Volume CCXCIX – Let The Right C.H.U.D. In
For the week of 5/10/2011
Videoport is happy to give you the gift of a free movie every day. Whether you use this gift for good or for evil, well, that’s your business.
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 suggests The Wicker Man (in Horror). The original Wicker Manis a wonderful movie, but that’s not the one I’m recommending here today. I’m recommending Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake, a
thoroughly misguided effort that, in spite of its reputation, is worth your time. The Wicker Man (1973) is deservedly a cult classic because it is a true original, and unique in a way that completely works to spellbinding and disturbing effect. It’s the story of a detective who is sent to the island community of Summerisle to investigate the strange disappearance of a child, only to discover secrets and lies at every turn. The remake, written and directed by LaBute (In the Company of Men, Your Friends and Neighbors) should be a cult classic because, starting from that great premise, it is senselessly stripped of its originality and made into a routine horror movie with some unintentionally hilarious moments of pure badness. It’s not as fascinatingly bad as a movie like The Room; after all, it was professionally made with a decent budget, with a talented cast and crew. The cast includes Ellen Burstyn, Frances Conroy, Leelee Sobieski, Molly Parker, and… Nicolas Cage. LaBute’s Wicker Man is not only awful, but totally misguided on every level. Nic Cage, as usual, gives it his all, but the result is part boring and part hilarious. Watch him dress up in a bear costume! Watch him punch many women in the face! Watch him scream as he is attacked by angry bees! Your jaw will drop in shock*!
*You will be appropriately shocked even if you’ve already seen the YouTube compilation Nicolas Cage Loses His Sh*t, which includes several clips from The Wicker Man.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action/Adventure or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Andy suggests Every Girl Should Be Married (in Classics, only on glorious VHS). Now I’m not saying I’m the only person under 30 to be smitten with Cary Grant, but why aren’t more people my age (you know, around-but-slightly-under-30) into this wonderful actor? According to the snobbiest film critic of all time, David Thomson, Cary Grant is “the best and most important actor in the history of the cinema.” Bold proclamation or statement of fact? Thomson says, “he can be attractive and unattractive simultaneously; there is a light and dark side to him but, whichever is dominant, the other creeps into view.” Well said, Dave. This quality of Grant’s is exemplified in such movies as Notorious, Only Angels Have Wings, The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story, Suspicion, and many others. Every Girl Should Be Married would be a minor Grant film, but for one important biographical footnote: Grant married the leading lady, Betsy Drake, soon after the film was made. But this isn’t the worst film Grant ever made, either (it’s certainly better than My Favorite Wife). My point is that Cary Grant was a star, and Every Girl Should Be Married is a star vehicle, so this should be a movie of interest for that reason. The plot, which I admit is seriously dated, concerns a demented shopgirl (Drake) with one goal in mind: seduce and marry an uninterested, though hunky and charming pediatrician (Grant) using an arsenal of trickery, deception, and chicanery. It’s a romantic comedy, in case I need to clear that up. The movie around him might be a product of it’s time, but Cary Grant comes off as a dignified, warmhearted, handsome, well-dressed, and kind of dark leading man… in other words, a great star. Why don’t you watch more Cary Grant movies?
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or the Foreign Language sections with your paid rental… or get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)
>>>Andy suggests that you watch some of the best superhero movies ever made to celebrate last week’s release of The Green Hornet (even though it was slightly disappointing given the talent involved). In the last few years, the genre has been dominated by talented filmmakers with strong personalities and unique sensibilities, and here are some of the results:
1) The Dark Knight – For a year after this came out on DVD you could hear me recommending this movie to anyone for any reason. “Looking for a complex, well-acted drama? Dark Knight!” “Looking for a tough, exciting heist flick? Dark Knight!” “Looking for that French film about incest and witchcraft…? Well…” And that’s why my coworkers call me the Dork Knight. This has everything you want in a movie, plus Batman.
2) Spider-Man 2 – The best of the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films, Spider-Man 2 is a well-written and well-acted story that brings its simple comic book themes to the big screen in a big way. It made the first Spider-Man flick look like a rehearsal, and the third one look like a mean joke. And Alfred Molina as Doc Ock is exactly what a villain should be, sympathetic even when he’s criminally insane!
3) The Rocketeer – This might be my favorite movie in the entire Kids section (and I do remember that the Superman films are kept there). Here’s a movie that gets better every time I watch it, and the more 1940s cinema I soak in. It’s an Indiana Jones-style throwback to old-timey serials, but with massive modern production values. Man with mask and rocket-pack battles Nazis, gangsters, and spies in ‘40s California. This is Spielberg-lite in the best possible way, reminiscent of the first and third Indiana Jones movies (not so much the second and… shudder… fourth).
4) X2: X-Men United – Before abandoning the X-Men franchise in favor of that silly Superman reboot, director Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, Apt Pupil) made a pretty decent X-Men movie and then this, the second one, the closest thing we have to a real superhero epic. Multiple lead characters (all of whom we’re emotionally involved with), a thought-provoking storyline, dynamite action sequences, and some great Shakespearean acting, courtesy Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen (and some fun hammy acting courtesy Brian Cox… I love that guy) add up to one great, and very ambitious, comic book movie.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Customer Meredith recommends Mysterious Skin (in Feature Drama.) I’ve been on a Joseph Gordon-Levitt kick lately. He was my favorite character in Inception, and he will be in the upcoming installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series (role TBA). One of his finest performances is as gay teen hustler, Neil, in Mysterious Skin. As a boy, Neil was continuously raped by his little league coach, developing a relationship that would change the course of his life; having sex with men is the only job Neil knows. Meanwhile, another boy from Neil’s little league game, the asexual nerd Brian (Brady Corbet), is trying to figure out the mystery behind his supposed alien abduction, realizing that Neil is the answer to his close encounter. Although I could see the impending conclusion, I was still moved to tears as if I’d been blindsided by the dramatic climax. This is a beautiful portrait of two young men suffering very different consequences from the same incident.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Family section, no other rental necessary.)
>>>Andy presents 5 More Reasons to rent ‘Star Trek – the Animated Series.’
1) It was the first Star Trek series to win an Emmy Award!
2) The episode “More Tribbles, More Troubles,” is a sequel to the live-action Star Trek episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” It was written for the Original Series, but vetoed for being too comedic.
3) Distinguished actor Mark Lenard voiced the character of Sarek, Spock’s Vulcan father, in the episode “Yesteryear.” Lenard also played the character in episodes of Star Trek: the Original Series, Star Trek– the Next Generation, and three Star Trek movies.
4) The Imagine Games Network website listed the show as the 96th best animated television show of all time!
5) Rent ‘Star Trek – the Animated Series’because, if you continue to not rent it (free of any charge, mind you), I will be forced to write 5 fresh reasons every week until someone does. There. That makes 15 reasons in three weeks. How many reasons will it take to get you to rent this?
Have a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, April suggests that you avoid The Mists of Avalon (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). No man should ever rent this movie! And if your girlfriend tells you to rent it for her, lie and tell her it is rented out. Even though it’s got Anjelica Huston, who is beautiful and awesome. It’s such an estrogen girl-fest that it makes me want to vomit. And I’m a girl!
>>>For Sunday, Andy suggests that you avoid Skyline (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). As long as April is scaring you away from movies that suck, let me join in on the hating. Skyline is the lamest, laziest, downright suckiest alien invasion flick I’ve ever seen. It’s so bad I actually watched the entire movie just to see if it could keep up it’s suckiness for the length of a feature film. Well, it could and it did. Starring professional unlikable person Eric Balfour and actual likable guy Donald Faison (whose character in this movie is so dumb that I didn’t recognize the actor!), Skyline takes itself, and it’s pathetic characters, too seriously for it’s audience to enjoy themselves. Remember Independence Day? Back in the day it seemed pretty bad to me, but at least I was never bored or aggravated while watching it. Learn something, Skyline.
This week’s New Releases: Blue Valentine (Sad. Beautiful. Oscar-nominated. Enjoy.), The Illusionist (this French animated film, from the director of The Triplets of Belleville and written by the supercool, long-dead Jacques Tati, has been requested more frequently than the last Twilight movie. You’re a cool town, Portland), Carlos The Jackal (this five and ½ hour mini-series about the notorious terrorist is not only extremely well-reviewed but also… long), Cougars, Inc. (Denise Richards apparently portrays a predatory jungle cat in this sexy comedy), A Marine Story (a lesbian marine returns to her conservative hometown and faces bigoted a**holes), Megan Is Missing (as if the internet isn’t terrifying enough already, here comes a new horror-drama about an online predator), Mao’s Last Dancer (a dramatic mixture of ballet and international political intrigue), No Strings Attached (starring Oscar-winner Natalie Portman and future Oscar-winner Ashton Kutcher, this romantic comedy is just about the most unappealing thing I can imagine).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Double Take (a semi-documentary about an Alfred Hitchcock impersonator, among other things), Food Matters (if this food documentary doesn’t cure you of all your ills, then you need to watch more food documentaries), Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y (from the director of this week’s Double Take comes another fascinating documentary, this time it’s about terrorism and plane crashes), Triage (Colin Farrell and Paz Vega in a psychological drama about wartime photojournalists), Bananas!* (another political food documentary, this time brought to you by Oscilloscope, so it might be time to pay attention), Mrs. Miracle (it’s like Mary Poppins but with James Van Der Beek! Merry Christmas, Portland!).
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray: The Illusionist
The Diablo Cody Defense by Regan
“The unworthiness of Diablo Cody.” This was in the last VideoReport, and I’m not sure what everyone’s (i.e. Dennis’s, Michelles ‘n’ Cheese’s, Jeremy’s) problem is with her. Is it that she won an Oscar for Juno? Well, how many unworthy people win Oscars every year? Hello Randy Newman, Angelina Jolie, and James Cameron. Oh, and newcomer The King’s Speech! Welcome. And Juno is a perfectly fine movie. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. It’s got Bateman in it! And J.K. Simmons! It’s fun! Who the feck has a problem with fun? You know what else is fun…? Jennifer’s Body.That’s right. I said it. Give me a
pile of cute teens and bloodshed with a couple of chuckles and I’m in. Sign me up, pal. Oh, and did we all forget United States of Tara? I was skeptical. Yeah, I don’t looove Toni Collette, but she’s got good credentials. Oh, and guess what? The show’s a blast. It’s funny. It’s touching. As mother says, “I laughed, I cried, I saw the play.” Hark! What’s that I see…? She’s penning the screenplay for the Sweet Valley High movie! Hear me now: I will buy Michelles ‘n’ Cheese a bottle of whipped cream vodka if she’s not absolutely rip-sh*t jizzy-jazzed about the release of this film.
Next Week: The Diablo Cody Defense! It has begun!