Volume CCXXVIII- 2010: The Year We Make Contact (According to 1984)
For the Week of 12/29/09
Videoport wishes us all a happy, peaceful, and slightly less shiny-side-of-disc-touchy 2010.
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 ‘Futurama’ (in Animation). The brainchild of Matt Groening and helmed by obsessive geek and gifted writer David X. Cohen, Futurama is is a classic, old-timey workplace comedy: just a time traveller, his robot best friend, their Cyclopean middle manager, a mad scientist, a wealthy physics grad student, a vaguely Jamaican accountant, and a lobster-doctor from outer space muddling their way through the work day. It’s also a piece of seasonal fare right now: Futurama starts out on on New Year’s Eve, 2000, when pizza delivery guy Philip J. Fry accidentally submits himself to long-term cryogenic storage, and awakens on New Year’s Eve, 2999. Hilarity ensues, as do deeply buried mathematics jokes. Who doesn’t like a good mathematics joke?
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis 2/The Rage suggests The Proposition (in Action/Adventure). Although I am not sure if this can even be called a western, since the movie was made in Australia (an eastern, is that even a thing?), we still put it in the action section because it is westernish. Now that made me even more excited, because I am a complete waste of space when working on Tuesdays, knowing next to nothing about one of the sections that’s free on Tough and Triassic Tuesdays. Now I have a movie to recommend on the days when action movies are free! And do I recommend this movie, jeez. This is the director whose movie The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen, is playing in theaters right now. I strongly doubt that The Road is anywhere near as amazing as this one though. In Australia of the late nineteen hundreds, a man called Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is caught by local law enforcement. Charlie is part of a gang, and the guy who caught him Captain Stanley (Ray Winstone, who was also in Beowulf) strikes a deal with him, which means that Charlie has to kill his supposedly unfindable and unkillable brother. He sets out to find him, in the immense, overpowering, hot Australian outback. The screenplay was written by Nick Cave, who is also partially responsible for the movie’s stellar soundtrack. The music is really something else, co-written by Warren Ellis. Warren Ellis heads a three-piece Australian band called The Dirty Three. Youtube those guys, rent this movie, eat at Outback. Australia rules!
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Clueless (in Comedy/the hastily-assembled temporary Brittney Murphy memorial shelf in the middle aisle). I’ll admit: there’s something stomach-turning about the ghoulish desire to revisit the film catalog of an actor who’s recently died. I’ll also admit: I haven’t seen many of Brittney Murphy’s movies. But still, one night soon I’ll curl up and revisit Clueless, a saucy updating of Jane Austen’s Emma set in Beverly Hills. I’ll probably even shed a tear over the bouncy, game, gamine girl playing Tai, with her round cheeks and her cheeky voice shifting from gravel to helium. She had a pert twinkle and a bright eye, and she vanished too soon.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests every film Robert Altman ever directed (in nearly every section). The lovely Mrs. Elsa S. Customer gave me the new oral biography of Robert Altman for Christmas. Because she is a genius. It’s a fascinating read about a brilliant and fascinating filmmaker (who just happens to be my hero, so here it comes – my ranking of every Robert Altman film at Videoport!): 1. McCabe & Mrs. Miller, 2. Nashville, 3. M.A.S.H., 4. The Long Goodbye, 5. California Split, 6. Short Cuts, 7. The Player, 8. Thieves Like Us, 9. Fool for Love, 10. 3 Women, 11. Streamers, 12. Secret Honor, 13. Popeye, 13b. Brewster McCloud, 14. Gosford Park, 15. ‘Tanner ’88’, 15b. Vincent & Theo, 16. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, 17. O.C. & Stiggs, 18. A Wedding, 19. A Prairie Home Companion, 20. Cookie’s Fortune, 21. A Perfect Couple, 21b. Buffalo Bill and the Indians, 22. The Company, 23. Kansas City, 24. Images, 25. Dr. T & the Women. And make no mistake- you can’t even go wrong with the end of the list. Well, maybe Dr. T…
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> It’s a free kids movie and you don’t have to rent anything else to get it. I genuinely don’t see anything to complain about…
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 Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (in Comedy). There are stupid movies, there are intelligent movies, and there’s a whole spectrum of movies in between. But it takes real care and to make an intelligently stupid movie. That’s exactly what you get from Harold and Kumar go to White Castle. Now, don’t misunderstand me: this is not a film for sophisticated tastes. The simple story of two genial stoner roommates on an all-night quest to sate their burger craving, H&K is jam-packed with sophomoric and scatological humor, unabashedly silly sightgags, and cheerful pandering to the key munchies-and-giggles demographic. But it does it so darned well that’s it’s real fun to watch, even if you don’t fall squarely into that demographic yourself. It’s a trifle, but an admirably crafted one. The jokes are dumb, and performed with great conviction. The actors are perfectly cast and perfectly earnest. As responsible cubicle wage-slave Harold, John Cho radiates a tightly-wound affability that makes you feel for him as his troubles mount. Kumar (Kal Penn) is the classic lay-about instigator, a good-natured goofer who always escalates a situation. These loosely sketched characters feel curiously real, in part because the two stars are so sincere and pleasant. And the supporting cast is equally notable. Neil Patrick Harris appears as himself, sort of — in the world of H&K, NPH is a wild-eyed womanizer with poor impulse control and a raging appetite for drugs and trouble, no doubt a precursor to his current sit-com role. Christopher Meloni (of Law & Order fame) shows his comic chops here, bringing humor and humanity to a repulsive caricature, a pustule-covered creep straight out of an E.C. Comic. A serious note: stoner comedies traditionally rely on stereotypes, playing up homophobic or ethnically charged jokes that are more often nasty and offensive than funny. But Harold and Kumar go to White Castle does more than parrot back the same slop; to some extent, it plays with the tropes and types, turning them inside out and upside-down, pointing out the absurdity of the assumptions built into the jokes.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Funny People (in Comedy). It’s not Judd Apatow’s best film (that’s still The 40 Year Old Virgin), but it’s certainly his most ambitious. For a guy who gets written off as a lowbrow ‘d*ck and fart joke’ specialist by people who should know better, Apatow is, quite frankly, the current savior of American film comedy, his deftly-balanced mix of heart and belly laughs rising so far above what’s expected of a summer tentpole comedy that he ought to get a medal just for trying harder than he has to. Funny People is the story of a spoiled, successful movie star who discovers that he’s terminally ill, and decides to try and win back the girl that got away, and, speaking of rising above, it stars Adam Sandler, who delivers his best work since Punch Drunk Love. Sandler’s doing some pretty courageous self-parody (his character is the star of such lowbrow comedies as Mer-man), and he shows, once again, that, like Will Ferrell, when given the opportunity, a popular comedian’s gifts can translate into a surprisingly effective dramatic actor. Sure, the film bogs down at about the hour and a half mark, and yeah, it is over two hours long (not usually a good idea for comedy), but Funny People sticks in your mind. It’s a sneaky good movie.
New Releases this week at Videoport: A Perfect Getaway (Steve Zahn brings his quirky comedy guy persona to this horror flick about pretty vacationers getting bumped off in the photogenic jungle), Vampire Killers (this British horror comedy was originally called Lesbian Vampire Killers; which is, I think we can all agree, a better title…), 9 (high-tech, post-apocalyptic animated film got great reviews and is blessedly, too dark to have made much money), Paranormal Activity (the low-budget horror success story of the year, this spooky flick made a kajillion dollars and scared off a frillion pairs of pants), Jennifer’s Body (written by the utterly-obnoxious Diablo Cody [of Juno fame] and starring the utterly-talentless Megan Fox [of baring your tummy fame], this wise-ass horror film is now available for your, um, enjoyment, I guess), Staten Island (this thriller stars Ethan Hawke and Phillip D’Onofrio went right to DVD; that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, right?), Carriers (Chris Pine [that’s Captain Kirk to you], stars in this low-budget horror film about a zombie plague!), Medicine for Melancholy (indie romantic drama about a young black couple out on a date), ‘Glee’- season 1 (everybody loves this show about a high school putting on musicals and such; it stars the great Jane Lynch), ‘The United States of Tara’- season 1 (Toni Colette stars as a housewife with multiple personalities in this cable comedy series), The Marine 2 (couldn’t get John Cena back for this sequel? Just get another, lesser ‘rassler to fill in!).
New Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Hancock, Silent Hill, Stargate, Pathfinder, Walking Tall, Wall Street, Stir of Echoes, Road House, Predator, Office Space, The Devil’s Rejects, I, Robot, Bulletproof Monk, Dark Blue, Master and Commander, Total Recall, Independence Day, and Wings of Desire.
Dennis2/ The Rage brings you his best (and worst) movies and shows of 2009:
1. I’ve Loved You So Long
3. In Treatment
5. Lost, Season 5
6. Let The Right One In
7. Tell No One
8. Inglourious Basterds
9. District 9
10. Drag Me To Hell
11. Frozen River
12. Breaking Bad
14. Star Trek
15. Buck Rogers!
1. Happy Go Lucky
2. New In Town
5. The Reader
7. Flight of the Concords, Season 2
8. Quantum of Solace
Andy’s Worst of 2009:
5. Mirrors: Alexandre Aja did well with High Tension and The Hills Have Eyes, then fell from grace horribly with this one. Mirrors are scary, but Mirrors is not. At all.
4. The Last House on the Left: Damn. This would have been offensive if it weren’t so bad.
3. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People: Simon Pegg is funny, right? Not in this movie. And Megan Fox is like a charisma black hole.
2. Lakeview Terrace: This was perfectly entertaining to watch, then, after it was over, I started thinking about how awful it was. And the thought kept…on…coming.
1. Quantum of Solace: Not super-awful, but such a huge step down from Casino Royale. Marc Forster destroys everything he touches.
Regan’s Bestest or Most Favoritest (in no order):
1. Away We Go: This has been forgotten altogether. I blame (500) Days of Blubber.
2. Adventureland: I’m having a hard time getting people to watch this. I blame Ryan Reynolds.
3. Let the Right One In: This movie succeeds as a vampire movie and as a coming-of-age movie. Unlike Twilight. Interesting.
4. A Christmas Tale: Mathieu Amalric totally stirs my soup. Watch Kings & Queen if you likey.
5. Gran Torino: Clint at his most Clintiest. And it’s about a car which is real cool.
Regan’s Worstest of the Most Awful:
1. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button: With the exception of the nice wardrobe and the guy who keeps gettin’ hit with lightning, oh and the fighting at sea! That was good. But otherwise, nope.
2. He’s Just Not That Into You: More Drew Barrymore, less sh***y people. That would make it a wee bit better.
3. The Ugly Truth: A child giving Katherine Heigl an orgasm. That should be the tagline.
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.