VideoReport #373

Volume CCCLXXIII- The Girl With The Chinese Characters She Thinks Mean “Mountain Flower” But Instead Mean “Hill Hooker” Tattoo

For the Week of 10/2/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Yup, every, single day. No exceptions. Every day. Seriously.

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 suggests ‘The Lost Room’ (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) While recommending this off-beat miniseries to a friend, I went searching through videoportjones.wordpress.com for my inevitable review of the series… and came up empty. How can it be? Have I really never recommended The Lost Room before? VideoReport readers, I have failed you, but those days are over. While investigating a peculiar and grisly death, Detective Joe Miller (Peter Krause, Six Feet Under, Sports Night, Parenthood) comes into possession of a key with unexplained powers: inserted into a lock, it makes that door open onto any other room with a keyed lock. Any room, anywhere. As Joe uncovers a scant few secrets of The Room, his curiosity and sense of duty combine to draw him further in, researching the underground cabal of manipulators, magnates, and zealots who spend their lives pursuing the everyday objects imbued by The Room with their own weird powers. The Lost Room balances its bizarre aspects with just enough suspense and a healthy dose of humor at the premise’s inherent wackiness. Note: The Lost Room DVD menu might make you think you’re entering your own epic journey into the unreal, but — just like Joe Miller — you need to keep your wits about you and remember things aren’t always as they seem. Someone at the ol’ DVD factory mis-keyed the PLAY ALL option so that instead of PLAYing ALL, it leads back inescapably to the previews. No worries. Just select the first episode and the DVD will automatically play either (depending on your player, apparently) the first two or the entire first disc. Weeeeeeird.

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! As one of the best (and last) truly independent video stores anywhere, Videoport thrives because our customers are as devoted, knowledgeable and, well, bananas about movies as we are, and the VideoReport is the place for all us movie geeks and freaks to let loose and share our opinions about movies, TV shows, and basically anything else. So send your reviews, lists, or really anything else to denmn@hotmail.com, our Facebook page “Videoport Jones” or just drop ‘em off here in the store! Movie geeks assemble!

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!

>>>Videoport customer Deb T. presents her 5 movie scenes that freaked her right the heck out! SPOILERS AHEAD!

1) The end of Blair Witch – when she’s going down the stairs. I couldn’t get that image out of my mind for days – and even now, when I think about it, I don’t feel good.

2) The Ring – actually there are many parts of The Ring that I found scary. I usually turn the TV down a bit each time I get scared during a movie – and it was practically on mute by the end of this movie. But I would say the messed up video they show was quite disturbing to me. (as a side note, though – I love the prank that some people did by putting a girl dressed up like she was from the Ring in a hotel hallway. – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G1KZsL_0K4M)

3) Psycho – seeing Norman Bates’ mother in the chair.

4) The Omen – when the nanny kills herself for Damien.

5) Nightmare on Elm Street – when the girl falls asleep in school. Granted – I saw this in 5th grade, but it definitely taught me to pay attention in class!

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 The Incongruous Double-Feature of My Best Friend’s Wedding (in Comedy) & Punch Drunk Love (in Drama). For a one-two comedy-drama punch, pair up these two films that push the conventions of romantic comedy escapades to their logical extreme. Julia Roberts vehicle My Best Friend’s Wedding manages to both embrace and transcend its genre by presenting a typical rom-com plot mobilizer: when perpetually single Julianne learns that her best friend Michael is getting married, she realizes — oh golly! — that she’s always loved him. The movie’s a tricky balance of sympathy and antipathy (as you might expect from P.J. hogan, director of the alternately sparkling and dark Muriel’s Wedding). Julianne’s desperation to derail the wedding is brightened and softened by Roberts’ trademark smile and twinkle, and by the frothy lightness of the script — and especially the soundtrack. My Best Friend’s Wedding harkens back to old-school Hollywood musical comedy, not only with its derail-the-wedding plot (see My Favorite Wife, Holiday, The Philadelphia Story) but by ingeniously devising excuses for characters to burst into song. If it hadn’t worked, it would have been intolerably tedious. But it does work, and My Best Friend’s Wedding is frothy and light, a weirdly endearing deconstruction of the romantic comedies of Old Hollywood. By contrast, Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love pushes the conventions of modern rom-com to its angsty, twitchy edge. Adam Sandler’s Barry Egan is a distillation of Sandler’s usual comedic roles: a goofy, uncertain man-child with a job disdained by his peers, a stable of overbearing female relatives, a hobby he pursues with weirdly dogged determination, and a simmering internalized rage that slips out in hostile snaps of humor. From his depressing warehouse, Barry sells a range of novelty toilet accessories, which is only the start of his litany of embarrassments. In the opening scene, the camera follows Barry as he tracks the uncertain source of a background noise, from his dreary warehouse office through a blacked-out corner, through a garage door, down an alley, and finally outside where he peeks around the corner of a flimsy fence. Even a viewer unfamiliar with Anderson’s sprawling dramas will know that this smaller story will not follow the rigid formulaic outlines of a Sandler rom-com, but instead promises a collision of emotion and personalities, a weirdly rich and deep arc of mingled unease and trust. Sandler’s facile comedies never prepared us for the epic performance he delivers here. Even as Barry smiles and stutters, trying to maintain civility in everyday interactions, barely contained fear and anger seep from every inch of him. When his putative love interest Lena (Emily Watson) appears, that tense energy barely changes, just escalates to a twitchy, jittery fever. It sounds unendurable, but Anderson knows how to deliver juuuuust enough stomach-clenching anxiety and balances it with a sumptuous, dreamy palette of intense color and shadow to match the intensity of feeling that these characters bring to the film. It’s as if he pooled all the self-consciously quirky, cringy rom-coms of the past decade and ran them through a still, extracting only the richest notes and presenting them to us in one heady draught.

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

>>> Free! You know- for kids!

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

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Chad W. brings you his 5 movie scenes that freak him right the heck out!

The Exorcist: Tape playback scene in the library… Poltergeist: Clown Doll… The Thing: CPR scene…. Evil Dead: Demon playing cards scene…. Lost Highway: Call me at your house… (And also suggests the beginning of “Fire on High” by ELO and The Astrosphere?)- real Mainers know what he’s talking about…

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer brings out 5 more of the movie scenes that freaked her right the hell out. (SPOILERS!!)

Spoorloos (Without a Trace, The Vanishing. Note: be sure to get the original 1988 Dutch film, not the 1993 English-language remake.). In the aftermath of a young woman’s disappearance from a rest area, we see scenes of a jovial bourgeois dad performing increasingly odd solo rehearsals of some kind all backed with a jaunty theme more suited to a romantic comedy montage than a man dancing uneasily with a chloroformed rag. The unassuming fellow’s antic culminate in a specific move: he slips into the car, drops his arm casually behind the (imagined) passenger to lock the door, then roughly draws her to him and forces the chloroform over her (imagined) face. The cheerful music drops away. And then we see the same villain at the rest stop with his teenaged daughter. He drops his arm casually over her shoulder, draws her roughly to him, and lovingly tweaks her nose. This everyday father is practicing his abduction moves on his giggling daughter. This breezy, perverse sequence hammers home the banality of evil in all its forms.

The Ring. The first time I saw The Ring, my then-housemate and I lounged sanguinely in our living room, occasionally volleying remarks like “This isn’t so scary. What’s the big deal?” Then The Big Deal happened: the blank TV turned itself on, Samara appeared, and then she crawled through the screen. When that moment was over, our postures had changed completely. J, who had been flopped full-length on the sofa, was now kneeling on its far end, as far from the television as possible, his back pressed up against the wall. I had been lying on the floor on a pile of pillows, but at Samara’s advance, I instinctively jumped away and scuttled backwards in alarm on my hands and heels. I’ve had years to think about our shared visceral reaction to that moment. The immediate image — glitchy and twitchy and spooky as hell — is unsettling, but more terrifying is the unspoken meta-textual aggression of this idea: that our terrors will transcend their media, erupting into our homes and coming after us wherever we are.

Alien. The laboratory search scene. After the graphic panicky horror of the infamous dinner scene, we’ve had time to come to grips with the horror of the alien… and then [SPOILER] it goes missing. The crew has to search for this skittering pale creature somewhere in the pale complex architecture of the Nostromo’s infirmary. The scene is uneasily quiet and shot from crazy POV angles as they poke, cringing, through high cupboards and under tables and litters. After the brash hollering fear and disgust in earlier scenes, this is a passage designed to make your breath catch in your throat.

Les Diaboliques. It’s all but impossible to discuss the the debt modern suspense and horror films owe to director Henri Georges Clouzot’s Les Diaboliques without spoiling the original moment. It’s the granddaddy of a thousand film terrors since, and it’s well worth watching without spoilers, ideally in a dark room with the phone turned off and all distractions shut out. [SPOILERS ahoy.] Once you’ve seen it, you can’t unsee it: the biggest scares in Hitchcock’s Psycho and Kubrick’s The Shining are homages to Les Diaboliques (In Hitch’s case, he admitted that freely: he was livid to miss the film rights to the novel, which may have influenced the zeal with which he snapped up Robert Bloch’s Psycho, even reportedly buying all available copies of the novel to protect the film’s twist.) Given the watershed influence of Psycho and The Shining, it’s fair to say that modern horror and suspense has been shaped by Clouzot’s indelible images. It’s hard to see this scene in isolation; it’s become a palimpsest of all the moments it’s inspired. But try. Sit in the dark, imagining yourself in a movie theater in 1955, surrounded by a tense, silent crowd, all craning forward in mingled anxiety and eagerness to see what happens next. Imagine that this moment is playing out before you on film for the first time, and absorb the terror of that image.

The Shining. It’s predictable because it’s a classic: [SPOILER] the bathroom in Room 237. I can’t even dissect precisely what scares me here. the bathroom setting plays upon our understanding of a bathroom as someplace private, a place where we’re exposed but safe from external forces. Jack’s intrusion — fully dressed, even wearing a jacket and boots — into this private space is itself a rupture in our tacit expectations. The silent allure of the nude beauty in the (dry) tub and Jack’s enthralled acceptance of her presence signals another break in the hotel’s reality. And then Kubrick starts reeeeeally messing with us, breaking up not only reality but time. The sylphlike siren transforms to a rotting hag in Jack’s arms, but also into an elderly corpse simultaneously emerging impossibly from the (now filled) bathtub. The narrative intercuts suggest that this impossible sequence represents Jack’s experience mingled with Danny’s vision of the events, but the immediate visceral effect of this non-linear timeline churns my nerves so hard that I never watch the Room 237 scene without first being sure our bathroom light is on and the shower curtain is pulled open.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Prometheus (Ridley Scott continues to go back and much about with his best movies [see: Blade Runner] with this prequel to the still-perfect Alien; rumor is, he did a decent job, though…), Rock of Ages (from the director of Hairspray comes another big screen adaptation of a big, goofy Broadway musical; this time it’s the 80s hair-metal extravaganza, starring Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Paul Giamatti, and Catherine Zeta-Jones), The Raven (John Cusack continues to make odd film choices; here, he’s Edgar Allan Poe, helping the 19th century coppers track down a serial killer who’s been taking inspiration for his grisly crimes from Poe’s fiction), Shut Up And Play The Hits (massive 3-dis documentary about the epic final concert by acclaimed band LCD Soundsystem, who went out with one massive final sold-out show at Madison Square Garden), ‘The League’- season 3 (return of the funny, improv-y FX series about a quintet of goofball friends obsessed with their fantasy football league- and generally being juvenile and filthy; starring Mark Duplass, Nick Kroll, and Maine’s own Katie Aselton), ‘It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia’- season 7 (the continuing, and continuously hilarious, comic adventures of possibly the worst human beings in the history of the world! Featuring, this season, the debut of Fat Mac!), A Cat in Paris (Academy Award-nominated animated film about double life of a Parisian cat who’s a policeman’s daughter’s pet by day, cat burglar by night), ‘Holliston’- season 1 (two aspiring horror moviemakers living in the titular Massachusetts town deal with their Hollywood dreams, girl troubles, and the fact that their boss is played by Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and one of them has an imaginary friend played by the guy from GWAR), Losing Control (indie comedy about an insecure single scientist seeking empirical evidence that her new boyfriend is THE ONE), ‘Bones’- season 7 (David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel continue to spar and make goo-goo eyes at each other while examining the gooiest bodies in the history of detective TV), The Giant Mechanical Man (indie comedy with a good cast about an aimless woman [The Office’s Jenna Fischer] who falls for a street performer [Chris Messina] who performs as a silver-skinned robot mime-guy), Restless City (NYC-set indie drama about a talented young musician whose path to success is imperiled by the lure of drugs, gangs, and the sex), Page Eight (ever-cool Bill Nighy stars alongside the none-too-shabby-herself Rachel Weisz in this BBC spy thriller about a long-standing MI-5 agent who comes upon a file suggesting all may not entirely be on the up-and-up)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Prometheus, The Raven, Shut Up and Play the Hits, Rock of Ages

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.

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