VideoReport #412

Volume CDXII- Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Of What The Hell Was The Ending Of Tim Burton’s Planet Of The Apes Supposed To Be, Anyway?

For the Week of 7/9/13

Videoport gives you a free movies every, single day. You don’t have to take it, of course, but we thought it’d be polite to offer…

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!

>>> Videoport customer Jenny suggests Roman Polanski’s Apartment Trilogy (all in Mystery/Thriller.) For Videoport’s triple-film specials, how about requesting the ‘apartment trilogy’? Because a Red Box won’t know what that is, but your Videoporters will. Indulge in the Polanski trilogy, especially if you just bought a house, and want to gloat in how awful renting can be. Watch Repulsion first to set the paranoid, claustrophobic mood. Aggravate your neurosis with The Tenant, where Polanski proves he’s a capable actor as well. End with Rosemary’s Baby, and savor Mia Farrow’s nascent stardom (my ginger cat is named Mia Pharaoh, so yeah, I like Ms. Farrow).  Random observation: the DVD is on Andy’s Fave Films shelf, and Rosemary calls her unborn baby, “Andy or Jenny.” Whaaat? Ha, common baby names back then, that’s not a conspiracy – errr, nevermind…

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 renting the only good performances by some really, really bad actors! If you play long enough, you’ll eventually hit one out even if you’re swinging with the wrong top hand and have your eyes closed. For proof, check out these movies where your favorite laughing-stocks are actually more than acceptable.

-Keanu Reeves in Permanent Record (Drama.) Look, Keanu’s hard to hate. He’s also hard to love. Truly, he’s hard to muster one human emotion over as he takes up space and says pleasantly hollow things every once in a while. But check out this 1998 teen drama where Reeves, playing the best friends of a teen suicide, is actually quite affecting. Sure he’s playing sort of a dope, but there’s something going on there—it’s like the last glimpse of a real teenager before he went to “abdominal muscle and no expression camp.”

-Kate Hudson in Almost Famous (Drama.) We all got fooled on this one. Right out of the gate, Hudson got a great role, written by a good director and she, well, she tricked us. That’s the only explanation for how enthusiastic I was about Hudson at this point. Now, with her name literally synonymous with “vapid, bland, rom com nonsense” (look it up), I can only explain my actions by reflecting that clearly almost any actress could have stepped into such a plum role as soulful 70s groupie Penny Lane and walked off with an Oscar nomination. I have learned to be more vigilant since then.

-Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential (Mystery/Thriller.) Always thought of the lovely Ms. Basinger as beautiful-but-blank in a nostalgically throw-back sort of way, as if she were a studio-created 40s leading lady with the look, great PR, and the smarts to not attempt anything she can’t pull off. Which is why it makes sense that she excels in this movie as an icy, secretly soulful prostitute crafted to look like Veronica Lake. Maybe there’s a ghost of what she could have been that comes through—she’s really quite hauntingly sad.

-Arnold Schwarzenegger in Stay Hungry (Comedy.) I’m as tired of the big doofus as moviegoers seem to be (finally), but you should see this oddball little comedy about Jeff Bridges, a rich kid who inherits a rundown gym and befriends the weight room’s resident bodybuilder played by guess who. As the mammothly muscly yet gentle and oddly funny strong man, Arnie comes off as, miraculously, the smartest guy in the picture. It’s weird.

-Emilio Estevez in Repo Man (Incredibly Strange.) As Otto, an LA punk who gets involved with car repossession and UFOs (it’s that kind of movie), Estevez seems authentically grubby (and funny) for the first and only time.

-Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD (Incredibly Strange.) It may be a bit of a cheat, since he’s playing himself (or at least a slightly more sad-sack version thereof), but damn if the little Belgian lunkhead doesn’t pull it off in a big way. As he huffs his way through yet another crappy action flick, attends a custody hearing with his ex wife, and, eventually, getting caught in a real life bank robbery hostage situation, Van Damme exhibits a level of world-weary self awareness that’s improbably heartbreaking. Seriously—Jean Claude Van Damme gives a great performance. That happened…

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 New Girl (in Comedy.) Don’t roll your eyes at me. I know Zooey Deschanel has this “manic pixie dream girl” uber-adorable thing going on, but while this sitcom may have been billed as a vehicle for her to be all quirky and twinkly and cutesy like a little crocheted butterfly princess, it’s gradually become one of my favorite comedies on TV right now. It’s the most standard of sitcom setups, with Zooey’s Jess breaking up with her boyfriend and moving in with a trio of goofballs in their loft, but sometimes a standard setup is the perfect place for some truly excellent character work. And the four-person living situation here is just that—a playground for Deschanel and three very funny dudes to goof around each week. As said dudes, there’s Jake Johnson’s Nick (perennial slacker and sad-sack lovelorn goofus), Lamorne Morris as Winston (African American former basketball star [in Latvia] whose function as cool voice of reason is often undermined by a propensity for shenanigans), and scene-stealer Max Greenfield as Schmidt (one of the most uniquely-funny douchebags in TV history). Oh and Hannah Simone plays Jess’ best friend Cece, who’s a model, but also pretty funny. Every episode has a plot and stuff, but the chief joy of the show is watching the loose, improv-y interplay among the four, and the endearing quirks they all bring to their characters. Weird little details continually come at you from odd angles. And at the center, there’s Deschanel, who is most definitely playing the sort of craftsy flibbertigibbet you thought she’d play, but without the attendant cloyingness you were afraid of. It’s all right there in the opening theme song, with the guys seemingly playing along delightedly with Jess’ rehearsed production number, only to all walk away disgustedly as soon as the song’s over. Nothing groundbreaking—just big, warm laughs. Nothin’ wrong with that…

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!

>>> Emily S. Customer lets fictional characters do her reviewing for her this week!

-Adrianna LaCerva (Drea de Matteo) of “The Sopranos” reviews Citizen Kane: [SPOILER] “So, it was the sled, huh? He shoulda told somebody.”

-Rupert Giles (well, really, it’s Impossibly Stuffy Dream Giles, who is a very little bit stuffier than real-life Giles) of “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” on Apocalypse Now: “Oh! I’m beginning to understand this now! It’s all about the journey, isn’t it?”

Community‘s Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown) on action flicks. “I rented Tower Heist last night and I will not spoil the ending, but let me tell you, it was quite the hilarious thrill ride. That Brett Ratner! He’s a master at comedic action/adventure — a master at storytelling! He’s just a master at making movies in general. You know what, I’m just going to ay it: he’s the new Spielberg. (And Abed Nadir [Danny Pudi] makes his terse rejoinder: “I have to go…. YOU’RE A BAD PERSON. You’re a bad person.”

The Player‘s bigwig producer Griffin Mill (Tim Robbins) on The Bicycle Thieves (Ladri di biciclette): “Great movie, huh? So refreshing to see something like this after all these… cop movies and, y’know, things we do. Maybe we’ll do a remake of this!”

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

>>>Dennis suggests you take a free kids movie. You don’t have to rent anything else. It’s a free movie. Deal with it. Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Red Lights (in Mystery/Thriller.) I’d like to say up front that I would like this movie more if it were just an hour and a half of Sigourney Weaver imperiously debunking fake psychics. That being said, this is still a pretty fun ride, with Weaver and her assistant Cillian Murphy as a pair of ghost buster-busters, traveling from their university psychology department to prove that every table-tapper, mind reader and psychic surgeon out there is just a big fat liar. Things are going well, with Weaver especially having fun exposing the dupes and the frauds, that is until Robert DeNiro shows up. As a famous psychic whose been retired for 30 years since another skeptic died at one of his shows, DeNiro shows up in Weaver’s college town and announces his willingness to be tested under the strictest scientific conditions. And then things happen that I’m not going to tell you (as disappointing as the eventual twists turn out to be.) I’d say this sort of thing is beneath DeNiro, but as he’s proven for, oh, 30 years or more, he’s simply not a very good actor anymore. (In this one he pulls off the neat trick of seeming bored and hammy at the same time.) Again, not the best movie, but entertaining enough, and I reiterate that I would watch an entire movie of Sigourney Weaver debunking fake paranormal phenomena (which is, of course, all of it). Or better yet—a sort of reverse X Files! With Sigourney proving every week that there’s no such thing as spooky nonsense (because there isn’t). I would watch that show every week.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Year Of Living Dangerously (in Feature Drama.) Since I’m on a Sigourney kick (and since no one else stepped up to the plate with any more reviews this week), I’ll go ahead and recommend this interesting Peter Weir historical drama from 1982, starring Weaver and a young, not-yet-crazy-and-racist Mel Gibson (I mean, he probably was, we just didn’t know about it yet.) A steamy yet principled retelling of the last days of the Indonesian Sukarno regime, with all the turmoil, violence, and rainy love scenes that entails, this is actually a really good and grounded political drama as well. And, while Weaver and Gibson are good, it’s the bananas casting of beloved character actress Linda Hunt as Asian dwarf photographer Billy Kwan that steals the show. Sure it’s of questionable taste to have a non-Asian person play Asian, and I don’t know who decided it was necessary to have Hunt both cross-dress and cross-race, but it pays off big time, as the gravelly-voiced Hunt delivers a lovely, funny, resonant (and Oscar winning) turn as the soulful, principled Kwan.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Host (the newest would-be blockbuster series from the author of the Twilight books, Saoirsa Ronan stats as a young woman with magic powers attempting to stop a spooky race from stealing people’s minds and taking over the world), Admission (the always-likeable Tina Fey and Paul Rudd team up in this comedy about a tightly-wound college admissions officer and the amiably-goofy prep school teacher trying to get his unconventional student into Princeton), Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions Of A Marriage Counselor (everyone’s favorite Christian movie mogul is back, in men’s clothes this time, presenting another morality play disguised as drama; this time Vanessa Williams plays a married woman whose titular temptation to leave her husband in favor of a sexy billionaire threatens everything she holds dear; not to spoil things, but I believe Perry is not in favor of that), Spring Breakers (James Franco and a gaggle of former Disney starlets gone wild in this deliberately seedy, sleazy, disreputable comedy/thriller from professional sleaze-meister Harmony Korine [Julien Donkey Boy, Trash Humpers]), Dead Man Down (decent cast including Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, and Terrance Howard star in this action thriller about a hit man seduced into helping a victim’s wife get revenge on a crime boos; prediction—stuff’s gonna blow up real good…), The Gatekeepers (six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret service look back on their roles in the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict; a 2012 Academy Award nominee for best documentary), ‘Portlandia’- season 3 (Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are back with their delightfully loopy sketch comedy show about the eccentric denizens of the other Portland), Tattoo Nation (the long journey of the tattoo arts from the sole provenance of sailors, bikers, and the unwashed to today when your favorite aunt has a butterfly on her butt is the subject of this documentary), Tai Chi Zero and Tai Chi Hero (massive Chinese blockbusters about a guy who learns the secret martial arts disciplines of a remote village in order to more effectively kick the crap out of people), Venus and Serena (hey tennis fans—here’s that in depth documentary about the backhand-smashing Williams sisters who’ve run roughshod over the sport for decades), Last Resort – the complete series (the great Andre Braugher [Homicide] stars in this short-lived but pretty cool series about the captain of a US nuclear

You had best listen to what Mr. Braugher says...

You had best listen to what Mr. Braugher says…

submarine who defies orders to fire on suspicious orders and ends up taking his crew to a remote island and declaring themselves a sovereign nation), Lucky (Colin Hanks stars in this dark comedy about a would-be serial killer who wins the lottery and sets aside his murderous plans to pursue his childhood crush), Borgen season 2 (you guys loved the first season of this excellent Danish drama about a prime minister’s rise to power, so here’s the second season for you…from Videoport!), My Best Enemy (WWII drama about two childhood best friends who understandably drift apart when one becomes a Nazi and one remains Jewish), Boy (acclaimed New Zealand comedy drama about a young guy who imagines his convict father is actually a close relative of Michael Jackson), Ripper Street- season 1 (BBC copper series about the troubles Scotland Yard has dealing with the new, bloodier rules of crime in the days after the Jack the Ripper murders)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Private Benjamin (Goldie Hawn’s first big smash was this still-funny service comedy about a spoiled dum-dum who joins the army and becomes a new woman)

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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