VideoReport #372

Volume CCCLXXII- The Girl With The Calvin From Calvin & Hobbes Peeing On The Yankees Logo Tattoo

For the Week of 10/2/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Netflix is secretly sending sexting your boy/girlfriend behind you back. Oh, and Redbox killed a puppy that one time.

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!

>>> Elsa S. Customer, In honor of Halloween — just a few short weeks away! — all month long, I’ll be recommending scary movies for your spoooOOOoooky viewing pleasure. To start things off, here are five film scenes that scared me silly. [Expect mild spoilers, but really egregious spoilers will be marked.]

Mulholland Dr., the tiny people. Though MD’s justly lauded diner scene packs a mighty wallop of uncanny anxiety and a big BAM of unresolved terror, it’s the film’s ending that scares the bejeebers out of me. [SPOILERS, obviously] Diane recoils from the great pounding on her door, then the elderly couple from Betty’s earlier journey reappear; shrunken down to ant size, squeaking and gesticulating, they creep through the crack under the door. Suddenly, they’ve grown, looming at her and grinning madly, their hands raised like talons. I’m not even sure why this scene gets under my skin, but it does — so badly that, when I watch the film alone (as I have done dozens upon dozens of times) I almost always lunge for the STOP button before that moment.

Lost Highway, The Mystery Man. Wandering solo through a banal SoCal party where everyone is trying to make connections but no one wants to really connect, Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) comes face to face with an oddly direct little fellow. The Mystery Man (Peter Blake) beelines across the room to Fred, a wide-eyed smile on his eerily pale face, and the music and background chatter melts away as if the two are alone together in this crowded room. Their conversation is deeply unsettling both in content and in tone, with Fred trying to keep the banter light while The Mystery Man speaks with a weirdly earnest intensity belied by his every-present smile.

The Descent. For my money, the scariest scene in The Descent has no otherworldly elements at all. It’s a perfectly ordinary moment — if your everyday life involves spelunking, that is. The troupe of cavers finds themselves having to traverse a narrow neck of tunnel in the cavern system they’re exploring. It doesn’t sound like much, but imagine this: you’re underground, in the dark, under tones of earth and rock, and you need to squeeze yourself, one inch at a time, through a crumbly, human-sized gap in the rock and emerge into an unknown cave, one probably never seen by another human being. Now remember that we know what the cavers do not: [SPOILER!] Juno has led them to an unmarked, unmapped cave. No one aboveground knows where they are. I found myself holding my breath in anxiety.

Zodiac. It’s irrational. It’s impossible. When we watch David Fincher’s Zodiac, we know we’re watching an unresolved narrative, because [SPOILER if you consider the outcome of a notoriously overanalyzed criminal case to be a spoiler, but c’mon, really?] we know the case was never solved. So we know that our intrepid protagonist will never knowingly come face-to-face with the killer. But when affable amateur-cryptographer Robert Graysmith (Jake Gyllenhal) goes off on his own to track down evidence from a movie projectionist (Charles Fleischer) tangentially associated with the high-profile serial killer case, suddenly every creak of that basement ceiling plucks at my flight-or-fight response as if Fincher has reached his hand inside me and strummed the nerves himself, laughing all the while.

Are You The Walkers? (Derek Kimball’s contribution to the Damnationland 2011 Maine-made horror anthology) Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say: the knock on the door. I’ve watched this film on dark snowy nights when the wind is howling around the walls and on bright summery evenings when it seems like winter will never come again, and in any weather, when that knock comes at the door, I get goosebumps.

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 Detective (in Classics.) If for no other reason than to have the answer to a really cool trivia question in your pocket. Trivia question: What Frank Sinatra movie sees ol’ Blue Eyes playing the same character who, in a future blockbuster, fights terrorists in the high rise Nakatomi Plaza? Did I just blow your mind? Yeah…

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!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests Crazy, Stupid Love (in Comedy.) Ultra-slick playboy Jacob (Ryan Gosling) sees newly separated Cal (Steve Carell) flubbing and schlubbing his nights away in a glam pick-up spot. For no defined reason, Jacob promises to transform Cal Pymalion-style… except instead of transforming a Cockney guttersnipe into an elegant refined lady, he’s going to transform an unkempt suburban dad into a sleek, soulless seduction machine. Gosling takes a frankly pretty creepy role — the master manipulator, the pure egoist, the utterly superficial pleasure-seeking wolf — and imbues it with humor and humanity. Gosling’s depth allows us a peek at Jacob’s unconscious motive for adopting Cal: in the emptiness that lurks under the gloss of his swanky single lifestyle, even the tenuous connection that comes from training a middle-aged goof into a solitary Lothario helps to salve the loneliness. But Cal’s life is as complicated and interconnected with other people as Jacob’s is secluded and disconnected, so when Cal tries to slip unfettered through a singles’ paradise, everything conspires to a big collision. And it does all collide spectacularly in a way that is, indeed, both crazy and stupid, that should make us all roll our eyes at the ridiculousness… but it kinda works, the way that the best farce works.

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 Grizzly Man (in Documentary.) The film opens on a breathtaking vista of two bears peacefully grazing in a valley, a snowy mountain soaring to the sky behind them. Then a scruffy blond man walks into frame and a sobering epitaph appears: Timothy Treadwell (1957-2003). This is the found footage of created by Treadwell, a self-styled “bear activist” who felt moved to live among the grizzly bears of Alaska’s Katmai National Park. In this opening address, he expounds on the need for peaceful coexistence with the bears, then spirals off into a giddy ramble about standing up to the bears, not backing down, being dominant, being “a samurai.” Kneeling as he is just yards from the bears in the background, Treadwell’s jumble of naive swagger and childish glee is chilling. You perhaps already know — and if you don’t, you must know before you decide to watch Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man — that Treadwell and his companion, Amie Huguenard, were killed and eaten by bears in 2003. Minutes later, we see what appears to be a telescopic close-up of a grizzly’s face… until a human hand peeks into the frame, reaching out to stroke its muzzle. I actually yelped out loud at the — the what, exactly? At the reckless thrill-seeking — and we know it is in part thrill-seeking thanks to Treadwell’s euphoric, self-congratulatory song-and-dance at escaping a too-close confrontation in which a bear actually knocks him down before lumbering off. At the sheer irresponsibility and self-centeredness: experts agree that Treadwell’s expeditions habituated bears to human contact and confrontation, making the nature preserve more dangerous for human visitors and grizzlies alike. But mostly at Treadwell’s audacity, because what other word describes the delusion of believing that your personality and presence will outmaster a population of hulking, territorial bears? It would be funny if it weren’t so horrific, so needless, so terribly sad. The rest of the film’s first act consists of Treadwell’s video journals — mostly footage of him chattering at massive grizzlies in a condescending, kindergarten voice, or frolicking in glee at surviving a too-close brush with a bear — intercut with interviews of those who discovered the bodies and performed examinations and investigations on Huguenard and Treadwell’s remains.

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

>>> You don’t have to rent anything else, you can just choose a free movie from the thousands of movies in the kids section. You’re welcome…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis gives you his 5 film scenes that scared him silly. There are SPOILERS ahead. I know that’s obvious from the concept, but since only the worst people in the world who deserve to be banned from Videoport forever thoughtlessly blurt out important movie plot points, I thought I’d throw an extra warning in there.

Halloween.The original, obviously. It’s become a cliche for the killer to NOT REALLY BE DEAD, but the reveal at the end of Halloween remains armhair-ticklingly perfect in spite of that. Jamie Lee’s gotten the best of Michael Myers, Donald Pleasance has finished him off with six shots center mass, sending the

Oh, crap…

masked killer out the second floor window. Jamie Lee asks “Was it really the boogeyman?” and Pleasance answers “As a matter of fact, I think it was.” Then he looks over the balcony. Myers is gone. Pleasance’s relieved, slightly smug expression twitches, just slightly. Jamie Lee, seeing only his reaction, starts to weep. The still-chilling piano theme tinkles to life and John Carpenter’s camera cuts to a series of shots of the film’s murder scenes. The piano plays on, Jamie Lee weeps, he’s still out there. Somewhere.

Jacob’s Ladder. Tortured Vietnam vet Tim Robbins has been seeing…things, all over New York. His waking nightmare takes him to a more nightmarish hospital, where he’s strapped to a gurney and wheeled helplessly past…things. There are filming techniques that, again, have been copied since, but I still get queasy thinking about it here. Crappy ending aside, this sequence is the closest to the helpless horror of a nightmare I’ve ever seen on film.

The Blair Witch Project. Again, imitators, parodies, and people who are really, really dumb about horror movies have diluted the impact this once had, but the last scene… Building on everything that had come before, the image of [redacted] against the [redacted], and [redacted]’s frenzied screaming of [redacted]’s name followed by [seriously redacted]. I’ve said it before, but after seeing this movie for the first time, you could have offered me $10,000 to walk through even some nice leafy suburban woods…and I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

Angel Heart. One scene. One shot. At the end of the movie. A tiny child. A simple gesture. An unexpected reveal. I still have nightmares thinking about it.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. The Donald Sutherland one. Sure, there’s the end. Whuuuuugh. But the scene that really get me is when Sutherland, trying to contact the authorities about the inescapable evidence that pod people are taking over San Francisco makes a call. The operator knows his name. But he never said his name.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests everything Joss Whedon has ever done! Now that he’s the king of the world (screw you,James Cameron) having directed The Avengers (which is great), I could not more strenuously urge you to check out the man’s back catalog. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ (in Horror), ‘Angel’ (in Horror), Cabin in the Woods (in Horror), ‘Firefly’ and its attendant feature film sequel Serenity (in Sci Fi), Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (in Incredibly Strange and, to a lesser extent, ‘Dollhouse’ (in Sci Fi- it gets better as it goes along). The man has amassed a body of work that has delighted nerds, geeks, and various video clerks (so you know he’s good), but now that he’s conquered the world, it’s time for everyone else to revel in the Joss-ian greatness.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Dark Shadows (the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp creative partnership continues to provide diminishing returns in this film adaptation of the legendarily-silly Maine-set vampire soap opera), ‘How I Met Your Mother’- season 7(what do you do when your central

Told you…

character and his story are way less interesting than all his supporting characters and their stories? Well, hope and pray you’ve got Jason Segel, Allyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris in your cast…), Iron Sky (Moon Nazis! I repeat again- moon Nazis! If you need more incentive to rent this bananas cult sci fi flick, then you and I are very different people…), People Like Us (Chris Pine and Elizabeth Banks star in this drama about a slicky-boy salesman who discovers he has a grown sister he never knew when he returns home to settle his father’s estate), Red Lights (Sigourney Weaver and Robert DeNiro square off in this thriller about a supernatural de-bunker whose skepticism is tested when her assistant [Cillian Murphy] starts digging into the past of DeNiro’s legendary spoon-bender), Peace Love & Misunderstanding (Katherine Keener, Jane Fonda and Elizabeth Olsen star in this drama about a high-powered lawyer who, after her divorce, heads to the Woodstock farm of her still-hippie mom; expect some hugging…), The Hole (from legendary horror director Joe Dante [The Howling, Gremlins] comes this fright flick about a kid who discovers a seemingly bottomless hole under a trapdoor in his new house), The Tall Man (from the director of the ultra-insane horror movie Martyrs comes this chiller about a mother who goes in search of the titular child-stealing legend when her child goes missing), ‘Key & Peele’- season 1 (the funniest new sketch comedy in years, starring Keegan Michael Key [the bald one] and Jordan Peele [the not bald one]), ‘The New Girl’- season 1 (Zooey Deschanel brings her signature adorkability to this sitcom about Zooey Deschanel being adorkable), Sound of My Voice (creepily acclaimed thriller about a filmmaking couple whose investigation of a cult leader who claims to come from the future puts them in some serious danger), The Lady (certified cool actors Michelle Yeoh [Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon] and David Thewlis [Naked] star in this political thriller about a couple whose marriage must cope with her involvement in Burma’s democracy movement; based on a true story), The Magic of Belle Isle (Morgan Freeman stars in this heartwarmer about a paralyzed author whose passion for writing is rekindled by a single mom and her adorable kids.)

New Arrivals on DVD at Videoport this week: A New Leaf (finally on DVD, this hidden gem of a screwball comedy stars Walter Matthau as a spendthrift playboy who has to marry a shlubby heiress in order to avoid the poorhouse; costarring, written and directed by comedy legend Elaine May; also ask Videoport’s Sam to do his Matthau impression…)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: People Like Us, Dark Shadows, The Dark Knight Returns- Part 1.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

You know you can park for free at Videoport, right? Seriously. The parking lot behind the building is free every weekday after 5pm and all weekend. Also, Videoport will validate you for a free hour of parking at any downtown garage (the courthouse garage is like a minute’s walk away.) And, of course, all parking meters are inert and foolish after 6pm Monday-Saturday and all day Sunday.

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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