VideoReport #390

Volume CCCXC- Star Wars: Episode 7- Jagged Wedge

For the Week of 2/5/13

Videoport give you a free movie every, single day. Who’s got a problem with that? No one, that’s who.

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 Bound (in Mystery/Thriller.) Before the Wachowski’s made The Matrix (and then subsequently started being terrible) they made this great, underrated little thriller which, while visually stunning in its own way, held few hints at the technology-overwhelmed filmmaking direction they were heading in. Bound is basically a classic film noir, with an unhappily married femme fatale luring a seemingly innocent, if slightly shady, working class dope into a deadly murder plot with a pair of long legs. Except this time, the workingman’s a tough ex-con lesbian (Gina Gershon) and the housewife’s the blowsy ex-stripper, not-so-ex lesbian (Jennifer Tilly) married to a loutish, mid-level Chicago mobster (Joe Pantoliano, of course). Like any classic noir, there’s a briefcase full of loot at stake, a meticulously-plotted plot to steal the loot which hits a few snags, and some serious peril when the plot starts to unravel. What sets Bound apart is, well, a lot really. It really is visually impressive, with the Wachowski’s seeming to have fun showing off their bag of tricks in ways so inventively understated that it never becomes too show-offy. There are three truly great performances from Tilly, the Gersh, and Joey Pants, all of whom seem to be relishing in the chance to walk in the footsteps of their respective film noir archetypes. (And Tilly’s breathy, little girl sultriness has never been put to better effect.) And, of course, there’s the sort of explicit sexuality which films like Double Indemnity could only tickle the edges of, here played out with such, well, gusto is the only word that comes to mind, that Bound is easily one of the sexiest thrillers I’ve ever seen. As ever, I’ve got to put the breaks on the plot synopsis here, so’s not to start spoiling the film for you (as ever, people who thoughtlessly spoil movies should not be allowed out in public), only to say that Bound puts a few spins on the noir formula, all of which make perfect sense, are provocative and thoughtful, and keep you guessing right to the end.

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 Bullets or Ballots (in Classics). I noticed Videoport got a whole bunch of “new” classic films from the ‘30s and ‘40s (including G-Men, Winchester ’73, Never So Few, and many more!), so I thought I’d bring a couple home to enjoy. First was Bullets or Ballots, which I selected for its cast (it stars Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart) and its catchy title. The movie is a gangster action drama along the lines of Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, and Scarface. But Bullets or Ballots was made five years after those fine classics. So it was subject to the Production Code, which makes it considerably tamer than the earlier films. Also, it was made by a less distinguished director, so it doesn’t have the panache of that the other films have. But what really sunk Bullets or Ballots for me (and I have to admit now that I stopped watching it after about 30 minutes) was the miscalculated casting. Little Caesar’s Robinson plays an edgy, but mostly law-abiding police detective. If I’m watching a gangster film, I don’t want to see Rico like that! And rising star Bogart had not found his niche yet when this film was made. His thug character is the kind of all-attitude pseudo-badass that Elisha Cook, Jr. played in The Maltese Falcon, which, to these modern eyes, is beneath Bogart. The bigger problem, though, is that these characters are not well written, so it’s hard for good actors to sink their teeth into the roles. So, if you’re looking for a gangster movie similar to Little Caesar, The Public Enemy, and Scarface, but entirely unmemorable, watch Bullets or Ballots!

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Groundhog Day (in Comedy). Phew, the big day is past! The suspense is over! Punxsutawny Phil didn’t see his shadow, so spring is on its way. (That’s totes scientific, right? Sure.) Annnnnyway, now that our long anxious nail-biting biding-time is over, you can relax and celebrate with the official movie of Post-Groundhog-Day Relaxation: Groundhog Day. (I mean… obviously, right?)

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 ‘Community’ (in Comedy.) The first three seasons of “Community” feel like

Please let those bubbles be filled with greatness...

Please let those bubbles be filled with greatness…

someone excavated the most ridiculous contents of my geeky brain and melded them together into an ingenious blend of comedy and affection. This week, my beloved “Community” returns to broadcast TV after a long hiatus and then a hasty bumping to an even longer hiatus, which is never a good sign. Aaaaaand the network celebrated last season’s wrap by unceremoniously and abruptly firing creator/writer/showrunner Dan Harmon, which (I don’t know if you know this piece of Hollywood insider know-how) is also not a great sign. Aaaaand after the 4th-season wrap, remaining writer Megan Ganz accepted a job with sit-com juggernaut “Modern Family” — which, while great for comedy-lovers and “Modern Family,” is, y’know, not a super-good sign for “Community.” Also, the previews for the long-awaited return of this unpredictable, complexly-layered, metatextual show of greatness look more like an explosion of forced wackiness for wackiness’ sake, which (if you ask me and I guess no one did) is a not-great sign. So. Um. But my motto is “Don’t borrow trouble,” which is to say, don’t assume the worst unless or until you have to. So I’m looking forward to “Community” on Thursday with guarded optimism, mostly, and an undercurrent of genuine fear. In the meantime, I’m going to hole up with the first three seasons on DVD and try not to cry Annie-style, all trembly lip and fluttery eye. Let’s hope NBC doesn’t Britta it.

>>>Dennis also suggests ‘Community.’ Look, I’m not rooting for the Dan Harmon-less ‘Community’ to fail. Far from it. I have so much stored-up affection and good will for the show and its characters and actors (well, except Chevy, that dick) that I’m willing to give this new iteration a chance. That’s because the first three seasons of this show comprise one of the best, most unique, loopiest, and most all-around satisfying sitcoms I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve watched a lot of TV.) I have my fears and doubts that, without, you know, the show’s unfairly sh*t-canned creator, the show can be all of what it has been. But I’m gonna give it a chance, and so should you. Only watch these first three seasons in advance if you haven’t already (and judging by the ratings and rental numbers, most of you haven’t), if only so you can participate in the internet commenter sh*tstorm that’s soon to follow.

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

>>>It’s a free kids movie. You’ll love it. (Oh, and there’s a new Spongebob DVD out this week, if screeching, demonic little kids shows are your thing.)

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

>>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer gives you this: The tagline for Being John Malkovich: “Ever wanted to be somebody else?” Evidently, John Gavin Malkovich did: in BJM, he plays an acclaimed actor named John Horatio Malkovich. So… ever wanted to watch somebody be somebody else, just barely? Check out these actors playing characters based on themselves: Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory in My Dinner with Andre, Neil Patrick Harris in Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Heather Donahue, Josh Leonard, and Michael C. Williams in The Blair Witch Project, (arguably) Bill Murray in Zombieland, Paul Giamatti in Cold Souls, Peter Falk in Wings of Desire and its sequel, Far Away, So Close.

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer asks How are you going to fill that “30 Rock” sized hole in your heart? I recommend a case of Cheezy Blasters (if your local market doesn’t stock imaginary brands, I suggest the nearest real-world equivalent. First you take a hot dog, stuff it with some jack cheese, roll it in a pizza: you’ve got cheezy blasters! Or just go to the Cumbie’s, rip the top off a family-sized bag of Original Doritos [or, as they are known chez nous, “battery-acid flavor”], squirt a few pumps of nacho cheeze into it, and dip a stick of jerky into it to retrieve the cheezy-sticky chips a few at a time. Close enough) and some beloved entertainment-workplace sitcoms on DVD. You can go classic with The Mary Tyler Moore Show, millennial with Sports Night, satirical with The Larry Sanders Show, darkly absurdist with Greg the Bunny, the legitimately theatrical with Slings & Arrows, or radio-free with NewsRadio.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Flight (Denzel Washington is a hero pilot with an inconvenient drinking problem in this drama from director Robert Zemekis), Alex Cross (Tyler Perry allows himself to be directed by someone else, and allows himself to be coaxed back into men’s clothing in this thriller about a cop chasing a serial killer, etc; based on the same books/character that Morgan Freeman played in Along Came A Spider and Kiss The Girls– which you should probably watch instead), Here Comes The Boom (Roly poly comic Kevin James lost some of the poly to play a teacher who takes up mixed martial arts fighting to help save his underfunded school in this improbable feel-good comedy), ‘Southland’- seasons 2, 3, & 4 (sure it’s critically acclaimed, but Videoport’s Regan and Sam swear by this gritty cop show, southland-tv-show-picturesso you know it’s good), Deadfall (Eric Bana, Olivia Wilde, Kris Kristofferson, ‘Sons of Anarchy’’s Charlie Hunnam, and the ever-awesome Sissy Spacek star in this thriller folderabout a couple on the run from a casino heist getting stranded in an unexpectedly treacherous, snowbound small town), Celeste and Jesse Forever (Rashinda Jones and Andy Samberg star in this bittersweet romantic dramedy about a seemingly happy married couple whose divorce causes no end of upheaval among their friends…and, you know, themselves), A Late Quartet (a great cast [Christopher Walken, Philips Seymour Hoffman, Catherine Keener[ star in this artsy drama about a long-standing classical music quartet forced to confront the future when Walken’s bassist is forced to retire), Little White Lies (French drama about a group of friends whose close-knit unit is thrown into serious self-introspection and high drama when one of their number is in a terrible motorcycle crash; starring the delightful Marrion Cotillard and Jean Dujardin), Citadel (cool-looking Irish horror about an agoraphobic father, unable to leave his apartment afetr a horrific attack on his wife by hooded figures years before, forced to venture into the titular abandoned project housing tower when his daughter is kidnapped), In Our Nature (it’s the awkward family get-together to end all awkward family get-togethers when a son [Friday Night Lights’ Zach Gilford] brings his girlfriend up to his family’s country cabin only to find his estranged father [Mad Men’s John Slattery] has also headed there for a romantic vacation with his much younger girlfriend [Gabrielle Union]), The Upsetter: The Life and Music of Lee Scratch Perry (documentary about the Jamaican musical legend; narrated by Benicio Del Toro), Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel (documentary about the life and work of the influential fashion editor of Harpers Bazaar, Diana Vreeland)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Spongebob Squarepants: It’s a Spongebob Christmas (so this is still a thing, apparently…)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Babel, Red Dawn, Celeste and Jesse Forever, Flight, A Late Quartet, Alex Cross.

VideoReport 1,000,000!

Look, I’m not a math guy, but it came to me recently that a mere ten issues from now will be VideoReport #400. And, since the average VideoReport comes in at around 2,500 words, that means that the very last word in issue #400 will be the 1,000,000th word we’ve published. (And yes, I know that it won’t be exactly that word itself, but have a little fun with us here, okay. Jeez…) That’s a million words worth of Videoport’s staff and customers spouting off about their favorite movies, their least favorite movies, great TV, crappy TV, movie/TV lists, opinions, vicious personal attacks, rambling nonsense, and even the occasional brilliant insight (usually courtesy of lovely regular contributor Elsa S. Customer.) Whew. A million. I mean, War and Peace is only 587,287 words according to Wikipedia, so does that mean that a collected volume of The VideoReport is almost twice as good? Well, we’re not here to make those sorts of judgements. (Also, no.) However, it does bring up several questions:

1. What will the one millionth word be? “Kurosawa”? “underpants”? “Firefly”? “hate”? “meningitis”? “frogbox”? “splunge”? “sploosh”? “areola”? We really have no idea.

2. What will happen when this hastily compiled, loopy little publication hits its one millionth word? Will Dennis’ laptop finally burst into flames? Will the VideoReport achieve sentience and start writing itself from now on, beginning with a long, insanity-tinged screed about A Clockwork Orange? Will everyone out there band together to buy Dennis a new laptop? Will we not notice and just get on with our lives? No one can say.

3. How many hours does that 1,000,000 word milestone represent? Nope, I’m not going to think about that. Next question.

4.If you laid all of those words atop each other, how high would they reach? Like I said- not a math guy. (But if you’re going to do it, i suggest starting with the biggest words first, for stability. Like Schwarzennegger.)                                                                                                                                                                      So keep an eye out for further clues about the plans and predictions for issue #400/word #1,000,000. There may be contests. There may be prizes. We may forget about this whole milestone entirely. We are the VideoReport, after all… In the meantime, thanks for reading, thanks for contributing (and howsabout some more of that, by the way), and just thanks in general for supporting the best, damned independent video store in the world. That’d be Videoport, genius. Now go rent some movies, you knuckleknobs…

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.

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