Volume CCXLIV- Die Hard, Kill Surprisingly Easy
For the Week of 4/20/10
Videoport offers you a free movie every single day. Which means we make your life that much better on a daily basis…
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 watching your TV at Videoport! Some TV shows are just fodder for selling stuff. Some reach higher; some series create a vast dramatic (or comedic) landscape in which you can — and should — immerse yourself, as with a great film or a great novel. DVDs allow us that luxury: to watch uninterrupted and undisrupted, to engage fully with the artists’ vision. A few of these series: Homicide: Life on the Street; Twin Peaks; The Sopranos; The West Wing; The Wire; Deadwood; Slings & Arrows; Mad Men; Arrested Development (possibly the poster child for the DVD-friendly show, AD gives you layers and levels of interwoven comedy that plays out best in repeated viewings); Six Feet Under. Of course, there are plenty more — what are your favorites?
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Ronin (in Action). This is a go-to movie. Every video store clerk worth his Sno-Caps has a bunch of these in his/her back pocket; sure-fire recommendations for customers with specific needs. For Ronin, it’s the customer with the “I want an action movie, but a great one, with good acting, some decent action, and not too stupid.” Ronin, directed by venerable-but-vital John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds), is that movie to a ‘t’, with Robert DeNiro (in one of the last performances to date he’s put any effort into) playing it super cool and competent as the mysterious leader of a team of equally-nameless mercenaries brought together for a (surprise!) mysterious mission to recover a classic macguffin (the thing that serves to set the plot in motion but has no other function or interest. Along the way, DeNiro (along with equally-overqualified costars like Jean Reno, Stellan Skarsgard, and Jonathan Pryce) talk tough and cryptic, and engage in some seriously-impressive car chases, the kind that get you all tense and giggly at the same time. Like the professionals involved, Ronin is fast, non-nonsense, and it gets the job done.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Miss Alex suggests The Anatomy of Hell (Anatomie D’Enfer) (in Foreign Language). French film director, Catherine Breillat was recommended to me by a photographer friend. Breillat’s films are remarkable and powerful. Her newest film, her version of Blackbeard, was released last week in NYC, a story she says, “is a metaphor about the tender and cruel relationship between men and women.” In Anatomie D’Enfer, the lead subject of the film is a woman who challenges a man to “watch me where I am unwatchable” and to ” just say what you see”. There are reversals and inversions of power, which merely cancel the sovereignty of either man or woman, neutralizing the potential for a dominant one. The male gaze undermined and celebrated, held up like an animal’s severed head, becomes a force of a simultaneous rupture and construction of relationship, a triumph
of nothing. A woman randomly picks up a man (or so we are led to believe) and convinces/teases/provokes him with various methods to watch her for a fee. We are confronted with the theme of presence and absence, hide and seek, play and life. He arrives at the predetermined destination of encounter at an an aggravating distance from the city, so both are removed from the eyes of others and society¹s watch. Anything is possible, and almost immediately we are thrust into his ennui, and will continuously be exposed to the boredom that inevitably surfaces and replaces the excitement and power of a first look, a peek, or stolen stare. Most of the story takes place in a stark, unadorned bedroom with simple furniture, bed, chair, dresser, visible bathroom, and a crucifix on the wall, a typical accessory for a European household. Though the man exhibits an unwillingness, frustration, anger, and disinterest if not disgust, she says she can always hope for more. He makes no bones about feeling sickened by her, by her proposal, and by her body. We encounter Courbet’s image from the hauntingly gorgeous The Origin of the World, where we are at the point of entry and exit. Breillet exaggerates all associations we have gathered around a woman’s most intimate nether parts to unfeathered, small birds in a nest, mouths open, wrinkled skin, large eye, randoms hairs that poke out, creatures that attract young boys trample or feed, or both. Breillat’s film launches into nothingness, brutality, and of course we are forced to witness Lacan’s mirroire. We see what we cannot see. Breillat dissects all the hateful and repulsive clichés, jokes, euphemisms, perceptions, visions, fantasies, taboos, and toxic language about women’s anatomy, identity, sexuality, role. She activates our human evolutionary link to primitive lifeforms, frogs, always slick and wet, poisonous to the touch, vulnerable, squishy, and attraction repulsion becomes impossibly paired and inseparable. Breillat observes and instigates Man’s desire to conquer nature, own it, toy with it, cease and seize it, always results in tragedy, thoughtful, gutless death with a smile. Batatille writes with vigor about how our self-loathing incites our self-wounding, and our nausea and laughter are responses to and symptoms of the same. Breillat depicts and studies a simultaneous horror and fascination women/girls may experience about men/boys and vice versa; these irreconcilable feelings are violent and separate and unify us. What is informe, soft, moist is hell. The horror of nothingness. There is adespair, a loneliness that is all enveloping. All of the tendencies to witness women as false, made up, fictional, alien, inhuman, cruel, unreal, unclean, putrid, lying, s(mothering), deceptive, thief, insatiable, a black hole, a void, a nothing surface and those are thrown back at us, at the man, and at the women. That she abandons the house and the constructed relationship and wanted more, rendered the woman “no longer human” to the man, and perhaps to us; “nothing can be done over again”. The bed becomes a shroud, an empty nest, a foaming sea of nothing, and the drowning ocean of memory where our identities float as endless ghosts of an erotic shipwreck, love’s lost, and only death consoles us.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Andy suggests What Dreams May Come (in Feature Drama). This is a recommendation to those who, like me, were disappointed by Peter Jackson’s new movie The Lovely Bones. I’m not saying that What Dreams May Come is a great movie, but it’s comparable to Bones in that they’re both ambitious, special effects-heavy movies about that afterlife. Bones may boast a more prestigious director, cast, and source material, but Dreams is the darker, more serious-minded movie. And it has better special effects, too.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests My Neighbor Totoro. Haven’t seen it? You should see it! Have
you seen it? You should see it again! This sweet but not saccharin children’s tale from Hayao Miyazaki tells the story of two young sisters who make the acquaintance of a benign woodland spirit. If you aren’t persuaded by the gorgeous artwork or by the gentle dynamics of the characters and plot, then rent it just to hear the theme song. To to ro Totoro! To to ro Totoro! To to ro TOTORO! TO- TO-Totoro!
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, April suggests ‘Little Britain’ (in British Comedy, just past the Classics section, and across from the Criterion Collection). God, I heart ‘Little Britain’. Mostly I heart the ‘Lou and Andy’ sketch. “I don’t like it!”- I could quote it all day! (Not Videoport’s Andy, although he’s said some quotable stuff in his day.) Matt Lucas and David Walliams are awesome! Except when they’re not. I could do without the ‘Bitty’ sketch, or the woman who pukes. Yuck. Not funny. But I’ll tell you what is funny, the Fat Fighters bit. I love that! Also it’s got that guy from ‘Buffy’! (Anthony Head).
>>>For Sunday, Regan suggests The Stepfather (1987)(in Horror). At first I’m all excited to see the girl from Cutting Class as the daughter in The Stepfather. Then I’m all FUUUUGK when Jerry (he’s the stepfather) intercepts the daughter’s mail to find his picture inside an envelope from the Seattle Examiner! ‘Cuz he’s a muuurdererrrrr. But then I’m totally warmin’ my bathing suit area for the troubled brother of the last slain family, but then I imagine that when he’s doing it, he goes off into a dark place and the chick is probably like, “Why won’t you look me in the eyes when we make love? Who am I here!”
New Releases this week at Videoport: Tenure (some funny people [Luke Wilson, Gretchen Mol, David Koechner] star in this comedy about a professor trying to outdo a new female colleague for the titular, cushy honor), Crazy Heart (Jeff Bridges took home the Best Actor Oscar this year for his turn as Bad Blake, the hard-drinkin’, hard-lovin’ country music has-been who meets a nice lady [Maggie Gyllenhall] in this drama), The Young Victoria (the turbulent early reign of Queen Victoria comes to life, with the inappropriately-lovely Emily Blunt taking on the role; man, I hope someday I’m famous enough to be portrayed by someone about 98% more attractive than I am some day…), Mammoth (Michelle Williams and Gael Garcia Bernal star in this drama about a troubled young family from always-intriguing director Lukas Moodysson [Show Me Love, Together, Lilya 4-ever]), The Horse Boy (heart-ripper of a documentary about a couple who travel to Mongolia in search of a miracle cure for their autistic son, who can only relate to horses), The Lovely Bones (director Peter Jackson lends his peculiar talents to this imaginative adaptation of the novel about a murdered girl; Stanley Tucci was nominated for an Oscar for acting really, really creepy), Peacock (Cillian Murphy once again shows off his gift for androgyny in this period drama about a mild-mannered guy who poses as his own wife to hoodwink the [perhaps not overly-observant] citizens of his small town; costarring Susan Sarandon and Ellen Page), …and Avatar (for some cutesy-pie marketing reason, James Cameron has made the studio release the DVD of his mega-blockbuster overrated sci fi film on Earth Day [Thursday, April 22nd], to teach us all about the Earth, and conservation, and making billions and billions of dollars).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Madeline Lost in Paris (a shiny new kids movie! Please don’t let your kids handle it!), Drawn Together: The Movie (feature length version of the truly loathsome Comedy Central animated ‘Real World’ parody series), Mythic Journeys (cool-looking, part-animated exploration of the history and persistence of myths, with voices by Mark Hamill, Tim Curry, and Lance Henriksen!), Vivre sa Vie (the Criterion Collection continues it’s canonization of legendarily-divisive French director Jean-Luc Godard with their release of his 1962 film about Anna Karina’s descent into prostitution), Cloud 9 (acclaimed German film about a married 68 year old woman finding love [and surprisingly-explicit sex] with a 79 year old man), Ex Drummer (three handicapped addicts and would-be musicians hire a snotty writer to be their band’s drummer, only to see him manipulate everyone into violence, suspicion, and, I’m guessing, murder in this Dutch dark comedy), ‘The Take’ (gritty British miniseries about a violent gangster, just released from prison, trying to take over London; costarring the ever-excellent Brian Cox), Junk Dreams (two brothers in their ’70s decide to take their Chinese junk on a dangerous ocean voyage in this documentary), Godspeed (low-budget thriller set in Alaska about a would-be faith healer faced with his family’s mysterious murder), 44 Inch Chest (from the writer of the awesome Sexy Beast comes another violent British gangster drama, with Ray Winstone, Tom Wilkinson, John Hurt, and the prince of darkness himself Ian McShane [‘Deadwood’] kidnapping the lover of Winstone’s wife and saying the ‘c’ word a surprising amount), One Week (Joshua Jackson stars as a guy setting out on a cross-Canadian motorcycle trek to figure out a few things), ‘Merlin’- season 1 (this British series about the young adventures of the legendary wizard has a distinctly Harry Potter-ish air about it; costarring the great Anthony Head from ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999), The Thing (1982), Monster, To Live and Die in L.A., The Fountain, The Lost Boys, End of Days, The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), Forgetting Sarah Marshall, The Natural, Field of Dreams, Crazy Heart, The Lovely Bones, The Chronicles of Riddick, Pitch Black, Fearless (Jet Li).
Free Money at Videoport!
You think I’m kiddin’? Well, check this out, you. Videoport’s got these payment plans which give you more money than you started with. What?! I know! If you prepay $20 on your Videoport account, we’ll give you $25 worth of rental credit, and if you prepay $30 on your rental account, you magically get a whopping $40 worth of rental credit. And that credit lasts forever (until you use it up), works with all our (absurdly-already-generous) daily specials, and it also works for any pesky extra day charges you might rack up.
Park for free at Videoport!
1. Parking meters are turned off after 6pm, Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday. 2. The parking lot behind the building is open for free one hour parking after 5pm on weekdays and all day on the weekends. 3. Videoport participates in the Park & Shop program, which means we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown Portland parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, literally, a two minute walk away). Just bring us your parking stub, and we’ll give you one of our magic stickers!