VideoReport #274

Volume CCLXXIV- The Last Temptation of Mork

For the Week of 11/16/10

Videoport has all the movies you could ever want. And they’re right here, at your fingertips. You can browse, think, and get some recommendations from a knowledgeable, friendly staff of movie geeks that love to recommend the perfect movie for you. Unlike some soulless internet nonsense we could mention.

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 gives you a selection of five overlooked favorites in the middle aisle. You can get one for free with any paid rental on a Monday. I’m just saying. (Now with snappy, one-sentence reviews!)

1. One False Move (in Mystery/Thriller.) If you’re looking for that character-driven indie thriller that you haven’t seen before, try this one, a taut, melancholy suspenser from the director of the equally-excellent Devil in a Blue Dress and starring Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton.

2. A Rage in Harlem (in Mystery/Thriller.) We haven’t come very far if this rich, entertaining 1991 comedy/romance/thriller is still one of the best showcases for black actors, director, and stars; based on the novel by Chester Himes, this 1950s-set film about a gold-digger (Robin Givens) who finds herself falling for a would-be patsy (Forest Whataker) while trying to unload a suitcase full of gold allows its great cast (Danny Glover, Zakes Mokae, Gregory Hines) to strut their stuff.

3. When the Wind Blows (in Animation.) Well this is just heartbreaking; an animated tale of an elderly British couple (voiced by Dame Peggy Ashcroft and Sir John Mills) whose blind, touching faith in their government’s blithe platitudes in the face of nuclear war will make your heart, well, break.

4. Running Time (in Mystery/Thriller.) All we movie nerds love Bruce Campbell (Evil Dead, Bubba Ho-Tep, ‘Burn Notice’), but he’s never done a better acting job than in this real-time, black-and-white thriller about a recently released ex-con taking on a botched heist and trying to find true love.

5. The Quiet Earth (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) You ever have that dream where you wake up in the streets of New Zealand and find you’re the only man left on earth? Well, this excellent, thought-provoking sci fi movie has…

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

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Raiders of the Lost Ark (in Action.) How long has it been since you’ve seen it? This first episode in the Indiana Jones series holds up amazingly well for a film made in 1981, and is a great piece of film regardless of its era. Raiders is more than an action blockbuster or a nostalgic period piece: it plays like all the finest moments of old-school adventure serials, distilled into one beautifully coherent story told with verve and style. Even more, it’s told with a loving attention to detail and an affectionate respect for the pulp narrative tradition that is its inspiration. Quite simply, this is a marvelously constructed film: a fantastic adventure centered on engrossing characters punctuated with humor (but never bogging down in one-liners) and illuminated by all the skill of master filmmakers and actors, and all of it suffused with the sweet glee of pure storytelling. It’s a ripping yarn, I tell you.

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

>>>Videoport customer Mark Magee suggests The Front (in Comedy.) The Front is one of the rare films that stars Woody Allen but is not written or directed by him…and I think it suffers a little because of that. The story deals with an unsuccessful bookie (Allen) who is asked to front as a television script for a writer friend who has just become blacklisted. He submits the scripts under his name and takes full credit. The scripts begin to sell and he thinks he could make more money by fronting for more blacklisted writers. The McCarthy goons soon come after Allen and he too has to deal with the unfair committees. The cast is very good, especially Zero Mostel as a Jackie Gleason type TV comedian who also has to deal with his past. Allen is funny at times and has some good dramatic moments but he seems a bit restrained. Martin Ritt’s direction is good but the film has a hard time figuring out if it is a comedy or drama; it’s a bit lacking in both respects. There is the inevitable scene where Allen has to do a rewrite minutes before the show airs and that could have been very farcical but instead falls abruptly flat. It is still worth seeing for a look at a part of our history that always needs reviewing. Make sure to watch the ending credits for a special twist.

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

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Cremaster (in Documentary Arts.) The five films of Matthew Barney’s Cremaster Cycle appear this weekend at Portland Museum of Art, and the PMA is even offering weekend passes to see the who darned thing. Not sure if you’re up for a whole weekend of Barney’s art and antics, sight unseen? Boy, are you in luck! Though the full films aren’t available on DVD (and their creator says they never will be), Videoport has the (legit) DVD preview of Cremaster, with several clips from the full-length films so you can get a taste of what you’re in for. Watch Matthew Barney turn the

File under "sense, not making."

entire structure of the esteemed Guggenheim Museum into an arena for his performance piece. In just these brief snippets, you’ll see Barney scale the coiling clerestories of the building, garbed in a salmon-pink fluffy kilt; a Berkeley-esque line of costumed chorines tappa-tappa-tappa their blandly smiling way through an abbreviated dance number; a masked anonymous industrial worker glop viscous gel at the highest point of the museum’s slope. (If this makes you sympathize with haters of performance art, with those who scorn conceptual art, with the people who think all postmodern art is an elaborate, nose-thumbing prank upon the audience… well, I think that’s part of the intended effect.) Laid out in words, it sounds overwhelmingly silly — and it is, it really is — but the overall effect is giddying, dizzying, confounding, and oh so promising. It smacks a bit of of David Lynch, a bit of Salvador Dali, and overwhelmingly of Marcel DuChamp at his most puckish, playful, and ambitious. (We Portland-area dwellers are astonishingly lucky that Videoport stocks this niche-audience DVD, but then that’s what I love about Videoport: the selection and attention to customers’ wishes, the selection of obscure bits of culture, the breadth and depth of choice that goes waaaaaaaay beyond the ordinary and into the completely-insane-but-oh-so-awesome. And today, you can watch one of these insane clips of culture FOR FREE! Thank you, Videoport!)

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

>>> Dennis suggests that teaching your children responsible DVD handling now will prevent them from becoming ADULTS WHO STILL DON’T KNOW (OR DON’T CARE) THAT TOUCHING THE SHINY SIDE OF A DVD, LEAVING A DVD OUT OF ITS PROTECTIVE CASE, OR IN ANY WAY MISHANDLING A DVD WILL CAUSE IT NOT TO PLAY PROPERLY (AND DESTROY OUR PRECIOUS, LOVINGLY-CARED-FOR DVS.) Seriously, people…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis brings you five more overlooked movies (all from Canada, because, why not?) from Videoport’s massive, unprecedented library! (Also with snappy, one-sentence reviews!)

1. I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing (in Comedy.) We’ve put this in comedy for some reason, but, to be fair, there’s no “achingly lovely, weird little Canadian movie built around the most touchingly-sweet performance from someone you’ve never heard of before” section, so cut us some slack; the lady’s name is Sheila McCarthy, by the way.

2. Nothing (in Incredibly Strange.) From the director of Cube and Splice comes this typically-odd, haunting, and just plain bananas fantasy about two perpetual losers who discover that they can simply wish away anything that makes them feel bad…and the consequences thereof.

If it's okay, we'd like to end the world? Sorry...

3. Last Night (in Feature Drama.) It’s the end of the world, Canadian-style, so it’s sort of a polite armageddon, but, in this weird, understated, subtly-moving film from writer/director/star Don McKellar our mass passing is more devastating than ten thousand Armaggedons.

4. ‘Slings and Arrows’ (in Comedy.) This brief series (3 seasons of six episodes each) about the doings behind the scenes of a dysfunctional Shakespeare festival is, simply-stated, one of the best shows you’ll ever see.

5. Pin (in Horror.) This creepy psychological thriller about a pair of adult siblings with an unnatural obsession with the anatomical mannequin their father used to raise/torment them is pretty

Nice to meet you. I'll be seeing you in your dreams tonight.

riveting for the performances of David Hewlett and Terry O’Quinn, and the irrefutable fact that all dummies/puppets are unholy nightmare fuel.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests you check out these recent, overlooked, indie films from the last few weeks.

1. Until the Light Takes Us (in Documentary Arts.) A documentary about the simultaneously silly and disturbing world of Scandinavian black metal music.

Hi, like, um, you know, I mean...BRAINS!!! Like...

2. Make Out With Violence (in Incredibly Strange.) What do you get when you cross a mumblecore coming-of-age movie with a zombie movie? Well, this, obviously- a critically-acclaimed “zomblecore” movie! I just made that word up!

3. Passenger Side (in Feature Drama.) Adam Scott (as good here as in the excellent series “Party Down”) shines as the sensible brother ferrying his troubled sibling around LA on a mysterious quest in this funny, touching little indie.

4. I Knew It Was You (in Documentary Arts.) Documentary portrait of the late actor John Cazale

This is him.

who only appeared in five movies before he died, all of which were nominated for a best picture Oscar.

5. 35 Shots of Rum (in Foreign.) And don’t forget this touching French drama from Claire Denis (Chocolat) about the relationship of a father and daughter.

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Kids Are All Right (Julianne Moore and Annette Benning play pretty much the two most perfect lesbian moms in movie history in this indie drama costarring Mark Ruffalo; Videoport’s Andy says “it’s got well-written characters, well acted by everybody”), A Christmas Carol (technically, the Disney corporation has slapped its name on the front of this CGI, Jim Carrey-voiced Dickens re-re-re-adaptaion; however, Videoport Jones don’t play that…), The Last Airbender (M. Night Shayamalan directed this live action version of the beloved, fun martial arts adventure cartoon series with his trademark blend of dour photography, leaden dialogue, and self-seriousness; have fun kids!), Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (a lot of talented people lend their voices to this sequel to a movie you forgot existed with cats and dogs at war with each other; be sure to explain the smarmy titular vagina reference to your kids!), ‘The Office’- The Digital Shorts Collection (all of the minisodes, DVD extras, web-only doo-dads and so forth from the hilarious series all collected in one, easily-rentable place), Lottery Ticket (Bow Wow [formerly ‘Li’l Bow Wow’] finds out he’s won hundreds of millions of dollars in the titular ‘poor people’s tax’ [seriously, start a savings account everybody] and that everyone wants to be his friend; costarring about a million talented black actors [Ice Cube, Keith David, Loretta Devine, Terry Crews, Charlie Murphy, and ‘The Wire”s Gbenga Akinnagbe), The Extra Man (Kevin Kline stars in this adaptation of the quirky Jonathan Ames [‘Bored to Death’] novel about a young would-be writer [Paul Dano] who falls under the influence of an endlessly-creepy and eccentric mentor), Back from Hell: A Tribute to Sam Kinison (fellow comedians like Chris Rock, Denis Leary, and George Lopez pay homage to the departed yellmeister), Barking Water (fresh from wins at the Sundance Festival comes this indie heartbeaker about an estranged, elderly Native American couple driving across country so he can die back home; you’ll cry, seriously), Metropia (Swedish-animated CGI dystopian sci fi thriller about a resource-depleted Europe connected by tunnels; featuring the voices of certifiable nutballs Vincent Gallo and Videoport pal Juliette Lewis), A Crime (low-budget thriller star Harvey Keitel as a middle-aged cabbie drawn into one of those film noir plots by a sexy French vixen-lady trying to use him to get her way), Exam (I want to see this one based on the premise and cool preview; a bunch of go-getters are locked in a room to take a test for a corporate dream job. The test is a blank piece of paper. They go thrillingly-crazy trying to figure out what they’re supposed to do. Seriously, it looks great), Four-Faced Liar (a quartet of hot, pansexual New York hipsters pair up assortedly in this indie romantic comedy), Brotherhood (two Danish guys get into that whole Neo-Nazi thing, but then fall in love, and since love is something bigoted a-holes hate, they find themselves in an ironic dilemma), The Yellow Handkerchief (William Hurt, Maria Bello, and charmless mega-Twilight-star Kristin Stewart star in this indie road movie about mismatched people taking a convertible to post-Katrina New Orleans; Roger Ebert loved it), Vengeance (legendary French music star/actor Johnny Hallyday stars in this Hong Kong action flick from semi-legendary action director Johnny To [Election]; the accumulated coolness of this film might be beyond our understanding)

 

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Modern Times (the Chaplin classic gets the full Criterion Collection DVD deluxe treatment), Second Coming (sexy twin sisters. One sexy twin comes back to her hometown when she gets the sense that her sexy twin is in trouble in this thriller…that’s sexy), Ganges and Galapagos (two new nature films..there’s fish and turtles and stuff; look for it in the Documentary section), ‘Life in Cold Blood’ (speaking of nature, here’s a series about reptiles, amphibians, and so forth), ‘Wild China’ (Videoport loves nature! Here’s another nature documentary series about the wilder-critters of China! Nature!)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: The Kids Are All Right, The Forbidden Kingdom, Antichrist, The Last Airbender, A Christmas Carol (Jim Carrey.)

 

Park for free at Videoport!

1. Parking meters are inert after 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday. Go nuts!

2. Pull into any downtown parking garage and Videoport will get you an hour of parking for free. Just ask!

3. The parking lot behind the building is free for one hour parking after 5pm Monday-Friday and all day on Weekends. The same goes for the smaller lot directly across from the entrance to the parking lot.

 

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Do you have any idea who “Joe” is on the Time and Temp building? No one seems to know and I figure you might since you know pretty much everything about Portland. I think it’s Joe Bornsetin because of his new phone number 1-800-CALL-JOE but who really knows. Someone should break this story for the locals. Anyway, love the blog. Keep on keeping on. Thanks


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