VideoReport #399

Volume CCCXCIX- Indiana Jones and the Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood

For the Week of 4/9/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Who hates 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 some good performances by bad actors! Look, acting as a hard job like everything else, but simply everyone is not good at it and some people who are very, very, not good at it become famous for a variety of inexplicable reasons. (Deals with the devil, incriminating photos of studio heads, their dad was famous, deals with Xenu- just some ideas.) But sometimes if you plug along for a few decades, the stars align, the right director walks you through it, the spirit of Helen Hayes possesses your body for a movie0 just some ideas- and, against all odds, you look like a real actor for a change. Here are my nominees:

Emilio Estevez in Repo Man

Keanu Reeves in Permanent Record

Jennifer Lopez in Out of Sight

Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD

Chris Klein in Election

Kate Hudson in Almost Famous

Sylvester Stallone in Copland

Freddie Prinze, Jr. in The House of Yes

Hayden Christensen in Shattered Glass

Marlon Wayans in Requiem for a Dream

Lindsay Lohan in Mean Girls

Elizabeth Shue in Leaving Las Vegas

Send in your nominees…

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 SEQUELS! Pixar’s been getting the stink-eye from fans and critics alike, ever since they announced Finding Dory, a sequel to their beloved and acclaimed Finding Nemo to be released in 2015. Listen, I too want to see our best writers, directors, and creators stretch themselves by creating new characters and settings, new stories to entertain and amaze the audience. Plenty of people are preemptively dismissing Finding Dory, sight unseen, as a cynical cashing-in on beloved characters — and I just can’t understand why this particular project is targeted for such derision. We’re immersed in a culture that simultaneously derides and celebrates sequels, prequels, and spin-offs. We’ve bought zillions of tickets for Iron Man movies 1-3. Fans are breathlessly looking forward to The Avengers 2. We embraced three Spiderman movies and, less than a decade later, cheerfully welcomed a Spiderman reboot. The Alien franchise comprises seven films so far, with yet another Prometheus prequel confirmed. I call dibs on this franchise-movie title: Old Habits DIE HARD. Heck, Paul Rudd’s moustache is getting standing ovations on the talk-show circuit because it’s a visible token of the upcoming Anchorman II. If this doesn’t persuade you, I have three more words: Batman. Batman. BATMAN. We LOVE movie franchises, and we reward studios who lovingly, intelligently undertake sequels, prequels, and other expansions of our most beloved movies. Okay, a reasonable person might object to this line of reasoning: after all, these are movies for adults, not for children. So let’s talk about kid-friendly franchises: Star Wars, Harry Potter, The Brave Little Toaster, alllllll those Winnie The Pooh movies and videos (the oldest of which I remember fondly as a holiday tradition, broadcast on The Wonderful World of Disney program), Shrek, Toy Story, the many Muppet movies, the Hobbit trilogy currently under way, the inimitable Wallace & Gromit, and an uncountable number of lesser direct-to-video franchises that children all over love to play over and over and over again. If anything, children are greater appreciators of franchise entertainment because they love the predictability and familiarity of seeing favorite characters engaging in new challenges. Children’s literature has always built on great character-based franchise. For example, L. Frank Baum wrote 14 canonical Oz books; I’ve always wondered why there hasn’t been a great series of Oz movies exploring the rich and varied world in those books (and the many more that Baum and successors added to the series). Narnia, Wonderland, Little House, Nancy Drew, Bobsey Twins, Septimus Heap, An Unfortunate Series of Events… Children find taste of familiarity as comforting and pleasant as adults do, especially when it’s mingled with fresh situations and quests. Of course, it’s possible that Finding Dory will be a sloppy, shabby carbon copy of its predecessor, but to dismiss it out of hand simply because it’s a sequel? That’s nonsensical. Kids loved Finding Nemo, and plenty of adults did, too — and for good reason. If Pixar wants to revisit those joyous, clever, engaging characters (especially by placing a hilarious, beloved female character at the center of the story this time, perhaps partially in response to the very sound criticism of the overwhelmingly male voices and stories told by Pixar prior to Brave) I’m all for it. And if it’s good — if it’s as good as Toy Story 2 or 3, for example — then they’ll deserve every penny they make on all the plastic figurines, plush toys, and other cross-market merchandise.

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!

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Keeping the Faith (in Comedy.) I’ve become one of those girls that goes to the gym. I know! I disgust myself too! But I’m powerless to resist. I’ve even gotten to the point where I can entertain myself on those stupid pointless machines. It helps that they often play random movies at my gym particularly because here in Boston I don’t have the sweet haven of Videoport to comfort me at night. So instead of being able to joyously frolic to the Old Port to rent cheap quality films that suit my fancy I get suckered into watching movies while programming “frolic” into an elliptical. This is how I remembered that I really like the movie Keeping the Faith. I have nothing particularly insightful to say about the quality of this film, but it’s a romantic comedy so there’s not much particularly insightful that I think needs to be said. It’s got a cutesy wootsy premise which is that Ben Stiller (regular Ben Stiller not “funny” Ben Stiller) is a rabbi and Edward Norton (regular seeming Edward Norton not creep-show Ed Norton) is a priest and they’ve been best friends their whole lives and thus enters the girl. It sucks you in I swear. In fact I think the first 15 minutes of the movie are such a vortex that its nigh impossible to resist! I dare you to watch the first 15 minutes and if you’re not sucked in so be it. I tried. I mean there’s like a thousand million ways that you can rent it for free and tack it on to the real movies you’re renting so why not?! Revel in the magic of Videoport while I sweat my tears in the Videoportless pit of Boston.

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!

>>> Videoport customer Jocelyn recommends Tootsie (in Comedy). My first thought was, “it’s so much better than the commercials made it look.” Dustin Hoffman is a really frustrated independent actor in New York and he tries and tries and busts his ass because he wants to get the cash together so he and Bill Murray can put on Bill’s script. Through a series of circumstances, Dustin realizes he has an opportunity for a high paying role, but it’s a woman’s role. What’s a struggling artist supposed to do? The only major thing about the movie that doesn’t work for me is the cheesy dated soundtrack. It’s full of excellent performances, laugh out loud funny stuff, enough formula to please the masses, but some real substance to satisfy the more attentive viewer. A genuine classic.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Cars. No, really! (In Family.) Listen, I’m not going to mince words: it’s not a great movie, but lots of kids love Cars. (My youngest nephews, OH GOLLY, do they love Cars. Every single time I spend more than 30 minutes with either of them, I’m treated to a description of McQueen’s antics, either drawn directly from the movies or from the kids’ own imagination as they play with their Cars-associated merch.) So bite the bullet and don’t even pay for it: bring home Cars on Free Friday. Wanna make it a theme weekend? Rent Maximum Overdrive and Christine for after the kids go to bed. If you have the same possibly-diagnosable dark mindset I do, the squeaky goofing of Cars becomes a lot more tolerable when you’re secretly imagining their animated world as a post-apocalyptic wasteland in which humans have mysteriously vanished, leaving behind only their gas-guzzling machines.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Ratatouille (in Comedy), if only for this lesson from the film’s formerly supercilious food critic Anton Ego (voiced impeccably by Peter O’Toole.) Upon revisiting the restaurant where, unbeknownst to everyone, a culinary little rat has transformed the place into a truly artistic bastion of cooking. Taking a bite, Ego chews, slows, and then lets loose with a monologue all critics should listen to, even if they don’t want to: “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little, yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the *new*. The world is often unkind to new talent, new creations. The new needs friends. Last night, I experienced something new: an extraordinary meal from a singularly unexpected source. To say that both the meal and its maker have challenged my preconceptions about fine cooking is a gross understatement. They have rocked me to my core. In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau’s famous motto, “Anyone can cook.” But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist; but a great artist *can* come from *anywhere*. It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than those of the genius now cooking at Gusteau’s, who is, in this critic’s opinion, nothing less than the finest chef in France. I will be returning to Gusteau’s soon, hungry for more.”

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests the movies that make him remember why he loves movies. Writing about movies all the time (this being VideoReport #399 and all) sometimes seems to turn watching movies into a grind. Sometimes it’s hard to recapture the lifelong joy in movies that set me on this path in the first place. But if there’s one thing I took away from the death of Roger Ebert it’s that, no matter how many good, bad, and really, really bad movies you see, it’s always a joy to go to the movies. So these are the movies that make me happy. (Sure some of them are really, really sad, gross, upsetting, or otherwise seemingly the opposite of happy- but again- watching a great movie makes me happy, no matter how many zombie attacks are contained therein.)

Local Hero (Comedy)

Choose Me (Drama)

Cutter’s Way (Mystery/Thriller)

The Iron Giant (Sci Fi/Fantasy)

Shaun of the Dead (Incredibly Strange)

I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (Comedy)

Smoke (Drama)

My Neighbor Totoro (Children’s)

The Station Agent (Drama)

Do The Right Thing (Criterion)

Anchorman (Comedy)

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (Foreign)

In the Miid For Love (Criterion)

The Son’s Room (Foreign)

Trust (Drama)

Rounders (Drama)

Halloween (Horror)

A Simple Plan (Mystery/Thriller)

The Road Warrior (Action)

The Tall Guy (Comedy)

The Life Of Brian (Criterion)

Wetherby (Drama)

Rushmore (Criterion)

The Royal Tenenbaums (Criterion)

Bottle Rocket (Criterion)

The Long Goodbye (Mystery/Thriller)

Evil Dead 2 (Horror)

Dawn Of The Dead (Horror)

Living Out Loud (Drama)

In Bruges (Incredibly Strange)

The Awful Truth (Classics)

Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (Incredibly Strange)

Magnolia (Drama)

Boogie Nights (Drama)

Hard Eight (Mystery/Thriller)

Midnight Run (Comedy)

Animal Crackers (Classics)

The In-Laws (Classics)

The Killer (Made in Hong Kong)

Ikiru (Criterion)

Lone Star (Mystery/Thriller)

Matewan (Drama)

Amateur (Mystery/Thriller)

Eight Men Out (Drama)

– and with 1,000 movies tied for next place. Ask me- I’ll find them for you.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Hyde Park On Hudson (Bill Murray, of all people, plays FDR preparing for a visit from the king of England in this biopic; remember- Bill Murray can do no wrong), ‘Boss’- season 2 (Kelsey Grammer returns as Chicago’s corrupt-est, most grammatically exact mayor in this series), Bad Kids Go To Hell (a group of spoiled rich kids at an exclusive prep school find their Breakfast Club-esque day-long detention interrupted by a killer knocking them off one by one), ‘Dirk Gently’ (adapted from two novels by Douglas Adams [The Hitchhiker’s

This is Dirk. He might solve your case.

This is Dirk. He might solve your case.

Guide To The Galaxy], this BBC comedy detective series follows “holistic detective” Gently, a shambling eccentric who often solves cases by looking at everything specifically other than the case at hand), The Island President (documentary about Mohamed Nasheed who, after bringing democracy to his homeland of the Maldives, currently leads a fight to stop global warming before his country, the lowest-lying in the world, turns into the next Atlantis), Into The Cold (documentary about two guys trying to recreate Admiral Peary’s on-foot expedition to the North Pole; should we really be encouraging this behavior?), Love Free Or Die (documentary about the openly-gay Catholic bishop from New Hampshire who sought to make the church a little less gay-bash-y), ‘The Killing’- season 2 (who killed that girl? This acclaimed series promises, straight-up pinky-swears they’ll tell you whodunnit this time), How To Make A Book With Steidl (documentary about a publisher who only makes ornate, meticulous art books)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Hyde Park On Hudson, The Player, Synecdoche, NY, Little Miss Sunshine.

VideoReport #1,000,000 is coming…next week!

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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