Volume CCCV- The C.H.U.D. with the Dragon Tattoo
For the Week of 6/21/11
Videoport has the most movies anywhere, the best prices and specials anywhere, and the most knowledgeable and helpful staff anywhere. And that “anywhere” is right in your neighborhood, Portland! (If you are reading this somewhere other than Greater Portland, please move to Greater Portland now.)
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.)
>>> Videoport customer Jenny A. suggests asking your favorite Videoporter for a suggestion! I told Videoport Jones I wanted a dark dystopia like The Road, and they set me up with a triple feature. Le Dernier Combat (The Last Battle), 1983 Luc Besson film, where have you been all my life? Don’t watch the trailer – it’s wacky & doesn’t do the film justice. Dusty, weird, black & white chiaroscuro cinematography , no dialogue. Do your twisted self a favor and see it. Another French dystopia Time of the Wolf was directed by Michael Haneke (Caché (Hidden), The White Ribbon) & stars Isabelle Huppert & Béatrice Dalle. It’s chilling and brutal, realistically focusing on the dynamics between survivors. Canadian quasi-zombie Pontypool [aka Pontypool – Radio Zombie] has a frightening start, and a fantastic performance from its lead, Stephen McHattie. It loses steam, so save it for the final feature. Awesome triple features: Netflix can’t do that. Thanks, Videoport!
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Former Videoporter David T. presents his Top Ten Crime Movies (noir/a-holes with guns edition):
10. Get Carter 9. Brick 8. Seven 7. Reservoir Dogs 6. The Limey 5. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang 4. The Maltese Falcon 3. The Usual Suspects 2. True Romance 1. Millers Crossing
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 melting your face off with a marathon of the films of Japanese madman director Takashi Miike.(Usually in Videoport’s Made in Japan section but currently all
lurking all together, ready to strike, in the Staff Picks section in the Middle Aisle.) Takashi Miike’s newest film, the very cool, typically-bloody samurai epic 13 Assassins is playing in Portland at SPACE Gallery on Thursday (6/23.) Everyone should go see that. In the meantime, here’s Videoport’s collection of Miike’s films (with snappy, yet informative, one line reviews from Videoporters Sam, Dennis, and Andy):
2. Sukiyaki Western Django. Miike’s tried just about every genre there is (you’ll see), so why not a spaghetti Western with an all-Asian cast (except for a Quentin Tarantino cameo)? (Oh, and notice that I did not make a lame spaghetti/noodle Western pun there; I’d advise you to do the same.)
3. Big Bang Love, Juvenile A. Miike calls this avant-garde, homoerotic prison murder mystery his “masterpiece.” Do not argue with Mr. Miike.
4. Izo. Samurai, time travel, crucifixion, blood, awesomeness, confusion.
5. Imprint. Showtime’s so-called ‘Masters of Horror’ series ran away wetting itself rather than air this.
6. One Missed Call. “This may just be a Ringu clone, but it’s a pants-crappingly scary Ringu clone.”- Andy
7. Happiness of the Katakuris. From IMDb.com: “From Japanese cult director Takashi Miike comes an all-singing, all-dancing zombie horror flick.”
8. Crows Zero. Student gangs battle yakuza and each other in a school with surprisingly little adult supervision.
9. Silver. From IMDb’s plot keywords for Silver: “unusual sex act, sexual sadism, eye gouging, chained, bus.” Make of that what you will…
10. 3 Extremes: Box. Miike’s contribution to this harrowing horror anthology film isn’t even the most disturbing one in there; oh, wait…I forgot that one thing…oh yeah, yeah it is.
11. Fudoh: The New Generation. A yakuza boss bumps off one of his sons, so his other son organizes a teenage gang to bring him down. It’s like King Lear…with katanas!
12. Full Metal Yakuza. Cyborg yakuza! ’nuff said?
13. Gozu. “Starts off as a crazy yakuza thriller, but then quickly dissolves into something like a David Lynch nightmare.”- Andy
14. The Bird People in China. A pair of dueling guys after some rare jade in a remote village find themselves enraptured by a mysterious girl and the song that makes men fly like birds. Miike’s most
15. Young Thugs Nostalgia. It’s about a young thug…who thinks back on his young thuggery…yeah, I haven’t seen it.
16. Dead or Alive. “Hey, did you watch this? What the f**k just happened?”- Sam
17. Dead or Alive 2. “Hey, what the f**k?”- Sam
18. Dead or Alive: Final. “Hey wait…what?”- Sam
19. Ichi the Killer. Oh my god… Just…wow. The violent-est thing on earth. Yow.
20. Visitor Q. The VideoReport once ran a list of everyone’s pick for ‘most disturbing movie in Videoport.’ This was my pick. Have fun, everyone…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests wading hip-deep into the oeuvre of infamous screenwriter Joe Eszterhas! No really! I recently found Eszterhas’ 2006 screenwriting guide/Hollywood tell-all “The
Devil’s Guide to Hollywood” at Goodwill and read it in about a day and a half. A compendium of quotes and anecdotes, each one headed by a humorous caption and usually followed with an opinion or tale from Eszterhas’ life and career further illuminating the quote’s theme, the book allows the legendarily hirsute, brutish, prolific, and successful author to impart his insider tips on being a screenwriter…and to settle a whole lot of scores. Here are some of his oft-repeated tips: don’t sell out, don’t listen to executives, don’t trust directors (except the few he approves of, like Paul Verhoeven), don’t ever attend a screenwriting seminar (especially one by Robert McKee), don’t be afraid to bully anyone (from studio heads who he intimidated with his African fighting stick and ubiquitous hunting knife, to that grip who tried to give him story tips on-set and got slammed against a wall), fire any agent who has the temerity to give credit to a film’s director instead of the writer (him), and basically act like a huge, boorish dick in every circumstance. There is occasionally some useful inside advice on screenwriting. On the score-settling front, Joe has little use for: screenwriter William Goldman (The Princess Bride) who is insufficiently intractable with executives and directors, Martin Scorcese (Eszterhas claims to have slept with Scorcese’s wife), Steven Spielberg, Portland’s own Kyle and Efram (he was not impressed with them on ‘Project Greenlight’), directors in general, executives (except for those, like Don Simpson and Sam Spiegel who were as over-the-top crude and tactless as he), film critics (heyyyy…), Robert Altman, and, implicitly, most women. Oh, and he’d also like you to know he slept with Sharon Stone. Overall, I’m glad I read the thing; it’s sleazy and breezy, and full of lots of juicy Hollywood dirt, the most tantalizing kind of dirt. Plus, it is actually interesting to hear about the real nitty gritty of the screenwriting process from someone who’s been at it, successfully, for decades- even if fully 90% of the films he’s credited with are universal punchlines and cautionary tales about lowest-common-denominator film writing. It’s sort of interesting the way Eszterhas sticks up for writers not getting enough credit for their contributions; it’s less endearing how he blames literally everyone but himself for one of his script’s failures or shortcomings as a movie. So here are a list of Eszterhas’ film’s available at Videoport, followed by his excuses for what went wrong …
–Flashdance (in Musicals): He thinks nothing went wrong! Yay! His assertion that the film is more memorable today for his quotable gem “When you give up your dream, you die” than for that scene when Jennifer Beals pulls her bra out through her sweatshirt’s armhole might not bear too much scrutiny, though.
–Jagged Edge (in Mystery/Thriller): apart from Robert Loggia daring to claim that he made up some of his own lines, this slightly-overrated courtroom drama meets with his (and kinda my) approval. Hooray! It’s adequate!
–Betrayed (Mystery/Thriller): the third act problems of this neo-Nazi romance/thriller were the fault of a complicated margin-shaving strategy on his part which caused the studio to start cutting down the script once they caught on they were going over schedule…and not due to what he actually wrote.
–Music Box (Mystery/Thriller): Joe kind of skirts around the fact that the story of this courtroom thriller about an immigrant accused of being a former Nazi war criminal was later found to have uneasy similarities with his father’s past. Would that his script had as unpredictable a twist.
–Basic Instinct (Mystery/Thriller): Joe defends the sexual politics of his lurid, misogynist, homophobic ice pick thriller with the famous hoo-hoo shot by bringing in a quote from Camille Paglia, the one feminist (if loonily so) author to think Sharon Stone’s icy icepicker with no underpants was a new breed of feminist icon. And Michael Douglas tried to destroy his script, but failed. Oh, and he slept with Sharon Stone.
–Nowhere to Run (Action): he disowned this Jean Claude Van Damme flick and prides himself on the fact that the irate memo he sent to director Robert Harmon actually gave the man a heart attack.
–Sliver(Mystery/Thriller): Sharon Stone had turned into a prima donna, he didn’t want Billy Baldwin for the male lead, and Tom Berenger was drunk. Those are the reasons why his creepy, empty, voyeuristic sex-peeping thriller failed. Oh, and he has lots and lots of deleted footage of Stone and Baldwin sexing
each other like sea otters.
–Showgirls (Incredibly Strange): Paul Verhoeven slept with Elizabeth Berkely, which is what turned this stripper drama into the biggest laughingstock in Hollywood history, and not his script, which includes the solemn line “It must be weird, not having anyone c** on you.”
–Jade (Mystery/Thriller): the fact that this sleazy, laughable erotic thriller tanked is not because of his script, but because producer Sherry Lansing made sure her husband William Friedkin (that loser who directed The Exorcist) got assigned to direct it.
–Telling Lies in America (Drama): this autobiographical drama about a Hungarian immigrant teen’s infatuation with a cool DJ is generally positively-regarded. Videoport’s Regan likes it. Eszterhas would probably agree…right before he grabs Regan’s butt and calls me a worthless hack simultaneously.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>> James’ family suggests The Brave Little Toaster. Family sitting down to dinner.
Father: How was The Brave Little Toaster? Was it sad?
7 year old son: Yeah, I almost cried, and fell asleep.
Everyone seated does a spit take. This is a true story.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Kim suggests Dogtooth (in Foreign.) Amazingly minimalistic. Gorgeous aesthetic with non-narrative suspense. Real world associations with disassembled relations of family members. Terrific use of shock and quandaries of meaning.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! Did you just partake of the rent 2, get 1 free weekend rental special and find yourself all charged up to tell the world how much you love/hate that third movie you picked up on a whim ’cause it’s free and hey, why not take a chance for crissakes? And are you upset because you usually have only your cat to talk to about important stuff but he’s being all huffy and standoffish because of that argument you had and he knows what he did!!!! Well, just write your rave/pan/furious, half-insane screed and drop it off at the store or send it to us at email@example.com. We’ll print it in the next VideoReport, and that’ll show that stuck-up cat once and for all!
New Releases this week at Videoport: Unknown (Liam Neeson and his wife go to Berlin and are in a car crash. Then he wakes up…and then he’s got amnesia, and no one knows who he is, not even his wife, and then there’s this other guy claiming to be him… terrible vacation. But Neeson continues his late-career reinvention as a mumbly, hulking Irish action star, and, like in the lunkheaded Taken, he’s really convincing at it), The Adjustment Bureau (Matt Damon stars in this typically mind-twisty thriller from the works of sci fi weirdness guru Philip K. Dick [see Blade Runner, Minority Report, Paycheck…well, maybe don’t see that last one] about a guy finding out that there’s a shadowy organization out there that might just be involved in making sure he doesn’t fight his own, particularly disturbing, fate), ‘The Closer’- season 6 (spunky Southern detective Kyra Sedgewick continues to solve [or “close”, if you prefer] the tough cases with help of her generous allotment of spunk!), Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules (you know that kids movie your kids liked? Well, now you’ve gotta rent them the sequel), The Eagle (burly-necked lead Channing Tatum [Dear John, Step Up] straps on his breastplate and fighting sandals for this sword-y actioner about a young Roman soldier out to recover the titular bird-y emblem of the fabled Lost Legion in Roman-occupied Britain; see also Centurion and The Last Legion for further heroic adventures of the mysteriously-disappeared occupying army), Cedar Rapids (‘The Office”s very funny Ed Helms stars in this reasonably-funny comedy about a decent, naive small town insurance agent who finds himself in over his head when he heads to a conference in the titular, slightly-bigger city; costarring the ever-money John C. Reilly), ‘Louie’- season 1 (Louis CK, one of the funniest standups on the planet by the way, stars in this eponymous, autobiographical sitcom; from what I’ve heard, THIS is the funniest show on TV right now; [and don’t forget about his first HBO sitcom “Lucky Louie,” which is reasonably funny as well…]), Happythankyoumoreplease (that kind of dull guy from ‘How I Met Your Mother’ directs and stars in this romantic drama about a group of thirtysomethings coping with love, sex, and loving and sexing each other), Elektra Luxxx (in a questionably-demanded sequel to his Women in Trouble, director Sebastian Gutierrez again cast real-life girlfriend Carla Gugino as the titular porn star, this time deciding to give up that particular business after discovering she’s pregnant; costarring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Timothy Olyphant.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Sharktopus(yes, the Sci Fi Channel’s propensity for slamming two ferocious beasts together into one super-ferocious beast continues with this amalgamation of, well, you can probably guess which two animals, right? Eric Roberts
tries to stop it. [Oh, and what could be the next great sci fi monster? Spidoctopus? Tarantuwolf? Gila Lobster? I can’t wait!), Bedways (things get all sexy and German in this foreign erotic drama about a director coaxing her coupled costars out of their clothes and into some serious menage-ing), Cirque du Soleil: Cortero (the European acrobatic troupe in the disturbing tights is back, this time with a show about clowns, which might just be the thing that tips you over into gibbering madness- enjoy!)
New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Adjustment Bureau, Unknown.