Volume CCLXXXV- Snownami!
For the Week of 2/1/11
Videoport: 30,000 of the best, worst, and most indifferent movies ever made. All right here for you to browse, talk about, not touch the shiny side of, and enjoy. Right here at your fingertips. Which should never touch the shiny side of any of them.
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.)
>>> Andy and April suggest ‘Cosmos’ (in Nonfiction/ Documentary.) Take a magical trip through the cosmos in Carl Sagan’s spaceship and bask in the glory of our universe. I/we haven’t been this excited to learn about science since…well, ever. Dr. Sagan’s soothing muppet voice and easygoing nature help ease your fears when he starts ripping on religion and astrology. “There is no creator god and you’re a fool if you read your horoscope.” Okay, so he doesn’t say that ever, but it’s implied. Sagan speaks about science in such reverent tones that it evokes feelings of wonder and awe. Just google Symphony of Science’s ‘A Glorious Dawn,’ watch the video, and let those powerful emotions take you ‘into the wonders of science.’ It’s awesome!
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests High Plains Drifter (in Action/ Adventure). I’ve been watching Westerns lately. I can’t say why, it’s just been my genre. Coincidentally, all my jeans have gone unwashed for
months, I haven’t shaved in a week and a half, and I’ve taken to drinking whiskey. I feel so American, and it feels nice. High Plains Drifter, starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, contains all the familiar Western conventions that I find so comforting. But it was made in 1973, so, you know, it has that ’70s thing going. Though it subverts some of those beloved conventions and has a wicked sense of humor, I have a feeling that an unpretentious dude like Eastwood would flinch at the term “revisionist Western.” It’s also far from the goofy Western comedy of Blazing Saddles, which came out the next year. The story is familiar; it’s like Eastwood’s own Pale Rider, but set in a more cynical (and less cartoonish) world. A mysterious, intimidating stranger (Eastwood, wearing his Man With No Name hat) comes to Lago, a small lakeside town full of thugs, cowards, schemers, and creeps. After he kills the three gunfighters who had been hired to protect Lago from a gang of nasty ex-cons, Eastwood is hired as the new protector. He introduces a plan to teach the town to protect itself, but is undermined at every turn by the citizens’ cowardice and distrust. These are really awful people. The climax is fantastic. When the ex-cons come to Lago, they find a town painted hellfire red and renamed Hell. Are the Lago townsfolk ready for a fight? Rent it and see. This is one dark, violent, and unpredictable movie.
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (in Action/Adventure.) So, you’re renting Inception as your new-release movie? Fannnnnnntastic. You know what you should
pick up FOR FREE to go with it? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This under-appreciated entry in the Bond franchise not only boasts a charming one-hit Bond in George Lazenby and the unparallelled Diana Rigg as the Bond Girl to beat all Bond Girls and the most emotional depth and sweetness of the series, but its snowy mountain fortress is clearly the inspiration for one of the most rip-roaring-fun acts in Inception. Nolan’s big splashy sci-fi heist film feels like several of Bond’s action sequences clipped, trimmed, stretched beyond
credulity, then rolled up with some Philip K. Dick tech-head philosophizing and just a tiiiiiiiny touch of Bergman, and presented to us like a little gift.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Louis C.K.- Hilarious (in Comedy.) Louis C.K. is the new George Carlin. Yeah, I said it. George was my hero, but, well, he’s dead, and Louis has that special Carlin blend of inventive misanthropy, fearlessness, crudity and persnickety wordplay going, and it’s most welcome. Unlike Uncle George in his latter years, Louis hasn’t gone into complete, if funny, contempt mode for all of us. But he’s close. Targets attacked in this feature-
length concert film can largely be grouped together under the heading “Americans being fat, stupid, self-absorbed, and utterly ungrateful for all the myriad miracles that surround them.” and while such negativity might get obvious and hacky in lesser hands, Louis shares Carlin’s ability to transform such ranting into huge, cathartic laughs through the top secret power of outraged common sense. While he’s got a decidedly lefty point of view, Louis’ attacks on general stupidity, selfishness, and banality should appeal to anyone who has a hard time dealing with cell phones, whiners, sloppy talkers, bad parents, and dimwits of all stripes. For C.K., it’s not enough to simply point out that anyone who whines about having to press ‘1’ for English on an ATM is mean, stupid and more than a little racist, he’s able to tie that to the fact, as he sees it, that white Americans have no real problems compared to the rest of the world and therefore have to make up nonsense to be upset about. The same goes for those who complain about: airline delays (“you’re in a chair in the sky!”), cellphone service delays (“your inane text is going to SPACE and back- maybe just wait a second!”), and more. And, while Louis, like Carlin, deliberately inserts some seriously un-PC language in his routines, it is not because, like so many lesser comedians and non-professional, mean-spirited a-holes, he’s “gotta stand up to the PC police and say all the hateful stuff we’re all really thinking” (because we’re not all really thinking horrible bigoted stuff), it’s because he knows that over-politeness is the death of comedy and that his world-view sometimes precludes being nice. And, even more than Carlin, Louis mines comedy gold out of beating the crap out of himself for his own faults as a physical specimen, father, and human being. It leavens all the negativity about other people and brings his comic plane in for a landing. Yup, he’s the new Carlin.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests ‘Archer’ (in Animation.) Animated comedies from creator Adam Reed are immediately recognizable. Shows like ‘Sealab 2021,’ ‘Frisky Dingo,’ and his new show ‘Archer’ all share in common: static, almost clip-art-looking animation; surgically-employed absurdist catchphrases (“boosh,” “ka-kow,” “yuuup”); occasional outbursts of vicious, bloody unpleasantness; stellar, deadpan voicework; workplace settings (an undersea base, superhero/supervillain lairs, a
spy agency) constantly undermined by wildly-inappropriate behavior and countless digressions; and, well, general filthiness and poor taste. Which is to say, they are all hilarious and awful. Reed’s newest, “Archer,” is the one set in the corridors of ISIS, the most dysfunctional spy agency in the world. Run by a sauced dragon lady (“Arrested Development”‘s Jessica Walter) whose ne’er-do-well son Sterling Archer’s super-spy effectiveness is consistently undermined by his childishness, selfishness, and epic horndoggery, ISIS also hampered by a staff of malcontents, incompetents, and sexual deviants too wrapped up in their own ridiculousness to get anything done. And, apart from the hilariously-game Walter, “Archer” benefits from great voice acting from the likes of Judy Greer, Chris Parnell, Aisha Tyler, and, especially, the national treasure that is H. Jon Benjamin. You may know Benjamin’s irascible, unmistakable voice as Coach John McGuirk from the even-funnier “Home Movies” or the new show “Bob’s Burgers;” the man is pure comedy. As Sterling Archer, Benjamin’s unerring ability to embody selfish, boorish, clueless jackasses turns “Archer” into serious, and seriously-inappropriate James Bond spoofery. Funny stuff for certain people.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>It’s a free movie from the kids section every Friday! No other rental necessary! We are generous! Let’s repay that generosity by not letting children, or anyone irresponsible enough to ever touch the shiny side of one of our DVDs, touch our DVDs.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Former Videoporter Stockman recommends Idiocracy (in Incredibly Strange.) So, I learned a new vocab word in October of 2010. The fact that it was in October of 2010 has no relevance whatsoever other than it was the weekend my Nanny turned 100 and that is badass! My new vocab word is “dystopia!” Which apparently spellcheck does not recognize as a real word so I’m going to check it now on Merriam Webster. Yep, Merriam Webster clears it! Also the word of the day according to their website is “hoodlum”. Use it in a sentence today! So in honor of my newest unhealthy obsession…which is my new vocab word…here is the first of many reviews about my favorite dystopian movies. Like Idiocracy! You’ll love it, it has electrolytes! Actually you may not like it because I guess some people found it offensive, but I just assume that those people are broken, because Idiocracy rocks. It’s funny, but more funny-clever than funny-laugh-my-ass-off-every-few-minutes. Though ass-off laughing will occur on several occasions. And as with all the best humorous dystopian narratives its commentary is spot on. As my Nanny says (and for this sentence by Nanny I mean Homer Simpson) “It’s funny ‘cause it’s true”. In reality my Nanny says stuff like “Live life like you have one foot in the grave and one on a banana peel”. That woman is brilliant.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests these snowy movies! Snow snow snow! It’s piling up around us, and it’s easy to get frustrated and overwhelmed by the great banks of snow narrowing our streets, and the promise of more to come. But I love snow, even if I have to remind myself of that every so often. So here’s the reminder — a not-at-all-complete list of some movies featuring amazing snow scenes, film moments that show us just how magical, exciting, fun, or just plain breathtakingly cinematic a snowy landscape can be. In no particular order: Citizen Kane, OldBoy, Edward Scissorhands, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, In Bruges, Fargo, Kill Bill Volume I, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Let Me In (shockingly, this American remake of the foreign vampire flick is supposed to be really solid; starring Chloe Moretz who, as Hit Girl, was the best part of Kick-Ass), Never Let Me Go (based on a really good book by Kazuo Ishiguro, this quiet, gently chilling piece of dystopian British kinda sci fi is equally good, from what I hear), Conviction (it’s ‘based on a true story’ time again as Hilary Swank goes to law school in order to reopen the murder conviction of her brother [the ever-great Sam Rockwell] whom she’s convinced was innocent; man, I hope she’s right…), Monsters (this low-budget sci fi thriller, about a couple dodging government troops, unforeseen dangers, and the titular monsters, little-seen extraterrestrials quarantined in Mexico, is inventive and effective…and squishy), Hatchet 2 (delightedly over-the-top horror sequel features genre stalwarts Tony Todd and Kane Hodder…horror fans know who I’m talking about), A Woman, a Gun, and A Noodle Shop (master director Zhang Yimou [Hero, The House of Flying Daggers, Ju Dou, The Story of Qiu Ju, etc, etc] remakes the Coen Brothers’ fist film, the diabolically-brilliant Blood Simple as an over-the-top period piece!), Which Way Home (fun friend test! Watch this heartbreaking documentary about unaccompanied child immigrants trying to cope without parents as they try to cross the border and survive in America; if, after that, they start talking about building a border fence etc, they have no soul and must be abandoned), Giulia Doesn’t Date at Night (Italian romantic drama about a writer falling for his daughter’s absurdly-hot swimming instructor [Rain Man’s Valeria Golino]), The Client List (ever wonder what Jennifer Love Hewitt is up to? This Lifetime movie about a former beauty queen who takes a job at one of ‘those’ massage parlors should answer all your questions…)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Tillman Story (here’s a story for you: a semi-famous football player leaves the NFL to volunteer to go serve in Afghanistan, a fact highly publicized by the US government for recruiting purposes; Tillman is killed in Afghanistan; his death is used to even more recruitment purpose by Republican lawmakers for months and months; it turns out Tillman was actually killed by a stupid, friendly-fire accident by US troops; those same Bush administration politicians knew that all along, but exploited a genuine American military hero’s death for political propaganda purposes, focusing heavily on xenophobia, on the American people anyway; Tillman’s family gets very, very pissed at how their relative’s death was so exploited; this documentary comes out; you rent it; you get really mad), Welcome to the Rileys (two real actors [James Gandolfini and Melissa Leo] costar with that pouty girl from Twilight in this slightly-farfetched drama about a disaffected middle aged man who moves a young stripper into an apartment as a way of dealing with the death of his daughter , doesn’t have sex with her, and then his wife moves in, too…), ‘Garrow’s Law’- season 1 (Videoport’s seemingly-unending supply of British mystery series grows by one with this 18th century-set courtroom thriller), Night Catches Us (Anthony Mackie and Kerry Washington star in this 1976-set drama about a former Black Power activist revisiting his Philadelphia neighborhood), Louise Bourgeois: The Spider, The Mistress and the Tangerine (documentary about the titular groundbreaking artist, feminist icon, and arachnid enthusiast),
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: A Woman a Gun and a Noodle Shop, Never Let Me Go, Let Me In, Conviction, ‘Justified’- season 1, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Some Videoport Knowledge for ya’:
1. Videoport payment plans give you free money. $20 up front buys you $25 worth of rental credit while $30 buys you $40 worth. Seriously.
2. There’s a special that gets you a free movie every single day you come in to Videoport. Seriously. See page 1.
3. Videoport’s staff of friendly movie nerds do nothing but watch movies, talk about movies, recommend movies, think about movies…seriously, they love movies.
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