Volume CCVII- This Time, It’s Impersonal
For the Week of 8/4/09
Videoport is the best, damned movie store in the world, and it’s right in your backyard. Lucky? Yeah, yeah you are…
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.) >>>Former Videoporter Jeremy* suggests The Mist (in Horror). I wanna talk to you about The Mist for a second. This movie made eight cents, no one ever talks about it; it really might as well be a poop. But you should pick this poop up and watch it, especially if you like good old-fashioned monster movies. It’s based on my favorite Stephen King short story, and I like it because it doesn’t try to tackle anything too heavy for its own good. Yeah, there’s what’s-her-face yelling at people about Jesus, but she’s just a cartoon bad guy really. This is just a bunch of townsfolk trapped in a store under attack by gross bird-dinosaur-bug things. The monsters are cheesy-looking in a nice fashion that doesn’t look all computerized and fake. I mean, they do indeed look fake, but a real kind of fake, if you see what I’m saying. You don’t feel like you’re watching your roommate play Xbox. And I realize that Thomas Jane is the blandest son of a bitch ever to fail to entertain millions (although I hear that new show about him having a big dink isn’t too bad), but he’s competent enough at yelling and pointing at flying vulture-pig-bugs. It seems plausible that he could have a bright career ahead of him portraying men who sternly advise people not to exit grocery stores. There’s also some good supporting work from underappreciated types like Bill Sadler and Toby…hold on, I gotta check IMDb…Jones, and aside from a boring and poorly acted beginning that’s going to make you want to immediately turn it off and hurl the disc into a yawning crevasse, there’s nary a dull moment to be found. Best of all, the special edition features a black and white version, which is the way
director Frank Darabont (Shawshank) had originally wanted to release the thing in the first place, and it’s actually way more effective and appropriate-seeming. Jeremy-Bob says check it out! *Editor’s note: You know those Videoport ads in the Portland Phoenix? The one’s that make you snarf your coffee out your nose and are, quite honestly, usually the best piece of writing in each issue? Well Jeremy writes those. So you should check out his blog ‘Vaguely Unpleasant’ at http://www.butthorn.wordpress.com where he holds forth on, in no particular order, movies, breakfast, yard sales, bologna, video games, and pretty much anything that drifts in front of his attention- it really doesn’t matter what he’s writing about, because he’s the funniest sumbich in town.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.) >>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Frenzy (in Mystery/Thriller, but it’s Hitchcock, so we’ll call it a Classic for today). <em>Frenzy</em> is modish, grotesque, and candidly perverse, lingering over the grisly details of a serial rapist-murderer stalking London’s market district… and turns the horror into a winking black comedy. The whole enterprise feels as if Hitchcock took notes from Roman Polanski in an attempt to update his tone, right down to his leading man: the irascible and passionate Jon Finch, Polanski’s <em>Macbeth</em>. It’s a fascinating failure — Hitch doesn’t get inside the revulsion the way Polanksi would, so the film both panders to the most depraved impulses of the audience and clucks its tongue in disapproval.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.) >>>Dennis suggests Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America (in Foreign Language). Miss Hoover: “Just put your head down on your desk and go to sleep Ralph.” Ralph Wiggum: “Sleep, yay! That’s where I’m a Viking!” Vikings! If there’s one way to get me to watch your movie, throw a couple o’ Vikings in there. I even watched Outlander recently. And this indie adventure drama has exactly a couple of Vikings, a pair of scouts left behind after their expedition sails off after getting into one of those Viking-style disagreements with the Native Americans, so that’s good. What’s both good and bad about this one is that it is absolutely bananas as well. Shot on digital video in the woods of Maine, New Hampshire and Newfoundland, this movie is perhaps oddest, most mixed up mishmash of good and bad ideas I’ve seen in a long while. On the one hand, the filmmakers use the rough, sparse, economical DIY shooting style to evoke a very authentic-seeming*, and plausibly-raw world for the main characters to trudge around in; when you want to make a movie about two guys walking around in the woods a thousand years ago, this is the way to do it. The two lead actors are also well used: largely silent (apart from some dubbed and colloquially-subtitled Old Norse [“If we stay here, we’re toast” ?!?]), and suitably unkempt and burly, our two Viking pals are like a medieval Jay and Silent Bob, except, you know, more prone to hairtrigger violence. Their dynamic is pretty well developed for such a profoundly silly (in many ways) movie, with the two actors building pretty believable characters through largely nonverbal means; if I ever met a Viking, I could imagine him behaving this way, you know, before he cleaved my head in twain and such. The beardless one (let’s call him ‘Jay’) is the more aggressive and, well, gross; he looks like the mean, stoner kid who grew too fast in junior high and is looking for someone to wedgie (or, in this case, cleave), and the
movie takes great care to watch his suiatably-Viking-y eating, animal-killing, and, yes, pooping habits with unadorned gusto. His beardy pal (‘Silent Bob’ in this metaphor) is, in addition to being even more silent, the sensitive one (as far as Vikings go), with sad, thoughtful eyes. It’s he who strikes up a tentative friendship with the Christian missionary he thoughtfully doesn’t slaughter (Jay takes care of his like he’s swatting a fly), and seems poised to become something like a sensitive, not-cleaving-anything-that-moves type, at least until the fact that he’s a Viking resurfaces. Plus, for a rip-roaring Viking adventure, there’s a lot of Old Joy-esque wandering in the woods for its own sake. On the ‘bananas’ side, the film is scored with what the cover touts as ‘black metal’, but which mostly sounds like synth-y guitar noodling (except for one intertitle sequence when Jay is seen headbanging on top of a felled tree for some reason. At least three unfortunate real animals are killed, Viking-style, on screen. There’s a ‘you wish’ fanboy subplot where Jay is roofied with a gift of drugged berries and then bound and mounted by an Indian maiden. And his earlier dream sequence where his scolding wife (if you were wondering what former child star Gaby Hoffman is up to, well, wonder no more) makes fun of his Viking coxmanship. And the Viking pooping scene. Yup, all in all, Severed Ways is well worth a WTF? rental.*Of course, we’ll have to wait for anthropologist/archaeologist extraordinaire Ms. Elsa S. Customer ot watch this to get the lowdown on which Norse inaccuracies made her fall off her seat with hilarity/rage. Look for it…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.) >>> Dennis suggests taking advantage of the Thursday special (and our collective movie expertise) and taking a chance for goodness’ sake! Yeah, that’s right, I threw some italics at you there. It’s just that Videoport has the best selection of movies anywhere; I know we say that in this newsletter a lot, but, to clarify: Videoport has all the new releases (even the crappy ones which are all you can get at most chain movie stores). Videoport’s got a Classics section chock full of beloved films from before, say, last year (take that, chain stores), and lost and forgotten films starring the best actors and actresses of yesteryear. Videoport has a Foreign language section made up of thousands of films, both old and brand new, from all over the world; from expected classic directors like Fellini, Kurosawa, Bergman, Godard, et al, to the most obscure and overlooked films from the most obscure and overlooked corners of the world. Videoport’s got an ‘Incredibly Strange Films’ section, where
we collect things that don’t, can’t, and shouldn’t fit in any other section of the store (or any store); cult films, sleaze classics, unclassifiable art films, unreleaseable crap- we’ve got it all. And proudly. And, here’s another thing, we’ve seen all these movies! And we love to talk about them. So, like I said…why not take a chance and rent something you’ve never heard of, never seen, or never thought, in your wildest dreams, of taking home. We’ll help, we love to help. And Thursday is the best day of the week to take that chance, since, when you rent one movie, you get any other movie in the history of the world for free! So c’mon…take a chance…we’re here to help.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary). >>> Dennis suggests taking advantage of Videoport’s
eccentric Kids Section selections! Yup, you can find the original The Bad News Bears in there (swears, smoking, beer, and all), along with all the Superman movies (and the atrocious Supergirl), the Errol Flynn Adventures of Robin Hood, the classic Thief of
Baghdad, the original Around the World in 80 Days, and other weird, inappropriate stuff…if you know where to look for it.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.) >>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’ (in Comedy). Who can turn the world on with her smile? Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well, it’s this DVD, girl, and you should know it. With each scene and every menu screen, you show it. Love is all around, no need to waste it. You can watch this show, why don’t you take it? You’re going rent it after aaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllll. (Doooodllllle dooo dooo do do do duh do doo, tweeeeee!)
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests No Country for Old Men (in Mystery/Thriller). Simply put, it’s a masterpiece: terse, taut, and magnetic. The Coen Brothers’ adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel manages to capture the avid tension of the narrative and the seeming contradiction of its great emptiness: the emptiness of the landscape, the emptiness of a killer’s soul, the vast, hopeless emptiness residing in a sack of cash. The Coens recognized the importance of the novel’s space, and the film reflects that — it paces out its moments carefully, many of them without dialogue, without music, without action. No Country resonates like a well-built drum. Despite excellent, tightly contained performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin, when I think of the film, I only see Javier Bardem as Anton Chirgurh. You can’t look away from him, any more than you’d look away from a rattlesnake that appeared in your campground.
New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘Flight of the Conchords’- season 2 (Brett and Jemaine are back! New Zealand’s greatest comedy/folk/rock duo is back with ten more episodes of their hilariously-tuneful HBO series!), Obsessed
(and the post-’The Wire’ letdown begins, for Idris Elba this time, starring as a happily married man stalked all sexy-like by his assistant; Stringer Bell deserves better than costarring with the marginally-talented (Beyonce Knowles) and the untalented (Ali Larter)), Race to Witch Mountain (Dwayne ‘Call Me ‘The Rock’ One More Time and I’ll Pile Drive Your Spleen’ Johnson does himself absolutely no favors in this Disney remake about some spooky kids), The Soloist (Robert Downey Jr. and Jamie Foxx bring their Oscar cred to this real-life tale of a mentally-ill former classical music prodigy and the enterprising reporter who decides to tell his story), The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (based on Michael Chabon’s first novel, this coming-of-age story stars Sienna Miller and Peter Sarsgaard; Miller got in trouble for referring to the titular city as ‘Sh*ttsburgh’, which did not endear the filmmakers to the Iron City), Mutant Chronicles (John Malkovich, Ron Perlman, and Thomas Jane take on the titular genetic abnormalities in this underreleased action flick), Pontypool (Canadian cult director Bruce McDonald [Highway 61, Hard Core Logo] brings us this tale of a washed up shock jock [Watchmen’s Stephen McHattie] holed up in an abandoned radio station broadcasting about the virus outside that’s turning people into zombies!!!), Paris (Juliette Binoche costars in this story of a male dancer who, discovering he’s dying, has one of those epiphanies you read about), End of the Line (a young nurse finds her subway train stranded in a tunnel…creepy. And, oh yeah, everyone starts getting murdered…did I forget to mention that?), ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’- season 3 (love ‘em, hate ‘em, or be utterly nonplussed by ‘em, Tim and Eric are back with more indescribable weirdness), ‘Project Runway’- season 5 (once again, people compete to make the prettiest clothes in all the land…), Doctor Who 2009: Planet of the Dead (say goodbye to David Tennant’s Doctor with this TV movie), ‘Torchwood’- season 3 (the saucy Doctor Who spinoff is back as well!), Delgo (widely-ignored animated adventure film features the voices of Freddy Prinze, Jr., Val Kilmer, Burt Reynolds, Michael Clark Duncan, etc, etc).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Far North (two beautiful women living alone in the Arctic tundra find their simple life turned all upside down and such when a hunky wounded soldier shows up; starring Sean Bean and the ever-awesome Michelle Yeoh), Crashing (the always-dependable Campbell Scott stars as a writer, down on his luck, who is taken in by a pair of adoring female fans; sounds a lot more comfy than tundra, I’ll tell you that for free), ‘Star-ving’- season 1 (remember the annoying son from ‘Married With Children’? Well, he’s got a faux reality show sitcom now about being a washed up former child star. And this is it.), ‘The Judy Garland Show’- season 1 (singing, dancing, maybe a little crying…enjoy), The State I Am In (a teenage girl tries to come to grips with her parents being terrorists on the lam; sort of a German ‘Running on Empty’).
Next week: The VideoReport will exist! We’re almost certain! There may be something about movies in it!