Volume CDIV- Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Three Men and a Baby Kid
For the Week of 5/14/13
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Movies are great. Therefore we make your life great every day. You’re welcome…
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 A Sound of Thunder (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) People like to throw around the phrase “the worst movie of all time” around here. We at Videoport have a lot of movies (like, a lot) and they’re not all great.
In fact some of them are downright dreadful, loathsome, or downright crimes against cinema, if not humanity itself. But only a select few can be held up, marveled at, and, upon watching, dry-heaved over as the truly worst of the worst. And some of those aren’t even terrible in a fun way. They just make you feel all sad and bloated with despair for the human race. (Battlefield Earth, I’m looking at you…) Nope, to truly contend for true “worst movie of all time” there has to be something special. Or, you know, what the opposite of special is. Maybe it’s truly terrible acting, or a script seemingly written by a special needs chimp, or, in the case of A Sound of Thunder, the most laughable special effects of all time. Sure, it’s easy to make fun of low-budget, ancient, or amateurish special effects in movies. But what sets this one apart from the latest Syfy Chanel Roger Corman hybrid-monster cheese-fest (coming soon: Veloci-Panda! Hammerhead Frogbat! and Three-Headed Octo-Crab!), this adaptation of a five page Ray Bradbury story cost $52,000,000 dollars. Go on and rent the movie. I’ll wait. Great-now describe where you think they spent that money. Sure, Edward Burns has to cost, what, ten grand, and it’s got Ben Kingsley (a great actor continuing the Michael Caine legacy of “only appearing in anything, ever, where they give me a big pile of money”), but please, and take your time, explain to me where the rest of that money went. (To summarize the plot- in the future, companies go back in time to take rich jerks on safaris to dinosaur times. There are strict- I say strict!- protocols in place to prevent idiots from, say, killing a butterfly and causing massive disruptions in the space-time continuum and destroying the world as we know it but, well…) To render the unimaginable splendor of walking amongst dinosaurs, not to mention the havoc wrought by that whole space-time deal on the modern world, the film employs all the technological wizardry of an early Playstation game. Or maybe the visual sleight of hand of the Land of the Lost TV show. Seriously, I’m not just crackin’ wise here, people- watching the interaction of actors (in cheap plastic bubble time safari helmets) “interact” with things which appear to be projected on a drive-in screen somewhere in the background. I cannot do justice to the delightfully-batsh*t god-awfulness of the effects here (which, far from being used sparingly, or sheepishly make up more than half the movie)- I say just watch it, crack open all the beers, and marvel at…the worst movie of all time!!
(It might not be the worst. It’s close.)
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!
>>>Dennis suggests a Bogart gumshoe back-to-back taste test with The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon. These two Bogart detective classics tend to get lumped together in the public consciousness, since they’re both Bogart, both from around the same time, and both undeniably among the best detective movies ever made. There are essential differences however which leads to the inevitable question: which is better? For
that, let’s go to the tale of the tape! The Big Sleep (1946, directed by Howard Hawks). The Maltese Falcon (1941, directed by John Huston). In Sleep, Bogart is Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, while he’s Daishell Hammett’s Sam Spade in Falcon. Both men are Bogart-cool, but there are significant differences. Marlowe’s a former cop with a code of honor who gets sucked into the shenanigans of the wealthy Sternwood clan, especially when he meets haughty daughter Lauren Bacall. Spade’s tough guy cool is accompanied by a more shifty, even sadistic streak, and he’s motivated by a dame, sure (Mary Astor’s compulsive liar and man-trap), but also by the tantalizing promise of untold wealth in the form of the titular maguffin- a legendary jeweled sculpture. Marlowe’s code, as cockeyed as it can seem, is more altruistic at heart- he’s hired to solve a case, but as it becomes apparent that something’s really rotten (and the impossibly formidable Bacall is in trouble), he plunges on, even after he’s been warned off, bought off, and beaten to a pulp. Because that’s what he does. Spade? Spade likes the danger, the dirt, and the dames (he’s even sleeping with his partner’s wife), and his eyes light up at the sight or promise of money. He takes on a case for it, endures beating and getting mickey-ed for it, sleeps with dames to get it (not really a hardship, but still), and takes a lot of chances on its account. He too, we find out, has a code- but it’s harder to pin down than Marlowe’s (which isn’t easy in itself). Motivated by the dough, he’ll still show equal courage to Marlowe, and ultimately do something like the right thing- this time, anyway. As far as the supporting cast of each goes, Sleep, has a great turn by diminutive character legend Elisha Cook Jr, the peerlessly smoky Bacall, and a
weirdly sexy performance by Martha Vickers as Bacall’s spoiled, druggie, nympho little sis who, as Marlowe says, “tried to sit in my lap when I was standing up.” Sleep, though has what may be the all-time bonkers ensemble cast of greatness, with Sydney Greenstreet as the erudite-ly evil mastermind Kasper Guttman, purring and scheming with delicious abandon, Peter Lorre as foppish dandy Joel Cairo, absolutely hilarious, and deceptively dangerous henchman. There’s Astor, pathologically lying her way into Spade’s, um, heart, I guess, her self-consciously arch pretension and clipped dialogue a constant, and constantly entertaining babble of deception. And Cook’s here too, this time as one of the greatest snotty little punks in screen history, a too-tough talking henchman (“the gunsel”) whose too-big overcoat hints at just how effective he’s gonna be. In the end? I have to give the slight edge to The Maltese Falcon which, due to a once-in-a-lifetime cast and masterfully energetic direction by Huston might just be the most purely entertaining film of all time. Of course, if you use the daily deal to rent them both, the big winner is you, you lucky so and so…
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 After Hours (in Comedy.) After the “original” Hangover was overrated by frat bros leading to (soon, so very soon) a third installment of broad, boozy nonsense and Ken Jeong’s ass, I’d like to bring the concept of the “one crazy night” movie back to earth, and greatness, with this 1985 dark comedy from renowned comedy master Martin Scorcese! And starring beloved comic hero Griffin Dunne! Yeah- who’s with me? Well shut up, because this movie is great. Dunne brings his signature blend of squirrelly untrustworthiness to the role of a Manhattan office drone who, sensing an easy conquest with flighty Soho boho Rosanna Arquette, heads off to her apartment for a rendezvous. And thus begins the sort of night that would cause Bradley Cooper to try and make some snarky wisecrack before wetting himself and running away. Lost money, unexpected subway fare hikes, unexpected dead people, suspicious burglaries, spooky sculptures, Cheech & Chong, Dick Miller, several insane blondes, Monkees music, and an actual lynch mob later, and After Hours has become a unique sort of comedy nightmare, getting inside the skin of the average guy and revealing how our insecurities and weaknesses can lead us to some very dark and dangerous (and squirmily funny) places. Warning: there are no comically scatalogical monkeys in After Hours. Apologies frat brosephs…
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!
>>> Dennis suggests getting some free money at Videoport! (admittedly, that’s advice good for every day, but no one gave me a review for Thursday- and send your reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org). Here’s the thing- you’re gonna want to rent movies at Videoport all day every day because we are so awesome and have all the movies and Netflix sucks and cable is too expensive and ridiculous. So why not get yourself some free money to discount our prices even more and stretch your entertainment dollar and so forth, etcetera. Check it- pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account and we give you $25 dollars in rental credit. And $30 buys you a whopping $40 in rental credit. That’s either a 20/25 percent discount or 5/10 free bucks depending on how you look at it. And that’s not including the added benefit of feeling superior to those dopes who don’t play it smart like you. Everybody wins.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>>You get a free movie. You don’t have to rent anything else. We think that’s very nice.
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests ‘New Girl’ (in Comedy.) With the second season of this one finishing up last night, I’d heartily recommend checking out the first season of what has unexpectedly become one of the best sitcoms on TV. Fashioned as a starring vehicle for everybody’s favorite hipster-target Zooey Deschanel, it quickly established itself as one of the best ensemble comedies on TV with Jake Johnson (as slacker Nick), Lamorne Morris (as slightly more together voice of reason Winston), and Max Greenfield (certified scene stealer as would be ladies man Schmidt) sharing time with the funny and goofy Deschanel as roommate/pals. It’s not going to break any ground, necessarily but New Girl has become appointment viewing for me, with the cast’s fresh, improv-y chemistry winning me over to a ridiculous degree by this point. Funny is funny. New Girl is funny.
>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests Silence of the Lambs (in Mystery/Thriller.) If you’ve been watching Bryan Fuller’s current series Hannibal, which follows FBI consultant profiler Will Graham as he collaborates with respected psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter to solve a series of serial slayings (and you should be watching it, btw: it’s eerie and tense and dreamy in a way that’s hard to describe), now is a great time to revisit the films based on Thomas Harris’ infamous book series. The large and small details of character and plot that flicker through the films’ background will give you a chuckle (or, depending on the detail, a chill) when they pop up — sometimes identically, sometimes repurposed — as background elements or plot details in the TV show. And you’ll see how both Silence of the Lambs and Fuller’s Hannibal tap into a crucial aspect of Lecter’s personality: his steely insistence on courtesy, no matter how dissonant or irrelevant it might seem. His peculiar brand of civility shapes almost all of his behavior in Silence of the Lambs. In fact, the entire story of SotL unfolds because he is trying to make up for another person’s crudeness to Clarice Starling. Think about it: Clarice Starling is just a student — an ace student, unusually diligent and intelligent, sure, but she’s completely uncredentialed and inexperienced, in no way qualified to face off against a notoriously brilliant fiend. Why does the FBI send her on such a vital mission? Well, they don’t. Jack Crawford (Scott Glenn), Agent-in-Charge of the Behavioral Science Unit, spells that out for Starling in her briefing: “I don’t expect him to talk to you, but I have to be able to say we tried.” Crawford quite reasonably expects Lecter to toy with Clarice briefly to break his boredom, then throw her back to the agency with her (and their) questions unanswered. And that’s almost what happens: Dr. Lecter spares little time for this green recruit, dismissing her fumbling with scalding precision and sending her back to Crawford with a scolding. It’s only after a fellow inmate humiliates her more crassly — and rudely — that Lecter summons Starling back and hastily offers to salve the indignity the only way he can. The phrase isn’t uttered until much later in the film, but this is their first quid pro quo, a reciprocal arrangement to atone for a transgression in his home: “Discourtesy is unspeakably ugly to me.” “Then do this test for me.” “No, but I will give you a chance for what you love most.” “What is that, Dr.?” “Advancement, of course.” Lecter offers his help and information to make amends for her humiliation at another’s hands. Like any good host, he shoulders responsibility for any indignity visited upon a guest under his roof, and he makes amends to right that wrong. It’s just that his idea of righting a wrong is, well, different from other people’s. Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s notion of hospitality is sinister beyond description, but he clings to it with unbending propriety.
New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘Dexter’- season 7’ (Michael C. Hall is back killing his way through all the serial killers Florida has to offer; which is, unsurprisingly, a lot of serial killers), Cloud Atlas (Tom Hanks stars, and stars, and stars as nearly 50% of the cast of this epic sci fi drama about how one life’s impact stretches through time; directed by the Wachowskis [The Matrix] and Tom Twkwer [Run Lola Run]), Back to 1942 (Tim Robbins and Adrien Brody bring the Hollywood presence to this wrenching Chinese epic about the legendary drought which descended on China just in time for the Japanese invasion; man…), Beware of Mr. Baker (documentary about the titular Ginger Baker, the one-time drummer for Cream who has a reputation for being a tad, shall we say, ornery?), The Bletchley Circle (BBC series about a quartet of women working in the titular WWII codebreaking center who, in their spare time, track down a serial killer; man…), Escape (Norwegian action about a young woman, kidnapped from her slaughtered family in the days after the black plague, who must escape from the band of merciless marauders dead-set on doing the things a band of Viking-types do after the pillaging is done), A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III (director Roman Coppola [CQ] recruits cousin Jason Schwartzman, alongside an interesting cast [Bill Murray, Kathryn Winnick, Aubrey Plaza] and, um, Charlie Sheen to bring us this indie quirk-fest about a graphic designer who has a dear-death experience and starts having a series of increasingly odd encounters), Liz & Dick (professional cautionary tale Lindsay Lohan and some guy with a gravelly voice impersonate the most insufferable celebrity couple of their time Elizabteh Taylor and Richard Burton in this TV movie; I saw about half of it! It’s as bad as you think!), Mindfulness Meditation for Anxiety (ommmmmm…ommmmmm…my bed is not full of spiders…ommmm….), Texas Chainsaw (the undisputed horror classic!…is the inspiration for this unnecessary remake which was in unnecessary 3D in theaters; now it’s in good ol’ 2D! Enjoy!), Frankie Go Boom (Charlie Hunnam from Sons of Anarchy stars in this comedy about a guy whose brother has been filming, and humiliating, him his entire life; when the brother gets out of rehab, things should be better…or else his pranks will be more focused and cruel…), Stitches (check Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section for this one. Why? EVIL ZOMBIE PARTY CLOWN! EVIL ZOMBIE PARTY CLOWN!), Walk Away Renee (sort of a sequel to his acclaimed documentary Tarnation, this doc follows director Jonathan Caoette as he takes his mentally ill mother on a cross country road trip; I’m sure it goes fine…),
New Arrivals at Videoport: ‘Topper’ (Leo G. Carroll stars in this 1950s TV series adaptation of the classic comedy about an uptight banker haunted by a pair of charming, if meddlesome, ghosts), Jeff Dunham: A Very Special Christmas (holiday comedy stylings of a racist ventriloquist? Where do I line up?!), The Ritz (cult 1976 comedy about a straight shlub [great shlubby character actor Jack Warden] forced to hide out from the mob in a gay bath house; costarring Rita Moreno…as Googie Gomez!), ‘Ray Bradbury Theater’ (1985 anthology series consisting of adaptations of stories from sci fi master Bradbury; starring the likes of William Shatner, Jeff Goldblum, Leslie Nielson, Peter O’Toole, and on and on)
New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: ‘Dexter- season 7’, Frankie Go Boom, Naked Lunch