Volume CCXCIV- Reny’s & Joon
For the Week of 4/5/11
Videoport: You know that locally-owned, independent video store that’s committed to carrying the best movies in the world, at the best prices, and with the best customer service? It’s right here in Portland. Stick with Videoport: we’ll show you the world…
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 Spellbound (in Mystery/Thriller.) Since Videoport has just brought in three first-time-on-DVD Gregory Peck movies (Arabesque, Mirage, and The World in His Arms), and since at least one of those has him stumbling around with amnesia, I thought I’d weigh in on his
memory-less work in this loony, completely-enjoyable Alfred Hitchcock thriller. It’s partly famous for the fact that he got Salvador Dali to design the film’s suitably-weird dream sequences, but, for me, it’s the outlandish-yet-old-fashioned setup that does it. Peck plays the newly-arrived psychiatrist to a prestigiously-creepy asylum where he immediately starts acting weird. Co-shrink Ingrid Bergman (at the absolute peak of her gorgeousness) starts wondering why the renowned new doctor keeps staring off into space, and drawing strange symbols on everything and, well, doesn’t seem to know much about psychiatry, and she starts snooping around inside his handsome brain. As they begin their ethically-shaky course of therapy and snuggling, she discovers that he can’t remember something presumably-awful, and that they may be in danger, etc. It’s all pretty standard thriller stuff, except for how goofy and fun it is. There’s Peck, always a bit of a stiffy, playing “amnesiac and agonized” with a seemingly-unending series of scenes with him stammering out (in his booming,
stilted cadence), “I don’t know…I…I…I can’t remember…I…” It just gives me the giggles. And there’s this one scene where Bergman, all hale and hearty skiing in the mountains and flush with attraction to hunky Peck, answers the question of what sandwich she wants for lunch with a dreamy smile and a breathy, “Liverwurst…” Which in Ingrid’s awesome accent sounds something like “Leeevurrvurst…” Again, giggles (and paging Dr. Freud, much?) Plus, there are the utterly bananas dream stuff, and some ludicrous plot twists, and a weird touch in the very last shot which I can’t spoil for you. Seriously, Spellbound is a hoot…
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Shampoo (in Classics.) All the action (and I do mean action… Warren Beatty style, if you know what I mean and I think that you do) takes place in one fast-moving
day: it’s election day 1968. Director Hal Ashby lets us witness the nation’s large-scale culture clash up close when freewheeling hair stylist George (Warren Beatty) and his bevy of beddable women overlaps with the right-wing Nixon-boosting money men of greater L.A. Warren Beatty (who co-wrote the script with Robert Towne of “Chinatown” fame, and the two shared plenty of nominations for best screenplay) gives a tremendous performance as the hapless cocksman he is. It’s a film that could have misfired horribly and aged appallingly, but Shampoo is a surprising little gem. It’s a time capsule, for sure, but so much more: hilariously funny, dramatically tense, and occasionally devastating.
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental…OR…get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)
>>> Dennis suggests using the super-duper Wednesday special (4 movies, 7 days, 7 bucks) to become Portland’s foremost Hal Ashby expert! While there are some directors that everyone knows and can identify the work of (Scorcese, Hitchcock, Spielberg, Bergman, etc), sometimes there are directors responsible for some of your favorite movies who you don’t realize you owe a debt of gratitude to. Guys like Ashby, who, in a ten year period, was the man behind some of the best, and most beloved films of the 1970s. For example, did you know Ashby did:
1. Harold and Maude (1971, in the Comedy section.) Everyone justifiably adores this oddball cult comedy romance, with Bud Cort and Ruth Gordon playing cinema’s most-unlikely, yet most-beloved romantic couple.
2. The Last Detail (1973, in the Feature Drama section.) If you’re looking for a great Jack Nicholson performance that you haven’t seen, this is the movie for you. Jack plays the gloriously-profane Buddusky, a navy lifer tasked with escorting an innocently-kleptomaniac sailor to an unconscionably-long stretch in the brig. Bittersweetly-hilarious.
3. Shampoo (1975, in the Classics section.) See Ms. Elsa S. Customer’s Tuesday review; she says it much better than I can.
4. Bound for Glory (1976, in the Feature Drama section.) Davis Carradine as beloved Socialist folksinger idol Woody Guthrie. Great period atmosphere, music, and supporting cast featuring Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, and Randy Quaid.
5. Coming Home (1978, in Feature Drama.) One of the best films of the 70’s, this love-triangle set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war features three brilliant, subtle performances from Bruce Dern, Jane Fonda, and Jon Voight. A thoughtful, powerful movie.
6. Being There (1979, in the Comedy section.) Everyone, again, justifiably adores this whimsical, satirical comedy starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardener, a simpleminded gardener whose TV-addicted observations raise him to the highest levels of government.
-And for more information on Ashby, check out the excellent documentary A Decade Under the Influence (in the Documentary Arts section.) This insightful, exhaustive examination of the brief window in the 1970s when creative people were allowed they keys to the movie studios and produced some of the best American films ever made gives ample room for actors and filmmakers to express their admiration for Ashby’s idiosyncratic vision. He’s admired for a reason…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Stay Hungry (in Comedy.) Speaking of directors you might not know (see the
Wednesday review), check out imdb.com for Bob Rafelson (Head, Five Easy Pieces, The King of Marvin Gardens, Mountains of the Moon– all great movies). Like Ashby, he’s also covered in A Decade Under the Influence, and his peers have great things to say about him; like a lot of the best 1970s films, Rafelson’s are character-driven, loose, and offbeat, and this 1976 comedy-drama pretty much epitomizes all of that. In it, Jeff Bridges, the amiably-aimless son of a recently-deceased rich father discovers that he’s inherited a rundown gymnasium as part of his legacy. Drifting in to check it out, Bridges falls in love with it and starts lifting weights alongside the gym’s resident strongman, played by the young Arnold Schwarzenegger. Plus, he falls for a sassy regular gal, played by a startlingly-young and adorable (and nude) Sally Field. There’s a plot, involving a syndicate trying to
close down the gym, and Arnold’s upcoming weightlifting competition, but Stay Hungry, like a lot of Rafelson’s best films, truly comes alive in the weird little touches: Arnold working out in a Batman costume disguise, a kinky and surprising sequence in a massage room, a climactic brawl with weightlifters hurling barbells. Bridges is great as always, Field is cute as a bug, and Arnold is, shockingly, extremely-likable. We need more eccentricity.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> The degree in which parents teach their children proper DVD handling (here’s an easy primer: NEVER TOUCH THE SHINY SIDE OF A DVD!!!) is directly proportional to those children’s future happiness.
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 ‘Cougar Town’ (in Comedy.) I’ve heard many an excuse for not wanting to give this show a chance. You liked ‘Friends’, you didn’t like ‘Friends‘, you don’t like Courtney Cox, you think she looks weird, you think the premise is dumb, whatever. I’m all for arbitrary reasons to not like something! You want to tell me you refuse to see something because it looks too orange, I’m sold! I love being guided by arbitrary judgement! But there comes a time where enough strong positive feedback comes along that you have to cave. Arbitrary disliking of things really works best for stuff that is already mediocre to poor, because you’re not lacking anything by sticking to your guns. ‘Cougar Town’ is neither mediocre nor poor. In fact it really is one of the best shows on TV right now. I put it up there with the likes of ’30 Rock’ and ‘Community’, seriously. The show starts off slightly slow with their silly premise, but even slow it still has some solid laughs. Around half way through the first season they really gave up all illusion that they even had a premise. They embraced the casts chemistry as a group of crazy, awesome, hilarious, drinking buddies! And it doesn’t bother with too much of anything else to muck up the works. It cuts us slack on the high octane hook ups and break ups and who dates who and blah blah blah drama. So if you can just set aside every preconceived notion that this show has been unnecessarily burdened with I’m sure that I could entice you to watch. Because there aren’t a lot of good reasons to not watch a funny show about a group of friends and their shenanigans.
>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests a triple-feature recommended by Joseph Cotten himself: “Orson Welles lists Citizen Kane (1941, in Classics) as his best film, Alfred Hitchcock opts for Shadow of a Doubt (1943, in Mystery/Thriller) and Sir Carol Reed chose The Third Man (1949, in the Criterion Collection) – and I’m in all of them.” Why not rent all three classic films for a wonderful weekend of cinematic thrills?
New Releases this week at Videoport: Tron: Legacy (Jeff Bridges is back, a million years
later, in this amped-up sequel to the cult classic video game movie; also, check out the re-released original in the sci-fi section), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the last film in the Lord of the Rings-lite fantasy series based on the belovedly-churchy C.S. Lewis book series), ‘Friday Night Lights’- season 5 (if Videoport’s Regan, who loathes all sports, raves about this high school football series, well, you can take that to the bank…), Little Fockers (Robert DeNiro and Ben Stiller add to their Summer homes with this second sequel; I’d say something snottier, but what’s the point, really…), I Love You, Phillip Morris (Jim Carrey takes one of his occasional forays outside of his lucrative, rubber-faced comfort zone with this fact-based tale of a gay conman plying his talents to spring the hunky convict [Ewan McGregor] he met in the slammer), Casino Jack (Kevin Spacey stars as Jack Abramoff, the influential Washington lobbyist who pretty much single-handedly undermined the democratic process; also, check out the Dolph Lundgren action stinker Red Scorpion in the Action section which Abramoff produced for some sort of right-wing political tax dodge), Evangelion 2.22 (the new installment of the beloved anime series, with the future and the robots, and the , I dunno, tentacles?), ‘Life Unexpected’- seasons 1&2 (two seasons of this ‘Gilmore Girls’-esque dramedy series about a 15 year old girl who goes to live with her biological parents after leaving a foster home.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Patton Oswalt: No Reason to Complain (find this hilarious standup special right next to the equally-funny Oswalt special My Weakness Is Strong;
seriously, this guy is one of the funniest people on the planet), Canvasman: The Robbie Ellis Story (there’s been a lot of anticipation for this local documentary about the middle-aged Maine man who’s a respected art dealer by day, and a blustery bad guy professional wrestler by night), The World in His Arms (nothing beats the official description of this one: “Roistering sea captain Jonathan Clark, who poaches seal pelts from Russian Alaska, meets and woos Russian countess Marina in 1850 San Francisco. Events separate them, but after an exciting sea race to the Pribilof Islands they meet again; now, both are in danger from the schemes of villainous Prince Semyon”; now picture it with Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn! Roistering!!), Arabesque (Gregory Peck is back! This time with Sophia Loren! Again, the imdb description gets it done: “Story of international intrigue involving a university professor, an Arab prime minister, a ruthless businessman, a beautiful spy, and
hieroglyphics.”Hieroglyphics!!), Mirage (More Peck!!! With Walter Matthau this time! And he’s got amnesia!!), The Cat in the Hat: Tales About Tails (you know-for kids! And I am assured that Mike Myers does not appear…)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Tron: Legacy.
Stuff you need to know about Videoport:
1. Free money! Videoport payment plans get you, yeah, free money. $20 buys you $25 worth of rental credit on your Videoport account, and $30 buys you $40. And credit is good for all rentals and any pesky extra day charges…
2. Free parking! The parking lot behind the building (and the smaller lot across the street) is open for free, one hour, customer parking after 5pm on weekdays and all day on weekends. Plus, if you need to find a spot in any of the downtown parking garages, Videoport can validated your parking for a free hour. (And remember that all parking meters are free after 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day on Sunday.
3. You get a free movie every single day at Videoport! Look at the reviews on page 1 of this very same newsletter; each day’s special nets you a free movie rental. In case you’re not a math guy/gal, that’s seven free rentals a week. Yikes.
4. You get more free rentals for buying stuff from Videoport! We’ve got lots of new and previously-viewed movies for sale, and we can special order anything currently in print (and we don’t charge any extra for that.) And, for every movie you buy from Videoport, you get a free rental for yourself!
5. We only employ movie geeks! Yup, Videoport’s staff is made up, exclusively, of the sort of movie-obsessed, yet friendly and helpful, weirdos who do nothing but watch movies all day and night. Consequently, we’ve seen pretty much everything, and love nothing more than to share our favorite movies with you and to find the perfect movie for your state of mind. We don’t judge- sometimes, you just gotta see Big Trouble in Little China, like, RIGHT NOW!!
6. We sell candy. Everybody likes candy.