VideoReport #409

Volume CDIX- Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Of Why Firefly Got Cancelled

For the Week of 6/18/13

Videoport offers you a free movie every single day. If you don’t wanna take it, well, that’s between you and your chosen god…

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 Twin Peaks (in Mystery/Thriller.) You should really send your reviews in to the VideoReport every week—we’d really love all the staff and customers of Videoport to make this newsletter their one-stop destination for Portland’s movie and TV smartys-pantses to swap their favorite (or least favorite) viewing experiences. But, when it’s left to me, I’m just gonna occasionally throw out a quote from my favorite character from David Lynch’s still-stunningly insane cult TV series Albert Rosenfield. Sure, there’s a lot of competition (Kyle MacLachlan’s Special Agent Dale Cooper may actually be my favorite, but just go with it), but Miguel Ferrer’s causticly hilarious FBI forensic scientist agent has some of the greatest, meanest, most brilliantly funny lines in TV history, popping in to the spooky town intermittently to ply his scientific genius and equal genius of snark. This one comes when Albert is questioning local “glad-handing dandy” Ben Horne’s demand that Albert not conduct tests on the dead body of the murdered Laura Palmer. Enjoy: “Mr. Horne, I realize that your position in this fair community pretty well guarantees venality, insincerity, and a rather irritating method of expressing yourself. Stupidity, however, is not necessarily a inherent trait, therefore, please listen closely. You can have a funeral any old time. You dig a hole, you plant a coffin. I, however, cannot perform these tests next year, next month, next week or tomorrow – I must perform them now. I’ve got a lot of cutting and pasting to do, gentlemen, so why don’t you please return to your porch rockers and resume whittling.” You should really rent Twin Peaks.

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 Like It Hot (in Classics.) Having just watched the new HBO documentary Love, Marilyn (not on DVD yet, so calm down), I wrote a thing about the enduring cultural fascination with Marilyn Monroe. More to the point, I questioned why everyone remains so fascinated (to the extent that, as the doc claims, there have been over a thousand books written about Monroe since her death fifty years ago). I came to the conclusion that looking over her filmography will only get you so far—a huge part of the Marilyn cult has nothing to do with what she did onscreen, and her role as prototype for the sort of voracious, soul-crushing, celeb-devouring tabloid America of today accounts for a great deal of it. But when I actually watch Monroe’s movies, it’s hard to separate the legend from what she’s actually doing in the movies themselves. That happens with actors who’ve been appropriated as myths—all that cultural white noise gets in the way and you have to fight through it to try and see the actual craft with fresh eyes. Watching Monroe today, I remain more than a little puzzled. Not that she’s bad, because she’s not—it’s just that there’s something, in her starring roles at least, that’s simply outside the realms of “good” or “bad.” In an existential sense, when I watch Monroe, she simply is. And what is she? with that voice and every movement, Marilyn, to me, is all affectation, specifically designed for the effect and yet partaking of qualities from some other plane of existence. It’s not better, it’s not worse—it’s just not from here. In real life, apparently, Monroe was as messed up and complex, and normal as the rest of us, but onscreen she’s like a brilliantly designed weapon sent from that other dimension to baffle (and entice) us. Probably so her other-dimensional cohorts can come conquer us while we’re standing around all baffled and besotted. Look at her best movie (well, one of the best movies ever) Some Like It Hot, where her “dizzy blonde” speaks her lines in that breathy voice that sounds like she’s operating a quarter second behind everyone else, like she’s dubbed almost. By herself, With a hangover. While Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon (technically much better actors) make us laugh, Marilyn makes us stop and listen, if only because we’re not entirely sure what the hell we’re seeing. Is it a bad performance? No. Is it a good performance? I genuinely don’t know how to answer that question. Is this a movie I’ve watched twenty times? Yup.

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 dipping your toes into the cool, cinematic waters of Videoport’s recently expanded Criterion Collection section (after Classics.) You guys know the Criterion Collection, right? No? Well here’s my advice—go to the Criterion section, close your eyes (bring a buddy for safety) and rent whatever two movies you grab first (2 for 1 today, remember?). Now watch them. Okay, what did you see? Was one a delicate Japanese drama, as still and sublimely pleasing as a lotus blossom floating in a bowl of water and the other a shockingly bananas phantasmagoria of scatology, sex and violence that made you want to drill a hole in your head and pour bleach in your brain? That’s the Criterion Collection, and you’ve just been introduced to the films of auteurs Yasujiro Ozu and Dusan Makavejev. You’re welcome. The point is that the CC yokes in the best (and sometimes most unique) films in the world, jazzes up the special features, and then sends them to us, the slavering film freak masses dying for new cinematic delights from around the globe. There’s like a thousand films in the Criterion Collection section, and if you ever don’t know what to rent, then, seriously, just close your eyes and pick one. You might be confused, you might be entranced, you might be repelled, you might be challenged beyond your capacity to process it—but you will never, ever be bored.

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 Breaking Bad (in Feature Drama.) Walter White is coming back, y’all. The second half of season five — the final eight episodes — starts airing August 11th, which makes this the perfect time to revisit the entire series from the beginning. You can start with S1 and work your way all the way through the first half of S5, available now at Videoport! Watch them all, perhaps bingeing in insomniac bursts of hyperfocused but ultimately fruitless patterns that mimic the appearance of organized behavior but on closer inspection prove to be the random systemless fancies of the addiction-addled heavy user.

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!

Wow.

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Rectify- season 1 (in Feature Drama). Wow. The lovely Ms. Emily S. Customer and I recently finished watching this new cable series and…wow. The setup could be that of any lurid, melodramatic potboiler—a guy convicted of the rape and murder of a teenage girl when he was 18 is released after twenty years on death row after DNA evidence casts his guilt into question. While the new D.A. decides whether to refile charges, he moves back in with his mother while his fiery sister maintains his innocence and the people in his small Georgia hometown circle the situation with varying degrees of hostility and shifty behavior. Well, the approach is all, and Rectify is, simply put, one of the best TV shows of the year. There are a host of reasons. Lead actor Aden Young (he’s been in a lot of stuff and I’ve never noticed him before) is simply astounding in the title role of Daniel Holden, who walks uncertainly into the shell of a life he hasn’t known since he was a teenage boy. Two decades in prison have made him into who he is, watchful, quietly articulate, with a hint of the otherwordly, but when he returns home, we see his practiced control clash with the barely remembered snatches of who he was. He’s not a saint, and the show remains tantalizingly cagey about the circumstances of the crime he’s accused of, and the extent of his guilt. But Daniel’s wary reintroduction into a world he doesn’t know and which is more or less hostile to him, is as mesmerizing a piece of acting as I’ve seen on television in years (and yes, I’m counting shows like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Wire in that.) Young’s Holden is both afraid of everything and afraid of nothing—his experiences in prison have put him beyond the fears we on the outside live with every day, and yet the simple act of ordering breakfast at a diner is an act of queasy terror. Additionally, Rectify (created by Deadwood actor Ray McKinnon) in its brief six episode first season (and, thank all that is good and decent, there will be a second), follows Daniel’s story in such an unexpected and visually beautiful manner that it’s literally a joy to watch. For a TV viewer so dispirited at the prospect of watching yet another show whose creators feel the need to dumb everything down and spell everything out as if I were the slowest kid in class, accidentally stumbling onto a show which follows its own story at its own pace without worrying about whether every slack-jawed dunderhead with a mouthful of cheetos will miss something is like a drink of cool, clean water in the tv desert. Rectify is like that. Wow.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Balls Of Fury (in Comedy.) No, seriously. I’ve been re-reading Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant’s brilliantly funny screenwriting guide Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too! (which you should read right now. In it, these two comic geniuses (you know them from The State, Reno 911, and more) have grossed over a billion and a half dollars at the box office (it’s an accurate book as well.) In it, the writing team explains how it’s the lot of the Hollywood screenwriter to his/her/their scripts turned into often unmitigated crap by the tortuous, convoluted, and completely bass-ackwards “development process” in which execs who are emphatically not writers give notes and fire and hire screenwriters willy-nilly in order to “improve” scripts. For more insight, read their chapter titled, “Why Do Most Hollywood Movies Suck Donkey Balls?” Case in point, this weird little doodle of a movie they wrote about a former childhood ping pong champion pulled into a web of international intrigue involving a warlord’s Enter The Dragon-style table tennis tournament. While Lennon and Garant don’t specifically mention this movie in the book, they do take credit for (and lay blame for) films they, at least originally, wrote like The Pacifier, Taxi, and Herbie: Fully Loaded. I know, but they make a very convincing case. In this admittedly slight and scattershot comedy, there are nonetheless some inspired comic setpieces, especially those where Christopher Walken, as the warlord, does his thing. Example: giving portly hero Dan Fogler a tour of his supervillainous lair, Walken points to a glass enclosure labeled “panda.” When Fogler comments on the unmoving mass inside, Walken says (do your own Walken impression here): “It may be dead. I don’t know what they eat.”

New Releases this week at Videoport: Rectify- season 1 (Wow. That’s all I’m gonna say about this new cable series about a recently released death row prisoner who returns to his hostile home town; Oh wait, that’s not all—see Saturday’s review for more…), Jack The Giant Slayer (that kid from About A Boy is all grown up, but not as grown up as the army of giants he has to fight in this CGI action extravaganza about the boy and the beanstalk and the CGI giants), Quartet (at the ripe old age of 70, Dustin Hoffman directs his first movie, this rambunctious, crowd-pleasing comedy about three retired musicians [Brit vets Pauline Collins, Tom Courtenay, and Billy Connolly) whose gossipy existence at an old musicians’ home [which is apparently a thing] is thrown into comic upheaval when their former singing partner Maggie Smith comes to live with them), Call the Midwife- season 2 (continuing saga of a group of 1950s British midwives as they attempt to provide proper medical care to the poorest women in London), Workaholics- season 3 (again, the title may be ironic in this sitcom about a trio of the laziest, wackiest office drones imaginable), Stoker (super-unnerving oddball thriller about a young woman [Mia Wasikowska] whose creepy uncle moves in with her and her mother after her father dies; starring Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode), Movie 43 (it remains Hollywood’s greatest mystery how this universally despised sketch comedy movie was able to lure in the likes of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Terrance Howard, Stephen Merchant, Richard Gere, Emma Stone, Liev Schreiber, and on and on; is it truly as jaw-clenchingly abysmal as they say? Only one way to find out…), 21 And Over (sort of a college-age The Hangover [so like The Hangover, but more immature?], this comedy follows the comically irresponsible adventures of a pair of yahoos whose plan to get their straightlaced pal super drunk before the night of his big med school interview goes hilariously [?] wrong), Wilfred- season 2 (if I told you that a sitcom about Elijah Wood’s depressed protagonist hanging out and getting high with his neighbor’s dog who, in Wood’s imagination, speaks to him in the guise of a rude Aussie in a dog costume was actually one of the funniest, most weirdly satisfying shows on TV, you would probably assume that I am getting my reviews from my imaginary talking toucan pal; but that’s what I am saying—and Toucan Frankie agrees with me…), American Mary (directed by twin horror director sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska, this bloody flick’s about the titular disenchanted medical student whose boredom leads her to the lucrative, if splashy, world of underground surgery), The Last Exorcism, Part 2 (as Nelson Muntz might say, “I can think of at least two things wrong with that title…”), Kung Fu Panda: Legends Of Awesomeness (did your kids like Kung Fu Panda? Kung Fu Panda 2? Well then would they like an animated TV series continuing the adventures of roly-poly, arse-kicking panda bear Po but without any of the voice actor stars? Yeah, probably—kids don’t know stuff…), The Brass Teapot (when a young couple discovers the titular kitchen implement, they discover that they magically get money every time they hurt themselves? That’s the premise of this dark comedy with this premise…), Let My People Go! (screen legend Carmen Maura [] Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdownstars in this French farce about a happily gay French Jewish mailman living contentedly with his lover in Finland, at least until his ditsy mom [Maura] appears on the scene), Supporting Characters (indie goodness about two NYC film editors whose personal lives suffer while they work on a movie in crisis; starring Girls alums Alex Karpovsky and Lena Dunham and the indie likes of Kevin Corrigan and Tarik Lowe), Web Therapy- season 2 (the ever-delightful Lisa Kudrow stars in the second season of her webseries about a questionably qualified therapist counseling patients via three minute web chats), Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap (finally hitting the Videoport shelves [hey—we’re in Maine] is this acclaimed documentary co-directed by Ice-T, about the global rise of rap music), Perception- season 1 (Will & Grace’s Eric McCormack tries out the “eccentric guy who helps the cops even though he’s crazy” leading role thing with this detective series about—shocker—an eccentric neuroscientist who helps the cops), Profile Of A Killer (indie thriller about an FBI profiler forced to contend with a devilish teenaged serial killer in a plot that sounds like a whole lot of other serial killer movies—but in an indie way!)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Marketa Lazarova (those kooks at the Criterion Collection continue to unearth lost gems that the world had forgotten and for which we film freaks are eternally grateful; this time, it’s this stunning 1967 historical epic about a violent clash between two medieval clans, one pagan and one Christian—it’s been called “the best Czech movie of all time” by some movie smarty-pantses)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Stoker, 21 and Over, Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Great Gatsby (Redford version), Snitch, The Newsroom- season 1

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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