VideoReport #238

Volume CCXXXVIII- Rodan Who Shot Liberty Valance

For the Week of 3/9/10

Videoport salutes a certain mega-retailer for finally admitting that their ‘no late fees’ policy was a failure. We salute them less for lying about that policy in the first place, and only admitting it was fraudulent after their customers forced them to via a class action lawsuit. Still…kudos. (Oh and also for losing half a billion dollars last quarter. Keep it up, big blue!)

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.)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Lair of the White Worm (in Horror). I’m not sure what influenced director Ken Russell (Crimes of Passion, Altered States,Women in Love) to

Don't question it...

indulge in a brace of classic-horror schlockfests, but I’m ever so glad he did! Lair of the White Worm (adapted from a Bram Stoker story) delivers just what it says on the tin; don’t expect anything classed up or restrained. On the contrary — Russell delights in the florid excesses of the genre, and the whole mess seethes with giddy exuberance. It’s trash, but rich, self-aware, beautifully directed trash loaded with allusions as well as illusions. Amanda Donohoe (The Madness of King George, L.A. Law) is the venomously funny, blatantly seductive landed lady, Peter Capaldi (In the Loop, Torchwood, and an Oscar-winner for Franz Kafka’s It’s a Wonderful Life) is the archaeologist who unearths a mysterious cryptozoological specimen, and Hugh Grant is the Upper-class Twit of the Year. For a night of superglossy camp horror, pair this up with Russell’s Gothic.

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

>>> Regan suggests Barefoot in the Park (in Classics). I watched this film with my Chocolate-covered Kimmie while vacationing in STUNNING STRATFORD CONNECTICUT! And, normally, I’m totally into Ms. Jane Fonda, but her performance in this movie made me want to cut her throat.

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

>>> Dennis suggests you rent some movies during the week. Sure, the weekend renters get all the chicks/dudes/both, but it’s the smart and shyly-sexy Videoport renter who takes advantage of our midweek specials to ensure the weekend is all taken care of ahead of time (and therefore serene and peaceful for movie-watchin’ and snugglin’). Just come in, say on a Wednesday. Pick out that hot new release (new stuff comes out on Tuesday) and a complementary comedy or foreign language film for free to go along with it (thanks to Videoport’s awesomely-generous daily specials). My suggestion this week is to take this week’s very-satisfying Up In the Air along with a second steaming helping of Clooney with, say, O Brother Where Art Thou? Then, ask your friendly Videoport clerk to extend the new release to a 3-day rental for an additional $1.75. Now you’ve got a double-shot of Clooney all the way until 11pm Saturday for just over five bucks. And everybody knows that significant others/people you want to be significant others all get gooey over the Cloon…

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

>>>April suggests ‘The Simpsons’ (in Animation). Now I know it’s not hard to suggests ‘The Simpsons’ to you because, well, it’s ‘The Simpsons’! America’s favorite animated family! But what about the first season? When’s the last time you watched that? The animation is weird and the voices are even weirder. Or the 20th season? It’s brand new! Everyone kinda hated it, but it made me laugh real hard. I love the 20th season! Most people thought it sucked. You should watch it!

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

>>> Things children should never touch: porcupines, others’ swimsuit areas, the controls of a speeding locomotive, and OUR DAMNED DVDs!!! Seriously, people…

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests ‘Deadwood’ (in Feature Drama). The lovely Mrs. Elsa S. Customer and I finally dove into this HBO series recently. We’d put it off for a long time; no offense, it’s just that this Western show never got the buzz that ‘The Sopranos’ (slightly overrated) or ‘The Wire’ (appropriately, superlatively rated), and it had an odor of unpleasantness about it that I wasn’t psyched up enough about it to overcome. (Then again, what was I thinking? It’s not like those other two shows were all soft and fluffy.) Anyway, we dove in, and damned if this isn’t a really good show. The setup: the real-life settlement of Deadwood, cobbled together on top of illegally-taken Indian land in as-yet-unincorporated territory is outside of the reach of US government interference. There is no rule of law whatsoever, leaving the place to those strong and wily and brutal enough to impose their will. There’s gold in them thar hills, too, so there’s money in the hands of grubby prospectors and joints providing hookers, booze, and gambling to take it away. ‘Deadwood’s cast is populated with one of the most colorfully-entertaining collection of characters I’ve ever seen, all played by great character actors, most of whom are right at home in the Western milieu. There’s William Sanderson bringing his peerless sweaty weaseliness to E.B. Farnham, the obsequious hotelier and figurehead mayor, Paula Malcolmson’s Trixie, the smartest whore in town with a heart (although not necessarily of gold), and Jim Beaver as Ellsworth, the crustiest, yet most courtly and decent of the miners. There’s good ol’ Jeffrey Jones bringing his bloated befuddlement to the camp’s only newspaper publisher, and W. Earl Brown as Dan Dority, the camp’s most fearsome, yet oddly-endearing enforcer. My longtime cult favorite Brad Dourif has the role of his colorful career as Deadwood’s doctor, scurrying through the mud to treat bullet wounds and VD, and pausing every once in a while to screw up his courage to take a stand, and other cult favorite Keith Carradine is absolutely stirring as the past-his-prime Wild Bill Hickock, hiding out in one of the only places where he’s not actively in trouble and finding his innate sense of right bringing him more. The ever-snarly Powers Boothe is chilling as the new power player in town, and hangdog card sharp maestro Ricky Jay brings his own brand of sleight-of-soul to his chief henchman. Molly Parker is, as ever, sneakily-strong as the arch widow who finds herself stranded, alone, and in charge of perhaps the richest gold strike in the territory. Timothy Olyphant is great as the clench-jawed former Montana marshall who just wants to open a hardware store with his steadfast pal (the camp’s lone Jew, played with utmost goodness and sense by John Hawkes) but, like Bill, can’t just stand by when he sees injustice. And then there’s Deadwood’s own Satan, the infinitely-charismatic Al Swearengen who runs the Gem saloon/whorehouse, the camp’s dope, various criminal schemes, and headlong into Olyphant’s Seth Bullock, his opposite, equally-headstrong number. Swearengen (an appropriate name on this musically-profane show) is, quite simply, a TV character for the ages- brutal, brilliant, sly, undeniably-evil and yet capable of unexpected, untold depths of feeling. He’s a Shakespearean villain right in the Old West, and ‘Deadwood’ is a remarkable piece of work.

>>>For Sunday, April suggests Desert Hearts (in Feature Drama). Set in the late ’50s in Reno, Nevada, where pent-up professor Vivian Bell goes to get a quickie divorce from the husband she no longer loves. There she meets the free-spirited Cay and leaves to free herself from her worries. A beautiful lesbian drama from director Donna Deitch.

Movie Jams: When Worlds Collide

a VideoReport exclusive from Videoport customer B.S. Eliot

1. The Misfits- “Return of the Fly”: Did you know that Vincent Price was in Return of the Fly? I did, but I knew it even more after I heard this song. It’s so good that it almost makes up for the recurring nightmare I have about Danzig’s neck beard.

2. Jens Lekman- “Rocky Dennis’ Farewell Song to the Blind Girl”: Before Eric Stoltz became a marketing tool for dark Gen-X sex comedies, he played a severely disfigured teenage boy in the film Mask. He goes to a summer camp and meets a blind girl (Laura Dern) who likes to ride horses and they become close and life is beautiful and then on the last day of camp he meets her bourgeois parents and, well, you know how dawn songs end…anyway, this song is as moving, if not more so, than the film.

3. Queen’s “Who Wants to Live Forever” (or whatever it’s called) from Highlander. Technically, this song is from the movie, but…Hey! What’s that over there!?! (Points at something behind you.) I love Highlander as much as the next guy: he’s a huge fan. Legend has it that he has a transcription of the collector’s edition audio commentary tattooed word-for-word on his lower back. Anyway, this song is the poignant yin to yang of Sean Connery’s fake head falling off a cliff. It’s a beautiful song. As for Highlander having been expanded into a franchise beyond the original: There should have been only one. As for men: the can be only 2 1/2. As for lolz: there can be only over 9000! The end.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Up in the Air (best picture Oscar nominee [unless it won] stars the ever-cool George Clooney as a professional corporate hatchet-man forced to confront his rootless life in this comedy-drama, costarring Portland’s own Oscar nominee [unless she won] Anna Kendrick), Precious (the other Oscar-nominee-[unless it won]-festival this week, this searing drama is the tale of a downtrodden young black woman dealing with her awful family and impossibly-difficult life), Capitalism: A Love Story (Michael Moore and his camera vs. the economy and the multibillion dollar corporations making your lives harder; who wins? Rent it and find out), Boondock Saints 2: All Saints Day (the long-awaited [by some] sequel to Troy Duffy’s ultraviolent cult hit about two Irish brothers who decide that god has ordained them to murder a whole bunch o’ people), Old Dogs (John Travolta and Robin Williams squander whatever acting capital they’ve got left at this point as they star in this universally-called-stupid comedy; at least Seth Green’s in there somewhere…), Planet 51 (Dwayne [Don’t Call Me ‘The Rock’ Ever Again No Matter How Many Bad Movies I Make] Johnson lends his manly voice to this cartoon about an astronaut mistaken for an alien invader by some little green guys), Hachi: A Dog’s Tale (Richard Gere stars in this story of a lost little puppy that is guaranteed to make you weep like a little baby [unless you’re Videoport’s Andy, who may be a robot]), Training Rules (documentary, well, documents the culture of homophobia in women’s college athletics), $9.99 (Australian stop-motion claymation film about the residents of a Sydney apartment building features the voices of Aussie stalwarts Anthony LaPaglia and Geoffrey Rush), Alice (just in time to cash in on the sure-to-be-lucrative Tim Burton version of the Lewis Carroll classic comes this similarly-revisionist take starring Kathy Bates, Harry Dean Stanton, Matt Frewer, and Tim Curry), Possession (Sarah Michelle Gellar [who has yet to find a role as good as Buffy] stars in this oft-shelved, direct-to-DVD thriller about a woman whose husband and brother-in-law go into simultaneous comas), ‘The Human Face’ (oddball BBC series studies all the intricacies of- you read the title- the human face; it’s written and narrated by Python legend John Cleese, whom I would listen to about anything…), ‘Stargate Universe’- season 1 (Robert Carlyle [Trainspotting] is the overqualified star of this newest entry in the middling sci fi TV franchise), The Vicious Kind (Adam Scott [Stepbrothers, Knocked Up] stars as a guy who falls for his brother’s new girlfriend in this indie drama).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Stoning of Soraya M (Jim Caviezel and Shohreh Aghdashloo [The House of Sand and Fog] star in this drama about a man, stranded in a small Iranian village who hears a story about some sort of crime…no, don’t look at the title, that’ll spoil it…awwwww….), Service (the sordid, seedy adventures of a Filipino family dealing with, as the box explains, ‘bigamy, unwanted pregnancy, and possible incest’ while running, and living in, a run-down porn theater; we won’t judge you when you rent this…), Gigante (new from the enduringly-popular Film Movement series comes this Uruguayan security guard with an obsession for the lonely cleaning woman he sees every night on his security cameras), Elvis (the ever-entertaining team of director John Carpenter and actor Kurt Russell [The Thing, Escape from New York, Big Trouble in Little China]teamed up for this TV movie about Mr. E. A. Presley, finally on DVD), Fix (two documentary filmmakers speed around L.A. trying to raise $5,000 to keep a friend out of prison in this indie drama), Bollywood Hero (former SNL also-ran plays a lightly-fictionalized version of himself as he takes on the role of a frustrated Hollywood also-ran who decides to try his luck as a movie star in India), Charlie and Lola- Vol. 10 (cute, cute, cute animated British siblings are back), Crude (understandably-outraged documentary about the lawsuit filed by thousands of Ecuadorans against American company Chevron against Chevron [an American company]’s pollution of the Amazon), ‘The Most Extreme’- season 1 (Animal Planet’s nature series about all the bitey-est, fight-iest, humpiest members of the animal kingdom; former Videoporter Stockman approves!).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: The Neverending Story, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Where the Wild Things Are, Up In the Air.


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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m with April actually on the current Simpsons. While nowhere near the quality of the salad days of Season 3-8, it’s easily the best stuff that the show has churned out in well over a decade.

  2. It is Great! Thanks a ton.


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