VideoReport #249

Volume CCXLIX- My Revenge Is Vengeance

For the Week of 5/25/10

Videoport: we’re locally-owned, fiercely independent, we’ve got the best selection anywhere, and a staff comprised solely of friendly and knowledgeable film geeks. All right here in your backyard. (Anyone thinking all of the previous was code for ‘screw Netflix’ wouldn’t be wrong.)

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 Alien (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). I know, I know. You’re a savvy film

If Yaphet Kotto's scared, you know you're in trouble.

aficionado and you’ve heard it all before: the original Alien is an acknowledged classic, it’s an existential nightmare, it’s a meditation on the body-horrors of reproduction, it’s the venerable haunted-house tale taken to a new landscape, it’s the rare action film that passes the Bechdel test with flying colors, it’s a paragon of ensemble acting. But Alien is even more than that: it’s a fantastically tight piece of storytelling that holds up amazingly well: over the decades since its release, and over many repeated watchings. Man oh man, I must have seen this movie — what, twenty times? fifty? — and still, when we sat in the dark last night and watched the tale unwind, I still jumped and screamed out loud, just once.

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

>>> Dennis says: Since no one gave me a Tuesday review this week (send your reviews to

You haven't seen this, and it's very good...!), I’m gonna use this space to reiterate that there’s a free movie to be had every single day at Videoport. Seriously. So why not take a chance? There’s a whole big weird, beautiful, sad, hilarious, exotic, tingly, scary, challenging, infuriating, thrilling world of movies on Videoport’s shelves, just waiting for you to pick one up FOR FREE! To reiterate- you get a free movie every single day at Videoport, so why not just pick one out (at random, on a hunch, ’cause of a sexy cover, with the help of a friendly Videoport clerk) in addition to the one you actually came in for. If Videoport is one thing (and it’s at least one) then it’s a place to discover what movies (or TV series, or hyper-violent Japanese animation) have to offer. Videoport loves movies, and we love you. Open your mind. Broaden your horizons. Take a free movie. Every day.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Kontroll (in Foreign Language). This movie should be more popular. It’s got a creepy/funny David Lynch thing going on, some incredibly (and wittily) directed action sequences, scares, laughs, even a little romance. Directed by up-and-comer (and awesomely-named) Nimrod Antal (he’s doing the new Predators movie), Kontroll opens with a humorously-awkward real-life disclaimer from the director of the Budpest subway system in which he nervously explains that, while he likes the film and gave permission to film in the subway, things are, heh heh, not really like that. As well he should- the Budapest rapid transit system of the film is a creepy, violent, absurdist hell, where roving gangs of toughs routinely battle with roving gangs of subway employees whose job, it seems, is to check everyone for a ticket, when they’re not cleaning up after suicides or insulting other employee gangs. Our heroes are a scruffy but likeable bunch of screwups, led by the troubled and magnetic Bulcsu (Sandor Csanyi), legendary for his rumored ability to outrace the last train of the night through the pitch-black tunnels from one stop to another. He and his team, on probation for general unruliness, find themselves beset with the daily indignities of the job, as well as a notorious and fleet-footed graffiti tagger, a mysterious, pretty girl riding the rails in a bear costume, and, oh yeah, a reaper-hoodied serial killer who, they realize, is responsible for the rash of supposed track-leaper suicides on their watch. Mysterious, funny, exciting, and weird, Kontroll should be one of those foreign cult rentals (like The Kingdom) that people tell each other about.

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

>>>April suggests Bandits (in Foreign Language). I own the soundtrack to Bandits. So right there you know the music is pretty good. I’m not really the kind of girl who buys soundtracks. Bandits is a rock ‘n’ roll chick flick that’s not only badass, but girly fun. Four women break out of prison during their performance for a police banquet. They go on the run playing shows and falling for a guy, all the while trying to avoid being recaptured. It’s the German version of Thelma and Louise meets Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains.

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

>>> April suggests Robin Hood. Now that that new Robin Hood movie with Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchette is out in theaters, people have been renting all the Robin Hood-esque* movies and TV shows. My favorite Robin Hood is the Disney one! Gosh! How could you not love Robin as a fox. And all those fun Disney songs! “Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, Golly, what a day!”

*Editor’s note: see either of the two BBC Robin Hood miniseries, Robin & Marian, The Adventures of Robin Hood (with Errol Flynn), Mel Brooks’ Robin Hood: Men in Tights, and even (sigh) the Kevin Costner one.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (in Documentary Arts). One of four handsomely-produced documentaries of lesser-know art world figures Videoport brings you this week (see also Obscene, Alice Neel, and Visual Acoustics), this necessarily-kaleidoscopic portrait of the life and work of notorious underground filmmaker Smith was the first one a film geek like myself ran for. Smith’s one completed work Flaming Creatures simply cannot be seen anywhere, but I’d read about it and Smith in Danny Peary’s excellent (and sadly equally-out-of-print) Cult Movies/Movie Stars books and, well, I like weirdness, so I was in. Smith, a tall, pointy-featured guy, comes off as an intriguingly-ambiguous figure, steadfastly

Some of Smith's flaming creatures.

living the life of a true, politically-committed pure artist, which, for him, meant eschewing anything remotely commercial (like selling his art or, you know, paying rent) which, coupled with his decidedly outre sensibilities, also opens up the very real possibility that he was more than a little bananas. (The ‘bananas’ aspect is aided by his speaking voice which, apart from what he’s actually saying, is the same sort of strangled singsong that Eugene Levy uses for his Brian Wilson-esque half-nuts folksinger in A Mighty Wind). After making the floridly-symbolic erotic mishmash that was Flaming Creatures, Smith never actually completed another film (or anything else, really), constantly shooting and editing similarly-lush and eccentric scenes, giving live performances (often consisting of him actually editing his films-in-progress on stage), and having bewildering happenings in his also-constantly-in-flux loft. (Ever-awesome co-underground-dweller Mary Woronov humorously describes how, after getting there at midnight, people would mill around for up to three hours before Smith would finally come out, stare at the audience seemingly-bewildered for maybe half an hour, then leave the stage again. She concedes that drugs may have helped her stick around to the end.) Smith’s singular commitment to living a life where only art matters and his taboo-smashing (especially with regards to homosexuality on screen) is lauded by famous fans like Woronov, Nick Zedd, John Waters, and others (even by legendary avant garde filmmaker Jonas Mekas, for whom Smith had nothing nice to say), and I came away admiring him too, even if he often seems like the sort of self-serious loony I get stuck talking to on a bus.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press (in Documentary Arts). The story of a ballsy little American hero, Obscene recounts the life of Barney Rosset who’s fought a lifelong battle against censors, philistines, bullies, and shrieking ‘won’t somebody think of the children!’ nanny-state-ninnies, and made America slightly less stupid because of it (I, personally, can’t think of a better legacy). A naturally-rebellious guy, Rosset, after WWII found himself, almost by accident, the owner of tiny publishing house Grove Press and almost immediately made a career out of provoking court battles with the self-proclaimed ‘forces of decency’ by seeking out and publishing controversial works of

A hero you didn't know you had.

literature. He started off with Lady Chatterley’s Lover, moved on to Tropic of Cancer, Waiting for Godot, Naked Lunch, and many others (and founding the groundbreaking journal Evergreen Review), fighting, and winning, the battle for free speech, free expression, and all of the rest of that Commie stuff, running through all his resources (and more than a few wives) in the process. In addition to the official, court-sanctioned harassment, he got death threats, smear campaigns, and, oh yeah, somebody bombed his office (after Evergreen published Che Guevara’s journals). There’s even evidence that the CIA engaged in dirty tricks against Rosset and Grove. Way to go America! Rosset, still impishly subversive well into old age, recounts his various struggles against The Man with obvious pride, even as he spells out the most difficult and unjust ways in which the foes of art tried, and ultimately succeeded, in bringing Grove down. Filled with saucy excerpts, indignant interviews, racy archival footage, and an inherent love of the written word, Obscene is a thrilling, fascinating, and infuriating watch, and you’ll have a new hero at the end. Unless, of course, you’re an illiterate, fascist prig.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Road (based on the typically-brilliant Cormac McCarthy novel, this post-apocalyptic film starring Viggo Mortensen is probably the most anticipated film in recent Videoport memory. Which, of course, proves that you guys are awesome…), ‘True Blood’- season 2 (some sort of Vampire show, from what I’m told…weird), Dear John (Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried get all snuggly and so forth in this romance from the terminally-sappy team of director Lasse Hallstrom [Chocolat, The Shipping News] and writer Nicholas Sparks [The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe]; you guys have fun- I’m gonna be over in the Incredibly Strange section…), Someone’s Knocking at the Door (trumpeting itself as “The most depraved film of the 21st century!”, this tale of drug-happy med students vs. some 70’s-style serial killers is making some bold claims; who’s gonna have the guts to write its fist review for the VideoReport?), ‘Corner Gas’- season 3 (ask Videoport’s James about this Canadian comedy series about the wacky denizens of a tiny town. Seriously, he’s obsessed), ‘The Jeff Dunham Show’- season 1 (guy talks to puppets…people seem to enjoy it…).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Real Men (some people might ask why Videoport has chosen to purchase a DVD copy of this 1987 Jim Belushi/John Ritter buddy comedy. To that, we can only say…um…), They Live By Night/Side Street (perhaps to make up for that last one, Videoport also brings in this film noir double feature disc featuring the excellent Nicholas Ray-directed They Live By Night [which was remade by Robert Altman as the even more excellent Thieves Like Us], and another Farley Granger-starred noir directed by the ever-interesting Anthony Mann [Border Incident]), Wheel of Time (director Werner Herzog delves into the largest Buddhist ritual in the world in this typically-insightful documentary), City of the Living Dead (legendarily-gory Italian zombie flick from typically-overrated Italian horror director Lucio Fulci finally gets the DVD treatment; Italian guts are the best guts!), Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman (narrated by Dustin Hoffman, this documentary about a famous architectural photographer shows that you can become famous by taking pictures of other people’s works), Alice Neel (eponymous documentary about the renowned portrait painter), Voyager (the ever-cool Sam Shepard stars as the titular traveller, uncovering long-buried secrets from his past and the lovely Julie Delpy [Before Sunrise]), Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (see Dennis’ review of this documentary on page 1!), Obscene: A Portrait of Barney Rosset and Grove Press (see Dennis’ review of this documentary, also on page 1!), QVBII (based on the Leon Uris novel, this 1974 miniseries about an author being sued for implying that a German doctor was a Nazi stars Anthony Hopkins, Ben Gazzara, John Gielgud, and an all-70s cast of almost-stars!), Matinee (fun nostalgic filmgeekery about the world premiere of the newest film [Mant! Half man-half ant!] by John Goodman’s William Castle-inspired schlockmeister from director Joe Dante), The World Unseen (romantic drama about two women engaging in a secret and dangerous romance in Apartheid-era South Africa), The Lost Coast (drama about two male friends reuniting years after high school…and a secret sexual past!), Jermal (Indonesian coming-of-age drama about young fishermen trying to become men, and not die and stuff), Korea: The Forgotten War (documentary series about that war that, according to the filmmakers, people have forgotten about? I mean, MASH was pretty popular, right?).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: 9 Songs, The Road, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Natural Born Killers, The Professional, From Dusk ’til Dawn, U-571, Children of Men, Brokeback Mountain, Wall-E, Memento, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Jerry Maguire, The Tailor of Panama, Training Day, Deliverance, Good Night and Good Luck, Role Models, The Incredible Hulk, Invictus, Valentine’s Day, Walkabout (Criterion), Event Horizon, Carlito’s Way, Without a Paddle, The X Files: Fight the Future, Entrapment, Rocky, Wayne’s World, Wayne’s World 2, The Manchurian Candidate (Denzel), Major League, Lethal Weapon, Revolver, Walk Hard, Behind Enemy Lines, Unfaithful, 10,000 BC, 16 Blocks, Dog Day Afternoon, Fracture .

Free Money at Videoport!

Videoport’s got two different (yet quite similar) savings plans whereby you get more than you pay for. If you pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account, we give you $25 dollars worth of rental credit. And, pre-pay $30, and you get $40 worth of rental credit. Call it a 20 or 25% discount on Videoport’s already-insane low rates, call it five or ten free bucks, call it incredibly generous (if you must)…

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] store Videoport recommends their customers rent and watch Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis. Now that’s a great video […]

  2. just wanted to say thank you…your post is great

  3. Thank you, Mr. D20.

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