VideoReport #265

Volume CCLXV- The Bad Lieutenant’s Social Club

For the Week of 9/14/10

Videoport gives you a free movie rental every day. Oh, and we give you a free rental every time you buy a movie from us. Right, and you get some for every hundred rentals at Videoport. And, well, our pre-payment deals ($20 buys you $25 worth of rentals, $30 buys you $40) are sort of like more free rentals. Look, we just give out a lot of free rentals, okay?

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.)

Hello Jenny...

>>>Videoport customer Jenny A. suggests Sunshine (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Videoport once again saves the day. I rented Sunshine yesterday – is Danny Boyle a genius or what?? How did I miss this film? I love end-of-the-world space movies! Cillian Murphy must be Danny’s muse. Which reminds me of how much I enjoye…d Cillian in Breakfast on Pluto – such a random film, hard to describe, and no one seems to have seen it. Good gods is he beautiful as a transvestite:

And Neil Jordan is also a genius.

>>>Videoport customer Jason R. suggests ‘Max Headroom’- the complete series (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) I wondered if this show, which aired briefly in the eighties and popped up on cable a few times before disappearing forever, still holds up. It does. It’s Blade Runner on a shoestring aesthetic, is still compelling, albeit a bit unsuited for today’s unforgiving flatscreens. It’s plot, which pits a reporter with a camera against mega-corporations, is oddly prescient in the age of Fox News and Youtube. The only thing that dates it is its nineteen-eighties sensibility. Every episode ends with a joke, a laugh, and a wink at the camera like an episode of ‘The A-Team.’ You have to be forgiving, it predates the era when television became cool.

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Backwoods (Bosque de Sombras)(in Action/Adventure.) It’s the late 1970s, before cell phones, before GPS, and before safety, certainty, and rescue seemed well within reach wherever we went. Back then, when you went deep into the woods, you were alone in the woods… or, more eerily, perhaps you were not alone. In this Spanish-English film, two British couples take a much-needed vacation in the Basque backwoods of northern Spain. The older couple, Paul (the extraordinary Gary Oldman in a classic 1970s droopy ‘stache) and Isabel (Aitana Sánchez-Gijón, The Machinist, I’m Not Scared), are weary, patient, and a bit wiser than their more fragile, fractious

Obey his mustache...

companions Norman (Paddy Consindine, 24 Hour Party People, Dead Man’s Shoes, Hot Fuzz) and Lucy (Virginie Ledoyen, L’eau Froide). The outing seethes with tension even before the two men go out for a hunting stroll through the woods and stumble onto a terrible secret — a revelation that the locals don’t want to discuss. From that point on, the synopsis sounds like the plot of a ’70s backwoods exploitation flick, and the film tips its cap to Straw Dogs, Deliverance, and their ilk. But, like the best of its predecessors, Backwoods strives for more than action-exploitation. The pacing helps here: Backwoods unfolds slowly, lingering dreadfully in the tension it creates and exploring the moral quandaries that the story raises. It’s a flawed film, but a thoughtful one. Don’t expect catharsis or clarity from Backwoods. Don’t even expect a neat resolution. This is a wandering, sorrowful story, a film that knows the harsh truth: there are no true heroes, no moral certainties, and no absolutes of good or evil, though there are all too many ways to do wrong. It’s a murky, muddy world we live in, where we can only muddle along and do our best. Our best may not be good enough, but it’s our only hope. Backwoods knows that.

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

>>> Dennis suggests (again) that you go hog-wild on Wednesdays with Videoport’s new Wednesday rental special! Yup, (switching to all-caps for a moment) RENT FOUR MOVIES FOR SEVEN DAYS FOR SEVEN BUCKS! You could rent a whole season of ‘Dexter’! A whole season of ‘Mad Men’! The entire ‘Firefly’ series! (Thanks to FOX being so damned wrong about everything, ever.) Or two whole seasons of ‘Slings and Arrows’! You could become an expert on the films of Kurosawa in a couple of months, or an expert on Paul Tomas Anderson in a week! You could, I don’t know, rent the first four movies in a row on the third shelf down, fifth shelf over in the Mystery/Thriller section. That’s my point about this new special…go crazy!!!!! AAAAIIIIIEEEE!!!!!

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Peeping Tom (in Mystery Thriller/The Criterion Collection.) Decades before Michael Haneke accused the audience with Funny Games‘ controversial (and, in my

Editor's note: You probably don't want to google the phrase "peeping tom, movie". Unless you do...

opinion, shallow and facile) indictment, Michael Powell gave us Peeping Tom, his brilliant but career-ending masterpiece on the subject of cinematic voyeurism and the incrimination of the audience. Mark (Carl Boehm), a soft-spoken, shy young man of means, carries his camera with him everywhere, both to buffer the anxieties of human intimacy and to give himself a sense of power over others. And a dreadful power it is. Shudder. Mark’s gentleness and sweet diffidence contrast viciously with the cruelty of the camera he wields, and we can understand why his neighbor Helen (Anna Massey, playing the part with inane but winning vivacity) takes a shine to him, even as we cringe at their developing closeness. This is a film that could make Hitchcock envious. Indeed, Peeping Tom feels a bit like Hitch in his most harrowing moments: as subtle and ominously polished as any of Hitchcock’s urban thrillers, as psychologically rich as Rear Window, and as lavish in creeping perversity as Psycho. (Careful viewers will note that Hitchcock’s 1972 Frenzy owes an enormous debt to Powell’s 1960 Peeping Tom: the luridly bright market-day ambience of the crime scenes, the relish with which bystanders discuss the murders, and even the central role of Anna Massey as the starring potential victim.)

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

>>> Dennis suggests that teaching your child responsible DVD handling now will prevent you from having to explain to your friends, years from now, how he only wanted to advance science and not accidentally create the lumbering mindless monster made up out of the scavenged parts of the dead which is now rampaging through your village. Trust me, no one will understand at that point…

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

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Mark Magee suggests Two Lane Blacktop (in Feature Drama/The Criterion Collection.) I had thought this was going to be one of those crazy car chase films of the 70s but I was very wrong. Two-Lane is is an excellent reflection of its time and a moving

Warren Oates, we miss you.

character study. The plot is very simple (2 drag racing drifters enter a cross country race with an older man going thru a mid-life crisis), there is very little dialogue and except for Warren Oates, the main characters are played by non-actors (singers, James Taylor and Dennis Wilson), which give it a real documentary feel. Director Monte Hellman directs at a very slow pace — no quick edits with overpowering music — but the film is never boring. Oates’ character is the most fleshed out one in the film — he gives a great and very sad performance as a middle-aged man desperately trying to get something grounded and real in his life. This is probably his best film. Two-Lane is a very hard film to describe and the kind of film that means different things to different people. It is very Robert Altman-esque and has great insight to what society was like in late 60s/early 70s America. The director commentary by Hellman is very good also, but he refuses to explain certain meanings or plot points…he leaves it up to the viewer, like most great filmmakers. I was really surprised how this film affected me and also surprised I had never seen it earlier.

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests In Bruges (in Incredibly Strange.) Two hitmen on holiday: one (Colin Farrell) is young and brash, by turns edgy and charmingly energetic; the other (Brendan Gleeson) is older, softer, with gentle, thoughtful eyes that worry even as they reassure. Their boss has sent them to Bruges to wait out the aftermath of a hit gone wrong, and waiting is mostly what they do: filling up their hours almost randomly, marking time, seeing sights, and chatting up strangers. At first the film has the hallmarks of an offbeat buddy movie, but stick with it and you’ll see In Bruges develop into a marvelously rounded, intimately human character study and a meditation on morality. It’s an extraordinarily lovely film: meditative, foggy, wrily funny, and dark — so dark. This is a film that doesn’t shy away from sorrow and remorse, but doesn’t bog itself down in them, either. There is real beauty here, some imparted by the ancient loveliness of Bruges itself, some from the honest characters Gleeson and Farrell hew out of their lines, and some thanks to the deft direction from Martin McDonagh.

New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘The Big Bang Theory’- season 3 (Nerd comedy alert!), ‘Glee’- season 1, part 2 (the only episode of this chipper, singy, ‘Fame’-style musical comedy show I’ve seen is in this half of the first season [people who know me know it’s the Joss Whedon-directed, Neil Patrick Harris-guest-starring episode…which…is…awesome…]), ‘Grey’s Anatomy’- season 6 (according to TV, there are only three occupations: cop, lawyer, and doctor; apparently, this show is about the latter), Prince of Persia (Jake Gyllenhall is the suspiciously-

"Beige" is the same as "Persian", right? Anyone...?

not-Arabian titular prince in this video-game-based action adventure flick), Letters to Juliet (Amanda Seyfried [Mama Mia!] stars in this romantic comedy that I stake my immortal soul that I will never see; you guys have fun though- she plays a perhaps slightly ditsy young woman who decides to track down the writer of a 50 year old note a similarly-ditsy young woman had written to a fictional character), ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’- season 5 (the continuingly-hilarious comic adventures of the worst people in the entire world!), ‘Fringe’- season 2 (Sure, it might be an ‘X Files’ ripoff, but I hear it’s also pretty good…), Just Wright (the ever-charismatic Queen Latifah stars in this romantic comedy about a sports psychologist hired to help out a hunky NBA star; seriously, I love the Queen…I am one of the Queen’s subjects), ‘The Good Wife’- season 1 (Julianna Margulies stars in this Emmy-winning series about a loyal politician’s wife who has to deal when her no-goodnik husband gets all scandal-ridden and stuff), Princess Kaiulani (the lovely Q’orianka Kilcher [The New World] stars in this historical drama about the native Hawaiian lass who found herself embroiled in the politics of her native land and the racist douchebaggery of white people, both in England and America!), My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done (eternally-intriguing director Werner Herzog turns his otherworldly gaze on this based-on-a-true-story tale of a sword-mother-murder; costarring Michael Shannon, Willem Dafoe and Grace Zabriskie and produced by David Lynch; Herzog and Lynch together?! Your mind may not be able to handle this…), Boogie Woogie (a comedy satire about the London art scene? Why should you care? Well there’s this cast list: Gillian Anderson, Christopher Lee, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, Charlote Rampling, Stellan Skarsgard, that girl from Mama Mia! again…773-1999 to reserve…), Casino Jack and the United States of Money (fascinating documentary about now-incarcerated Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff who revolutionized the way in which political parties cab rake in the dough…but, you know, in a totally illegal way…), Looking for Eric (from iconoclastic British director Ken Loach [The Wind That Shakes the Barley] comes this oddball dramedy about a soccer-obsessed postman who gets Play It Again, Sam-style phantom advice from his favorite player the ]real life] titular Eric Cantona), ‘Supernatural’- season 5 (two hot brothers continue their battle against significantly-uglier spooky evil), Ajami (Oscar-nominated Israeli film creates a Crash-like tapestry of interconnected misery, with characters of all walks of life and religions meeting up, and usually making the worst possible decisions), Blood Into Wine (TOOL frontman Maynard James Keenan has opened a winery in the desert, and this documentary interviews him and has comic assists from the likes of Tim & Eric, Bob Odenkirk, Patton Oswalt, and Milla Jovovich to help explain why this is a good idea), The Project (indie drama about three first-time filmmakers setting out to make an inner-city documentary who get in over their inexperienced heads), Afterschool (an internet nerd accidentally films the overdose deaths of two classmates, causing all manner of intrigue in this indie drama/thriller).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Sherlock Holmes Faces Death/Sherlock Holmes in Washington (a double-feature disc with Basil Rathbone’s Holmes [updated to then-present day] sleuthing the heck out of things with the, as ever, questionable help of Nigel Bruce’s Watson), Spirit of the Forest (new animated kids stuff, featuring the voice talents of Sean Astin and Giovanni Ribisi),Barbie: A Fashion Fairytale (toy-derived animated princessery!), Seven Sinners/Shepherd of the Hills and Pittsburgh/The Conqueror/Jet Pilot (not to be outdone

I'm beige-er than Gyllanhall...

by some nancy Brit, John Wayne barrels into Videoport this week with both a double feature and a triple feature disc of some of his lesser-known films of, shall we say, variable quality; The Conqueror is a must see for bad movie fans, by the way, with Wayne playing Genghis Khan in a droopy Fu Manchu and a stilted sort-of accent- it’s camp classic hilarity is leavened only by the fact that the film company shot on a radioactive nuclear site and that over a hundred of the cast and crew (including Wayne) eventually died of cancer), Our Daily Bread (another documentary showing all of the reasons why we shouldn’t eat, you know, food and stuff).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Prince of Persia, Tommy.

(And don’t forget to check out the complete, A-Z catalog of all our Blu-Ray movies on our movie blog at :

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