Volume CCXXXVII- Where the Wild Things Are
For the Week of 3/2/10
Videoport- locally owned, packed with the best movies of all time, staffed with friendly movie knowitalls, and still kicking ass for our twenty-third straight year.
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 A History of Violence (in Mystery/Thriller). You might have noticed that one of our DVD copies of A History of Violence has an old review of mine taped to the cover, partially obscuring Viggo Mortensen’s face. Sorry about that. Besides being a handsome man, he’s just fascinating to look at. I just watched A History of Violence again, and found that I could not look away from Mortensen’s face. In the movie, he plays a small town family man who may, or may not, be a gangster-in-hiding. In scene after scene, I studied his face, looking for any sign of violent undercurrents, a twitch of evil hidden in his pleasant, wholesome countenance. Credit goes to the director, David Cronenberg, but also to Viggo, for simply having that great face, and knowing how to use it.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests The Maltese Falcon (in Mystery/Thriller, but it’s undeniably a Classic, so…). It’s easy to think of film noir as a grubby, gritty landscape of gruff people pulling guns on each other, cracking wise, and knocking back cheap whiskey from a glass that rolls around the desk drawer. But a good noir has some restraint and a sense of humor. A really good noir is more interested in the characters than in their (inevitably grim, potentially lucrative) situation. A masterpiece of noir shows how characters of all kinds — not just tightjawed private eyes — behave when fortune and lives are on the line. Three deliciously polite sentences, phrased and delivered with a precise and deliberately un-noir-y delicacy, make up perhaps my favorite quote in all of film noir. They are delivered by the orchid-scented, white-gloved small-time crook Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) when Sam Spade (Bogart at his best) requests another meeting, and Lorre overlays them with Cairo’s tightly controlled panic at the thought of another roughing up, or maybe worse: “No, no! Our private conversations have not been such that I am anxious to continue them. … Forgive me for speaking so bluntly, but it is the truth.” Delicious.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests renting in the middle of the week. Seriously. Sure, the weekend gets all the glory, but it’s the smart, savvy, sexy Videoport customer who takes advantage of the weekday specials to get the most out of his/her rental dollar. Here’s what I’d do (if I didn’t get all my rentals for free and like to rub that fact in people’s faces): I’d come in on a Wednesday or Thursday- hmmm, no lines, everything’s in, and more time to chat with my favorite Videoport knucklehead and get some nice, leisurely recommendations. Then, I’d take advantage of the daily special (free Comedy or Foreign Language film on Wednesday, anything at all free on Thursday) and pair up that hot new release I want with a free rental (maybe one recommended by that one special Videoport clerk, who’d pick out the perfect, complimentary, double-feature film to complement my new release choice). Then, I’d extend the new release for only and extra $1.75, which’d make both movies due in three days (getting them until either Saturday or Sunday), all for only $5.24 total. That’s just a couple of bucks apiece, I avoid the rush, get everything I’ve ever wanted, and prove to everyone how smart (and sexy) I am. That’s what I’d do…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>April suggests Daughters of Darkness (in Horror). I sure do like lesbian vampires. I also have a crush on Louise Brooks, and this movie has a lesbian vampire with a Louise Brooks haircut! Score! A couple on their honeymoon comes across the lady vampires in a hotel on the Belgian coast. Things don’t go too well for them.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> April suggests The Bad News Bears. No! Not the new one! The classic one with Walter Matthau, Tatum O’Neal, and Jackie Earl Haley. Believe it or not, I’d never seen this movie until the other night, and boy, what a movie it is! Crass. Rude. Politically incorrect. Everything you want in a baseball movie! Except this one’s about kids and it’s rated PG, only really it should be rated PG-13 because of all the underage drinking, smoking, and swearing. Just because a movie revolves around kids doesn’t mean it’s okay for kids to watch. That being said, I’d totally let my kid watch this, if I had one, which I don’t. It’s one of those rare kids movies that doesn’t talk down to kids. It’s got guts, heart, and soul. It’s awesome!
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 Fear X (in Mystery/Thriller). Okay, I’m going to ‘fess up straight-away: This movie was handy, and I popped it in to kill a few minutes. (To be honest, the silly title made me think it was a formulaic B-movie thriller that would wear out its welcome quickly.) I found myself glued to the screen, and only broke away when I absolutely had to… so, at the time of this writing, I’ve only seen the first hour. But believe me when I say: I am going to sit down and watch it from beginning to end as soon as I have a chance. That was the confession; now here’s the review. Harry Cain (John Turturro) is a pleasant but poker-faced security guard in a Midwestern mall, a quiet and self-contained fellow whose one interest lies in researching the recent (and unsolved) shooting death of his wife. Harry’s spends his free time obsessively watching the grainy security footage from the mall’s archives, which may capture the killing on tape… or may not. Cain’s compulsive need to watch and re-watch this flawed and pixilated footage may have more to do with his uncertainty about his wife, about his marriage, about his life. Up to this point, the film centers around the fuzziness of photos, of memories, or certainty; Fear X owes something to classic ambiguous thrillers Blow Up and The Conversation. Most of this is thanks to Turturro, who does a great deal with very little; this film is not afraid of long wordless stretches, or of letting the audience fill in some blanks. With a very small, well-chosen cast and shot with beautiful restraint, the absurdly named Fear X is a potent and ambiguous little thriller from writer Hubert Selby, Jr., (Last Exit to Brooklyn, Requiem for a Dream) and Nicolas Winding Refn (of the acclaimed Pusher trilogy).
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘Futurama’ (in Animation). How nerdy are you? A) Not nerdy. You will probably enjoy Futurama, a show (from Simpsons geniuses Matt Groening and David X Cohen, among others) which humorously details the adventures of Philip J. Fry, a 20th century dope who had an accident with a pizza, a beer, and a cryogenics lab (you know how it is) and awakens in the year 3000. . There will be jokes you won’t get, but the good news is: they’re so well integrated into the story that you won’t even notice them as they whizz past. B) Pretty nerdy. You will love this show, and you will get most of the jokes. C) All of it. I am all of the nerdiness that ever was or will be, coiled up into a nerdilious mass. You: listen to the commentary, which includes extra! bonus! nerdiness! including even more jokes about mathematics, physics, and social history than you can shake a stick at (because you can’t shake a stick at an intangible like “more jokes”). During one writer discussion of a particularly precise math joke, voice actor Billy West chimes in, “That is the nerdiest thing in the universe! But it’s only the fifteenth nerdiest thing in Futurama!” (Which in itself is a pretty nerdy joke.)
April’s VHS Corner!
Don’t you just love obsolete technology?! 8-Track, vinyl, and now VHS! (Do you even remember Beta? I don’t.) On the Videoport website http://www.videoport.myvideostore.com you can find a way to turn your old VHS player into a toaster but I say “hold up!” Before you trash your player, you should watch the following films that exist only on VHS.
Dogs In Space (in Feature Drama). Michael Hutchence in a punk rock Australian drama that’s kinda like the British show ‘The Young Ones’ (in the British Humour section), only grittier and sadder. When it ended, I felt satisfied with its bleakness.
Rubin & Ed (in Comedy). My hero Crispin Glover in an odd little beautifully crafted movie. I haven’t seen it in a while, but I remember Crispin forcing this guy to go on a road trip with him and his dead cat. Also, he has the best outfit ever! “My cat can eat a whole watermelon!”
Paperhouse (in Horror). A sickly little girl creates a drawing that comes to life. At first, it’s a dream world, but it soon turns into a hideous nightmare. Also, it’s got Glenne Headley (Bartleby, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels). Glenne Headley!
Dennis’ even smaller corner of April’s VHS Corner!
Betrayal (in Feature Drama). This film version of Harold Pinter’s play is possibly the worst date night movie of all time (except, of course for Irreversible, and, for unrelated reasons, Captain Ron). A three person drama starring Ben Kingsley, Jeremy Irons, and Patricia Hodge, it follows a pair of relationships (comprised of the three of them) from the end, when everyone’s full of boredom, resentment, and pain, backwards to the rosy, dewey beginnings, and showing how they got there through, well, betrayal. Kingsley is truly stunning and the whole enterprise’ll make you look askance at your seemingly-contented life partner as you watch. (Plus, idiot producer Sam Spiegel chose the workmanlike Hodge over Helen Mirren for her role because he thought Mirren’s butt was too big. Great work, dumbass…)
New Releases this week at Videoport: Where the Wild Things Are (director Spike Jonze creates an all-time classic out of the beloved children’s book; brilliant and beautiful), Ponyo (speaking of brilliant, here’s the new animated classic from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki; if you don’t know who he is, then ask a smart kid), 2012 (the world falls prey to tidal waves, earthquakes, and new agey dumbass nonsense predictions, and John Cusack and Woody Harrelson are there to collect paychecks in this megabudget thingamajig where things go smash real good), The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (Rebecca Miller [wife of Daniel Day Lewis and director of Personal Velocity and The Ballad of Jack and Rose] brings us this story of the young-ish wife [Robin Wright Penn]of a much older man who goes quietly nuts when her geriatric hubby moves them into a retirement community), Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story (documentary about the life and funny times of crossdressing, hilarious standup Izzard [whose stuff can be found in the British Humour section at Videoport, natch’), Gentlemen Broncos (from the people behind Napoleon Dynamite comes this comedy about a writing student whose sci fi novel is stolen by his once-famous professor; I hated Napoleon Dynamite, myself, but this one does have Jamaine Clement from Flight of the Conchords and Sam Rockwell).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Alice in Wonderland (in preparation for the sure-to-be-both-overblown-and-overrated Tim Burton version, Videoport brings in the DVD release of the 1933 version of the Lewis Carroll classic which stars the likes of Cary Grant, W.C. Fields, and Gary Cooper), Strawberry Shortcake: The Berryfest Princess Movie (oh, dear god..), The Road From Coorain (this epic drama about the variable fortunes of an Australian sheep-herding family stars the ever-compelling Juliet Stevenson [from Truly, Madly, Deeply]; also, on a movie knowitall, showoffy trivia note, it is the second film Videoport’s acquired this week [alongside The Private Lives of Pippa Lee] to costar character actor Tim Guinee [also in the excellent Sweet Land], who is very nice, as usual), Taxi Hunter (Hong Kong insanity from the director of the utterly, disgustingly bonkers Ebola Syndrome, this one’s about a mild mannered guy who goes bananas and starts killing off taxi drivers when his wife gets run over; watch out Guak!).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Wanted, American Gangster, King Kong (2005), Ponyo, 2012, Point Break, Romancing the Stone.
Free Money at Videoport!
Videoport’s got tow different (yet quite similar) savings plans whereby you get more than you pay for. If you pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account, we give you $25 dollars worth of rental credit. And, pre-pay $30, and you get $40 worth of rental credit. Call it a 20 or 25% discount on Videoport’s already-insane low rates, call it five or ten free bucks, call it incredibly generous (if you must)…
Free Parking at Videoport!
The parking lot behind the building is open after 5pm weekdays and all day on the weekends for free one-hour parking, and Videoport’ll get you a free hour of parking any day at any of the downtown parking garages- just ask! (Plus, of course, all parking meters are free after 6pm, Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday.)
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Videoport goes to the Oscars! Check out the Portland Press Herald on Oscar night where Videoport Jones and the Press Herald‘s Justin Ellis will be LIVE BLOGGING the entire event!! (Now will someone please explain what ‘live blogging is’? Is it something to do with computers?)