VideoReport #313

Volume CCCXIII- I C.H.U.D. You, Phillip Morris*

For the Week of 8/16/11

Videoport will rent you a free movie every single day if you’re not careful.

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.)

Crab fight!!!

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Mysterious Island (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) As technology allows moviemakers to create greater and more graphic effects with less investment of time and energy , I find myself growing nostalgic for the lo-fi special effects of the mid-century. The first time I saw Mysterious Island, it was already outdated: for some inexplicable reason, the 1961 movie was screening in a neighborhood theater in the mid-1970s. I was maybe five or six years old. And IT MADE AN IMPRESSION. Though the characters and plot completely escaped my memory, the action sequences (with old-school animal effects by the legendary Ray Harryhausen) were emblazoned into my young mind, when they’ve lingered for, ooooooh, 35 years — and lingered with astonishing vividness and accuracy, as I discovered when I watched the flick again this weekend. I guess kids might gloss over a Civil War framing tale, a polite romance, or the appearance of a prominent Jules Verne character, but giant crabs are forever.

>>>April suggests Dark Harbor(in Mystery/Thriller.) It’s nice to see a movie set in Maine that was actually filmed in Maine, so that’s a plus for this one. It’s also nice to see Norman Reedus acting. Poor

Hello, April...

Norman. He doesn’t get many good roles. Also, he named his kid Mingus. Mingus. Polly Walker was fine as the thankless wife. Alan Rickman was great as usual but he has a terrible American accent in it. Maybe it’s payback for all the American actors who do horrible British accents. As for the plot, meh, it was okay. You’ve seen it before, a guy and his wife find themselves alone with a drifter. Sexy love triangle. Murder. Predictable. Although that kiss at the end was kinda hot. It’s the whole reason to watch it. So. I recommend it for the kiss alone.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Andy suggests Zodiac (in the Mystery/Thriller section) and In Good Company (in Comedy). Yes! Thank you to Elsa S. Customer and Former Videoporter Stockman, both very lovely and both so very smart and right! Last week in the VideoReport, Ms. Customer recommended Zodiac and Ms. Stockman recommended In Good Company. Those movies have nothing in common, except that I love them dearly and somehow have a hard time recommending them to Videoport customers. Well, it’s not so much that I have a hard time recommending them, it’s just that my recommendations often come out sounding unconvincing. For example, Zodiac is a movie about the real-life serial killer who terrorized San Francisco in the ’70s. So far, so good. People love serial killer movies, right? Especially when they’re directed by David Fincher, who made Se7en back in 1995. Since I’m always honest about movies, I have to admit that Zodiac is nothing like Seven. It’s a serial killer movie where all the murders occur in the first half hour of the movie, followed by two long hours of investigation. Yup, methodical, realistic, tedious investigation by nerdy looking guys in plaid suits. Sounds unappealing, right? Last week, Elsa concluded her review by calling Zodiac “a modern classic, a resonant story of obsession and uncertainty circling endlessly around a series of senseless tragedies.” That’s what I meant to say! Thank you. Also last week, Ms. Stockman said In Good Company “actually has merit! I would go so far as to say it’s even a bit genre-defying. It manages to be vaguely realistic without being depressing. And it’s a layered movie, so it keeps you guessing.” That’s what I meant to say! Usually I babble about how it reminds me of Billy Wilder’s great comedy/dramas back in the ’60s, like The Apartment and Love In The Afternoon. In Good Company finds a way to balance it’s comedy and drama in a way that’s wholly satisfying without being annoyingly quirky in that “indie” way that we’re all so used to, but totally sick of. Did I lose you there? Sorry, I was boring myself. Thank you, Ms. Stockman, for summing it up better than I ever could. And, since you seemed doubtful last week, In Good Company holds up as movie even if you didn’t see it on a bus!

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!)

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman presents her advice for quadruple features to take advantage of Videoport’s Wednesday Mega-Special (4 movies, 7 days, 7 bucks) with the following:

1. Enjoy the lesser known awe and wonder of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop: Dreamchild , two disc set of Jim Henson’s The Storyteller & Greek Myths (Not sure if you ever got it for rent)* , the first disc of Farscape.

*not yet on the myths, sorry.

2. Thanks to Andy’s reminder of how much I’m in love with Cary Grant (see VideoReport #312– probably sitting on the back of your toilet), my top four Cary Grant romantic comedies: Bringing up Baby, Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, Talk of the Town, Every Girl Should be Married

3.Three brilliant High School movies connected to a book (and Girl Next Door): Clueless (remake of Jane Austen’s Emma), Mean Girls (researched using non-fiction Queen Bees and Wannabees by Rosalind Wiseman), Easy A (honors The Scarlet Letter, see Saturday’s review for details), Girl Next Door (because it’s more awesome than any of the Shakespearean High School movies I could list)

4. Michelle and Regan-approved TV starter kit: the first disc of Gilmore Girls, Greek, Friday Night Lights and Shameless

5. Four comedic actors I like (sometimes even prefer) when they do drama: Stranger Than Fiction, Royal Tennenabaums, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch-Drunk Love

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>> April suggests The Search for John Gissing (in Comedy.)  I think I’ve told people about 10,000 times how much I dislike comedies. It’s not really a lie, I’m not fond of them, and I’m not fond of them because I don’t like awkward or embarrassing moments when they are played as comedy. Usually, at the first instance of an embarrassing moment in a film, I will shut it off. (That is, if I’m watching it alone. If I’m watching it with someone else I can’t turn it off, that would be rude.) With John Gissing however I continued to watch and this was good sign. The wonderful Alan Rickman plays the titular character who sends Mike Binder and Janeane Garofalo off on a wild goose chase around London. Binder is unknowingly taking Rickman’s place in the company they work for and Rickman will do anything to keep his job. Hotel mix-ups, sly cabbies, and money woes abound. I found the naughty nun to be particularly delightful. But the movie really becomes something special when Binder finally meets Rickman. I won’t say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it for you. The girl who detests comedies is telling you to watch this one.

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>> Just come in and get a free kids movie. There’s really no downside to this…

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Former Videoporter Stockman (continuing to kill it) suggests Easy A (in Comedy.) It’s my newest pet peeve when critics, magazines, reviews refer to this movie as a remake of The Scarlet Letter. Or even worse say something along the lines of this movie does for The Scarlet Letter what Clueless did for Jane Austen’s Emma. There is nothing factual about either statement and I accuse those who make such claims of having never watched this film…and being idiots. To set the record straight, Clueless is in fact a remake of a Jane Austen novel. Emma to be precise. It’s been modified of course, acclimated to Beverly Hills, and done so very well I might add, but in general it is the same plot and characters and they follow the same general course. And what Clueless did for Emma was made a classic novel accessible and appealing for mass teen audiences. Plus it has Paul Rudd in it, be still my beating heart! What Easy A does is reference The Scarlet Letter. Yes, it does have an actual scarlet letter in it, and yes there is some shunning going on, comparatively quite light shunning I would say. Other than that there is absolutely nothing that the movie Easy A and the story of The Scarlet Letter have in common. Characters are in no way similar; they do not follow the same plot (minus shunning), they don’t do the same things (minus shunning). The main character is inspired by the book to wear a scarlet letter, the end. Inspired by, referenced to, not remade into. Okay, now that’s taken care of, this movie is awesome! It’s witty; chock full of quotable zingers, spoken by endearing characters. Sure it’s tailored as a teen movie, but (and here comes a legitimate comparison between Clueless) like Clueless it has the stellar acting and writing that makes it entertaining to a wide variety of audiences. And like Clueless this is a movie you can watch again and again and I’m willing to bet that it will age just as nicely. Like Paul Rudd, oh Paul Rudd, why do you make me love you like I do?

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests The Time Machine (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) The story starts on January 31st, 1900, when H. George Wells (get it?) stumbles disheveled and confused into his own dinner party and starts rambling about the fourth dimension. George (Rod Taylor) is haunted by the specter of humankind’s ever-increasing arsenal of weaponry and war machines; he dreams of some imaginary future when society will rise above base violence and ascend to the peaceful heights of science and serenity. I think you know more or less where this is going — I mean, I think you know when this is going. The effects may look clunky to modern eyes, but The Time Machine won the Academy Award for special effects in 1961, and you have to admit: that sledlike contraption has real steampunk appeal.

Mr. Cool.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe (pretty much everyone agrees that Bruce Campbell’s boozy ex-spy sidekick Sam Axe is the best thing about ‘Burn Notice’ [because it’s Bruce Campbell, duh], so this prequel movie about Axe in his heyday promises more of what you want…MORE BRUCE!!), Jane Eyre(respected actors Michael Fassbender and Mia Wasikowska star in

Alice loves Magneto...

this stately adaptation of the Charlotte Bronte classic; or, if you’re like most Americans, Magneto and Alice in Wonderland star in this old-timey thing…), Something Borrowed (attention all boys: you can go ahead and skip the rest of this description…here goes: Kate Hudson and the youngest wife from ‘Big Love’ fight over s really dull guy, while ‘The Office”s Jon Krasinski makes sarcastic comments from the sidelines; okay guys, you can come back to the VideoReport now…), Priest (Paul Bettany just likes playing super-violent Christian icons [see Legion, if you must]; in this one he’s a post-apocalyptic, vampire-killing Vatican assassin priest- it’s like some guys living in their parents’ basement are making his career decisions for him now), The Conspirator(Director Robert Redford brings his traditional stately, well-meaning competence to this historical drama about a boarding house proprietress [Robin Wright] who was charged in the assassination of Abe Lincoln, even though she pretty much just owned the place where Booth and his pals met, because, according to the government, “At times of war, the law falls silent.” Man, I’m sure glad that dark period in our history is over forever and horrible conservative bigots don’t use wars [which they themselves began] in order to railroad

Has he still got it? Rent and see...

‘undesirables’ and eviscerate civil liberties. Enough irony? Everybody got it? Okey-dokey…), The Ward (venerable horror master director John Carpenter [The Thing, Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China] is back after a 9 year absence with this tale of a young woman confined to a spooky psychiatric hospital; is J.C. back? One way to find out…), Queen to Play (Kevin Kline dusts off his impeccable French to star in this beguiling drama about a chambermaid [Vagabond‘s Sandrine Bonnaire] who discovers her chess mastery alongside Kline’s weary widower), The Best and the Brightest (really interesting cast [Neil Patrick Harris, Amy Sedaris, Peter Serafinowicz, John Hodgman] star in this dramedy about a young couple diving into the absurdly-competitive world of exclusive preschools), The Bang Bang Club (thankfully, three blonde Americans [Ryan Phillippe, Malin Ackerman, that guy from ‘Friday Night Lights’] are on hand to experience the final days of Apartheid for us in this fact-based tale of combat photographers; again with the irony…you guys get it, right?), Meet Monica Velour (the world’s favorite post-menopausal sex symbol Kim Cattral stars in this dramedy about a young nerd setting out on a road trip to catch an appearance by his favorite porn star, only to find himself wrapped up in her decidedly less-glamorous life), Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf(“a spike-jawed serial killer nicknamed ‘The Wolf’ is declared insane”- you think?!? Horror nastiness starring Gimli, the Cigarette-Smoking Man, two pro wrestlers, and Harmony [nerds everywhere need no explanation of

Marketing!

those characters]), Orgasm, Inc. (his documentary’s intriguing depiction of one company’s battle with the FDA over its creation of “female viagra” has a really sexy cover, so that’s something…), Tekken (will this martial arts action flick based on the video game be better than Double Dragon? Or Street Fighter? Or Super Mario Brothers? Or that other Street Fighter movie? I mean, it’d have to be, right?)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Killing(the Criterion Collection puts out its typically-worshipful edition of this 1956 heist film noir thriller which I maintain is Stanley Kubrick’s best film; yeah,

Criterion greatness of the week #1...

I said it…), Cul-de-Sac (no one’s been able to see this semi-legendary Roman Polanski thriller about a pair of hoods invading the isolated home of an unhappy couple [Donald Pleasance and Francoise Dorleac] since it first came out; but your pals at the Criterion Collection [and Videoport, of course] now allow you to determine if its reputation for world-class creepiness is warranted)

 New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Pineapple Express, Priest.

*Sure, some of you are asking about the C.H.U.D. thing. Especially since Videoport does not currently own the film C.H.U.D. For those not in the know (people with lives),

...and #2. You're welcome...

C.H.U.D.is a 1984 horror movie about sewer-dwelling creatures that are killing people in New York City (and, of course, it would be there.) It’s not very good, but it’s got a certain grimy, slimy atmosphere to it, and an absurdly-overqualified cast for

Should Videoport replace this? You make the call!

this sort of thing (Daniel Stern, John Heard.) It’s got a certain cultural cachet from being referenced in a very funny ‘Simpsons’ episode (‘Homer versus NYC’). As for our recent obsession with inserting the word ‘C.H.U.D.’ into jokey movie titles, well, you try coming up with funny fake movie titles 313 weeks in a row. So, to sum up: don’t ever question us. And, if you would like Videoport’s owner Bill to replace our long-gone (and largely-unlamented) copy of C.H.U.D., then that’s what the purple request book in the store is for. Or just buy one yourself and donate it to us. Also, if you would like to submit better jokes (or anything else) to the VideoReport, please send ’em to denmn@hotmail.com. Thank you. C.H.U.D.

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