VideoReport #341

Volume CCCXLI- The Vengeance-izer

For the Week of 2/28/12

Videoport welcomes back former customers of the recently-defunct Blockbuster Video. And we would like to reassure those customers that, yes, there are more than 100 movies in the world, and Videoport has ’em all. It’s okay, we’ll ease you back in…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental!

The titular character and his titular object.

>>>Andy suggests Hobo With A Shotgun (in Incredibly Strange). More authentically sleazy and satisfying than Robert Rodriguez’s Machete, Hobo With A Shotgun is as reminiscent of a ‘80s Troma release as a ‘70s grindhouse* picture. The violence and dialogue are over the top to a cartoonish level. “When life gives you razor blades, you make a baseball bat covered with razor blades,” says one villain. The movie begins with spaghetti western music over images of a train arriving in a run down, graffiti-painted town and depositing The Hobo (Rutger Hauer). The Hobo wanders, Yojimbo-like, through the violent streets, initially minding his own business. But soon he becomes friends with a benevolent prostitute, and finds powerful enemies in the gang of psychotic killers that rule the town. Terrorized by the gang, The Hobo is pushed too far and turns vigilante. Oh, and he gets a shotgun. You know how this goes. It’s an old formula, but somehow I never get tired of seeing it done well. All it takes is some villains that are so despicable that you want to see them get their comeuppance, a commanding actor as our righteous hero, and a little filmmaking flair. Hobo With A Shotgun meets all those requirements, and throws in a few extra buckets of blood, just to be safe.

*HWAS is referred to as a Grindhouse movie, like Planet Terror, Death Proof, and the spinoff movie Machete, even though there was no trailer for it in the original feature and Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez’s names don’t appear anywhere in connection with this movie.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Owning Mahowny(in Feature Drama.) This is one of the best movies you’ve never heard of. What’s more, it’s more-or-less factual; the names have been changed, but the facts and figures are roughly accurate. Powerhouse actor Philip Seymour Hoffman (known ’round these partly simply as “The Hoff”) plays mild-mannered Dan Mahowny. His colleagues at the bank know him as quiet, dependable, maybe a little dull. They don’t know that he has a crippling gambling addiction… and his

Why, yes, I AM feeling sweaty and desperate! Thank you for asking!

recent promotion has given him access to more and more money to feed that compulsion. And it turns out that the casino bigwigs (including an urbanely sinister John Hurt) are only too happy to help him feed it, no matter where they suspect the money is coming from. This could have played out as a flashy potboiler or a slick heist flick, but in the able hands of director Richard Kwietniowski (who also directed John Hurt in the excellent Love and Death on Long Island), it’s a powerful portrait of obsession. For the first time in his life, Mahowny has the means to gamble virtually without limit, and that is what the film is about: a man single-mindedly immersing himself in the mixed pleasure and misery of an all-consuming passion, pursuing it wherever it leads him. He keeps gambling, knowing it will likely cost him his job, his reputation, his home, his fiancee, his freedom. The Hoff’s performance is more than masterful; it’s the very portrait of intensity, of self-containment, of completely internalized mania. It’s riveting.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Harold & Maude (in Comedy.) Harold Mason (Bud Cort), the sheltered son of a wealthy family, is obsessed with death and all its cultural trappings. He drives a hearse, avidly attends funerals, and engages in elaborate death-play, much to his distant, controlling mother’s chagrin. His life is changed when he meets Maude, a spry almost-octogenarian who urges him to “try something new each day.” If this sounds saccharine or moralizing, I promise you it is not. Not only is it a touching romance, but it’s deliciously, darkly, irreverently hilarious. In fact, The American Film Institute (who, after all, should know) ranked Harold and Maude right smack in the middle of AFI’s 100 Funniest Films.

Funniest guy in France? Probably.

>>>Dennis suggests OSS 117: Cairo-Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio (in the Foreign Language section.) Now that the delightfully-goofy Jean Dujardin has won the Best Actor award for The Artist and everyone loves him and stuff, I get to play smarty-pants know-it-all (like, what else is new) and tell everyone (as I have been for years!!!) about these James Bond spoofs Dujardin and The Artist director Michel Hazanavicious made. In them, the peerlessly-silly Dujardin stars as the super-suave(-ish) titular French secret agent, a Bond stand-in whose every move serves to point out the buried sexism, racism, fascism, and every other kind of ism inherent in the 007 character. Tracking Nazis and other assorted baddies, shooting indiscriminately, bedding smarmily, and generally behaving like a smug, strutting douche, Dujardin is an absolute hoot; his strapping, impeccably-dressed agent recalls Dr. No-era Bond to a ‘t’, but Dujardin tweaks everything just enough to make OSS 117 subtly (or, in some cases, not so subtly) ridiculous, and hilarious. Dujardin’s a world-class physical comedian [think Clouseau], and his toothy smile, when deployed in its full, smarmy glory, is enough to make me burst out in a giggle-fit. Now that the star and director are poised for some mega-stardom stateside, check out these earlier comic gems. You know, if you like to laugh and stuff…

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘Millennium’ (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Following the success of “The X-Files,”creator Chris Carter’s next show delves even deeper into the dark. Lance Henriksen stars as Frank Black, a one-time FBI profiler with a unique ability to glimpse the into killers’ minds. This odd talent shattered Frank’s sense of well-being, forcing him into early retirement. But the story is darker still:

That’s about as warm as the show gets, right there…

Frank now works for The Millennium Group, a criminal-consulting agency that helps out law enforcement on the hush-hush… and also investigates a larger,more sinister case only hinted at in the first few episodes. “Millennium” is unusually in its almost unrelieved darkness, both literally and figuratively; except for scenes in Frank’s bright (and presumably doomed) happy home, the show is dripping with darkness in every set, in every corner. More sobering still, it eschews the endearing goofiness of Mulder and Scully and embraces the utterly devastating emotional depths of a man burdened with visions of petty evil he’s never committed and burdened with the duty to defeat a greater evil.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>>We’re just gonna say this one more time- no touching the shiny side of one of our DVDs. (We’re going to go ahead and pretend only innocent children crap up our DVDs here; but we all know that some of you guys behave like unsupervised babies with taffy-hands around our precious movies. Seriously, people…)

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Regan suggests ‘Southland’ (in Feature Drama.) After high praises from Videoport customer Chelsea, I finally took home ‘Southland,’a Los Angeles-based cop/detective drama. And I blew

Do what Regan says.

through the first episodes like I blow through a bag of Uncle Ray’s kosher dill chips. Right Quick! If and y’all have enjoyed the show ‘Boomtown,’ which sadly only lasted one and a half seasons, then ‘Southland’ is kind of in the same spirit. A look at Los Angeles crime from all angles, rich and poor, and how the cops deal with a non-stop shatpile of hot go-go. And it doesn’t wear out its welcome like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ with that ensemble cast of monkey-turds and desperate houseives? Who cares! Put down that trite sh*t and spend a measly eight house with ‘Southland!’

P.S.- Stockman, if you’re reading this, customer Scott really likes your reviews and he just rented that movie your brother made and he thinks Ben McKenzie is a crap actor. See you next month! Get ready to rock your butthole off!

Editor’s note: Apparently, the VideoReport, in addition to being the place where Videoport staff and customers can share their thoughts about movies and tv shows and the like, can also be used to send messages to Stockman! Anyone interested in writing reviews for the VideoReport, or writing to former Videoporter Stockman, should send them to us at denmn@hotmail.com.

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer suggests The Square (in Mystery/Thriller.) Different people mean different things when they describe a film as “Hitchcockian” or “noir-y.” Some are describing a particular aesthetic; some might mean a preoccupation with icy blonds. “Noir-y” might mean a grim dark city setting or a grim dark moral vacuum. Whether I’m thinking “Hitchcockian” or “noir-y,” I’m really thinking about two things: characters and tension. Noir is all about the average person led into temptation, and about how a simple plan goes horribly, tragically wrong. Hitchcock loved to put everyday characters into untenable situations. He also loved to show you what could go wrong, then let you squirm while you wait for it to happen — or not to happen. That sums up Australian thriller “The Square” pretty well: everyday people who get themselves into a terrible situation, leaving them and us squirming with uncertainty as a simple plan turns murderous. An adulterous couple daydream about collecting a nest egg and running away from everything: from their spouses, from their homes, from their jobs. When one of them stumbles across a sack of cash in her own home, it seems like their ticket to freedom. But you’ve seen enough noirs to know that a sack of cash is just the beginning of a long, bad road — a road that “The Square” wanders down with excruciating deliberateness.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Hugo (Martin Scorcese directs this Oscar-winning [lots of technical awards] fantasy about the early days of filmmaking, where an orphan hiding out in a Paris train station discovers a robot, a key, a cranky old man with a cute daughter, and a mystery involving his long-lost father; by all accounts, this is pretty damned delightful…), Johnny English Reborn (Rowan Atkinson [Blackadder, Mr. Bean] brings back his hapless British secret agent in this comedy wherein he, presumably, creates comic chaos as per usual), ‘Todd and the Book of Pure Evil’- season 1 (Canadian teen horror comedy series about a high school loser who finds his life seriously complicated when he comes into possession of the Canadian version of the Necronomicon; costarring Kevin Smith stoner stalwart Jason Mewes, if that’s a selling point…), The Myth of the American Sleepover (acclaimed indie sleeper about four teens in suburban Detroit having those indie coming-of-age adventures on the last day of summer), The Catechism Cataclysm (Steve Little [from Eastbound and Down] stars in this exceedingly-odd comedy about a mild-mannered priest who embarks upon a canoe trip with an old high school pal, only to have things go completely bonkers in what one hopes are interesting and hilarious ways), Justice League: DOOM (DC Comics animated movie about League enemy Vandal Savage’s plan to, what else, destroy the Justice League; only this time, he may actually succeed since he’s stolen the secret files that the ever-prepared [and suspicious] Batman had prepared on each of the members of the JL; NERD ALERT: adapted from Mark Waid’s excellent ‘Tower of Babel’ storyline), Rabies (billed as the first Israeli slasher film, this one, about a brother and sister running away and running afoul of a madman in a nature preserve, is actually getting some decent, if unpleasant, reviews), I Melt With You(an interesting cast

This one’s for the ladies…

[Rob Lowe, Jeremy Piven, Tom Jane, Christian McKay] star as a quartet of middle-aged friends whose yearly reunion at an isolated beach house is disrupted by their various personal problems, and a long-buried pact from their college days…), ‘Beavis and Butthead’- season 4 (after laying low for a decade or so, the sub-moronic MTV animated duo are back, headbanging to music videos and alarming parents everywhere.)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Invisible Boy (1957 sci fi adventure about a kid teaming up with Forbidden Planet‘s Robby the Robot to prevent a supercomputer from controlling the earth from a satellite; somehow, I’m guessing the Ruskies are involved…), Someone to Watch Over Me (director Ridley Scott [Alien, Blade Runner] brought his trademark visual style to this 1987 thriller about a married detective [Tom Berenger] hired to protect a sultry witness [Mimi Rogers] and, shocker, falling for her; man, just typing those names screams 1987…), Blood on the Sun (James Cagney starring in this, in retrospect, pretty darned racist 1945 thriller about a hard-drivin’ reporter in pre-WWII Japan who uncovers the Japanese government’s evil Japanese plans for world domination…from Japan!; featuring a cast of guys named Marvin, John, Robert, Leonard, and Frank as the evil Japanese! From Japan!!)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Dances with Wolves, Forbidden Planet, Last of the Mohicans (Daniel Day Lewis version), Johnny English Reborn, Puss in Boots, The Crow, Good Will Hunting, Rounders, Tower Heist, J. Edgar, Dead Man, Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Get free money at Videoport!

Pay ahead $20 on your Videoport account and we’ll give you $25 worth of rental credit. Pay $30 and we’ll give you a whopping $40 worth. Free money? Yup.

Park for free at Videoport!

Of course, the parking lot behind the building is open for free parking after 5pm on weekdays and all day on weekends, but we’ll also get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage. Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get free rentals at Videoport!

Any time you buy a movie from Videoport (and remember-we can special order anything you need), we’ll give you a free rental on your Videoport account. Think of it as $3.50 off the purchase price, think of it as a nice little reward for yourself when you buy someone else a gift, think of it as a way to support local business instead of some soulless corporation- any way you think of it, you’re getting yourself something for free…

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