Volume CCCXV- The Courtship of Eddie’s Mothra
For the Week of 8/30/11
Videoport will give you a free movie every day. Because we really want to talk about movies with you…
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 Source Code (in Mystery/Thriller.) I went into Source Code knowing nothing about it except that it was another film from Duncan Jones, director of the intelligent sci-fi thriller Moon— and that was enough for me. I’m not going to tell you much about the plot, partly because you’re going to suss it out for yourself quickly and partly because that sussing out — and watching Jake Gyllenhall suss it out along
with you — is a lot of fun… but mostly because that (very enjoyable) plot isn’t the reason you should watch this movie anyhow. In other hands, this story would be a bombastic paranoid thriller, but Jones gives it a heart and a mind as well as a pulse. Jake Gyllenhall brings his considerable charms out to play, warming up the movie and allowing us to care about him and the people he cares about. the supporting cast shines, too, especially Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air, The Departed), Jeffrey Wright (Basquiat, Casino Royale), and Michelle Monaghan (Gone Baby Gone, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang), and that matters; it’s the realness and roundedness of the characters makes this story what it is, not the science. In fact, the science sounds both a bit pat and a bit preposterous to my ears, but I suppose “pat and preposterous” kinda sums up quantum theory, which is the handwavium that powers this engine. I urge you not to fret over the sci ; just let yourself get swept up in the -fi. As he did with Moon, Jones wittily tips his hat to the film’s many and varied influences (including [spoilers! No, really: SPOILERS. If you know nothing about the film, that’s a delicious state worth preserving until you rent it, so STOP READING] The Manchurian Candidate, The Matrix, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Donnie Darko, Blade Runner, Quantum Leap), but he cleverly keeps the allusions light, not belabored.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Casablanca (in Classics), if only to give the third wheel another chance. Sure, it’s the Bogey and Bergman show, but, as professional Nazi fighter/cold fish Victor Laszlo, stalwart Paul Henreid gets the most badass line in the movie. When pressured by deliciously-slimy Nazi Conrad Veidt to give up the names of the underground leaders all over Europe, Laszlo responds, “And what if you find these men, and kill them? From every corner of Europe, hundreds, thousands would rise to take their places. Even Nazis can’t kill that fast.” OH, SNAP! Sure, he’s no Bogart, but I get goosebumps just typing that damn line. Here’s to you, Laszlo.
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!)
>>> Regan offers some sage advice to the cast of How Do You Know? (in Comedy.) Rememba when Owen Wilson supposedly attempted suicide? Well, I hope he never watches How Do You Know? Remember when Reese Witherspoon won an Oscar? Hopefully her next divorce will harness similar results. Paul Rudd is delightful. But not enough to watch this p.o.s. movie called How Do You Know?
>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Fired Up (in Comedy.) Two high school football players decide to go to cheerleading camp to get girls. No? Maybe you didn’t follow me; let me say that louder and slower to help you out. TWO. HIGH. SCHOOL. FOOTBALL. PLAYERS. DECIDE. TO. GO. TO. CHEERLEADING. CAMP. TO. GET. GIRLS. If that doesn’t make you think this will be the most brilliant movie ever made I don’t know how to help you! I don’t know how else to make your life a brighter and happier life. Just don’t watch this movie for the first time alone, you need the camaraderie of friends and loved ones to truly share in the magic. I still remember the fine Thanksgiving day my friends and loved ones shared this movie with me, and I understood then what it meant to truly give thanks. Now it’s a Thanksgiving standard! It also makes an excellent standard for other major holidays as well good days, bad days, okay days, sunny days, rainy days, snowy days, days ending in ‘y’, and Flag Day. If I can impart any wisdom to you at all on this matter it’s that “you have to risk it to get the biscuit”. Okay? Can you do that for me?
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests The Abyss (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) In the words of Nietzsche,“He who fights
with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster, and when you gaze long into The Abyss, The Abyss also gazes into you. And it says soul-deadening stuff like ‘Dude, you’re spending two hours and eighteen minutes watching a James Cameron movie. What’s up with that?’ On the other hand, that Ed Harris is some kind of Übermensch, ja?”
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Dennis’ angel-genius niece Penelope (age 6) suggests The
Muppet Movie. I love that it’s just, when you see bad parts in the movie, it’s really fine because the muppets hired the actors, and not us. My favorite character in the movie is Miss Piggy, because she’s a girl and I’m a girl and she’s so silly and she loves Kermit. In the beginning, I loved Animal but after the movie I loved him even more because he’s so silly and because he saves Kermit in the end. (Even if he doesn’t mean to.)
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests The Door in the Floor(in Feature Drama.) John Irving used to be my favorite writer. I still love a few of his books unreservedly, but, like too many of my erstwhile heroes (John Carpenter, Jason Varitek, the US Government), I’ve spent decades making excuses for a slow decline. It’s
depressing. Also depressing are the film adaptations of Irving’s sprawling, plot-heavy novels. However, this movie, based on Irving’s last really good book ‘A Widow for One Year,’ takes a very smart tack on the problem of adapting the unadaptable- it simply chops out a small section of the book and makes the movie out of that. In previous attempts (The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire), the film just becomes a headlong picaresque rush through each book’s overstuffed plots, but The Door in the Floor, just concentrating on the first quarter or so of the book, is allowed to take a few breaths and concentrate on the characters a bit. The story of the film follows unhappily married Jeff Bridges and Kim Basinger and the summer he hires a young prep schooler [Jon Foster] to act as Bridges’ writing assistant (heaven forbid Irving should have a story without a writer for a character), to care for the couple’s lonely daughter (Elle Fanning), and perhaps, well, I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll stop there. Bridges, playing his manipulative, dissolute character with a twinkling mystery, is great as always, but it’s the oft-maligned Basinger who sticks in the mind. Her pained, weary woman is hiding the requisite dark secret past, and over the course of the movie, Basinger reminds you that, in the right roles (Fool for Love, L.A. Confidential), she can be very affecting. It’s an odd little movie with some good performances and, in its truncated scope, still contains enough Irving-ian plot twists to be entertainingly surprising.
>>>For Sunday, an Anonymous Videoport Customer* suggests Martyrs (in Horror.) I’m so bummed out that I haven’t seen any mention of this horror gem (cache, I believe would be a better word) from sorta-newcomer Pascal Laugier (whose other film Saint Ange, aka House of Voices, Videoport needs to own so I can see it**) in the VideoReport.(Although I could have missed it- I’ve only been a faithful-ish reader for a
coupla months now.) Regardless, somebody needs to shed some light on this film. Now, I’m not going to tell you that, once seen, this movie will make you better for the experience. The Story: Kinda: two orphan girls form an inseparable bond after one’s escape from her captors, where she was kept in a dark and violent place. Years later, swift, brutal justice is delivered at the hands of the now-grown and very afflicted protagonist (?) I hate paraphrasing, especially when the film in question is all about the delivery. As a lover of movies, I never want to spoil it for anyone. But I’ll tell you that with this film, you don’t see 90% of it coming. But you feel 118% of it. Nothing in this film happens easily, even if it does happen in a quick and brutal manner. I was completely immersed in the separate emotions and agendas of the two women. Although their history together is only a couple of brief moments on screen, you feel their connection whole-heartedly. Although we’re only given glimpses of their child abuse (Laughier knows the lethal power of human imagination), we feel that the shotgun-wielding heroine she has become is perfectly justifiable. (The psychotic-contorting-razor-slinging-alter-persona-of-guilt-witch thing helps, too.) “A stunning masterpiece that transcends the genre”- Dread Central. It does. This film just keeps morphing into a horror more unthinkable than the last, throwing a monkey-wrench into the emotional clockwork of the viewer so that you don’t even know which emotion you should be having. This film is one that brings you close and wraps you up and then hurtles you out into the dark with wrappings slowly giving way fold after fold until you’re plunged into the white-hot splendor of awe. I don’t know, I dug it. Pascal Laugier seems like a cool dude in the intro, but if you watch him in the featurettes you can definitely tell that he’s a determined French-director-with-a-vision-who-will-stop-at-nothing-to-complete-his-masterpiece kind of guy. But seriously, though, you guys really need to get Saint Ange (aka House of Voices.)
*Since this review came back tucked into a copy of Martyrs, I could probably have figured out a name, but since it was unsigned, we’re gonna go with ‘anonymous’ on this one. If anonymous wants credit, just let me know. And hey, if anyone else out there, anonymous or, well, nonymous, I guess, wants to submit a movie review, bring it in to the store or send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
**While we can’t have everything at Videoport, we’re sure trying. We’ll see what Videoport’s owner Bill has to say, and if anyone has other suggestions of movies which have already been released on DVD, write ’em down in the purple notebook by the computer in-store.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Police, Adjective (acclaimed Romanian film [from the director of the excellent 12:08, East of Bucharest] about a young cop conflicted about busting a young crook over a small amount of pot), ‘Sons of Anarchy’- Season 3 (the further grimy adventures of everyone’s favorite, cycle-riding antihero gang returns for more moto-mayhem), Forks Over Knives (for fans of Food, Inc, healthy eating or just leafy things in general comes this documentary polemic expounding on the virtues of vegetarianism/veganism; persuasive or insufferable? Rent it and see…), House M.D.- Season 7 (Hugh Laurie continues his very welcome and unlikely TV superstardom with more brilliant, if grumpy, diagnoses), Madea’s Big Happy Family (Tyler Perry’s African American/Christian cottage industry cranks out another preachy, churchy, screechy comedy/drama starring Perry’s cross-dressing alter-ego, the sassy, speechifyin’ Madea), ‘Desperate Housewives’- season 7 (this show is still going on? Huh….), Prom (from the squeaky-clean Disney tween movie factory comes this high school drama about the big dance), ‘Wonders of the Universe’ (what the title says- the BBC once again turns its high-def cameras on the glories of the natural world and so forth, this time narrated by the gravelly gravitas of Brian Cox), ‘Nikita’- season 1 (what sets this action series about a sexy lady assassin apart from its predecessors La Femme Nikita, Point of No Return, and the first “La Femme Nikita” TV series? That would be the incredibly-slinky, enigmatically-named Maggie Q…), ‘Parenthood’- season 2 (many Videoporters swear that this sitcom [based on the old Steve Martin movie] is very funny; I am willing to believe them), Doc Martin: The Movie, and Doc Martin and the Legend of the Cloutie (look to the British Comedy section for two more installments of this BBC series about the curmudgeonly-est doctor in all of England), Red Faction: Origins (based on the long-running video game series [always the true mark of quality], this sci fi action flick is about Mars colonist fighting other Mars colonists…on Mars!), X (an aging hooker recruits a young, rookie hooker to help her out in pulling of just one last job before retirement in this thriller. What could possibly go wrong?), Norwegian Ninja (nutjob Scandinavian action silliness which posits that a real-life Norwegian Cold War traitor was actually the top-secret ninja protector of the nation!), Cherry (indie comedy from Sundance about a 17 year old Harvard freshman falling for a 34 year old woman and being fallen for by her 14 year old daughter), If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (thought-provoking documentary about the infamous radical environmental group/terrorist organization), Cell 211 (searing Spanish thriller about a young prison guard, trapped in a vicious riot, who must pose as a prisoner to emerge alive), Let the Bullets Fly(legendarily-awesome and charismatic Chow
Yun Fat returns as a bandit chief who pretends to be a remote towns new mayor, only to get caught up in defending it against a local warlord; there’s no one cooler than Chow Yun Fat- remember that.)
The Greatest Documentaries of All-Time(?) Checklist!
The New York Times recently compiled its picks for the top fifty documentaries ever made. Here’s what it looks like:
50. Spellbound (2002)
49. Truth or Dare (1991)
48. The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002)
47. One Day in September (1999)
46. Little Dieter Needs to Fly (1998)
45. The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (1988)
43. When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts (2006)
42. Catfish (2010)
41. The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters (2007)
40. When We Were Kings (1996)
39. Biggie & Tupac (2002)
38. March of the Penguins (2005)
37. Inside Job (2010)
36. Taxi to the Dark Side (2007)
35. Paragraph 175 (2000)
34. Brother’s Keeper (1992)
33. Tongues Untied (1989)
32. Dogtown and Z-Boys (2001)
31. Jesus Camp (2006)
30. Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)
29. Man on Wire (2008)
28. Gasland (2010)
26. Murderball (2005)
25. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
24. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (1996)
23. The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2000)
22. Shut Up & Sing (2006)
21. Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010)
20. Capturing the Friedmans (2003)
19. Touching the Void (2003)
18. Food, Inc. (2008)
17. Street Fight (2005)
16. Bus 174 (2002)
14. Dark Days (2000)
13. The Fog of War (2003)
12. Bowling for Columbine (2002)
11. Paris Is Burning (1991)
10. Grizzly Man (2005)
9. Trouble the Water (2008)
8. An Inconvenient Truth (2006)
7. The Celluloid Closet (1995)
6. The War Room (1993)
5. Supersize Me (2004)
4. Waltz With Bashir (2008)
3. Roger & Me (1989)
2. The Thin Blue Line (1988)
1. Hoop Dreams (1994)
What do you think? What? You haven’t seen them all? Well, unsurprisingly, Videoport has all 50 (and, you know, thousands more.) So, if you’re all stomping mad at the exclusion of your favorites (I’d say no such list
is complete without Fast, Cheap and Out of Control, Gates of Heaven, The Panama Deception, Burden of Dreams, Baseball, Marwencol) then send in your picks to us and we’ll come up with our own Videoport-approved list. And, if you’re looking at this list with a largely-blank look on your face then, well, you’ve got some renting to do!