VideoReport #239

Volume CCXXXIX- Dr. Seizure’s 3-D House of Flashing Lights…the IMAX Experience!

For the Week of 3/16/10

Videoport gives you a free movie every day, gives you free money (with our fantastic savings plans, ask us how!), has the best selection, prices, and customer service of any video store anywhere, and will even get you free parking. Awesome? Us? We’re just doing our job, ma’am…

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.)

>>> April brings you an all-Incredibly Strange edition of April’s VHS Corner! This week on the VHS Corner, I wandered into the Incredibly Strange section of Videoport and found some incredibly awesome movies you’ll find only on VHS! Some of them may have been available on DVD at one point in time, but are now out of print in that format. Go VHS!

The Addiction. Looking for an artsy black and white vampire movie that’s all talky and not really bloody or scary? Try The Addiction, with Lily Taylor, Christopher Walken, and Annabella Sciorra. A mid-90s fiasco directed by Abel Ferrara. Now it may sound like I don’t like this movie, but I do. I enjoy it for its attempt at being something different.

Brave. Directed by Johnny Depp! Also starring a very, um, interesting Marlon Brando.

Dust off your VCR...Videoport's got it.

The back cover says, Desperate man agrees to be tortured and killed in a gruesome death for a $50,000 settlement to his family.” Yep. The desperate man is Johnny Depp playing an alcoholic Native American. Brando is the guy who makes him the offer. I’m not really sure why this hasn’t been available on DVD. It’s a pretty good film.

Half-Cocked. Another black and white indie film. No vampires or actors whose named you’d know this time. Just a bunch of mid 90s indie kids who steal a van and go on the road and sort-of form a band called Truckstop (it’s not that great a band). A great little film. I quite enjoyed it.

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

We love you Pam.

>>> April suggests Coffy* (in Action Adventure). Oh Pam Grier, how I love you. You are so awesome. How could you not love her blaxploitation/soul cinema movies from the 70’s. In Coffy, she’s a sexy nurse who fights drug dealers when she finds out her sister has been drugged up. Full of cool cars, cool clothes, and sexy, half-naked women, Coffy is tons of fun! Also, it’s got Sid Haig! “Now do I look like the kind of girl one man would be enough for?” You go Coffy!

*Editor’s note: for more exquisite Pammy goodness, check out Videoport’s collection including: The Big Doll House, Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage, Twilight People, Black Mama White Mama, Foxy Brown, Sheba Baby, Friday Foster, Drum, Quentin Tarantino’s totally-awesome act of Pam-olatry Jackie Brown, and the recently acquired Bucktown! YOU NEED PAM!

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

>>> Dennis2/The Rage suggests The Chaser (in Assorted Asian Exploitation). A little over a year ago I wrote a friend of mine an e-mail about this movie. I had just seen it at a film festival, thought it was the best movie I had seen there and told him that I was really hoping Videoport would get this one. Now, if there’s one thing Videoport is all about, it is getting the awesomest Korean movies that nobody will ever rent for reasons that are beyond me. In its essence, the story is not complicated: The girls of an ex-cop pimp are mysteriously disappearing. He suspects one of his clients, who turns out to be a serial killer, after which the chase in the title ensues. The suspense doesn’t let down during almost the entire movie, supported by some scenes of matter-of-fact violence that always seems to linger in the air of most modern day Korean thrillers. The plot is straight-forward enough to be picked up by a major American studio, which has indeed already happened. But the movie is far from straight-forward, and at this point I’d like to quote a paragraph of that Ebert guy’s review of the movie: “What I responded to was the street-level reality. There are no supermen and no sensational stunts. When the actors run, we see that they are running. These shots extend in time and are not constructed after baffling editing. The spatial realities of the chases are respected; we begin to learn our way around the neighborhood. The cops are not stock characters but just your average officers. No one in “The Chaser” seems to be on autopilot. When I see a film like this, it reminds me of what we’re missing. […] You sit there and “The Chaser” unfolds, and the director knows what he wants and how to do it without insulting us. In addition to remaking this movie, Hollywood should study it.” Ebert likes it, you like Ebert, you get this movie at Videoport. Straight-forward enough in my book.

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

>>>Regan suggests ‘The O.C.’ (in Feature Drama) by presenting her ‘O.C.’ Rewatched Journal! This show…it just…makes me so…sad…eh…eh…and happy. Peter Gallagher’s eyebrows! Kirsten’s chardonnay! Seth’s wit! Ryan’s fists! Marissa’s iced tea! Summer’s wisdom! And Julie’s love…of Bob Seger! Well then, I’m going to go drink some akavit and listen to ‘Night Moves’. Holy mackerel! I forgot about Ryan cage fighting! Outrageous!

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

>>> April suggests Beauty and the Beast. The Disney one with Robbie Benson and Angela Lansbury. Remember it? It’s my favorite Disney princess movie. I tried watching that new Disney princess movie The Princess and the Frog (which comes out this week), and it’s pretty awful. Yeah, yeah, it’s the first Disney African American princess, but that doesn’t mean it’s good. I watched about 45 minutes of it, and within 20 minutes I was reading a magazine while it played. But I’m sure your child will love it. Maybe I’m just too old for princess movies? Naw, I still love Beauty and the Beast.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Blind Date (in Feature Drama). This two-character chamber piece is the second film admirers have made based on scripts from Dutch art martyr Theo Van Gogh. You remember, Van Gogh was a filmmaker very few non Dutch-lers had ever heard of until a religious fundamentalist a-hole murdered him because he dared suggest that religious fundamentalists will do all manner of awful, crazy things if their fundamentalist god gets insulted. Yeah, nice rebuttal, fundamentalists. Anyway, this remake was written and directed by costar Stanley Tucci who, along with fellow indie drama all-star Patricia Clarkson. They play a troubled couple who, through the course of the film, play a series of roleplaying games where they answer a series of blind date personal ads; as they play out each scenario, we get hints of a deep, dark buried event in their past and see glimpses of the issues haunting their fragile marriage. It’s a neat little set up (there’s a little bit of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, except you don’t hate the two protagonists), and a real actor’s playground for two talented pros. By turns funny and heartbreaking, this one’s worth a rent for anyone interested in just watching two great actors do their thing for 80 minutes.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Running Scared (in Action Adventure). I recently rewatched this 1986 buddy cop comedy action flick starring the unlikely duo of Gregory Hines and Billy Crystal. I remember seeing it in the theaters when I was, oh, seventeen, I guess, and loving it; I thought Crystal was hilarious, Hines was cool, the car chase on the EL tracks the equal to Bullitt, and the soundtrack rockin’ enough for me to buy it (on vinyl, natch’), and I was excited to see how it held up. Hoo boy. Upon further reflection, Crystal is still pretty funny (although possibly the least convincing cop in movie history; he’s so tiny!), the late Hines ever shall be cool, the car chase- eh, and the soundtrack…oh, holy crap (Michael McDonald?! Klymaxx?! New Edition?! Was I high?!). All in all it’s still pretty entertaining, although the cheese factor is higher than I remember (the faux Beverly Hills Cop, faux Harold Faltermeyer incidental music doesn’t help), and the mid-80’s cheerful fascist civil rights violations are perhaps less funny than I realized at the time (the lovely Mrs. Elsa S. Customer, who watched with me and who lived in Chicago at the time, sat in clench-jawed fury as our wacky hero pals pretended to tattoo ‘Born to Squeal’ on a reluctant informant’s face). The whole things smacks of ‘well, Eddie Murphy did the cop thing and made a kajillion dollars, so lets find another standup comic and strap a shoulder holster on him’, but Running Scared is kinda fun for all that. (I still get surprised when I remember that Gregory Hines is dead; dude was too cool…)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Broken Embraces (the new Pedro Almodovar movie! [For those who need more incentive than that, this is a moving, funny, sexy, mysterious melodrama starring the saucy Penelope Cruz]), The Fourth Kind (Milla Jovovich stars in this ‘based on a true story’ sci fi thriller about alien abductions in Alaska; I put ‘based on a true story’ in quotes only because alien abductions don’t exist except in liar and crazy people’s new agey fantasies, of course…), Wonderful World (Matthew Broderick stars in this indie drama about a bummed out failed musician made even more gloomy when his ultra-cool roommate [played by the suitably ultra-cool Michael K. Williams, who was Omar on ‘The Wire’] gets sick; perhaps the roomie’s beautiful sister [Sanaa Lathan] can cheer him up…), Armored (check out the cast of this heist movie! Laurence Fishburne! Fred Ward! Matt Dillon! Jean Reno! Damn! Don’t let the fact that it’s essentially going right to DVD dim your enthusiasm! It’s probably okay!), ‘Breaking Bad’- season 2 (everybody’s favorite drug dealer TV parent [except maybe that lady on ‘Weeds’] is back!), ‘Monk’- season 8 (the last season of the long-running comedy detective series starring USM’s pride Tony Shalhoub hits DVD), Ninja Assassin (it’s a CGI-heavy, ill-acted martial arts movie starring people who don’t know martial arts! Lot’s o’blood, though…), The Princess and the Frog (it’s the first Disney animated film with an African-American princess heroine! In 2010! A.D.! Sigh…), ‘South Park’- season 13 (still rudely funny after all these years…), Did You Hear About the Morgans? (Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker are a high-powered city couple sent to the wacky country after they witness a murder and have to go into hiding in this comedy which they’re trying to smuggle past us as if the classic Kirstie Alley/Tim Allen comedy For Richer or Poorer never even happened! Videoport does not have tht film, for some reason!), Brief Interviews With Hideous Men (‘The Office’‘s John Krasinski tries to prove he’s more than just another hunky, funny indie face with this comedy/drama based on the book by the late David Foster Wallace and starring pretty much every cool guy he ever met; he does a pretty good job…), Bandslam (spunky tweens from High School Musical, among other annoying places, form a rock band! I will smack you in the face if you put this on in my presence!), Astro Boy (this CGI animated sci-fi flick follows the adventures of the Bob’s Big Boy-look anime hero robot kid with rockets up his butt; Nicholas Cage lends a voice), Maria Bamford: Plan B (standup greatness from one of the weirdest and funniest ladies out there).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Four new episodes of the ever-hilarious ‘Mystery Science Theater 300’ hit the Incredibly Strange Section this week (The Beatniks, The Crawling Eye, The Blood Waters of Dr. Z, The Final Sacrifice), Spongebob Squarepants: The Last Stand (yup), ‘Wish Me Luck’- season 1 (this is some sort of TV series! Videoport owns it now! Details to come!), Universal Soldier (the original Dolph Lundgren, Jean Claude Van Damme action crap-fest comes to you on the DVD!), Suicide Girls Guide to Living (saucy hipster girls with pierced things! Yeah!), Rancho Deluxe (just in time to honor the Dude himself, Jeff Bridges’ Best Actor Oscar win, Videoport brings in this 70’s era comedy with Jeff and Sam Waterston as a pair of scroungy buddy cattle rustlers trying to get by), Bucktown (the ever-tingly Pam Grier [see April’s Tuesday review for more details on her awesomeness] costars with fellow blaxploitation star Fred Williamson [who gives some people tingles as well] in this 1975 action flick), North Dallas Forty (Nick Nolte stars as a broken down wide receiver doing everything possible to stay in professional football in this surprisingly-dramatic 70s flick showing the dark side of sports; look for the stirring speech from real-life player [and real-life steroids casualty] the late John Matuszak where he berates the owners for treating players like disposable pieces of meat; Matuszak died from ‘roid abuse…), Mandingo (of this 1975 slavery sleaze classic, Roger Ebert claimed, “This is a film I felt soiled by”; you’re welcome…).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Secret Window, La Femme Nikita, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Donnie Brasco, Resident Evil, Hollow Man, In the Line of Fire, Run Lola Run, Gattaca, Paris, Ninja Assassin, Broken Embraces, Armored.

Get free money at Videoport! Pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account, and we’ll give you $25 worth of rental credit…pre-pay $30, and you get $40 worth! It’s that simple…

Write for the VideoReport! Send you reviews, essays, lists, or what have yous to us at denmn@hotmail.com!

Special, web-only content! Comedian/ubernerd Patton Oswalt is doing a ‘Firefly’ comic book one-shot for Joss Whedon!  I am in geek heaven! Look for it at our upstairs pals Casablanca Comics soon!

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