Volume CCCLXXXIX- The Best Exotic Marigold Hostel
For the Week of 1/29/13
Videoport- 25 years of kickin’ ass, takin’ names, and givin’ away more free movies than a, um, free movie giving away company. Here, take a free movie…
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 Sound of My Voice (in Mystery/Thriller.) There are some movies you’re just going to have to trust me on. Look, you’ve come into Videoport, you’ve asked for advice , so just take this and don’t ask too many questions. I know that sounds vaguely ominous, but some movies are just like that- they are what they are, other people (like me) have seen them, and they’re telling you to take them home and watch them with the same sense of curiosity and blissful ignorance I saw them with. They’re more fun that way. As for this one- what can I tell you? Hmm- well, it’s in the Mystery/Thriller section, which makes sense in the same way that a movie like Martha Marcy May Marlene does. It’s written by (and stars) young actress/writer Brit Marling (who also pulled double duty in the original sci fi film Another Earth). Umm, it’s about a young couple who…yeah, nope. Can’t tell you much more than I already have, except to say that Sound of My Voice will keep you off balance, keep you guessing, keep you on edge, and…well, that’s really all I can say. Nope, don’t even read the back of the box, just trust me- I’m a professional.
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!
>>>Andy suggests Time Without Pity (in Classics). My first Joseph Losey movie! This highly regarded film director is known for being a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist who took his shitty situation into his own hands and made a new career for himself in Europe, eventually collaborating with playwright Harold Pinter on three acclaimed films. He is also filmmaker John Waters’ favorite director, so you know he’s not gonna be dull. Time Without Pity, one of the first films Losey made during his English exile, is a dramatic thriller reminiscent of the pulpy, but thematically heavy films of Samuel Fuller. It’s about alcoholic novelist David Graham (Michael Redgrave), who must save the life of his convicted murderer son Alec by proving the youngster’s innocence… in the twenty four hours before Alec is executed! The real killer, who is revealed in the first scene of the movie, is intent to “help” in his own hostile, barely contained insane way. Graham realizes that to save his son, he must resist the temptation to drink. But the increasing hopelessness of the situation overwhelms his already wobbly willpower. As Graham’s investigation leads him closer to the truth, his sobriety and even his life become expendable if his son can be saved. Dramatic stuff! Suck it, Blacklist.
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 his list of the Videoport Sketch Comedy Pantheon. Here we go, folks- the best sketch comedy shows ever, in order of hilariousness.
1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Was there ever any doubt? If you can watch a random episode of this groundbreaking, still-influential British sketch series and not be buried in awe-tinged giggles by the end, then you are a cyborg, sent from the future to enslave us. Begone, cyborg! Your lack of laughter reveals your evil!
2. Mr. Show. This 4-season sketch show from David Cross and Bob Odenkirk is, simply put, one of the funniest, smartest things ever on TV. If you don’t get Mr. Show, I’m pretty sure we have nothing further to talk about. Ever.
3. The Upright Citizen’s Brigade. You may recognize a crazy-eyed little psycho named Amy Poehler as the lone woman in this four person sketch show, because of her being awesome and insane (plus, she’s on Parks and Recreation now). She, alongside improv legends Matt Besser, Matt Walsh, and Ian Roberts form the core of this series, where they play (among about a jillion other characters) the titular organization, an anarchic splinter cell dedicated to sowing chaos wherever they can. It’s a brilliant framing device, presenting each episode’s loosely-related sketches with a unifying, edgy theme on which to build. Just brilliant.
4. Saturday Night Live. Stop your whining, like, right now. Sure, SNL’s hundred year (or so) career is marked by inconsistency, shall we say. Whine, whine, whine. It’s also home to about a thousand of the funniest comedy sketches you’ve ever seen, laughed at, and retold (badly) to people at work the next day. The comedy pressure cooker that is SNL produces the occasional timeless comedy diamond. Deal with it. (We’ve got about a hundred assorted DVDs in the Comedy section.)
5. Key & Peele. Yeah, it’s new, but this sketch series from a couple of guys who spent a long, long time in the anti-comedy hellhole that was MadTV, is the best sketch show in a decade. Like #7, many of the sketches start out addressing race, but more often than not each show spins out into its own brilliantly loony direction. And Jordan Peele (the not-bald one) may be the best comic actor (or maybe just actor) on TV today.
6. The State. Just look at the shows and movies that this 90s sketch series’ alumni have spawned: Reno 911, Viva Variety, Stella, Burning Love, Wet Hot American Summer, The Ten, Wanderlust, The Baxter, Michael and Michael Have Issues, and on and on. This 11-person troupe, formed fresh out of college, was obviously bursting with talent, and their 4 season show is a continual, weirdo delight of weirdness.
7. Chappelle’s Show. In its short-lived tenure, this sketch show from longtime standup Dave Chappelle skewered racial stereotypes like Richard Pryor in his prime. For the “racial draft” sketch alone, this show will live forever.
8. Human Giant. Featuring Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation), Paul Scheer (The League), and Rob Heubel (you’ll recognize him when you see him), this short-lived show was just funny.
9. Man Stroke Woman. Check the British Comedy section for this quick-hit sketch show featuring Shaun of the Dead/Hot Fuzz’ Nick Frost, among some very funny others.
10. The Dana Carvey Show. When undeniably-talented, slightly-hacky comic Carvey finally left SNL, it was to front his own sketch show. It bombed pretty hard, largely because it was way to weird for its NBC time slot. But, there’s some great stuff in here, largely due to Carvey’s truly impressive lineup of writers and performers including the likes of: Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel, Bob Odenkirk, Dino Stamatopoulos, Charlie Kaufman, Jon Glaser, Robert Carlock and more. (A highlight: Skinheads from Maine).
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 says: In loving memory of the nearly-departed Ben & Kate, yet another lively little sit-com bursting with talent that was pulled by its network before it had a chance to blossom fully, I offer without comment a memorial list of one-season wonders. “Firefly,” “Freaks & Geeks,” “The Prisoner,” “Stella,” “Undeclared,” “Police Squad,” “My So-Called Life,” “Andy Barker, P.I.,” and the aptly named “Pushing Daisies.” Rent them all at Videoport.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>>It’s a free kids movie. You’ll love it. Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests No Such Thing (in Incredibly Strange.) Since Hal Hartley’s Trust finally, blessedly came out on DVD last week, I thought I’d continue the early 90s, New York based indie juggernaut this week by suggesting you check out Hartley’s oddball sort of monster movie. In No Such Thing, the ever-alive-on-screen Sarah Polley (Slings and Arrows, The Sweet Hereafter) plays a young reporter who travels to remotest Iceland in search of an infamous, immortal monster to whom the locals reportedly send regular sacrifices. You know, of young, blond women. Ouch. Except, instead of being eaten and/or defiled by the all-to-real monster (played by Hartley alum Robert John Burke), Polley finds herself entreating the melancholy, intellectual creature to accompany her back to NYC, where the all-too-willing-to-celebrate-a-monster American public turns him into a reluctant celebrity. It’s a departure for indie maverick Hartley, except not really. Polley, Burke, and luminous screen legend Julie Christie all inhabit the traditional Hartley world made up of equal parts deadpan comedy, static (deadpan) visual composition, and inexplicably moving drama. Monsters and laughs and mystery.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests After Dark My Sweet (in Mystery/Thriller). Jason Patric. Yup, at this point, 99% of you are scratching your chins and trying to remember who that is. You’re not to blame, really- while Patric is a very good actor, he’s never been able to make that leap into the public consciousness, despite a healthy compliment of looks and talent. Of course, Speed 2 didn’t help his profile any, but that wasn’t his fault, really. I guess (no matter how many Julia Robertses you very publicly date) some guys are just never going to be a movie star- but they can still be damned good actors (see his mesmerizing turn in Your Friends and Neighbors), and his role in this 1990 neo-noir, which I count as one of the best performances of that decade. In
it, Patric plays Kid Collins, a drifter of a punch drunk ex-boxer who shambles into the clutches of femme fatale Rachel Ward and the typically-unscrupulous Bruce Dern as her “uncle” Bud, who draw him into their low-rent kidnapping scheme. A forgotten semi-classic, After Dark My Sweet was part of that 90s spate of twisted thrillers based on the nihilistic novels of the then-obscure Jim Thompson, including the excellent The Grifters and the very, very weird (and sadly out of print) This World, Then the Fireworks. (Other films based Thompson: both versions of The Getaway, The Killer Inside Me, Coup de Torchon.) In Thompson’s hard-luck world, the fix is always in, fate’s got loaded dice and a derringer up its sleeve, and America is made up of suckers and the sharks who prey on them- until they, too, realize they’re being played. In such a world, Patric’s good-hearted, bell-rung drifter might as well have a “destroy me” sign around his neck, no matter how devastating his right hook might still be, and Patric imbues Kid Collins with a truly touching vulnerability, and even a sneaky sense of self-awareness (through the voice over monologues of Thompson’s hardbitten dialog), even as he’s pulled inexorably down alongside a pair of none-too-bright-themselves schemers.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Oh, I dunno, maybe just a little show called….’Downton Abbey’- season 3!?!??!??!? (Yup, this BBC behemoth has just ended its PBS season 3 run with that totally
shocking….SHHHHHHHHH. I’d never spoil anything for someone who hasn’t seen it, because only the worst, most inconsiderate creeps in the history of the world would do something like that, but of course everyone wants this Upstairs-y Downstairs-y series. So remember this number: 773-1999. That’s how you reserve your copy. Seriously. We bought a lot of these but you should do that if you wanna get anywhere near this one for the next, oh, forever!!), Hotel Transylvania (Adam Sandler and pals Jon Lovitz, David Spade, Molly Shannon, Kevin James, Chris Parnell, Syeve Buscemi and more lend their voices to this animated comedy about the titular monster motor inn), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 (the future, alternate history Batman tale based on Frank Miller’s classic graphic novel [written before Miller went racist-ly bananas] concludes), Seven Psychopaths (if you’re a fan of really good things, then you already love the movie In Bruges [in Videoport’s Incredibly Strange Section] and are eagerly awaiting its director’s new film, especially since it stars the likes of Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson, and more. Like the excellent In Bruges, this promises an entertaining blend of comedy, drama, and bursts of disturbing violence), Paranormal Activity 4 (demons continue to get captured on shaky videotape images in this third sequel in the still-pretty-scary horror series), Cold Light of Day (upcoming Superman Henry Cavill stars alongside Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver in this little-seen thriller about a family man caught up in an international kidnapping plot), The Trouble With Bliss (Dexter’s Michael C. Hall stars in this indie dramedy about a perpetually aimless, mid-thirties slacker involved in a series of quirky adventures; costarring Lucy Liu, Chris Messina, and Peter Fonda), ‘Misfits’- season 2 (the continuing comedy action adventures of a group of British juvenile delinquents given superpowers by a stray lightning strike in this BBC series [check Videoport’s British Comedy section]), Death Race 3: Inferno (so this series is still going on; at least it’s got Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames [and the guy who played Liu Kang in Mortal Kombat] going for it; of course, feel free to rent the vastly superior cult film Death Race 2000 [in Action] in lieu of this…), Big Boys Gone Bananas* (oddball, satirical documentary about the gargantuan Dole foods corporation’s attempts to prevent a pair of Swedish filmmakers from making this documentary about a lawsuit against them), The Liability (British gangster flick about a 19 year old kid whose decision to drive around his mother’s thug boyfriend turns out as well as you’d think; it stars Tim Roth- so that’s a very good thing), Tales of the Night (acclaimed international animation [from the director of Kirikou] features six fairy tales rendered in the filmmaker’s signature silhouette style)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Nora (Ewan McGregor stars as James Joyce in this biopic about the legendary writer’s equally legendary romance with his titular muse)
New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Bruce Willis Blu Ray double feature!– Last Man Standing and The Last Boy Scout, Seven Psychopaths, ‘Downton Abbey’- season 3, Hotel Transylvania, Cold Light of Day
Get free money at Videoport! We keep saying this, and I don’t think you guys believe it, or think there’s some catch involved. There isn’t. If you pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account, you get $25 worth of rental credit. And $30 buys you $40 worth. That’s five or ten free bucks (which you were going to spend eventually anyway.) Honestly- I can see no reason not to do this. Free money, people.