Volume CCCXXVIII- Horton Hears a Doctor Who
For the Week of 11/29/11
Videoport gives you a free rental with every movie you buy from us. You guys know that, right?
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 the wonderful, wintry wonderland of the Videoport Holiday Movie section (in the Middle Aisle!) Yeah! I hate the “holidays!” Family pressures, travel, the insatiable holiday money-vacuum…but especially “Holiday Movies,” possibly the most horror-filled excuse for a movie genre since video game movies, or even movies based on old TV shows. Just look at this section: I mean, if you’re not six years old (and then, bless you, you little scamp, enjoy animated elves and monkeys and whatnot), then what is there to enjoy about holiday movies. Sure, there are the few “exceptions that prove the rule” (It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, Scrooged, A Charlie Brown Christmas, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th St.,um….), but the rest? Barf. It’s like every Hollywood actor has signed a deal with the devil to have to star in at least one damned Christmas movie at some point in order to keep swimming in their money-jacuzzis, and they’re all so perfunctory, so by-the-playbook. Really, does anyone plunk down with their family for a traditional Xmas eve re-watching of the likes of
Christmas with the Kranks, Surviving Christmas, Four Christmases, All I Want for Christmas, Santa Claus: The Movie, Deck the Halls, Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn’s second Christmas movie- he must have wanted a second money-jacuzzi), Jack Frost, Jingle All the Way, Nothing Like the Holidays, or The Santa Clause 1, 2, or 3? Yeah, didn’t think so. Of course, we at Videoport (perhaps in revenge for our ‘staff picks’ section being taken away until January, always throw in some perversely-subversive holiday anti-favorites like The Junky’s Christmas, Bad Santa, Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, Rare Exports, The Hebrew Hammer and the like, just to keep ourselves sane. (Plus, ask us about our favorite holiday episodes from cool TV shows- I recommend the ‘Buffy’ episode amends.) And, hey, since we’re talking about the dreaded holiday season, here are some ways Videoport can make your shopping that much easier and less painful:
1. Videoport gift certificates make great gifts for movie lovers. That’s obvious.
2. Videoport’s got tons of new and previously-viewed movies for sale. Some are as low as $3.99 apiece, for stocking stuffers or people you just don’t like that much.
3. Videoport can special order any movie in time for Christmas. Plus, we don’t charge shipping or any of that handling boondoggle.
4. For every single movie you buy from Videoport (instead of some soulless corporate chain), you get a free rental for yourself. It’s like a reward for being generous!
5. We have these huge boxes of Jelly Bellys. They just look really good…
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>>Andy suggests Assassination (in Action/Adventure). Here’s another Charles Bronson double feature. Assassination (1987) shares a DVD with Death Wish 4: The Crackdown(also 1987), which you
should obviously watch. You would expect Death Wish V: The Face of Death to be the other movie on the disc, but instead we’re given this other thing from the same producers. Bronson plays an aging Secret Service agent named Cillian Something-or-other, but everyone calls him Killy for short. That’s just a great name for a Charles Bronson character! To Bronson’s credit, he plays an aging Secret Service agent just as convincingly as Clint Eastwood did in In The Line Of Fire, and unlike Clint he didn’t keep saying things like “I’m too old for this.” Killy returns from a vacation just as the presidential administration changes. At the inauguration, Killy, to his surprise, is assigned to protect the First Lady instead of the President. The First Lady, played by Jill Ireland with an unexplained and never-commented-upon British accent, and Killy immediately dislike each other, and the hate continues even after he saves her life during an assassination attempt. But as people keep trying to murder the First Lady, and Killy keeps saving her, a mutual respect and affection develops. It’s up to Killy to figure out who’s trying to kill her: is it a lone wacko who is actually targeting Killy (as in In The Line Of Fire); is it the corrupt Senator Evilguy; is it Killy’s jealous, much, much younger girlfriend; or could it possibly be the President himself? Find out in Assassination, the fun, dumb movie that shares a DVD with Death Wish 4. Bronson kicks people, things blow up, and you will be satisfied.
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 reveling in the glory that is The Big Lebowski (in Comedy.) Has anyone ever adequately explained the power this movie has over us all? I know I haven’t, but I’ll give it a shot. I mean, I actually remember being a little disappointed when I first saw Lebowski in the theater. I didn’t think it was up to my expectations from the Brothers Coen- its dog just seemed a little too shaggy, if you know what I mean. But then I went back and saw it again. And then I watched it again on video. And then I bought it so I could watch it whenever I wanted. And I’ve seen it, I don’t know, some twenty times since. I put it on when I want to laugh. I put it on when I need something weird…and comforting. I put it on when, in some unspoken, mystical confluence, whomever I’m with and myself just agree that it’s Lebowski time. I’m actually starting to think that the Coens are working some sort of long-range hypnotic spell on the planet; I’m sure we’ll all be doing their bidding soon enough. Anyway, I’m not the only one in the Lebowski army, judging by things like the documentary The Achievers (in the Documentary section at Videoport) which details the proliferation of Lebowski-fests dedicated to celebrating the glory of The Big Lebowski, complete with white Russians, bowling, and people dressing up, cosplay-style as The Jesus, Walter, Donnie, Maude, the Nihilists, and, of course, the Dude. Think I’m making it up? Well then head out to Portland’s own Lebowski -fest “Viva Lebowski” on Saturday, December 3rd at Bayside Bowl. (See http://baysidebowl.com for details.) And, if we are all indeed under some sort of Lebowski thrall, at least we can all be sure to, like the Dude, abide…
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests you get twice the bang for your buck by watching a classic show-within-a-show show TV show show… wait, I may have struck my head. Showshowshowsho—. Ahem. Okay, here goes. Try these TV shows that highlight a show-within-a-show: “Greg the Bunny,” “Sports Night,” “Michael and Michael Have Issues,” “30 Rock” and its vanquished doppelganger “Studio 60,” “The Hour,” “Terminal City,” “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Space Ghost Coast to Coast,” or “The Larry Sanders Show” show show show — wait, there I go again. Ahem. Then there are some great off-beat TV shows about non-TV shows, like “Slings & Arrows” (about a theatre company) and “News Radio” (about, y’know, news radio), and “The Muppet Show” show show show — crikey! Or delve into the world of never-aired, epically-long, inexplicably produced mockumentaries like “The Office” (U.S. and U.K.), “Parks & Rec,” “Trailer Park Boys,” “Modern Family,” and “Reno 911.”
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Dennis suggests MUPPETS!!! Now that Jason Segel has realized his lifelong dream of bringing the Muppets back to the big screen (and, by all accounts, has done a great job of it), everyone’s flocking to the kids section to get all Muppetty all over again. You’ve got The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Muppets Take Manhattan (which are all great.) If you want, you can throw in The Muppet Christmas Carol– it’s the only decent post-Jim Henson Muppet thingy, mainly because of Michael Caine’s Scrooge. Avoid all other Muppet products, however- those are not the real Muppets, and they’ll bum you out.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, former Videoporter Stockman suggests some Thanksgiving leftovers with Pieces of April(in Feature Drama.) I watch this every year at Thanksgiving because it’s a beautiful and poetic movie. This movie is built on the classic platform of Thanksgiving films everywhere (well everywhere meaning the United States). A dysfunctional family is planning to get together to celebrate the holiday. April is the “first pancake” of the family, she’s the first kid that gets everything wrong and screws
everything up as opposed to her much superior and better loved younger siblings. As she turns her life around, living in New York City with a new beau, she offers to host Thanksgiving. We watch the story unfold in equal parts from the family driving the epic hours to get there, April trying to pull the perfect meal together despite a busted oven, and her beau Bobby as he searches for the perfect Thanksgiving Day attire. It’s a quiet movie, filmed with “I am an indie feature” stamped across its proverbial forehead. It doesn’t go the wacky family route. It is without a doubt the more serious character driven route, though not without its light heartedness, so don’t worry that the movie is overwhelmingly depressing and morbid (though in all fairness the Mom is dying of cancer). I’m not sure I’m making a great case for it anymore, so I’ll use this as an opportunity to just lay it all on the line and admit that Katie Holmes plays April. Whatever your feelings towards her, she does a damn fine job in this film at least. Whatever your feelings at this point, this is a sweet and loving movie, with all the staple sentiments of the holiday well written, well acted and well directed. Layered with silence broken only by a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack, this movie reduces me to cathartic tears of love and thanks giving every time.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Accidental Tourist (in Feature Drama.) This is the perfect William Hurt role. I like the guy, but there’s always been something of the weirdball alien about him- like he’s studying human behavior and he’s allllmost got it. In The Accidental Tourist, that slightly-unnerving remove finds a perfect home in the character of Macon Leary, an emotionally closed-off
writer of travel books for people who hate to travel. Hurt’s innate oddness meshes heartbreakingly with Macon’s gradual withdrawal from wife Kathleen Turner and life in general; we find out there’s a terrible reason for his gathering depression, but Hurt also conveys the sense that that event merely accelerated a desperately-disconnected man’s descent into isolation (especially when we meet his equally-eccentric and sheltered adult siblings, played with achingly-sad vulnerability by Ed Begley Jr, David Ogden Stiers, and Amy Wright.) Just as it seems inevitable that Macon will be sucked back in to his family’s hermetic existence of alphabetized dry goods and incomprehensible card games, he’s forced to interact with someone completely outside of his deliberately-limited experience, dog trainer Muriel Prtichett. Played by Geena Davis (she won an Oscar), Muriel is, on the one hand, just another ‘manic pixie dream girl’ (the cliched ‘free spirit’ who loosens up the uptight male protagonist), yet Davis’ performance turns her into something truly unique and, in her own way as heartbreaking as Macon. The movie (based on the novel by Anne Tyler) provides the wholly-unlikely Macon/Muriel pairing with colors and levels (like class difference) that most American relationship dramas don’t even think exist. And Davis just knocks her role out of the park, matching Hurt at every turn. Add to it John Williams’ unbearably-moving score (I’d call it a dark horse pick for his best), and The Accidental Tourist is guaranteed, no matter how many times I see it, to rip my face off. You know, artistically-speaking.
New Releases This Week at Videoport: The Smurfs (we all allowed this to happen; we all must bear some of the blame…), ‘Smallville’- season 10 (is he Superman yet? I mean, he’s pushing 40 at this point, isn’t he?), Friends with Benefits (Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis try to prove that two friends can have sex without commitment, and also that they didn’t just xerox the script from No Strings Attached and pass it off as a whole new movie), ’30 Rock’- season 5 (if you don’t watch this show, you’re not as complete a person as you could be; rectify that, will you?), Cave of Forgotten Dreams (Werner Herzog takes his cameras on a journey into a French cave with the oldest cave paintings in the world in this typically-spellbinding documentary), One Day (Anne Hathaway and Jim Stugess play a pair of would-be lovers as we see what they’re up to on the same day each year until they [I’m guessing] end up all together and smoochy), Tucker & Dale vs. Evil (‘Firefly’‘s Alan Tudyk and ‘Reaper’‘s Tyler Labine play a pair of menacing-looking but harmless slack-jawed yokels mistaken for backwoods serial killers by some
peerlessly-douche-y fratboy campers in this clever and bloody horror comedy), 30 Minutes or Less (Jesse Eisenberg has a bomb strapped to his chest by two bumbling bank robbers [Danny McBride and Nick Swardson] in order to get him to do their bidding in this comedy co-starring comedy guy Aziz Ansari), Another Earth (big indie festival mojo for this thoughtful sci fi drama about the discovery of a parallel earth), Our Idiot Brother (ever-cool Paul Rudd stars as the titular hippie sibling whose guileless optimism highlights his sisters’ various problems and unhappinesses in this indie comedy), The Future (everybody loved filmmaker/artist Miranda July’s whimsical first feature Me and You and Everyone We Know, so it’s time to check out her new film, about a couple whose decision to adopt a cat causes them to embark on an increasingly-bizarre and disturbing series of rituals), Vampires (a French comedic take on the whole vampire thing that’s so hot right now, this one follows the travails of a vamp family just tryin’ to get by…), Robot (is the world ready for a Bollywood musical/sci fi/action/romance about a cyborg who falls in love with the daughter of his creator? I dunno- but Videoport sure as hell is, especially when it stars the oh-so-beautiful Aishwarya Rai), 5 Days of War (and American reporter gets stuck in the middle of the brief, yet apocalyptically-brutal Russia/Georgia war; from the director of Cutthroat Island, so you know it’s good…), In the Blood (Maine-made documentary about the brutal, carousin’, insanely-dangerous life of early Maine lumbermen and river drivers.)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Our Idiot Brother, Trainspotting, Jackie Brown.
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