Volume CCXCV- Rodan on the Orient Express
For the Week of 4/12/11
Videoport gives you a free rental every single day. Videoport is local. Videoport has all the best movies in the history of the world. Videoport’s got all the movies you need, right here, right now- no reason to wait around for them to come to you. Videoport. Your movie store.
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 AntiChrist (in Feature Drama/the Criterion Collection.) (Note: I watched AntiChrist knowing almost nothing about the story, and this review will not mention specifics of the story so you may view it in the same unspoiled state.) Despite Lars von Trier’s pedigree as crafter of upscale arty horrors, it feels odd to call AntiChrist a horror film… but it is truly horrific, and you should know that before you decide to rent it. In the
prologue, we learn that AntiChrist is predicated on the simplest, most brutally realistic horror: the horror of grief, of abysmal guilt, of mistrusting those we love best. But rarely is true horror so intensely wedded to wrenching drama. It’s engrossing and sorrowful and terrible… and deeply, truly scary. AntiChrist shatteringly portrays the crushing physicality of grief: no soft-focus gentle weeping and hankie-dabbing here, but the raw, biting panic and despair that could all too easily escalate into something still more horrible. Be warned: as we’ve come to expect from von Trier, AntiChrist is stomach-churningly graphic (no, really. Really really really. REALLY), uncompromisingly bleak, and some critics decried the film as offensively misogynistic. I disagree, but that’s beside the point: the message to take away is that AntiChrist will not leave you munching the last of your popcorn as you hum a happy song. It’s grotesque, bleak, revolting, yet it has moments of real beauty. It’s a polarizing and genuinely shocking work, and its brutal interplay of grace and gracelessness reminds me of nothing so much as a particularly nasty piece of Northern Renaissance religious art — though the religious symbols here are not so easily decoded, with good reason. Say what you will about Lars von Trier, this is the first film in a long time to really scare me. Knowing his reputation, I was scared before I even hit “play.”
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests The Vicious Kind (in Feature Drama.) I love a good, character-driven, largely-plotless indie comedy-drama. And I even sorta like a not-so-good one of those. Which brings me to The Vicious Kind, an above-average, immediately-forgettable indie trifle from young writer-director Lee Krieger (to whom I’m sure it is very personal and meaningful) which I, too, would have already forgotten if it weren’t for some completely stellar lead work from personal hetero man-crush Adam Scott. I’ve mentioned my hetero man-crushes before, I’m sure; here are some actors that I just feel like I’d like to hang out with, be pals with. You know, not in a stalker-y way. Of course not. It’s a small group, but select, and I know exactly what we’d do when we hung out: Nathan Fillion (Sea Dogs game), Patton Oswalt (weed, pizza, a Samuel Fuller film fest and some serious geek talk), Seth Green (beer and video games), and Adam Scott. Star of the hilarious series ‘Party Down’ (only two short seasons ever- find ’em in the Comedy section at Videoport), the much more resonant indie Passenger Side (in Feature Drama), and veteran of some juicy character roles, Scott is funny, smart, and effortlessly-likeable, with a sad-eyed gravitas underlying his boyish charm. (For the record, I think he and I would hit the bars with the gang from Videoport and make self-deprecating wisecracks at everyone else’s expense…) Anyway, Scott plays Caleb, the
self-destructive older brother of puppyish Alex Frost who’s just come home from college with his kittenish new girlfriend (Brittany Snow) in tow. The puppy and the kitten are pretty dull, and pretty, but things liven up a little when they go to stay with the brothers’ garrulous father (the ever-entertaining J.K. Simmons), and some family secrets start leaking. Which is fine. But the real show is Scott, who plays a much more contradictory and abrasive character than usual. In fact, from his first, deliberately-shocking monologue carrying through to an alternately humorous and unpleasant series of self-destructive acts (often followed by deeply-sorrowful, and comic, remorse), Scott’s Caleb is never anything less than riveting. It’s the sort of role whose contradictions often seem like the unfocused writing of a novice director, but you never blame Scott; he’s always alive on the screen. An ambitious, challenging performance in the middle of a trifle. (And hey, Adam, it doesn’t have to be a bar. I’m up for anything…)
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 boning up on the recently-deceased Sidney Lumet! (Wow, that came out wrong…) Anyway, why not take advantage of Videoport’s insanely-generous Wednesday rental special (4 movies, 7 days, 7 bucks!) to revisit the six-decade-long, stunningly-consistent career of a really great director: (movies in bold are recommended, although it probably would have saved time to just highlight the ones that aren’t…)
–12 Angry Men (1957) Henry Fonda saves the world in this justly-beloved jury room drama with a great character actor cast.
–The Fugitive Kind (1960) Marlon Brando and the great Anna Magnani in an adaptation of a Tennessee Williams play? ‘Kay!
–Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1962) It’s a classic Eugene O’Neill play this time, with Katherine Hepburn, Dean Stockwell, Jason Robards, and Ralph Richardson bringing their ‘a’ game.
–The Pawnbroker (1964) Stunningly-moving drama with rod Steiger giving a career-best performance.
–Fail-Safe (1964) Fonda, this time maybe failing to save the world in this stagy but gripping cold war drama.
–Serpico (1973) Al Pacino gives one of his indelible performances as the real-life New York cop who
fought against widespread police corruption.
–Murder on the Orient Express (1974) Albert Finney’s a hammy hoot as Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot in this delicious murder mystery with a truly amazing cast.
–Dog Day Afternoon (1975) Pacino again, in a role he’ll be remembered for.
–Network (1976) You know the line…
–Equus (1977) Just haven’t seen it.
–The Wiz (1978) Everybody makes mistakes. A big-budget, all-black musical version of The Wizard of Oz was, well, one of Sidney’s.
–Prince of the City (1981) More real-life police corruption, with Treat Williams giving the one performance he’d like to be remembered for.
–Deathtrap (1982) Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve dueling deliciously in this Sleuth-like cat-and-mouse game.
–The Verdict (1982) Paul Newman’s best performance as an alcoholic lawyer.
–The Morning After (1986) Jeff Bridges and Jane Fonda in a murder mystery I haven’t seen yet.
–Running on Empty (1988) Interesting tale of former 60’s radicals trying to escape their past, with good work from Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti and River Phoenix.
–Family Business (1989) Next.
–Critical Care (1997) And next.
–Find Me Guilty (2006) Vin Diesel gives one of his only acceptable performances (outside of The Iron Giant) in this real-life courtroom drama/comedy.
–Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007) Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke and Marissa Tomei found out that the old man could still bring it in his 80’s in this gripping, wrenching thriller. Bon voyage to a true professional…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests that we all take a moment and re-evaluate ‘Dexter’ (in Mystery/Thriller.) Don’t get me wrong- I love you guys. You keep us in our basement, renting you movies and being weird, professionally, but, after just finishing the fourth season of this massively-popular tv show about everybody’s favorite serial killer-killing-serial killer alongside the lovely Mrs. Elsa S. Customer, I gotta ask: you guys know this is a terribly written and acted show, right? I mean, apart from Michael
C. Hall’s Dexter (who is always money), and some occasional guest stars, this has to be one of the most indifferently-scripted and acted shows ever to become so bewilderingly-popular. Seriously, once the novelty of the premise wears off, you’re left with the likes of Jennifer Carpenter’s crude, abrasive sister/cop (whose every convoluted f-bomb is supposed to be hilarious and endearing), crude Asian guy (whose every smirky, obvious sexual reference is also supposed to be hilarious and endearing), a succession of hunky, skeptical-of-Dexter detectives (whose very plot-device-ness is always really, really boring), that Hispanic detective (whose earnestness and inability to pronounce the letter ‘r’ are actually sort of endearing), and on and on. Guest stars help, but when Keith Carradine, Jimmy Smits or John Lithgow show up, their cool professionalism just shows up how shoddy most of the cat is in comparison. And, again, once you get past the admittedly-ghoulishly-fun premise, the writing just gets dumber and dumber, with Dexter’s icy meticulous plotting gradually undermined by some seriously-lazy scripts. (I even took the heretofore-unprecedented step of downgrading my ranking of the show from a ‘7’ to a ‘6’ on imdb.com.) This all being said, we did just finish watching our fourth full season of this thing, so…
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Dennis suggests that children who are taught now how to properly handle DVDs (BY NEVER, EVER TOUCHING THE SHINY SIDE!!!) will grow up to be responsible, considerate adults. The others, well…
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Andy suggests The Resident (in Horror.) Why is this being billed as a Hammer Films release? The Resident has nothing in common with that famous British company’s films except that it’s a horror film and Christopher Lee has a part in it. I guess someone just bought the Hammer name and started producing some decent horror flicks. And The Resident is a pretty good horror flick, as was Hammer’s previous release Let Me In. This one’s about a newly-single, vulnerable woman (played by Hilary Swank, seemingly trying to prove that she can be naked and sexy) who finds a
dream-y apartment, complete with a dream-y landlord (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, looking very much like Javier Bardem.) But the dream apartment might turn out to be…A NIGHTMARE! Well, obviously, it’s a horror movie, so everything’s not peachy, but that will have to do it for the plot details. But I will say that The Resident generates some real, squirmy suspense, comparable to last year’s excellent House of the Devil. And it has Christopher Lee, so that’s good. But really, don’t let the Hammer name fool you. This isn’t a gothic vampire movie, or any kind of throwback. But it’s pretty good.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests that you send in your movie reviews to us here at the VideoReport! Wanna crack wise about your favorite/least favorite movies or TV shows? Send in your reviews to us at email@example.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones.”
New Releases this week at Videoport: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (cool your jets, people- for some ungodly reason, the studios aren’t putting this one out until Friday [4/15]; just to make your kids cry…), Country Strong (Gwyneth Paltrow thought, “hmmm…people don’t seem to like me very much anymore. What can I do to turn them against me more? I know- I’ll play a country music star! And do my own singing!”), White Material (the ever-fascinating Isabelle Huppert stars alongside Isaach De Bankole [and, for some reason, Highlander‘s Christopher Lambert] in this acclaimed drama about a French family coping with African revolution and the loss of their plantation; look for it in the Criterion Collection, and do yourself a favor and check out Denis’ Chocolat in the Foreign section, which covers similar ground…), Heartless (from Philip Ridley, director of the still-unnerving cult film The Reflecting Skin, comes this unnerving-looking horror thriller about a deformed young man who discovers that there are demons walking the streets of London), The Inheritance (unrated, super-nasty-looking horror about some relatives who gather to try for the titular legacy, only to find that their true inheritance…IS DEATH!!!), Mask Maker (more nasty horror! And I don’t want to spoiler-y, but, judging by the cover, I’m fairly certain that the guy’s masks are made of your face; fun fact: Treat Williams is in this. He was really good in the late Sidney Lumet’s Prince of the City. Fun fact #2: that was a long time ago…)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Keeper of the Flame (super-team Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn in a particularly-jingoistic movie about an enterprising journalist finding out that a recently-deceased American hero might not have been so righteous after all…Keep watching the skies!!!), Whitney Cummings: Money Shot (watch your back Sarah Silverman, there’s a new, potty-mouthed, sassy lady comic in town…), ‘The LXD”- seasons 1 and 2 (the first two seasons of this web series which stands for ‘The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers’; I understand it may feature some good dancing…), Highwater (Kelly Slater and other surf gods compete for some sort of surfing championship…to decide who is the best surfer…), Ricky (from French master of cinematic unease
Francois Ozon [See the Sea, Swimming Pool, 5×2, Under the Sand, 8 Women] comes a slightly more whimsical [yet, of course, still disturbing] fable about a couple who discover that their infant is growing…something…on his back…), Witchboard 3: The Possession (even after 2 previous films, still playing with a ouija board; some horny teens seem to just want to be murdered by a possessed board game…), Everything Strange and New (this indie drama about the existential angst of a blue collar worker dissatisfied with his sex life with his wife is directed by a former cinematographer who, at least, makes low-budget misery look pretty…)
Did you know?
– Any time you buy a movie from Videoport, you get a free rental?
-Videoport payment deals get you 5 or 10 free dollars?
-Netflix is run by Cruella DeVille, Darth Vader, and Dick Cheney?