VideoReport #406

Volume CDVI- Indiana Jones and the Secret of How Keanu Reeves Keeps Getting Work

For the Week of 5/28/13

Videoport give you a free movie every day. And, as we have all the movies ever, you may run out of free movies sometime in late…never. The 31st of Never, Neverteen Neverty-Never.

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!

>>> JackieO suggests ‘Fringe’ (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Fringe is ridiculous, but I can’t stop watching it. In fact, by the time its ridiculousness became evident, I was already hooked by its peculiar brand of villian-of-the-week plus heady pseudo-science and intriguing character development. I’m almost through season four, and they’ve …no, I can’t spoil it. Never mind. Yeah, so, uh, I like Fringe.

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 some stereotype-busting! This week: Humphrey Bogart! Of course we all love it when Bogart plays the cool, tough-talking dick (you know what I mean), but there was more to Bogey’s talents than Casablanca, The Big Sleep, Key Largo, To Have and Have Not, and The Maltese Falcon. (I’d suggest that all of those characters have more shades to them that Bogart’s generally given credit for, but that’s for another article…) If you want proof, I’d suggests checking out Bogart in The Caine Mutiny, In A Lonely Place, and especially The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (all in Classics.) In The Caine Mutiny, Boart is the tyrannical Captain Queeg whose increasingly erratic behavior commanding a WWII minesweeper causes first mate Van Johnson to undertake the titular action. It’s in the court martial scene especially where Bogart shines, his gradual breakdown under defense counsel Jose Ferrer’s cross-examination growing more and more unsettling, and eventually sort of heartbreaking. In A Lonely Place is practically a deconstruction of Bogart’s screen persona, as he starts out as the awesomely named Dixon Steele (nicknamed “Dix”), a formerly successful Hollywood screenwriter on the outs. As the film begins, he’s smooth, funny, and taking no crap from the studio bigwigs who, we are led to expect, are down on him just because he won’t compromise. When a young woman he’d been last seen with turns up dead, though, we start to see cracks in Steele’s stucco, especially when new girlfriend (the ever-kittenish) Gloria Grahame starts to have doubts about his innocence when Steele’s temper begins to reveal itself. Watching Bogart come unglued there is one thing, but his performance as Fred C. Dobbs in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre. As pal (and AV Club writing superstar) Zack Handlen recently said, “Bogart’s Dobbs is one of the best matches of writing/performance I’ve ever seen—it’s like seeing modern cinema being born.” Since I can’t top that, I’ll just say I agree wholeheartedly…

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!

 

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 Old School (in Comedy.) Before wearing out his welcome with the increasingly-decreased Hangover franchise, director Todd Phillips cemented his bro-credit with this rowdy, bawdy college comedy about a trio of 40-something guys who decide to escape their stifling grown-up lives by creating an unlicensed fraternity at the local college. Sure, it’s crude, occasionally sexist, and features KY-jelly wrestling, but, apart from some genuinely funny work from Luke Wilson and Vince Vaughn at peak Vince Vaughn-iness, the real draw of the movie is Will Ferrell, whose former party animal Frank (formerly infamous as Frank the Tank), takes to this flight from responsibility with hilarious, and oddly touching, enthusiasm. Two scenes really stand out for me: First is this speech where he initially declines some frat kids’ offer of a funnel shot. Just read it with a vision of Ferrell’s quiet, growing desperation and panic as he describes his plans for tomorrow: “Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.” Then later, when his understandably outraged new bride has insisted on couple’s therapy, when Ferrell unexpectedly lays the groundwork for the most respectable semi-dramatic roles to come (Stranger Than Fiction, Everything Must Go): [in response to the therapist assuring him he can say anything]: “Anything? Well, uh I guess I, deep down, am feeling a little confused. I mean, suddenly, you get married, and you’re supposed to be this entirely different guy. I don’t feel different.” It’s his reading of the last line- weirdly touching. Echoed later when his wife (again, understandably) says she wants a divorce. “A divorce? Like, a real divorce?” Crude and rude and pretty funny- with Ferrell providing the biggest laughs, and keeping you on your toes by creating something like a real human being inside Frank the Tank.

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

>>>You can just come in and get a free movie from the kids section–no other rental necessary. Because of loving the kids. Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests a triple feature movie education! This week’s topic: Unions! Movies can provide unique insight into the real life subjects they address. Of course, they can also be simplistic and useless in that capacity, but we’ll just concentrate on some films that got their subject matter right. The best film on the topic of workers’ unionization I’ve ever seen is John Sayles’ Matewan (in Drama.) As befits, maverick Sayles, the film is decidedly pro-labor, but then again, he was documenting one of the most egregious incidents of corporate thuggishness in the face of workers saying, hey- maybe we could have safer working conditions and a decent wage. All the more important for these workers as the film documents the strike of impoverished West Virginia coal miners in the 20’s, one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, and one of the most blatantly exploitative employment situations ever, with workers paid in company scrip rather than real money, workers charged for their own equipment and housing in company owned buildings, and no possibility of redressing any issues. (They can’t even quit until they work off the debt they owe the company for necessities of work and life- or else they’ll be charged with stealing from the company. That’s some evil right there…) All of this wouldn’t be worth watching if it were all just a big didactic screed/history lesson, but Sayles populates his ensemble cast with a veritable all-star team of great character actors (Chris Cooper, Bob Gunton, David Strathairn, James Earl Jones, Joe Grifasi, Mary McDonnell, Ken Jenkins, Gordon Clapp, Kevin Tighe) and, in the process, creates one of the most layered and authentic American films of all time. Along those lines, head next down the aisle and pick up Norma Rae, where Sally Field (never better) plays the titular blue collar mom and textile worker who finds a courage she didn’t know she had, or would be necessary, when she risks the very little she has in order to lead the fight to unionize her exploitative, unsafe mill. Again- preachy is deadly in a drama, and the real strength here (apart from Fields’ performance) is the conception of her character as a regular woman who discovers, once awakened to how unfair her employers are, that she simply will not stand for being treated unfairly. Each of these films, while decidedly pro-union, don’t shy away from the often troublesome nature of any such process (sadly, human-led movements are led by, well, humans). But for a real head-spinner and heart-wrencher of a union film, check out Barbara Kopple’s brilliant American Dream (in the Documentary section) which depicts the struggle of workers at a 1980s Hormel meat packing plant not only against the company’s attempt to get workers to accept a $2 per hour pay cut among other concessions, and their international union’s attempts to stop the workers from striking. Debates, schemes, coups, scabs, injunctions, strongarm tactics, and a workforce of regular people caught in the middle trying desperately to make the right choices. As thoughtful and multifaceted an examination of the American labor scene as has ever been told. (Other recommendations: Silkwood, Blue Collar, Wal Mart: The High Cost Of A Low Price, On The Waterfront [as confused as it is about its politics], How Green Was My Valley, The Man In The White Suit, I’m All Right Jack, North Country, Bed & Roses, Hoffa).

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Arrested Development (in Comedy.) One of the funniest comedies in TV history, Videoport’s got the first three seasons in the Comedy section. Look, we all know where the long-awaited fourth season is right now, but trust us- it will be on DVD soon enough, and Videoport will have plenty of copies for you all to enjoy without joining some internet conglomerate in order to check back in with the Bluth clan. Have a little patience- it’s like Netflix found yet another way to screw with local, independent video stores like Videoport, but we’ll take care of you. We’ll stay strong- hang with us, pals.

New Releases this week at Videoport: This Girl Is Badass (might not be the most high profile film of the week, but the title of this Thai action martial arts thriller wins it the top spot: she’s badass, don’t you understand?!!), ‘Longmire’- season 1 (based on Craig Johnson’s mystery novels, this hard-bitten modern western series stars Robert Taylor as the titular sheriff striding the Wyoming landscape in search of baddies; costarring Lou Diamond Phillips and Katee Sackhoff, aka Battlestar Galactica’s Starbuck), ‘Doctor Who’- series 7, part 2 (Matt Smith’s Doctir has a new companion and some new, delightfully-weird adventures in time and space), The ABC’s Of Death (INSANELY-GREAT CONCEPT ALERT! 26 directors are given a letter of the alphabet and free reign to create a short horror film about death, based on a word beginning with that letter: what that means for you- 26 wildly different death-related movies all in one rental), If I Were You (always- good Marcia Gay Harden stars in this indie about a housewife who makes an unexpected arrangement with her husband’s mistress; good use of the subjunctive tense, by the way…), Lore (gripping German drama about the titular 14 year old girl forced to fend for her younger siblings once the Allies win, and her Gestapo parents are executed), Priest Of Evil (thriller about a Helsinki cop whose plan to assassinate the man who killed his daughter is complicated when he thinks he’s discovered a serial killer prowling the city’s subways), ‘Suits’- season 2 (Videoport’s Regan says this series, about a pair of high-powered lawyers involved in lawyerly shenanigans, is pretty good; costarring the stunning Gina Torres from Firefly!),

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Swimming To Cambodia (finally on DVD, this Spalding Gray monologue concert film directed by Jonathan Demme remains an absolutely mesmerizing piece of storytelling and filmmaking)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Barton Fink, The ABC’s Of Death

Get yourself some free money at Videoport!

As if you needed another reason to rent here, Videoport has these deals which just plain give you free money. Check it out: pay 20 bucks up front on your rental account, and we turn that into 25 dollars worth of rental credit. Do the same thing but with 30 dollars, and we give you 40 dollars worth of store credit. That’s either five or ten free bucks, which you were going to spend here anyway eventually. So why wouldn’t you go for this deal? Um–you hate deals maybe? I’m not your psychiatrist…

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