Volume CCCXVI- The Sequelizer
For the Week of 9/6/11
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. This is not a bad thing, as far as we can tell…
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.)
>>>Dennis suggests ‘Luther’(in Mystery/Thriller.) If there’s one genre of TV shows guaranteed to fly
out of Videoport’s super-cool, wrought iron doors, it’s the British mystery. We keep buying them, and people keep renting them (and bless ’em for it), but, if I were in charge of Brit tourism, I’d be worried that the rest of the world thought that every leafy village lane had a dead body hidden in the hedgerows. Seriously, according to the BBC entertainment division, fully 14% of England’s population are comprised of serial killers, with 27% of the rest made up of cops trying to catch them. (The remaining 59% are just potential victims.) I’m not complaining really, but isn’t it time to just slap a moratorium on cop shows, just for a few years? Throw in lawyer shows and doctor shows as well- just a few years off so that TV writers are forced to come up with something different. Anyway, we should all be glad that prohibition hasn’t swung into effect yet, if only so that we got a chance to catch this series about a London supercop played by super-actor Idris Elba. If you’re a fan of ‘The Wire,’ you know, and are in awe of, Elba’s turn as Baltimore drug lord Stringer Bell. (If you aren’t a fan of ‘The Wire,’ that means you haven’t seen ‘The Wire,’ and are not yet a complete person, so get on that.) Elba, among the utterly remarkable cast of ‘The Wire,’ may be the best actor. He’s undisputedly the most magnetic (well, maybe Omar…) In ‘Luther,’Elba gets to use his real accent as…Luther! John Luther, that is, dedicated, driven, obsessed, etc super-cop. He’s got the requisite problems (wife leaving him, pesky serial killers, and, oh yeah, he may have let one of those serial killers
fall to his death in the opening episode), which is all fine. But it’s all about Elba, really. His John Luther is appropriately insightful, bordering on spookily so, but his intuitive leaps aren’t anything we haven’t seen before- the real attraction to this show is Elba’s intensity. Look at that first episode confrontation with his wife (and an unfortunate door); Elba’s an imposing dude. And while the series makes some, let’s call them ‘odd’ choices along the way (although I do like Ruth Morgan’s creepy, evil-duck-faced Alice Morgan), just watching Elba go through his paces solving things is well worth the rental. So, until the great cop show blackout happens (I’ve written letters) Elba’s your guy.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests The Harder They Fall (in Classics). I enjoy dark movies. The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs, and Double Indemnityare among my very favorites. Sometimes the dark movies cheer me
up when I’m feeling down, as silly as that might sound. A few weeks ago, in a pissy mood on an oppressively hot summer afternoon, I put The Harder They Fall on. Two hours later I felt worse. Here was a movie so cynical, so full of mean-spirited characters and their sucker victims that I went from feelin’ blue to feeling downright hopeless. And it was Humphrey Bogart’s last movie before dying of cancer, so there’s that, too. I love Bogart’s onscreen persona, and often find myself surprised by his range and intensity. He’s played gangsters, heroes, smirking PIs, brutes, and romantics, but I’ve never seen him so righteously indignant in a movie before! In The Harder They Fall, Bogart plays a boxing promoter hired by Nick Benko (Rod Steiger) to steer the career of a no-talent boxer called Toro Moreno. He fixes some fights, promotes the hell out of the guy until he’s a big star, and then they all enjoy the profits. But there’s a problem – poor, dumb Moreno doesn’t know that he’s a terrible fighter; he thinks he’s been legitimately winning the matches. And what’s worse, a real boxer, big bad Buddy Brannen, comes along determined to destroy Moreno in the ring and earn himself the nickname “Killer.” And no one cares. No one sticks up for Toro Moreno. That’s pretty cold. This movie is a real day-ruiner. I still recommend it, since it’s a damn good movie, but you should know what you’re getting in to. If you watched Sweet Smell of Success and thought, “what a fun, breezy comedy!” then you might get a kick out of The Harder They Fall.
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 hearts Claude Rains. The illustrious Dennis recommended Casablanca recently, quoting his favorite oh snappable line! My favorite line(s) from this movie, which I first watched on the big screen back when The State theatre played old movies, was from Claude Rains as Captain Renault:
Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?
Captain Renault: I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!
Croupier: Your winnings, sir.
Captain Renault: Oh, thank you very much.
If you’ve ever loved witty banter you should thank your lucky stars for movies in the late 30’s and
throughout the 40’s, because there was the birthplace of well timed and delivered wit. Well, in movies that is, I hear rumor them newfangled book things were doing it for awhile beforehand, but that’s just a rumor! The point is Claude Rains continuously pops into some of my favorite old movies of all time with characters of depth and range. He was truly a Renaissance man of acting. Does that end up defeating the point of the phrase Renaissance man? Meh, I’m running with it. Not only do I agree with Dennis that you should give Casablanca a try, but I vote throw in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Notoriousas well! Hell, you have so many free options you could make it a September Tuesday Triassic thing, go all out on a weekend and get all three, grab them on a Wednesday plus a disc of a tv show to break up all the black and white. I know, black and white is daunting, and these movies have the timing of old movies for sure. But believe me, it’s always worth it. If you can have the patience there is always a payoff. Try to find pleasure in the sweet and slow anticipation. Like foreplay, I promise these movies
deliver the goods in the end. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington features Claude in what I will forever refer to as “The Worst Guilt Trip Ever”. Notorious gives you the quintessential Hitchcock MacGuffin as well as the bonus of sexy spies including the magically delicious Cary Grant, who to me is reason enough even without Claude! Who, by the way, is also the name of my stuffed camel. No, that’s not a euphemism.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.) >>>Elsa S. Customer clears up a few things: The Red Shoes (1948- in the Criterion Collection) is the much-lauded Powell & Pressburger drama about a ballerina who struggles to find a balance between her artistic obsession and the demands of romance. The Red Shoes (2005-in the Assorted Asian Exploitation section) is a Korean horror flick about some non-specifically-haunted stiletto pumps that are even worse for your feet than unhaunted stilettos (and that AREN’T EVEN RED, YOU GUYS). 28 Days (in Feature Drama) stars Sandra Bullock as an alcoholic reporter struggling through four weeks in a recovery ward. 28 Days Later (in Horror) stars Cillian Murphy as a recently-comatose survivor struggling through post-apocalyptic London after a devastating outbreak of rage virus. David Cronenberg’s Crash (1996- in Mystery/Thriller)) features James Spader, Deborah Kara Unger, Holly Hunter, Rosanna Arquette, and Elias Koteas in a jaw-dropping exploration of a verrrrrrrry specific paraphilia, based on an equally jaw-dropping novel by J.G. Ballard. Crash (2004- in Feature Drama) stars Don Cheadle, Sandra Bullock, and a whole lotta other people pointing out that racism is bad. Monsters (in Sci Fi/Fantasy) is a moody, small-scale tale following two stranded Americans trekking through a Central American territory occupied by mysterious creatures. Monster (in Feature Drama) features Charlize Theron as notorious serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Monsters, Inc. (in the Kids section) is the adorable Pixar film in which fuzzy-wuzzy monsters creep harmlessly through children’s closet doors. Mr. and Mrs. Smith (in Classics) is a romantic comedy directed by Alfred Hitchcock (I know, right?) featuring the luminous Carole Lombard. Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005- in Action/Adventure) features Brangelina as married assassins. And for goodness sake, if you’re renting a movie for your small kids, make sure you get The AristoCATS, okay?
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 Secret Garden (1993.) If you read the book first, you’ll see that Mrs. Medlock is very different. And they changed a bunch of stuff. In the book they [Mary’s parents] had cholera, but in the movie it was an earthquake. And I am so glad that she went to Misselthwaite. Because in the beginning she was a brat and if she didn’t go there, she would still be awful But since she did go to Misselthwaite she was a very nice person., My advice says: you should watch the movie first and then read the book.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Friday the 13th- the Remake (in Horror) for purely educational reasons. Yeah, I watched this. So sue me. “People are being killed in such a desultory fashion.”- Ms Elsa S. Customer. Okay, reasons to watch this movie: um… none. Reasons to even remotely care about this movie: umm, well Jared Padalecki from ‘Supernatural’is in it. That’s a decent show…that you should
watch instead of this. Ryan Hansen from ‘Party Down’ is in this. That is an absolutely hilarious show that you should watch instead of this. And it’s funny to think that Kyle, his prettyboy aspiring actor character in ‘Party Down,’ would be cast as exactly the same kind of vapid, easily-disposable nitwit in a completely-unnecessary horror remake like this- and would end up with an arrow though his head. Seriously, who could enjoy this movie? I mean, the original wasn’t a classic (it’s about 40% as good as the original Halloween, for example), but it’s got a certain grimy, sleazy edge to it that’s intermittently effective. This thing is so patently, cynically-crappy that I can’t imagine anyone being scared, grossed out, titillated, or in any way entertained by it. Sure, it thankfully embraced its inevitable R rating, eschewing the ludicrous, teen-friendly PG-13, and tossing in a not-insignificant array of boobs, drugs, and bloody boobs and drugs, but the whole enterprise is so heartlessly, coldly calculated that you can practically see the corporate suits ticking off the checklist as it plods along. Horror movies, for all their faults as a genre in general, at least used to have the capacity to freak you out, to make you uneasy, to tingle that part of you that craves something transgressive and truly disreputable once in a while. This Michael Bay-produced, financially-mandated non-event is everything that’s wrong with modern horror. It’s lazy, perfunctory, and completely forgettable. Ask your favorite Videoport clerk for a better horror movie recommendation; they should only be able to come up with a hundred or so better choices. “I sat and watched this, and I found myself angry at everyone in the credits. Except for craft services; you can’t blame craft services for this.”- Ms. Elsa S. Customer.
>>>For Sunday, Ms. Elsa S. Customer suggests Romancing the Stone (in Action/Adventure) on general principles. Robert Zemeckis’ ’80s romp has its flaws (especially that it chased so hard after the legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark but utterly failed to catch up) but at heart it’s just a ripping yarn, a splashy, silly send-up of romance novels. Really, how much can you complain about anything that showcases the delicious Kathleen Turner (Body Heat, Who Framed Roger Rabbit)? Here she stars as the prim, bookish author (of romance novels, natch!) who reluctantly steps into adventure with a rakish crook (inexplicable mega-star Michael Douglas, before his transformation into a lizard was complete) to save her sister’s life. Watch (or re-watch) it now before Fox pollutes your mind with the proposed remake, which threatens to “star” Blah and Bland Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Perfect Host (‘Frasier’‘s David Hyde Pierce stars in this creepy, Sleuth-style thriller about a criminal breaking into a rich guy’s house to hide out, only to find out that his host might just be more creepy than he thought), In a Better World (winner of the 2010 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, this Danish drama follows the troubling friendship of two young boys whose childish revenge plan brings some serious consequences), True Adolescents (indie dramedy starring ‘The League’ creator [and mumblecore maven] Mark Duplass as an aging slacker rocker whose arrested development gets put to the test when his lax chaperoning of a camping trip gets dire), Vidal Sassoon: The Movie (documentary about the shampoo guy), Little Big Soldier (Jackie Chan is back in this Chinese action comedy about an old soldier who kidnaps a young enemy general and tries to bring him in for a reward), Hanna (the girl from The Lovely Bones plays a 16 year old super-assassin in this fast-paced action thriller starring Eric Bana and Cate Blanchette), X Men: First Class (NOTE: this comes out on Friday, 9/9!!!- after the debacle that was the third X Men film, the powers that be took the franchise away from hack Brett Ratner and gave it to Matthew Vaughn [Layer Cake] for this prequel about how the superhero mutant team first got together under the dueling mentorships of Micheal Fassbender and James McAvoy), Everything Must Go(Will Ferrell makes an ambitious foray into dramatic leading man
territory [and pulls it of to heartbreaking effect] in this adaptation of a Raymond Carver story about a suburban guy who gets fired, thrown out of his house, and then decides to hold a days-long, drunken, self-destructive yard sale of all the possessions his wife put out on the front lawn), ‘Community’- season 2 (huge TV week at Videoport begins with the second season of this utterly-winning sitcom about a gaggle of comical misfits attending community college; seriously, only people who hate laughter and joy should skip this show), ‘Fringe’- season 3 (continuing on with Videoport’s TV extravaganza this week with the new season of this compellingly-weird sci fi show about a mad scientist, his son, the FBI agent, X Files-y weirdness, monsters, parallel worlds, and all that fun stuff; starring the excellent John Noble as Walter Bishop, one of TV history’s most endearingly-mad scientists), ‘The Office’- season 7(TV!!! Videoport loves it!! Tune in for Michael Scott’s last season!), Parks and
Recreation’- season 3 (man, more great TV this week, with the brilliant Amy Poehler returning as the ever-ambitious, slightly-less-capable Lesley Knope, head of the titular Indiana public works department; just hilarious…), ‘Children’s Hospital’- seasons 1 & 2 (oh my goodness, look at the cast: of this absurd medical comedy: Ken Marino, Rob Corddry, Megan Mullaly, Rob Huebel, Michael Cera, Henry Winkler, and on and on- it’s like someone assembled a comedy dream team, just for our benefit), ‘Zen’- season 1 (Rufus Sewell brings his pop-eyed suavity to this BBC detective series about a stylish Italian snoop), ‘The Good Wife’- season 2 (Juliana Margulies is back as the ambitious wife of a disgraced politician; good cast, and a good show, from what I’m told), ‘No Ordinary Family’- season 1 (and then there’s this one, a sci fi superhero series about the titular fam who wake up with superpowers; it does star Dexter’s wife and Detective Vic Mackey, so that’s something…)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Heaven Help Us (Videoport continues to restock all the r-rated teen comedies you used to watch on Cinemax with this 1985 Catholic school comedy with the very 80s cast: Andrew McCarthy, Kevin Dillon, Mary Stuart Masterson, Patrick Dempsey, and Stephen Geoffreys), Lonely Are the Brave (Kirk Douglas, Gena Rowlands, and Walter Matthau star in this elegiac 1962 Western about an aging modern cowboy trying to hold on to some dignity in the face of modern life.)
New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Cars, In a Better World, Hanna.