Volume CCXVIII- Godzilla vs. Balki
For the Week of 10/20/09
Videoport will give you a free movie every single day…and there’s nothin’ you can do about it!
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 The Limey (in Mystery/Thriller). A most unusual thriller, Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey turns the classic revenge narrative on its side, holds it up, and lets us see the light shine through. It’s an odd piece, and an affecting one. Despite an excellent supporting cast, including marvelous performances from Luis Guzman and Lesley Anne Warren, Terence Stamp carries the film on his slim shoulders; he plays Wilson, an aging British thief. During one of his many sojourns in jail, his daughter Jenny grew up and moved to California, where she cavorted with a much older (and much richer) music producer, Valentine (played with old-school SoCal ease and skeeze by Peter Fonda). Now she’s dead. When he’s released, Wilson heads straight to L.A. to get the real story. He’s rough and gruff, full of colorful Cockney slang, and all alone in an absurdly foreign culture. He’s also dangerously smart — about people and about criminal enterprises. The discontinuity of the editing and sound give the whole story a dreamy, dazed feeling, letting us experience Wilson’s own sense of disorientation — in L.A., in the free world outside of prison, and in a world that was home to the daughter he loved but never really had time to know. The film loops between states: it’s static and pensive and dreamily unwinding into emptiness, and suddenly it’s whip-fast and viciously sharp… and back again. Suitably enough for a film about aging 1960s icons, the narrative in The Limey plays like a warped old LP, spinning around on its axis and warbling its wavering song into the air.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> April suggests a James Whale marathon! (In Classics). Who’s James Whale you ask? Why, only the director of such films as: Frankenstein (1931), the classic tale of horror starring Boris Karloff as the monster and Colin Clive as the doctor who says, “Now I know what it feels like to be God!” The Old Dark House (1932)- a creepy mansion is inhabited by the Femm family, who might be the first “crazy-family-that-terrorizes-wayward travelers”. Starring Karloff as the butler, Charles Laughton, and Gloria Stuart (the elderly Rose in Titanic). The Invisible Man (1933). Claude Rains is the mad scientist who finds a way to become invisible only to be driven mad in the process. Also with the lovely Gloria Stuart. “The whole world’s my hiding place.” The Bride of Frankenstein (1935). Karloff returns as the monster, Clive returns as the doctor, and Elsa Lanchester joins the fun as the Bride. Fun fact: the tagline, “The monster demands a mate is the name of one of my bands! (myspace.com/themonsterdemandsamate). If you like these, you might want to check out Gods and Monsters with Ian McKellen as James Whale during his final days.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests immersing yourself in the utterly insane world of Beat Takeshi/Takeshi Kitano. Born Takeshi Kitano (he uses the stage name Beat Takeshi when he acts), this diminutive, stone-faced Japanese actor/director started out, rather improbably, as a very popular TV comedian (you can see him
in dubbed reruns as the host of that insane Japanese game show where smiling contestants dressed in fat suits get thrown around inside giant pinball machines and the like), before stepping up to star in and direct some of the most enigmatic, violent, deadpan comic, and mysteriously affecting gangster movies ever made. His signature character is a menacingly silent, impeccably dressed, loner who undertakes some vague Yakuza task with an odd combination of playful humor and hairtrigger, shocking violence, all performed with a nearly unmoving, craggy-skinned, beady-eyed mask of a face. His task completed, more often than you’d think he might commit suicide. I highly recommend checking out his bafflingly-resonant work in Violent Cop, Boiling Point (which is utterly out of its mind), Sonatine (my favorite), Getting Any? (a comedy?!), Fireworks, Kikujiro (where he plays essentially his same gangster character, but in a sort-of-heartwarming buddy movie with a cute little kid), and Brother (his one, mostly successful, foray into America). For a change of pace, you can also check out his turn as the legendary blind swordsman in his remake of the Zatoichi series. And don’t miss him acting all evil and stuff in the mind-blowingly shocking cult classic Battle Royale. A complete original.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Out of Sight (in Feature Drama). Steven Soderbergh seems almost like two separate entities: the highbrow arty type specializing in pensive, static, experimental genre-breakers (Solaris, The Limey, Bubble), and the Hollywood player who cranks out commercial but strikingly well-executed crowdpleasers (Erin Brockovich, the Ocean’s franchise). Out of Sight, starring George Clooney and Jennifer Lopez in a story adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, falls into the second category. It’s a sharp heist story with a little flash and plenty of backbone: it even nabbed two Oscar nominations, for Best Adapted Screenplay and Editing. When you see the movie, you’ll see how very well-deserved those were, and how both the writing and the editing contribute to the movie’s offbeat pace. It should be a bog-standard crime thriller, but it ain’t. Soderbergh invests it with interest and playfulness without ever being precious or pretentious. I won’t tell you much about the story, except that it’s tight and well-crafted, as Leonard’s stories are. Clooney plays Jack Foley, a career criminal with (of course) a waggish twinkle; Lopez is the no-nonsense U.S. Marshall with whom he collides. The two of them are electric on-screen, whether they are zinging dialogue back and forth like tennis stars or filling the silence with energy. To have two magnetic stars with great chemistry is a gift, but a whole cast of magnetic characters is near-miraculous. Listen to this: Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Catherine Keener, Luis Guzman, Michael Keaton. It’s a rare Hollywood heist movie that gives you this much to enjoy.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Andy suggests ‘Star Trek: The Animated Series”. It’s never too early (or too late, for that matter) to geek your kids up. Start by introducing them to this delightful antique cartoon, featuring the real, action-packed voices of William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, George Takei, James Doohan, and Nichelle Nichols. It’s just like the original, live-action Star Trek, but with crappier special effects and lots of talking cats. Seriously, like real aliens would so closely resemble Earth cats. It’s fun!
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests you fill up this space, not with, well, this filler, but with a movie or TV review of your own. That’s right, gang, the VideoReport is the place for everyone in the Videoport community to share their love (or hate) of their favorite (or least-) films or shows with the rest of us. Yup, we give you the freedom to ram your opinions down our throats on a weekly basis! Just bring your reviews into the store, or send them to us at email@example.com or our Myspace page http://www.myspace.com/videoportjones and, unless it’s just a string of ill-spelled profanities and personal attacks against us, we’ll run it!
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests Don’t Look Now (in Mystery/Thriller). Even if you haven’t seen it, you’ve heard about it: Don’t Look Now is one of the great 1970s not-horror movies. Nicholas Roeg’s meditative masterpiece of suspense follows Laura and John Baxter (Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland) on a working trip to Venice; John has taken on a restoration project there, hoping that the distraction of travel will help them over the worst of their grief from their young daughter’s recent death. I describe it as a a “not-horror” film because the subject is not fear, but dread — the creeping, bottomless dismay of grief, of loss, of the unrelenting reality of mortality. Despite their emotional friction and John’s haunting premonitions, the Baxters sporadically try to inject humor, beauty, and passion into their days, but keep drawing back again into anxiety and grief… with good reason, as it turns out.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (GIANT ROBOTS GO SMASH! SMASHHHHHH!!!!!), Blood: The Last Vampire (live action version of the horror/action anime features vampires, lots of CGI blood, and an ass-kicking, sweet-faced Asian girl in a schoolgirl uniform with huge ninja swords; something for every fetish!), Cheri (Michelle Pfeiffer reteams with her Dangerous Liasons director Stephen Frears for another saucy period piece), ‘The L Word: The Final Season’ (that’s season six, in case you were wondering, of this sapphic soap; someone please give Pam Grier a sexy new role immediately!), ‘Saturday Night Live: The Best of Amy Poehler’ (unremitting wackiness from the crazy-eyed comedy pixie goddess [and my girlfriend] Amy Poehler), Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead (yay! Another direct-to-DVD horror sequel! Remember: rural people are cannibals!), National Lampoon: Endless Bummer (get it? It’s a play on words! Clever! There was once a magazine that employed the likes of Michael O’Donoghue, Doug Kenney, Anne Beatts, and was responsible for movies like Animal House; let’s remember those times…).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Fados (another dazzling, dance-centric film from director Carlos Saura, this completes his musical trilogy [after Flamenco and Tango, both available in Videoport’s Foreign Language section, of course] with its depiction of the titular Portuguese dance), The Elephant King (Ellen Burstyn sends her momma’s boy son over to Thailand to retrieve his wilder sibling, confident that he will not be seduced by the exotic Thai lifestyle and/or a gorgeous native bartender lady; wait, he was? Crap!), Prairie Giant: The Tommy Douglas Story (fact-based miniseries about the social titular social reformer, a man often referred to as ‘the greatest Canadian of all time’; me, I’d say Rick Moranis, but…), Her Name is Sabine (from the Film Movement series comes this documentary by actress Sandrine Bonnaire about her autistic sister), Short Films by Mira Nair (like the title says, it’s a collection of short films by the director of Salaam Bombay, Monsoon Wedding, and The Namesake), ‘Loveless’ (new Japanese animated series hits the Videoport anime section, this time it’s about a boy living in a land where people have animal ears and tails, which they only lose when they have sex; I love Japan!).
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Want some free movies at Videoport? Here are about a million ways…
1. Rent a bunch of movies. Every time you hit your next hundred rentals, we give you two free ones.
2. Rent a movie any day of the week. If you check page one of this here newsletter here, you’ll see that there’s a different special every day of the week where you get a free movie. You literally cannot come into Videoport without getting a free rental. Yeah…
3. Buy a movie. For every single movie you buy at Videoport, we give you a free rental. Now if that’s not the perfect cue to start whipping readers into a holiday buying frenzy, then I don’t know what is: this holiday season, when you’re spending all your hard-earned cash on a gang of glutinous, insatiable greed monsters (I mean your loved ones, of course), why not get a little something for yourself out of the deal? Videoport has a great selection of new and previously-viewed DVDs for sale right in the store and we can also order literally anything that’s currently in print. And, for every movie you buy from us, we give you, yourself (not them) a free rental that you can use any time.
4. Trade in your old DVDs. Got some movies or TV series that you don’t want cluttering up your shelves anymore? Bring them in to Videoport and we’ll turn them into free rentals on your Videoport account. It’s that simple!
5. Spend some money. Videoport has two different savings plans which, essentially, give you free money just for renting with us. Seriously. Put $20 onto your Videoport account and we’ll turn that twenty into $25 worth of rental credit. Pay $30 and we’ll give you $40 worth of rental credit. That’s five or ten free bucks worth of renting cash, if my math is right.
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!