Volume CCLXXVIII- Shopping Mall Zombies
For the Week of 12/14/10
Videoport has the best selection of movies anywhere. And we’re right here in Portland. You lucky, lucky devils, you…
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 suggests that Videoport is the place for your holiday shopping needs! (Yup, we’re leading off with some shameless self-promotion for the second week in a row, but it’s that time of year. May god forgive us…)
Buy Stuff!! Videoport gift certificates come in different denominations from “here’s enough rentals to keep my best film buff friend [who I’d like to be my best film buff boy/girlfriend] busy for a long time, during which maybe we could watch some movies together and I could make us dinner and maybe open a bottle of wine” to “Here is the contractually-obligated Secret Santa office present.” Plus, of course, Videoport sells movies. We’ve got them in the store and can order anything you want (we’ll issue a gift certificate in an attractive card you can give to the recipient since you waited too long for the movie to arrive- Videoport’s got you covered!.)
Stuff Stuff! Videoport’s got about a million* previously-viewed DVDs and VHS tapes for sale at super-discounted holiday prices. Stuff that stocking! Stuff it!!!
*It would be impossible to fit a million movies in the store- but it’s still a lot of movies.
Get yourself a little somethin’!! Because you deserve something for yourself for catering to every whim of your insatiable friends and relatives, Videoport gives you a free rental with every movie you buy. That’s right, you get the rentals. Not them.
Eat Stuff!!! We sell candy. People like candy.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> It’s time again for Andy Noir Cor-Noir! This week, Andy recommends Dead Reckoning (in Classics.) Here’s a movie that Videoport’s Jackie might classify as “bananacakes crazy.” In some ways, it’sa textbook noir film: Humphrey Bogart plays a WWII veteran investigating the disappearance of an army buddy. Lizabeth Scott is the army buddy’s seductive and (gasp!) untrustworthy lady love, and Morris Carnovsky is the genteel mobster everyone seems to get tangled up with. There’s a lot of cigarette smoke, dramatic lighting, rain, and so much voiceover narration that the movie often feels like a book on tape. But there’s something about Dead Reckoning that
hasn’t aged well, or maybe it always stuck out as bananacakes crazy. There’s a weird, blatantly misogynistic monologue that Bogart has partway through the movie, which the characters reference at several points afterwards. “Yeah. You know, I’ve been thinking: women ought to come capsule-sized, about four inches high. When a man goes out of an evening, he just puts her in his pocket and takes her along with him, and that way he knows exactly where she is. He gets to his favorite restaurant, he puts her on the table and lets her run around among the coffee cups while he swaps a few lies with his pals… Without danger of interruption. And when it comes that time of the evening when he wants her full-sized and beautiful, he just waves his hand and there she is, full-sized. But if she starts to interrupt, he just shrinks her back to pocket-size and puts her away.” That’s bananacakes.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Toy Story 2 (in Comedy.) Thank you, Pixar, for ignoring the dictate that sequels are to be lackluster, halfhearted doodles, dull exercises in familiarity that a studio plods through to milk a few more drops from a successful film. Instead, Toy Story 2 expands the universe of its marvelous characters, leading them out of Andy’s neighborhood and into the big wide world. The story takes off when beloved cowboy doll Woody (Tom Hanks) is accidentally dropped in a yard-sale bin and spirited away from his happy home, where he meets old friends from his long-forgotten past, including Jessie, the rootin’est tootin’est cowgirl sidekick that you ever did meet (played with unhinged enthusiasm and depth by Joan Cusack). (Again, thank you, Pixar! Now if you could just make a bunch of movies with strong, fun, complicated girls as the leads instead of sidekicks, we can be bestest friends forever and I’ll let you play with my action figures and my dolls.)
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer Cannot recommend The Unborn (in Horror.) Since being struck by Idris Elba’s marvelous subtlety and range in such varying roles as tough, taciturn officer Vaughan Rice (in BBC one-series wonder “Ultraviolet”), no-nonsense executive Charles Minor
on Season Five of “The Office”, and — notably and indelibly — the complex and commanding Stringer Bell, I’ve been seeking out films featuring him. Yes, even this one, which gives us an interminably long wait before Elba turns up as part of a two-man ecumenical exorcism team alongside Gary Oldman. But even with the hearteningly solid performances from Elba and Oldman, I cannot begin to recommend The Unborn to anyone but an Idris Elba completist*. Not just because it’s so stupidly, ridiculously awful (though it is, oh, it is!), and not just because he is criminally underused here (though he is, oh he is!), but also because the movie is pre-spoiled for you, by the movie itself. Dah-duh-DUM! The menu screen loads slowly and as it does, a quasi-trailer plays, displaying a montage of EVERY SCARY EFFECT in the movie, possibly in an attempt to save you from any momentary anxiety or suspense later on. In life, this impulse might be laudable; in a horror movie (even a ridiculous, unsubtle, woefully unscary horror movie), it’s kinda missing the point.
*Or a Gary Oldman completist. But Gary Oldman completists already know they have a long row to hoe.
>>>Dennis presents the First Annual Damnationland Awards! Damnationland is, as I’ve been saying, kind of a big deal. The first Maine-made horror anthology film ever, Damnationland brought together seven of Portland’s best filmmakers and turned them loose. The result (as seen at the Nickelodeon, the Movies at the Museum, and all around the state) was freaking terrifying, gross, funny, disturbing, and all-around impressive. Organizers Allen Baldwin and Eddy Bolz plan to make this an annual event, so buy some copies from Videoport, rent it at Videoport, and ensure that our fair state is dripping with fake blood every fall. Here are my picks for the best of the best:
Best Performance by a Current Videoporter: JackieO in Allen Baldwin’s “Humoresque.” Sure, he might be the only current employee of the ‘Port in Damnationland, but you will never look at Jackie’s smiling, friendly, helpful face again without getting the chills. Seriously, I don’t like being alone with him at the store now…oh crap, he’s right behind me, isn’t he?
Scene Most Worthy of Hitchcock: waiting for that damned bell to ring in “A Bell in the Yard” from MINT films. You know that damned bell is going to ring. You just know it has to. And when it does, you’re still wigged out…excellent direction.
Best Shock Effect: There’s something in [dog] and [pony]’s “Consumption” that made me jump. And I don’t jump easy.
Most Disturbing/Best Performance: “Shambles”/ Andy Sawyer. Lots of competition for the disturbing crown, but I give the edge to this one, a strikingly-directed (by Torrey Alan Johnson), impressionistic portrait of a man losing his mind and turning monster, with some truly impressive, fearless acting from Sawyer. Yeesh…
Best Use of Maine Location: Christian and Sarah Matzke’s witty, bloody zombie flick “Last Call.” How do you get a shot of a completely-deserted downtown Brunswick? Plus, bonus points for a zombie-slaying set in Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion! Also, the creepy small-town diner in Gitgo Productions’ “20/20” and murder right in my West End neighborhood in Camlin and Sons’ “Undone.”
Best Performance by the Coolest Guy in Portland: The Guak in “Humoresque.” If someone’s gonna fend off the evil JackieO, it’s gonna be the Guak. Trust the Guak. He will save us all…sort of.
All in all, I couldn’t be more impressed with this year’s Damnationland filmmakers. Can’t wait ’til next year.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Dennis suggests that teaching kids responsible DVD handling now will keep you from having to teach them responsible jail cell maintenance later. Yes, there is a direct cause and effect relationship there…
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 The Howling (in Horror.) The Howling is my favorite werewolf film (An American Werewolf in London is a close second…very close). One of Joe Dante’s best films, it is full of subtle homages to classic horror films and stylishly directed with his signature angled camerawork and comic book lighting. The John Sayles script is well written and full of great social metaphors. The cast is also very good, especially Dee Wallace and Patrick Macnee and it’s great to see some of the classic old character actors like John Carradine and Kevin McCarthy. Still a pretty creepy and scary film that doesn’t rely on excessive gore like today’s monster films. The special effects were groundbreaking for 1981 (as were the FX for American Werewolf); they may seem a little dated today but that adds to their charm. A very fun film.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests The Hudsucker Proxy (in Comedy.) You know — for kids! [note: maybe not for kids.] It ain’t the Coen Bros. best film, but it’s funny and fun and pays loving homage to classic screwball comedies. Dagnabbit, I just plain love The Hudsucker Proxy! When Hudsucker Industries’ big boss takes a nosedive, do does the stock. Then Sid Mussberger (Paul Newman), a ruthless member of the board of directors, cooks up an ingenious stock scam to recoup their losses, but like most scams, it relies upon a grade-A dingdong to take the fall. Enter a grade-A dingdong: young Norville Barnes (Tim Robbins), the sweetest galoot ever to be taken for a sucker, lumbers into the big boss’ office and makes a splash, ensuring himself a place in Hudsucker history — and I do mean he’ll be history soon enough. Take all this and mix in whip-smart investigative reporter Amy Archer (Jennifer Jason Leigh, turning in a note-perfect homage to the late great Rosalind Russell and other fast-talkin’ broads of the silver screen) and Bruce Campbell in a bit part as a smooth-talkin’ heel, and you’re in for a ridiculous romp!
New Releases this week at Videoport: Enter Through the Gift Shop (fascinating art documentary about underground guerilla artist Banksy who, in disguise, examines the graffiti/conceptual artists trying to be the next big thing; shown to huge acclaim at SPACE Gallery, this one is every hip Portlander’s first rental), Despicable Me (a boatload o’ funny people [Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Will Arnett] voice the characters in this animated comedy about a supervillain ealing with three adorable sisters), ’24’- season 8 (Jack Bauer’s long, improbable journey of saving the world and egregiously violating the civil rights which are the very cornerstone of the country he purports to protect comes to an end), The A-Team (Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, the guy from District 9, and some UFC fighter decided that making a big budget version of the campy 80’s tv show was a good idea; who are we to argue?), The Other Guys (Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay have made some nearly-perfect comedies [Anchorman, Talladega
Nights]; now they’re reteaming for this buddy cop comedy with Will paired up with a surprisingly-funny Mark Wahlberg- this is the comedy you want right now), Nanny McPhee Returns (Emma Thompson is back as the snaggly-toothed supernanny in this kids’ sequel costarring Ralph Fiennes and Maggie Gyllenhall), ‘The IT Crowd’- season 4 (hate your job? So do the computer expert trio at the heart of this very funny British sitcom; look for it in Videoport’s British Comedy section), Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (hate Joan Rivers? Well, you might hate her a little less after watching this acclaimed documentary about her), GasLand (ever heard of “fracking”? Nope, not a “Battlestar Galactica” reference, instead, it’s a term for the horrifically-unethical practice [pioneered by the Halliburton Company, of course] of stealing natural gas reserves from American citizens; check out the documentary and get super-pissed), Micmacs (whew…big week for good movies at Videoport; here’s the new, darkly-whimsical film from Jean-Pierre Jeunet [Amelie, Delicatessen, Cit of Lost Children] about a brain-damaged guy who sets out, with a ragtag gang, to take down the arms dealers who killed his dad and lodged a bullet in his brain; think Terry Gilliam or, if your standards are low, Tim Burton), Cyrus (man, the good stuff keeps coming this week with this indie dramedy about a creepily-possessive manchild [Jonah Hill] obsessing about the fact that his hot mom’s new boyfriend [John C. Reilly] is nailing his mom; from mumblecore mavens the Duplass Brothers [Baghead, The Puffy Chair]), Mother and Child (check out this allstar cast- Annette Bening, Naoimi Watts, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits, Kerry Washington- in this multi-character drama about various people dealing with prospective parenthood), Frenemy (you’re gonna
rent this one because unlikely-but-deserving movie star Zach Galifianakis is on the cover; the less adventurous of you will likely be puzzled by this oddball indie about a pair of philosophical drifters [Matthew Modine, Callum Blue] who wander L.A. and encounter all manner of quirky weirdness, all directed by former porn impresario Gregory Dark), The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle (indie weirdness about a janitor discovering that his corporate employers have impregnated him and his janitor brethren with experimental goldfish; yup- you’ll find it in Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section), Across the Line (Tom Berenger, Mario Van Peebles, and Andy Garcia star in this thriller about desperate people trying to track down a crooked financier on the run in Mexico), A Complete History of My Sexual Failures (indie filmmaker tracks down all of his exes in order to find out why they dumped him in this presumably-cringeworthy documentary), El Cartel (gritty Mexican thriller about a naive reporter who requests an audience with one of the country’s most notorious drug kingpins), What We Do (rapper Freeway takes his shot at movie stardom with this drama about a drug dealer trying to go straight).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Damnationland (Yeah!! The locally-made horror anthology that rocked Portland last month is on DVD and Videoport’s got it!!! Check out this collection of seven horror shorts, some made by former Videoporters, some starring current Videoporters, and some just filled with people who like Videoport! See Thursday’s review for
more!), Trouble in Mind (Alan Rudolph was a protege of Robert Altman, which is a fine pedigree; check out this oddball, alternate-reality sort-of thriller starring Genevieve Bujold, Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, and Divine in Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section), The Nightcomers (wanna see Marlon Brando doing all kinds of kinky things right before he let himself go irrevocably? Well, you probably want Last Tango in Paris. But if you still want more, check out this weird, eerie, sleazy prequel to Henry James’ Turn of the Screw which shows what happened to the previous nanny and why the kids are so screwed up), A Dog Year (seemingly every actor has to make a movie with a dog at some point, and now it’s Jeff Bridges turn, teaming up with a pooch in this drama), La Bamba (Lou Diamond Phillips was launched with his portrayal of legendary, short-lived rocker Richie Valens in this one; sure, that launch was later aborted, but he had a nice run…), Yes Virginia (it’s an animated special about a little girl learning the true meaning of Christmas…what more do you want?), ‘Maburaho’ (new Japanese animation series! No word on whether tentacles make an appearance), Kalyug (new addition to Videoport’s Bollywood section comes this acclaimed drama from director Shyam Benegal), Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (super-creepy Japanese animated adaptation of the already-creepy Kafka short story; look for it in Videoport’s animation section!), Disengagement (Juliette Binoche stars in this drama about a French/Israeli woman searching for her estranged daughter in the Gaza Strip), Jacqueline Hyde (get the title? Get it?!? Erotic thriller about a plain jane-turned-sexy Jacqueline through some sexy potion work.)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Unbreakable, Hard Candy, Gone Baby Gone, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Rock, Bad Lieutenant, High Tension, The Grudge (remake), Doom, Jarhead, ‘Tin Man’, 12 Rounds.
The End Is Coming!! AAAIIIEEEE!
The end of the year, of course. And that means it’s time for all the film geeks in Videoportland to send us their year-end “Best and Worst Movies of 2010” lists! We’ll be running them from next week into the first week of January, so send in your choices for the most sublime/stinky films you saw in 2010! Send ’em to firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones!”