Volume CCXXXI- The Lion King Kong
For the Week of 1/19/10
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. You know…for kids!
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.)
>>> Andy suggests I Walked With a Zombie (in Classics). From the producer/director team behind Cat People (1942) comes I Walked With a Zombie (1943). I saw this years ago, and I didn’t really get into it. As a teenager, I wanted a zombie movie with rotting flesh and some brain-eating, not a moody melodrama with complex characters and no clear villain. Watching the movie again as a totally mature adult*, I was struck by the beautiful photography, spooky imagery, and intelligent writing. Now I see what all the fuss is about when people rave about Val Lewton’s low-budget, atmospheric chillers. Judging from this movie and Cat People , Lewton earned his reputation because he knew that good scripts don’t cost extra, and moody lighting goes a long way. Zombie’s story is basically Jane Eyre crossed with Rebecca, with some authentic-seeming voodoo mysticism thrown in.
*Editor’s note: hmmmm…
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis recommends The Golden Age of Television (in the Criterion Collection). The shadowy people behind the Crterion Collection are your heroes. You might not know this fact, but look at the evidence: they buy the distribution rights to pretty much every worthwhile movie in the history of the world, rescuing overlooked gems from obscurity and giving the deluxe treament to the classics of world cinema. Plus, every once in a while, they throw a completely unpredicatble screwball of a release at us, (cult films like Equinox, experimental shorts from Stan Brakhage, and Jean Painleve), and this selection of some of the best dramatic productions from the golden age of television. Check out this lineup: Marty (1953) starring Rod Steiger, Patterns (1955) written by Rod Serling, No Time for Sergeants (1955) starring Andy Griffith, A Wind from the South (1955) starring Julie Harris, Requiem for a Heavyweight (1956), a heartbreaker written by Palance and starring Jack Palance, the original version of 1956’s Bang the Drum Slowly starring a very young Paul Newman, The Comedian (1957), written by Serling again and starring Mickey Rooney, and The Days of Wine and Roses (1958) starring Piper Laurie and Cliff Robertson. Television has always been that vast wasteland everybody’s always thought it was, but, even in the bland fifties, it was occasionally a haven for the best and the brightest. Of course, that was before reality shows.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Cookie’s Fortune (in Comedy [and the Robert Altman shrine currently in the ‘Staff Picks’ section in the middle aisle). There’s no bigger Robert Altman idolator than I am, but this one usually slips my mind; luckily, that means I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it when I watched it again recently. I guess I always remember it as rather slight. And it is- it’s a slightly woozy Southern comic, sort-of crime melodrama that, in typical Altman style, takes it’s time introducing characters, relationships, and it’s plot (about the eccentric denizens of a small town dealing with an unexpected death). Maybe the inclusion of noted non-favorites like Liv Tyler and Chris
Donnell sabotages the film’s memory. Anyway, watching it again recently, I smacked myself around for having ignored it for so long; Cookie’s Fortune, while definitely minor-key Altman, is really delightful. Especially at home in the naturalistic Altman dialogue is Charles S. Dutton, as the drunken old family retainer/murder suspect, Ned Beatty as the avuncular sheriff, grand dame Patricia Neal as the titular Cookie, and Donald Moffat as a canny country attorney. Even O’Donnell and Tyler are actually pretty good. A charming, delightful, overlooked little minor classic from Altman.
Editor’s note: Videoport also picked up Altman’s similarly-overlooked film Streamers (out for the forst time on DVD). Check it out in the Altman shrine as well.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> April wants someone to explain the plot of Eden Log (in Sci-Fi), because by the end of the film I was confused and disappointed. All I could decipher was that this dude wakes up next to a dead guy underground and has to movie through levels to get to the top of the complex he’s in. There’s mutant monsters, some weird chick, and strange recordings that I suppose must somehow explain what was going on, but it didn’t. And then it has this bizarre, artsy ending. Keep in mind that it’s a French film, so…
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Videoport recommends taking a free kids movie. Seriously- it’s a no-brainer.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, B.S. Eliot suggests He’s Just Not That Into You (in Comedy). Going into this thing, I was bitchin’ to my cat about how Bennifer sucks and whatnot. However, as the end credits began to verticrawl, I realized that it was really the movie that was bitchin’! There is some real insight up in here, namely that you cannot help how or what you truly feel, what you truly want. You might go all Madame Bovary crash-and-burn trying to sort it out, or you may be all stylin’ and whatnot. But, such is the way of things and stuff. Really, it all boils down to the simple wisdom of Spock Nugent, “Live long, die young, and leave a prosperous-looking corpse.” The End.
>>>For Sunday, the Anonymous Drop Box reviewer* suggests Wayne’s World (in Comedy). I should warn you up front this is a rough one… Do you remember the Grey Pouopn commercial in which two fancy cars are stopped next to each other and the old, crusty, rich white guy in one car asks the old, crusty rich white guy in the other car if he has any Grey Poupon? Then the second guy responds, ‘But of course’, to the first guy because Grey Poupon is such a fancy mustard. (I remember my parents eating Grey Poupon on hot dogs, so I don’t know how fancy it is. Personally, I don’t care for mustard. That scene was recreated for comic effect in the 1992 film Wayne’s World. I realize I’m stretching to make this little rant of mine movie-related. The reason I’m mentioning this is on January 2nd, 2010, as I was walking through the parking lot of a grocery store, a woman in an SUV pulled up next to me and asked, “Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?”, to which I replied, “Ugh”, and kept walking. As they pulled away, I noticed that the woman in the passenger seat was videotaping the event. Just in case you read past it, let me reiterate the date- January 2nd, 2010…AD! The beginning of the second decade of the 21st century. I expected the next car to ask me, “Where’s the beef?” As I’m walking to my parked car, I’m already thinking of a witty retort that I wish I had said; it goes a little something like this- “Well slap a flannel shirt on my back and put a Pearl Jam Cassette in my tape deck, my time machine worked! It must be the year 1992, because that was the last time that joke was funny. By the way, if you have any desire to see Nirvana, don’t hesitate, because you have a finite amount of time to do so.” Ironically, and this is the honest truth, on my drive home I heard two different Pearl Jam songs on two different radio stations, both fro their first album. Back in the 1990s, my brother once flagged down a car on my street to ask for some Grey Poupon, my father scolded him and told him that a man once got shot for doing that. I can sympathize. Um…oh yeah, Wayne’s World. I know I’m supposed to recommend a movie here, but, honestly I can’t. I haven’t seen this movie in like 15 years. I’d like to think my taste in film has improved in that decade and a half, so I don’t trust my own recollection of it. However, if I can offer some advice to you readers, it’s this: if you’re thinking of repeating a joke once told by Mike Myers whilst wearing a wig, think twice.
*Editor’s note: we’ve pegged this person the Anonymous Drop Box Reviewer because, well, he/she (although probably ‘he’, don’t you think?) occasionally leaves reviews in Videoport’s (handy) drop box in the back parking lot, without signing them. Fair enough. If you’d like your movie reviews (or whatever this, in fact, was) in the VideoReport, go ahead and drop them in the drop box if you like, or even to us personally in the store. Also, you can send them to us at email@example.com. Or to our Myspace page http://www.myspace.com/videoportjones. Or to our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”. Or to our movie site http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com. Oh, and Wayne’s World is still pretty funny.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Invention of Lying (British comedy god Ricky Gervais writes and directs this comedy about a guy in a world where no one lies, finding out that lying…well, it can get you some stuff…),Pandorum (sci-fi spookiness with Dennis Quaid and Ben Foster waking up in a haunted spaceship with amnesia), Gamer (Gerard Butler and ‘Dexter”s Michael C. Hall star in this sci-fi action flick about people playing high tech online, interactive video games and getting all killed and stuff), Facing Ali (fascinating documentary with former opponents of the former Cassius Clay recalling all the various ways the champ beat the living crap out of them), Laila’s Birthday (a former Palestinian judge, forced to drive a taxi, tries to get home in time for his daughter’s birthday; modern-day Palestine has other plans, of course), ‘Robin Hood’- season 3 (the continuing adventures of the hottest Robin Hood the BBC has to offer), ‘Chuck’- season 2 (he’s a nerd! He’s a secret agent! He’s got a cult following!), Like Stars on Earth (a rebellious little dreamer kid is getting in all manner of trouble until he hooks up with an eccentric art teacher in this touching drama), Left Bank (Dutch/Belgian thriller about an athlete, sidelined by a mysterious ailment, who starts to suspect her European-y boyfriend is up to no good; talk to Videoport’s resident Dutch-fellow Dennis/the Rage if it’s accurate about how creepy the Dutch are…), Brothers at War (documentary follows a young filmmaker as he embeds himself as a journalist in Iraq, partly in order to understand the experiences of his two soldier brothers), According to Greta (white bread tween Hilary Duff tries to broaden her audience base by playing a suicidal teen whose cuddly gramma [Ellen Burstyn deserves a lot better] smooch her into shape; I may be cynical…), The Keeper (Steven Seagal…those who want to rent this need no more information; neither do those who don’t), Smokin’ Aces 2: Assassin’s Ball (remember that action movie…the one with all the…action? Well, this direct-to-DVD sequel exists…as well), ‘Damages’- season 2 (Glenn Close continues to be terrifying in this lawyer series; seriously, she scares me), No Impact Man (documentary about a Manhattan family who decide to live for a year without having any environmental impact whatsoever; and yes, Mr. Smartypants, the DVDs were packaged in carbon-neutral materials, which, unfortunately, we’ve had to replace with plastic immediately so that the case doesn’t disintegrate immediately upon the first rental…), ‘Weeds’- season 5 (Mary-Louise Parker is back, still hoping her innate adorableness will continue to keep her from being murdered by rival drug dealers in this weed-y dramedy series), You the Living (another mysterious, darkly comic Scandinavian film from Swedish director Roy Andersson [Songs from the Second Floor]), Death In Love (two sons of a woman who, they discover, had an affair with her concentration camp doctor, try to deal with their legacy in this no-doubt heavy drama; starring Jacqueline Bissett, Lukas Hass and Josh Lucas).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Che, Parts 1 & 2 (the Criterion people give the deluxe treatment to Steven Soderbergh’s massive biopic about the Cuban guerilla leader, starring the always-magnetic Benicio Del Toro), The Cherry Orchard (Videoport’s Andy brings us yet another obscure Japanese film, this time it’s about an all-girls school whose student body parallels the titular Chekhov play), ‘Star Wars- Clone Wars’- season 1 (the animated adventures of the George Lucas-verse; genuinely better than the prequels, anyway…), Dora the Explorer: Dora’s Christmas (some sort of children’s show, right?), UFC #47 (that stands for ‘Ultimate Fighting Championship’, in case you didn’t know, you pencil-necked geek…RRAAAAUUUGHHHH!!!), Fighter (who’s up for a Danish/Turkish action drama about a young woman rebelling against her parents in order to be a kickboxer? Me too…), Cranford: Return to Cranford (Judi Dench returns in this continuation of the British costume drama), Streamers (the Robert Altman-directed version of the David Rabe play stars Matthew Modine as one of a group of young recruits, headed for Vietnam, who try to figure some stuff out; look for it in the Robert Altman shrine in the Staff Picks section in the Middle Aisle), The Golden Age of Television (the Criterion Collection, as usual, does the human race a favor by releasing this prime selection of dramas from the golden age of television; check out the Tuesday review for the too-good-to-be-true details), Heartworn Highways (musical documentary about outsider musicians like Townes Van Zandt, Steve Earle, and others), Abbot & Costello Meet Frankenstein (the title pretty much sums this one up, don’t you think?), Clive Barker’s Book of Blood (direct-to-DVD horror movie based on a couple of stories from genuinely-terrifying story collection by Barker), here comes a whole slew of skiin’, snowboardin’, surfin’, Mountain Dew-drenched EXTREEEEEME sports documentaries: The B, The Drifter, Modern Collective, and Swift, Silent, Deep, and, please don’t say that Videoport never did anything for you- the Incredibly Strange section welcomes three prime examples of the lost film genre know as ‘nunsploitation’ with suspiciously saucy ladies of the cloth neglecting their vows in Images in a Convent, The Nuns of St. Archangel, and The True Story of the Nun of Monza! Remember…Videoport loves you and wants you to be happy.
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Riding Giants, No Reservations, 2010, Twilight, Up, Kingdom of Heaven, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Baraka, Basic Instinct, Beetlejuice, Constantine, Never Say Never Again, Moon.
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