VideoReport #232

Volume CCXXXII- The Revengenator

For the Week of 1/26/10

Videoport gives you a free rental every single day. And is therefore awesome.

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 Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). I can recommend this movie for the solid half that is reminiscent of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. The space battles between the Enterprise crew and the murderous Kilngons are as exciting as anything in Khan. But the rest of the movie strains believability. You’ll see…

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

>>> Regan, Andy and Dennis2/The Rage recommend Chopper (in Action/Adventure). What do your favorite Videoport nerds do when they’re not at work? Well, get drunk and watch movies. Duh. The following is the transcript of their ‘Australian Night’ viewing of the excellent, insane Aussie film Chopper (starring a very young and completely-unrecognizable Eric Bana). Strap yourselves in:

7:15- ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’!

7:53- G.I. Jane license plate spotted.

8:07- MoNique wins. Oh yeah.

8:15- Montgomery. Flea market. Dinette set. YouTube it.

8:34- Pom’s Thai Taste. Andy gets free pain reliever with his Thai wrap!

9:04- Chopper begins. No subtitles.

9:05- Just like. Mini-mall. Montgomery. It’s just like. Oh yeah.

9:09- Second Foster’s. We all unbutton pants. Except Andy.

9:26- “Sh*t! Mom stabbed me; better get to the hospital.”- Chopper

9:38- “Cheers, big ears.”- Chopper’s Dad

9:57- Golden Globes break!

10:13- “You havin’ a winge?”- Chopper

10:22- Add Bana to the d*ck list!*

10:40- Downey wins a Globe. He’s still funny sober. Go figure.

10:43- It’s snowing!

10:43- Andy’s tried Akavit for the first time.

10:44- Andy’s a little drunk.

10:45- Best Actor…Jeff Bridges!! T- Bone!!

10:54- That skag Julia Roberts is on. She looks a bit toasted. Good for her. Oh, Avatar. BOOOO…OO…OO. D*cks. Tarantino. Atrophied. Floss. Dry hump.**

11:05- “Tastes like soda.”- Andy, about Foster’s lager.

11:16- “And other assorted scalliwag behavior.”- Chopper

11:38- Dissolves into total nonsense.

11:40- “The year 2000!”- Chopper

“Oh no, he’s gonna kill the chicken!”- Regan

11:48- “We should get t-shirts! For our club!”- Dennis2

“Akavit” X2. “Akavit!”

*This appears to be a reference to VideoReport #229 in which we ran an in-depth listing of all the male celebrities who have appeared with their tackle out on screen. We overlooked Mr. Bana’s private parts on that list; we heartily apologize for the oversight.

**This appears to be a reference to…um…

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

>>> Dennis suggests ‘Mad Men’ (in Feature Drama). Note: in this review and the next, I will reveal the flaws that keep me from wholeheartedly recommending two TV series that I actually quite like, because I’m so smart and I can’t just sit back and enjoy something but have to obsessively pick it apart, thus robbing myself of all joy and laughter. So- Mad Men. Everybody loves it; cool, stylish 1960’s glamour, some snappy, smart satire, and that John Hamm is easy on the eyes, I’ll tell you that for free. Plus, the architectural marvel that is Christina Hendricks…sweet fancy Moses! Anyway, I recently watched the first two seasons, about the sexy, sexist, swingin’ shenanigans at a high-powered Madison Avenue advertising firm, and I really liked it; Hamm’s brilliant, conflicted, legendarily-philandering exec is the nicely shaded moral center of the show, while the supporting cast is solid and there’s some pretty affecting stuff and some unexpected humor. Of course, I have some complaints. As the beleaguered Mrs. Draper, January Jones is just right at the start, when she’s required to be all pretty and blank and in a daze of cocktails and denial, but when Betty is required to show the stirrings of a repressed soul, well, she’s just seemingly not up to the task of playing a human. And the satire seems a little too pat and cute from time to time: sexism/racism is bad! People sure smoked and drank a lot! But my main complaint is that the series need to provide Don Draper with a big, dark buried secret seems so beside the point; instead of concentrating on deepening the examination of early-60s America, or advertising, or the transformation of sex roles, much of the show gets devoted to unraveling a pretty contrived little mystery that’s none too compelling or convincing in its own right. Like ‘The Sopranos’, ‘Mad Men’ is limited by its limited view of its characters; like I said about the wiseguys, examining the complexities of meerkat behavior is pretty fascinating, but, in the end, you’re still watching ‘Meerkat Manor’. All that being said, I still liked the show a lot. And that Christina Hendricks…as my (purportedly-heterosexual) wife keep exclaiming whenever she comes on the screen, “That’s just over the line!”

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

>>> Dennis suggests ‘Battlestar Galactica’ (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). And here’s the second universally-adored show I have a few bones to pick with. (Yeah, I’m ending a sentence with a preposition; that’s how annoyed I am just thinking about it). Now, sure, I’m a geek. Of various kinds. Even a sort-of sci fi geek (‘Firefly’ is one of the greatest series, of any kind, I’ve ever seen). And so I dutifully checked out this reboot of the terminally-silly 70s show about the last few thousand human beings in the universe fleeing from their would-be executioners, the robotic Cylons and things were zipping along nicely; the acting was a decided upgrade (Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell are standouts), as were the special effects, and the general level of script sophistication. And then, like on ‘Mad Men’, the show tosses in a completely-unnecessary plot device which, apart from being on the silly side, detracts from the dramatic potential and intensity of the set-up. You know what I’m talking about- weaselly sort-of traitor Baltar (James Callis is pretty good at acting utterly untrustworthy) starts seeing visions of a sexy, slutty Cylon lady and that introduces a whole level of metaphysical, melodramatic whim-wham that does absolutely nothing for me; the central concept is sure-fire stuff, what with THE HUMAN RACE ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION!!! Shepherding resources, making wrenching, impossible sacrifices for the sake of the big picture, exploring the concepts of society, politics, biology- man, there’s just so much inherent drama there that I question the need to introduce trampy head-ghosts. Dumb, dumb idea in an otherwise pretty good series.

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

>>> Dennis suggests that we save the “let’s teach the kids how to put the DVD in the player” lessons for a day when we’re using our own DVDs, and not the ones that belong to those nice people at Videoport!

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 The King of Comedy (in Feature Drama). Aspiring comic Rupert Pupkin (Robert DeNiro) has one dream: to meet late-night TV host Jerry Langford (played with startling acuity by Jerry Lewis) and, through him, to achieve fame. The problem: he has no experience, no bookings, no act except the one he’s practiced in his mother’s basement for years. Pupkin doesn’t see that this might be a problem. He believes, with the fervent belief of the slightly mad, that if he can just meet Jerry, everything else will miraculously fall into place. His only friends are similarly starstuck and mad (particularly notable is Sandra Bernhard as another stage-door stalker), and they only reinforce his loony certainty, giving him a curious air of confidence. Revisiting Scorsese’s underwatched film The King of Comedy, I saw that it was a perfect companion piece to his much-lauded Taxi Driver. Once again, Scorsese and DeNiro conspire to create an indelible portrait of a man obsessed. Indeed, King of Comedy presents a hellishly complete anxiety by repressing every chance for emotional release; where Taxi Driver offers moments of recognizable violence and vulgarity to relieve the audience’s building tension, King of Comedy simmers with a terrible submerged anger and a deep sense of dread. The plot unfolds with excruciating deliberation and dreadful humor that only Scorsese could deliver. This movie is all about the power of the pathetic and the pathological, and — boy oh boy — does it deliver.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests he not forget to put a Sunday review in the hard copy of the VideoReport….available now at Videoport!

New Releases this week at Videoport: Michael Jackson: This Is It (sort-of concert movie cobbled together from the hours of rehearsal footage filmed of Jackson’s last set of concerts, you know, the ones that didn’t happen because he died while rehearsing for them…), ‘MI-5’- season 7 (new season of the gritty, gripping British spy series), ‘Southland’- season 1 (first season of the critically-acclaimed cop show), Soul Power (remember the awesome Mohammed Ali documentary When We Were Kings, about the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight with George Foreman in Zaire? Well, remember how, as part of the festivities, there was an equally-awesome lineup of American and African soul musicians, like BB King, James Brown and others? Well this companion documentary shows those performances in their entirety…you should really watch this.), I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell (lucky-ass blogger Tucker Max has his juvenile, sexist inline scribblings turned into a- wait for it- juvenile, sexist movie!), The Boys Are Back (Clive Owen stars in this weepie about a sportswriter dad turned single father after something horrible happens; directed by the guy who did Shine), Act of God (oddball documentary explores the experiences of several people who have been struck by lightning, including some who feel that God had something to do with it [presumably because they were saying something like, “…and may God strike me dead if…” at the time]), Import Export (two Eastern Europeans, unsatisfied with life in the Ukraine and Austria respectively, head in opposite directions, thinking the grass has got to be greener elsewhere), St. Trinian’s (wacky British comedy about an all-girls school’s students’ attempts to save the place from closing down), Outrage (documentarian Kirby Dick [This Film Is Not Yet Rated] brings his tenacious investigative method [some might call it stalking] to this film exposing gay-bashing, conservative Republican politicians who are, shocker!, secretly-gay, self-hating hypocrites!), Surrogates (Bruce Willis stars in this sci fi action flick about a society where everybody just sits at home getting fat while their robotic…surrogates!…go around in the outside; the filmmakers’d like you to think of it like Avatar), Whip It (Videoport’s got lots of copies of this Drew Barrymore-directed sports drama about a young girl who finds herself when she straps on some skates and some elbow pads and kicks ass with a local roller derby team; don’t forget to check out Portland’s own Maine Roller Derby for some serious local lady butt-kickers, some of whom rent at Videoport…so watch yourself!), Saw VI (they’re still making these? Well, enjoy…), Bright Star (director Jane Campion [The Piano] brings us this period romance about the love affair between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne), Little Ashes (Twilight hunklet Robert Pattinson tries to broaden his image playing legendary surrealist artist Salvador Dali as he pals around with poet Frederico Garcia Lorca and filmmaker Luis Bunuel; please check out some of Bunuel’s films at Videoport, Twilight fans- you can even rent one on a double feature with Twilight if you want…), ‘The Simpsons’- season 20 (Matt Groening jumped ahead to bring out the venerable series’ vigintennial season on DVD).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Quiet Chaos (the ever-fascinating Nanni Moretti [Caro Diario, The Son’s Room] stars in this bittersweet comedy about a grieving Italian executive), Worlds Apart (Danish drama about a young Jehovah’s Witness who falls in love with a heathen), Mermaid (Russian comedy drama about a fanciful young woman whose childlike wonder is shaken when she moves to the big city), Moscow Belgium (Belgian/Dutch romantic comedy about a beleaguered houswife who falls in love with the young, hunky truck driver she backs into in a parking lot; ask Videoport’s own resident Dutch-person Dennis2/The Rage for his take on this one), Hori Smoku Sailor Jerry (documentary about the legendary tattoo artist), Mancora (Y Tu Mama Tambien-compared erotic drama about some aimless, sexually-flexible tourists on their way to the titular legendary South American vacation destination), Husbands (the long-awaited DVD release of the John Cassavetes sausage fest starring Ben Gazzarra, Peter Falk, and the director), A Charlie Brown Valentine (tune in your childhood to see if anyone Choo-choo-chooses Charlie Brown this time around), The Headless Woman (acclaimed French thriller about a well-off woman who runs someone over, doesn’t tell anyone, and then goes gradually insane with guilt and worry- enjoy!).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Mama Mia!, Castaway, The Golden Compass, Rock N Rolla, Dodgeball, The Day After Tomorrow, The Princess Bride, Super Troopers, 8 1/2, Magnolia, Gamer, Surrogates, Whip It, The Invention of Lying, Whiteout, Cliffhanger, Interview With the Vampire, The Visitor, A Clockwork Orange, Pandorum, The New World, Top Gun, Taken, 28 Days Later, Angel Heart, Slumbog Millionaire, Twilight.

Get free money at Videoport!

You can buy yourself $25 worth of rental credit at Videoport for only $20 (a 20% discount!), or you can buy yourself $40 worth of rental credit for only $30 (a staggering 25% discount on Videoport’s already shockingly-low prices)! What’s the catch? Well, you have to like free money, I suppose…

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