Volume CCXLVII- The Horny Teens with Little-to-No Survival Instinct
For the Week of 5//10
Videoport gives you a free rental every single day and therefore are great. Just thought we’d mention that…
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 Crows Zero (in Made in Japan/Andy’s temporary Takashi Miike shrine in the Employee Picks section in the Middle Aisle). New craziness from Takashi Miike (the prolific genius maniac who brought you Audition, Gozu, and Big Bang Love Juvenile A, as well as about a hundred more titles). Crows Zero is based on a legendary and highly-regarded Japanese graphic novel but, unfortunately, it feels like something was lost in translation. The movie feels like a pale imitation of the modern Japanese classic Battle Royale. The plot concerns a bunch of rival gangs in a private school fighting each other for dominance. Their battles take up so much of their time that none of the students are ever shown going to classes. The only scenes that take place in classrooms are fight scenes, and the rooms themselves look dilapidated and poorly lit. So you got a cool, but weird, story and the hippest director in Japan. Sadly, though, it doesn’t add up to a very good film. But you do get a fun movie, one bursting with machismo, style, and Miike’s trademark well-staged scenes of violence.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests My Man Godfrey (in Classics/The Criterion Collection). It’s a classic example of the screwball comedy, with a frothy layer of frantic hilarity and delight floating above a much more dramatic subject. In My Man Godfrey, kindhearted but feckless young heiress Irene Bullock (Carole Lombard) finds a “forgotten man” (William Powell) living in the city dump and takes him into her home to serve as the new butler to her admittedly odd family. The success of the film relies less on the hectic pace or the goofy eccentricities of the household than on the chemistry between the leads. Lombard is all feathers and satin, glimmering glamour and humor that bounces off Powell’s quiet wit as she flitters and flutters around him. It’s quite captivating — My Man Godfrey is a classic for a good reason.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Miss Alex suggests Last Year at Marienbad (in Foreign Language). Last Year at Marienbad is spun as an unrequited erotic tangle of unnamed M, X, and A where poetics, base materialism, and entropy collide. Alain Resnais and Alain Robbe-Grillet co-conspire to unravel multilayered narratives, exposing our complicity in the construction, interpretation, or disassembling of what exists and what waits beyond the edges of the screen. We, like, the main characters, become eager lovers vying for our role in this hunt for beloved treasure, no matter how slippery and impossible. X, the stranger/lover inventories what the camera vertiginously peruses: endless corridors, stretched views of arches, ceilings, columns dressed in Baroque ornament, and languid stares at impenetrable silent rooms and closed doors. One is unsure how this tour of these social and inaccessible spaces morphs beyond a list or poetry. “The story is over”, X (the lover) warns, as words and images, the literal and the metaphoric merge, invert, and deteriorate. X’s cryptic explanation of two garden statues (“They are like two coffins buried together in a petrified garden”) acts as a warning, pursuit, symbol, dream, fact, and or meaning we accept as a roadmap. X appeals to and torments her conscience-memory with “Don’t you remember” and “we keep meeting each other”, while the dark-haired, large-eyed creature must choose between escape or staying with M, her aloof and controlling husband; are all three trapped in the tensions of a triangular relationship which play out in cavernous hallways, landscaped paths, and sealed rooms where stiff cardboard cut-out guests stand dressed, waiting, posed on the margins. We, too, are poised to follow and participate; Resnais and Robbe-Grillet toy with and rely on our invisibility, our silence, and our need for inclusion. Notions of intimacy, closeness, and bonding are collapsed in favor of separation, isolation, and aloneness revealing the contradictions and impossibility of relationships.
“Laisez-moi” or “leave me alone” is A’s plea, an inverted come hither as is her self-protective, demure and simultaneously seductive bent elbow, hand-on-shoulder pose, she is torn between a confluence of loyalty and betrayal, her fears and desires, which are as interchangeable as the characters, spaces, time, words, and images themselves. Surrealist inversions, mirrors, deserted spaces, stone slabs, plinths, topiaries, artifice and architectural details emphasize the distance between flesh and social architecture, the world we are, our being, and the world we create, our doing. Curated greenery, marble, and glass, parades of faces, bodies, dizzying arrangements, and labyrinthian paths parallel the complexity of garments and costumes we adorn, display, change routinely, and use to prepare a self we wish to perform in the world (Goffman). A is costumed as some kind of exotic bird in her chiffon wings, Elizabethan collar and cuffed peignoir of white feathers, or layered flapped dress, where a body is revealed when those flaps move or are pulled back. We are all engaged in tracking her movements, gestures, thoughts, responses, the simplest movement or shift; a bird of prey, an elusive object of desire. We are ensnared by X and A, or else the film would become a waste of time, an empty, torment, a ridiculous chase, a void. Deliberate photographic overexposure or obscurity, organ music with low whispers, games and theatrics, numbers and chance, idyllic formality and unpredictable flesh, sex and violence pair with other self-reflexive partners, further stretching this idea of lovers, relationship, the merging of two, and the crisis a third presents. We are held in a discontinuous suspense of secret things, the forbidden, and danger. We feel claustrophobic and dislocated in this surrealist black and white dream where edges beckon, silence is a menace and solace, the photograph betrays the horror of our self-multiplication, and mirrors are limited views that falsely promise infinite and expanding ones. Waiting and watching, remembering, repeating, rewriting and revising, re-envisioning a life becomes the impossible, and different versions of the same thing propose the loss of self. As the French say, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, or the more it changes the more it stays the same. A side note: One of my favorite UK Pop bands from the nineties, Blur, tributes the film in their video “To the End” in which band members and others reenact scenes from the film. A telling line that sums its up: “Your face is fear, You are fear.”
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests renting on Thursdays. No wait, wait! This isn’t just filler! Seriously, if you were smart (and at least some of you might be) you’d take advantage of that Thursday 2-for-1 special right up above there and take care of your rental needs for the weekend. Say you want a new release for the weekend, but you don’t want to have to wrestle an old lady for it when you come in on Saturday? Well, come in on Thursday, pick up the new release, and a free complimentary movie to go with it (this week, I’d suggest a double feature of the new German mountain climbing flick North Face and the gripping, also mountain-climbing documentary Touching the Void). Then tell your friendly Videoport clerk to give you the extended rate on the new one. That way, you get both movies right through Sunday night for only $5.24. And the old lady will emerge un-wrestled.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests good old-fashioned nightmare fuel! (in Children’s & Family). Bridge the generation gap by giving your kids the same nightmares you had in your youth! I suggest you start with any of the following beloved family fare: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder original with creepy boat-trip scene, Mike Teevee flickering through the air in a million pieces, and “Violet! You’re turning violet, Violet!”); Pinocchio (the boys-to-donkeys transformation will scar them but good!); Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (hard to believe, but Snow White’s escape through the woods is even scarier than Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz); Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (if the childcatcher doesn’t give ’em the hollers, the Baroness will); The Muppet Show, especially the episodes guest-starring Vincent Price, Marty Feldman, Alice Cooper, or — shudder — Mummenschanz. You’re welcome!
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests The Rock (in Action Adventure/The Criterion Collection). Why, in the name of Yasujiro Ozu, has the hoity-toity Criterion Collection put out its typically-deluxe edition of this ultra-cheesy 90s action flick? (One might ask the same question of their choices of Robocop and Armageddon.) One- never question the Criterion gods. Two- I think it’s because this is the epitome of the sort of hyperactive, ultra-ridiculous, mega-stupid-fun blockbuster
that Hollywood is best at. Seriously, I don’t think you can point at another movie and say, “It’s like The Rock, but moreso.” The plot (like it matters): Nicholas Cage is a nerdy-but-improbably-hunky chemical scientist/FBI agent called in against his will to accompany a Navy Seal team in an underwater assault on Alcatraz Island where some rogue soldiers led by the ever-steely Ed Harris are blackmailing the government for reasons that don’t matter. Oh, and did I mention that they are bringing along grizzled-yet-way-improbably-athletic Sean Connery because he’s the only guy to ever escape the Rock? Oh, and that he’s a wrongly-imprisoned British secret agent? I’m almost certain I did. It’s all amped up to giddily-ridiculous proportions, with Cage hamming it up peerlessly, Connery being all Scottish and beating up commandos a third his age, and an all-time awesome standoff with soldiers pointing guns at each other and yelling “STAND DOWN!!” at each other for about a half hour. It’s stupid, it’s bananas, it’s a hot-and-a-half…and it’s in the Criterion Collection, getting laughed at by a Jean Cocteau movie.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! (This is filler.) Yup, send in your movie reviews, movie essays, movie haiku, or anything remotely movie-related to us at email@example.com. We’ll print it! And check us out on the interwebs at our Facebook page “Videoport Jones” or our movie blog at http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com!
New Releases this week at Videoport: Legion (everyone’s been clamoring for this one, since they’ve been showing the preview for about two years; it’s the end of the world, with God deciding to unleash hell on earth [gee, thanks God…] and the patrons of a secluded diner trying to put an end to it, possibly with the help of a rogue angel), Daybreakers (Ethan Hawke stars as a bloodsucker-with-a-conscience trying to create artificial blood to keep a vampire-overrun planet from chowing down on the few remaining humans in this decent horror flick from the guys who made the insane Aussie zombie movie Undead), Edge of Darkness (Mel Gibson stars as a cop who, investigating the death of his activist daughter, discovers all manner of government shenanigans and whatnot; check out the original British miniseries in the Feature Drama section at Videoport for a better version not starring an insane bigot), North Face (based-on-a-true-story German film about a couple of apolitical mountain climbers trying to fight off the Nazis [who want to exploit their achievements for propaganda purposes] and a huge freaking mountain [which wants to crush their skulls with huge rocks]), Tidal Wave (a troubled Korean couple tries to work out their personal stuff and outrun that giant freaking TIDAL WAVE!!!), ‘Penn & Teller: Bulls**t’- season 7 (America’s favorite illusionist duo once again punch ragged, gaping holes in your sacred beliefs!), ‘Life on Mars’- season 2 (second season of the British series about a time-lost cop), Hardwired (former stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Val Kilmer both wonder how they got into this direct-to-DVD thriller about a guy with a computer chip in his head, or some such).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Woodenhead (bizarrely-romantic New Zealand fable about a garbage dump attendant escorting a princess across a fairy-tale wasteland; shockingly, you can find it in the Incredibly Strange section), Who Killed Pixote (devastating documentary about
the fate of the Brazilian street urchin who starred in Hector Babenco’s brilliant Pixote, whose momentary fame could not alter his seemingly pre-ordained destiny), Frozen Land (Finnish miserablest drama about a series of depressed Scandinavians making each other sad), Creepshow (finally out on DVD! Now Videoport has this George Romero/Stephen King horror anthology classic on three different formats! Suck it Beta!), Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (new Bollywood at Videoport!), Where Angels Fear to Tread (Helen Mirren, Helena Bonham Carter, Judy Davis and some other corset-y types team up in this E.M. Forster adaptation), Noam Chomsky in Maine (the smartest and most ignored man in America was in Maine in April, and someone taped it).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: XXX, The Punisher, House of 1000 Corpses, Ghost Rider, Groundhog Day, Creepshow, House of Wax (the crappy one, sorry), Doctor Zhivago, Hitman, Labyrinth, Fantastic Four, Return to House on Haunted Hill, Ghostbusters, Babylon A.D., The Uninvited, Righteous Kill, To Kill a King, 12 Monkeys, Daybreakers, Legion, Edge of Darkness, Saving Private Ryan, The Messenger, Sex Lies and Videotape, Men in Black, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sunshine.