Volume CCCXXXVII- The Girl with the Unicorn Tattoo (a much happier movie)
For the Week of 1/31/12
Videoport has all the best movies in the world. We give you a free one every day. We’re local, efficient, cheap, and knowledgeable. All right here in your neighborhood. You lucky dog, 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.)
>>>Dennis suggests Curse of the Demon (in Horror.) One of the moody, creepy, enigmatic horror films of director Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past), Curse of the Demon is one of those films that makes mincemeat out of the argument that old horror films need be unsophisticated in how they deliver their chills. In this 1957 cheapie British-made occult thriller, Touneur shows a restrained sure-handed ability to create uniquely-unnerving setpieces that seem to come from somewhere dreams come from. The same starkly-real yet dissociated imagery, scenes which seem to exist in their own reality, and some just plain neat little touches designed to give you the heebie-jeebies. In this one, Hollywood stalwart Dana Andrews plays an American psychologist come to London debunk the claims of a creepily-bearded cult leader, only to find his yankee stiffness tested by an ever-deepening series of seemingly occult occurrences. It’s the kind of movie that just gets under you skin, and only the studio-imposed less-than-ambiguous last shot leaves you with anything other than the sense that, in the hands of a master craftsman, even a slightly-silly 1950’s horror flick can haunt you for decades.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)
>>> Dennis suggests Point Blank(in Mystery/Thriller, but let’s count it as a free classic, hey?) This 1967
crime thriller is as brutal and single-minded as its protagonist, Lee Marvin, in what I always think of as the quintessential Lee Marvin performance. As Walker, a thug who was double-crossed and is out for the return of a sum of money, Marvin is all steely eyes and crisp white hair as usual, but this time out, it’s all in the service of the most focused and determined quest the movies have ever seen. Walker is owed $93,000. By somebody. And. He. Wants. It. That’s all you have to know about Walker. For this relatively-inconsequential sum, Walker stone-facedly punches, shoots, slaps silly, ambushes, and otherwise terrorizes every level of a California crime syndicate, both scaring the bejeezus out of, and confusing, the likes of Angie Dickinson, John Vernon, Keenan Wynn, and Carroll O’Connor, all of whom at one point or another attempt to figure out what his game is before being painfully convinced of his single-minded goal. He’s like a blunt, silver-headed fist, calmly but resolutely driving towards a goal that, in its implacable simplicity, becomes something almost abstract, almost existential. Just listen to this exchange when Marvin, enacting by-now-accustomed sudden violence on a couple of henchmen, confronts mid-level gangster O’Connor:
-You’re a very bad man, Walker, a very destructive man! Why do you run around doing things like this?
-I want my money. I want my $93,000.
-$93,000? You threaten a financial structure like this for $93,000? No, Walker, I don’t believe you. What do you really want?
-I really want my money.
-Well, I’m not going to give you any money and nobody else is. Don’t you understand that?
-Who runs things?
-Carter and I run things. I run things.
-What about Fairfax? Will he pay me?
-Fairfax isn’t going to give you anything. He’s finished. Fairfax is dead. He just doesn’t know it yet.
-Somebody’s got to pay.
Marvin’s delivery is what sells the scene, and the movie; he isn’t angry when he makes his demand, and (unlike in the weak Mel Gibson remake Payback) he isn’t even especially grim or threatening. He just is. Somebody’s got to pay…
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!)
>>>Dennis suggests Creator(in Comedy.) Videoport can’t have every movie ever made. I mean, we’d like
to, but there simply isn’t enough room and so Videoport will occasionally let a completely-forgettable film or two fall by the wayside if they haven’t rented in a few years and/or they’re completely-worthless. For example, we no longer carry Pauly Shore vehicle Jury Duty; if you are upset about this fact, please submit a request that we replace it in the purple notebook by the computer, and may god have mercy on your soul.) But, very occasionally, something will slip through our fingers that, despite complete and total customer neglect, holds certain definite, if not immediately-recognizable rewards. Which brings us to Creator (which we recently replaced on DVD, having not had the VHS copy for about a decade- I think someone special ordered it and then never picked it up.) This long-forgotten 1985 comedy, about an eccentric college professor attempting to lone his dead wife whilst tutoring a goofy young protege about science’s “big picture” would seem to be something rightfully-consigned to cut-out bins and bulk auctions on ebay, if not for the fact that that professor is played by Peter O’Toole. There’s literally no movie that O’Toole has ever been in that’s not worth at least a look, and Creator contains a forgotten gem of an O’Toole performance. Sure, the whole cloning plot sort of comes to not much, and, as the sidekick, 80’s almost-was Vincent Spano is a bit much, but any time you get to watch Peter O’Toole do his thing is well worth a rental. There has never been a more glorious combination of great ham and great actor than Peter O’Toole; he’s just pure joy to watch. Just look at the scene where [SPOILER TOWN] O’Toole’s been waiting outside of the hospital where Spano’s lady love’s been lingering in a coma-thingy; when Spano comes out and sees O’Toole waiting there and starts to cry, and O’Toole’s professor throws his arms out wide as a church door, and his head back and gives him a huge hug. There’s are a dozen more quintessential O’Toole-ian moments in Creator, which, again, earns its rent on the Videoport shelves. A couple of other reasons: 1. It was directed by Ivan Passer, who also directed one of my favorite movies, 1981’s Cutter’s Way. and 2. Mariel Hemingway, at the end of her relevance, plays a saucy, earthy love interest for O’Toole, and you get to see her boobs; I’m only human.)
Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)
>>> Videoport customer Jenna suggests A Tale of Two Sisters (in the Assorted Asian Exploitation section.) A Tale of Two Sisters is like the Korean horror version of Mulholland Drive. Actually, it’s not much like Mulholland Drive…but I didn’t know what the hell was going on throughout the entirety of both movies. It’s not chainsaw/axe murdering/buckets-of-blood horror, but it is a beautiful/creepy/puzzling tale of sisters revisiting a troubling past in a secluded home with their father and evil stepmother. It will all make sense in the end…for the most part.
Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).
>>>Say you’ve got one of those, what are they called? Kids! Right, kids! Well, on every Friday, you can just bring that little monster down to Videoport and let it pick out any one movie in the kids’ section and just take it home for free. That’s how much Videoport loves those little things!
Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Viridiana(in Foreign/the Criterion Collection.) Let’s hear it for Louis Bunuel! Especially if you are completely cynical about religion, government, class structures, gender roles, and the human condition in general. Diving into the Bunuel filmography (which I highly recommend) means immersing yourself in a prankishly-cynical worldview where nothing is sacred, where hypocrisies, no matter who mouths them, are mercilessly mocked, and where you, being part of the human race yourself, have nowhere to hide. Case in point, this 1961 film where Bunuel’s across-the-board cynicism for every strata of society makes for a deliciously-dark and blasphemous satire. In it, the titular Viridiana
(played by the Kim Novak-icy Silvia Pinal), is a novice nun forced to visit her benefactor uncle before taking her final vows. She’s a didactic, humorless prig, but her wealthy uncle (Fernando Rey) who lives on an overgrown estate with an army of servants, the effects of his long-dead wife, and a little peasant servant girl whom he seems to pay an unnatural amount of attention to, is hardly more likeable. As Viridiana unpacks her valise full of huge crucifixes and thorn-crowns, and uncle struggles against his sudden desire for his formidably-chaste niece, Bunuel forces the viewer to decide which of them is less sympathetic, a sympathy fight made more complex with the introduction (after a spoiler-y twist) of uncle’s middle-class illegitimate son, and a ragged gaggle of town beggars that the resolutely-upright would-be saint Viridiana invites to share the estate. With this top-to-bottom slice of Spanish class structure to examine, Bunuel is free to dissect each strata’s all-too-readiness to indulge in its different, but equally-reprehensible, worst impulses, culminating in one of former-Catholic Bunuel’s most blasphemous tableaus, a scabrous beggar’s banquet version of the Last Supper. A typically-rude, often crude, and ever-brilliant film from the modern master not believing in anyone’s pious bullcrap.
And here’s the Videoport/Bunuel Checklist for anyone who want’s to laugh all the way to hell…
–Un Chien Analou/Land Without Bread (1929/1933)
–Mexican Bus Ride (1952)
–Wuthering Heights (1954)
–Robinson Cruse (1954)
–Death in the Garden (1956)
–The Exterminating Angel (1962)
–Diary of a Chambermaid (1964)
–Simon of the Desert (1965)
–Belle de Jour (1967)
–The Milky Way (1969)
–The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972)
–The Phantom of Liberty (1974)
–That Obscure Object of Desire (1977)
>>>For Sunday, Former Videoporter Stockman suggests ‘Parenthood’ (in Comedy.) After a day (and I do mean day, like all awesome magical day) of robust drinking, there is nothing more delightful than a rainy day curled up on a couch with nowhere to be. Particularly if that couch has the fuzziest cuddliest blue blanket there is and particularly if you are joined by the ever delightful Videoporter Regan who makes sure you’re tucked in properly. But most particularly if that rainy day is in Videoport country because that’s a plethora of damn fine viewing for your vegging pleasure (including Three Amigos which anyone worth their salt, whatever that means, learned the word plethora from). The best rainy day hang over viewing is something interesting enough to entertain but not so good that you can’t fall asleep if you’re so inclined. I found the TV show Parenthood to prime viewing. Is it everything you fear it will be (like a cheese fest of family drama and heartfelt hugging), absolutely! But is it a great way to eat up an entire day where you’re incapable and uninterested in functioning at a normal level, absolutely! You’ll be sucked in before you know it!
New Releases this week at Videoport: Drive (one of the most acclaimed movies of the year, this 1970’s-style sort-of action movie stars Ryan Gosling as the titular, taciturn getaway driver involved in an existential crisis and some sudden, shocking violence; fun fact- some really dumb person sued a movie theater because Drive wasn’t a typical, mindless action flick. So, if you think you might be that dumb, please don’t rent it!), The Thing(apart from the fact that there was no earthly [or other-earthly] reason to make it in the first place, this prequel to the John Carpenter sci fi horror classic isn’t a complete embarrassment; movie studios- please feel free to use that
quote on any movie posters!), In Time (Justin Timberlake stars in this dystopian, Logan’s Run-type sci fi thriller about a future where everyone dies when they hit 25, unless you’re rich enough to literally buy yourself more time; based on a recently-leaked republican policy memo…), The Big Year(comedy all-stars Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson teamed up for this dramedy about a trio of bird-watcher pals trotting
the globe in search of rare birdies), The Double (Richard Gere and Topher Grace star in this retired CIA guy teams up with fledgeling FBI guy to solve a senator’s murder type deal), Dream House (Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts, and Rachel Weisz [along with director Jim Sheridan] make up the completely-overqualified roster for this haunted house movie about a perfect family whose titular domicile may not be as nice as advertised), Texas Killing Fields (Sam Worthington [The Debt] and Jeffrey Dean Morgan [Watchmen] are the mismatched cop partners [“ones from New York City, the other’s from the Texas bayou”] in this murder-mystery thriller costarring Jessica Chastain [The Help, The Debt, Tree of Life]), The Other F Word (Videoport’s Regan recommends this documentary about last generation’s punk rockers attempting to reconcile their punk-itude with their role as dads), The Confession (Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt star as, respectively, a hot man and a priest, in this thriller), ‘Comic Strip Presents’ (HUGE week for British comedy fans, with Videoport bringing in nine, count ’em nine volumes of this BBC comedy anthology series starring the likes of Rik Mayall, Ade Edmonson and Nigel Planer of ‘The Young Ones’, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders of, well, ‘French and Saunders’, Robbie Coltrane, and more; weird, hilarious and, yeah, weird…), Chalet Girl (sounds like something you’d find late night on Cinemax, but unfortunately, this one’s a wholesome-er comedy about a young skater girl who turns to snowboarding to support her father), Limelight (documentary about former New York City club owner Peter Gatien; those renting this looking for the Chaplin film may be surprised by the amount of ecstasy people are taking…), Shut Up Little Man! (documentary about two guys whose secret tape recordings of their neighbors’ hilariously loud fights became an internet sensation), Hell and Back Again (documentary describes the toll on soldiers fighting in Afghanistan…)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Kuroneko (from the Criterion Collection comes this Japanese ghost tale about a mother and daughter who, raped and murdered by roaming samurai, come back as murderous cat-demons, dedicated to killing samurai in very sexy and terrifying ways; try teaming it up with fellow Criterion release Onibaba for a creepy mother/daughter revenge double feature creepshow), The Nun’s Story (Audrey Hepburn plays the titular nun who free-spiritedly [for a nun] travels to fight disease in the Congo)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Dream House, In Time, The Thing (2011), Drive.