Volume CCCXXXIV- The Men Who Stare at Gamera
For the Week of 1/10/12
Videoport gives you a free movie every day, has the best selection anywhere, a helpful and knowledgeable staff, and is locally-owned and proud of it. Or, you know, you could wait a few days for some crappy DVD in the mail, or have one spit out of a vending machine like gum. You know, your choice…
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 “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (in Horror.) Since your editor has [stepped up/caved in/wised up] and suggested the wry high-school mystery series “Veronica Mars” (see below), I’m going to follow suit and suggest two of my favorite high-school series. Like “Veronica Mars,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” takes full advantage of the broad casting and diverse problems that crop up in a community of high school kids, but unlike VM, “BtVS” manages to play on a sentiment close to the heart of many high-schoolers. Hey, kid, you’re right: high school actually is Hell. Or, y’know, built on a Hellmouth. Whichevs. It’s such a great central conceit: all the small passing dramas and tensions and humiliations seem so earth-shattering and mortally wounding to a teenager. In “BtVS,” those daily dramas are literally earth-shattering and literally mortally wounding… but they can be overcome with the support and understanding of your friends and maybe an adult mentor.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Monkey Business (in Classics), if only for Groucho’s line, “Oh, why can’t we break away from all this, just you and I, and lodge with my fleas in the hills? I mean… flee to my lodge in the hills.” You’d be surprised how often that line works…
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental OR get four non-new releases for a week for only 7 bucks!)
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Freaks & Geeks” (in Comedy.) ‘Freaks & Geeks’is a more realistic look
at high school than either “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Veronica Mars” — or any other high school show I’ve seen. Forget the Luke Perrys and Kristen Bells; there are no model-gorgeous or impossibly sophisticated teenagers here, just a believable cast of 1980s misfits and schlubs trying to fit themselves into the world somehow. Lindsay’s (Linda Cardellini) introduction is both simple and complex: she was a scholar, a Mathlete, an all-around goody-goody until a high-school-appropriate existential crisis knocked her off the straight-and-narrow college-prep track. She starts stepping outside the boundaries of her strait-laced life and looking for something more… even if that just means hanging out in the smoking area with the burnouts and the freaks. (And what a cast of future stars her new friends are: Jason Segel, James Franco, Seth Rogan.) The geeks are just as believable: Lindsay’s little brother (John Francis Daley, now on “Bones”) and his friends (Samm Levine and Martin Starr) really capture the small magic of youthful friendship, and also the daily heartbreaks of growing up. It’s a pitch-perfect show, angsty and hilarious, packed with completely believable coming-of-age drama, and with a soundtrack to match.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests The Station Agent(in Feature Drama.) I’m delighted that
Peter Dinklage is getting recognized for his noteworthy acting now that Game of Thrones is super hip. The Station Agent is where I first fell in love with the delightful Peter Dinklage. Who incidentally, I would like to ravish me, preferably in a field of wildflowers. That man has some serious charisma and I think I’m woman enough to handle it, preferably in a field of wildflowers. He plays a very stoic man in The Station Agent, which of course just makes me want him more because who doesn’t love being that special person to sneak past a stoic persons defenses! In place of actually being that person, The Station Agent offers you the opportunity to at least watch that person, or people as the case may be. This movie is character driven and since the main three characters are all nuanced and awesome then all is as it should be to create an awesome movie! I find it refreshing to see a movie revolving around relationships where romance takes a back burner to friendship. The ace in the hole for this movie is the character Joe, who is as ridiculously endearing as a fluffy golden retriever puppy bringing you a squeaky toy. If the character were in Game of Thrones or something equally nerdy he would be described as “pure of heart” and could so something charming and endearing that only the pure of heart can do. It would save the day.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>It’s a free movie. You’ll watch it.
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests ‘Veronica Mars’(in Feature Drama.) Okay, okay- Former Videoporter Stockman’s relentless campaign of inter-stalking and long-distance badgering has, as ever, borne fruit.
(Seriously, if she ever sets her sights on you, prepare to do her bidding.) So the lovely Ms. Elsa S. Customer and I have, as ordered, started watching ‘Veronica Mars,’ the high-school-set detective series starring the tiny, spunky Kristen Bell as the tiniest, blond-est, spunkiest high-school sleuth since the legendary Buffy, slayer of vampires. And the verdict? Let’s go to the list:
1. Veronica is one of the few decent female role models on tv. (Oh wait, the show got cancelled, so not any more.) She’s smart, brave, funny, and Kristin Bell does a good job of making Veronica seem like something more than a male writer’s idea of an ideal girl.
2. I seriously can’t tell most of the supporting characters apart. Especially the blond, white ones- which is most of them. I think the writers clued into this fact, because after a while they all seem to start greeting each returning minor character by throwing in some introductory remarks: “Well, Cassidy/Jordan/Tiffany/Chad, I never thought you’d talk to me again after that time we made out/witnessed that murder/hooked up/I roofied you.” Slight exception to Jason Dohring who starts off as yet another Aryan-looking rich kid but who becomes more interesting (he has sort of a douche-y Edward Norton vibe.)
3. Kristin Bell really is good. On the surface, she, like Buffy‘s Sarah Michelle Gellar, is just another thin, pretty, blonde tv presence, but, like Gellar, Bell creates a multilayered character, and proves herself able to really knock it out of the park on occasion. Also like Gellar, I’m not particularly interested in following Bell into the movies (although she was pretty good in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), but Sam ensures me she’s really funny on Twitter, and she does have a new gig on tv alongside Don Cheadle, so those are good signs.
4. The mysteries are okay- certainly not as lazy as something like ‘Monk’ (which should be sent to remedial tv mystery camp), and Veronica is certainly a solid (and spunky) detective. Each season has an overarching big case, but that leaves plenty of time for more light-hearted ‘case of the week’ high school stuff. Sometimes the big picture seems to get lost, but it’s generally still a lot of fun.
5. The relationship between Veronica and her ex-cop detective dad Enrico Colantoni is one of the most warm and convincing father/daughter pairings ever on tv. They’re both good detectives, they compliment each others’ skills, and he’s not just there to get shown up- he’s a real dad.
6. Class Warfare! I can’t think of a ‘pop’ tv show that is more about class and justice inequality in America than this one. Veronica attends Neptune High, sun-drenched bastion of the wealthy progeny of a tony California town where literally every rich family is either evil or very susceptible to evil. The kids are all blond and smug and utterly contemptuous of the poor, the different, or, especially, the California school’s Mexican population. Veronica wends her way through this supercilious world of privilege, ferreting out one dirty, venal secret after another, and while once in a while a culprit might turn out to be not a rich douchebag, the show presents a world where the haves are mean, sneaky, contemptuous, and ruthless, and any hope of justice for the have nots rests on a particular pair of blonde, birdy shoulders.
7. The creators of the show went on to create ‘Party Down’ (which is one of the funniest shows you’ll ever see, by the way), and it’s fun to spot all the crossovers of talented people like Ken Marino, Jane Lynch, Colantoni, Steve Gutenberg, Ryan Hansen, Adam Scott, and Bell herself. Plus, VM drew in people from other cool tv universes, like ‘Freaks and Geeks’, ‘The State,’ ‘The Wire’ and the Buffyverse. All the cool kids wanted to come over and play.
8. Always do what Stockman says. Seriously.
>>>For Sunday, Various Videoporters chime in with some recommendations via our Facebook page “Videoport Jones!”
-Sam Z. says, “Both Zodiac and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo were about forty minutes too long. It only worked for Zodiac.” He also adds, “Here’s my four-word review of VideoPort: “Sadly unavailable in Philadelphia.” To which we reply, it’s your fault for moving, dude.”
-Kimmy W. chimes in with “Contagion is great! Salvation Boulevard is great movie too!” Look for Contagion in the Mystery/Thriller section. Look for Salvation Boulevard when it comes out, TBA.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Moneyball (like with The Social Network, you don’t have to care about the subject itself [baseball in this case] to really enjoy this drama about the way Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane revolutionized the way underfunded baseball teams
evaluated players; Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill and Philip Seymour Hoffman all do great work), ‘Boardwalk Empire’- season 1 (Steve Buscemi stars in this HBO series about the natty crimelord of Atlantic City’s Prohibition-era shenanigans; costarring Michael Pitt, Kelly Macdonald, and ‘The Wire’s’ own Omar Little,
Michael K. Williams), Killer Elite (screen tough guy triumvirate Robert DeNiro, Clive Owen and Jason Statham get all weaponed up for this action-packed tale of hired spies/assassins out for revenge and so forth), What’s Your Number? (Anna Faris decides Cosmo has something to teach her and revisits all of the 19 guys she’s slept with in this rom-com that Videoport’s Regan swears is slightly better than it looks; at some point, Ana Faris should try starring in movies that don’t have to be described that way…), The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (let’s see if I can get this right…this is the second sequel to a spinoff from a sequel- is that right? Man…anyway, it’s got Ron Perlman and Billy Zane in it, so that’s…something…),‘An Idiot Abroad’-
season 1 (okay, first, rent the hilarious ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’ in the Comedy section. Done? Now check out this live action series about the travelogue adventures of Gervais’ podcast sidekick, the bewilderingly-uncurious Kark Pilkington; either this guy is completely bereft of all human joy and emotion or he’s engaging in a lifelong put-on that makes Andy Kaufman look like Carot Top), There Be Dragons (director Roland Joffe [The Killing Fields] attempts a comeback with this similarly-wrenching historical drama about a journalist delving into the deep, dark secrets of his father during the Spanish Civil War), Higher Ground (Vera Farmiga [The Departed] directs and stars in this drama about a woman whose spiritual crisis causes a stir in her tight-knit religious community), The Electric Daisy Carnival Experience (documentary about the most prestigious electronic music festival in the world), Saving Private Perez (delightfully-insane Mexican film about a ragtag gang of Mexican desperadoes banding together to free a drug lord’s brother form and Iraqi prison), 1911 (Jackie Chan starts acting his age, directing and starring in this historical epic about the overthrow of the last Chinese dynasty and the founding of modern China; I am told he does not kick very many people…), Protektor (from the Film Movement people [look for the Film Movement shelf in the staff picks section!] comes this WWII drama about a Czech radio worker who broadcasts Nazi propaganda in order to try and protect his Jewish wife…in a well thought-out plan…), Sinners and Saints (there’s a serial killer and a gang war tearing up New Orleans, and only the ridiculously-named Johnny Strong can save it, along with a truly weird gang of costars including Tom Berenger, Method Man, Jurgen Prochnow, the guy from the Boondock Saints, and that chick who played a Vulcan), Younger Next Year: The New Science of Aging (documentary about, well, you read the title…), ‘Through the Wormhole’- seasons 1&2 (Morgan Freeman’s mellifluous tones lead us gently into the world of theoretical physics in this science documentary series), Puncture (Captain America himself, Chris Evans, stars as a drug-addicted young lawyer trying to uncover some medical shenanigans whilst keeping it together in this true story), ‘Eureka’- season 4 (the sci fi series about a tiny town where the government stores all its mad scientists continues), Frontline: Lost in Detention (you know how our country detains people without probable cause in direct defience of all those pesky principles we supposedly hold dear? Yeah…)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Design for Living (the Criterion Collection gives the deluxe DVD treatment to this ahead-of-its-time 1933 film about an independent woman [Miriam Hopkins] who, unable to decide between Frederic March and Gary Cooper, invites them all to live together…in the same house!!! In 1933!!), Intruder in the Dust (based on the William Faulkner novel, this To Kill a Mockingbird-esque drama is about two teenaged boys and an elderly woman banding together to bring a black man’s wrongful conviction to light; look for it in Videoport’s Classics section), Creator (this largely-forgotten 80’s comedy about an eccentric professor out to bring his dead wife back to life is well worth your time for Peter O’Toole’s magnificent lead performance; look for a review in next week’s VideoReport to convince you), The Hellstrom Chronicle (like bugs? Well check out this 1971 documentary wherein a scientist explains how, if bugs ever got their act together, they could totally take over the world and eat us and stuff…), Marley & Me: The Puppy Years (all the cute dog stuff of Marley & Me– none of that pesky dog death!), Bratz Passion 4: Fashion Diamondz (will your child be taken away by the state of you rent this for him/her? Let’s find out…)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Apollo 18, Final Destination 5, Moneyball, Higher Ground, ‘Boardwalk Empire’- season 1, Killer Elite, Contagion, Scarface, The Guard, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Shark Night.
Andy’s Top 10 of 2011:
2. The Social Network
4. Louis C.K.: Hilarious
5. The Debt
6. Cave of Forgotten Dreams
7. Rabbit Hole
8. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
9. The Fighter
10. Red State
Regan Eldridge’s List of My Most Favoritest of 2011
–Barney’s Version. I laughed. I cried. Sam cried more.
–The Other Guys. If it came down to which movie I’ve seen most in 2011, it would be this one. 50% of you will hate it.
Regan’s Really Terrible S**t of 2011
-Any Adam Sandler movie
Any Katherine Heigl movie