Volume CCLXXV- How to Train Your Rodan
For the Week of 11/23/10
Videoport would say all manner of great things about ourselves (the best selection of movies, most knowledgeable staff, locally-owned and proudly independent), but we don’t want to come off all braggy…
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 Swimming Pool (in Mystery/Thriller.) Charlotte Rampling stars as Sarah Morton, a starchy, self-contained writer so buttoned-up that she spends the first segment of the film swathed to the neck in a beige trench coat . But Sarah’s stiffness isn’t innate; she’s bored stiff by her writing, by her career as the author of a wildly successful detective series favored by stodgy grandmothers and maiden aunts, by the life she’s built up as a closed-off, colorless loner. In an attempt to free her for inspiration, her publisher suggests she take a solo vacation at his summer house in Provence, where the off-season guarantees her some peace and quiet for writing… or so they think. The first act of this odd, intimate thriller depicts Sarah’s palpable discomfort with her own appetites; even in sun-drenched Provence, in markets bursting with wine and legendary cheeses and foie gras, in bright breezy cafés offering apéritifs and and luscious pastries, she tries to slake her avid hunger with yogurt and tea and diet soda. Not only does she deny her physical hungers, but she reins herself in with a monkish determination. Even during vacation, Sarah sets her alarm with a brisk, smug air. Rather than exploring the house’s lavish grounds, she sits blankly before the television watching news broadcasts. She claims a desk for her work, aligning all her
accoutrements at impeccable right angles. She takes one peek at the house’s swimming pool under its protective cover and turns her back, not deigning to dip into it. Despite the lush and glorious surroundings, Sarah keeps plodding on with her routine as doggedly as her fictional detective plods through his procedural novels. Then a young French woman arrives in the middle of the night, identifying herself as the publisher’s daughter, Julie (Ludivine Sagnier). The two women immediately grate on each others’ nerves, and as her stay wears on, Julie’s wanton indulgence of appetite turn Sarah’s well-ordered plans upside-down and shatters her own strained repression. Swimming Pool plays out as a thriller, and it does thrill, in big ways and small: the strained dynamic between Sarah and Julie simmers with tension, which builds to a nasty climax. [spoiler!] But the film also provides a perceptive glimpse into the sometimes messy and voyeuristic world of imagination, showing how headstrong and unexpected inspiration can take over one’s life, pushing insistently into even the most serene moments and demanding to be heard, hammering and hollering until its desires are satisfied. If the last act of Swimming Pool has you scratching your head, watch closely during Sarah and Julie’s final goodbye, paying special attention to the mirror.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests The Brothers Rico (in Classics.) It’s a new VideoReport feature: Andy’s Noir Cor-noir! One cool thing about Colombia’s “Film Noir Classics” sets are the interview features (with famous filmmakers such as Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorcese) on the subject of film noir. It also makes reviewing the films a challenge, because I can never write as eloquently and insightfully about The Brothers Rico as Scorcese can speak about it. So I suggest you rent the DVD (possibly for free on Tough & Triassic Tuesday!) and let the excitable Mr. Scorcese talk you into watching it. Rico is a tough melodrama with impressive performances, realistic dialogue, and some startlingly brutal violence. This isn’t one of those stylized, cold-blooded noirs like Double Indemnity or Murder, My Sweet. This one draws you into the story with sympathetic characters and your naive hope that things will turn out well for them. And then people start getting shot.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests taking advantage of Videoport’s new Wednesday special!! Here’s the scoop: in addition to the regular (and still quite serviceable) Wednesday deal (where you get a free movie from the Comedy or Foreign sections with a paid rental), now you can grab four non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks. Plus, Wednesdays are great, ’cause everything is in, there’s more time to chat with your favorite Videoport nerd, and there’s that whole groovy, Wednesday vibe going on…
>>>And, hey, why not use that Wednesday special to make what I like to call THE QUADRUPLE FEATURE OF SUPREME AWESOMENESS!!! Yes, you, too, can revel in the horrifying stupidity of the FOX network by renting the entirety of the ‘Firefly’ series! (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Yup, it’s one of the best sci fi series (or anything series) in TV history, and FOX canceled it after about ten episodes! They didn’t even bother to air the last few, because, presumably, there was some really important reality series or hideous, racist ‘news’ content that just couldn’t wait! So now you can rent all four discs of the entire ‘Firefly’ series for seven days for seven bucks. (And then you can come in and buy that series from us, and get yourself a free rental out of the bargain, because you’re going to want it as a permanent part of your life forever!) Viva Wednesdays!
Do you have an idea for a Wednesday quadruple feature of awesomeness? Send it, (or any spare movie reviews or articles you have just sitting around) to us here at the VideoReport at email@example.com!
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> VideoReport customer Mark Magee suggests Wizards (in Animation.) Classic, cult, animated Ralph Bakshi film still holds up well today. In this age of cookie-cutter, Pixar-style dominated animated films, it’s refreshing to go back and see the innovative films of Bakshi. The story borrows alot from Tolkien’s world but Bakshi throws in some great ‘modern’ touches and social commentary. Admittedly an anti-Disney film in it’s approach and technique — it contains some great imaginative scenes, beautifully complex backgrounds and good use of rotoscoping and revamped stock footage. Plays much better with repeat viewings to notice the great detail in each shot. The special features are good too — esp. the Bakshi interview in which he repeated says this is his first ‘kids’ film — I would recommend NOT showing this to kids younger than 12 though…
>>>Videoport customer Jason G. suggests you don’t rent Arise! The Subgenius Movie (in Incredibly Strange.) “September 11th was easier to get through than this movie.”
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Dennis suggests that teaching your kids responsible DVD handling now will prevent you from having to explain to NASA, years from now, that your now-grown children were the ones who left smeary fingerprints all over the second Hubble telescope. Seriously, those things cost like a jillion dollars to fix…
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests these recent, overlooked documentaries (in the Documentary section. Duh.)
1. Best Worst Movie. The now-grown child star of Troll 2, a legendarily-misbegotten ‘worst movie ever,’ tracked down his former costars and director to document its making, their post-Troll existences, and the film’s ascent to ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ infamy.
2. South of the Border. Say what you want about Oliver Stone (I might throw in ‘he has lost his storytelling instincts almost completely’), but you can’t fault the man for a lack of passion. In this documentary Stone interviews five South American leaders (including Hugo Chavez) to make the case that they really know what they’re doing down there.
3. American Casino. Wall Street destroyed us recently! Remember that? This documentary’ll get you all riled up again.
4. The Way We Get By. A group of Maine senior citizens have spent the past few years of our endless current war greeting returning soldiers at a small airport. This documentary promised warmed hearts.
5. Smash His Camera. Hate the paparazzi? Try out this doc about one of the most famous, and most-punched-out.
6. Who’s Harry Nillson (and Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?) Even if you don’t know the answer to that question, you’ll be drawn into this documentary about the singer-songwriter [John Lennon’s favorite, by the way] whose quirky story-songs you’ll know from Midnight Cowboy, The Point, and check out the killer use of “Without You” in the British crime thriller 44 Inch Chest.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests “Community,” Season One (in Comedy.) During the premier season of “Community,” the curator of the Paley Center for Media (you might know as
better as the Museum of TV and Radio) called it the best new show of the year — and with good reason. Every week, it’s jam-packed with whip-fast jokes and cleverly observed self-aware meta references, and as the first season progresses, the show builds to embrace towering acts of parody and absurdity. (Do not miss “Modern Warfare,” a tour-de-force that plays adeptly with the tropes of action movies without ever forgetting to bring the funny.) This ensemble has great comic chops, but — crucially — neither the actors nor the writers ever betray their characters for a laugh. And who’da thunk it: in a show featuring snarkily charming Joel McHale (of “The Soup”), legendary frontman Chevy Chase, warm and frankly funny Yvette Nicole Brown (whom I noticed in a bit part on “The Office” years ago, where she shone like the comic star she is), acerbic actress Gillian Jacobs, cuddly and slyly funny Alison Brie (who also plays spoiled, beleaguered Trudy Campbell on “Mad Men”), and the plainly hysterical Donald Glover (formerly a writer for “30 Rock” and mad master of improv), for my money the stand-out performer is newcomer Danny Pudi as Abed, the off-beat, analytical student for whom television and reality blur indistinctly together.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Expendables (there may never be another movie
this stereotypically “male” in the history of the world than this Stallone-a-riffic pummel-fest; which, of course, means it’s simultaneously dumb, violent, homophobic, sexist, racist, and very, very silly…plus, stuff blows up real good!), Eat Pray Love (there may never be another movie this stereotypically “female” in the history of the world than this Julia Roberts, based-on-a-self-help-memoir feelgood-a-thon; which, of course, means it’s simultaneously drippy, smoochy, self-involved, dimply, and Oprah-approved…plus, Javier Bardem ain’t so hard on the eyes, I’ll tell you that for free!), ‘The Pillars of the Earth’ (epic-y, eight-hour miniseries, based on the Ken Follett novel , features the eternally-impressive Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, a host of pretty Brits, and a sprawling tale of medieval royalty, intrigue, and a judicious amount of rumpy-pumpy), The Search for Santa Paws (it’s got a cute little puppy and Santa Claus- you already know if you’re gonna rent it), Madea’s Big Happy Family: The Play (massively-lucrative auteur Tyler Perry once again straps on the fake boobs in order to spread his singular brand of church-y, lowbrow feelgoodery in this filmed theater piece), Flipped (once-solid-gold director Rob Reiner [think This Is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, A Few Good Men] continues his late-career petering-out [think Rumor Has It, North, Alex & Emma, The Story of Us] with this tale of childhood sweethearts that
wasn’t, well, well-received), ‘Luther’- season 1 (you watched ‘The Wire’, right? [If you haven’t, then stop reading this, go to the middle aisle of Videoport, and rent all five seasons of the best show ever created. I can wait…] There, now that you’ve seen ‘The Wire’, you know how impossibly great and magnetic Idris Elba is as Stringer Bell therein. Well, Elba’s back in this, his own BBC detective series as a brilliant, self-destructive cop), I’m Still Here (sure, the cat’s out of the bag, but this faux documentary about Joaquin Phoenix chucking his considerable acting career, trying to become a rapper, and growing a hella-scary beard is still fascinating to behold), The Disappearance of Alice Creed (a great preview has gotten the interest-level into the red for this British thriller about a sexy kidnap victim held for ransom who may, or may not, turn the tables on her captors), Harlan: In the Shadow of Jew Suss (documentary about long-forgotten filmmaker Veit Harlan who directed the reprehensible titular Jew/Jud Suss, and whose skillfully-directed hate film was required viewing for all SS members, was the only artist prosecuted for war crimes after WWII; not even Leni Riefenstahl was prosecuted for war crimes…), Deadland (WWIII, nuclear wasteland, despotic government, man trying to save his wife…it’s like we’re back in 1983 again- even the Greatest American Hero is in it!), Love Shack (a gaggle of porn stars reunite to create “the greatest porn
film of all time” in tribute to their late, beloved producer; it’s about porn stars..you already know if you want to watch this), Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (documentary about the abstract expressionist artist; check out the feature Basquiat as well, starring the brilliant Geoffrey Wright), The Winning Season (Sam Rockwell’s always worth watching, so check out this comedy about a has-been coach who takes over a girls’ basketball team), Off Jackson Avenue (indie NYC crime drama with a Japanese hitman, a car thief, a sex slave, and, presumably, A-Rod), LennonNYC (documentary about the latter, jackass-shortened time John Lennon and family lived in the big, jackass-infested apple.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Marc Pease Experience (this 2009 comedy about a would-be singer still trying to get over a high-school stage humiliation stars Jason Schwartzman, Ben Stiller, and Portland’s own Anna Kendrick; the fact that no one has ever heard of it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, right?), Hot Pursuit (long-forgotten 1980s John Cusack action comedy…also costarring Ben Stiller?!!? I’m sensing a pattern here), UKM: Ultimate Killing Machine (so this is what Michael Madsen does in between periods when Quentin Tarantino is rescuing his career; Madsen’s a, well, mad scientist turning soldiers into the titular killy fellows in this horror flick), Greaser’s Palace (Robert Downey Sr. [yup, father of Robert Downey Jr.] once made some truly bananas underground films and this religious-allegory Western might be the most nutball of the lot [although don’t forget to check out his Putney Swope, which also resides near this one in Videoport’s Incredibly Strange Section].)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: The Expendables, Orphan, The Sixth Sense, The Brothers Grimm, Menace II Society, Signs, King Arthur, The Spirit.