Volume CCXL- Doctor Grotesque’s House of Hideous Horrors…and Gift Shop
For the Week of 3/23/10
Videoport will give you a free rental every, single day, give you free money (with our super-duper savings plans- see page 2 for details), make renting fun and easy, provide the best customer service, prices and selection of new, classic, and utterly bananas movies anywhere, and even get you free parking! You know, if you’re into those kids of things…
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 The Exorcist (in Horror). You should turn out the lights, check under the bed, and watch The Exorcist (from between your fingers if you have to). Captain Howdy says so.
>>>April suggests American Pop (in Incredibly Strange). This movie changed my life when I saw it as a kid. Directed by the brilliant Ralph Bakshi, it’s one family’s musical journey from 19th Century Russia to early 20th Century and into the 1980’s. Along the way, we are treated to some beautiful trippy animation and awesome music from jazz all the way to new wave.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests The Street Fighter (in Martial Arts). No, not the Jean Claude Van Damme one- this Street Fighter would use that sawed-off little Belgian prettyboy for a light, pre-beddy-time workout, polish off a bottle of sake, steal JCVD’s leading lady, and then take a nap. Nope, I’m talking about Sonny Chiba, the star of this infamous, notorious, disreputable, and altogether awesome bloodbath of a martial arts flick. America was all about kung-fu, chop-socky flicks by this point in the 70’s, but Bruce Lee’s death left
reviewers (and dudes with nunchucks in their basements) scrambling to proclaim someone the ‘next Bruce Lee’ and, while some settled on Chiba, he couldn’t have been more different than Lee (still the most graceful, charismatic, and authentically-deadly action star the world has ever seen). Chiba was ugly, thuggish, brutal, and completely uninterested in charming the pants off anyone (like I said, his characters usually just beat their pants off, and then stole their girlfriends). In The Street Fighter (which was the first film to be rated ‘X’ solely for good ol’ violence’s sake, Chiba plays Terry Tsurugi, ass-kicker for hire and, with his brillo pad hair, unshaven-ness, and gruff demeanor wrapping around his formidable killing and maiming skills and his seeming lack of moral code, he’s got more than a little in common with Toshiro Mifune’s Yojimbo. Except that Tsurugi makes Yojimbo seem a little cuddly in comparison. Oh, sure, there are a few flashes of compassion here and there in the script, meant to give some insight into Terry’s character, but they are mulishly-resisted by Chiba’s sullen, hilariously-ugly exterior and actions (his exaggerated facial expressions are great). Seriously, those looking for an analogue to Lee or Mifune’s balletic skill will be shocked (and a little grossed out) by Chiba’s utterly brutal lack of style; he knew martial arts, but the dude simply used them in the most ugly, no-nonsense way necessary to earn his fee, and if he could crack a skull with one (x-ray revealed) punch, or rip a dude’s scrotum off (in loving closeup), well then that’s just a bonus for ol’ Terry. As fan Quentin Tarantino can attest (he gave a shout out to the movie in True Romance and cast Chiba in Kill Bill), for those of you looking for some down-and-filthy seventies-style martial arts sleaze, The Street Fighter is the man.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (in British Comedy). Let’s all take a deep breath and try to untangle the levels here: Tristram Shandy is a movie about a movie about a movie about a book that is, sorta kinda, about itself. The first volume of Laurence Sterne’s rambling nine-volume The Life and Times of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman was published in 1759, making it arguably the first post-modern novel. It’s ostensibly a memoir, but the real point of the story is Tristram’s diversions and peregrinations from the central narrative and the dearth of biographical information conveyed in this putative biography. Director Michael Winterbottom (24 Hour Party People, Wonderland, Welcome to Sarajevo) creates a film in the same spirit: Tristram Shandy is ostensibly a making-of documentary about a costume drama based on the novel (starring Steve Coogan, who plays himself in the finest Malkovich tradition), but in fact it’s a bitingly witty story of the cast and crew’s utter failure to make the film in question. It’s dry, sardonic, and deeply uncomfortable to watch.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Regan suggests Eleven Minutes (in Documentary). For all you fans of ‘Project Runway’ and you creative types, here is the story of Jay McCarroll and his long journey to get his fashion-y fashions to the runway. Whenever I think about all the work that goes into directing a movie, I just get dizzy and spit up on myself. And I get that feeling watching Jay. The giant pile of bulls**t that one has to deal with to get their creative vision out to the masses. Egads! I will most likely never get a chance to wear his creations which is fine…they are more suited to the animated people of the world. For real. Clothes for cartoons. And he gets a bit blah-blah-blah about fur and fashion, but overall I appreciate Jay McCarroll’s discharge designs and he’s a hoot to watch.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Li’l Timmy Jenkins suggests ‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete’. This movie was good. It made me laugh when they acted silly a lot. I exspeshally [sic] liked it when we took it outside to play frisbee with. I think my Dad liked it too because while we throwed [sic] it he said Videoport was bad and he liked scratching there [sic] movies. His eyes had darkness in them. In conclusion, I give the movie a B+.
Editor’s note: Ha-ha-heh…yeah… Come here my lad; there are certain universal truths I would reveal to you…
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, April suggests Snow Cake (in Feature Drama). This is one of those little indie films that flew under everyone’s radar even though it’s got an awesome cast and is just so good. Alan Rickman (the Harry Potter movies) is a man haunted by his past who picks up a hitchhiker only to have his world turned upside down by tragic events. When he tries to make amends with Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Avatar), he’s pulled into her beautifully eccentric world. When I tell people about this movie, they usually ask me if it has a downer ending, and it kinda does, but it’s ultimately uplifting and anyway that’s what indie dramas are all about. I heart Snow Cake.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests The Thing (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). I’m usually leery of remakes, but this John Carpenter thriller ranks high on my list of favorite films. The archetypal ragtag team of a research camp in Antarctica discovers that they’ve been infiltrated by an alien creature that assumes the shape of its prey. It’s gritty, witty, grueling, gruesome, and a great expansion on the 1951 classic sci-fi flick The Thing from Another World. The Thing reeks of Cold War paranoia and interclass anxiety, and the brutal desolation of the setting intensifies the obvious personal tensions in the camp.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Men Who Stare at Goats (George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges, and Kevin Spacey all star in this decidedly weird dark comedy about a possible super-secret government program to turn army guys into psychic superwarriors), The Blind Side (Sandra Bullock won the Best Actress Oscar for playing a gun-totin’, conservative white lady who raises a real-life (and real huge) black kid to be a professional football player; she also won the ‘Razzie’ as worst actress this year for All About Steve, which seems more her speed…), The Fantastic Mr. Fox (George Clooney [again!] voices the titular character in this, director Wes Anderson’s, well, pretty damned fantastic stop-motion adaptation of the Roald Dahl story), ‘Mad Men’-season 3 (Don Draper and the boozin’, leerin’, swingin’ guys at Madison Avenue’s most fascinating 60’s ad agency are back!), Brothers (Jake Gyllenhall, Natalie Portman, and Tobey Maguire star in this drama about an ill-advised, sibling-heavy love triangle), Videoport brings you eight, count ’em eight! new horror flicks from this year’s ‘After Dark Horror Fest’– you’ve got: Lake Mungo (love that name, by the way- 16 year old girl’s drowning begins all manner of ghostiness), Hidden (all manner of ghostiness ensues when a guy goes back to inherit her dead mom’s spooky house), Dread (three college students’ project is to discover what people, well, dread the most in this adaptation of a Clive Barker story), ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction (ZOMBIES! What else do you need to know?), Kill Theory (college students at a remote house are told they must kill each other before dawn or…dum-dum-dummmm…they all die), The Graves (two sisters vs. maniacs, cultists, and horror semi-legends Tony Todd and Bill Moseley), The Reeds (British-y ghostiness), and The Final (sort of like if the kids from The Breakfast Club decided, ‘enough with the bonding’, lets just kill all the jerks making us miserable’), Krod Mandoon & the Flaming Sword of Fire (remember this short-lived Comedy Central sword & sorcery satire series? Well, it existed- here’s proof!; costarring ‘Little Britain’‘s Matt Lucas), The Black Balloon (Aussie coming-of-age comedy/drama costarring Toni Colette), Damage (an ex-con gets into illegal cage fighting in order to save the daughter of the dude he killed that one time; why should you care? He’s played by ‘rassler ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin…RRRAAAARRRRR!!), The White Stripes Under Great White Northern Lights (Jack and Meg doing the rock and perhaps also the roll), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (the sequel to Twilight, what with all the vampires, and the vampire fetishists, and now the werewolves….perhaps a mummy, I’m not sure…).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Bigger Than Life (James Mason stars in this Criterion release of an obscure Nicholas Ray-directed drama about a loving husband and father who starts to go a little funny in the head after some experimental drug therapy; this long out-of-print film was praised by none other than Martin Scorcese in his documentary A Personal Journey With Martin Scorcese Through American Movies, so, you know…), Alice in Wonderland (the 1966 British version starring Peter Sellers and Sir John Gielgud, just in time to cash in on the hysteria over the current movie version of that book that’s been around for a hundred years or so [by the way]), Soo (no, sadly, this is not a movie biography of the guy who played Detective Nick Yemana on ‘Barney Miller’; instead, it’s a Korean revenge flick…still pretty cool, though).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: W, The Wackness, Rudo y Cursi, The Robe, Fallen Angels, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Gattaca, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, S.W.A.T., ‘Mad Men’- season 3.
Videoport’s Andy presents his “1st Time in ’09” List!
Ah, winter! It’s the time of the year for huddling in my cold, dark apartment and obsessively compiling lists by candlelight. Here’s a list of my favorite “older” releases that I saw for the first time in 2009. “Older” just means they were all released prior to ’09. Also, I like “quotation marks” (and exclamation points)! But not smiley faces 😦
10. Ruthless People -1986 (in Comedy). It’s no Airplane!, but he Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker team makes up for it by giving us pure nastiness, a goofily-loveable Bill Pullman, and lots and lots of Bette Midler.
9. Single White Female -1992 (in Mystery/Thriller). The perfect bad movie to watch as I spent the fall apartment-hunting. The highlight of SWF is the knock-down drag-out girlfight between Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
8. Quartermass and the Pit -1968 (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). A well written, low-budget British sci fi flick about ghosts of insect-like aliens from Mars. It’s a lot smarter and moodier than John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars, if I remember correctly.
7. Adam’s Rib -1949 (in Classics). A battle of the sexes story truly ahead of its time. I’ll have to remember to watch more Tracy and Hepburn movies in 2010. Those kids are fun!
6. Brimstone and Treacle -1982 (in Mystery/Thriller). A weird-ass movie starring Sting as the freakiest, most confusingly-motivated con artist in movie history.
5. Night Moves -1975 (in Mystery/Thriller). A good mystery about P.I. Gene Hackman investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl (a very young Melanie Griffith). Features Hackman’s favorite description of an Eric Rohmer movie, “It was kind of like watching paint dry.”
4. The Crucible -1996 (in Feature Drama). Fascinating setting and subject matter, fine acting, but ultimately a movie about personal dignity. Daniel Day-Lewis is typically intense.
3. For All Mankind -1989 (in the Criterion Collection). A documentary about and, for the most part, by the men who have been to the moon. Imagine it, the frickin’ moon!
2. Assault on Precinct 13 -1976 (in Action/Adventure). It’s Rio Bravo, but tougher and with more firepower! One thing I really liked about John Carpenter’s action flick is than none of the characters were especially clever in the way that Hollywood screenwriters are, but real people are not. These are realistic cops, criminals, and civilians doing their best with the materials at hand (limited ammo, some potentially-explosive tanks of gas) to fend off a nasty, vindictive gang of thugs.
1. The Entity -1983 (in Horror). The first movie I saw in 2009 was also the scariest. Made all the worse for including the phrase “based on a true story” in the credits.
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