VideoReport #407

Volume CDVII- Indiana Jones and the Divine Secrets Of The Ya Ya Sisterhood

For the Week of 6/4/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. That’s every, single day. No exceptions. Because of the goodness.

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!

>>> Piehead’s Emily-in-law recommends: No-tech time travel movies.  Sometimes you don’t need special effects in sci-fi.  In fact, sometimes it gets in the way.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of exceptions that are masterpieces (um, hello… have you seen Firefly? Don’t give me any excuses.  Just watch it already.  Duh…) However, occasionally, you just want the big idea without all the other extraneous stuff.  A really good sci-fi/time travel movie can prove it’s mettle without any CGI whatsoever.  Case in point: Primer.  This movie was made for like a dollar and some change that the guy who made it found underneath his couch cushions but I guarantee it is one of the most intriguing pieces of film you’ll ever see.  I’ve seen it three times and I’m STILL thinking about it.  Then there’s the Spanish movie Time Crimes which is sort of mundane for about the first three minutes and then takes off like a bizarre carnival ride that only gets weirder and more gripping by the moment.  And, finally, there is The Sound of my Voice.  If you haven’t read anything about this movie, please keep it that way.  Just watch it.  It is quiet but powerful and will throw you more than a few left curves.  I purposely avoided trying to summarize the plots of these movies because 1) it would take forever and it’s a school night for me; and 2) isn’t it better sometimes not to know?  Just take a deep breath, a pinch of faith in great filmmaking, perhaps a cocktail of your choice, and dive in.

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 says you should really take advantage of us! Pay $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 worth of rental credit! And $30 buys you $40 worth of rental credit! It’s money you’re going to spend with us renting movies anyway, so why not make it even more worth your while by getting yourself 5 or 10 free bucks? Seriosly—no brainer, people…

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 checking out the new, expanded Criterion Collection section at Videoport (right after Classics.) In case you were wondering: the Criterion Collection is a distribution company with such

Just one Criterion release to choose from.

Just one Criterion release to choose from.

amazing taste that people started asking us for the new Criterion releases, no matter what they were. And, since you don’t have to hit us over the head three times, we created a section just for the Criterion stuff. Since then, Criterion has continued to release so much great stuff (classics, foreign classics, new classics, the occasional complete weirdo selection), and Videoport has continued to buy them so you can rent them and because we are so cool and all, and the CC outgrew its kitty-corner home and now resides in a spacious, two bank section for your enjoyment. Like I always say–you could seriously close your eyes and pick one. You’ll end up with something at least interesting, perhaps life-changing.

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!

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Django Unchained (in Incredibly Strange). Your editor and I finally watched Django Unchained, and neither of us was overwhelmed — we were whelmed, we were maybe even underwhelmed — though for different reasons. Videoport Jones summed up his response succinctly as “it just didn’t work, simple as that.” But I can’t entirely agree with him: several segments of the film are subtle,

Hmm...

Hmm…

affecting, and completely engrossing. Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz turned in unsurprisingly excellent, layered performances. Django Unchained even managed to make me impressed with Leonardo DiCaprio, who has always seemed too much of a blank canvas to me, even in films I’ve loved. And there were moments and scenes that worked horrifically well upon me, the “goosebumps and crying” kinda “worked.” My biggest objection to Django Unchained: the film employs slavery as its backdrop and character motivation, but only shows the most salacious and degenerate abuses, not the simple horror of the the brutally efficient economic system that it really was, and not the endless grinding dehumanization of daily labor with no expectation of autonomy or freedom. It’s all too easy for an unwitting audience member to walk away with the unconscious message that slavery is morally condemned because it endows slave-owners with freedom to impose such flagrant abuses — to subject enslaved people to fights to the death, to sadistically enthusiastic whippings, to unending sexual slavery — and not because, y’know, IT IS WRONG TO OWN OTHER PEOPLE. And it’s not surprising that Django Unchained presents the wrongs of slavery as a personal tragedy without ever fundamentally challenging the larger underlying cultural tragedy. Indeed, that echoes Django’s journey; he and Schultz (Christoph Waltz) never try to right any larger wrongs or challenge the status quo in any way. They are only trying to acquire one slave, the lovely (and largely silent) Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), for purely personal reasons and by conforming strictly to the customs of slave-trading. For all its characteristic Tarantino bombast, Django Unchained doesn’t shatter — or even threaten — the status quo; both the film and its protagonists embrace the status quo even as they exploit it. Any larger system that’s destroyed along the way is purely collateral damage. That makes a certain small sense, but — especially following Inglourious Basterds — more than anti-climactic; it’s empty. Endnote: as disappointed as I was, I’m going to revisit Django Unchained in a few weeks or months, a lesson I learned with Inglourious Basterds. It took me two viewing weeks apart to really get my head around that film, to see beyond my revulsion and see the story behind the story. I’m going to try that with Django, too, and see if my view changes as time slips by.

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, Elsa S. Customer suggests Ray Bradbury Theater (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Do I need to say more than “Ray Bradbury Theater”? C’mon: RAY BRADBURY THEATER! All right, for those of you who perhaps do not share my fond teen memories of staying up late in the dark to watch artfully spooky stories, I’ll go into a little more detail. (More detail, that is, than “Ray Bradbury Theater!”) In the mid-80s, HBO collaborated with illustrious and prolific author Ray Bradbury to create a series of sci-fi/horror/unearthly/eldtritch TV tales based on Bradbury’s many short stories. Echoing the hosts of the previous generation’s anthology series “The Twilight Zone” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” Bradbury himself introduces most of the episodes; the intro gives us a glimpse of Bradbury’s trademark twinkle (all the more striking in the dimness of his surroundings) and also helps connect the collection of disparate stories by showing us the wellspring from which they originated: Bradbury’s own office, where he sits typing. If you have a weakness for anthology series (I do! I do!), especially for eerie or ghostly tales, this is unmissable. And it’s a bargain, folks! Thirteen episodes — that’s five hours of entertainment — on one disc. If that doesn’t persuade you, let me reiterate: RAY. BRADBURY. THEATER!

>>>For Sunday, Andy suggests Zodiac (in Mystery/Thriller, and on Andy’s Favorite Movies of All Time shelf). How appropriate is it that I am obsessed with a movie about obsession? I’ve seen Zodiac several times since it came out in 2007. But I’ve watched it four times in the last week and a half. I don’t know why. Sure, like any David Fincher movie, it’s extremely well made, obsessively detailed, smarter than your average thriller, and it goes to some dark places. But you don’t see me watching Seven or The Social Network over and f***ing over (well, maybe next time I’m in a mood like this). I’d love to write a smart and comprehensive review of this very deserving film, but for now, here’s a list of reasons why I just can’t stop watching Zodiac:

-In addition to its impressive starring cast (Mark Ruffalo, Jake Gyllenhaal, Chloe Sevigny, Dermot Mulroney), Zodiac is a showcase for great character actors: Elias Koteas, Anthony Edwards, Philip Baker Hall, Donal Logue, Brian Cox, Charles Fleischer, and, in the creepiest and possibly best performance in the movie, John Carroll Lynch (as prime suspect Arthur Leigh Allen). Just watching these actors perform is a real treat.

-Speaking of great acting, Zodiac has everything I want in a Robert Downey, Jr, performance. Sure, he’s not wearing a robot suit. But as brilliant, eccentric, severely drunk journalist Paul Avery (“the marked man”) RDJ expertly plays the simultaneously funniest and saddest character in the movie.

-Movies like Zodiac are creepier when they are based on true stories. Especially when there is clearly a lot of attention paid to historical accuracy.

Zodiac is a movie about a police investigation that places more emphasis on the tedium of acquiring a warrant, matching fingerprints and handwriting, sifting through anonymous tips and mounds of tainted evidence, and coordinating with different police districts. And it’s f***ing riveting!

-It’s more impressive to watch a movie about an investigation that happened pre-internet. Movies about people looking stuff up on Google are just boring.

-Have I mentioned that, for a movie about the hunt for a real-life serial killer, Zodiac is hilarious? Robert Downey, Jr. and Brian Cox especially give very funny performances.

-This movie has an awesome period soundtrack. Sly and the Family Stone, Steely Dan, Marvin Gaye, The Animals… and if “The Hurdy Gurdy Man” isn’t creepy enough for you already, wait until you hear it during Zodiac’s first murder sequence!

-This is a movie-obsessed movie. The Most Dangerous Game, Bullitt, and Dirty Harry are all featured prominently. And several scenes are set inside and outside of movie theaters. I don’t know. I think that’s cool.

Zodiac ends with its mystery intact. I know that one of the complaints about this movie is that it’s hard to satisfactorily end a movie about a serial killer that was never actually caught. That doesn’t bother me. I think the movie has a very satisfying ending. AND, unlike so many movies (like, I dunno, Fincher’s own The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), there’s no scene where the investigators confront the killer and have the narrative tied up with a neat little bow. It’s ambiguous. It’s mysterious. It’s perfect. I will keep watching Zodiac.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Dark Skies (Keri Russell stars in this horror chiller about one of those typical suburban families…and the sinister force from above that’s targeting them for some typical spooky nastiness), A Good Day To Die Hard (Bruce Willis is back, sucking in his gut, scowling through unmemorable one-liners, and blowin’ stuff up real good in this sequel to the one good Die Hard movie that seems so, so long ago…), Warm Bodies (it’s like Romeo and Juliet—with zombies! After a decidedly un-George Romero-approved zombie apocalypse, a teen girl finds unlikely love with the hoodie-wearing undead guy who saves her life; John Malkovich is in there somewhere… ), Identity Thief (Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy team up in this raunchy, raucous road comedy about an ordinary guy who heads out in search of the weird lady who, um, stole his identity), ‘Breaking Bad’- season 5 (the best show on TV? Hm. That’s a tough question to answer, but the fact that we have to think about it is a pretty good sign, no? Multiple Emmy winners Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are back as the best, most dysfunctional crystal meth dealers in all of the land), ‘Adventure Time’- season 2 (check out Videoport’s animation section for season 2 of this kids cartoon which a fair number of grown up types seem to adore as well!), ‘Falling Skies’- season 2 (former ER doc Noah Wylie returns to lead the human resistance against the invading [and icky] aliens turning the world into their personal [icky] hellscape!), ‘Major Crimes’- season 1 (hey! You guys and gals all seem to like The Closer, so why not check out this spinoff series starring seemingly everyone on The Closer except Kyra Sedgewick?), Mental (director PJ Hogan [Muriel’s Wedding] returns to Australia and reteams with leading lady the excellent Toni Colette in this comedy about an eccentric nanny who takes over the care of five kooky kids when their mom goes a little, well, mental from her husband’s philandering; costarring Liev Schreiber and Anthony LaPaglia), Ring Of Fire (did you ever watch Walk The Line and wish June Carter Cash was played by Jewel? Well then this TV movie telling the Johnny and June Cash story from June’s point of view is right for you!), ‘Bob’s Burgers’- season 2 (this animated series about the comic misadventures of a small town burger chef and his eccentric family has sneakily become one of the funniest shows on TV; starring the voices of Kristin Schaal, Eugene Mirman, and the great Jon Benjamin [Home Movies, Archer]), Brooklyn Castle (heartwarmer of a documentary about the championship chess team from an inner city school whose extracurricular programs are constantly in danger of being cut), The Giants (referred to as a French Stand By Me, this film concerns a pair of young brothers whose summer spent waiting for their busy mother to come join them at their dead grandfather’s country home is disrupted when they befriend a local drug dealer reputed to have killed someone with only a “death stare”), Escape From Planet Earth (animated kids stuff about a blue-skinned alien whose inadvertent crash landing on earth turns him into the hunted when humans react with their typical lack of restraint; Brendan Fraser, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rob Corddry and others provide the voice talent)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: O. Henry’s Full House (star studded anthology film featuring several shorts based on the stories of legendary twist ending-meister O. Henry; includes a version of his The Gift Of The Magi, so look for this to be a Christmas season perennial rental), Yanks (1979 drama about a love story between an American soldier stationed in post WWII England and a young British gal; starring a young Richard Gere, the lovely Lisa Eichhorn [so great in 1981’s Cutter’s Way], and Vanessa Redgrave)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Dark Skies, ‘Breaking Bad’- season 5, A Good Day To Die Hard, Identity Thief, Warm Bodies.

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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