VideoReport #281

Volume CCLXXXI- This Time, It’s Personal-er

For the Week of 1/4/11

Videoport’s New Year’s resolution: to continue to bring the best selection of movies anywhere in the world to Portland, Maine. And to customer service the pants off of you while doing it…

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 Thunderheart (in Mystery/Thriller.) Maybe it’s because I was so bummed out

Funny Val

watching Val Kilmer shuffle and mumble his way his lumpen way through this week’s direct-to-DVD Gun, or the news that he owes at least as much as he got for that misbegotten movie to the IRS. Maybe I just persist in liking the guy for his once-nimble work in movies like Top Secret and Real Genius (where he actually displayed a sense of humor) and Kill Me Again, Heat, Spartan, and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, where he was undeniable cool. And Thunderheart, where a still-lean and cool Val plays a straightlaced, half-Native American

Cool Val

FBI agent sent to delve into some criminal activity on an Indian reservation. Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking, and, of course, he solves the mystery by tapping back into his Hollywood-mandated Native roots, with the visions and the spirit guides and all, but VK is an engaged, and authoritative, and empathetic center to the whole thing, and he’s got great support from Native American character actor/national treasure Graham Greene, Fred Ward, Sam Shepard, future Republican

Pray for Val

Senator/jerkbag Fred Thompson, and a striking young actress named Sheila Tousey. It wasn’t that long ago that Val Kilmer was an interesting, bankable actor with a head that didn’t look like a butternut squash (he was even almost funny again in last year’s MacGruber; I for one hope he pulls it together. (But you should still probably avoid Gun…)

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

>>> Videoport customer suggests The Sound of Music (in Musicals.) There are so many reasons why I love ‘The Sound of Music’…let me try to narrow it down to five. 1) Many consider it way too schmaltzy/corny (a musical with children AND nuns!) but I think that is a plus. As this cold and cynical world gets even more cold and cynical, we need films like this to give us uplifting and romantic messages of hope. I love it for its corniness. 2) The music is some of the best in musical theater/film. A perfect blend of music and lyrics, the songs are much more witty and intelligent than many think. I love the beautiful melodies and lyrics. 3) There simply could not be a better choice for Maria then Julie Andrews. She was practically perfect as Mary Poppins, but I think this performance is her best. She’s in almost every scene and watching her character change from flighty novice to confident mother of 7 children is a marvel. I love Julie Andrews’ excellent performance. 4) It was an excellent choice to film this on location. This is one of the few musicals in which the stage productions will forever pale to the film version due to the incredible location shots. I love the beautiful and breathtaking Austrian scenery. 5) My Mom loved this film. I remember her and Dad taking me to one of the re-releases in the early 70s and the soundtrack album played in our home for years. We’ve been without Mom for 5 years now, but whenever I watch the film, I feel her watching with me. I love ‘The Sound of Music’ because it was my Mom’s favorite movie and it made her very happy. If you have never seen this film, set aside 3 hours and indulge yourself; if you have seen it 100 times, you know each time is as magical as the first.

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

>>>Dennis suggests Catfish (in Documentary, so we can fight about it) and taking advantage of the Wednesday mega-special to rent four other edge-of-your-seat documentaries to complement it. Catfish

Say what you want, but this scene from 'Catfish' is as edge-of-your-seat as anything you'll see anywhere...

has the buzz; a low-budget documentary about a young New York photographer who is befriended online by a little girl in Michigan who starts sending him her paintings of his photographs. Then he starts corresponding with the girl’s mother, and her hot older sister. And then… that’s all I’m gonna tell you (and anyone who spills any more than that within earshot of anyone at Videoport is officially the devil.) I will say that it’s provoked heated, and fun, debate amongst pretty much everyone who’s seen it, and that it has some truly riveting scenes along the way. To go along with this brand-new one, why not use the Wednesday weekly special (4 movies, 7 days, 7 bucks) to rent these similarly-riveting documentary thrillers (with snappy, one-sentence reviews:)

Brother’s Keeper: One of four elderly hermit brothers is found dead and another is charged with his murder; directors Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky delve into the case, the biases of the legal system, and public perception, all the while teasing at the real truth.

Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills: three unappealing teenagers into silly music and ‘devil worship’ are accused of the horrific murders of some children, but the directors (Berlinger and Sinofsky again), examining the case, reveal the teen’s families (especially one hideously-creepy stepdad) and their Arkansas small town to be a murky, prejudiced, and altogether suspicious environment. Follow it up with the sequel Paradise Lost 2, which picks up the case years later, and raises even more questions.

The Thin Blue Line: from master documentarian Errol Morris comes this fascinating true tale of an accused cop killer whose guilt, taken up by Morris, is thrown into serious doubt as he throws his camera light on the Texas legal system and the shady (and badge-carrying) players involved.

Knee Deep: A real Maine murder mystery. A creepy, insightful documentary about what goes on around here…

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

>>>Dennis suggests catching up with ‘Futurama’ (in Animation.) Season 5 of this Matt Groening animated series just came out. Which is sort of a miracle. Batted around and cancelled by the perpetually-inept FOX network, and resurrected for a quartet of direct-to-DVD movies, and now reborn thanks to Comedy Central, ‘Futurama’ has never gotten the ratings love that cousin series ‘The Simpsons’ (once) enjoyed, but I think it’s as good or better. And its wacky, brainy sci fi shenanigans is sharper than ever with its recent rebirth; the writing is crisp, the plots are clever, and the voice actors remain as brilliant as ever. Plus, as usual, each DVD episode of ‘Futurama’ offers a double-helping of entertainment value, as the commentary tracks are jam-packed with creators Groening and David X. Cohen, various writers and directors, and voice talent like Billy West and John DiMaggio clearly having a great time and bringing you along with them. One of the funniest series in TV history, by the way…

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

>>>Dennis suggests that responsible, respectful DVD handling tips, while usually targeted at children in this space, could also prove useful to the parents thereof, on occasion; that is, unless the Dora the Explorer audience is the same one which returned some discs of ‘The Wire’ with fingerprints and cake crumbs on them last night…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Weird Science (in Comedy.) John Hughes went a little bananas in this scattershot, boisterous (read: load) sci fi teen comedy. Anthony Michael Hall was getting too big to play the geek anymore, and the whole thing doesn’t really work, but it’s still pretty funny, and that Kelly LeBrock…rrrowwwrrr. Anyway, my main reason for suggesting it is to remember a time when Bill Paxton

Paxton in douche-ier, funnier times...

was not best known as a compelling, understated, sympathetic bigamist (‘Big Love’ season 4 comes out this week), but as Hollywood’s greatest go-to resource for bug-eyed, obnoxious, cowardly, hilarious creeps. As Chet, the quintessential a-hole big brother, Paxton is pretty damned funny in Weird Science. (Also, check out his entertaining sniveling in movies like Alien, True Lies, The Terminator, Predator 2, and others.) We can always find a capable, sober lead for our HBO series, but it’s a rare actor who can deliver a line like “You’re stewed, buttwad.”

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests preventing him from monopolizing the VideoReport by sending your reviews to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones.”

New Releases this week at Videoport: Machete (A movie based on a joke movie trailer should fill the world with sadness, but this over-the-top throwback action flick, directed by Robert Rodriguez and starring the terrifyingly-cool Danny Trejo is the slashy, shooty, kicky, strippy exception), Dinner for Schmucks (an American remake of an acclaimed French comedy [The Diner Game, right in Videoport’s foreign language section], and directed by the certified not-great guy who did Meet the Fockers should fill the world with dread, but at least it’s got Paul Rudd and Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, and Jemaine Clement, so it can’t be all bad, right? Anyone?), ‘Big Love’- season 4

The devil is bendy...

(Bill Paxton remains married to many, many women in this still-compelling HBO bigamist series), The Last Exorcism (this decently-scary-looking faux documentary horror movie follows a scam evangelist whose flim-flammery is put to the test when he finds himself confronted with a possibly-genuine demonic possession), Case 39 (the fact that this Renee Zellweger “possibly evil little girl” horror movie wasn’t released for three years doesn’t mean it’s terrible, right? Anyone? Hello?), ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’- season 1 (what do you get when you take an old podcast from Brit-com genius Gervais and comedy life partner Stephen Merchant and animate it? Big, big laughs, that’s what…), Catfish (Videoporters are arguing [heatedly, and on the verge of violence at times] about this controversial documentary about a New York artist who’s internet penpal seems…well, I’m just gonna leave it there. Check out Wednesday’s review for more tantalizing details…), Howl (newly-minted Oscar-bait James Franco stars as poet Allen Ginsberg in this multi-faceted examination of the legendary titular poem; costarring John Hamm, David Strathairn, and Mary-Louise Parker), Bitter Feast (dark horror comedy about a vengeful restauranteur [James LeGros] who kidnaps a food critic [The Blair Witch Project‘s Josh Leonard] and forces him, under pain of very nasty things, to prepare a series of perfect dishes; every chef in Portland will want this one…), Gun (Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson wrote and stars in this action flick about gun-running alongside a very down on his luck-looking Val Kilmer), Who Loves the Sun (Adam Scott [‘Party Down’, Passenger Side] costars in this drama

Memo to Adam Scott (right): "Wanna get a beer sometime? Maybe catch a ballgame?"

about the sudden reappearance, after five years, of a young man to his hometown; Lukas Haas and Molly Parker are good, too, but Scott is my new hetero man crush…), Touching Home (Ed Harris [and fellow grizzled old pros Brad Dourif and Robert Forster] star in this tale of an estranged father reconnecting with his major league baseball-bound twin sons.)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: I Walked With a Zombie/The Body Snatcher and The 7th Victim/Shadows in the Dark (thank Videoport’s Andy for donating this pair of Val Lewton-produced stylish horror films, often with Boris Karloff doing his thing), The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (documentary about the titular government employee who leaked a file cabinet-full of top secret documents exposing the truth about the ongoing Vietnam war), Legacy (super-cool Idris Elba [‘The Wire’] stars in this thriller about a black ops operative holed up in a Brooklyn hotel room and having a crisis of conscience about his chosen line of work; oh, and people might be coming to kill him), The Possession of David O’Reilly (cool-looking pseudo-documentary horror movie’s previews gave me the heebie-jeebies; I love the heebie-jeebies…), As It Is in Heaven (Academy Award-nominated Swedish film about a renowned orchestra conductor returning to his childhood village and agreeing to conduct the ragtag church choir; a promise of heartwarming stuff).

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: El Mariachi/Desperado, Machete, Dinner for Schmucks, The Last Exorcism.

EDTHE RENTER/ANIME ED’s TOP 10 of 2010

KICK ASS– don’t listen to Dennis-this is the best comic adaptation ever!

TOY STORY 3– god this was so good on so many levels I cant even get close- just watch it!

HUMAN CENTIPEDE– props to April- this really is a good film- grow a pair, don’t be a wuss and watch it!

INCEPTION– the whole time I was watching I kept thinking “this is the most clever movie i’ve seen in a long time!”

SCOTT PILGRIM– not as good as the comic but still better than most of the crap out there.

PREDATORS– the best straightforward action movie in a year full of them.

COLLAPSE– try naming a movie this engrossing which is essentially just a dude sitting in a chair voicing his opinion.

RED RIDING TRILOGY– a truly horrifying series of films from britain about serial murder and police corruption.

“FRINGE” SEASON 2– the very word ‘fringe’ sends me into an uncontrollable and satisfying nerdgasm.

CENTURION– again a solid fun action-packed gorefest!

**bonus from anime ed- K-ON. this isn’t available in the states yet but ask your Videoport friends to get it when it is- it is the best and greatest anime I watched this whole year!!! BANZAI!!

Andy’s Top 10 DVD Releases of 2010

1. Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans – The question is, was this supposed to be a comedy, or is the humor unintentional? I believe Werner Herzog and Nicholas Cage knew exactly the movie they were making: it’s a shocking, over-the-top, nasty cop movie and the most surprising thing I’ve seen on DVD this year.

2. A Serious Man – This Coen comedy is nowhere near as broad as Burn After Reading or The Big Lebowski, but darker than either of those movies. It’s nice, for a change, to see the Coens torment characters they actually seem to like.

3. The Fantastic Mr. Fox – Wes Anderson’s best movie since “The Royal Tenenbaums”. Plus, it’s adorable!

4. Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? + Believe: The Eddie Izzard Story – Two documentaries about two fascinating, talented people who otherwise couldn’t be more different from each other.

5. A Single Man – A sad and beautiful movie, it made me realize that Colin Firth is great.

6. The White Ribbon – The most mysterious and disturbing movie I’ve seen this year, and I still don’t know why.

7. House Of The Devil – A simple and elegant set-up leads to sequences of sustained suspense, and then the whole thing goes straight to hell in the most entertaining way.

8. In The Loop – The smartest and fastest comedy of the year.

9. The Informant! – A well-written and ridiculous movie, centered around the most interesting character I’ve ever seen Matt Damon play.

10. The Human Centipede – A decade from now, perhaps this is the movie from 2010 that will live on most vividly in my memory.

Runners Up: Broken Embraces, Knight And Day, Inception, Collapse, The Kids Are All Right, The Other Guys, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, Moon.

The ‘I don’t really get it’ list, by Dennis2

So there are plenty of things that I feel like I should like, but I don’t like. Clearly, this doesn’t only relate to movies. I don’t really like the Beatles, Tom Waits or Elvis Costello. I hate olives, blue cheese and oysters.  I don’t care about cars at all. The only season I like is summer; leaves changing colors make me depressed. Now, the same goes for movies. There’s dozens of movies people love, and I don’t get. I just don’t get it. Here’s a few I picked that are sure to infuriate you:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: I love Hot Fuzz, Spaced and Shaun of the Dead. I can’t stand Michael Cera and am completely over him. This movie was just so, young.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 230,000 people voted to this to the number 62 spot of IMDB’s top movies. I don’t get that.

Splice: This guy directed Cube. Salon.com writes: “For me, Splice hit right in the sweet spot, midway between Paul Verhoeven’s “Robocop” and David Cronenberg’s “The Brood”. Right, let’s start comparing Splice with Robocop, only one of the best movies ever made*.

A Serious Man: I think everyone who claims they get this movie is lying.

Raging Bull: Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching this movie. I have been trying to watch some stuff that every critic seems to enjoy, and this one was number four on sort of list somewhere at some time. Come on, let’s all be honest: It’s decent, but not that good. The guy is a boxer and a jerk, whatever.

Kick-Ass: Somewhat fun because of Nicolas Cage, but that’s about it.

Mystic River: Thanks Clint, for giving us another movie with people whining instead of a new Dirty Harry movie, or that one with the monkey in it. Sean Penn is really going full force here, and that’s lame.

V for Vendetta: I was so excited when this came out, and so mad when I left the movie theater.

*You must understand, he’s Dutch.

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