Volume CCCLXXXI- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, and Then We Had a Really Long Talk About Parental Boundaries
For the Week of 12/4/12
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. You know why? Because we love movies and we want to share them with you. Come take a chance- it’s free, for cryin’ out loud…
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 buying movies at Videoport! (Because we give you free stuff and other reasons!) Now that the holiday season has descended upon us like a horrible, money-eating tsunami Videoport would like to make our case that you should buy your movie-lovin’ gift-vacuums their prezzies here at a locally-owned independent video store. Apart from the fact that you’ll be spending your money with a stalwart local business (25 years and running, thank you very much) and not some anonymously evil corporation, we’re gonna sweeten the pot by giving you a free movie rental on your Videoport account for each movie you buy. Hey, if they’re gonna make you spend your hard-earned jack on them, then why not wet your beak a little? Also, feel free to buy those theoretically grateful friends/relatives/work acquaintances you are obligated to buy gifts for a Videoport Gift Certificate– you know, if they love movies as much as you do…
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 Dark Knight Rises (in Action.) A bunch of us spent over an hour at our Xmas party arguing about this, the third in director Christopher Nolan’s final Batman movie. Before you get scared away from the movie by that, think about the last time you and your friends spent that amount of time discussing a movie. Let alone the second sequel to a superhero franchise. (Of course, some of that may be because we’re all huge, huge geeks, but you get the idea.) Without giving stuff away, I’m pretty impressed that Nolan stuck to his guns and delivered an incredibly ambitious conclusion to a saga he’s clearly had huge plans for from the beginning. As much as I love (shockingly few) superhero movies (The Avengers, the first two Spider Mans, the two Iron Mans), they are conceived as gaudy marketing machines more often than not, and as their series go on, the invariable trend is to up the action, double the outlandish supervillains, and generally play everything to the cheap seats in search of bigger, louder, and more action-figure-friendly. Nolan’s not having any of that- from the start, his Batman remained grounded in something approaching something remotely like reality, and the Bat’s gradual fate was spelled out from the first. In this third movie, Nolan lays out an epic, sprawling saga rooted in the series’ origins and destined to disappoint the usual mindless thrill junkie superhero fan (no offense.) There’s politics, character stuff, intricate continuity callbacks, and a plot that pays off its main character in some unexpected ways indeed. If I came away feeling a little disappointed myself (being at least part mindless thrill junkie), I also left the film with my head buzzing with ideas on the film’s politics, its dramatic choices, and the very future of the superhero film genre itself. It’s not every, or any, come to think of it, superhero movie that can say that. (Plus, I’ve been trying to pin down Tom Hardy’s Bane voice for days- I think it’s equal parts Sean Connery, Sebastain Cabot, and Jared Harris.)
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 best Christmas episode of all time! Yeah, I said it. While you may be too late to get that copy of A Christmas Story, Home Alone, It’s A Wonderful Life, or (gods help you) Christmas With The Kranks, I have the perfect alternative for your holiday feelgodery. Especially if most holiday specials make you want to heave up you nog. And while you might have to watch the preceding 35 episodes to really understand everything going on in the ‘Community’ episode ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ (season 2, episode 11), well, you’ll thank me for pointing you in the direction of one of the best, most original sitcoms of all time. Plus, I’m gonna walk you through it if you just want to watch this brilliant-on-about-six-levels holiday extravaganza. What you need to know: a disparate, seven-person study group at a low-rent, frequently ridiculous community college has formed a tightly knight alternate family, navigating their way through their various educational and personal crises. Go! In this episode, Abed (played by the insanely talented Danny Pudi) walks into the college dining hall…only to see all his friends, himself, and, well, everything, transformed into claymation versions of themselves. It’s a long tradition for ‘Community’ to adopt a ‘gimmick’ episode (paintball, Ken Burns documentary, Glee-esque musical) and yet make it absurdly resonant and funny in its own right, paying off its characters’ story arcs while simultaneously being loopy and hilarious. In this one, the show is obviously dabbling in the Rankin-Bass world of Rudolph, et al. and yet it somehow crafts Abed’s story into one of the most moving episodes in the show’s history and a resonant and insightful examination of what the holiday season means to different people. As Abed (always pop culture-obsessed and on the wobbly verges of our reality), insists that the world has turned all Wallace and Gromit-y, his friends play along, following Abed on his Christmas journey to discover a truth he simply can’t face. Along the way, the episode remains inventively hilarious and balances its characters’ various degrees of cynicism about the whole holiday experience, leading to as heartwarming, yet clear-eyed, a celebration of yuletide togetherness as I’ve ever seen on TV. ‘Community’ is a brilliant show and ‘Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas’ is one of its best episodes. Make your Christmas weird, and funny, and improbably warm and fulfilling. Take that, Jimmy Stewart…
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 Stardust Memories (in Comedy.) In grainy black & white with a soundtrack rich in romantic jazz and torch songs, Stardust Memories is structured as a loving send-up of Fellini’s 8½, but it might as well have “WOODY ALLEN MEMOIR” stamped in red ink at the bottom of each frame. Allen was annoyed and disappointed that so many people read the film as autobiographical, but it’s a hard reading to shrug off. Stardust Memories stars nebbishy, neurotic writer-director Woody Allen (whose contemporaryfans clamored for more of his early slapsticky comedy instead of these moody, sentimental memoirs) as nebbishy, neurotic writer-director Sandy Bates whose fans clamor for his early slapsticky comedy instead of the sentimental, introspective memoirs he’s delivering. The story revisits Allen’s oft-repeated (and now notorious) wavering between a maternal, sophisticated woman and a gamine ingenue. Toward the end, the film features a scene between the director and his on-again off-again romantic lead that points clearly to the autobiographical nature of Sandy Bates’ films. As the two characters sit on a train, Sandy describes the new ending for his current film: two characters — one based on Sandy, one (he reminds her, and us) based on her — sit on a train awaiting “a big, big finish” with a big sloppy kiss. Then they have a big sloppy kiss. And the spiraling self-referencing doesn’t end there, as you’ll see. The entire movie relies upon the slippery interplay of memoir and movie, and Woody criticizing us for acknowledging that weird alloy is disingenuous at best, self-deluded at worst.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>> A free movie for the kids! Because we love ‘em!
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests a Batman movie marathon (in Action). Hey, there’s some Bat-hero movie thing, anyone heard of it? Ahahaha, of course you knew that Christopher’s The Dark Knight Rises is being released this week. Whether you’re renting it as a new release or buying it on DVD or BluRay*, I have one simple suggestion: rent Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and have yourself a little movie marathon! This is more than just a great idea for a movie marathon; it could save you a little head-scratching in the middle of the new flick. The Dark Knight Rises tells a sprawling, ambitious tale, interweaving a wide cast of characters, and it doesn’t bog itself down by retreading ground that’s covered in the first two films. Even a dork like me could have used a little refresher in the finer points of Nolan’s Batman mythos before watching the third installment. (Bonus: after watching all three movies, your household has a wide range of funny/affected voices to choose from for the obligatory Talking Like This contest. My personal favorite: alternating Batman & Bane voices planning a dinner menu.)
*Hey! With the purchase of a DVD or BluRay, Videoport will give you a free rental! SCORE!
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Ponette (in Foreign.) This would make a great double feature with Beasts of the Southern Wild in an “impossibly young actress wins all kinds of awards” double feature. It’s almost a foregone conclusion at this point that 6 year old Quvenzhan Wallis will be asked who she’s wearing come Oscar night (“Garanimals!”) so why not pair up her movie Beasts of the Southern Wild with this beautiful little French drama starring the then 4 year old Victiore Thisivol. As a little girl sent to live with her grandparents after her mother’s sudden death, the little kid is just non-stop heartbreaking as she tries, in the doggedly literal way only a 4 year old can, to make sense of what has happened. As with young Ms. Wallis, it’s always a question how much of this “best actress” talk (Thisivol won several such awards) can be attributed to the talent of someone so young, and how much comes from judicious editing and direction. But there’s no question that the results on screen are absolutely affecting in Ponette, which ends with an image that, well, if you aren’t weeping at that point, you need to go back to your manufacturer for a tuneup.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Dark Knight Rises (Sam, Jackie, Emily S. Customer, Edie and I spent over an hour at the Videoport staff party arguing about this last film in Christopher Nolan’s staggeringly ambitious Batman trilogy; whatever you can say about this one, it’s not boring…), Hope Springs (Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones play a married couple attending shrink Steve Carrell’s couple’s therapy in this very well-reviewed dramedy which promises an all-too-rare relationship comedy for grown ups), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner play a childless couple who’s sincere wish for a kid may have caused one to sprout up in their backyard in this family fable), ‘The Simpsons’- season 15 (Otto’s on the cover this time!), ‘Eastbound and Down’- season 3 (Danny McBride’s relentlessly overindulged former major leaguer Kenny Powers returns from his sojourn in Mexico and latches on with a minor league baseball team in the college party capital of Myrtle Beach), Beasts of the Southern Wild (massive cult hit about an irrepressible 6 year old girl [Quvenzhan Wallis] who journeys from her bayou home to try and find help for her ailing father and encounters a magical, and perilous, world), ‘World Without End’ (in this miniseries sequel to ‘Pillars of the Earth’, England and France prepare for the Hundred Years’ War, perhaps with some hot gypsies thrown in…), Butter (Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Rob Corddry, and Ty Burrell star in this comedy about the surprisingly cutthroat competition for a state fair’s butter sculpture competition), Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (acclaimed documentary about the titular famous Chinese artist whose criticism of his government has caused him the expected troubles), ‘We Can Be Heroes’ (Aussie comedian Chris Lilley [‘Summer Heights High’] stars [and stars and stars] as all the roles in this reality show satire about the eccentric people us for the “Australian of the Year” award), ‘Angry Boys’- season 1 (did you like We Can Be Heroes? Well then this follow-up series, with Chris Lilley carrying over some characters from that show in a comic examination of, well, angry young [Australian] men is right up your street), Unforgivable (from the director of The Girl on the Train comes this French drama about a successful crime writer whose investigation into his beautiful new wife’s past leads to…unpleasantness), ’Web Therapy’- season 1 (Lisa Kudrow is a questionable shrink trying to peddle her 3 minute skype therapy sessions as an alternative to the couch in this very funny show featuring lots and lots of famous Kudrow pals phoning in), The Lost Future (Sean Bean straps on the armor again, this time as the leader of a band of post-apocalyptic survivors), Vamps (director Amy Heckerling re-teams with her Clueless star Alicia Silverstone in this comedy about a couple of vampire party girls lamenting their inability to keep a man; sort of like Sex & the City but with bloodsuckers, I guess?), V/H/S (last year’s notorious horror anthology about a group of dummies who, while burgling a house, find a cache of disturbing video tapes; they, and we, watch the bloody, disturbing contents…), and Videoport brings you four, count ‘em, four new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000! This time, it’s: Operation Kid Brother (Sean Connery’s real life little brother makes a shameless James Bond knockoff), Robot Holocaust (clunky robots…in the future!!), Kitten With a Whip (the young, and insanely hot, Ann-Margaret is jailbait who torments married square John Forsythe in a really sexy way), and Revenge of the Creature (sequel to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, with John Agar in some upsettingly small shorts the whole time)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Yentl (Barbara Streisand is a headstrong young woman who dresses like a boy in order to study the Torah in this 1983 drama), A Christmas Carol: The Musical (just what the tin says, this one’s got Kelsey Grammer’s Scrooge crooning whilst being musically haunted by the likes of Jason Alexander and Jenna Maroney; this looks like a case for The Best Friends Gang…), Dutch Light (art documentary about a painted deciding to test out the legend that the light in Holland has different qualities reflected in its art), Under the Rainbow (Chevy Chase and Carrie Fisher starred in this infamous 1981 comedy about the dwarf actors from The Wizard of Oz running amok in a swanky hotel; now that he’s abandoned the brilliant ‘Community’, maybe Chevy’s up for a sequel…),
New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Dark Knight Rises, Hope Springs, ‘Nurse Jackie’- season 1, ‘Entourage’- season 8, London Boulevard, A Bridge Too Far, Closer, The Green Mile, Layer Cake, Back to the Future (1-3), Jurassic Park (1-3), ‘Breaking Bad’- seasons 1-3, Lawrence of Arabia, ‘Falling Skies’- season 1, Grease, Cape Fear (DeNiro version), Beasts of the Southern Wild
Videoport = Free Stuff!
1. Free rentals! You get one every day with our daily specials. Also, you get one any time you purchase a movie from Videoport (and not some hideous corporate website that charges you shipping- seriously, keep this in mind for the holiday gift-buying onslaught right around the corner).
2. Free money! Videoport payment deals give you free money just for spending money at Videoport. Look, you’re gonna rent movies here anyway, so why not do this: pre-pay for $20 in rentals, and Videoport gives you $25 worth of rental credit. Or pre-pay $30 and Videoport gives you $40 worth of rental credit. The money just sits on your account all safe and snuggly until you decide to use it. That’s five or ten free bucks just for doing what you were going to do in the first place. If there’s a flaw in this plan, I have yet to discover it.
3. Free parking! Just pull into any downtown parking garage (the courthouse garage is literally a two minute walk away) and ask for a Park&Shop sticker at Videoport. Viola-a free hour of parking! (And, of course, the lot behind the building is open after 5pm weekdays and all weekend!)
4. Littlelad’s Popcorn and Capt’n Eli’s Soda. Seriously-have you tried this stuff? Buy local!!