Volume CCLVII- Bad Lieutenant: On Golden Pond
For the Week of 7/20/10
Videoport loves you and wants you to be happy. Therefore, please take a free movie every day. This will prove our love.
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.)
>>> Dennis suggests (some of) the films of David Lynch. Here’s my list, best to worst, of cult director David Lynch’s oft-shocking, deliberately-obscure oeuvre, (with snappy, one sentence reviews!)
1. ‘Twin Peaks’- TV series (Mystery/Thriller). Before Lynch lost interest after the first season, this was as original, scary, funny, and downright bizarre a thing American television had ever seen.
2. Eraserhead (Feature Drama). A bottomlessly-unnerving cinematic realization of the worst nightmare you’ve ever had.
3. Mulholland Drive (Mystery/Thriller). Anchored by Naomi Watts’ truly astounding lead performance, this deliberately-bewildering, undeniably-fascinating tale of Hollywood, lost identities, murder, and things you simply will not get contains some of the most mysteriously-chilling images anywhere.
4. The Straight Story (in Feature Drama). Maybe I’m square, but this straightforwardly-affecting tale of an old man (the heartbreaking Richard Farnsworth) traveling on his riding lawnmower to visit his long-distant estranged brother is one of the best, most mature things Lynch has done.
5. Wild at Heart (Feature Drama). Lynch at his most lurid, over-the-top, and sleazily entertaining, aided immeasurably by Nicholas Cage, Laura Dern, and Willem Dafoe at their unrestrained, loony best.
6. Blue Velvet (Feature Drama). Lynch’s most famous, this dark, kinky, twisted satire of small town America has some truly astounding imagery, indelible performances from Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini, Kyle MacLachlan, Dean Stockwell, and Dern, and is, maybe, a little overrated.
7. The Elephant Man (Feature Drama). Plying it straight again, this biopic of the famously-deformed John Merrick has appropriately-horrifying makeup, a good lead performance from John Hurt…and is a little dull.
8. Lost Highway (Mystery/Thriller). Plays like a pale, uninspired Blue Velvet knockoff by a David Lynch wannabe.
9. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (Mystery/Thriller). Loaded down with the worst excesses Lynch is prone to, this prequel film plays like a Lynch parody made by someone out to discredit him; Sheryl Lee is amazing as the doomed Laura Palmer, though.
10. Industrial Symphony #1: The Dream of the Brokenhearted (Incredibly Strange). This post- Wild at Heart reteam with Dern and Cage (and composer Angelo Badalamenti) is typically obscure, symbolically-loaded kind-of opera whose novelty sort-of wears off after a while.
11. Dune (Sci Fi/Fantasy). Anyone suggesting that this misbegotten sci fi would-be epic is a subversive, misunderstood masterpiece rather than an incoherent, borderline-incompetent contender for the worst film of all time should be watched…closely.
?? (I still haven’t worked up the energy to see Inland Empire or any of the bonus discs in the ‘David Lynch Lime Green Boxed Set’ in the Incredibly Strange section, although Videoport’s Regan swears that the short film ‘Quinoa’ on the Inland Empire DVD.)
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Marnie (in Mystery/Thriller, but it’s Hitchcock, so the free classics thing applies.) Huh. Marnie. This Tippi Hedren/ Sean Connery Freudian heist film is arguably one of Hitchcock’s big failures… but not everyone agrees. The DVD’s special features include The Trouble with Marnie, in which several principals discuss the controversies on-set and the film’s critical reception, In this featurette, one film critic opines in measured, haughty tones, “If you do not like Marnie, you do not like Hitchcock. I will go farther and say that if you do not love Marnie, you do not love cinema.” I’m going to put on my contrarian filmlover’s hat here and respond to Haughty Highbrow Critic: Yeeeeeah, no. If you do not love Marnie, you’re okey-dokey by me and should come over for a Hitch double-feature: Notorious and Spellbound, anyone? Or we can go low-brow and voyeuristic with Psycho and Rear Window. Marnie is a weird and unpleasant little mess, but an instructive one. [spoilers ahead!] Marnie is presented as a high-strung, unstable little animal who only needs to be overmastered by a strong hand. She’s paralyzed
by frigidity, sublimating her romantic and sexual impulses into a) the oh-so-cliched sexual surrogate of horseback riding, and b) systematic serial embezzlement, which has the dubious virtue of being less cliched. The icy beauty is able to overcome her pathological fear of men only with psychological coaching from the man who blackmails her into marriage and rapes her on their honeymoon — not APA-approved behavior, y’all. Of course, Marnie learned her man-hating ways from her mother, who is no picture of mental health herself. The one female character who exhibits a healthy interest in men — Lil Mainwaring (Diane Baker) — is portrayed as a meddling, spoiled, envious shrew. It’s deeply unpleasant to watch, but fascinating, too, and I wonder if it reveals more about the legendary director than he realized.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Videoport customer John N. (via post-it note) recommends Paris 36 (in the Foreign Language section), stating simply, “This is a great movie.”
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> An anonymous Videoport customer (also via post-it note and, apparently, in response to a staff recommendation) recommends Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (in Incredibly Strange), saying “This was indeed awesome. Thanks!”
Editor’s note: No, thank YOU, John and Anon. If you’d like to follow their example and drop off a terse, succinct review of your most recent/most or least favorite rental gummed to the case, we’d love to publish it in the VideoReport. And, if you’re feeling more prolix, the VideoReport accepts submissions of all lengths, so feel free to drop them off at the store or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones.”
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Dennis suggests that teaching your kids proper, respectful DVD handling now will prevent you from coming hom, a decade from now, to find that you teenaged son and his dorky best friend have created a magical, sexy dream woman with their home computer, trashed your house (including an ICBM through your roof), and turned your elder son into a horrible, farty blob-monster. Sure, it’s unlikely, but can you really take that chance?
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Andy suggests Nightfall (in Mystery/Thriller). The cover tells you everything you need to know about the story: “The black bag with $350,000 in loot! The black dress with a beautiful pick-up girl inside! The black night made for lovers…and killers!” This is the first time I’ve seen Aldo Ray in a
movie, and I found him very likeable. As an innocent man on the run from cops and gangsters, he’s big, burly, blonde, and benevolent. He’s tough-looking and raspy-voiced, but just so polite and harmless. Like Nick Nolte, but clean-cut and nice. Nightfall also features some strong villains in Brian Keith and Rudy Bond. Real nasty guys are these, and the way Bond’s character is, ummm, “dealt with” is memorable. I won’t say any more about that.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests ‘Baseball’- episode 6, ‘The National Pastime’ (in Documentary). Sure, it sounds like the universe’s most beloved documentarian Ken Burns finally laid an egg with his latest ‘National Parks’ megaseries (I don’t know for sure, because it looked really dull…ooohh, see?), but up until then he was really getting the job done, with his ‘Civil War’, ‘Jazz’, and ‘Baseball’ documentary series (which he links together with a ‘race in America’ theme.) They’re all lovingly researched, immaculately edited, and sonorously narrated to within an inch of their lives, and are well worth the massive time commitment they ask for. And ‘Baseball’…well, in case you haven’t figured it out, I’m the Red Sox-jersey-clad gorillaman you see stalking the Videoport aisles , but I’ve got a big, girly brain in my bigfoot skull, and I can (and proudly do) confess that this pivotal episode makes me weep (in a manly, yet girly, way every single time). See, this is the one. The Jackie Robinson episode. Burns, in
keeping with his examination of race, tells parallel stories of the traditional big leagues and the Republican-approved Negro Leagues throughout the series and this one, where Brooklyn Dodgers owner Branch Rickey, with motives a twinkly mix of altruism and self-interest, brought Jackie up and broke the reprehensible, unspoken-yet-totally-spoken color barrier is…well, again I’m gonna say that it destroys me. Robinson was a dignified, proud man, but he knew, and Rickey knew, that if he retaliated to the inevitable barrage of racist abuse that timid, easily-reverted-to-bigotry white America could doom their wacky ‘black people deserve to play the American pastime’ experiment. So he put up with it. He kept silent. He endured it all (and the spikings, beanballs, and all-around a**holery) and still played the game with skill, honor, and grace. He is one of my few heroes. Anyone who speaks ill of him is my mortal-freaking-enemy. Seriously. And, if you can sit through the story of how Eddie Stanky, a white player who had circulated a petition to keep Robinson off the Dodgers, just couldn’t take the racist taunting of his teammate from the (who else?) Philadelphia fans and players any more and yelled at them “You’re all yellow! Why don’t you pick on someone who can fight back?”, without breaking out in goosebumps and, yeah, manly tears, then you’re not an American, a human, or my friend.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Losers (based on Andy Diggle’s superviolent comic series, this, well, superviolent action flick about a double-crossed CIA ‘black ops’ team out for revenge on the dirty double-crossers stars Jeffrey Dean Morgan [Watchmen] and ‘The Wire’s very own, and very awesome, Stringer Bell himself, Idris Elba), Cop Out (Kevin Smith directs [for the first time from a script he didn’t write] this buddy cop comedy starring the inexplicable duo of Tracy Morgan and Bruce Willis; the verdict: well, Kev’s still definitely not an action guy, but Morgan’s typically-lunatic energy provides a few chuckles), The Runaways (Kristin Stewart and Dakota Fanning put on their ripped big girl clothes to play Joan Jett and Cherie Curry, the two leaders of the titular punk band in this musical biopic; ask Videoport’s April how they did), ‘Being Human’- season 1 (BBC series about three aimless twentysomethings sharing a flat in London; oh, and did I mention they’re a vampire, a werewolf, and a ghost? I’m almost sure I did…), Mother (from Bong Joon-ho, director of the awesome monster movie The Host comes this gripping, acclaimed drama/mystery about the titular mom [the remarkable Kim Hye-ja] who’s willing to go to any lengths to prove her developmentally-disabled son innocent of murder), A Town Called Panic (this utterly-loopy Belgian stop-motion animated film, following the cleverly-bananas adventures of a set of children’s toys, is equal parts charming, bewildering, and hilarious), ‘Jersey Shore’- season 1 (several of us are seriously considering resignation…), Barking Dogs Never Bite (hey look! Bong Joon-ho is back! This earlier film chronicles the increasingly-desperate attempts of a man to find the yapping dog that’s been tormenting him from somewhere deep inside his sprawling apartment complex), 8: The Mormon Proposition (righteously-pissed-off documentary examines the ultra-Christlike efforts of the Mormon church to support California’s Proposition 8 which stripped gay man and women of their basic human rights…as Christ would have), Pornography: A Thriller (when a gay pron star mysteriously disappears, a writer teams up, with another gay porn star, to find him, and, I’m guessing, have lots of sex).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Galaxy of Terror (It’s finally here! The legendarily-bananas/awful Roger Corman sci fi/horror epic finally gets the deluxe DVD treatment! Watch ‘Happy Days’ Erin Moran, pre-Freddy Kreuger Robert Englund, Sid Haig, Grace Zabriskie and other confused-looking actors battle icky space monsters…in space! And, of course, don’t miss the equally-legendary ‘woman raped by a space worm’ scene! Many documentaries and commentaries allow the actors and creators to explain themselves…), ‘Blue Gender’ (Videoport’s anime section gets that much more bewildering with this nine-disc series about a woman who wakes up from hundres of years of cyber-sleep, only to find Earth overrun by giant blue insects! Isn’t that always the way?), remember how, last week, Videoport brought in three new episodes of David Suchet’s ‘Poirot’ series, well this week, we’re bringing in three more!!!!, Ninja’s Creed (the plot synopsis, “When a female assassin is sent to the US to kill the last living heir to the modern day Himalayan Kingdom, royal solider is also sent to protect her. When he is face to face with the assassin his duty to the Kingdom becomes compromised. As they battle, secrets are uncovered and the line between good and evil is erased. Only one mission can be completed and only one person can survive” claims it’s based on a true story; man, I should read the paper more…I don’t remember any of this…), ‘Desperate Romantics’ (the hot, steamy, paint-smeared world of the 19th century Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is the subject of this BBC miniseries destined to make your art history student girlfriend all swoony), College, Inc. (Frontline posits that for-profit colleges are a massive ripoff compared to state schools and community colleges; as a graduate of an absurdly-overpriced, Maine-based college that left me financially-crippled for more than a decade, well…), Ground War (documentary about the evolution of battlefield technology in the field of hurtin’ guys), ‘Look Around You’- season 1 (the very funny Pete Serafinowicz [‘Spaced’, Shaun of the Dead] stars in this BBC show which mockily mimics 1970s educational films to hilarious effect), May 18 (Korean drama about a young man coping with his fellow orphaned brother, an unrequited crush, and, oh yeah, the 1980 Gwangju Massacre), Nollywood Babylon (did you know that Nigeria’s film industry in the third-largest in the world? Me neither…but this documentary should answer our questions).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Starman, Big Fish, The House of Flying Daggers, The Life of Brian, Curse of the Golden Flower, Mother, The Runaways, Con Air, Cop Out, The Losers.
Extended Rates and Free Money!
Yup. Turn your 1 night rental (new releases) into a 3 night rental for just $1.75 more, and turn a 3 night rental (everything else) into a 7 night rental for just an additional 69 cents! And, buy yourself some free rental credit with Videoport’s pre-payment plans: buy yourself $25 worth of rental credit for only $20 or, if you’re feeling saucy, buy yourself $40 of rental credit for only $30!