VideoReport #272

Volume CCLXXII- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Bad Lieutenants

For the Week of 11/2/10

Videoport has all the movies you love. Plus all the ones you think you’ll love, but you’ll actually hate. Plus the ones that’ll make you shrug and then forget immediately. Plus the ones that’ll haunt your dreams for the rest of your life. Plus the ones that you’ll never, ever watch in a jillion years. Videoport has got a lot of movies, is what we’re sayin’.

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 Rosemary’s Baby (in Mystery/Thriller.) You think your neighbors are a pain in the neck? Pfffffft, poor you. Think about Rosemary. [spoilers] When she and her hunky husband (John Cassavetes) move into The Bramford’s rent-controlled apartment, Minnie and Roman next door (Ruth Gordon and Sidney Blackmer) just won’t leave her alone. They pop in unannounced, gets little Ro to do their errands, and oh yeah use her as Satan’s handmaiden. Sheesh, neighbors.

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

>>> Videoport customer Mark Magee suggests The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (in Classics.) Maggie Smith won a well-deserved Oscar for her excellent portrayal of an eccentric, flamboyant and ultimately flawed teacher at an all-girls school in 1930s Scotland. She is mesmerizing as a self-confessed woman/teacher in her prime and her performance gets better with each passing year. Jean Brodie is an avant garde teacher who desires her students to know the only things worth learning: goodness, truth, and beauty. Unfortunately, her misguided methods lead to not so ideal results. This is definitely not a female version of Dead Poets Society; it is darker in tone and story. The script is intelligently written and the direction is well done. Smith’s real-life husband at the time, Robert Stephens, plays a fellow teacher and romantic suitor and he gives an also excellent performance. But it is Smith that you should see this film for; she was definitely in her prime (sorry). Great theme and soundtrack also.

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

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Psych” (in Comedy.) When I’m sick, or tired, or sick and tired — when I just want to plunk down on the sofa under a blanket and unwind — nothing beats a wacky-

What? Elsa likes us? C'mon up here!!

detective procedural. Whether I’m down with the flu or just plain down, I pop in a disc of “Psych” and watch Shawn go to work, unravelling messy mysteries and hittin’ on chicks. It’s a formula, no question, but you know what scientists and mathematicians use formulas? Because when you respect it and use it right, a formula works. But the real power of “Psych” comes from the pitch-perfect dynamic between Shawn and Gus. At first glance, Gus seems like the complete opposite of reckless, feckless Shawn: he’s responsible, organized, even a bit prim. But “Psych” doesn’t make the all-too-common mistake of teaming a rake with a school-marm. Gus is a fully rounded, fully realized character, a charming funny young guy (who, by the way, is a hit with the ladies. Hello.) As you watch the show, season after season, you see the relationship between the two fellas play out — not only as adults but in childhood flashbacks — and it becomes crystal clear why the two need each other, why they love each other. Gus and Shawn complement each other perfectly, each coaxing the other to become more than either would be alone.

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

>>> Dennis2/The Rage suggests ‘Man vs. Wild’ (in Videoport’s Nonfiction Sports section.) When I think of British special forces, I picture giant white dudes scavenging for Muslim terror babies in the desert. I certainly do not think of Bear Grylls, the well-spoken hunk of a man hosting this Discovery show, who allegedly used to be part of those guys and who, on almost every episode, makes a cup of tea

What's that over there? Can I eat it? I bet I can...

from pine needles. Now the deal is this: In every episode Bear Grylls, a name no one would self-apply where I come from, jumps out of an airplane into an area in the world where really nobody wants to be, such as the Sahara, Siberia and Scotland. As soon as he lands, which is usually on top of a mountain, he starts doing this thing he calls survival. He follows a river downstream (except in Africa people; one of the many tips!), eats disgusting bugs (which he always described as an ‘explosion of puss in his mouth, but a great source for protein’), raw meat and weird plants, drinks his own urine and takes his shirt of a few times during each episode. The effect is mesmerizing: What a wonderful show! I could watch this for hours, and I have. I try really hard to ignore all the rumors that he spends every night in a motel during the taping of the episodes, and enjoy everything Bear has to teach me (drink the juice from elephant dung and you can add a few hours to your Sahara hike!).

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

>>> Dennis suggests that teaching your child proper, respectful DVD handling now will prevent you from having to teach them, years from now, the proper way to remove dents from your car. We’re just looking out for you here…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Passenger Side (in Feature Drama.) There is a certain type of small, indie film wherein plot is secondary to character development, where events unfold at the pace

"So, wry, soul-searching road trip?" "Whatever..."

they seem to need to and not according to the grinding necessities of formula, and where the mood, and the journey, is as important as the destination. Such movies get the short arm in the scheme of things, being dismissed as ‘dull’ or ‘pointless,’ criticisms to which I respond, “oh, just go watch TV and leave the real movies to the rest of us.” Passenger Side is a movie like that. And I really like it. Adam Scott (you know him from ‘Party Down’ and Stepbrothers) plays the younger of two brothers who reluctantly answers a phone call from brother Joel Bissonnette (brother of director/writer Matt) who pressures him into ferrying him around on a series of mysterious errands. All the while the brothers talk, and their literate, snarky banter hints at a lifetime of issues which the movie takes its sweet time in making explicit. It’s the very definition of ‘picaresque’ and I really like the way the movie kept tossing offbeat little curveballs with each successive encounter; some are outrageous, some low-key moving, and some (like the old lady in the trailer) outright eerie. And it’s all carried along by the two leads’ charisma and innate likeability; the disparate appearances if the ever-babyfaced Scott and the lean, rangy Bissonnette don’t immediately suggest brotherhood (and the fact that Scott is supposed to be the elder brother is initially jarring) but the performances and the gradually-revealed backstory grounds their relationship nicely. Sure, the plot gradually clicks in (there’s even something of a twist or two), but, like the brothers’ long ride, Passenger Side is all about the journey.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Return to Paradise (in Feature Drama.) I still like Vince Vaughn. Sure, his fratboy, rapid-fire verbal obnoxious guy schtick is running pretty thin, but there was a time when he was something unique and most welcome. He was a revelation in Swingers, making the smooth-talking Trent the epitome of the charismatic guy you love to hate (sort of a more harmless

If you guys don't watch this, then 'Fred Claus' in totally on your heads...

version of Aaron Eckhart’s demonic woman-hater in In the Company of Men.) And he’s equally alive in comic roles in Old School, Anchorman, Made, and The Wedding Crashers. Sure, he was sort of doing the same thing, but he was great at it. (The returns, in movies like The Breakup, Couples Retreat, Four Christmases, Starsky & Hutch, etc, have been… diminishing.)Plus, there was a time early on when he thought he’d try the dramatic leading man thing and nobody supported him so, in a sense, isn’t Couples Retreat sort of our fault? And while some passable work in overall disappointing fare like A Cool Dry Place and The Locusts doesn’t really cry out for rediscovery, his lead in 1998’s drama Return to Paradise is well worth seeking out. Vaughn plays an amiable slacker f-up whose Malaysian vacation with a pair of buddies results in one of them (Joaquin Phoenix) being thrown into a hellhole prison when their leftover hashish gets discovered. Since Vaughn and pal #3 have already gone back home, Phoenix is sentenced to hang unless the other two return to Malaysia to face justice with him and accept a third of the blame. Sure, it sounds like a gimmicky setup from a first season episode of Star Trek: Next Generation, and it sort of is (despite being sort of based on a true story), but you gotta admit it’s a hell of a dramatic gimmicky setup. As the perennial underachiever, Vaughn is the last person anyone expects to come through in such a major way (his dad mocks even the idea that Vaughn’d make any kind of sacrifice), but the persistent and ambiguously-motivated actions of Phoenix’s sister (Anne Heche) and the stirrings of his own, hibernating conscience…well, I’m not going to give any more away than I have. Phoenix (shown mostly going mad in said hellhole) is heartbreaking, Heche is acceptable, and Vaughn is just great, pulling off his character’s transformation (and a coveted BIG ACTING SCENE at the end) with subtlety and aplomb. And that’s one of the reasons why I still like Vince Vaughn…

New Releases this week at Videoport: Toy Story 3 (I know, as a responsible grown up and all, this is gonna be a little bit unseemly, but, what the hell…YAY!!! NEW PIXAR MOVIE!! I LOVE PIXAR!! YAAAAY!!!! Ahem…thank you), ‘The Pacific’ (you know how everyone loved the HBO WWII miniseries ‘Band of Brothers’? Well, this is from the same people, and, from what I hear, it’s just as good. You want this…), South of the Border (Oliver Stone brings his enthusiastic, yet perhaps not overly-sophisticated political passion to bear on this documentary about the oft-maligned democratically-elected leaders of five South American leaders), Everyone Else (a young, seemingly-happy couple find their relationship tested while on vacation in this sexually-explicit, emotionally-draining, and critically-acclaimed German drama), Centurion (without question the manliest movie of the week stars Inglourious Basterds‘ Michael Fassbender as an unbelievably-ripped Roman soldier trapped behind barbarian lines; directed by Neil Marshall [Dog Soldiers, The Descent] and costarring ‘The Wire’‘s McNulty!), Love & Distrust (my interest in this multi-character indie romantic comedy rises when you mention Amy Adams, Robert Downey Jr., and James Franco…and then falls off the cliff with Robert Pattinson…), Winnebago Man (documentary follows the filmmaker’s search for the titular viral internet star whose expletive-rich commercial outtakes made him a legend; the documentary makes him weirdly loveable), The Way We Get By (long-anticipated documentary about the group of Maine senior citizens who have greeted over a million retuning US soldiers at a tiny Bangor airport).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Blood and Black Lace (‘Giallo’: “Giallo” films are characterized by extended murder sequences featuring excessive bloodletting, stylish camerawork and unusual musical arrangements. This 1964 example of the genre features a secret diary, some sexy models, and lots o’ blood, from director Mario Bava. Ask Videoport’s JackieO, our resident Giallo expert), Wolf (finally on DVD, it’s that mostly-forgotten Jack Nicholson werewolf movie that probably seemed like a good idea at the time), The Good Son (finally on DVD, it’s that Macauley Kulkin ‘evil little kid’ movie that probably seemed like a good idea at the time), Mame (Lucille Ball wasn’t much of a singer [there’s a reason Ricky wouldn’t let her sing at Club Babaloo] but that didn’t stop someone from thinking that casting her as the lead in this big, brassy musical about a high-livin’, Depression-era dame saddled with a lovable little tot; it seemed…like a good idea? I guess), ‘The Larry Sanders

Hey now!

Show’- the complete series (Now this, this is a great idea. Garry Shandling’s faux talk show sitcom remains one of the best, smartest TV comedies of all time. Rent it all, compliments of Videoport!), The Deal (Michael Sheen’s cottage industry of impersonating former British Prime Minister Tony Blair continues with this Stephen Frears’-directed telling of Blair’s rise to power), Hannah Montana: Who Is Hannah Montana? (is it too obvious to say, “Who cares?”  I try not to be obvious…), Cars Toon: Mater’s Tall Tales (kiddie spinoff from the Pixar film).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: ‘The Pacific’, Centurion.

Why Videoport? A Comprehensive List.

1. The best selection of movies anywhere.

2. A staff that knows movies, loves movies, lives movies, and can talk with you intelligently about movies.

3. Plus, they’re surprisingly competent and professional.  You know, considering…

4. ‘Cause duh, that’s why.

5. A free movie every single day.

6. Locally owned, and fiercely independent.

7. Has never been the subject of any class-action lawsuits for fraudulent business practices like some mega chains currently facing bankruptcy or internet delivery services we could mention. (Google: “Blockbuster/Netflix + class action lawsuit” sometime- yeah, we don’t do that.)

8. Low prices. (If you’ll allow some math: $3.50 rentals + a free movie every day= $1.75 rentals on weekdays, $2.31 rentals on weekends. Plus, on Wednesdays, you can get four rentals for seven days for seven bucks, which comes to, oh, about nothing per movie per day…)

9. Videoport payment plans ($20 buys you $25 in rental credit, $30 buys you $40 in rental credit) which lowers those already low prices to even more absurdly-generous levels.

10. The Criterion Collection section. ‘Nuff said?

11. A massive, comprehensive foreign language film and classics section. See, Videoport values world cinema and classic cinema and thinks it’s important to have them all right here, available right at your fingertips.

12. A free kids movie every Friday, no other rental necessary- just come in and take one for free. Your kids will love it.

13. Over 90% of our employees are not Dutch.

14. Fully 20% of our employees are named Dennis.

15. We’ll get you free parking at any parking garage. Just ask.

16. There is no reason #16.

17. Our owner is a Maine businessman not currently running a shameful, Republican campaign for governor.

18. We know how to pronounce Koyaanisqatsi, Synecdoche, New York, and “Takashi Miike”.

19. We love movies, and want to share them with you.

and, bonus, web-only content!

#20.  Umm….we love you?

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