VideoReport #216

Volume CCXVI- Big Mothra’s House

For the Week of 10/6/09

Videoport gives you a free rental every day. Redbox machines are painted with dolphin blood. Your choice.

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.)

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Cube (in Horror). Oh, whatever, scoffers. Cube is a high-concept puzzle-piece with a pretty silly premise: a group of strangers awake inside a — duh duh DUH — cube, with no memory of how they got there and no idea how to escape. It turns out that the cube is a series of cells through which they can climb, but each cell holds clues to their possible escape, as well as a deadly secret… and the cube as a whole has a mighty big secret, too. After I saw the film, an acquaintance pointed out its obvious existentialist nuances, and I had a big “Well, duh!” moment; I was so busy feeling superior to the film that I completely failed to notice the deeper message of its story. Don’t be dumb like me.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Andy suggests Spiderman 2 (in Action). It’s funny how movies age, don’t you think? Spiderman 2 came out in 2004, but the superhero genre has changed so much that, if it were released in theaters today, it might get laughed off the screen. Back in ’04, I was convinced that it was the greatest superhero movie ever made. And maybe I was right. But, compared to the darker, heavier themes of 2008’s The Dark Knight and Iron Man, the Spiderman movies seem lightweight and cartoonish, like candy-colored coming-of-age teen flicks (the presence of Kirsten Dunst doesn’t help). Yes, the superhero/comic book movie has come a long way in a short time. But I still love Spiderman 2 for its own greatness. The action scenes are well-written and acted. Kirsten Dunst’s acting seems amateurish compared to the rest of the cast, but she doesn’t distract too much, and James Franco, Alfred Molina, Tobey Maguire, and Dylan Baker more than make up for her.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)

>>>Dennis suggests ‘The Office’- season 5 (in Comedy). Not that I need to convince anyone to watch this show, but I’d like to make my pitch for the new season anyway. In fact, I think this might be the best season yet. Yeah, I said it. I think what’s most impressive to me is the way the show has avoided the show-killer traps that its plot seems to dictate; Jim and Pam are happy, and it’s not a drag, the show’s humor hasn’t broadened into self-parody, and it hasn’t succumbed to guest star-itis (the one exception being the bizarrely-intrusive movie, a May-late, late December romance starring Jack Black and Cloris Leachman that Jim, Pam, and Andy watch in one episode). In fact, this season’s boldest, most fruitful stroke was in utilizing a surprising guest star to brilliant dramatic effect, with ‘The Wire’‘s Idris Elba coming in as Michael’s new, no-nonsense boss. Elba is great, of course, and he changes the dynamic of the show in a really daring way; as Dwight says, with typically Shrutian sarcasm, “Oh no, the new boss doesn’t think Jim’s adorable!”. Elba’s slow burn staredown’s of the various shenanigans that pass for a normal work day at Dunder-Mifflin are equal parts hilarious and terrifying. Throw in that those usual shenanigans are as solid gold as ever, that Steve Carrel’s Michael Scott remains one of the most touchingly-ridiculous characters in TV history, and that each of the office’s supporting players continue to refine and reveal their characters in fine form and I cannot get enough of this show- it just keeps getting better.

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Gross Pointe Blank (in Comedy). Every time I see another stupid trailer for another stupid movie starring John Cusack, I heave a heavy sigh and plan to spend an evening watching one of the great films in his resume. Okay, so I don’t always follow through with these plans; with his recent output, I would spend every single night watching Say Anything, High Fidelity, and Gross Pointe Blank. (2012? Identity? Serendipity? America’s for-goodness-sake Sweethearts? Must Love Dogs? You know who loves dogs? Cusack’s agent, ‘cuz these movies are dogs, amirite? *tap tap tap* Is this thing on?) Uh. Aaaaaaanyway.  Despite Cusack’s often-questionable choices, I wholeheartedly endorse Gross Pointe Blank, the story of an affectless hitman at his 10-year reunion, a silly high-concept starting point that successfully mixes rom-com and action flick into one delicious parcel, with a hefty dose of musical cool to boot.

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Blood Simple (in Mystery/Thriller). This 1985 directorial debut of Joel and Ethan Coen showcases their distinctive visual style, a style that was the focus of many reviewers. Indeed, the single biggest criticism of the film upon release was that it privileged style over substance, but those reviewers weren’t paying attention to the subtleties, the deep-down noiriness of the story. The scenario, without spoilers: a sleazy bar owner hires an even-sleazier PI to shadow his wife. Oh, and to murder her. When events get messy, as events will when you’re hiring cheap and unskilled murderers, two innocent people get pulled into the mess, and flounder around trying to flail their way out again. Except, well, these innocent people are guilty of plenty. That’s a crucial distinction; guilt draws them into the murderous muddle, and guilt motivates every choice they make as they struggle along the nightmarish course of their trap. This was an early taste of the Coens’ gift for narrative: from moment to moment, you can see how a more-or-less innocent person could make each horrible choice, but the individual choices and moments add up to a dreadful sum.

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>>Dennis suggests that it is neither cute, wise nor considerate to allow children (or the inconsiderate) to put our DVDs in the player. DVDs are delicate. Children, our future though they may be, are weird, uncoordinated, and lack respect for other peoples’ property. They also often have really sticky hands and are attracted to shiny things. Please handle the DVDs yourself. That is all.

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 Remains of the Day (in Feature Drama). It seems like a simple story: Stevens (Anthony Hopkins), a very proper British butler, is taking a brief vacation and motoring across the countryside to visit Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson), formerly his colleague in service at the great house to which Stevens has devotes his life. But it takes some bravado to make a movie of Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day; the novel relies upon the first-person account of Stevens, a very proper British butler, told with agonizing restraint and great narrative unreliability. Stevens simply does not see the things he does not wish to see. How to convey this willful obliviousness on film, where everything is slapped up on the screen for the audience to see firsthand? This richly textured Merchant-Ivory production manages to pull it off. The result is pensive, quietly sorrowful, and reticent, but silently eloquent as well. When so many movies trumpet their plots and their morals in deafening brays, it’s refreshing to see a film that keeps its secrets. The Remains of the Day trusts us to hear what isn’t said.

>>>For Sunday, April suggests Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (in Incredibly Strange). Because on the one hand, it’s Debbie (sorry, it’s Deborah now) Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas in a B-movie about a GIANT SHARK fighting a GIANT OCTOPUS! Who wouldn’t love that? On the other hand, it’s Debbie Gibson and Lorenzo Lamas in a B-movie. The acting is awful (except for Vic Chao, who’s acceptable) and NOT ENOUGH GIANT SHARK AND OCTOPUS! I mean, come on! If you’re gonna have CGI creatures attacking ships and planes, you might as well feature them heavily, which director Ace Hannah fails to do. Sorry Ace, your sci-fi mumbo jumbo dialogue just made me sleepy. So if you’re sucked in like I was by the cover, do yourself a favor- go right to the fights and skip the rest.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Year One (Jack Black and Michael Cera play two bumbling cave-dudes who stumble into the middle of pretty much every Biblical event in pre-history in this knockabout comedy from director Harold Ramis), Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (utterly bonkers, completely entertaining documentary about the kooky, sleazy, nudie, action-y birth of the Australian exploitation film industry; you’ll come away with about a dozen titles you’ll want to badger Videoport’s owner Bill into getting- and we encourage that), My Life in Ruins (the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding returns as yet another annoyingly-spunky single gal looking for love, this time, shockingly, in Greece), Imagine That (Eddie Murphy is back, doing the family-friendly thing for a wheelbarrow full of cash; I guess it’s wrong to judge him for this continued behavior, but he’s making me very sad), Anvil!: The Story of Anvil (much-anticipated documentary about the titular Canadian heavy metal band has been described by every movie reviewer ever as ‘a real-life Spinal Tap’, and by me as really, really good), Everlasting Moments (Scandinavian drama about a turn of the century young woman whose life changes when she wins a camera in a lottery), ‘Trial & Retribution’- seasons 1 and 2 (the first two seasons of this long-running British cop series joins the swelling ranks of BBC mystery shows in Videoport’s Mystery/Thriller section), Assassination of a High School President (nerdy high school reporter teams up with the hot girl of his dreams to determine who stole the SAT exams, and, presumably, kills that guy; Bruce Willis is in this one as well), Trick ‘r Treat (horror anthology owes a lot of its appeal to its Creepshow-esque vibe, and the rest to slumming real actors Anna Paquin, Dylan Baker, and the ever-irascible Brian Cox), ‘Nip/Tuck’- season 5, Part 2 (more of the bizarre antics of the sleaziest plastic surgeons in the world), ‘Bones’- season 4 (‘Angel”s David Boreanaz and that cute lady are back doing CSI-type things to, well, bones, I guess).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Pollyana (Hayley Mills stars in this 1960 kids movie about the girl who is so damned chipper you want to smack her one), Coco Chanel (Shirley MacLaine stars as the legendary fashion designer looking back on her life and her pretty, pretty things), Where the Heart Is (Videoport brings you this 1990 Dabney Coleman comedy about a mean real estate developer trying to teach his spoiled kids a lesson; why did we do this? Well, we move in mysterious ways…), Marlene (1984 documentary by actor Maximilian Schell about the legendary star Marlene Dietrich is as fascinating for the facts of the actress’ life as it is for the reluctance she shows in revealing them), Munyurangabo (this moving Film Movement release, about an orphan of the Rwandan genocide on a quest for justice, is destined to be referred to in about twelve thousand incorrect, mangled ways by the customers and staff).

Stuff You Wanna Know About Videoport:

1. Videoport is awesome.

2. Videoport gives you a free rental every single day. Check out the front page of this here newsletter for the too-good-to-be-true details.

3. Videoport will get you free parking at any downtown parking garage. If you don’t wanna pay for a metered space, then just pull into a garage and bring us your parking stub; we’ll get you a free hour of parking. (And remember- parking meters are turned off after 6pm, Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday, and the parking lot behind the building is open for free one hour parking after 5pm on weekdays and all day on the weekend.

4. See fact #1. Yeah. That’s right…

5. Videoport’s clerks/employees/drones/film geeks all, surprise!, love movies, and have, collectively, seen just about every movie ever made. Plus, they can, for the most part, talk about movies in complete sentences and everything. Even the foreign employee. So, if you’re stuck about what to rent, or want a carefully reasoned review of something you’re on the fence about, just ask us. We promise to respect your choice, not judge you, and then find you something waaay better.

5a. Since (as per fact #2) you get a free movie every day and (as per fact #5) we love to recommend movies, why not take a chance with your free rental? Say you come in on a Tuesday, which is ‘Tough and Triassic Tuesday’, meaning you get a free film from Videoport’s voluminous action or classics sections with a paid rental. Why not throw caution to the wind and ask your favorite (we know you have a favorite) Videoport drone to find you a free one? We’ve seen ’em all, we like the right ones, and we’ll steer you in the right direction. Life’s short- take a chance, man…

6. Videoport will give you free money, see if we won’t. You can front-load your Videoport rental account with rental credit, and we give you more credit than you pay for (if not deserve). Put down $20 on your account, and we give you $25 worth of credit. Pay $30 on your account and we’ll give you a whopping $40 worth of rental credit. And credit’s good for both rentals and any pesky extra day fees- that’s either a 20 or 25% discount on our already ridiculously-low prices. Your welcome.

7. NEVER TOUCH THE SHINY SIDE OF A DVD OR LEAVE A DVD OUT OF ITS PROTECTIVE CASE WHEN NOT BEING PLAYED. Not really a Videoport fact, this needed to be said nonetheless.

8. Trade in your old DVDs for free rentals. If you’ve got a Videoport rental account and feel like unloading some of those DVDs you don’t watch anymore (Encino Man? What was I thinking?), Videoport’ll give you free rentals for ’em.

9. Locally owned, independent, and kickin’ ass!

10. The best selection of movies anywhere, all right here in Portland, Maine, baby…

11. Videoport’s weekly newsletter, The VideoReport, (which you’re reading right now, duh) always accepts movie reviews and other movie-related submissions for publication from any customer, staff member, or idle passer-by of Videoport. Bring your submissions by the store, or, if you’re feeling all technological and stuff, send them to us at, our Myspace page, or our Facebook page (just type in “Videoport Jones”).

12. Our weekly newsletter (The VideoReport, again, duh) is online as well at our movie blog. Look us up at for back issues, assorted movie reviews and articles and more!

13. Also, check out our reviews of the week’s new releases in the “GO” section of the Portland Press Herald, where our resident movie review smarty-pants Videoport Jones goes toe-to-toe with the Press Herald’s reviewer, reporter, and columnist extraordinaire Justin Ellis.

14. There is no fact #14.

15. There’s a drop box outside at the entrance to the parking lot (on the corner of Pearl and Newbury streets), for your movie returnamentary needs.

16. Videoport gives you a free movie rental for every single movie you purchase from us. We’ve got a lot of movies in stock, both new and previously-viewed, for sale, and we can special order anything that’s currently in print.

17. We’ve got the dirtiest movie in the world. You know the one…

18. All kids movies are just a dollar. Awww….

19. You can extend any rental, just by paying us slightly more money!

20. See fact #1. Yah, we thought so…

Published in: on October 5, 2009 at 3:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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