VideoReport #217

Volume CCXVII- Employ All Monsters!

For the Week of 10/13/09

Videoport gives you a free movie every, single, everlovin’ day of the week. And, since we get in about thirty new movies per week, you’ll never run out of things to watch. (I mean, you could watch thirty movies a week, I suppose. In fact, we challenge you to watch thirty movies a week.)

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.)

>>>April suggests Sleepaway Camp (in Horror). Halloween is just a few weeks away! Time to watch some bad 80s slasher flicks! Let’s start with Sleepaway Camp. Someone’s killing the campers in this predictable yet fun low budget film set in…wait for it…a summer camp! Could it be Angela, the non-verbal survivor of a boating accident? Or is it her cousin? The answer is fairly obvious, but wait! There’s a twist ending! Did you see that one coming?! I kinda did. Enjoy!

>>>Dennis suggests Quarantine (in Horror). A disclaimer: if you’re one of those people who whine about “that Blair Witch style movie”, then you can skip this one. Go on back to your nice, clean, soulless horror films where you can really see the torture porn all close up like. Anyway, Quarantine (a remake of a Spanish horror flick called REC, which I plan to check out soon), is, yes, a “Blair Witch style horror movie”, in that the action is seen, and only seen through the lens of someone holding a video camera (in this case a TV news team). So, yeah, that means things are sometimes unclear, that sometimes, things are happening right outside of the camera’s (and your) field of vision, until it’s RIGHT UP IN YOUR FACE! The tale of a ditsy female TV reporter and her sturdy cameraman who, while doing a fluff piece on LA firemen, ride along on a call to a downtown apartment building where, well, they’re not sure. It seems like an old woman is ill, and maybe someone’s been attacked, and…well, then things happen. I suppose I should be more circumspect, but, well, the title of the movie is Quarantine after all, so I guess I’m free to spill the fact that there’s some sort of virus turning the residents of the building into frothing, vicious killers. And it’s contagious. Yikes. Soon, our media darlings, and the motley crew trapped with them, are dodging the infected, trying to figure out what’s going on (and why the building has been hermetically sealed by the authorities with them inside), and attempting to not get eaten. It’s all nicely tense, and the viewfinder-only gimmick is great at building dread and excitement; like most good horror movies, Quarantine gets great mileage out of suggestion, out of the things that aren’t seen in glorious, bland, gut-chomping Hostel-vision, but are glimpsed in the shadows. Sure, it requires a little more work from you as a viewer, but, well, it’s not like the movie’s asking you to mine coal or anything. (And as to the ever-present question in such movies, “Why do they keep filming everything when they’re fighting for their lives?”, well, I have two answers: one- shut up. If they didn’t their wouldn’t be a movie, so just get over it and enjoy. Two (and here Quarantine provides a sensible answer), the reporters, once they realize that the government is prepared to sacrifice them all in order to contain the nastiness, is mightily pissed off, and therefore motivated to get the story out). A nice, effective horror surprise, with some great shocks, nobody doing anything annoyingly stupid, and even some decent performances (reporter-lady actually gets better as things get nastier, there’s some nice, economical character work from Greg Germann, Columbus Short, Jay Hernandez, Rade Serbedzija, and, adding formidable presence to a role as thankless as Willian Alland’s largely-unseen reporter in Citizen Kane, ‘The Practice’‘s Steve James as our eye behind the camera (we get a peek at his face once or twice when things get reaaly bad).

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Beat The Devil (in Classics). John Huston’s oft-critiqued noir comedy centers around a mismatched group of thieves and cheats relaxing in a small Italian port town and spinning their crooked plans to lay claim to a fortune in uranium. The script (by Truman Capote and John Huston) was re-written on the fly, Huston adding changes day by day and distributing them to the cast — and what a cast! Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Gina Lollabrigida, Jennifer Jones, Robert Morley wisecrack their way through this winking genre-jumper with no real coherence but with charming ease and wit. The movie is often described as a mess, but that’s half the point: in stark contrast to the heavily plotted noirs of the previous decade, Beat the Devil is a meandering, unfocussed scramble of dreams and schemes. In this way, the plotlessness makes a clever comment on the film’s narrative. These would-be thieves never seem to do much, despite their ambitions and their bursts of hectic activity. They’re just killing time, and killing it as extravagantly as circumstances allow, in a pleasant-enough oceanside town, waiting for something to happen.

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Insomnia (in Foreign Language). It’s hardly surprising that police detective Jonas Engstöm suffers from insomnia. He’s a seedy cop with a sordid past, and he’s unable to sleep thanks to the constant daylight north of the Arctic Circle, where he’s been dispatched to solve a prominent and puzzling murder case. Puzzling? The murder, intent on leaving no trace of his identity, even washes his victim’s hair. Shudder! Despite this lurid touch, the film maintains a measured distance and balance, never tipping over into thriller-movie clichés. Insomnia is a police procedural turned inside out. Though we get the details of the investigation, the essence of the film is its cool, tense repression. It’s quite literally hazy, foggy, atmospheric: the landscape is shrouded with fog, suffused with unending sunlight that, paradoxically, obscures our vision.

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

>>> Dennis suggests filling this space with a movie or TV review of your own! The VideoReport is Videoport’s weekly journal of movie reviews, information about Videoport’s daily deals and new releases/new arrivals, and basically anything we think is remotely movie-related and/or funny. We welcome such things from Videoport’s staff, customers, passers-by, well-wishers, and kooks off the street who want to tell the world why Ernest Borgnine is the sexiest thing in pants, so if you fit into any of those categories, why not send us your submissions at denmn@hotmail.com, our Myspace page http://www.myspace.com/videoportjones, of just drop them off at the store. (We’re also on Facebook, under ‘Videoport Jones’). The VideoReport– where Portland’s elite meet to flap their gums about movies!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Heaven Can Wait (in Feature Drama). L.A. Rams back-up quarterback Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) has a couple of problems: he hasn’t had a chance to start a game, and — oh, yeah — he’s dead. Except he’s not dead, or he shouldn’t be; the agents of the afterlife have made a mistake. “Anybody can make a mistake,” Joe says, reasonably enough. “Just put me back and we’ll forget the whole thing.” But it’s not that simple, and Joe is meanwhile stashed in the recently deceased body of corporate magnate Leo Farnsworth. It sounds silly, and it is, which helps make this a heartwarming and fundamentally optimistic story. Heaven Can Wait is a light comedy elevated by the efforts and talent of everyone involved. Because directors Beatty and Buck Henry rely very little on spectral special effects, Heaven Can Wait has dated better than many ’70s fantasy films, giving it a whiff of the great screwball comedies of the ’40s. That’s a legacy it deserves: it’s a remake of 1943’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan. Warren Beatty is at his best: easy-going, maybe even a little simple-minded, but with a wide-eyed earnest quality that explains why Beatty was such a favorite of the Hollywood laaaaaadies for all those years. As the heavenly overseer Mr, Jordan, James Mason is perfect: elegant, restrained, but with great warmth and an avuncular twinkle. Dyan Cannon plays Farnsworth’s silly, vicious dipsomaniac wife, who’s conniving and canoodling with her husband’s live-in toady (Charles Grodin in a filmstealing performance).

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

>>> Dennis suggests reminding kids (and the less-then-conscientious) about DVD handling protocol. 1. Never touch the shiny side of a disc. 2. Never leave a DVD out of its protective case when it’s not actually being played; this leads to shiny-side disc touching. 3. See rules 1 and 2 as much as necessary. DVDs are delicate, but, with proper handling, they will last forever. Why am I putting this tutorial in the space usually reserved for childrens movies; oh, no reason…

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Videoport’s Regan’s Got Something to Say…  When I went to see Adventureland (now in Videoport’s Comedy section) in the theater, I hear to my right, “Was Michael Cera not available?”, and then again, during Zombieland…”Brum-yum-do-da. Michael Cera superior- jam-crunk.” HEY!! They are both fine young men with talents all their own! AND!…Jesse Eisenberg was on the scene before Michel Cera! He was an awkward teen in Roger Dodger (2002, in Videoport’s Feature Drama section)! So suck it haters!

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests Oldboy (in Assorted Asian Exploitation). The beginning swoops in on us out of nowhere: when me meet Oh Dea-su (Min-sik Choi), he seems a sillyminded salaryman, a drunkard and a fool, an irresponsible father and an indifferent husband, but he is no worse than many silly, sad people. In the film’s opening, Dae-su is inexplicably abducted by an unknown person, and held in captivity… for fifteen years. When he’s finally released, the almost magically transformed Dae-su is intent upon revenge. Director Chan-wook Park brings us a tale that echoes the long tradition of vengeance tragedies, bringing that dramatic form forcefully into a modern setting. Buried in its dizzyingly grand fight sequences is a mediation on the compulsion to seek vengeance, and on the utter futility of it. At first glance, Oldboy seems to exult in glamorizing violence, and it is at times excruciating to watch. The film seethes with stylized violence that is horrifically potent, but also weirdly beautiful. One fight scene in particular is as stunningly graceful as any ballet, and as guttingly sorrowful as any diva singing her dying aria. It’s a tragedy, it’s a delicate dance of violence and harrowing grief, it’s filled with pain and tenderness and confusion and pure human heartbreak of the most naked kind. It’s beautiful.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Land of the Lost (Will Ferrell is still funny. This movie, a remake of the ultra-cheesy 70s kids’ show- not so much…), Drag Me to Hell (legendary geek horror god Sam Raimi goes back to his grimy horror flick roots with this completely fun tale of a young woman who crosses the wrong old, scary gypsy woman), The Proposal (Sandra Bullock is a Canadian meanie who bullies her prettyboy assistant, Ryan Reynolds, into marrying her so she can stay and be mean in the good ol’ USA in this, dare I say it, formulaic romantic comedy), Adoration (from Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan comes another of his patented icy, sad, dramas, this one about a teenager who makes up a story about his father being a suicide bomber. Or dies he?), Infestation (from Portland’s heroes, Kyle Rankin and Efram Potelle comes this icky-fun monster comedy about some creepy bug-things trying to take over the world, costarring the always-delicious Ray Wise!; Videoport loves Kyle and Efram!), ‘Legend of the Seeker’- season 1 (Aussie sword-and-sorcery series comes to Videoport’s Fantasy/Sci Fi section; costarring the guy who played the gyro pilot in The Road Warrior!), Every Little Step (documentary about struggling dancers hoping to make the cast of a revival of A Chorus Line on Broadway, which is about a group of struggling dancers hoping to make the cast of a musical called A Chorus Line…or did I just blow your mind!!!), Katt Williams: Pimpadelic (the popular standup comic brings his inimitable brand of pimp-based hilarity to you in this new DVD), American Violet (furiously fact-based film about an innocent Black mom who gets caught up in a police drug sweep, loses her kids, and decides to get very litigious about the whole thing; good cast includes Alfre Woodard, Will Patton, Michael O’Keefe, and Tim Blake Nelson), Adoration (Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan [The Sweet Hereafter] brings you another of his icy, challenging dramas with this story of a teenager who makes up a story of his father being a suicide bomber for French class- or does he?), ‘The National Parks’ (America’s favorite documentarian Ken Burns [of ‘Baseball’, ‘The Civil War’, and ‘Jazz’ fame] is back with this massive series about, well, our national parks, I suppose), Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (hilarious new standup from the pudgy hipster comedy darlin’).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Warren Miller’s Children of Winter (ski porn from the master of same), Love of Siam (Thai drama about two young boys whose friendship is shaken by a fmaily tragedy), Emmanuel’s Gift (Oprah herself narrates this inspirational documentary about a young man from Ghana, born disabled, who seeks to overturn his country’s ignorance about the disabled; many, many of you have requested we get this one over the years), ‘Flashpoint’- season 1 (action series about those wacky guys on your local SWAT team), Madonna: Celebration (the complete music video collection from music’s biggest exhibitionist), Throg (low-budget sword and sorcery comedy is currently riding a rating of 1.7 out of 10 on IMDb.com; you’ll find it in the Incredibly Strange section), Brittown (documentary about a motorcycle fanatic, for all you motorcycle fanatics out there; oh, and as a favor, could you motorcycle fanatics out there try and keep the noise down?), and Videoport brings you three, count ’em three typically wacko satirical early films from Yugoslavian wildman Dusan Makevejev (Sweet Movie, WR: Mysteries of the Organism, The Coca Cola Kid): look in Videoport’s Criterion section for his Man Is Not a Bird, Love Affair: or The Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator, and Innocence Unprotected.

Get Some Free Money at Videoport!

Videoport’s got two ways for you to turn your rental dollar into, well, a bigger rental dollar. Here’s the scoop: we’ll give you five free dollars worth of rental credit on your Videoport account when you pay twenty bucks. And, we’ll give you forty dollars worth of rental credit for your thirty dollar investment. So, depending on how you look at it, that’s either a 20% or 25% discount on Videoport’s already lowest-anywhere rental rates, of five or ten free bucks. Yup, we’re pretty great…

Park for Free at Videoport!

Here’s how: 1. Parking meters are turned off after 6pm, Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday. 2. The parking lot behind the building is open for free one hour parking after 5pm on weekdays and all day on the weekends. 3. Videoport participates in the Park & Shop program, which means we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown Portland parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, literally, a two minute walk away). Just bring us your parking stub, and we’ll give you one of our magic stickers! 4. Walk, skateboard, ride your bike: it’ll save a tree, or three gallons of water, or…well, I’m not sure how that works, really…

Check out our movie blog at www.videoportjones.wordpress.com!

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Published in: on October 13, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

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