VideoReport #348

Volume CCCXLVIII- The Buy Localizer

For the Week of 4/17/12

Videoport asks, “You ever wish there were a place where you could walk in and browse through a nearly unlimited selection of all the movies ever made, and that there’d be a small army of dedicated, friendly movie nerds to help you find just the right movie? Oh, and that everything would be ridiculously-affordable and the place were independent and locally-owned?” You see where we’re going with this?..

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! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests using that aforementioned three movies for a week for seven bucks deal to really come to grips with the Evil Dead Trilogy (in Horror.) You’ll need a week to really get into Sam Raimi’s seminal horror/gore/genius threesome, starring the ever-awesome Bruce Campbell. In 1979, so the legendary story goes, Raimi, Campbell, and a group of foolhardy friends and actors headed, with very little money and no experience, into the woods of rural Tennessee to film a horror movie. when they emerged, broken, bloody, and broke, some months later, they had accomplished the improbable- a truly ambitious, impossibly-gory, and utterly-disgusting demonic possession flick that was also really entertaining and visually-brilliant. The young Raimi’s directorial gifts, coupled with buckets o’ goo and the completely-game Campbell catapulted to cult stardom when the film caught on with teen gorehgounds (like me), and when they returned for 1987′s Evil Dead 2, they turned that more comedically-bloody (and slimy, and gooey) sequel/remake into a legitimate comedy horror classic. With Campell getting a chance to strut his inimitable macho comic action chops (and to take even more levels of Raimi’s abuse), Evil Dead 2 is jaw-droppingly funny, scary, and, yeah, super gross. When the diabolic due returned for 1992s finale Army of Darkness, their comic and filmmaking chops had been honed to a razor’s edge, and they sent the series into utterly bananas new heights of loopy, goopy fun. Seriously, if you’re a horror fan and haven’t seen these movies, well, you’re not a horror fan. Plus, each DVD comes with a commentary track from Raimi and Campbell which is worth the price of the rental itself (and using that weekly special will give you plenty of time to really understand the Evil Deadness of it all…)

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! Videoporters, staff and customers alike, love movies, and we love to throw our opinions around! That’s why we invented the VideoReport, a forum for the Videoport community to share their reviews and views of their favorite, and/or most hated movies, TV shows, or basically anything else entertainment related. So send your reviews to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones! You know you know better than everyone else!

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests The Trip(in British Comedy.) There’s almost too much to say about this deceptively-straightforward British comedy. Star Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom have made two respective careers out of deconstructing Brit TV star Coogan’s public persona/the very concept of “public

Steve clearly contemplating jabbing that fork down Rob's throat.

persona” in films like 24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story, and this film, adapted from their BBC miniseries, may have just turned Coogan (or “Coogan”) inside out. Their Andy Kaufman- (or maybe Charlie Kaufman)-esque presentation of Steve Coogan as “Steve Coogan” involves taking the real, very talented, undeniably neurotic and self-centered Coogan and tweaking him ever so slightly into “Coogan,” whose neuroses and solipsism are cranked up just a hair, while the talent seeks to peep out from underneath. (Sort of like what Albert Brooks does to himself on screen.) It’s a comment on celebrity, on being a celebrity, on a culture obsessed with celebrity- and it’s also, invariably, a comedic goldmine, turning Coogan’s stock-in-trade comedy of pain into something more revelatory, maybe even sublime. In The Trip, Coogan, ostensibly on assignment for a magazine, drives into the North Country of England to taste and, again ostensibly, write about the region’s most famous restaurants. Of course, Steve had really take the job in an effort to repair his tottering relationship with his pretty, young, American girlfriend, but, as the film opens, she’s left him (sort of) and he’s placing a desultory call to his friend, and frequent costar Rob Brydon, to see if he’ll step in at the last minute. Brydon, a toothy, craggy-faced TV comedian of some popularity himself, reluctantly accepts, and thus we’re off on one of the funniest, weirdest, and most unexpectedly-affecting road trip movies in years. As Coogan and Brydon set out in Steve’s Range Rover, their differences become quickly (and subtly) apparent; Steve’s the tortured genius, while Rob’s the happily-married family man whose audience-friendly schtick (lots of impressions) has made him a comfortable living. And as they begin their tour of some seriously-tony eateries, their hardly-buried rivalry comes out in the form of banter, dueling impressions and put-downs of such quality, quantity, and pace that, at first at least, my response was nothing but awed giggles; these are two very funny, very talented guys. But as the movies goes on, the barbs start drawing blood, as the years of professional rivalry and resentment (and Coogan’s relentless sense of both inferiority and superiority) seemingly underlie every joke. Al Franken calls it “kidding on the square”- a jokey putdown whose hidden truth isn’t so hidden after all, and The Trip fairly echoes with the comedic frisson between the two. Along the way, there are visits to Coleridge’s house (where only the matronly docent’s familiarity with one of Brydon’s trademark funny characters gains them an after hours admission (as Steve stands by fuming), Coogan’s dalliances with star semi-struck concierges, a couple of revelatory, and hilarious, Coogan dream sequences, lots and lots of impression-offs (seriously, I could watch these two do dueling Christopher Lee impressions for an hour), and meal after meal of gourmet food, as tasty-looking as it is improbably-presented. Coogan’s tense, off-kiter transAtlantic calls to his non-committal sounding sort of girlfriend contrast with Brydon’s jokey, mate-y chats with his down-to-earth wife (whom he attempt to seduce into some quickie phone sex by talking like Hugh Grant). And, for all their decades-long prickliness, there’s a neverending stream of brilliant, silly comic riffing, where even two guys with a past like theirs appreciate the fact that they can make each other laugh. Nothing momentous happens in The Trip- “it’s all about the journey” as Rupert Giles once said, but when they return, finally, to London and separate into their very different lives, you, and maybe even they, realize how much you’re sorry it’s over. And then there’s Steve, alone in his sterile, amazing bachelor pad. It reminds me of the ending of my favorite movie (ever) Local Hero, with the traveler, home at last, looking over the city. The loneliest man in the world.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for seven bucks!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests using that there three movies for a week for 7 bucks deal to plan a good ol’ fashioned movie marathon! Spend an evening watching Star Wars: A New Hope, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi with your kids, with your friends, or alone in your parents’ basement. Rent Chan-Wook Park’s operatically lovely (and breathtakingly violent) Vengeance Trilogy: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, OldBoy, and Lady Vengeance. Watch the entire Toy Story series! Or get good and paranoid with Roman Polanski’s fear-your-neighbor trilogy: Repulsion, Rosemary’s Baby, and The Tenant.

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

>>>Dennis suggests The Muppet Show. For weird reasons. Watching season 1 with my (brilliant) niece Penelope recently, I was struck by the (quickly-abandoned) bit on the first two episiodes where Kermit, at the end of the show, presents guests (Juliet Prowse, Connie Stevens) with Muppet replicas of themselves. And not, like, stuffed animals- these are fully-animate, living muppet versions of the (dated) hosts who then have to go home with their new mistresses and, presumably, serve them. Stevens’ simulacrum (sporting appropriately-inappropriate cleavage) looks especially scared as Stevens seems to be mulling over the uses she’ll put her felt-y new slave to. Man, I’m glad they abandoned this one…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Rock the Bells (in Popular Music.) As an aging-shading-into-aged white boy, I might be forgiven for not knowing a lot about the rap music. Saugus, Massachusetts was not exactly a bastion of multiculturalism (side note: if I ever hear Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher” again, I may set something on fire.) So, coming late to the party, I’ve been attempting to rectify my musical blind spots with a remedial course in hip hop of late, and the legendary Wu-Tang Clan has been my first, and most challenging lesson. Comprised of nine (or 10, or 11) members at any one time, and led by the clearly operating on another plane than the rest of us RZA, Wu-Tang’s output has been necessarily varied, complex, and often impenetrable (you know, to someone like me.) (I confess that I know RZA primarily for his appearance in movies like Coffee and Cigarettes [with GZA...and Bill Murray] and Funny People, Method Man for his stellar character work in “best show ever on television” The Wire, and Ghostface Killah being hilarious as himself on that episode of 30 Rock. Did I mention I’m white?) Anyway, the Clan became infamous for (among other things) no-showing at various highly-promoted concerts in their time, a fact that provides much of the drama in this surprisingly-gripping documentary. It’s chronicles the planning behind the titular Rock the Bells hip hop event, a multi-act rap event whose primary draw was the promoter’s extravagant promise that, for the first time in years, the entire Wu-Tang Clan would be on stage together. As we watch that promoter (the improbably-named Chang Weisnerg, who looks like The Rock’s nicer, puffier little brother), juggling the myriad details that go into staging such an ambitious (and potentially-disastrous) event, the tension steadily builds. For one thing, Chang (as he’s called by everyone, in escalatingly-desperate tones as the film goes on) seems a little out of his depth; we watch him getting chewed out by the cops for playing fast and loose with the details of some previous events, and brush off a suspicious number of concerns from his even more harried female assistant. And, as the event date approaches, a seemingly-unending series of alarming details start to emerge: he didn’t set up the gig through Wu-Tang guru RZA, who technically owns the group’s name, there are a lot of equipment failures, several acts go over their appointed time on the quickly-unraveling schedule, event security (increasingly-necessary as the crowd gets impatient at the many delays) seems sparse, undertrained and overwhelmed, and, most upsetting to Chang’s (and viewers’) calm, the Clan’s most unstable member Ol’ Dirty Bastard holes himself in his hotel room (alongside some shady ladies and some shadier chemicals), and refuses to emerge, even as the already-irritated crowd surges into near-riot. As you’re watching it, Rock the Bells gradually assumes the potential to become another Gimme Shelter. Does it turn into a massive, catastrophic disaster? Well, I’m not telling; the uncertainty makes things interesting. (Of course, I still know literally nothing about hip hop, but that’s on me…)

>>>For Sunday, you may have noticed that, with Videoport’s daily specials, you get a free movie every, single day, right? (You do.) In addition, there’s a way to get even more free stuff at Videoport- like free money stuff! Videoport has two payment plans to get some free money. If you put $20 on your Videoport account, we magically transform it into $25 worth of rental credit. And $30 buys you $40 worth of rental credit! So lets run this through- a free movie every single day, can get three movies for a week for 7 bucks on Monday-Thursday, and can get free money just for renting with us. We’re a little modest around here, so if you wanna go ahead and tell us Videoport is awesome, well, nobody’s stopping you…

Watch it for the out-of-focus guy in the back.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (even if you find Tom Cruise tiny, nuts, and insufferable, this 4th Mission Impossible movie’s got cool people like Jeremy Renner, and Simon Pegg, and was directed by PIXAR’s Brad Bird!), ‘Treme’- season 2(post-Katrina New

This is from the creator of 'The Wire.' Watch 'The Wire." Then watch this.

Orleans continues to get the brilliant, heartbreaking HBO drama treatment from the creator of The Wire), Shame (Michael Fassbender re-teams with his Hunger director Steve McQueen for this searing, sexy drama about a guy struggling with sex addiction; please ignore the gesture that Videoport’s Regan uses to direct you to where it is…), ‘Frozen Planet’- the Complete Series (David Attenborough takes his cameras to the frozen-est wastelands of the world in this typically-strking nature documentary series), The Divide (from the madman director of the extreme horror film Frontier(s), comes this apocalyptic thriller about a group of people who take refuge in the basement of their apartment building when it’s announced that a nuclear attack is imminent), ‘Bob’s Burgers’- season 1 (winning animated comedy series about the titular ramshackle burger joint, with the titular Bob voiced by the ever brilliant Jon Benjamin from Archer and Home Movies), Farmageddon (upsetting documentary about how the USDA swoops in on small farms which don’t follow its often draconian rules), The Last Rites of Joe May (venerable character actor Dennis Farina gets a juicy role in this drama about the last days of an aging, small-time grifter), Alambrista! (the film smarty-pantses at the Criterion Collection lavish their deluxe treatment on this lost 1977 drama about a Mexican illegal immigrant trying to provide for his family; guaranteed to anger the right people!), Paul Goodman Changed My Life (documentary about the titular 1940′s left-wing philosopher, pacifist, gay rights crusader, and author of Growing Up Absurd), Domain (sexy French drama about a sensitive 17 year old guy who is understandably drawn to his brilliant, alcoholic mathematician aunt, played by perennial French siren Beatrice Dalle [Night on Earth, Betty Blue]), Panda! Go Panda! (adorable Japanese animated family weirdness!).

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol, Shame, The Divide.

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