VideoReport #394

Volume CCCXCIV- Star Wars: Episode 7- Again With the Jedi…

For the Week of 3/5/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. What’s the catch? Well, I suppose you have to pick one out…

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 taking a dip into the Incredibly Strangest movies in the Incredibly Strange section (if you dare!!!) I hear you out there. Strolling by the Incredibly Strange section, your eye catches some of the more mainstream titles contained therein and you scoff to your friends, “Pffft- The Mexican? That’s not incredibly strange…” And then your wander off to rent something with Gerard Butler in it. Okay, first- don’t rent that Gerard Butler movie. That’s just good advice across the board. Second- your eye only went to The Mexican because your brain was trying to protect you from the endless, dazzling array of perversity, violence, perverted violence, and all-out bug-nuts insanity that is the true soul of Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section. Well, here are some facets of that inky, titillating soul deep in the heart of Videoport. You know you want in…

The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Make a note of these titles: The Holy Mountain, Fando and Lis, La Cravate, Santa Sangre, and El Topo. For 40 years, Jodorowsky’s been plying his particular brand of hyper-symbolic, trippy myth-making and, in case that sounds dull, he does this through a combination of ultra-violence, twisted sex and nekkidness, and inexplicable, non-stop scenes of unparalleled loopiness.

The Extra Weird Something Weird Video Sampler. Sure, we’ve got some releases from Something Weird Video scattered through the ISS, but this mind-boggling trailer collection from the company legendary for digging through cinema’s trash bins for the most disreputable sleaze of all time. Of course, those films were in the trash heap for pretty good reasons, by and large, so this sampler is the perfect way to experience the best (meaning worst, creepiest, nudiest, sleaziest) bits of their extensive catalog without, you know, having to watch the entire movies.

The American Astronaut. Unclassifiable b&w sci fi musical made for about ten dollars and more inventive and fascinating than science fiction movies with fifty times its budget.

Kissed. The most touching necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see. (Starring Deadwood’s game-for-anything Molly Parker.)

Nekromantik. The most disgusting necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see.

Even Dwarfs Started Small. The first film from now-revered (still-bananas) German filmmaker Werner Herzog, this one’s got an all-little person cast as lunatics taking over their isolated institution. A monkey might get crucified.

A selection of Turkish Hollywood knockoffs. Since Turkey doesn’t recognize copyright law, and is apparently populated by nothing but lunatic filmmakers, check out their utterly insane versions of Star Wars, Star Trek and The Exorcist. Any resemblance to the originals is coincidental- and cranked up to eleven on the crazy meter.

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests a character actor film fest! This week- Royal Dano! If you grew up watching old syndicated black-and-white shows, you remember this actor’s face, but probably not his name. He appeared on dozens of shows, never landing a plum recurring character, but often returning over and over. It’s a bit perplexing that casting directors chose to cast and recast this memorable actor with the sonorous, melancholy voice and broad, craggy face; I can only imagine it’s a testament to his curious appeal winning them over, over and over. (And over. AND OVER.) It makes sense on anthology shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Night Gallery,” but I always wonder what convinces casting directors to re-use such a distinctive actor in shows with long-arc character continuity. It happened to Dano again and again, especially in westerns: Royal Dano played four different characters on “Rawhide,” four on “The Rifleman,” four on “The Virginian,” three on “Bonanza,” four on “The Big Valley,” and a whopping eleven different roles in thirteen episodes of “Gunsmoke.”) You may remember him from his role as Tom Fury, the somber-faced lightning-rod salesman from Something Wicked This Way Comes, who laments “Some folks draw lightning to them as a cat sucks in a baby’s breath.” Or as the suspicious (with good reason!) sheriff in The Trouble with Harry, who gets paid by the arrest, or as gloomy seaman Elijah in John Huston’s Moby Dick, who warns Ishmael “At sea one day, you’ll smell land where there’ll be no land, and on that day Ahab will go to his grave, but he’ll rise again within the hour.” Or perhaps you remember Judge Sternwood on “Twin Peaks” (S2 ep4, S2 ep5), who assures newly-met FBI Special Agent Cooper “Let me say that when these frail shadows we inhabit now have quit the stage, we’ll meet and raise a glass again, together, in Valhalla.”

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 ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (in Comedy.) Jon Benjamin is the funniest guy you don’t know, or at least the one you don’t know on sight. Although Benjamin will pop up from time to time in the flesh (Parks and Recreation, The Comedians of Comedy, Human Giant) and had his own sketch show ‘Jon Benjamin Has a Van’ (sadly not on DVD yet), you’ll mostly recognize his disembodied voice. At least if you like outstanding animated comedy. He was the title character’s well-meaning but hilariously aimless son Ben on ‘Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,’ and played two of the best animated characters in TV history (Jason and Coach McGuirk) on the truly charming and hilarious ‘Home Movies.’ He’s also competing with himself for best voice actor on television right now, starring in both ‘Archer’ (as the peerlessly douche-y secret agent Sterling Archer) and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ where he’s the titular regular schmo, a put-upon family man and restauranteur trying to keep his greasy spoon burger joint afloat amidst some inventively funny weirdness. It took me a little while to get into ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (while I took to ‘Archer’’s improv-y, one-liner-y spy spoof pretty much immediately.) Maybe it was that two of the female characters (Bob’s wife and oddball eldest daughter) were voiced by dude’s and seemed a little mean-spirited in their offputting whininess. But, revisiting the show recently, I’ve really warmed to the show. Of course Benjamin is money as always, but it’s the gradual development of the other characters and the show’s genuinely weird little world that eventually won me over. There’s Bob who, in Benjamin’s hands, comes to embody the underdog everyman like few characters I can remember; he loves his weird family, and takes endearing pride in his cruddy little diner, coming up with inventive ‘burger of the day’ specials on the chalkboard. Too bad for Bob that the world seems to conspire against him at every turn, as his eccentric seaside town (and his own family) continually thwart his attempts to make any headway. (You know, like the time a rumor started that his burgers contained human flesh, or the time his sister in law insisted on having an art show in the restaurant featuring her newest artistic obsession- animal anuses. Sometimes his son just befriends a stolen talking toilet in the woods. You know- regular stuff like that.) Through it all, Bob, exhibiting the signature Jon Benjamin snarkiness, like The Dude, abides. For all its wackiness, the show is gentler at heart than is ‘Archer’- it’s a great family comedy and workplace comedy and a showcase for one of the best voice actors of all time, and he’s supported by two brilliant standup comedians doing uniquely bananas work. As his ever-bunny-eared youngest daughter, you’ve got Kristen Schaal, bringing her traditional batsh*t insane energy to Louise, whose mind seems to be operating on “maximum chaos” setting. And Eugene Mirman plays middle child Gene , an overweight, clumsy outsider who, nonetheless, nearly matches his sister’s capacity for unpredictably-enthusiastic nonsense. Sure, I still question why mom Linda (John Roberts) and eldest Tina (Dan Mintz) are voiced, oddly, by dudes, but as the show’s progressed, the Belcher family has drawn some surprisingly well-drawn, even poignant, characters and storylines. Whether you know it or not, people- you’re living in the Jon Benjamin golden age of animation. Get on board…

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 re-introduces America’s favorite movie game- Premise! This week: Jean-Claude Van Damme is a romantic comedy lead pushed too far in…

Must Love Cyborgs

While You Were Streetfighting

Heart Target

The Forty Year Old Belgian

The Timecop Around the Corner

Bringing Up Belgy

The Philabelgia Story

Serenkickidy

Prelude to a Kick

Sleeperhold in Seattle

Knocked Out

P.S. – I Kick You

and

Walloonstruck

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

>>>It’s a free movie. For kids! What- you hate kids?

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Girls (in Comedy) and Enlightened (in Drama.) Both HBO shows. Both mixing comedy and drama in cringe-worthy proportions. Both starring, and created by strong female leads. Laura Dern co-created Enlightened with Mike White, while Lena Dunham created, writes and stars in Girls.) Both are in my top ten of shows on TV right now (I’d give Enlightened the slight edge.)

>>>For Sunday, Nancy Rat Attack suggest The African Queen (in Classics.) If you jumped back to 1992 and are also stuck with your VHS player as your sole form of entertainment for the next few months, might I recommend The African Queen? It lives up to the hype tenfold. A romantic adventure and adventurous romance, it works so magically because of the chemistry, warmth and kindness the two leads, Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, bring to their parts. It’s also nice to see a romantic comedy where it’s not wacky hijinks or misunderstanding that bring the two together, but the actual peril of oh, say, alligators and dehydration. This is a lovely movie, folks.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly lends his considerable vocal talents to this Oscar-nominated animated flick about the titular video game bad guy who decides he just doesn’t want to keep throwing barrels at a plumber [or whatever the in-movie equivalent is] and breaks out of his game; costarring the voices of cool people like Alan Tudyk, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Joe

Everybody wants this one.

Everybody wants this one.

LoTruglio, Dennis Haysbert, and on and on…), The Intouchables (no foreign film in recent memory has been more asked about by the ever-cool Videoport faithful than this heartwarming French drama about a paralyzed aristocrat and the inner city guy he hires as his new caretaker; we went big on this one, people- so go ahead and rent it a lot, ‘kay?), Red Dawn (Wolveriiiiines! Yeah- they remade this 80’s paranoid, lunkheaded bit of Russkie-bashing, except now it’s PG-13, and it’s not Russia, or China [because they were apparently afraid of offending our economic overlords], but some nondescript non-white people wantonly invading the good ol’

Ew.

Ew.

USA and being opposed by a high school football team), Playing for Keeps (Gerard Butler plays a broke, washed up soccer player whose efforts to coach his kid’s soccer team lead to every soccer mom in central casting trying to rub up all over his rugged, Scottish mediocrity; on a related note- Gerard Butler? Really?), The Bay (director Barry Levinson leaves behind his full-time job of telling quirky little tales of growing up in Baltimore for this disturbing horror film about people in Baltimore going swimming and getting infected by a terrifyingly icky new parasite monster), Interview With a Hitman (an Eastern European hitman heads home to try and erase any trace of his past- guess how that goes?), Gun Hill Road (Esai Morales plays an ex-con who leaves prison and tries to deal with his relationship with his estranged wife [Scrubs’ Judy Reyes] and son, who has his own issues to deal with), California Solo (when an aging, over-the-hill Brit rocker [the ever-interesting Robert Carlyle] gets popped for a DUI, he faces possible deportation and the long-buried conflicts of his aimless life in this indie drama), ‘Hit and Miss’- season 1 (the phrase “high concept” may have been invented for this crime series about a hitwoman with a secret- she’s a transgender woman who finds out she fathered a son in her penis-y days, and has to deal with him, and her daily work of, you know, killing guys and stuff; starring Chloe Sevigny), Strings (thriller about a grieving musician who realizes that his therapist is using his patients to commit crimes; that seems mildly unethical…), The Colors of the Mountain (a young boy’s dream of becoming a soccer star are imperiled [along with his life] when his only ball ends up in a Colombian minefield)

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: A Town Like Alice (Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch star in this harrowing true story of female prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in WWII), An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars (another movie based on a book based on a line of dolls), The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo Child (Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Rob Brydon, and Robbie Coltrane lend their voices to this award-winning animated film about a smart mouse who outwits one predator after another; then there’s a sequel)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph, Red Dawn (2012)

VideoReport #1,000,000 is coming!

Six more issues to VideoReport #400/VideoReport word #one million, so start thinking about your submissions for the historic issue. Will there be prizes? Maybe. Will it consist of nothing but 2,500 repeated single words? Like “Whedon?” Or “Firefly?” Or “Buffy?” Or just 625 repetitions of “We love Joss Whedon?” We don’t know. You don’t know. So rent a ton of movies, write about them, and start thinking about what the 1,000,000th word’s gonna be.

Get free money at Videoport!

Look, we know you love us. And you’re gonna keep spending your hard-earned rental dollars here (and not on some scratched DVDs plunked out from a plastic vending machine in a scabby 7-11 parking lot), so why not get yourself some free money. Yup- prepay $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 worth of rental credit. And if you prepay $30, we give you $40 worth of rental credit. That’s just free money you’re leaving on the table, people.

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