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!
>>>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 movies 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 makes 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 completely 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.
New 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 neither 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 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 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 with 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 and 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 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 young 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, really 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)
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