VideoReport #396

Volume CCCXCVI- Star Wars: Episode 7- Wookie Nights

For the Week of 3/19/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. You can’t stop 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!

"Soylent Green is made from [redacted]!!!"

“Soylent Green is made from [redacted]!!!”

>>> Andy suggests Soylent Green (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). This is one damn ugly movie. In a future where overpopulation and “the Greenhouse Effect” have caused the Earth to roast in a year-round summer, nearly every character onscreen is constantly all damp and sweaty. Except, of course, those rich people who can afford air conditioning. “We’ll make it cold, like winter used to be,” says one character, as a way of seducing Charlton Heston. Named #8 on Popular Mechanics’ list of the “Ten Most Prophetic Sci-Fi Movies Ever” (between Short Circuit and Blade Runner), Soylent Green is, in some ways, hard to see as “prophetic.” An audience in 2013 might have a hard time accepting a 2022 that still embraces 1970s fashions. And every movie that imagines a future that doesn’t include cell phones or the internet is automatically dated! But the movie does take global warming very seriously, and portrays with chilling accuracy the vast discrepancy between the incomes and lifestyles of the very richest people (the 1%!) and every-f***ing-body else. The poor characters in Soylent Green, Charlton Heston and his domestic partner Edward G. Robinson, practically have orgasms every time they get even the smallest taste of luxury, from running water and soap to marijuana, real vegetables, and strawberries (at $150 a jar!). It’s kind of obscene. This is supposed to be a futuristic detective story about a corrupt cop (Heston) investigating the murder of a rich executive (Joseph Cotton) of the sinister Soylent Corporation, but the movie wallows in its unpleasant depiction of the sweaty, overpopulated New York City. The details of the murder seem plain and obvious to Heston and his superiors, and apprehending the suspect isn’t nearly as important to them as sampling the rich victim’s bourbon and other luxuries. But, of course, Heston ends up getting sucked into the case, which leads to Soylent Green’s familiar climax. I should say that, in context, I found the ending to be genuinely sad and creepy, instead of the mere punchline I expected. Compared to other major science fiction films from the late ‘60s/early ‘70s, I think Soylent Green holds up pretty well. It’s comparable to Logan’s Run, but more serious and less campy; it’s not quite as exciting or well-made as Planet of the Apes; it’s certainly not the work of art that 2001: A Space Odyssey is; but it’s much less trashy than The Omega Man; though not as cool and stylish as THX-1138, at least it’s warmer than that film. I consider Soylent Green to be Silent Running’s nastier cousin! Enjoy!

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!

>>>Videoport customer Alex S. suggests Giant (in Classics.) It’s not like you really need anyone to come along and tell you that you should see Giant, because, you know, it came out almost 60 years ago. That said, I vowed to watch it about 10 years ago and I just finally got around to doing so. I can’t believe I spent the past decade without seeing James Dean’s performance as the best looking drunk a**hole of the 20th Century. It is epic, as it is an epic, but it is well worth investing in. And Liz Taylor is delightful, and Dennis Hopper plays her son and looks almost exactly the same as he did when he died, AND Rock Hudson gets into a 5 minute long fight with a racist.

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 renting the first season of the truly excellent HBO series Enlightened. You know, now that HBO has cancelled Enlightened. Which makes sense, since the just completed second season was one of the most brilliant, transcendent seasons of TV ever. Makes total sense. Because, you know the world makes no sense and life isn’t fair. So yeah- TV is not 7% worse that it was yesterday, but you can at least experience a great, and tragically short-lived show on DVD. Screw HBO, by the way…

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests ‘Mad Men’ (in Drama.) It’s a little less than a month ’til the Season 6 premiere and — of course — creator/writer/showrunner Matthew Weiner has been characteristically close-lipped about the new season’s arc… but he has recommended re-watching Season Five, especially the end, so it will all be fresh in your head when Season Six starts. Start the countdown, folks.

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!

>>>Piehead’s Emily-in-law recommends Oz (in Feature Drama.) Before HBO became known as the go-to venue for smart, well-written and gripping original TV dramas such as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Deadwood and, of course, The Wire (Goddamn it! Why haven’t you watched The Wire yet? Yeah, I’m talking to you. Don’t make me come to your house…), there was Oz. The series told the story of the fictional Oswald State Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison and home to some of the meanest sociopathic (and intriguing) criminals around. The amazing cast alone is enough reason to watch this show. You’ll find a list of fantastic actors, a lot of whom were fairly unknown at the time but have since become some of the best talent out there. Just to name a few: a pre-Sopranos Edie Falco (actually, I read that at one point the two shows overlapped so she was doing double duty as Diane Whittlesey, a prison guard and single mom, while also playing Carmela Soprano as her second gig); J.K. Simmons (The Closer, Burn after Reading, Juno and a whole bunch of other stuff) as Vern Schillinger, the chillingly sadistic leader of the prison’s white supremacy contingent; Dean Winters (Dennis Duffy, the beeper salesman from 30 Rock!), who is not only VERY easy on the eyes, but manages to play one of the most charmingly manipulative schemers I’ve ever seen; Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Ecko from Lost) as the guy whose bad side you NEVER, EVER want to find yourself on; and Kirk Acevedo (Fringe) as one of the most sympathetic characters – the one you just want to take home and hug until he feels better. And then there’s Rita Moreno as Sister Peter Marie (or “Pete” as everyone calls her) who, if you are from my generation, you will remember fondly from The Electric Company (“Hey you guuuuuyyyys!!”). Oh yeah, she was also one of the few actual Hispanic actors playing a Hispanic character in West Side Story. She is just awesome and I love her and that is all. The whole show is done sort of like a giant, very dynamically choreographed stage play, with Harold Perrineau (Michael from Lost) as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic prisoner narrating the action from inside a revolving glass box. I could really go on and on and on about all the other great actors and characters and the storylines with interweaving Shakespearean plot lines of machinations, double-crosses, triple-crosses and beyond, but it would be impossible to fit it all in here. Back when I first saw this show, I was somewhat taken aback by the heightened level of graphic violence but, in hindsight, it seems somewhat tame compared to a lot of shows on cable these days. And the big bonus is that, if you watch it and like it, there are eight whole seasons on disc and available at the coolest, locally owned, independent video store in Portland. What’s that place called again?

(Note to Editor: My vote for the 1 millionth word is “Harrumph.” It’s my favorite of all the onomatopoeias and just an all around fun word to say.)

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

>>>It’s free. I see nothing wrong with that.

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests ‘Pushing Daisies’ (in Drama.) From Bryan Fuller, the creator of cult classic series “Dead Like Me,” comes another totes adorbs TV show centered around death and the sorta-kinda afterlife. Protagonist Ned (Lee Pace), a.k.a. The Piemaker, has the unique ability to bring anything back to life with a simple touch. As in any proper magical tale, this talent comes with a terrible burden: if Ned allows any resurrected creature to live more than a minute, another creature must die to take its place in mortality. Even worse, Ned must never touch the resurrected being again, for even one fleeting touch kills them again — for good. Enter: the love interest. When Ned’s childhood girl-next-door, Charlotte (“Chuck,” played by Anna Friel) is murdered, Ned brings her back to life — at the price of never touching her again. This implausibly elaborate Will They Or Won’t They fuels much of the show’s melodrama as we watch Ned and his detective partner (Chi McBride) exploit his extraordinary ability to solve murders and as Ned fends off the lovelorn advances of his piehouse manager Olive (Kristen Chenowith). Still with me? Good, because there’s plenty more to dig out of this show, but we’re not going to do it here. Where “Dead Like Me” is snarky and darkly quirky, “Pushing Daisies” is whimsical as all get-out: jam-packed with visual eccentricity in the form of stylized sets, wacky costuming, and supersaturated colors, sure, but also in its intense little diversions into backstory and tangents. Chuck, for example, was raised by two agoraphobic aunts (Swoosie Kurtz and Ellen Greene) who were so cheese-mad that their niece grew up thinking refrigerators are generally known as “cheese boxes.” Is that important to the story or character? Nope. It’s just there, tossed in among the profusion of details and detours that curl around this show like tendrils. It’s actually a little exhausting. Paradoxically, I recommend watching the show in one big bright brash sitting: rent a couple of discs, get yourself some pie, and jam it all down in one big flavorful bash, like eating a whole pie in one night.

>>>For Sunday Videoport’s Regan suggests Tree of Life (in Feature Drama), for…various reasons. I’ve watched plenty of filmage under the influence. Dazed and Confused-Movies on Exchange St.-acid. Natural Born Killers-the Nickelodeon-nitrous, cough syrup. The Rocky Horror Picture Show-Movies on Exchange St.-vanilla extract. Munich-Cinemagic-dope and vodka. But I prefer a first viewing sober. Or sober-ish. Munich is way better sober. That being said… watching Tree of Life not being on drugs was a bad idea. There’s nothing wrong with the movie. But it’s cut with scenes of nature and groovy-lookin’ lava stuff, and dinosaurs! So get out your doobies and wonderjoints and get watchin’!

New Releases this week at Videoport: Les Miserables (Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Sacha Baron Coen sing their little hearts out in this lavish film version of the Broadway musical of the Victor Hugo novel [which did not feature Russell Crowe crooning atonally]), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Peter Jackson can’t leave Middle Earth alone, bringing out this first film a promised trilogy based of the beloved JRR Tolkien book that started it all, with the perfectly-cast Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins), Zero Dark Thirty (controversial fact-based thriller about the massive manhunt for Osama Bin Laden; come for the jingoism-stay for the torture!), This Is 40 (Judd Apatow is back, resurrecting two supporting characters from Knocked Up in their own movie about how hard it is to be white, rich, and married to an attractive person; I’m actually looking forward to this one a lot- that description was a present for Videoport’s Sam! Happy birthday, big guy!), Bachelorette (funny British weirdo Rebel Wilson stars in this raunchy comedy as the sad sack member of her former high school clique who, on the eve of her wedding, gets taken out for some mean girl thrills by her witch sort-of friends Lizzy Kaplan, Kirsten Dunst, and Isla Fisher), Rust and Bone (ever-lovely Marion Cotillard stars in this loopy-sounding but critically-acclaimed French drama about an Orca trainer who, well gets her legs bitten off, and the punch-drunk street fighter who mends her heart), The Other Son (the whole Israeli/Palestinian conflict gets crossed with The Parent Trap in this drama about two young men who discover they were switched at birth, and that everything they’ve ever believed is based on that mistake), Price Check (Parker Posey stars in this comedy as a neurotic executive who wreaks havoc on the poor family man she takes on as her new second in command), The Big Picture (French thriller about a devoted family man, a crime of passion, and stolen identity), Falling Uphill (indie comedy/drama about a guy who’s in love with the roommate he met on Craigslist, and the last three days he has to tell her before he has to move out), Whore’s Glory (eye-opening, presumably-depressing documentary about groups of prostitutes from Mexico City to Thailand), Painted Skin: The Resurrection (Chinese martial arts goodness about an ancient fox spirit, and then there’s an ice cave, and…with the swords…), Otter 501 (otters are freaking adorable. This is a documentary about a baby otter. It will make your head explode from cuteness), What’s On Your Plate? (two city kids explore their place in the food chain in this documentary that may make you think twice about that third donut), Lost in Thailand (three friends have wacky adventures on a road trip in the titular country), Sound City (documentary about the titular fables recording studio and former Nirvana and Foo Fighters musician Dave Grohl’s attempt to restore it to its former glory), Kumare (director/star Vikram Gandhi spent a year posing as the titular faux Indian holy man to test Americans’ gullibility where religion is concerned; the answer is al lot, in case you were wondering)

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: Badlands (Terrence Malick’s brilliant, haunting debut film about sociopathic drifter Martin Sheen and his teenaged girlfriend Sissy Spacek embarking on a 1950s crime spree gets the deluxe Criterion Collection treatment- to the delight of film geeks everywhere), Rammstein: Videos 1995-2012 (collection of music videos from the German electro-metal band)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Zero Dark Thirty, Bachelorette, Willow, Dead Poet’s Society, Young Frankenstein, Les Miserables, Once Upon a Time in the West, La Haine, Hook

VideoReport #1,000,000 is coming!

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