Volume CCLXII- Divine Secrets of the Bad Lieutenant
For the Week of 8/24/10
Videoport give you a free movie every day. Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Videoport gives you a free movie every day. There- we said it three times and now the film fairy has made it all come true!
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.)
>>>Anime Ed suggests the glories of Pixar. Ah yes PIXAR!! so great the academy should just call it “what Pixar released this year award”. Anyway here is my list of Pixar cartoons ranked from best/fav to worst/ least:
1. WALL-E– this toon is just amazing-nothing equals its dark so true vision of our future. When I saw it in a theatre a person in the back after the first 20m minutes declared ” this is so depressing!” No better praise I could express. This movie is so moving and wondrous all children and adults should see it.
2. THE INCREDIBLES– God-Brad Bird’s greatest achievement so far. The dynamic between the main characters, the subversive undertones addressing our culture’s rejection of those who excel. Truly one of the best, most entertaining critiques of us disguised as a kids cartoon.
3. MONSTER INC.- Few cartoons move me like the moments in this film; when Sully scares Boo and realizes what he’s done. Or the determination he has to rescue her later in the film. And the voices (Pixar is great in their selection of voice talent)- Steve Buscemi is genius as a cartoon voice!
4. UP– The greatest of the great Pixar openings. A joyous and sad film about dreams, loneliness, and
loss. And the talking dog jokes rule!
5, 6, & 7 TOY STORY3, TOY STORY 2, TOY STORY– The order of these films was tough but I stand by this ranking. The first is great- a vision of what the studio would later prove capable of, but still just a tale of rivalry amongst toys. The second introduced the theme of what happens to toys after their owners tire of them. I rank 3 as the better because it takes this theme to the extreme and explores the darkness and bitterness possible- even brings the main characters to the brink of hell itself before they realize their real loyalty is to each other instead of some owner. A great trilogy and progression of characters and themes.
8. FINDING NEMO– A triumph of popular family entertainment. Intelligently made and an indication of the technical heights Pixar could/would achieve. The voices again-inspired! (Seriously why isn’t Willem Defoe used more in cartoons?!}
9. RATATOUILLE– I so wanted to love this movie, but I couldn’t. It’s not bad (and many disagree with me, it is well loved) but it just didn’t do it for me. There are great moments, truly great moments, but in the end it is just a toon about a rat that can cook. I expected so much more from Brad Bird. Plus it stole the Oscar that year from PERSEPOLIS which should have won).
10. A BUGS LIFE– Here we are at the end. What can I say, this movie did nothing for me. It’s not terrible, but in the end the best I can say is it wasn’t ANTZ– God did that movie suck.
(Not included is CARS-I didnt see this one so I can’t fairly rank it.)
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Videoport customer Mark Magee suggests Ben Hur (in Classics.) This is definitely my favorite of the epic ‘Biblical’ films of the 50s and 60s. Still after 50 years, it is an intelligently written and executed spectacle that is thrilling and very moving. The story calls itself ‘A Tale of the Christ’ and it is one of the best films showing the life of Jesus. But the center of the film focuses on Judah Ben Hur, a wealthy Jew who loses everything due to Roman occupation and the many trials and tribulations he experiences after. Sporadically thru the film, Ben Hur encounters Jesus in different stages of his life. The prologue is the best depiction of the nativity I have seen — hardly any dialogue and only a few minutes long, it is beautifully and reverently filmed. Ben Hur is full of images like that as well as action-packed scenes expertly filmed with literally a cast of thousands. The famous chariot race scene is still incredible to watch; a great piece of old-fashioned moviemaking. Most of us will unfortunately never see this film on the large Cinemascope movie screen it was attended; experiencing it that way must have been incredible and a luxury that we don’t have in modern theaters. Even our stadium style cineplexes don’t have the huge size screens they had for films like this in the 50s and 60s…kind of a shame. People forget what a good actor Charlton Heston used to be; before he became the sci-fi hero from the 60s and cheesy disaster hero from the 70s, he was the most famous actor in Hollywood. Ben Hur won him the Oscar and it is well-deserved. He is still very much the hero but his range is much larger; his character starts out headstrong and naive and as the film progresses, he becomes hardened and disillusioned. Beautiful sets and costumes; a stirring score; excellent direction and a grand entertainment. A film not to be missed.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Egon S. Customer recommends Ghostbusters (in Comedy.). There’s something very important that I forgot to tell you. Don’t forget to rent Ghostbusters. …it would be bad. Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light. Total protonic reversal. Rent Ghostbusters: important safety tip!
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Following (in Mystery/Thriller.) Everyone’s all abuzz over Inception, Christopher Nolan’s splashy big-budget mindbender currently in theaters. Now go back to the beginning with me. Following, Nolan’s first feature film, is a classic shoestring production: crisp black & white film, unknown actors, and a lean 70-minute running time. It’s a tight little neo-noir with a few narrative twists. An unemployed would-be writer (Jeremy Theobald) makes a secret habit of shadowing strangers on the street, spinning imaginary backstories and identities for them and reassuring himself that he’s doing harmless research for his eventual writing, nothing more nefarious or creepy…. until he’s confronted by one of the people he follows, and the story gets a little murkier. In this debut film, Nolan already displays his much-heralded imagination and acumen, playing deftly with complex timelines, ambiguous characters, and moral shadows.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> Elsa S. Customer defends A Bug’s Life*. I hear what you’re saying, Anime Ed (see Monday’s reviews), but I adore A Bug’s Life for more reasons than I can count. Here are just a few. [Spoilers
ahoy!] 1. Pixar took a classic piece of Japanese cinema (Kurosawa’s glorious Seven Samurai), then twisted and tweaked it into a charming, chummy, funny, family-friendly flick — without robbing the story of depth or dignity. 2. The setting and protagonist — a worker ant in an ant colony — isn’t a random cartoon-cute idea, but a thoughtful choice with deep resonance, exceeding the simple morality of Aesop’s tale of the ant and the grasshopper. A Bug’s Life illustrates the individual’s triumph over hierarchical tradition and over the weakness of the self. Of course Flik (Dave Foley) is supposed to shut up, gather food, and conform to the colony’s norms — he’s a drone! When Flik uses his idiosyncratic talents to defy the extorting horde of grasshoppers, he is not only flouting his societal role and a lifetime of indoctrination but transcending his very nature, emboldening the colony to do the same on a larger scale. This is the stuff of revolutions. 3. Pixar is known for the rich threads of allusions woven into their movies, and A Bug’s Life helped set that standard. Just a handful of the countless classic and cult film
references — 2001, A Clockwork Orange, Easy Rider, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Microcosmos, and on and on. 4. It packs in all these layers without ever forgetting that it’s primarily a sweet, silly movie designed to keep kids — and their grown-ups — entertained. I’m watching it as I type… and laughing So. Very. Hard.
*Editor’s note: Sorry Ed, but cross Ms. Customer at your peril…
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, April suggests Urgh! A Music War (in Popular Music.) Holy bananas! We’ve got Urgh! On DVD! Klaus Nomi, Magazine, Pre Ubu, Joan Jett, Oingo Boingo, X, and so on and so forth! Why are you not running to rent it right now? Aggh! Rent Urgh!
>>>And suggests Lola (in Feature Drama.) No, not the Jacques Demy Lola. Or the Rainer Werner Fassbinder Lola. This is the Richard (Superman) Donner Lola, starring Charles Bronson and Susan George. It’s about a romance novelist (Bronson) who marries a 16-year-old British girl (George.) It’s a little bit Lolita, and a little bit Harold and Maude, light on any kind of perversion, gently mocking of stuffy, conservative attitudes. To be completely honest, I don’t know what the point of this movie is. It’s as if someone just thought Bronson and Ms. George might have chemistry together, so he wrote a breezy, pointless script and…now Lola exists. That said, I am glad Lola exists. It’s short, fast, and pretty fun.
>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Josh suggests Barton Fink (in Feature Drama.) The Coen brothers are awesome. You should know this. Their worst is just about on par with everyone else’s
best. Barton Fink is not their worst. The titular character, played to a masterful nervous perfection by John Tuturro is a young writer with big aspiration of social change. He has his first theater success in New York, and gets a chance to contract for a major L.A. movie production house, without knowing what he’s getting into at all. What follows is a film of intensely moody atmosphere, and a great deal of existential angst. Barton is told to write a wrestling picture, a stock b-movie genre he knows nothing about. By chance he meets one of his writing idols, although let’s say that doesn’t go quite how young Barton has imagined. Fink chooses to stay in one of the seedier hotels, and while the film is set amidst the backdrop of imminent war, the only inhabitants are weirdos, rejects, and geriatrics. Barton lucks out, making friends with a very supportive neighbor played by John Goodman, who turns in what should have been a career-redefining performance. Faced with an imminent deadline while his mind disintegrates, things take a turn for the worse. The film ends on what would become a signature Coen style, exceedingly vague and deeply unsettling. A film you will think about long after the credits roll. For those who may have the impression I’ve given away the plot, I assure you the real substance is unspoiled.
New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘Lost’- season 6 (it’s over! Everything has been explained…except, oh right, not everything has been explained…), The Back-Up Plan (Jennifer Lopez stars in this romantic comed…uh oh, I’ve lost you already, haven’t I?), ‘The Simpsons’- season 13 (it’s got Ralph Wiggum on the box!), Survival of the Dead (Zombie-daddy George A.
Romero is back, this time telling the tale of two island-bound feuding families coping with the rise of the undead; ZOMBIES!!!), City Island (Andy Garcia and Julianna Margulies star in this acclaimed indie drama about a fractious family), Dorian Gray (see, he’s got this painting in his attic, and it gets old and ugly, but he stays pretty and evil…you know the drill; Colin Firth costars in this new British adaptation of the Oscar Wilde spook classic), The Square (in this neo-noir from Australia, the requisite sort-of innocent guy gets into the requisite web of deceit and murder when his mistress shows up with a big bag o’ money), Who Killed Nancy? (the titular Nancy is Nancy Spungen, former girlfriend of Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious, found stabbed to death next to a drugged out Vicious in 1978; a double feature with Alex Cox’s Sid & Nancy wouldn’t be a bad idea…), ‘Gossip Girl’- season 3 (so what is this show anyway? Some sort of reality deal, or not, or what…? Well, you guys have fun), Me and Orson Welles (does prettyboy tween star-lite Zac Efron broaden his talents in this tale of a prettyboy intern on Welles’ production of Julius Caesar? Well, no, not really, but it was directed by the undeniably-brilliant Richard Linklater [Dazed and Confused, Before Sunrise/Sunset] and newcomer Christain McKay’s Welles is truly magnetic.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Tom and Jerry Meet Sherlock Holmes (“When you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth…Wait, what? They’re a mouse and a cat, but they can operate heavy artillery? I am so out of here…”), Cannibal Holocaust (Videoport brings you this 2 disc special edition DVD of the notorious, often banned [but not as often as the filmmakers would like you to believe] Italian cannibal anti-classic! You…are…welcome!), Private (the new girl at a boarding school deals with the requisite clique-y, catty types in this young adult-y web series).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport*: Escape from New York, Withnail and I, Mona Lisa, The Square, Time Bandits, Mystic River, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Bank Job, Crank 2.
*Hey Blu Ray fans! Videoport’s entire Blu Ray library is now online, in easy, alphabetical order! Check out our entire Blu Ray collection at our super-useful movie blog http://www.videoportjones.wordpress.com! Blu Ray! It exists!
Q. What’s your deal anyway?
A. I assume you’re asking about our generous daily rental deals where you get a free movie every day at Videoport! Check out page one of the newsletter for details!
Q. Just where do you get off?
A. Why you can get off anywhere downtown, park in any parking garage, and we’ll validate your parking for a free hour…of parking! Thanks for asking!
Q. What is the capital of North Dakota?
A. Bismarck. But Fargo is where all the cool kids hang out.
Q. It is true that Videoport has generous pre-payment plans that will give you either five free dollars (if you pre-pay $20) or ten free dollars (if you pre-pay $30), and that you can use that store credit for rentals or extra day rentals?
A. Wow. Yeah, that’s pretty much right on the nose there.
Q. I can’t bring my movies back in time.
A. Well, that’s not a question, but you can extend your rentals for cheap. An extra 69 cents turns a 3 day rental into a 7 day rental, and $175 more turns a new release from a 1 day rental into a 3 day rental.