Volume CCCXXXV- I Powerwalked With a Zombie
For the Week of 1/17/12
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Oh, and free money (with our payment plans.) Right, and free parking at any downtown garage. Oh, I forgot- we’ve also got the best selection of movies anywhere, employees who know everything about movies, and are locally-owned and independent. Man, I’m just gonna say it- Videoport’s got it going on…
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 Velvet Goldmine (in the Incredibly Strange section.) Writer-director Todd Haynes (I’m Not There, Safe) intended Velvet Goldmine to tell the story of David Bowie’s rise to fame, but Bowie refused his approval — and songs — when he realized the script focused on a largely-fictionalized account of his sexual exploits and public persona rather than his musical career. Haynes made a virtue of necessity, rewriting and reframing the narrative. What could have been a mere bio-pic became instead a wider statement about the consuming nature of fame and power. Fittingly, it follows the structure of Orson Welles’ notoriously not-a-bio-pic Citizen Kane: reporter Arthur Stuart (Christian Bale) is tapped to investigate the disappearing act of former rock idol Brian Slade, the glammest of the glam, whose most outrageous stage act drove him into obscurity. As in Kane, the reporter tries to divine the icon’s history at second-hand, struggling to assemble the glib or sorrowful gossip of Slade’s scattered coterie into a coherent history. Unlike Kane, Velvet Goldmine ties the reporter’s personal narrative to the subject’s, expressing the slippery way we incorporate famous personas into our own histories, consuming the energy of those we admire or emulate, eroding their identities in favor of our own projections. Velvet Goldmineshows us the grime under a layer of glitter, the sordid soul-drain that fame can become. It could have been dreary or didactic, but instead the film is a giddy tissue of visual tales, richly laced with a soundtrack of glam-rock’s greatest hits, original and reworked (and notably minus any David Bowie).
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Andy suggests Nicholas Cage’s 2011 output: Drive Angry, Season of the Witch (both in the Action/Adventure section), and Trespass(in the Mystery/Thriller section). Poor Nic Cage. As most of
us know, he’s fallen on hard personal and financial times. That’s really none of our business, except that we continue to watch the movies he makes, and it’s likely that if he was in a better financial situation, he would be choosier when it comes to his film projects. Sure, he had his artistic successes this past decade (Adaptation, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans), as well as several good entertainments (Lord of War,
Kick-Ass), but those high points have been dwarfed by all that pure crap (Ghost Rider, Bangkok Dangerous, The Wicker Man, and more). Two thousand eleven was not Mr. Cage’s most distinguished year. Take Trespass for example. It must have looked good on paper: a home invasion thriller starring Cage and Nicole Kidman, and directed by old pro Joel Schumacher. Unfortunately, if anything distinguishes Trespass, it’s that it is the least suspenseful home invasion thriller I’ve ever seen. Schumacher seems completely out of touch with real people with real lives. The house being invaded is a production designer’s dream, not a lived-in home. And while Cage, Kidman, and the actors who play the thugs give it their all, someone forgot to write characters for them. Oh well. Season of the Witch and Drive Angryare easier to enjoy.
They are bad movies, but at least they’re fun. Drive Angry is pure trash. It’s full of over the top violence and sex (in one scene, simultaneously), car chases, and sneering, snarling attitude. And if that’s not enough, it was originally in 3D, so there are lots of gimmicky effects. I enjoyed every minute of it. Season of the Witch isn’t as nasty and stylish as Drive Angry, but at least it doesn’t take itself as seriously as Trespass. It stars Cage and Ron Perlman as mercenary knights hired to transport an evil witch (or is she just a misunderstood girl?) from one town to another for some reason. The witch/girl is suspected of causing the Black Death, so she is kept in a cage during the journey. Better safe than sorry! This is just a modest genre film, better described as “not very good” than “bad.” Still, I enjoyed it more than Leaving Las Vegas. Let’s all wish Nic Cage a happy and productive 2012!
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 seven bucks!)
>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests ‘Better Off Ted’ (in Comedy.) In general no matter how much I watch I hold the belief there is always one more elusive pearl of greatness that I’ve missed. So far I’m usually right! I imagine someday I will have wasted so many hours of my life watching movies and television that I will have watched everything good ever, probably a hundred times over. That hundred times over part comes from the pockets between gem unearthing when you’re driven to re-watching something reliably good. That’s because those pockets of time can be brutal! There’s really only so much crap you can wade through before your desperate for quality, even quality you’ve seen many times before. Sometimes though you just aren’t up for watching one of your favorite standards and its during these times you turn to a recent uncovered gem! I’ve been turning a lot to re-watching episodes of Better Off Ted. This show is fast moving from recent ‘fun uncovered gem’ to ‘new standard’! The first time I watched this I thought it was very well done and very clever but nothing I would ever end up re-watching. How wrong I was and how pleased I am to be wrong, because this show gets better with every viewing (the Veridian Dynamics commercials alone are worth the watch)! It’s not necessarily one of those shows like an Arrested Development where re-watching can actually leads you to a brilliant joke you never noticed before. You just start to appreciate more and more the dry wit, the character development, and the truly stellar acting from a great cast including Arrested Development alum Portia De Rossi. The show definitely had the same tone as Arrested Development, so I would recommend it to anyone who was also a fan of that show (thus making you a fan of things that are awesome). It was also underappreciated and cancelled far too soon.
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests The Mindscape of Alan Moore (in Documentary Arts.) Comics nerds everywhere [like me, clearly] worship Alan Moore, creator of Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell, V for Vendetta, and others. Also, his work in such mainstream comics as Swamp Thing and Batman (his graphic novel Batman: The Killing Joke is the definitive Joker story) elevated the art form into something like, well, art. So it was inevitable I’d check out this documentary about Moore’s life, raving fanboy that I am. After watching it, I gotta say- not what I was expecting; sure, he goes into some detail on the creation of his most famous comics creations, but the film is more about letting Moore expound, after some initial biographical details about his difficult childhood in poverty-stricken Northampton, England, on the themes and theories about not only comics, but also the likes of mysticism, technology, fame, and creativity itself. Once I reconciled myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get all the nerdy details I wanted, I was pretty well mesmerized just listening to Moore talk. With his trademark long, curtain-y hair and beard, long and sinister-looking finger-rings, and brightly-glinting eyes peering out from the middle of it all, Moore could easily cut a ridiculous figure, a poser playing at being a mystic. But as you listen to him expound on life, the universe and everything, it’s clear that he’s the smartest guy in the room, no matter what room that might be; I’d love to get Moore, Stephen Fry, and maybe Noam Chomsky together on a chat show sometime- I’m fairly sure they’d solve at least one major societal problem by the end of it. With his odd northern accent (“everything” sounds like “everythink”), Moore sanely dissects a lot of different subjects and sounds eminently rational about even the most farfetched. I mean, I don’t personally have any time for Kabbalah, or the tarot, but I know absolutely that I’d have no chance in an argument with him. A little nerdy, a little psychedelic, and always fascinating.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>A free kids movie, with no other rental necessary?! Why, you’d have to be some sort of monster to complain about that!
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.) Following up on my review last week (in which I conceded that this high school sleuth series was almost as good as Former Videoporter Stockman has been incessantly saying it was), I neglected to mention one thing that cemented by positive reaction. In one episode, spunky heroine Veronica has procured proof, as she is wont to do, of someone’s guilt (or innocence- it’s not really important) and she presents that evidence, in the form of a DVD, to the ever-wrong, unjustly-smug sheriff. Looking kind of like an even-smirkier Seth Meyers, Sheriff Lamb then takes the DVD out of its protective case…AND IMMEDIATELY PUTS HIS FINGERS ALL OVER THE SHINY SIDE!!! Has there ever been a more succinct and eloquent demonstration that a character is a complete and utter idiot, waste of space, and all-around a-hole? I don’t think there is. I mean, think about it- who but a reprehensible, dimwitted, and completely-inconsiderate jackass would take someone else’s precious DVD and smear their fingers all over the shiny side? Only a completely-minor character destined to be ridiculed, mocked, and eventually forgotten would ever mistreat someone else’s DVD like that, right? Man, Stockman was right- this is a good show….
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests revisiting ‘Six Feet Under’ (in Feature Drama.) I originally bailed on this undeniably-great HBO series midway through the last season; frankly, the entire Fisher family became just too unlikeable and it bummed me out. But the lovely Ms. Elsa S. Customer and I just dove back in and on second viewing, even though the Nate-and-Brenda saga still got on my nerves, I gotta say I think it holds together better than I thought. And, if that last episode doesn’t rip your heart out [in a completely original way], then you’re a robot walking among us, and should be captured and studied.
The Videoport Guide to Renting the Golden Globe Winners
-Best Comedy Series- “Modern Family” (in Comedy)
-Best Supporting Actress- Octavia Spencer for The Help (in Drama)
-Best Screenplay- Midnight in Paris (in Drama)
-Best Supporting Actor (TV)- Peter Dinklage for “Game of Thrones” (they’ve only put out the pilot episode so far, but it’s in Sci Fi/Fantasy)
-Best Actor (Miniseries)- Idris Elba for “Luther” (in Mystery/Thriller)
-Best Actress (Miniseries)- Kate Winslet for “Mildred Pierce” (in Feature Drama)
-Best Miniseries- “Downtown Abbey” (in Feature Drama)
-Best Supporting Actor- Christopher Plummer for Beginners (in Feature Drama)
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Ides of March (it’s time for George Clooney to start training his successor in the dreamiest movie star alive category, and what better way than by bringing in Ryan Gosling to star as the idealistic political aide to the Cloon’s seemingly-high-minded presidential candidate; look for Paul Giamatti, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, and Geoffrey Wright in stellar (as usual) supporting roles), Abduction (that Twilight kid who always looks sort of sweetly-simple stars in this thriller about a young guy who discovers that he may have been…wait for it…ABDUCTED as a child. Oh, and he may be some sort of spy, too.), ‘Merlin’- season 3 (check the sci fi/fantasy section for the continuing adventures of the legendary magician as a young wizard, perhaps attending some sort of wizarding academy; look for Anthony Stewart Head from ‘Buffy’ in there, too), Redline (this Japanese animated flick about a futuristic, super-dangerous race, is getting good reviews from the anime nerds/enthusiasts), Courageous (from the same company that brought you the stealth-churchy fireman movie Fireproof comes another stealth-churchy drama, this time about cops fighting bad guys, their own faiths, and, presumably, a woman’s right to choose), Gantz II (Videoport’s Sam recommends this sequel, with more insane sci fi action involving Japanese people bristling with futuristic armor; always do what Sam says), Thurgood (Laurence Fishburne stars in this biopic about the pioneering lawyer and eventual Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall), ‘Delocated’- seasons 1&2 (another hilarious, borderline-insane comedy series from Adult Swim, this one about a family in the witness protection program; starring comedy all-stars like Eugene Mirman and Jerry Minor), Mysteries of Lisbon (critics are falling all over themselves praising this sprawling, 4 1/2 hour epic tale of intertwining lives in 19th century Europe), Dirty Girl (1980’s-set dramedy about the titular high school girl with a bad rep and a closeted boy she befriends in remedial class who set out on a road trip to escape the various prejudices besetting them in Norman, Oklahoma; costarring William H. Macy), Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star (poor Nick Swardson’s attempt to launch his career as a comic leading man [instead of just a wacky supporting player in things like ‘Reno:911’ or 30 Minutes or Less] seems to have hit, shall we say, a little speed bump; this comedy about a wannabe porn star with a really small penis has received the worst reviews of any movie this year, including a nearly unprecedented 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.com. Ouch), Game of Thrones- Episode 1: Winter Is Coming (don’t get too excited- only the polit episode for this totally-awesome HBO sword and sorcery series is being released now; look for the rest in March), Toast (Helena Bonham Carter stars in this whimsical tale of the gastronomical coming-of-age of British culinary writer Nigel Slater), Life 2.0 (documentary about the often-obsessive escapism of the people who play the online simulation Second Life), Romeos (check Videoport’s Pride section for this love story about a young pre-op transgendered man and a gay man in Cologne, Germany.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Ugly Dachshund (Disney kept pairing Dean Jones up with every animal [or sometimes vehicle] they could think of- lions, cats, VW beetles, and here the titular weiner dog.)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Game of Thrones: Episode 1- Winter Is Coming, No Country for Old Men.