Volume CCVI- Mission Immothrable
For the Week of 7/28/09
Videoport will give you a free movie every day, see if we don’t…
Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests ‘The State’- The Complete Series (in Incredibly Strange). Sure, I reviewed this early-90s sketch comedy show (at excessive length) last week, but, yeah, I’m doing it again. So sue me. Or, better yet, review something yourself for the VideoReport, and you won’t have to listen to me at all. Anyhoo, I was pleased to note that this show, long-unavailable and thus legendary in my memory, holds up really well. Videoport’s got all four seasons, plus a fifth, bonus disc, and you should rent them all…about right now. Unless you don’t like to laugh. In which case, might I direct you to ‘In Living Color’ or ‘Mad TV’ in the Comedy section, which are each examples of the sketch comedy form gone hideously, dispiritedly wrong. ‘The State’, on the other hand, joins ‘The Upright Citizens Brigade’, ‘Mr. Show’, Monty Python’, ‘The Kids In the Hall’, ‘A Bit of Fry and Laurie’, ‘Chappelle’s Show’, and fully 57% of ‘Saturday Night Live’ in the sketch comedy hall of fame. And, since I’m wasting your time already, here’s my list of the Top Eleven The State Sketches:
1. The Barry Lutz Show (aka Monkey Torture)
2. The Bearded Men of Space Station 11
3. Cerealist Commercial (season 1, episode 2)
5. $240 Worth of Pudding
6. The Personal State (season 3, episode 6)
7. Cutlery Barn
8. Prison Break
9. The first Doug sketch
10. Race (season 4, episode 1)
11. (my dark horse pick) Where’s the Mousey?
And, again, I’m not even mentioning Porcupine Racetrack…
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests Suddenly (in Classics). Star Frank Sinatra (lazy actor, mafia enthusiast,all-around boor, decent singer) reportedly disapproved of this 1954 thriller so much that he attempted to have it withdrawn from circulation until after his death. Strangely, it’s not because the movie is about the scumbaggery of the Mafia (they do not appear), but because of it’s presidential assassination plot and the rumor that Lee Harvey Oswald viewed the film before he, well assassinated a president. (How did he see it in 1963 anyway?) If true, Sinatra’s vendetta against the movie was a disservice to his reputation, as Suddenly is a taut, scruffy little thriller, with Sinatra and Sterling Hayden effectively playing dueling tough guys in a tale of three bad guys (led by ol’ blue eyes) who commandeer a remote (but excellent vantage point-y) home in order to pick off the Prez as he gets off a train in the titular sleepy town. Sure, things start off in a very 50s funk, with the requisite cute little boy, his spunky ex-Secret Service grandpa, and his widowed, pacifist, worrywart mom (with the requisite immobile hair and sweater-enhanced boobs) squabbling about mom’s unwillingness to let Jr. play with guns, watch war movies, or do anything manly, and her equal unwillingness to succumb to the bluff, rawhide charms of pal sheriff Sterling Hayden. (My favorite bit of 50s dialogue has the crabby grandpa delivering her a scolding civics lesson about the need to train the youngster to prepare to fight [and proudly die] for American freedom, and, I swear to god, tell her “Oh, just stop being a woman!”) But things pick up nicely as the tensions build, Desperate Hours-style in the house and the president’s train approaches. Sinatra’s got a nice, no-nonsense tough-guy menace going on (he actually seems to be paying attention and not thinking about his tee time for a change), but it’s the ever-reliable Hayden that makes the movie. Man, do I love watching Sterling Hayden. Here, as in other great movies such as Dr. Strangelove, Johnny Guitar, The Killing, The Asphalt Jungle, The Godfather, and The Long Goodbye, big Sterling, with his strapping, untoned, Irish bulk and that impossibly booming, froggy, foghorn (froghorn?) voice, he always seems to be lumbering right up to the edge of he-man self parody. But there’s something so un-actorly about his every sweeping, manly gesture and word that damned if you don’t believe him all the way. It’s like he’s always about one step away from giving up acting altogether as something too sissy but, before he does, he figures he might as well do the job he was hired to do as well as possible. He and Sinatra make a compelling pair of nemeses, even if Hayden could clearly break wee Frankie in half in real life. Bonus 50s fun! Watch how the residents of Suddenly cheerfully allow their town to be essentially thrown into martial law by the secret service just because the president is coming through to go fishing in the mountains!
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests Role Models (in Comedy). Speaking of ‘The State’ (see Monday), this amiably-silly comedy was the big coming-out party from former Statie David Wain. While not as utterly, berzerkly-brilliant as Wain’s first two movies Wet Hot American Summer and The Ten, Role Models made about ten times as much money as those films, and isn’t that what’s really important? Really? Anyway, this one’s far, far from bad, with Paul Rudd commanding the screen with his signature, low-key comic charisma as one of a pair of slackery types railroaded into mentoring some wacky kids as part of a criminal sentence. Sure, it’s a lot more formula that his previous films, but it’ll keep you laughing all the way through, is 23% weirder than the average Hollywood comedy, and has some nice, funny supporting work from Jane Lynch, McLovin, funny child homunculus Bobb’e J. Thompson, Ken Jeong, the Upright Citizens Brigade’s Matt Walsh, A.D. Miles, and fellow State alums Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino, and Joe Lo Truglio. Even Stifler isn’t bad. Wanna laugh? Watch this.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Regan suggests Shoot the Moon (in Feature Drama). Hubba hubba Peter Weller. And eat s**t Albert Finney. If I were Faith (played by Diane Keaton), I would have Frank (Peter Weller) stick George (s**thead) in that tennis court, bury him good, and play ball! Or whatever you call a tennis match. Bop it? Oh man! Bob Seger! I laughed out loud one time. When the little girls are playing tennis with a bunch of so-and-so’s, circa 1981. Suck it Kramer vs. Kramer! Shoot the Moon!
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> An Anonymous Videoport Customer* suggests The Goonies. I’m no shrink, but I recall reading somewhere that young children find comfort in repetition. I’m sure we all have noticed that every episode of Mister Rodgers’ Neighborhood opens in the exact same way. This may explain why as a child in kindergarten and first grade, I would watch The Goonies every day, sometimes multiple times a day. It was an old VHS bootleg my parents taped off HBO that about twelve years ago I spent an entire afternoon looking for but never found. So, when the film was published on DVD in 2001 I immediately purchased a copy purely for nostalgic reasons. After viewing this childhood relic so many years since my childhood, a couple of things struck me. The first is that, unlike so many movies and TV shows from my youth, this film is actually good. If most people could chisel the rose-colored glasses from their faces, they would realize that cartoons like GI Joe, Transformers, and Voltron **are truly horrible. The plot is absorbing and proceeds at a brisk pace. The characters are genuine, devoid of the idealized innocence that so many young characters seem to have, and well acted. The Goonies is a film I would describe as a “family film’, and not intend it to be taken derisively. Children will enjoy it and parents won’t feel as though their intelligence is being insulted. The other thing I noticed was that The Goonies has aged well. So many films made in the 1980s have those fashions, hair styles, and slang terms we all enjoy snickering at. Apart from a Cindy Lauper song, Corey Feldman’s Members Only jacket, and some Asian stereotypes that seem to be a staple of 80s cinema, The Goonies largely avoids that pitfall. PS: My mother was shocked when I pointed out to her that Josh Brolin, who played Brandon in The Goonies, also played Llewelyn Moss in No Country for Old Men.
*Editor’s note: don’t know if this customer was all excited about the “anonymous” idea of not, it’s just that he/she neglected to put his/her namer on his/her review! Grrr. If you’d like to send in your movie reviews (or essays, or best of/worst of lists, or, essentially, anything even remotely movie-related) to be published in the weekly VideoReport, then just drop them off at the store (with or without your name), email them to us at email@example.com, or our Myspace page www. myspace.com/videoportjones or (whew) our new movie blog http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com. Really, we’ve made it almost too easy for you…
**Editor’s note #2: Of course, that hasn’t stopped the brain-heads in Hollywood from making two truly horrible Transformers live action movies, a truly horrible-looking GI Joe movie (coming out this Summer), or even planning a live action (and certain to be horrible) Voltron movie, coming to you in 2011! Shoot me now!!
>>>Another Anonymous Videoport Customer suggests (or, actually, not) We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story, enclosing the following note in his/her return: “This movie is creepy! Why was it intended for kids?” To which we respond, “Yeah, sorry, we should have warned everyone that Larry King does a voice in there. Apologies…”
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests you send in some movie reviews, so that, not only will I not just ramble on about how great ‘The State’ is, but also so that I will not just fill this valuable movie review space with random Videoport facts like: Hey! You can buy $40 worth of store credit for only $30, and $25 worth of store credit for only $20! See…that’s the kind of shamelessly self-promoting (yet very useful and utterly true) facts you can expect unless you send us your reviews.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests Nightwatch (in Horror). I admit: I was half-hearted about renting the film, and that reluctance extended into the first half-hour of viewing. Then a sudden bit of action made something clear: though this Russian action-slash-vampire film has its flaws, it also has a serious case of the awesomes. The flaws: it’s a bit incoherent and operatically overwrought. The awesomes: an unfettered commitment to its absurd premise, whatever exactly that is, bolstered by rough and ready effects. A dark and tarnished eye turned on night in Moscow, with predictably gritty results. A self-conscious and witty quality that never quiiiiite eases into meta-text. Subtitles that make it a positive pleasure to read the dialogue; they’re stylish, playful, and their timing onscreen is perfectly attuned to the nuances of the action and tone onscreen. Nightwatch is also unglamorously bloody, smeared and spattered with the stuff in a deliberately unstylish way. You’ll have to decide whether that’s in the flaw column or the awesome column — me, I think violence should be grubby and unglamorous.
New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘Dollhouse’- season 1 (from TV god Joss Whedon [Buffy, Angel, Firefly] comes another criminally-neglected genre series smothered in its crib by FOX and a public more interested in worthless reality shows; this review brought to you by the bitterest Joss Whedon fan in the universe), ‘The Middleman’- season 1 (campy, Avengers-style series about a secret organization devoted to fighting mythical creatures; look for it in the sci fi section), Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (low budget, completely bananas, nearly-wordless, black metal-scored Viking drama about two Norseman stranded in the wilderness, and encountering hot natives, Viking-y violence, and a lack of outhouses), Fast & Furious (Vin Diesel and Paul Walker return to their career-launching franchise some four movies in; and it’s NOT because their careers are in the crapper! You hear me!?!), ‘Battlestar Galactica’- season 4.5 (some of you may have heard of this show…), Dragonball Evolution (this is based on the cartoon series, or the manga, or the video game…man, I dunno…I know it’s got the kicking, and the punching…and Chow Yun Fat and ‘Buffy’’s James Marsters are in it…I know that…), Bart Got a Room (indie comedy about a sad sack teenager, etc; perhaps worth a look for guest stars William H. Macy, ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’’s Cheryl Hines and ‘Arrested Development’’s Alia Shawkat), Big Man Japan (I desperately want to see this faux documentary about a downtrodden Japanese superhero, who can grow to enormous height, who has to battle the most bazonko collection of equally giant monsters this side of, well, Destroy All Monsters), Miss March (cited by many reviewers as the ‘worst movie that has ever existed in the history of the universe’, Videoport brings this teen sex romp about a dude waking up from a coma to find that his virginal high school girlfriend has become the titular Playboy nudist, to you!!), Acolytes (Australian horror! Some teens decide to blackmail a serial killer into killing someone for them! G’day!).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: ‘Doc Martin’- season 2 (Videoport’s British Comedy section brings you the second season about a crusty doctor, a small seaside town, and a generous helping of British preciousness), The Power of Kangwon Province (critically-revered 1998 Korean drama by equally critically-acclaimed director Sang-soo Hong [Woman Is the Future of Man, Woman on the Beach]), Machuca (Chile’s horrifying, right-wing, [US-supported] 80s dictatorship, seen through the heartbreaking eyes of two eleven year old boys), In Search of the Great Beast 666: Aleister Crowley (documentary about the most notorious chap in the history of ever: Satanist? Mountaineer? Freemason? Subject of a thousand hipster t-shirts…definitely!), An American Affair (the undeniably-dishy Gretchen Mol stars in this oddball JFK conspiracy movie/coming-of-age tale about a creepy little dude who likes to peep on his frequently-nude neighbor [Mol, thank you] while she has trysts with the prez), The Union: The Business Behind Getting High (I could go ahead and describe this documentary about the weed trade at length, but stoners are gonna rent it anyway, no matter what I say…), The Terry Jones Collection (former Monty Pythoner Jones lends his particular brand of doughy, literate, chummy humor to a variety of historical subjects in this documentary series), Angel of Death (Tarantino favorite tough girl Zoe Bell stars as a hitwoman trying to go straight in this over-the-top action flick), Day Is Done (avant garde filmmaker Mike Kelley brings this tale of a high school made up of cheerleaders, jocks, vampires, witches, skinheads and ballerinas whose only common ground is that they all worship Satan; oddly, it’s in the Incredibly Strange section), ‘Life on Mars’- season 1‘ (the BBC original series about a modern-day cop somehow transported to 1973; everyone says it’s brilliant- who are you to resist it?), Spectacular Spider Man’ (the BBC original series about a modern-day cop somehow transported to 1973; everyone says it’s brilliant- who are you to resist it?), (ill-animated adventures of everyone’s favorite web-slinger).
Next week: There’s no way we’re telling you…