Volume CCXXXIV- Rodan in the Iron Mask
For the Week of 2/7/10
Videoport gives you a free rental every day, has payment plans that’ll get you five or ten free bucks, will validate your parking, can answer all of your movie questions, and has the best selection of movies on the planet. If that makes us awesome, well, we’ll just have to live with that.
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.)
>>>Former Videoporter STOCKMAN suggests Krull (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). Yeah that’s right. I’m recommending Krull. Jeremy would be so proud! He loves that Cyclops! He’s the creepiest friend you’ll ever have. The Cyclops that is, not Jeremy. My new favorite part about the movie Krull, I found a connection between it and my love of Animal Planet’s The Most Extreme! I WIN! The red backed spider is the most extreme lover. In order to get a little somethin’ somethin’ the male spider has to pluck a little tune on the web and if plucks something crappy he gets his ass eaten. THE SAME THING HAPPENS IN KRULL! I bet a red backed spider wouldn’t follow his own father to the black fortress! Unless there were horses with fire hooves. The visual of a spider riding a horse is nutty. GO KRULL!
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests The Tall T (in Classics). Videoport recently acquired a boxed set of Westerns from director Budd Boetticher. You’re welcome. Boetticher was a crusty, talented director, and the boxed set contains his series of exceptional, low-budget Westerns, most starring Western icon Randolph Scott. In The Tall T (probably my favorite), Scott plays Pat Brennan, a retired gunslinger trying to live a quiet life. When his stagecoach, also containing a newlywed couple (fiery Maureen O’ Sullivan and a weakling) gets hijacked by Richard Boone and his gang of desperadoes, Brennan has to summon up his own violent past in order to set things right. It’s a well-acted, occasionally-intense Western drama (based on an Elmore Leonard story), with the simmering attraction between Scott and the brave but vulnerable O’Sullivan and the mirror image recognition of their common past of Scott and Boone being especially compelling. Like all of the Boetticher Westerns (Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche Station), The Tall T is a complex, well-crafted entry in the genre.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Annie Hall (in Comedy). Memo to Hollywood: romantic comedies don’t have to be stupid, frothy vehicles for gorgeous dummies. Take Annie Hall, for example. [spoiler alert!] Though it doesn’t have the unmitigated happy ending that some folks will crave on Valentine’s Day, Woody Allen’s beloved classic could be a model for future makers of romantic comedies: rather than taking two cardboard cutouts and jamming them into a meet-cute scenario, Annie Hall put complex, idiosyncratic characters into heightened but realistic situations and watches the interplay, comedic and dramatic, then intercuts them with the kind of hilariously heightened internal monologue that we all have running in our heads. It’s affecting, it’s knee-slappingly funny, it’s heartbreaking. It’s delightful.
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Cache (in Foreign Language). By far my favorite film from controversial director Michael Haneke, Caché is utterly naturalistic (without the fourth-wall tricks and twists of Funny Games), but utterly unsettling. Georges and Anne (Daniel Auteuil and Juliette Binoche), a comfortable couple settled into their comfortable lives, receive a very uncomfortable series of anonymous missives, starting with a videotape surveillance of their home. Unlike many of Haneke’s works, where he jams a cruel thumb in the eye of the viewer, Caché works on several levels: he leaves the viewer free to delve into the social history that underlies the story, engage with the metatextual questions that arise, or be satisfied with the straightforward narrative of bourgeois angst that is the surface story. It’s masterfully balanced and acted with great delicacy, and builds to a dreadful pitch without any of the cheap cinematic tension-building tricks we’re all so familiar with.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Former Videoporter STOCKMAN suggests This Film Is Not Yet Rated (in Documentary). I haven’t loved non-fiction based entertainment so much since my obsession with Animal Planet’s The Most Extreme! Seriously you do NOT want to f**k with termites or Tasmanian devils- those things are wicked extreme! You should also avoid the naked mole rat, just to be on the safe side. Speaking of nudity! I find the increasingly ridiculous reasons things are rated what they are rated to be highly entertaining. For instance…Two Towers is rated PG-13 for epic battle sequences and scary images, as if to imply if those battles were just slightly less epic the movie would’ve been much more suitable for children under 13. Groundhog Day is PG for thematic elements. Oh Groundhog Day if only you were a pointless movie with no theme you could’ve grabbed that coveted G rating! The Day After Tomorrow, intense situations of peril! What entails a mild situation of peril? Mean Girls, some teen partying. You know, not a ton, but more than a little. Here is the secret to where all this comes from, and its one you can discover in a most fascinating and educational manner. It comes from NOWHERE! For all intents and purposes a bunch of tools just make s**t up. My favorite part was if you want to argue your rating. If you think you had just a smidge of teen partying, which is way less than some, you are banned from past precedent! So you could not say…well you know Sixteen Candles is rated PG and you get rampant partying, slight underpants, and at least a little boob! You can’t say that. You also can’t be a male whip tailed lizard, because there aren’t any. EXTREME!
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Dennis suggests that you let your kids play, unsupervised, with your wedding china. Oh, wait- you don’t think that’s a great idea since the kids lack the judgement and motor skills necessary to treat it with care and respect and will undoubtedly smear, chip, and basically destroy the delicate things you hold dear? Hmmm- I wonder how that lesson could be applied to the renting of DVDs…
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 ‘Lost’ (in Mystery/Thriller). It’s a frustrating mix — the show has interesting characters, compelling mysteries, and a fascinating and diverse cast. But the big narrative arcs get so muddled and muddied served up in 45-minute bites, After a few seasons of being alternately excited, confounded, and (mostly) exasperated by weekly episodes, I gave up on watching Lost as a weekly broadcast. Only now do I realize that Lost is a show that understands its long-term medium: it was made to be watched on DVD, where you can see two or three episodes or more in quick succession, see the character interactions and the storylines loop together. Watching the program in long stretches is like stepping back from a pointillist painting: all the little dots start to resolve and give you a sense of the bigger picture. (I’m still not persuaded the writers can pull a series-end rabbit out of their hat, but on DVD, it’s entertaining enough to stick with anyhow.)
>>>For Sunday, Regan suggests White Palace (in Feature Drama). After hearing about Susan Sarandon and Tim Robins’ breakup and that she may have been having a tryst with a young table tennis enthusiast, I felt it would be appropriate to pop this steamy number into the DVD machine. And its preeeeeety good. I loves me some Spader and Sarandon does working class real good. And she smokes in a grocery store!! Jeezum crowbars! As I’m watching, I can’t help picturing Susan telling Tim Robbins, “Hit the road Timmy; you’ve gotten too old for me kid.”
New Releases this week at Videoport: A Serious Man (the new Coen Brothers movie, a dark comedy about Job-like Jewish man in the 1960’s trying to figure out why God has seemingly decided to beat the crap out of him), The Time Traveler’s Wife (Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams star in this swoony romantic drama about a guy who keeps time traveling against his will), Couples Retreat (Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Jon Favreau, and their beleaguered spouses all go to the titular relationship spa in this comedy directed by Ralphie from A Christmas Story; he’s gonna get his mouth washed out with soap…), Emma (lavish new BBC adaptation of the Jane Austen novel), The Stepfather (failed in every way remake of the underrated in every way horror thriller from the 80’s which starred the excellent Terry O’Quinn [Locke from ‘Lost‘]), I Hate Valentine’s Day (My Big Fat Greek Wedding‘s Nia Vardalos is back as yet another sad-yet-spunky single gal opposite John Corbett in this romantic comedy), Serious Moonlight (dark comedy was the last script by the late Adrienne Shelley [Waitress] about a wife [Meg Ryan] who duct tapes her adulterous husband [Timothy Hutton] to a toilet when she finds out he’s leaving her), Bronson (hyperviolent, crazy-ass British film about the titular psycho, a real-life career criminal called ‘the most dangerous prisoner in British history’), ‘The Life and Times of Tim’- season 1 (HBO animated comedy series is described as a cross between ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Dr. Katz’), ‘The Sarah Silverman Program’- season 2 (potty-mouthed cutie-pie comedian Silverman is back, charming and offending in equal measure), Hurricane Season (Forrest Whittaker stars in this true story of a high school basketball coach in post-Katrina New Orleans who tries to take a rag-tag team of students displaced by the disaster to the state championship), XIII: The Conspiracy (Stephen Dorff and Val Kilmer try to rejuvenate their careers in this thriller miniseries about the assassination of the first female US president; sadly for them, I hadn’t heard of this one before today…), Aziz Ansari: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (you know him as part of the sketch comedy troupe Human Giant [check out their series in the Comedy section], you love him as that weird little dude on ‘Parks and Recreation’, or as RAAAAAAAANDY! in Funny People; now check out Ansari’s standup styling in his first comedy special), Endgame (the always-excellent Chiwetel Ejiofor [Serenity, Talk to Me, Redbelt] and the always-darned-good William Hurt costar in this true story of the negotiations that brought about the Apartheid regime in South Africa), The Pleasure of Being Robbed (super low-budget [Variety called it ‘sub-mumblecore’] film about an eccentric, yet thoroughly larcenous, young woman), Peter and Vandy (Indie romantic drama shows a couple’s history all twisted and post-modern-y, contrasting their typically-screwed-up present with the cutesy-poo way they got together; watch the Harold Pinter-written Betrayal, starring Ben Kingsley and Jeremy Irons, for a much more insightful whack at the problem), I Can’t Think Straight (star-crossed lesbian lovers deal with the usual jerks trying to make them unhappy and repressed in this indie drama), Mr. Right (soapy British romantic drama/comedy about a group of gay men looking for, well, look at the title…).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Dante’s Inferno: An Animated Epic (yup, that’s what the man said- it’s an animated version of Dante’s Divine Comedy; Mark Hammill does a voice!), Free Style (Corbin Bleu, apparently a star of High School Musical, stars as a cutie-pie motocross rider), The Trial Begins (legendary French actress Fanny Ardant stars in this Italian thriller about a Talented Mr. Ripley– style con man), The Song of Sparrows (an Iranian ostrich-rancher [you gotta love any movie that opens with that description…] heads from his mountain village to the big, throbbing metropolis of Tehran in order to get his daughter a new hearing aid in this Iranian film), Far and Away (bowing to intermittent pressures, Videoport has finally added a DVD version of this truly dreadful Tom Cruise/Nicole Kidman film, featuring Tom’s hilarious version of an Irish accent), Troubled Water (a new movie from the Film Movement series, this Scandinavian film follows a young man, recently released from prison for the murder of a child [which he claims he didn’t do] who is recognized and spied on by the dead boy’s mother), Deewarein (Indian drama/thriller about the intertwined fates of three prisoners; fins it in Videoport’s ‘Indian Film/Bollywood’ section).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Land of the Dead, Near Dark, Appaloosa, Boogie Nights, Heat, Pan’s Labyrinth, Casablanca, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Blazing Saddles, Mongol, Battle of the Bulge, Knocked Up, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Hidalgo, Lord of War, Death Proof, Planet Terror, KIll Bill Part One, Kill Bill Part Two, Sin City, Terminator 3, Swordfish, Eyes Wide Shut, Universal Soldier, Napoleon Dynamite, The Searchers, The Brave One, Beerfest, The Jewel of the Nile, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Speed Racer, Burn After Reading, Bronson, The Hurt Locker, Zombieland, Planet of the Apes (2001), The Transporter, The Transporter 2, True Romance, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.