Volume CCXXIX- New Year’s Evil
For the Week of 1/5/10
Videoport thanks the nice Videoport customer who told us that her new year’s resolution was to rent with us instead of a certain online movie rental service. We’d also like to advise everyone that the domain name ‘www.neflixsucks.org’ has been taken.
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.)
>>>Dennis2/The Rage suggests The Substitute (in Horror). There are two things I want to point out to start with when it comes to this movie. The first one has to do with the cover. When you look at the cover, you see some sort of female demon-like creature on it, with creepy-looking kids behind her. Clearly, the movie is targeted at people who liked movie such as The Grudge and The Ring, which, by the way, was the reason I picked this one up. Secondly, the rating seems a little odd. The cover says that the film has an R rating because of the language. Now although this might be right, I don’t remember anything too offensive to warrant a rating like this, especially when you take into account that the target crowd for this movie in Europe was more like Harry Potter viewers than anything else. So I think it’s safe to say that this movie is a little misrepresented. You’ll find this little Danish gem in our horror section, but don’t think you’ll be terrified out of a good night’s sleep. Directed by the guy who was responsible for the Danish and American versions of the excellent Nightwatch, in this one a class filled with 14 year olds is confronted by an attractive blond substitute teacher called Ulla. The new teacher appears to have some powers the best teachers don’t usually consistently display, like mind reading. It doesn’t take long for the kids to discover that their teacher is actually an alien, who traveled to earth to mate. And although they try and tell their parents about Ulla, each time the clever alien charms her way out of the students’ accusations, and inches closer toward her diabolical objectives. Just like the Swedish movie Let The Right One In, this one is pleasantly over the top when it comes to its idea, but it shows so much heart that you just can’t help but go ahead and love it.
>>> April suggests Office Killer (in the Incredibly Strange section). This is the movie you must rent tonight. It will blow your mind in very subtle ways. Directed by the amazing photographer Cindy Sherman and starring Carol Kane, Molly Ringwald, and Jeanne Tripplehorn ! C’mon! Rent it! Need more? The plot goes like this: a timid office worker accidentally kills one of her coworkers, setting off a chain of amusing deaths. Why is this film not a cult classic? Sigh.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Some Like It Hot (in Classics). It’s winter in Chicago, 1929. Two innocent musicians (Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon, who play old friends with marvelous on-screen chemistry) happen to witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre… and the mob ain’t keen on witnesses, y’know? Penniless and desperate to get out of town, they sign up for a gig down in Florida. There’s just one little hitch: it’s an all-girl band, starring singer/ukelele-player Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe), a winsome, troubled gal with a penchant for saxophone players. Billy Wilder’s gender-switching comedy of errors is arguably Monroe’s best film (and a scattery, sweet, vulnerable performance that reportedly was dragged out of her with great pains), its comedy playing simultaneously on several levels and always with a winning self-consciousness.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests ‘Freaks and Geeks’- the complete series (in Comedy). The whole ‘the complete series’ thing should be a tipoff to the fact that no one watched this hilarious, heartbreaking, breathtakingly-nigh-perfect show and so it was cancelled, presumably to make room for something dreadful, awful, and soul-deadening, and just what America deserves…and so it joins the ranks of shows like ‘Arrested Development’, ‘Police Squad’, ‘Firefly’, and ‘Futurama’, all of which were, apparently, too good for this benighted country and its slack-jawed, jabbering, nitwit inhabitants…I guess network TV needed more room for Jim Belushi sitcoms and reality shows!!! AIIIIEEEE!!! Attica! Attica! Attica! Fine, fine…I’m over it. Anyway, my sweet baby (Mrs. Elsa S. Customer, to you) bought me the boxed set for festivus, and we re-watched it all in one massive go, and, of course we fell in love
with it all over again, and now, as I’m writing this, we’re watching the very last episode ‘Discos and Dragons’, and I’m getting absolutely furious all over again!!!! AAAUUUGHHHH! Anyway. It’s the most perceptive and truthful series about teenagers ever made, which, along with Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, could make up the entire curriculum of a secondary education course. (It seriously would benefit any high school teacher or guidance counselor, or parent, I’ve ever met). Set in 1980, it begins as the portrait of Lindsay and Sam Weir, two nice kids from a middle class family, as they navigate the treacherous waters of a typical Michigan high school. Sam’s a small-for-his-age guy, just trying to survive, and Lindsay, still reeling from the death of her beloved grandmother, is an honor student who has taken to questioning things and starts taking tentative steps toward the unkempt stoner kids who seem to represent the rebellion she’s suddenly craving. Written by people like Judd Apatow, Paul Feig, and Mike White, ‘Freaks and Geeks’ combines laughs, painful teenage reminiscences, and all-around, pitch-perfection in unprecedented greatness. The cast launched Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, Jason Segel, James Franco, and should have launched a few more, if the world were fair (I am rooting for Martin Starr [look for him in Adventureland], whose soulful ubergeek Bill Haverchuk is easily the most affecting character on the show). The thing that struck me about the show upon the re-watch was how generous the writing of each character was, without ever losing sight of their limitations. Everybody gets their due, and all the relationships ring absolutely true. Check out this list: ‘The Wire’, ‘The West Wing’, ‘Six Feet Under’, ‘The Sopranos’…and ‘Freaks and Geeks’. Along with the previously-mentioned, they’re the best shows I’ve ever seen.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests This American Life- seasons 1 & 2 (in Documentary). For two short seasons, Ira Glass and his talented crew transferred their storytelling magic to the television screen in This American Life. And magic it is —- somehow, at crucial moments in these wildly varying stories, time slows down and seems to stand still, waiting for the next bated word. In only 12 short episodes, they bring us some indelible stories. Standout segments: in Pandora’s Box, the midnight shift at a Chicago hot dog stand unexpectedly reveals contemporary racial tensions; in Reality Check, a family tries to cope with the bull cloned at their request, resulting in a story which The Onion A.V. Club describes as “Pet Sematary by way of The New Yorker.”
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Take it from me: kids love Russ Meyer.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Andy suggests Exorcist III (in Horror). Good news for fans of William Friedkin’s 1973 film The Exorcist: here’s a film that will help erase the awful memory of Exorcist II: The Heretic (which Videoport no longer owns…you’re welcome). The Exorcist III, written and directed by William Peter Blatty from his novel Legion, is a pretty solid, smart, and scary movie- not quite up there with the original, but a worthy sequel. Lieutenant Kinderman (played by Lee J. Cobb in the original, replaced by George C. Scott here) is having a bad day. First, someone is committing horrific murders in the style of the Gemini Killer,
who has been dead for fifteen years. Next, it’s the fifteenth anniversary of the night his friend, Father Karras, jumped down a staircase to his death. If that’s not enough, his mother-in-law is in town, and she’s keeping a live carp in the bathtub, so Kinderman hasn’t bathed in days! Yes, besides being creepy and mysterious, Exorcist III has a sense of humor that the original was lacking. Jason Miller, playing ‘Patient X’, is the only original cast member to return, but this is the only Exorcist sequel that ‘feels’ right. It’s also serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s favorite movie. So there.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests Harvey (in Classics). Harvey is a pooka, an invisible animal spirit; his form happens to be a six-foot-tall white rabbit. Harvey is visible only to his best friend, Elwood P. Dowd, a harmless dipsomaniac who spends his days slowly tippling away his inheritance in a neighborhood dive. This apparent delusion distresses Elwood’s family, partly because it damages their social reputation, and they decide that he must be cured of his illness. Uh-oh. The best part of this whimsical little film is the lovable Jimmy Stewart being all gosh-darned lovable with both barrels: he dodders and stutters, speaks gently and kindly, listens with sincerity, makes thoughtful moues and nods to his fellow characters, and spends the whole films in a richly alcoholic haze of benevolence.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (middling animated movie about a scientist who can create meat from thin air at least features a varied and overqualified voice cast, nicluding Bill Hader, James Caan, Mr. T!, Will Forte, Anna Faris, Bruce Campbell, and Neil Patrick Harris), ‘Chuck’- season 2 (the cult comedy [meaning, of course, on the verge of cancellation] about a reluctant nerd-turned-superspy, hits the DVD), ‘Big Love’- season 3 (Bill Paxton and his bigamist brood are back for another season of this surprisingly-gripping HBO series), The Final Destination (purportedly the final of the Final Destination movies, wherein subpar actors cheat Death only to see Death get back at them in Rube Goldbergian ways, this one features some optional 3-D gore! Delicious!), 50 Dead Men Walking (gripping Irish thriller about a
brass-balled real life guy from Belfast who joins the IRA as an informant for the British), Trucker (well-regarded indie drama about the titular carefree, boozin’ lady truck driver who finds her estranged 11 year old kid dropped on her mudflaps one day and has to adjust; costarring my main man Nathan Fillion [that’s ‘Firefly’‘s Captain Mal Reynolds to you…), Adam (Hugh Dancy plays a brilliant, hunky guy with serious mental issues whose cute new neighbor attempts to cuddle back to health in this romantic drama), Lorna’s Silence (the newest heartbreaking drama from the Dardenne brothers [La Promesse, L’enfant], this time about a trio of immigrants hatching a predictably-tragically-doomed plan to remain in Belgium), The Escapist (good ol’ Brian Cox leads an interesting cast in this British prison break movie), Diminished Capacity (dark comedy/drama about a young reporter with sudden memory loss [Matthew Broderick] who moves in with his Alzheimers-afflicted uncle [Alan Alda]), A Woman in Berlin (heavy German drama about the titular woman, a still-loyal Nazi in the days immediately after Germany surrenders, who makes a series of deals to protect herself from the rape-happy Russian invaders).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: ‘The Paper Chase’- season 1 (John Houseman wants you to look to your left, and then to your right; one of the people you just looked at will rent this 80’s law school drama series, while the other two will move on to the Incredibly Strange section), Freeze Frame (thriller about a murder suspect who films himself 24 hours a day to always provide himself with an alibi), Loren Cass (searing, daring indie drama about aimless, frustrated teens coping with 1997 Florida race riots), Frank’s Depression (this one lives in the Incredibly Strange section…you’ll have to find out the details there yourself…), Animal Love (Werner Herzog, speaking of this documentary about disenfranchised people who seek out the companionship of animals rather than humans, said “Never have I looked so directly into hell”; so, you know, have fun with that…), Models (another pseudodocumentary by Animal Love‘s Ulrich Seidl, this time about the desperate, self-destructive lives of a trio of would-be models).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: A History of Violence, Body Heat, Bottle Rocket, Jennifer’s Body, 9, Star Trek (2009), Blade Runner, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.
Yup, get a bunch of film geeks together on a busy holiday weekend (thank you for that, by the way, loyal Videoport customers) and, invariably, their conversation turns to which famous actors have shown us their weiners. (On film, of course…) Call it a feminist flip-flop (so to speak) of the age-old ogling of naked women in film, call it a shocking waste of time, call it juvenile if you must, but here is our list of all the famous dudes we could think of who’ve bared it all for your pleasure(?):
Ewan McGregor (in Young Adam, Velvet Goldmine, Trainspotting, and The Pillow Book)
Harvey Keitel (in The Piano, Bad Lieutenant, and Holy Smoke)
Robin Williams (in The Fisher King and World’s Greatest Dad)
David Bowie (The Man Who Fell to Earth)
Rip Torn (The Man Who Fell to Earth)
Sylvester Stallone (Italian Stallion)
Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises)
Kevin Bacon (Wild Things)
Bruce Willis (The Color of Night)
Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
Eric Stoltz (Naked in New York)
Vincent Gallo (The Brown Bunny)
Mark Rylance (Intimacy)
Peter Sarsgaard (Kinsey)
Malcolm McDowell (Caligula)
Frank Langella (Lolita)
Julian Sands (A Room With a View)
Rupert Graves (A Room With a View)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Tom Berenger (At Play in the Fields of the Lord)
Ted Levine (The Silence of the Lambs- sort of a judgement call, but the judges rule that it counts)
So that happened… Did we overlook your favorite celebrity weenis? Send us your suggestion (along with anything else movie-related, even if it has nothing to do with penises, to firstname.lastname@example.org!)