VideoReport #370

Volume CCCLXX- The Fighter 2: The Fightening

For the Week of 9/18/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. And, with a kajillion or so movies to choose from, you won’t have any trouble picking out a freebie.

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!

>>>JackieO presents Videoport’s Favorite Detectives!

-Daryl Zero (Bill Pullman) in The Zero Effect

-Christopher Foyle (Michael Kitchen) in ‘Foyle’s War’

-Philip Marlowe (Elliot Gould) in The Long Goodbye

-Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart) in The Big Sleep

-Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) in ‘Twin Peaks’

-Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West) in ‘The Wire’

-Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters) in ‘The Wire’

-Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) in ‘Sherlock’

-Joe Boone (Miguel Ferrer) in Where’s Marlowe?

-Kurt Wallander (Kenneth Branagh) in ‘Wallander’

-Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) in ‘Castle’

-Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) in ‘Prime Suspect’

-Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell) in ‘Veronica Mars’

-Tom Barnaby (John Nettles) in ‘Midsomer Murders’

-”Easy” Rawlins (Denzel Washington) in Devil in a Blue Dress

-Aurelio Zen (Rufus Sewell) in ‘Zen’

-Nero Wolfe (Maury Chaykin) in ‘Nero Wolfe’

-Nick & Nora Charles (William Powell & Myrna Loy) in The Thin Man, and its five sequels

-Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) in Chinatown

-Sherlock Holmes (Jeremy Brett) in ‘Sherlock Holmes’

-Robert Lewis (Kevin Whatley) in ‘Inspector Lewis’

The names Luther…John Luther.

-John Luther (Idris Elba) in ‘Luther’

-Ted Caselle (Walter Mathau) in Mirage

-Jeff Bailey (Robert Mitchum) in Out of the Past

-Lew Harper (Paul Newman) in Harper

-Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) in Dirty Harry, etc

-Bullitt (Steve McQueen) in Bullitt

-Scottie Ferguson (James Stewart) in Vertigo

-Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) in Gone Baby Gone

-Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan) in Gone Baby Gone

-Gay Perry (Val Kilmer) in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

-Andy Barker (Andy Richter) in ‘Andy Barker, P.I.’

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 The Body Snatcher/I Walked With a Zombie (a double feature DVD in Classics!) From producer Val Lewton, purveyor of some of the most unique, atmospheric classic horror films around. Treat yourself to a double dose of Lewton with these two very different, and excellent flicks. In the first, Boris Karloff gives what I think is his best performance as the titular grave robber, a witty, friendly, but more menacing because of it chap who seeks to put the screws to the haughty surgeon who’s been exploiting his toil in his need for fresh cadavers. Seriously, as great and underrated an actor as Karloff was, his work here is his most magnetic, and compulsively watchable. And in I Walked With a Zombie, you get some of the most enigmatic visual storytelling in classic horror with a naive young nurse being brought to Haiti to care for the catatonic wife of a depressed plantation owner. As she draws closer to her employer, her quest to cure his wife leads her into the island’s underworld of superstition, voodoo, and, yeah, maybe a zombie or two. Both of these films on one disc means a double feature of original, spooky delights. So rent it already…

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!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Les Diaboliques (in the Criterion Collection.) In the first shot of Les Diaboliques, a small rattletrap truck putt-putts its way through wet streets. As it enters the shabby grounds of L’Institution Delassalle, the truck runs through a deep mud puddle, crushing a small paper boat left drifting there. In that moment, master director Henri-Georges Clouzot (Le Corbeau, Wages of Fear) presents the two themes at the film’s core: that we should watch the waters, and that we will see the fragile and the frivolous crushed underfoot. M. Delassalle (Paul Meurisse), the headmaster of this rundown boarding school, treats his students and staff with equal (and crushing) disdain, but he saves his true sadism for his women. His brassy mistress Nicole (Simone Signoret) first appears wearing sunglasses to hide a bruised eye. After his delicate wife Christina (Véra Clouzot) cannot force herself to choke down the spoiled fish served in the dining hall (as “an example” for the students), we hear her pained squeals as Delassalle administers her punishment. The early minutes of the film show us that Delassalle is loathed by all, from the tippling teacher he humiliates at the dinner table to the dawdling student he confines to school for the weekend vacation, so when the two women who’ve suffered at his hands for years team and hatch a scheme to rid themselves of the brute, it’s no surprise. But trust me: Les Diaboliques does have plenty of surprises for its audience. At its release in 1955, the film caused a sensation, it remains a spine-chilling classic of suspense cinema. For genre-savvy viewers, it’s possible the twists and turns of modern cinematic tropes will manage to spoil the revelations of Les Diaboliques for you, but even without the element of surprise, the film stands as a masterpiece of mood and tension. The pervasive corruption of the story is evident in every aspect: the muddied splash of the truck, the untended and grassless school grounds, the stagnant swimming pool, the spoiled fish, the slightly grubby hotel room to which our heroines repair, the broken-down laundry basket upon which an early suspense scene turns. Even the sweetly timorous Christina, whose long shiny plaits, gingham dress, and winsome half-smile make her look like a barely-grown Dorothy Gale still in a daze from her trip to Oz — even she is blemished; her weak heart is a metaphor for her moral weakness. If Christina can sink to the depths she does, the film seems to ask, who in this world can stand against moral corruption? The dirty waters of the first scene hint at the insinuating, encroaching quality of creeping evil. Water seeps into the film at every turn: stale in the streets, spitting from the sky, banging through pipes, trickling down drains, and spilling into every corner.

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Donnie Darko (in Incredibly Strange.) When is the last time you watched Donnie Darko? (This is perhaps the only movie that will make me urge you: theatrical cut, y’all, not director’s cut. Richard Kelly is NUTS.) Really? That long ago? Hmm. Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Electric Company. Last week, I wrote about Sesame Street’s beginnings and its then-revolutionary approach to incorporating research-based programs of study into children’s television. Debuting three years later, The Electric Company picked up this curriculum for an older demographic, creating a show aimed at elementary-school children, encouraging vocabulary-building, spelling, reading comprehension, and math by incorporating these skills into a fun variety show populated with recurring characters, musical acts, and sketch comedy. Bill Cosby and Rita Moreno were perhaps the biggest stars associated with early Electric Company, but notably the show also launched the TV career of a young Broadway performer named Morgan Freeman and featured guest performances from 1970s superstars Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, Lily Tomlin, Carol Burnett, and more. The show weaves together fresh and funky music with classic film references and old-school vaudeville style to create a simultaneously refreshing and recurring set of sketches, giving kids a comfortable base of interest and familiarity from which to stretch their skill set as they engage with the show and laugh along with the characters.

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

>>>For Saturday, Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Man of the House (in Comedy.) Okay, I understand full well that my delight and entertainment with the following subject matters are not to everyone’s tastes: high school, college, smooching, cheerleading, cliques, singing, dancing, teenage spies, and the Spice Girls. And perhaps you see the name of the films I recommend and immediately pass them over because of this. But, I swear to you, the number of things that I watch that match one or more of all those categories is vast and the number I recommend are few. I truly do understand and make an honest effort to recommend those that are legitimately valuable and appeal to a wider audience! I’m not just saying that to get you to watch a movie about cheerleaders under house arrest by Tommy Lee Jones. Since I brought it up though, you should really watch this movie about cheerleaders under house arrest by Tommy Lee Jones. Unless you don’t care for Tommy Lee Jones, then I would not watch it because that’s pretty much the appeal of the movie. He’s at his, dry, glowering, rough best. The makers of this film knew the star they had won and they did not waste the opportunity.  So many of these gimmick films fall sadly short of what they try to gimmick, they don’t go far enough. This is a perplexing phenomenon because really if your film is one gimmick you’d think that wouldn’t be hard to maintain let alone shatter. Man of the House shatters their gimmick. It’s cheerleaders, they witness a crime in Texas, and Tommy Lee Jones protects them. Simple, elegant, successfully accomplished hilarity.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Reflecting Skin (in Mystery/Thriller.) Finally! Of all the great movies inexplicably not on DVD, this singular 1990 cult classic has long been on the top of Videoporters’ wish lists- and now it’s here! Yeah! We are going to get freaked out all over again! Starring a young (but still very intense and weird looking) Viggo Mortensen, this disturbing coming of age tale is as weird, dark, and unique as anything David Lynch has turned out, but with its own creepy integrity. A young boy living in 1950s rural Idaho seeks to escape his stifling home life through fantasy novels and his own imagination. And there’s a lot to escape: his parents despise each other, his brother (Mortensen) is away in the army, and he’s creeped out by the pale British widow next door who he begins to suspect is actually a vampire. His suspicions grow when his brother returns looking fragile and pale himself and begins spending time with the widow, and when his one friend in town disappears. Oh, and when he finds the dead angel. In some ways, The Reflecting Skin reminds me of Fallen Idol, where the story we see is very different from the way its child protagonist does- through the eyes of a child, adult motivations and actions seem incomprehensible…and often terrifying. Toying with our expectations and suspicions and layered with startling events and a real sense of place, this movie is a forgotten mini-masterpiece of queasy horrors.

New Releases this week at Videoport: What to Expect When You’re Expecting (the puzzling trend of turning self-help books into romantic comedies continues [see Think Like a Man…you know, if you must] with this romcom based on the ubiquitous manual of childbirth; starring Elizabeth Banks and J-Lo as

Seriously- if you spoil this movie for someone, you can be legally euthanized.

Episiotomy), The Cabin in the Woods (Joss Whedon ruled the world with The Avengers, but this superlative horror flick he did with Drew Goddard is maybe even more fun: ATTENTION- anyone spoiling anything about this movie can be legally pelted with hot coins), The Do-Deca-Pentathalon (from indie gods the Duplass Brothers [The Puffy Chair, Cyrus] comes this comedy about two grown brothers who ressurrect their childhood 25-event competition at a family reunion), ‘Supernatural’- season 7 (Sam and Dean are back fighting demons and being all hunky in this very enjoyable horror series), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Brit acting legends Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson and Maggie Smith star in this much-requested autumnal romantic comedy about the titular Indian hotel), The Salt of Life (from the director of Mid-August Lunch comes this similarly-heartwarming tale of a middle aged would be lover dealing with the fact that seemingly everyone is having sex but him), ‘Modern Family’- season 3 (everybody’s favorite feel-good sitcom is back!), ‘The Mentalist’-season 4 (Simon Baker is back, solving crimes with his mind and his bland handsomeness!), Hysteria (Maggie Gyllenhall stars in this saucy period comedy about the adventures of the people involved in the invention of the vibrator), ‘Suburgatory’- season1 (Jeremy Sisto [Six Feet Under] stars in this sitcom about a single father struggling to adjust to his move from New York City to the ‘burbs), Chico and Rita (Oscar-nominated animated film about a love story from 1948 Havana), The Babymakers (sure, it’s a sperm-hiest comedy, but at least it’s got the talented and appealing Paul Schneider [All the Real Girls, Lars and the Real Girl] and was directed by Super Troopers’ Jay Chandrasekhar, so that’s something…), Detachment (from the director of American History X, this drama stars Adrien Brody as an itinerant substitute teacher whose isolated life is challenged when he becomes an inspiration to his new students at a run down inner city school), The Woman in the Fifth (Ethan Hawke and Kristen Scott Thomas star in this thriller about an American novelist in Paris getting all embroiled in one of those femme fatale situations that make for a good thriller), Salvation Boulevard (Greg Kinnear and Pierce Brosnan star in this satire about a born again ex-con whose spiritual rebirth comes into conflict with the pastor of a local mega-church), Oslo, August 31st (Norwegian drama follows a day in the life of a young drug addict trying to find work and examining his life), ‘Terra Nova’- season 1 (a family from the future gets zapped back into the past and has to battle dinosaurs in this big-budget TV series), ‘Spartacus: Vengeance” (season 2 of the gory, bloody, boob-y cable series about the legendary gladiator), Happy (documentary travels the globe to find out what it is that truly makes people…happy), Hell (German sci fi horror about a future where global warming has everyone treating each other really, really badly when the water runs out), Beverly Hills Chihuahua 3 (this exists…), ‘Nitro Circus’- season 1 (if “from the creators of Jackass” is a draw for you, well, then this is just like Jackass, with the people hurting themselves humorously for your enjoyment. So enjoy!), The Fairy (from the director of the equally charming The Iceberg and Rumba comes this whimsical love story about a lonely guy whose life is changed when he falls in love with the titular character, who may in fact be a real wish-grantin’ fairy), Screaming in High Heels (appropriately sleazy documentary about the blood and boob-filled careers of low budget scream queens Linnea Quigley, Michelle Bauer, and Brinke Stevens), Brawler (two mixed martial arts-fightin’ brothers battle to the death in this tale of blood, betrayal, and more blood)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: MacBeth (Orson Welles’ legendary [and legendarily troubled] 1948 film of the Scottish Tragedy finally gets a DVD release), End of the Road (Stacy Keach and James Earl Jones star in this trippy 1969 drama about a recent college graduate embarking on a series of Vietnam-era satirical encounters; written by the legendary Terry Southern [Dr. Strangelove]), The Reflecting Skin (see Sunday’s review!)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Do-Deca-Pentathalon, Hysteria, Titanic, The World’s Fastest Indian, Hell, Fair Game, Benny & Joon, Brawler, The Cabin in the Woods.


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