Volume CCXIII- Godzilla in 60 Seconds
For the Week of 9/15/09
Videoport would like to remind you that you’ve got until 11pm on Sunday, September 20th to bring in your entries in the 4th Annual VideoReport Movie Trivia Quiz! We would also like to remind you that we give you a free movie every day. And that we have the best selection, prices and customer service in the history of the world. And that we like to brag a little bit.
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 Them (in Horror). France has become a decidedly-creepier place of late. A gang of Gallic directors have hopped on the extreme horror train in the past few years, exporting such gory shockers as High Tension (effectively-harrowing until the most infuriating cheat twist ending in recent memory), Inside (with the uber-and -ever- wiggy Beatrice Dalle terrorizing a very pregnant lady), Martyrs (perhaps the goriest, most disturbing movie since, well, ever), and others, maybe just to punish us for Euro Disney or Crocs. Them isn’t quite as gory as the rest of its Parisian pals, opting, instead, to ratchet up the suspense for most of the movie as a happy French couple renting a spooky villa somewhere in Romania find themselves under siege from some little-seen, shadowy figures with bad intentions. In a movie like this, a little effort goes a long way for me, and I appreciated that the couple was well-acted and relatively-likeable and that, confronted by an obviously-dangerous horror movie situation, they didn’t do anything too egregiously stupid (thus avoiding what Roger Ebert calls the ‘idiot plot’, where the movie would be over in fifteen minutes if everyone in it [and behind it] were not a complete idiot). There are some good scares, a nice sense of dread, and then, sadly, a ‘big reveal’ about two-thirds of the way through that deflates things pretty seriously, but it’s still a nice ride for someone looking for an above-average slice of foreign-y horror. (Oh, and take that ‘based on a true story’ claim at the beginning about as seriously as you should that of Fargo and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.)
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests you take ACTION on this CLASSIC idea (see what happens when no one gives me a Tuesday recommendation?): Send in your movie reviews, movie lists, movie essays, movie-related haiku and movie recipes (Crank cake?) to us here at the VideoReport. See, we put out one of these newsletters every week to provide the Videoport community the chance to spout off about their favorite/least favorite films and TV shows, share ideas and opinions, and just generally force their views down the throats of their fellow Videoport renters/employees/lovers. So, in order to prevent one or two (or, in this case, three) people from monopolizing the whole deal, please send your own brilliant reviews to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or our Myspace page http://www.myspace.com/videoportjones. Also, please check us out on Facebook (under ‘Videoport Jones’). And, hey, since we’re throwing web addresses around, you can read heaps of reviews, lists and articles at our blog http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests Stella- Live in Boston (in Comedy). (This, being a new release this week, isn’t eligible for the Wednesday ‘free comedy or foreign film special, but howsabout renting it along with the first disc of the TV series ‘Stella’, or any of these, highly-recommended, films directed by Stella-ites David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, and Role Models) or Michael Showalter (The Baxter) for a double feature? [Michael Ian Black also directed a movie called Wedding Daze but, well…]). Michael Showalter, David Wain, and MIchael Ian Black were members of the early-90s sketch comedy series ‘The State’ (which is hilarious, brilliant, and for rent right now in Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section) and, in addition to semi-prosperous acting and directing careers, have gotten together sporadically ever since in the form of an absurdist comic trio, plying their particular brand of comedy weirdness in a series of legendarily-loopy online ‘Stella’ short films, a short-lived Comedy Central sitcom, and onstage, and this performance, captured a few years ago in Boston. David and the two Michaels hit the stage in identical suits and, well, just basically dick around for about an hour…or so it seems! No, that’s really all it is. But in said dicking around, you’ve got three very funny guys playing around with dadaist Marx (Brothers)-ist wordplay, and an anti-comic deconstruction of standup comedy as an art form. So, like I said- dicking around. But very, very funny. The DVD also includes several episodes of the heretofore internet-only series ‘Wainy Days’ and ‘The Michael Showalter Showalter’.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests My Favorite Year (in Comedy). It’s 1954. Legendary Hollywood swashbuckler (and high-living philanderer, insatiable dipsomaniac, and all-around flamboyant gadabout) Alan Swann (Peter O’Toole, looking rough, ravaged, and deliciously salacious) agrees to appear on a popular variety show… on live TV. Uh-oh. Benjy Stone (Mark Linn-Baker), a low-echelon writer, agrees to babysit the star until broadcast, keeping him out of trouble and, if possible, sober. What follows is a romp of epic proportions as Benjy scurries after the wild but ineffably charming antics of the notorious star. Peter O’Toole is in his element here, with all his graceful lechery and aplomb at his service.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Anime Ed suggests ‘Chowder’. Well this has ben a banner year for cartoons so far: Up, Waltz With Bashir, ‘The Venture Brothers’- season 3, ‘Shiguriu’, The list goes on and on. Also Disney is putting out its first traditional animated film in god knows how long, 9 by the guy who did Nightwatch which looks great, Wes Anderson is putting out The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Miyazaki’s new one Ponyo hits our shores. And did i mention Sita Sings the Blues? Holy crap! So in honor of all this greatness I recommend a new discovery for me-‘Chowder’. This is what ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ was before it got high on itself, a truly entertaining family cartoon series that is too good for words. Very inventive, using all manner of techniques. It’s always fun and never disappoints. Watch with the little ones- a good time will be had by all. Banzai!
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 Breaking the Code (in Feature Drama). Derek Jacobi recreates his Tony-nominated turn as mathematician and cryptographer Alan Turing in this finely crafted TV biopic. A gifted cryptographer (Turing was instrumental in Allied cracking of the German Enigma Code during WWII), Turing was also a gay man at a time when homosexual contact was criminalized. Though many cinematic mathematicians are characterized as dusty old academics, Jacobi fully inhabits the role, bringing deep pathos and passion to Turing’s portrayal without ever tipping over into melodrama, though Turing’s life was rich in the dramatic events that melodrama thrives on. All in all, it’s a balanced, mournful piece, doling out in measured doses the tragedy of societally reinforced prejudice and balancing that with the delicious intensity of a gifted thinker perfectly engaged in his study. (It seems particularly fitting to honor Turing’s memory this week, with the recent news that Prime Minister Gordon Brown has issued an official apology for the government’s appalling treatment of Turing, who suffered under the homophobic mores and laws of his time. Those unfamiliar with Turing’s history may wish to avoid reading the official apology before seeing the film; Brown’s uncompromising language draws a clear line between homophobic persecution and a major event in Turing’s life.)
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests The Truman Show (in Comedy). “Reality TV” is one of the great misnomers of our time, describing a genre in which the players, the rules, the setting, and even the editing choices are as contrived as any fiction. The Truman Show takes the absurdity of reality programming as far as it will go. Truman (Jim Carrey) is an essentially kind, genial fellow who lives a life planned out down to its perfect, profitable details — though not by him. From birth, the unsuspecting Truman was raised in a simulacrum, a city-sized television studio where his life is the show, broadcast all day every day to a rapt audience. Christof (Ed Harris), the creator of “The Truman Show”*, has stage-directed literally every aspect of his daily life. At first, it seems a funny conceit, a trifle. But as The Truman Show unwinds, we start to see just how deep the artificiality of Truman’s life runs, how frantically the show’s agents (and they are everywhere) contrive to keep him contained and inhibited, and how cruel a deception they (and the happily viewing audience) are playing on their unwitting star. In this early dramatic role, Jim Carrey’s shows hints of the heartrendingly fine performance he would later deliver in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and he exhibits real grace as he balances Truman’s initial cheery contentment, his growing confusion and exhilaration, and the genuine heartbreak of his predicament.
*“The Truman Show” is The Truman Show‘s show-within-a-show. Whew, that’s fun to write!
New Releases this week at Videoport: X Men Origins: Wolverine (Hugh Jackman reveals all the mysteries behind the Marvel Comics mutant- that should make him more interesting; plus, stuff blows up real good!), Stella: Live in Boston (see Wednesday’s review for the compelling reasons to rent this comedy DVD), Trumbo (stirring documentary about the legendary, blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter), Deadgirl (two stoner idiots find the titular corpse lady tied up in an old asylum and things get very distasteful in this year’s most controversial horror film [amongst those few who have heard of it]), ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’- season 4 (the queasily-hilarious adventures of the four worst human beings in the world continue), Grace (this horror movie features a vampire baby! VAMPIRE BABY!!), Mediate and Destroy (Buddhism and punk rock come together in this documentary about author Noah Levine), Nerdcore Rising (documentary about the titular musical genre which fuses hardcore rap with love of D&D, video games, Star Wars, etc.; and, yes, Weird Al does make an appearance…), Easy Virtue (film version of the Noel Coward play stars Jessica Biel and Colin Firth), Next Day Air (violent, pretty funny comedy about a stoner delivery guy [‘Scrubs’‘ Donald Faison] and how him screwing up a delivery causes untold mayhem; also with ‘The Wire”s Wood Harris), ‘Crash’- season 1 (Dennis Hopper leads a big, diverse cast in this series spun off from the Oscar-winning film about racial tensions in LA), ‘Grey’s Anatomy’- season 5 (this medical series continues; sort of a poor man’s ‘E.R.’, which was sort of a poor man’s ‘St. Elsewhere’), ‘The Big Bang Theory’- season 2 (the ‘two nerds and the hot girl next door’ sitcom returns; people say it’s funny, so who am I to argue).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Silent Light (tragic, moving Mexican film about a pious husband and father powerless in the grip of an affair; from the director of Japon and Battle in Heaven), Nightwatching (the new film by Peter Greenaway [The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover] is a typically-mesmerizing and mind-bending experience, this time focusing on Rembrandt’s quest to depict an actual murderous conspiracy in his titular painting), Rembrandt’s J’Accuse (Greenaway’s companion documentary about Rembrandt’s painting, the issues behind it and his film, and the need for modern viewers to learn something about painting already!), Bodyboarding- Enough Said (fair enough…), Traveling With Yoshitomo Nara (documentary follows the titular Japanese artist, who likes to draw those kids with the spooky eyes), ‘The Beiderbecke Tapes’ (oddball British miniseries about a mild-mannered couple who get drawn into some seriously improbable shenanigans), Directed by John Ford (Peter Bogdanovich’s 1971 documentary about his filmmaking idol, and Portland’s pride Ford, who proves an amusingly irascible subject), Bluegreen (locally-produced surf documentary featuring some great Maine bands on the soundtrack), Recycled Life (Edward James Olmos narrates this documentary, which will make you feel really, really bad, about the generations of families who have made a living on top of the most toxic landfill in the world), The Seven-Ups (the late Roy Scheider stars in this gritty, nasty 1973 New York cop thriller).
Videoport Gives Your Free Money!
It’s true. Videoport already has the lowest prices on the best movies, but we hate making any profit whatsoever, so we also have a couple of ways for you to stretch your entertainment dollar even further. (As long as you are entertained by movies, of course). Plan #1: Pay $20 on your Videoport account and we’ll give you $25 worth of rental credit. Sounds like five free bucks to me. Plan #2: Pay $30 on your Videoport account and you’ll get $40 worth of rental credit, which sounds suspiciously like ten free dollars. And, of course, your rental credit works just fine with our daily free movie specials and for any pesky extra day charges as well. I can honestly see no reason not to do this.
Videoport Gives You Free Parking!
Also true. Here’s how. 1. Parking meters are irrelevant after 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday. 2. The parking lot behind the building (entrance on the corner of Pearl and Newbury Streets) is open for free, one hour parking after 5pm Monday-Friday and all day on the weekends. 3. Videoport takes part in Portland’s Park & Shop program which will get you a free hour of parking at any of the downtown parking garages. Just bring your parking stub in and Videoport’ll give you one of our magic stickers!
Get Your Entries In for the Videoport Movie Trivia Contest!
The contest ends at 11pm on Sunday, September 20th! That’s only…holy cow, that’s only five days away! (Of course, you may be reading this sometime after the 15th, so…OH MY GOD TIME’S ALMOST UP!!! PANIC!!!) No, no, it’s okay…just put your thinking cap on, crack the Psychotronic Video Guide, and, let’s be honest here, fire up your fastest internet connection and get goin’. (Speaking of the intra-nets, you can find the contest online at http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com). And remember gang…BIG PRIZES!!! The three people who get the most answers right get their choice of either of the new seasons of ’30 Rock’, ‘Rescue Me’, and ‘The Office’! Damn! And everyone who enters gets two free rentals! Double damn!
Next Week: The answers to the quiz and all the winners!