VideoReport #377

Volume CCCLXXVII- Hallelujah

For the Week of 11/6/12

Videoport says hallelujah- have a free movie on us…

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!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests 2001: A Space Odyssey (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) It’s no secret ’round these parts that I’m ambivalently obsessed with Kubrick’s work. Regular VideoReportreaders have heard me

Look- it’s the future!

dissecting Eyes Wide Shut‘s socio-economic treatise barely hidden under a glaze of perfunctory sexuality, The Shining‘s emptying out of King’s original story to create a narrative resonant with spatial and temporal inconsistencies, the cutting dark satire of Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. 2001 displays all that darkness, all that direness, and a lavish helping of Kubrick’s trademark cold distance plastered over conversations that should be fraught with heavy emotion. (Has “I’m afraid I can’t do that,” a phrase heartily endorsed by Miss Manners for its bland civility, ever sounded more detached — or more sinister?) Oh, the canvas of 2001 is a vast, chilly one for sure, the kind of vision that deserves to be projected on an enormous screen and watched attentively in dark, in silence, in rapt attention. But for all its futuristic imaginings, the unintentionally revealing moments inevitably pull me out of the story with a sudden bump. On this visionary tale of an unmapped future with all its staggering advances in technology and science and its desire to seek out alien intelligence, Stanley Kubrick and screenwriter Arthur C. Clark utterly failed to notice the antiquated socio-sexual roles in which they were mired. Every time I see the film, I’m engrossed and inspired… until Dr. Heywood Floyd enters the moon shuttle, at which point I burst out laughing. Even in their most wild imaginings of The Future, these brilliant, ingenious, prescient 20th-century men could only imagine women as stewardesses, daughters, and secretaries. Thanks, fellas.

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 Manchurian Candidate(in Classics). SPOILERSSPOILERSSPOILERS I’d never seen this. What’s wrong with me? Anyway- on the recommendation of my ever wise special ladyfriend, I finally got around to seeing John Frankenheimer’s bananas, ahead-of-its-time political/assassination thriller and it was even better than I thought it would be. A platoon of soldiers in Korea, including tough

Karate Frank!

sarge Frank Sinatra and icy, unlikeable Laurence Harvey get back home and are lauded as heroes for taking out an enemy encampment. Except all the members of the platoon keep having weird dreams…and have a strangely similar response when asked about Harvey’s medal of honor-winning heroics. Sinatra especially can’t let go of the fact that something’s..not right, so he begins to investigate. And despite my spoiler warning before, I’m not going to say too much more, except to say that Frankenheimer does some truly bizarre things as his tale of Cold War intrigue unfolds. There’s a surprisingly crisp, efficient performance from Sinatra, Harvey’s polished stiffness is used to perfection, and, as outlandish as the plot may seem at times, there’s a pleasantly unpleasant sense of creeping plausibility to the whole thing. With this election season finally, blessedly (and gratifyingly) over, and this movie fresh in my mind, I felt myself watching President Obama’s victory speech and focusing on this one, distracted looking white guy behind him…and wondering if that guy had ever been to Korea. (Oh, and there’s a shockingly brutal early movie martial arts fight between Sinatra and all star utility bad guy Henry Silva; it’s effective because of its utter realism- these are simply two guys who’ve learned different, equally effective, ways of hurting people and they use those skills as brutally as possible. Plus, have there ever been two more unlikely guys to have a movie karate fight than Frank Sinatra and Henry Silva? Maybe Jason Schwartzman and Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim Saves the World– but it’s close…)

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 more politics! But, you know, happy politics this time.. Again, now that this election thing is past (and that, yes, my President won, and lots and lots of Republicans , bigots, sexists, and homophobes are sitting stunned and fuming and very, very unhappy), I’m feeling like watching some more things where the right guy/gal wins.

‘Parks & Recreation’- season 4. Leslie Knope, Amy Poehler’s tirelessly-patriotic small town bureaucrat is fulfilling her lifelong dream of running for office. Sure, it’s only for city council of the loopy burg of Pawnee, Indiana, but, in the hands of Poehler and the shows writers, Leslie’s hilariously mishap-ful campaign is also one of the most insightful, ultimately-heartwarming TV depictions of American politics ever. Leslie’s enthusiasm for the process, and for the idea of public service, is simultaneously funny, smart…and ultimately moving.

Dave. Kevin Kline, too, does a peerless job at embodying the guileless glee of the true American idealist as the titular regular Joe (or, um, Dave), a social worker whose uncanny resemblance to the sitting (conservative, corrupt) president places him at the center of a scheme by the Prez’s Karl Rove-like chief of staff (a deliciously evil Frank Langella) when the commander in chief has a stroke while banging an aide. Thrust into the role of the leader of the free world, the patriotic Dave realizes the inherent compromises of the system- and decides to make some changes. It’s a daffy, Capra-esque fable, but it totally works in the way that only the best fables do.

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!

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman offers her election night recommendations/wisdom. I’m still a little bitter that my voting location did not have any stickers to give me, but despite that I’m still all awash in a glow of democracy. Mr. Videoport Jones put out the call to serve my local (well…Boston still counts as local…ish) Videoreport and answer his call I shall! Naturally I’m feeling extra West Wingy right now, which you really should be watching right now if you haven’t yet, but I thought as opposed to once again reminding you of how awesome that show is I would highlight something West Wing adjacent. Originally I was going to go with my favorite selections from Bradley Whitford who plays my favorite lead character Josh Lyman. Sadly it turns out those choices would be recommending The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants and Billy Madison. And while I am absolutely that girl in all my shameful glory I can’t quite bring myself to officially do it. So I’m going with my second favorite lead character, at least today. My selection of favorite characters being an ever rotating list! There were far too many to maintain one favorite indefinitely. But I did so love Toby played by Richard Schiff, who quite often is a random bit character that you likely wonder what he’s from and then have to IMDB him.  He was of course a small bit character in these two delights: Eli Stone and The Hudsucker Proxy. Eli Stone was a short lived lawyer show with the dude from Hackers as Eli Stone. Eli is a bloodsucking lowlife of a lawyer who starts seeing visions. Does he have weird brain thingy or is he a prophet receiving divine messages? Who cares? I like cutesy lawyer shows, especially ones that feature so very much George Michael musical influence! The Hudsucker Proxy is a rarely lauded Coen flick. Which I understand, you have a great many damn fine films to choose from why pick this one? I think I actually even saw a documentary on an airplane that said it was the Coen brother’s least favorite film. I need to be pretty drugged up to even be on an airplane so I have no idea how much of that last part I made up. Despite what everyone else feels The Hudsucker Proxy is in fact my favorite Coen flick. It highlights so many of my favorite old movies it endears me at every turn. Yes, I even like whatserface in it who apparently annoys the sh*t out of everyone.

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

>>> A free movie from the kids section with no other rental necessary? That’s nothing to complain about at all!

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

>>>For Saturday, Regan presents an overlooked movie checklist! “With all this political talk about different kinds of rape, there is one they haven’t brought up yet- manrape! The many kinds of manrape!”

-I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (in Mystery/Thriller)

-Thursday (in Mystery/Thriller)

-Pulp Fiction (in Incredibly Strange)

-The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (one in Mystery/Thriller, one in Foreign Language)

-Vulgar (in Incredibly Strange)

-American History X (in Drama)

-any season of ‘Oz’ (in Drama)

-The Shawshank Redemption (in Drama)

-Mysterious Skin (in Drama)

-The Mudge Boy in Drama)

-Deliverance (in Action)

-Sleepers (in Mystery/Thriller)

-Spetters (in Foreign)

-Twenty Nine Palms (in Foreign)

-Trading Places (in Comedy)

-The Ten (in Comedy)

>>>For Sunday,  Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘The West Wing’ (in Drama.) On Election Day, your editor and I (night owls and late risers) got up bright and early to hit our polling place before the lines could grow. Then we went home to wait. And wait. And wait. To pass the interminable hours between voting and the first results, we determinedly turned off the news and turned on our “West Wing” DVDs. We started, of course, with S4, ep7, “Election Night,” in which Bartlett and his staff have little left to do but cast their votes and await the results of their second Presidential campaign, trying to occupy their overworked minds and frayed nerves. And, now that my furious disappointment over “The Newsroom” has simmered down, I remembered why I loved Aaron Sorkin’s shows once upon a time. The episode starts with Josh Lyman (Bradly Whitford, Cabin in the Woods, “The Good Guys”) swarmed with a gaggle of confused voters at his polling place. It moves on to the West Wing where head speechwriter Toby Zeigler (Richard Schiff, “Roswell,” “Relativity”) barely contains his fury as he explains to his writing partner Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe, Parks & Rec) and press secretary C.J. Craig (Allison Janney, Away We Go, “Lost”) why he’s written two speeches: a victory speech and a concession speech. Why write a concession speech? “OF COURSE I wrote a concession. You wanna tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing?” Charlie Young (Dulé Hill, “Psych”) is visited by two at-risk students who want his help, and he ends up letting them tag along with him to his polling place while they explain why they stole a goat. The episode introduces themes and issues that play out over the rest of the season without ever sacrificing the fast-stepping humor and easy banter of ferociously bright, witty people working long hard hours together. There’s a delicious light to these characters, a fire of intelligence and heart and humor burning inside them that just has to shine through: they can’t help it, even if they wanted to.

I know this isn’t from the movie, but…yeah!

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Amazing Spider Man (Andrew Garfield steps into Tobey Maguire’s tights in this decent, if unnecessary, reboot of the web-slinger’s franchise), Arthur Christmas (a sleighfull of cool Brits [Hugh Laurie, James Broadbent, Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton] lend their voices to this animated holiday family film which examines exactly how Santa can deliver all those prezzies in one night), ‘Call the Midwife’- season 1 (attention Downton Abbey fans! Everybody says this 1950s-set British drama about a beleaguered midwife is right up your alley), The Ambassador (Danish journalist/filmmaker Madds Brugger had the utterly bats*it insane idea to pose as a decadent European ambassador in order to infiltrate the blood diamond trade in Africa; and yes, he is still alive), Fire With Fire (if an action thriller about a fireman witnessing a mob hit and entering the witness protection program stars Bruce Willis, Rosario Dawson, and Josh Duhamel and it comes out on DVD and you’ve never heard of it- is that a bad sign?), ‘Regular Show: Best DVD In the World’ (At This Moment In Time) ‘ (16 episodes of this animated Cartoon Network show about two groundskeepers at a national park [who seem to be played by a blue jay and some sort of rodent] whose attempts to alleviate boredom inevitably result in some seriously surrealistic weirdness), Your Sister’s Sister (this week’s excellent indie comedy/drama at Videoport is this unlikely love triangle from director Lynn Shelton [Humpday, My Effortless Brilliance] about two platonic friends [Mark Duplass and Emily Blunt] and Blunt’s lesbian sister Rosemarie DeWitt), 360 (from the director of City of God and The Constant Gardener comes this multicharacter drama following the string of related events resulting from one businessman’s infidelity; starring Anthony Hopkins, Ben Foster, Rachel Weisz, and Jude Law), [Rec]3: Genesis (over-punctuated Spanish second sequel to the “something makes everyone go violently bananas” series that was the basis for the still-pretty-good American remake Quarantine), Trishna (always-interesting director Michael Winterbottom [Tristram Shandy, The Trip] updates Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles to present day India, with Slumdog Millionaire’s Frida Pinto as the lowly servant girl whose doomed romance with the son of a wealty family is, well, doomed), With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story (the life and times of Stan the Man, Marvel Comics’ legendary grand poo-bah), Red Dog (Australian true story about a dog, who’s red. I have no more information…),

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Dawn of the Dead (so many versions of George Romero’s horror zombie classic- there’s the theatrical cut, the European cut (from producer Dario Argento), the extended edition- seriously, you are gonna want to watch ‘em all back-to-back-to-back and compare if you’re a true zombiephile; different music, more violence, less violence, extended scenes…more zombies than you can shake a severed arm at! Oh, plus a new documentary about the whole glorious mess!), A Thousand Clowns (Jason Robards starred in this 1965 cult drama about a nonconformist forced to find a regular job), A Christmas Story 2 (Daniel Stern steps into Darren McGavin’s shoes as the patriarch of the wacky family from the beloved A Christmas Story)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Amazing Spider Man, Arthur Christmas

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. VPJ, I knew the The Manchurian Candidate would tickle your sweet spot. (Did you notice I let the martial arts scene be a BIG DAMN SURPRISE? That’s ’cause I love you and knew you’d relish it all the more for the jolt.)

    And I love love love that Stockman and I were both on Richard Schiff’s IMDb page this week looking for something worth plugging. That very fine actor is criminally underused.


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