Volume CCCXLII- Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Mothras
For the Week of 3/12/12
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Except that one day…oh, wait- yup, we give you a free one on that day, too. So, yeah, a free movie every single day.
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!
>>>Andy suggests Hollow Man (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Hollow Man is the kind of movie where an intriguing sci-fi premise serves only to set up spectacular scenes of action or horror. You know, like Jurassic Park and The Matrix. Those movies make their points early on, then make way for the exciting stuff*. None of these are as thought-provoking as they initially seem, but in the end, the flashy surface is its own reward. That said, Hollow Man isn’t nearly as good as those other movies. It’s probably the worst movie that Paul Verhoeven, the pride of Holland, ever made (and remember, this is the man who made Showgirls). But Verhoeven has never been accused of making a boring movie (again, remember Showgirls). Hollow Man is an unofficial remake of The Invisible Man. The story is this: a scientist figures out how to become invisible, tries the formula on himself, then goes insane and uses his powers for evil. The lesson: don’t play God, but if you do, don’t let it go to your head. This, of course, is just a set up for some creative and pretty fantastic special effects. And the action is certainly as visceral as you’d expect from the director of Basic Instinct and Robocop. In some of Verhoeven’s better movies, especially Total Recall and Starship Troopers, he created big, cartoonish worlds in which to set his violent stories. These worlds seemed meticulously imagined and dazzlingly designed, and were full of wit and attitude. Hollow Man, by comparison, is set in a generic near-future. The main sets are an unimaginatively designed laboratory/bunker and a couple of apartment buildings. Not exactly visionary. It seems like Verhoeven half-assed it this time. But, like I mentioned earlier, it’s never boring. Part of the credit should go to Kevin Bacon for his performance. Even when he’s invisible, he’s full of twitchy, mean-spirited energy.
*That’s why I prefer The Lost World to the first Jurassic Park. There’s no pretense of being science fiction; it’s just a big, fun monster movie.
Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental!
>>>Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! Check out the names on this week’s reviews- I see an “Alex,” an “Andy,” a “Stockman,” a couple of “Emilys”- good work gang! So if you want to have your reviews in the VideoReport, then send ’em to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, our Facebook page “Videoport Jones” or just drop them off in the store. Remember, the more other people write for the VideoReport, the better it is…and the less you have to listen to me blab on and on. And isn’t that what we all want?
Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental!
>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Head and ‘Stella’(in Comedy.) Many nods, tributes, hat tips, and acknowledgements have been made to the recently deceased Davy Jones, as well they should. I am a
lifelong fan of The Monkees, I love them to the very hidden and obscure depths of their canon as any true fan of something should. I think these recent nods, tributes, hat tips, and acknowledgements have been lacking in proper tribute however, particularly in regards to the movie Head. It has gotten sloughed as that nifty time The Monkees tried to do a wacky movie and whatever; and it’s always remembered to mention that it was co-written by Jack Nicholson and/or features a cameo from Frank Zappa. Way to transfer any acknowledgement of this movie away from The Monkees and make it sound like a lame random thing that happened we should never speak of again. You should definitely speak of this movie again, in fact you should go so far as to watch it because it’s awesome. The Monkees truly tried to push the envelope of what they were constructed to be and that’s a feat to respect and appreciate. As with most things that were awesome and from the 60’s/70’s era I’m sure many people can pass it off under the heading “drugs were involved, weren’t those 60’s/70’s just chalk full of drugs, aren’t we cool for just mentioning drugs, drugs!” I’m not saying that’s false, just that it’s boring to mention and continues that whole sloughing of how awesome and deserving of praise this movie is. This movie is a rollercoaster ride of awesome. Headis a surreal collection of random vignettes strung together with chaos and dry wit. It takes some adjustment (and patience to tolerate said adjustment) to start
watching this plotless movie, and most importantly a certain appreciation for a certain kind of nonsensical random humor. It’s similar to when I first started watching the also beyond brilliant TV series Stella with cult heroes Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain. Stella takes some adjustment, but has an infinite payoff. Both require the understanding that what starts has potentially no relation whatsoever to what ends, there is no way to predict where an episode of Stella or a vignette in Head will end up. There is a stream of consciousness element to them that becomes awe inspiringly brilliant when you marvel at the mind that took you from point A to point B. Because of this or maybe in addition to, it’s hard to tell with these things, random is the name of the game. If characters are found wearing skunk tails or Davy Jones is confronted by a giant eye in a mirror and you are more inclined to think “that makes no sense” instead of “ha! Brilliant!” these are not for you. You will be frustrated and confused and I wouldn’t do such a thing to you. But if you are the latter indulge yourself in their pure insanity. The more you steep yourself in it the better it gets until you’re going around asking “Who’s Marcus?” and declaring “I’m the dummy”.
Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store!
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Doctor Who” and “The Twilight Zone” (both in Sci Fi/Fantasy) for a hide-behind-the-sofa double feature with two classic tv shows whose introductory theme music has inspired generations of children to crouch behind couches until it stops. One of my earliest memories is of hiding behind an armchair during the high-pitched, eerie Doctor Who theme (original composition by Ron Grainer). Only recent did I learn that I’m far from alone; the experience is so wide-spread that there’s even a high-profile collaborative Doctor Who blog named Behind the Sofa. These days when we watch “Doctor Who” at home, we embrace the eerieness, humming a full-throated upbeat rendition of the wickedly catch music. Take that, childhood fears! At least as legendary is the theme to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” immortalized by re-runs and elevated to quirk of the modern lexicon, that often-hummed (and often-mangled) staccato tip-tap so firmly associated with uncanny or impossible experiences. The Twilight Zone‘s original plucky, staccato theme was created by renowned composer Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, Taxi Driver); the moodier later version was created by avant-garde composer Marius Constant.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>>Two new kids movies this week: a Goosebumps and a Scooby; check the “New Arrivals” section of this here newsletter for the details. And remember: teaching your kids about proper DVD handling now will mean higher SAT scores later.
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘Twin Peaks’ (in Mystery/Thriller.) Despite some problematic aspects — and I don’t mean the wildly unsteady second season. [SPOILERS, oh so many show-ruining SPOILERS!] In the first episode, the sleepy town of Twin Peaks is rocked, not just by a murder but by the identity of the victim: beloved homecoming queen, model student, charity volunteer, and all-around golden girl Laura Palmer. As the investigation proceeds, Laura’s secret life is revealed: a second boyfriend, a heavy drug habit, trysts with shady older men and other girls, working at a bordello across the border. When the case is finally solved — when we learn that she has endured years of rape by a demonic presence in her own father’s body — we understand better how such a beloved princess could delve into such a sordid abyss… but what
about Ronette? Ronette Pulaski, a surviving victim of the same killer, whom we first see staggering out of the wilderness across a railroad trestle, stunned and all but catatonic. In this image, she is presented to us as a girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks. And it shows: in the lack of concern that the characters and writers (and presumably the viewers) show over Ronette’s reasons for the same behavior. Tacitly, the cops (and writers) of Twin Peaks are telling us that a child of privilege must be gravely damaged to sully herself so, but that a townie consorting with the same skeevy drug dealers, posing for smutty photos, and whoring needs no explanation. To his credit, Lynch firmly redresses this class imbalance with the investigation into Teresa Banks’ murder in the woefully uneven film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, but poor Ronette’s story is roundly ignored except as it sheds light on Laura’s tragedy. And speaking of Laura’s ongoing abuse… Okay, I’m gonna say it: David Lynch lets Leland Palmer off the hook. The mythology of Twin Peaks explains that Laura was raped, abused, terrorized, and ultimately murdered not by Leland but by Bob, a wandering spirit who visited his wrath upon Leland in childhood and possessed him at intervals thereafter. The writers make Leland’s obliviousness explicit by having him howl as Bob floods him with memories, “When he was inside, I didn’t know!” He’s shattered and remorseful, but ultimately largely blameless: though he is devastated by rush of memory, his only willful sin rests in his childhood (and therefore readily forgivable) embrace of the darkness Bob offered. Leland is thus relieved of any agency or choice in his daughter’s abuse, though Laura’s heartbreaking, soulcrushing experience the same either way: being raped repeatedly and routinely by something in the form of her father. Lynch’s films are preoccupied with the tragedy of incest and familial abuse, but in Twin Peaks he allows his concurrent obsessions with visiting spirits fluidity and the fluidity of identity erase Leland’s agency, largely absolving him of his role in Laura’s despair. Even more appalling, the show attempts to diminish the act of murder itself. Laura is presumed to have welcomed death as a release from her torment; her own psychiatrist concludes (from such benign evidence as Laura’s peaceful air in their last session) that she “had in fact arrived at a decision to end her life” and “maybe she allowed herself to be killed.” As he dies, Leland has a vision of Laura, which Agent Cooper interprets as Laura’s spirit forgiving and welcoming her father. It’s a painstaking process of absolution and ablution: Leland is exonerated of intent, given a chance to repent for his childhood transgression, and finally utterly forgiven by the victim herself.
>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Alex suggests Make Out With Violence (in Incredibly Strange.) Make Out With Violence is the best movie I have seen about a man falling in love with a dead girl since Lars and the Real Girl. Of course, while I understand that Lars and the Real Girlis actually about a sweet, vaguely socially retarded man who strikes up with a relationship with a $6,000 anatomically correct sex doll, all the money in
the world would not convince me that people who carry on relationships with these things don’t have a touch of necrophiliac in them. And if Lars and the Real Girl doesn’t count, Make Out With Violence is definitely the best movie I have seen about a man falling in love with a dead girl since Return of the Living Dead 3. I don’t know how the film holds up to Dead Girl, because I’m a white, 20-something male, a demographic made famous by serial killers who fixate on getting intimate with the corpses of the people they kill, so there are only so many films that fall into this genre I allow myself to be seen renting so that no one becomes inclined to start asking questions.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Descendants (a rich land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after a tragedy in this Oscar-bait drama starring George Clooney and directed by Sideways‘
Alexander Payne; also, the Oscar-winning script was written by Jim Rash, better know to those of us who are smart and like funny things as ‘Community’‘s Dean Pelton; on an unrelated note, you should really watch ‘Community’), The Adventures of Tintin (this computer-animated adaptation of the venerable Belgian adventure comics boasts some serious talent: actors Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost,and Simon Pegg, screenwriters Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat, and some director, name of Spielberg…), My Week With Marilyn (Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh is Laurence Olivier in this biopic about the two stars clashes on the set of 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl), Melancholia (director Lars Von Trier is back to alternately bum/freak you out, this time with an apocalyptic tale of two sisters [Kiersten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg] trying to sort out thier strained relationship while a mysterious, just-discovered planet threatens to slam into the earth), The Three Musketeers (I like a swash and a buckle as much as the next guy, but did we really need another version of this? Oh well, there are some good British actors in this one, and at least it doesn’t star Kiefer Sutherland…), Young Adult (the team behind Juno is back with this darkly-comic tale of a successful, if alcoholic, writer coming back to her home town determined to recapture her past by romancing her now-married high school flame; look for the great standup comic Patton Oswalt to steal the film as the former high school geek who reluctantly helps her), ‘Bag of Bones’ (Stephen King wrote the book of this horror miniseries about a- surprise!- writer who heads to a cabin in the Maine woods with his family to deal with some writer’s block and, I don’t want to spoil anything here, some creepy stuff happens), ‘The Killing’- season 1 (critically-adored AMC series about the investigation of the killing of a young girl), ‘Superjail’- season 2 (I generally appreciate Adult Swim series’ anarchic animated weirdness, but this show, about the insanely violent titular prison, seems like it was written and drawn by Beavis and or Butthead after a case of Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix), ‘Come Fly With Me’- season 1 (BBC comedy series from David Walliams and Matt Lucas, of LIttle Britain fame, is a reality show parody set in an airport), Women on the 6th Floor (in 1960s Paris a staid, wealthy couple’s placid existence is shaken up by their life-loving two Spanish maids in this French comedy), House of Pleasures (the lacy goings-on at a tun of the century French brothel play out in this saucy period drama), ‘Breakout Kings’- season 1 (PREMISE!- cops team up with incarcerated former escapees to track down current prison escapees; starring The Wire‘s Herc, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Liam McPoyle), Neverland (from the guy who made Tin Man and Alice, this is another re-imagining of a classic children’s story with a darker, sci-fi twist; this time it’s Peter Pan’s turn as he and his gang of London street urchins are whisked away to the titular dangerous land), Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention (everyone’s favorite inventor/dog clay comedy team present their typically-quirky and delightful take on some real life inventions in this BBC series), Talking Heads: Chronology (career-spanning live performances from the legendary art-rockers), La Soga (true tale of a brave Dominican cop rebelling against his country’s dictatorship), The Man from London (the ever-fascinating Tilda Swinton costars in this thriller from acclaimed director Bela Tarr about a mild-mannered railway worker who stumbles upon some seriosuly shady dealings and finds himself and his family in danger), Marry Me (poor Lucy Liu finds herself unable to choose amongst three different, but equally-perfect, suitors for her lovely hand in marriage in this romantic drama).
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Scooby Doo: Music of the Vampire (warning: may contain Scrabby-Doo), Goosebumps: Monster Blood (more kid-friendly horror!), High Hopes (charming early film from brilliant British director Mike Leigh [Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy Turvy] about two couples from different socio-economic strata of London; trust me- it’s really not as dull as that makes it sound…), Housekeeping (finally released on DVD, this film from director Bill Forsyth [Local Hero, Gregory’s Girl] features an all-time great performance by Christine Lahti as a very eccentric aunt who sweeps into her orphaned nieces’ lives), Danielson: A Family Movie (documentary about the devout Christian musician Daniel Smith as he forms his family into the titular band), E.T. (sure, Steven Spielberg infamously went back and gutted our childhoods when he re-edited E.T. to make it more ‘family-friendly’, but at least Videoport’s got a few new copies of the original [meaning ‘real] version…”penis-breath” and all).
New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Glory, Stripes, The Descendants, The Three Musketeers (2011), Taxi Driver, Legend, X Men 3: The Last Stand