clobberella and Captain Yesterday, forming the New Justice League (along with Spuer King, a.k.a., Bender — who, y’know, always had the power to prevent crime and instead chose to tolerate and occasionally commit it, but whatever). Will The New Justice League be able to stop The Zookeeper from stealing the quantum gemerald? Will their fight for justice interfere with Leela’s parents’ special trip to the surface? Will Leela’s parents recognize their daughter despite the mask that does so very, very little to obscure her identity because I mean c’mon she’s a one-eyed purple-ponytailed babe and COME ON. Will you be able to stop humming the New Justice League song? Tune in — same robot time, same robot channel — to find out.

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 $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests Mystery Men (in Comedy). A lot like The Specials, this 1999 comedy follows an inept super-team as they try to overcome their individual problems and singularly unimpressive powers to save the day. A lot broader and more scattershot than the sly Specials, Mystery Men is nonetheless a hoot, with the overqualified cast similarly bringing home their large_fDdN4LqE20rjGz1M66rKgMpJlyvcharacters’ insecurities and questionable abilities in the film’s cartoonishly weird pseudo-Gotham city setting. There’s Ben Stiller’s Mr. Furious, whose strength increases as he gets angry (in theory). Janeane Garofolo is The Bowler (she can control a bowling ball which contains her hero father’s skull.) Kel Mitchell is Invisible Boy, who claims to be invisible as long as no one is watching him. William H. Macy is hilarious as The Shoveler, a sad-sack family man who goes into battle and whacks people with a shovel. Wes Studi is mentor The Sphinx, whose powers are “very mysterious,” although someone heard once that he can cut guns in half with his mind. Hank Azaria is the Blue Raja, who dresses sort-of like a swami (in green) and is moderately adept at throwing forks at people. And Paul (Pee Wee Herman) Reubens is The Spleen, who has—sigh—weaponized flatulence. Throw in funny turns from Tom Waits as their weapon supplier, Greg Kinnear as the city’s “real hero,” the egotistical Captain Amazing, and a thoroughly, delightfully hammy Geoffrey Wright as the impeccably named villain Casanova Frankenstein. It’s a scattershot comedy, splitting time between big, goofy special effect gags and loosy-goosy improv-y verbal bits from the underplaying cast, but it’s also frequently very funny. What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s the size of your heart that counts. Oh, and also some rudimentary training and a whole lot of luck.

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 $7.99!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests Super (in Incredibly Strange). Hey, it’s James Gunn again, writing and directing this 2010 dark, dark, insane superhero comedy starring The Office’s Rainn Wilson. Wilson plays a poor shlub of a guy who goes nuts when his improbably beautiful ex-junkie wife (Liv Tyler) is seduced and re-addicted by super-sleazy drug dealer Kevin Bacon (who’s Super-James-Gunn-2010very funny here). Suffering in impotent misery, Wilson is visited (and graphically scalped) by the voice/tentacles of God (or he’s just nuts) and sees the way to win his wife back—by dressing in a very unflattering red costume and braining evildoers with a wrench as The Crimson Bolt. Wilson’s improbably affecting, when he’s not being terrifyingly unbalanced, and, as his unwanted sidekick, the comic book-obsessed Boltie, Ellen Page brings an even more violent and bananas commitment to the crusade, culminating in an over-the-top and bloody raid on Bacon’s mansion. It’s dark—as much a character study of repressed madness as a superhero movie—but Super is also unnervingly entertaining. What it teaches us about superheroing: In the real world, dressing weird does not take the crazy out of indiscriminately bashing people who’ve annoyed you with a wrench.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law (in Animation). Before Michael Keaton, there was Birdman! Remember Birdman? Winged cartoon superhero from the beloved Hanna-Barbera stable of stiff, barely-animated superheroes? Anyone? Well, no, of course you don’t—he was a nothing. Even little kids were bored with him. Well, this bonkers animated series had the idea that, after his superheroing days were done, Birdman (first name Harvey, apparently) went to law school and started practicing superhero law, exclusively defending other famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. It’s of the spazzy, rapid-fire Adult Swim animated comedy genre, which I think is hilarious when done well (Sealab, Frisky Dingo, Archer, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and exhausting when done poorly (Squidbillies, Superjail). Thankfully, Harvey Birdman is pretty damned funny, with the ultra-square Birdman blessedly voiced by the great Gary Cole (Veep, Talladega Nights, Dodgeball) as he defends Scooby and Shaggy for being stoners, Fred Flintstone for being a Sopranos-esque crime boss, and so on. Throw in a lot of random gags, recurring catchphrases, and general absurdity—plus the voice talents of Stephen Colbert as the eyepatch-sporting head of the law firm, and Christopher Guest regular Michael Hitchcock as Mentok, psychic judge. What it teaches us about superheroing: Sometimes you need a fallback career.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror X” (S11, ep4). In “Desperately Xeeking Xena,” the X-ray machine provided by Springfield Elementary to examine children’s Halloween candy malfunctions and how, leaving Bart with the ability to stretch his limbs in a manner similar to be not legally infringing upon a certain trademarked toy figurine and Lisa with immense power and strength. Together, they’re Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, cleaning up the streets and keeping Springfield safe from weirdos. When The Collector (more commonly known as Comic Book Guy) tries to collect guest star Lucy Lawless, Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl swing into action, only to find themselves in over their heads.

>>>Dennis suggests Unbreakable (in Mystery/Thriller.) Okya, even listing this particular movie in this particular themed issue is something of a spoiler, but, well, it’s 15 years old at this point, so deal with it. The Sixth Sense gets all the praise, but I think this movie from M. Night Shyamalan and star Bruce Willis is better. Willis plays a family man who works as a security guard and, after a horrific train crash, realizes that not only was he the only survivor, but he has never been hurt, or sick, a single day in his life. It’s only when he’s contacted by a mysterious, cane-hobbled man played by Samuel L. Jackson does Willis start to examine what those facts really mean. Dark, moody, and deliberately, meticulously creepy, this nigh-unclassifiable movie is riveting and as smart about the superhero genre as any ever made. What it teaches us about superheroing: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

A-Most-Violent-Year-2014-cover-largeNew Releases this week at Videoport: A Most Violent Year (Great looking, gritty indie drama about an immigrant businessman in 1981 New York City [Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac] who seeks to keep his business afloat by any means necessary; great cast includes Jessica Chastain and Selma’s David Oyelowo), The Book Of Negroes (Wrenching miniseries follows a kidnapped African woman sold into slavery in America; starring Aunjanue Ellis, Lou Gossett, Jr. and Cuba Gooding Jr. ), The Immigrant (James Gray directed this 2013 sprawling drama about an innocent woman who comes to America at the turn of the century, only to find herself tricked into a life of servitude, until a magnetic magician looks to save her and The-Book-of-Negroes-DVDreunite her with her sister. Great cast includes Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner), The Voices (Super-dark comedy about a mild-mannered guy who may or may not be imagining that his pets are evil and telling him to kill people. When the girl of his dreams stands him up—what will his furry pals make him do? Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma the-immigrant-2013-01Arterton, and Portland’s own Ana Kendrick!), Home Sweet Hell (Professionally unlikable Kathere Heigl stars in this dark comedy about a housewife who goes murderously bananas when she discovers her husband [terminally shifty Patrick The Voices new posterWilson] is having an affair. Con: Jim Belushi’s in it. Pro: He might get horribly murdered!), The Rewrite (Hugh Grant is at it again, being all charming and stammer-y, and vaguely disreputable in this romantic drama about a struggling screenwriter who takes a job teaching screenwriting, only to find that one of his students is really good at screenwriting! And since said student is played by the lovely Marissa Tomei, can he keep both his hands and his professional jealousy to himself? Rent it 140367_orig-e1423059128373and see! ), Inside Amy Schumer- seasons 1&2 (Very funny and filthy sketch comedy series from standup comic Schumer, who’s about to get super-famous as the star of Judd Apatow’s next movie Trainwreck), To Go Viking (Documentary follows a group of young people from Philadelphia as they take part in an international, full-contact series of Viking combat d800149d2f947ad4d64f34668f8b20f6_originalcompetitions. Ever watch Vikings and think, “I’d look really good wielding a battle axe”? Then this is the documentary for you!)

inside-amy-schumer2Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.2b49bc7f2e163c8945fa71aedb90fdff

VideoReport #502

Volume DII—DII Another Day

For the Week of 3/31/15

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Netfl*x keeps having pizzas delivered to your house that you didn’t even order. 

 Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>>Andy suggests Ernest & Celestine (in the Animation section). Sufferers of seasonal depression, I have a movie to boost your spirits! Ernest & Celestine is a French animated film about the unlikely friendship between Ernest, a grumpy, street busking bear, and Celestine, an orphan mouse who is an apprentice dentist, but would prefer to be an artist. It is a simple but heartfelt, beautifully animated, and sometimes kinda weird story about art, music, friendship, and teeth. The DVD ernest_celestine_posterfeatures an excellent English language audio track featuring the voices of Forest Whitaker, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, and Nick Offerman. Besides being a sweet and heartwarming movie that might make you forget about your seasonal woes, I also recommend Ernest & Celestine for one lovely and inspired scene. Ernest the bear and Celestine the mouse, at this point in the movie [spoiler alert] established friends, are feeling cooped up in their snow covered house, so Ernest puts a hole in the snow so Celestine can paint a picture of the world outside. She paints a couple of curves on a white canvas and, voila: a snowy landscape! Then the audience is transported onto the canvas and the painted lines of the picture are accompanied by mournful music that quickly becomes joyful as Celestine’s brush introduces splashes of color to represent the season changing to spring. The scene successfully transitions us to a vibrant spring landscape and, I swear, in the span of just a couple minutes, my mindset also uplifted from gloomy winter to hopeful spring. I recommend Ernest & Celestine in the hope that you, beloved Videoport customer, have a similar experience. And, if not, well… it’s still a nice movie about a mouse and a bear.

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 $7.99!

>>>Hey independent video store heroes! Here’s your list of all the movies that Netfl*x has decided to take away from its customers for no reason whatsoever for the month of April! As ever, they are all available at Videoport, always. Because only a company that doesn’t care about you at all would just take movies away from you!

  • The Amityville Horror (1979)
  • Annie (1982)
  • The Cable Guy (1996)
  • Chalet Girl (2011)
  • Clue (1985)
  • Coneheads (1993)
  • Friday the 13th (1980)
  • Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981)
  • Friday the 13th: Part 3 (1982)
  • Friday the 13th: Part 4: The Final Chapter (1984)
  • Friday the 13th: Part 6: Jason Lives (1986)
  • Friday the 13th: Part 8: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
  • Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
  • Get Shorty (1995)
  • Good Morning, Vietnam (1987)
  • Guess Who (2005)
  • Inventing the Abbotts (1997)
  • Jane Eyre (1944)
  • Jeepers Creepers (2001)
  • Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003)
  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
  • The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
  • Les Miserables (1935)
  • Madeline (1989)
  • Miral (2011)
  • Murder by Numbers (2002)
  • Mystic Pizza (1988)
  • Mystic River (2003)
  • Pee­wee’s Big Adventure (1985)
  • Philadelphia (1993)
  • The Quick and the Dead (1995)
  • Reindeer Games (2000)
  • Sense and Sensibility (1995)
  • Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
  • Sleeping Beauty (2011)
  • Taking Lives (2004)
  • The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

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 $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests Primary Colors (in Comedy). What with Hillary Clinton about to put herself through the thoroughly undignified hellstorm that is the American election cycle, why not revisit this dramedy about a suspiciously Bill and Hillary-esque presidential candidate and his wife. Based on an initially anonymous novel (it was reporter Joe Klein), the movie should be a broadly mean-spirited affair, what with the candidate eating donuts and sleeping around and all, but the film (from director Mike Nichols) is both much more thoughtful and nuanced than you’d expect, especially since Governeor Jack Stanton is played by John Travolta. But, honestly, it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen the guy do—a consummate politician, Travolta’s Stanton is both clumsily weak in his personal life and remarkably self-aware about what it takes to actually become president. And, as the Hillary of the piece, the great Emma Thompson is, well, great, her American accent the least of her accomplishments. Her Susan Stanton, too, is unexpectedly poignant in her willingness to make the sacrifices necessary for her and her husband’s ultimate goal. Along with Travolta and Thompson, there’s an absurdly stellar supporting cast, too, with British actor Adrian Lester playing American as the George Stephanopoulos-like advisor, losing his innocence as the film goes on, Billy Bob Thornton (think James Carville) as the wily, garrulous Southern campaign manager, and a heartbreaking Kathy Bates, as the longtime operative and Stanton friend who puts her mental problems and disillusionment in the process on hold to “bust dust” as the campaign’s fixer. Coming from such dubious source, Primary Colors the movie is something like a funny American tragedy, just in time for election season to ramp up the shrill, childish, soul-sucking nonsense once again.

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 $7.99!                                        

>>>Dennis suggests Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War On Journalism (in Documentary). With Jon Stewart leaving The outfoxed-rupert-murdochs-war-on-journalism-movie-poster-2004-1020227487Daily Show, it’s time for the rest of us to keep up the mockery of the mockery of journalism that is Fox News, so what better way than by renting this infuriating documentary outlining how a “news” channel tyrannically run by a right wing billionaire plutocrat panders to the darkest, most shameful prejudices of white America all the while call itself “fair and balanced.” The thing the movie does so deftly is make the case that even a conservative (assuming he/she has a conscience) should be ashamed at how shamelessly Fox News employs intellectual dishonesty to further racist, sexist, homophobic, poor-hating ideas in the guise of “saying what everyone’s really thinking.” (Just a note: no one who has ever said that has then said anything I have ever thought, ever.) Be a conservative if that’s your thing, but be intellectually honest about it. (What The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, and John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight have always done so brilliantly is to highlight hypocrisy, which is Fox News’ only strategy to whip up the worst instincts of its viewing audience.) Murdoch—the closest we have to a real life Montgomery Burns, minus the sense of humor—is a rich a-hole pretending to speak for poor, frustrated (white) America, which is a dishearteningly neat trick. And so he created a network which essentially gives unfettered access to the airwaves to the sort of bigoted, narcissistic loudmouths everyone rolls their eyes at when they’re ranting in public. Rent Outfoxed—as Monty Burns might say, it’ll angry up the blood. (Fun fact about “fairness and balance”: Murdoch’s many newspapers wouldn’t run any advertising for the movie. Because that’s how intellectual courage works.)

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!   

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Haywire (in Mystery/Thriller). When director Steven Soderbergh decides to make a straightforward action movie, the results deliver everything you could really want and a few fringe benefits as well. In this tale of an ass-kicking female spy kicking her way up the espionage ladder after a double-cross, Soderbergh is both restrained and inventive, not throwing in anything you wouldn’t see in a standard action flick of the type while applying a sure hand to every aspect of the proceedings. Casting mixed martial arts fighter/non-actress Gina Carano as his leading lady is a risky move that pays off—Carano doesn’t look or sound like and actress, but Soderbergh and screenwriter Lem Dobbs (Soderbergh’s The Limey) wisely makes her character a no-nonsense woman of few words, and lets her do what they really brought her there to do—destroy dudes. There’s a crisp professionalism to the film, as expected from Soderbergh, and he employs a nicely incongruous 70s-style funk score at times during the chases, but the fight scenes are all silence and thudding sounds, and gasps of pain, with Carano very convincingly running roughshod over some of Hollywood’s leading action heroes. (No spoilers, but the cast includes the likes of Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Channing Tatum.) Unlike the choreographed haymaker-fests of your Stallones, your Schwarzeneggers, and the like, these scenes are ruthlessly efficient, the brutally businesslike actions of people who kill other people for a living and who are fighting for their lives with ever move. Haywire makes me hope that Soderbergh just has a master list of movie genres he wants to reinvigorate.

>>>For SundayGet some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give interstellar3you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.

>>>Emily S. Customer has a marathon suggestion for you: Mad Men (in Feature Drama!) The final half-season of Mad Men starts on Sunday, which means you jussssssst enough time to shotgun the first six-and-a-half seasons if you start right now and take minimal breaks for sustenance and rest. Knock ‘em back! No time for ruminations on the subtlety of masterful narrative! Don’t dilly-dally around wondering how the Emmy voters have so often overlooked the sensitive portrayals, making sometimes unsympathetic characters so affecting and even endearing! Start now and get through all 85 episodes just in time!

New Releases this week at Videoport: Interstellar (Inception’s Christopher Nolan The-Imitation-Game-Final-Postergoes even more sci-fi with this visual spectacle about Matthew McConaughey setting off on a last-ditch effort to find another world to save a humanity dying off due to a global drought/global warming situation), The Imitation Game (Everyone’s boyfriend Benedict Cumberbach stars as legendary, legendarily screwed-over mathematician Alan Turing who, after basically winning World War II by cracking the German codes, was persecuted into infamy because he was gay. Classy move, British government.), WildMonster High Haunted (It’s for kids! A spooky girl goes back to find out why her old high school is being haunted. All I know is it involves veep-3deg-temporada_t85427_jpg_210x312_crop_upscale_q90something called “boogey sand,” take that as you will), Wild (Reese Witherspoon stars in this adaptation of the memoir by a woman who undertook a thousand mile solo hike to work out some things after a tragedy), Veep- season 3 (Julie Louis-Dreyfus returns in this stellar HBO comedy series about Selina Meyer, a career-minded Outcast_Poster-27x39-OL-01-708x1024politician stuck in the most meaningless political position of all—Vice President of the United States. Great supporting cast and consistently smart, mean spirited writing from creator Armando Iannucci, who also did the excellent British series The Thick Of It [available in the British Comedy section, of course]), Outcast (Nicholas Cage dons his hair extensions and leather once again, this time playing a warrior helping a Chinese warlord fight his silicon-valley-poster-hboevil brother. Why is Cage [and Hayden Christensen, of all people] fighting in ancient China? These are questions you just shouldn’t ask…), Silicon Valley- season 1 (Another excellent HBO comedy series, this time from Mike Judge [Office Space, Idiocracy] about a gaggle of computer geeks attempting to become the software moguls they feel themselves destined to be. Great cast, including Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani,T.J. Miller, and the late Christopher Evan Welch), NTSF:SD:SUV- ntsf_sd_suv_paul_shipperseason 1 (Paul Scheer [The League, Human Giant] stars in this very funny/bonkers parody of police procedural/terrorism TV shows. By the way, he title stands for National Terrorism Strike Force: San Diego: Sport Utility Vehicle)

 special-id-2013-01New Arrivals On Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Special ID (Marital arts legend Donnie Yen [Hero, IP Man] stars in this over-the-top Chinese action flick about a cop going undercover in the criminal underworld only to face off with his former friend/protégé)

VideoReport #501

Volume DI— Di, Monster, Di

For the Week of 3/24/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. That’s one, small, good thing you can count on every day.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>> Andy suggests All Good Things (in Mystery/Thriller). I hadn’t heard anything positive about this movie, and only all_good_things_posterrented it because of the connection to HBO’s documentary miniseries The Jinx, which is getting rave reviews and making headlines. Frankly, I was just glad the subject, Robert Durst, was not related to Fred Durst from Limp Bizkit. That would have been a deal breaker for me. Several years before The Jinx, that show’s director, Andrew Jarecki, brought his considerable filmmaking skills to All Good Things, a barely fictionalized version of Robert Durst’s crimes. And it’s pretty good! First of all, Ryan Gosling (as “David Marks”) and Kirsten Dunst (as his [spoiler alert] doomed wife) are compelling actors to watch, though the screen is often hijacked by the supporting cast of your flippin’ dreams: Frank Langella, Philip Baker Hall, Nick Offerman (everyone’s favorite Ron Swanson), Kristen Wiig, and Trini Alvarado (anyone remember her in The Frighteners? I do!). If you’ve read a synopsis of The Jinx or read one of the headlines about Durst’s confession, I’m sure you know the story. The surprising thing, to me, about All Good Things is how Jarecki chooses to tell this story. I would expect he would use a narrative film to attempt to delve deeper into Durst’s psyche. But, as played by Gosling, whenever we expect to peer through a window into David Marks’ mind, that window promptly shuts. There doesn’t seem to be anything there. We never see his psychological wounds; we only see the scar tissue. I think Andrew Jarecki enjoys not being able to fully explain a character, even in a fiction film, where he could explain away to his heart’s content! But Jarecki’s craftsmanship is apparent. He uses the artifice of a non-documentary (even when he’s mimicking “real” home movie footage) as just another reason to distrust what we are seeing on the screen. There’s a scene in the movie that is repeated several times. There’s a man on a foggy bridge at night. These are beautifully staged shots, with that artificial nighttime look that clearly doesn’t look real, but we recognize it as what nighttime looks like in movies. The man throws black trash bags full of what we assume is body parts off the bridge into the water below. The same scene is shown at different points during the film. Each time we think we know what’s going on, but only after our minds make some leaps. Now that it’s over, I wonder… when does this scene happen? Where is the bridge? Whose body is it? I think Jarecki enjoys not knowing.

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 $7.99!

>>>Dennis suggests A Face In The Crowd (in Classics.) What with Tea Party dipstick Ted Cruz entering the 2016 presidential race, thus officially kicking off another soul-crushing election cycle, why not rent this 1957 political parable about a pseudo-folksy southern singer-turned-political candidate. The great Patricia Neal plays the political operative who discovers the bumpkin-y Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes and turns him into a “straight-talking, outsider” politician only to see him embrace his conservative ideals to a monstrous extent, stoking his own ego on the adulation of the easily-manipulated masses who fall under the sway of his manufactured right-wing sloganeering. Why am I bringing this up now, when Fox News is juust ramping up their ludicrously biased political coverage on behalf of the fringe conservative candidates hand-chosen by their plutocratic corporate overlords? No reason.

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 $7.99!  

>>>Dennis suggests UHF (in Comedy). From a recent oral history of this cult classic comedy from Weird Al Yankovic, here’s Weird Al: I got pretty pumped up, thinking that I was going to be a movie star for a brief period of time. That was certainly the way Orion was positioning it. They said that I was going to be their new Woody Allen. They were looking forward to a long career with me. Well, that didn’t happen, but Weird Al’s still cool, and this movie’s still very, very silly fun.

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 $7.99!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests Banshee (in Mystery/Thriller.) Gone are the days when Cinemax was just HBO’s gleefully sleazy little brother-in-law, peddling endless Shannon Tweed erotic thrillers and British 1970s soft core skin flicks. (Not making a value judgment here, just sayin’.) Nope, with the third season of this Cinemax original series wrapping up on TV last week, the banshee-season-2-bannerformer “Skinemax” is now a mid-major player in cable television programming. (I hear their Strike Back [in Videoport’s Action section] is pretty good, too.) Not that there’s not a generous dollop of gratuitousness in Banshee—it’s just that the show’s undeniably copious sex and violence is all surrounded by a genuinely solid, even stirring show, one where genre clichés are spun, twisted, then punched in the face repeatedly. The plot is patently ludicrous—mysterious, compactly hunky stranger (Australian Anthony Hood, doing one of those perfectly nondescript American accents that all Aussies and Brits are getting so good at) who arrives in the small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania, only to walk into the middle of a gunfight between some jerks and the newly-arrived new Banshee sheriff. The sheriff—named Lucas Hood—is killed, along with the jerks, and, since no one has met the sheriff yet, the (always-unnamed) stranger takes his place with the help of former boxer, ex-con, and barkeep Sugar (good ol’ Frankie Faison from The Wire, Do The Right Thing, and Silence Of The Lambs) and the stranger’s old frenemy Job (the outstanding Hoon Lee), a world class computer hacker and transvestite ass-kicker. See, he’s in town to find the woman who got away (sort of—I’m not going to spoil anything), now a happily married mother of two. Oh, and the town is in Amish country and is run by the corrupt former Amish meat packing millionaire Kai Proctor (the icily brilliant Ulrich Thomsen from In A Better World). And there’s an army base, run by a corrupt colonel. And there’s an Indian reservation, ruled through fear by a Native American gang run by the absurdly huge and fearsome Chayton Littlestone (the formidable and ridiculously sonorous Geno Segers). Oh, and the stranger’s past comes back to haunt him in the form of gloweringly evil Ukrainian gangster Rabbit (Chariots Of Fire’s Ben Cross, sounding more like a vampire than ever), who has a secret connection to that woman Hood (we’ll call the stranger Hood from now on) has come to see (Ivana Milicevic). It’s all over-the-top nonsense, but then again so are most thriller action series. What’s great about Banshee is, well, several things. One, the acting is outstanding: Starr’s Hood is of the “grim man of few words” ilk, but the actor has a boyish soulful thing going on that’s very affecting, and he’s as formidable in the show’s many, many fight scenes as anyone in recent TV history. It’s not that he’s a martial arts master—his moves are more MMA than kung fu—it’s that he, and literally everyone else on the show is utterly convincing in what they do. (Milicevic is as—or even more—formidable in the fight scenes. Honestly, she’s the best action heroine on TV right now.) The actors are all great at playing the drama completely real and straight in the midst of all the carnage (and the frequent sex scenes—it is still Cinemax, after all). What Banshee does is to craft compelling, human drama from the most lurid ingredients of pulp. (For a more extensive—and coherent—account of Banshee’s goodness, check out the great Les Chappell’s episodic reviews at the AVClub.com).

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!      

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Ratcatcher (in the Criterion Collection). To watch a film by Lynne Ramsay is a sensory experience comparable to opening the closet door of an old, deserted house and having an entire childhood – that includes both the incredible highs and the intense lows – 600full-ratcatcher-postertumble out onto the viewer. These are more like spells than they are films at times, though the filmmaker nonetheless always has great insight in regards to the mad world of men, women, and children. Especially the latter. Ratcatcher is a prime example of an artist in full control of her craft from the very beginning; just an exceptionally assured and dramatically arresting debut that displays mastery of tone, form, and essential humanism. Ramsay finds an unlikely protagonist in a guilt-stricken young boy living in Glasgow during the garbage strike of the early 1970’s – immediately, the director lets us into his world, and I expect it isn’t all that different from her own, and we feel everything. His pain, his passion, his (possibly misguided) hope for a better tomorrow. The film is grim but hardly a slog because it adopts a POV that is suitably more innocent than cynical, thanks to its main character, and also because it’s just damn fine aesthetically. Ramsay gets that everything is heightened for a child, so in representing the kid’s worldview, we get a totally immersive soundscape as well as imagery that is so simple yet so poetic. A beautiful film, and one of the few that hits the nail on the head as far as seeing the universal truth in one’s youth.

>>>For Sunday, Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.

hobbit_the_battle_of_the_five_armies_bilbo_posterNew Releases this week at Videoport: The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies (At long, long, [long] last, the over-extended epic of the unassuming original Hobbit comes to an end with this action-packed, CGI-heavy final chapter. At least the great Martin Freeman has another MV5BMTY4MzQ4OTY3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjM5MDI3MjE@._V1_SX640_SY720_chance to show that he was the perfect Bilbo Baggins, and now maybe Peter Jackson can get back to doing weird, cool stuff he actually cares about), Into The Woods (Star-sprinkled musical adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical promises people singing who are not know for their singing, Johnny Depp in another funny costume, and Meryl Streep doing her thing), Unbroken (Angelina Jolie directs this true-life biopic about Louis Zamperini, the juvenile delinquent-turned-soldier-turned POW-turned Olympic champion runner. Seriously, with this guy’s actual life out there, I can’t believe it’s taken so long for someone to make this movie), Wolf Cop (He’s a wolfman cop! What do I have to do, make you a roadmap? Rent it in the Incredibly Strange section unbroken__2014__by_myrmorko-d78zol0already.), Sebastian Bergman: Dark Secrets (You know how you love Wallander? We’ll here’s another dour Scandinavian detective series, this time with a dour police psychologist solving shadowy crimes), Song One (Anna Hathaway stars in this music-heavy drama about a young woman who comes back to New York when her musician brother gets into an accident, only to fall for his hunky bandmate on anWolf-Cop-Official-movie-poster indie-rock tour of the city), Low Down (Great character actor John Hawkes [Deadwood, The Sessions, Winter’s Bone] stars as real life jazz great Joe Albany in this biopic about the musician’s troubled life. Based on a memoir by Albany’s daughter, here played by the always-interesting Elle Fanning [Somewhere]), The Red Tent (Big religious miniseries about the troubled history of the twelve tribes of Israel told through the eyes of Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Based on the novel by Anita Diamant, an starring the likes of Morena Baccarin, Minnie Driver, and Debra Winger), The Last Of Robin Hood (Another tale of an aging actor’s 114035-sebastian-bergman-0-230-0-341-cropinappropriate attraction to a much younger woman, only this time it’s real! Kevin Kline plays the late-career Errol Flynn’s scandalous affair with the 15 year old starlet Beverley Aadland. Yup, 15. Dakota Fanning stars as the jailbait, while Susan Sarandon is more age-appropriate), Outlander- season 1 (Sexy adventures in 18th century Scotland! When a WWII combat nurse is inexplicably sent back in time to 1743 Scotland where she gets caught up in song_one_movie_poster_1various kilt-y intrigues and romances), Life Partners (Community’s Gillian Jacobs and Leighton Meester star in this female-friendship comedy about a pair of lifelong pals whose bond is threatened when one falls in love with Adam Brody), Ask Me Anything (When a sexy young woman spends her year before college making a blog chronicling all of her sexual exploits with a variety of men, things get out of hand; starring Britt Robertson as the lass, and the likes of low-down-posterChristian Slater, Justin Long, and Martin Sheen as some of the chronicled)

New Arrivals This Week at Videoport: Alex In Wonderland (In this 1970 movie from the late director Paul Mazursky [Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, Down & Out In Beverly Hills], Donald Sutherland plays a boy wonder director struggling to find a subject the follow-up to his first successful movie. It’s like a MPW-44745Hollywood version of 8 ½, and Federico Fellini actually shows up at one point, a movie director’s exploration of his own creative process, with the always-interesting Sutherland at the peak of his leading man fame. ), The Accountant (In this short film, which won an Oscar for best live action shot in 2002, an unconventional accountant finds a series of increasingly bizarre ways to bail out a failing family farm. Starring, written, and directed by character actor Ray McKinnon [Deadwood], who also created the stunningly good drama Rectify, which lives in the Drama section at Videoport, and which you should MV5BMjA4NTM5Mzk5MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODYzMDU2Mw@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_watch right now. Seriously. )

 

New Arrivals On Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Top Five

Published in: on March 23, 2015 at 11:23 am  Leave a Comment  
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