Volume CCLXXXVI- The Last Temptation of Bigfoot
For the Week of 2/8/11
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. It’s just what we do…
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 Wristcutters: A Love Story (in Incredibly Strange.) In the first moments of the film, sweet-faced, shaggy-haired young Zia (Patrick Fugit, Almost Famous) diligently tidies up his anonymous little apartment… before slashing his wrists and splashing the tiles with a horrible gory torrent of blood. Don’t worry that Wristcutters glamorizes or trivializes suicide; in the universe depicted here, suicide is clearly a big mistake. Zia thinks he’s leaving his everyday troubles behind him, but he’s not — far from it. His wristcutting takes him to a holding
universe where the suicidal end up, trapped in a grayed-out, shoddy strip-mall world of endless tedium. As Zia says, it’s just like his old life, “just a little worse.” And it is worse: Zia works in a crappy pizza place, bickers with his roommate about who ate the cottage cheese, and kills time in a grubby bar chatting with his (unsurprisingly humorless and distracted) compatriots. They can’t smile, can’t see the stars, and are hemmed in at every turn by signs saying “NO”: no smoking, no swimming, no this, no that. Eventually Zia hears some news that spurs him to take action — and in this stagnant, inert world, any action is remarkable, so that Zia’s roadtrip-with-buddies seems more like a perfect play on narrative conventions than a cliché. The film manages to be winsome and funny and heartwarming and sad and surprising, all at the same time, without indulging in either trademark indie mopiness or perky twee winkiness. The supporting cast, from large parts to small, is full of delightful little surprises, so I’m only going to spoil this one surprise: Tom Waits!
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests Forty Guns (in Classics). Barbara Stanwyck, as cattle baroness Jessica Drummond, dominates this wild and violent 1957 Samuel Fuller Western. At different points in the movie, her performance brought to my mind many different things. Early on, in a shot of
Stanwyck leading a cattle drive, she looked like a horse-riding shark, which is a pretty terrifying image. Later, as she shouted orders at the men cowering around her, she had a Catwoman thing going on (I would have loved to see Stanwyck as a villain in a superhero movie). When leading man Barry Sullivan, as bounty hunter Griff Bonnell, warms her heart and she goes into seductress mode, she reminded me of Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra, only sexier and with less B.S. And later, when her heart goes cold again, her performance called to mind Joan Crawford’s heavily made up mask-of-evil visage. Maybe Barbara Stanwyck isn’t the most subtle actress ever to grace the screens of Hollywood, but I do love her. And many of the parts she played seem tailor-made for her. Can you imagine Double Indemnity with any other female lead? How about Ball of Fire or The Furies? These are strong, passionate, stubborn, sometimes frightening women. These are Barbara Stanwyck women. And her Jessica Drummond in Forty Guns is another great one.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis recommends taking advantage of Videoport’s oh-so-generous daily specials to embark on a serious filmgeek project! See, not only are you entitled to a free movie rental every single day of the week at Videoport, there’s also this new Wednesday uber-special (4 movies, 7 days, 7 bucks) which makes complete movie overindulgence an attainable reality! See, Videoport’s got, ohhhhh, all the movies ever, so why not take a cue from loyal Videoporters like former employee David M. who’s just completed a viewing of every single Ingmar Bergman movie we’ve got (it’s a lot). Or current employee Andy who is following his vow only to watch movies made before 1950 with a serious Western kick. Or loyal Videoport customer Erin F. who used our daily largesse to run through the entire American Film Institute top 100 American movies of all time list. Yeah, the whole hundred. Or maybe just watch every movie the excellent actor Chiwetel Ejiofor has ever appeared in. Or every film featuring the song “Come Sail Away” by Styx. Whatever. Videoport: the movie nerd’s paradise…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Dennis suggests North Dallas Forty (in Feature Drama.) Now that this Super Bowl nonsense has abated (and congratulations to the Packers; I generally like it when the team with
the less-rapey quarterback wins) howsabout we get back to what’s really important to look at on our TVs- movies and TV shows rented from Videoport! But if you’re feeling some feetball withdrawal (or just hate football), I heartily suggest this surprisingly-resonant 1979 gridiron drama. A still young and shockingly-handsome and mustachioed Nick Nolte stars as the hardworking, pill-popping, but clear-eyed wide receiver of the titular professional team and his best friend, the drawling prettyboy star quarterback (played with surprising ease by Mac Davis) navigate the ups and downs of a hard-fought season, and deal with injuries, money and woman troubles and the pressures put on them by ownership to “do whatever it takes” to stay on the field. Along with the rambunctious partying, sex, and football action, North Dallas Forty gives equal time to the harsh realities involved in the daily grind of being a football player. Sure, players are millionaires (although at the time the movie was made, they were decidedly less pampered), but they’re in constant pain, have no real job security, and face shortened lives, chronic injuries, and diminished mental function from the incessant punishment the game entails. And, in the film’s most powerful scene, the team’s “madman” bruiser, played by real-life NFL-er John Matuszak, lets loose, after being manipulated by ownership’s conflicting manipulative messages, screaming “Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game.” Big John (who you might remember as Sloth in The Goonies) died at 38 after his playing career ended. He admitted before his death that he’d taken painkillers all through his playing days in order to keep going. (Oh, and if a closet football fan, now we’re looking at a strike season largely based on the owners’ desire to extend the already-crippling 16 game season to 18 games. Seriously, somebody’s gonna die. I picture the last Super Bowl after the inaugural and inevitable 18 game season ending Rollerball-style with the last living player standing (I’m thinking it’ll be Ray Lewis) skating around past the dead and mangled corpses of all the members of both teams like James Caan and screaming up defiantly to the luxury boxes, “ARE YOU NOT AMUSED?!?!?!?”) Football’s a great game, a heartless business, and a really, really hard job.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Cinderella. Lessons learned from Disney’s Cinderella: No matter how downtrodden you are, don’t rebel! Just knuckle under to the forces keeping you under their heel, whether it’s socio-economic disadvantage or abusive family or (as in Ella’s case) both. Just keep scrubbing that floor, soothing yourself with daydreams. And what do all girls dream of? Being conventionally pretty and waiting around passively for rescue by a powerful man, of course! What an inspiring story.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, former Videoporter Stockman suggests Equilibrium (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Do you love puppies? The answer is yes unless you want to admit you have no soul. An emphatic yes! Which means you should give Equilibrium an emphatic yes! For no other reason than the scene with the puppy. But lucky for you there ARE many many other reasons to enjoy Equilibrium apart from the delightfully endearing moving and yet also hilarious scene with Christian Bale and a puppy. This movie is awesome. Nay, f*cking awesome. It’s a barely reigned filly of passion, adventure, and intrigue. And it’s a dystopia! A dystopia where man kind is forced to drug up to keep their emotions at bay. Where art, poetry, and feeling are outlawed and sexy action packed police have to sexy arrest sexy lawbreakers. Surprising bonus…really well directed, if mostly completely ridiculous, action sequences. Speaking of ridiculous, it might time for a small Equilibrium disclaimer…TEENSY TINY EQUILIBRIUM DISCLAIMER: In order for enjoyment of Equilibrium to exist you must suspend all disbelief regarding logic, physics, morals, plot, and really anything having to do with reality whatsoever. No biggie.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Hunter Prey (in Science Fiction/Fantasy.) Sandy Collora should teach a directing seminar to Michael Bay, James Cameron, Stephen Sommers, and every other sci fi/action director in Hollywood. Unlike those purveyors of bloated, megabudgeted, slug-paced would-be blockbusters, the utterly-unknown Collora knows how to tell a damned story that moves. He became an internet sensation when he made the utterly-unlicensed Batman short fan film Dead End (seriously, google it) and made his first feature Hunter Prey last year. Sure, it went straight to DVD, but at least…well, I have nothing to add there. Except that, like Dead End, Hunter Prey makes use of a good script, decent acting, evocative locations, and economic,
intelligent storytelling to create a sci fi action flick miles more compelling than the likes of I Am Legend, Avatar, I Robot, Alien vs. Predator, or ten others, even though its budget wouldn’t fund a single one’s espresso budget. The plot is pretty standard sci fi fare: a spaceship transporting a dangerous alien crash-lands ona barren planet and the few surviving soldiers try to recapture it. Things quickly turn into a one-on-one cat-and-mouse deal. And that’s it. Except that it’s all done with brains, wit, and real storytelling insiticts (I’m not telling too much about what happens, because Hunter Prey unveils a series of nifty twists along the way.) I look forward to whatever this director does in the future.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Romantics (an upcoming wedding causes the titular romantic intrigue amongst the B+ list bridal party actors [Katie Holmes, Anna Paquin, Josh Duhamel, Malin Akerman, Adam Brody, Elijah Wood]), Life as We Know It (it’s a Josh Duhamel double shot! Anyone? anyway, the purportedly-famous Josh costars with the insufferable Katherine Heigl in this comedy about a carefree couple suddenly placed in charge of the infant child of some dead friends), Still Walking (this delicate Ozu-influenced Japanese drama about the grown children of elderly parents returning for a reunion gets the ultimate stamp of approval: a release from the Criterion Collection), Tamara Drewe (from ever-watchable director Stephen Frears [The Grifters, High Fidelity, The Hit, etc] brings us this story about a young newspaper reporter going back to her childhood home as it’s about to be sold), For Colored Girls (if you thought the churchy, lowbrow Tyler Perry was the guy to bring Ntozake Shange’s influential play about the black female experience to the screen, well, you’re probably the producers of this movie which, admittedly, does give some much-needed decent roles to black actresses such as Kimberly Elise, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, and Phylicia Rashad; famous faces like Whoopi Goldberg, Macy Gray and Janet Jackson get in on the act, too…), Hideaway (French master of skin-crawly suspense Francois Ozon [See the Sea, Swimming Pool, Under the Sand, 5×2] brings another emotionally-intense tale, this time about a heroine addict pregnant mother and the two men circling her, unsettlingly), You Again (Kristen Bell realizes that the woman her brother is about to marry is the cheerleader mean girl who used to swirly, wedgie, and/or noogie her all through high school, so she sets out to make everything [allegedly] hilarious; Betty White’s in there, too), Middle Men (Luke Wilson plays the real-life, mild-mannered guy who first discovered that people will pay to look at pornography on the internet; wait, there’s pornography on the internet?), I Spit on Your Grave (this super-necessary remake of the infamous 1978 rape-revenge abhor-a-thon is, surprisingly, about a family of fluffy bunnies who befriends a family of orphaned kittens in a rainbow factory! Oh wait, it’s actually the exact opposite of that…), ‘Project Runway’- season 8 (yelly people making pretty clothes!), It’s Kind of a Funny
Story(this dramedy about a depressed teenager getting his life together in an adult psychiatric ward gets more interesting when you consider that: 1. Zach Galifianakis is in it, and 2. it was directed by the team that made the excellent Half Nelson and Sugar), My Soul to Take (horror legend director Wes Craven returns! With this tale of a serial killer returning to torment the seven kids that were born on the day he supposedly died! Craven is very thankful for his reputation at this point!)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: America America (director Elia Kazan’s autobiographical tale of his family’s flight from Turk-oppressed Turkey to America finally gets the DVD treatment), The Girl (a watchful, freckly-adorable 10 year old girl is left alone in a house by irresponsible adults in this haunting, evocative Swedish film), Wild Target (great cast [Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Everett, Eileen Atkins, Martin Freeman, that little redheaded Rupert from the Harry Potter movies] star in this British comedy about an aging hitman looking to retire look for it in Videoport’s British Comedy section), Elena Undone (this lesbian romance proudly proclaims on the cover that it contains “the longest kiss in cinema history!”; so that’s something…), Shopping (before he was super-famous, Jude Law starred in this British thriller about a group of thrill-seeking teens who crash stolen luxury cars through store windows and then steal stuff), Tropico de Sangre (Michelle Rodriguez took time off from her sneering and shooting people career to star in this Spanish-language film about revolutionary 1950’s Dominican Republic), 3 Idiots (Inida can make college roadtrip guy comedies, too!), Santa Sangre (this typically-for-him bananas Alajandro Jodorowsky cult classic finally hits the DVD!)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Enter the Void, Life As We Know It, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Rob Roy, Hard Boiled, War, I Spit On Your Grave (2010).
Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 worth of store credit, while $30 buys you a whopping $40 worth. Seriously, that is free money, just sittin’ there…