Volume CDXVII- Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Of Why Anyone Would Rent Anywhere Other Than Videoport
For the Week of 8/13/13
Videoport gives you a free rental every day. There is literally nothing wrong with that. Wait, let us check…nope, nothing wrong with that.
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!
>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests DOMES DOMES DOMES. Y’all, CBS renewed “Under the Dome.” YOU HEARD ME. It started as a summer mini-series, a necessarily brief and tightly-plotted idea: what happens to an ordinary small town suddenly trapped under an impermeable dome? It’s a classic unsustainable situation. The promise of inevitable resolution — probably swift, almost certainly ghastly — was perhaps the show’s greatest appeal, especially for viewers disenchanted or just plain exhausted from sprawling long-arc sci-fi dramas like “Lost,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and “Heroes.” And then CBS renewed it, discarding the pleasures (guilty pleasures, sure, but pleasures nonetheless) of a sprinting scramble to the end in favor of a drawn-out, dragged-on dramatic slog. If you’re hankerin’ for domes, there are better ways to get ‘em.
–Logan’s Run (1976) grapples with an essential issue for any state constrained by limited resources (and, y’know, A BIG HONKING DOME). The unseen overlords of this domed refuge cannily create a seeming paradise, keeping the callow populace mollified with physical pleasures that discourages them from questioning the unsavory aspects of their home.
–Total Recall (1990). Haunted by persistent dreams about Mars, average joe Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) ignores his wife’s chiding and treats himself to a memory implant, a budget-friendly diversion that promises Earth-dwellers the pleasure and thrills of a Mars adventure without the drudgery and danger of everyday life in the domed Mars colony. When something goes awry in Douglas’ procedure, he erupts in violent panic, convinced that he is not himself. I think a trip to the actual domed city is in order, don’t you?
–The Simpsons Movie. When the unchecked pollution of Lake Springfield dissolves first a party barge and then the band performing on it (Green Day, NOOOOO!), the EPA finally takes action to contain the contamination. Evil EPA agent Russ Cargill (Albert Brooks) proposes enclosing the entire stinking city in a glass dome… and then things get worse. (Has Cargill gone mad with power? OF COURSE. In his own words, “Ever try going mad without power? It’s boring. No one listens to you.”)
[SPOILERS! DOME SPOILERS! SPOILER DOMES! DOMES!] If you wanted to contain a person or population and control every aspect of their existence without their knowledge or consent, plunk a dome over ‘em. If it’s good enough for The Truman Show and Dark City, it’s good enough for me. [Note: it is not good enough for me. Please do not endome me.]
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 using Videoport’s 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks deal to make yourself an expert of classic movies! You get the for a week, they’re cheap, and you can delve deeply into an actor/actress/director of your choice. It’s the movies, people—have fun, follow a whim, and let yourself experience it all at your leisure. This week, why not take a trio of the Thin Man movies, where she teamed up with William Powell for some of the funniest, most entertaining whodunnits ever.
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 Save The Date (in Comedy.) In a perfect world, Alison Brie, Lizzy Caplan, and Martin Starr would be superstars, embraced by the entire world and not just by bitter movie and TV geeks who rant away on their little blogs for an audience of about three other such nerds. [Heyyyy….] Anyway, you might know them better as Annie Edison/Trudy Campbell [Community/Mad Men], Casey Klein [Party Down], and Bill Haverchuk [Freaks and Geeks] if, like me, you’re a fan of great TV, and they’re all together in this little indie comedy/drama about a pair of sisters whose shared history with men comes to a boil once Brie’s wedding draws closer and Caplan dumps her indie rocker boyfriend in particularly embarrassing fashion. While Save The Date isn’t going to set the world on fire, it’s exactly the sort of thoughtful, well-acted indie fare that should be more popular than it is. You know, how Brie, Caplan, and Starr should be more popular than they are. Bonus: it passes the Bechdel Test in about the first ten minutes.
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 Enlightened. Specifically the best episode of television I saw all year. Unfortunately, you’ll have to watch a season and a half of this stunningly good HBO series to see it but, oh wait, that’s not unfortunate at all. Enlightened is the creation of TV and movie genius Mike White. Did I say genius? Yeah, yeah I did. Oh, you want proof? He was behind the movies The Good Girl, Year Of The Dog, School Of Rock, Chuck And Buck and others. He also wrote for Freaks and Geeks, one of the best and most underappreciated TV shows ever. And speaking of that, Enlightened was cancelled after this second season. Because people are just the pits and prefer to watch asinine reality shows. And, it must be conceded, because Enlightened is a tough sell. The queasily comic story of Amy Jellicoe [the stunning Laura Dern], a corporate exec who, after a breakdown and a stint at a spiritual rehab facility, returns to work filled with a zeal to make the world a better place. Only, her employers are none too receptive to her newfound passion for do-goodery, exiling her to the basement where she attempt to foment rebellion among her fellow corporate castoffs and drones, including, most touchingly, cubicle-neighbor Tyler. Played by White himself, Tyler is a squirrelly, pale IT tech, seemingly content with his lot as a perpetual nonentity. Drawn largely against his will into Amy’s ill-defined crusade, Tyler’s acquiescence seems to stem largely from politeness, fear, and perhaps the simple pleasure in having a friend. His journey crests in this remarkable show’s best episode “The Ghost Is Seen,” where the narrative voice of the show becomes Tyler’s, at least for one episode. It’s a move Enlightened does two other times (once for Amy’s put-upon mother [Dern’s real life mom Diane Ladd] and another when her troubled ex Luke Wilson agrees to go to the same rehab facility), but “The Ghost Is Seen” is simply transcendent. From Tyler first voice-over line, “It’s okay to be a ghost…” I was welling up with tears. I know I’m a big, big, hairy girl, but it’s also a function of the way Enlightened can take you off guard and keep you off balance; here, we see how this largely comic nonentity in Amy Jellicoe’s story has a parallel story track of his own, one where his participation in the main character’s narrative suddenly, shockingly becomes as weighty, and affecting. Tyler’s journey in this episode is an epiphany, a bold, heartbreaking narrative gambit where everything we’ve seen of the show so far is given an added dimension. And White is simply astounding. Amy Jellicoe’s quest is unstoppable, irresistible. But these narrative shifts recalibrate our expectations and deepen our understanding of what we’ve been watching. Simply the best episode of TV I’ve seen all year. Stunning.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>>What? It’s a free movie—you don’t like free movies?
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Sid And Nancy (in Feature Drama.) Before he was Commissioner Gordon and the go-to guy for pleasant authority figures, Gary Oldman was the most exciting actor in the world. (Not that he’s not now, he’s just not given the chance to let his freak flag fly.) For lack of a less-clichéd term (I’m pretty tired) Oldman was electrifying, inhabiting characters in films like Prick Up Your Ears, State Of Grace, Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, The Professional, True Romance, Romeo Is Bleeding, Immortal Beloved, Basquiat, and more with a level of commitment that you just couldn’t take your eyes off of. (It even worked in silly stuff like The Fifth Element, Criminal Law, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Murder In The First and so on.) In Sid And Nancy, Oldman brought his signature intensity to the role of late Sex Pistols bassist Sid Vicious, a terminally drugged-out and unappealing bloke from London that Oldman turned into one of the most fascinating portrayals of the 80s. Punk purists quibble with director Alex Cox’s verisimilitude in recreating the Pistols’ history, but frankly I don’t care too much about that (cultural touchstones they may have been, musically they sucked, and still do). What’s far more exciting is watching the shockingly young and skinny Oldman (he imperiled his health with a crazy crash diet) create a magnetic, fascinating character out of the meager raw materials of the inarticulate Vicious’ life. In the process, he and Cox create something like a vital document of a time in music, and England, where the vacancy of each produced an opportunity for such a nonentity to thrive—before his inevitable destruction. Along the way, Oldman is also able to create enough empathy for Vicious, especially in his relationship with American groupie/shrill harridan Nancy Spungen to make their grubby, druggy, gross affair approach something like grace. (Chloe Webb’s Nancy is one of the most intentionally offputting creatures in movie history.) The last scene still gets me every time.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests writing for The VideoReport. Otherwise you get me rambling on for the whole time. And no one want that. Send your reviews to us at email@example.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Thick Of It (Here’s the show you’re gonna be watching next. Reasons? I’ll give you reasons: 1. Created by Armando Ianucci, who’s also the creator of the very funny Veep. 2. The film In The Loop is based on this show—you should watch that, too. 3. Starring Peter Capaldi [Local Hero] as Malcolm Tucker, the most creatively, hilariously foul-mouthed character in TV history. 4. Peter Capaldi is now mega-famous—he’s the new Doctor Who. 5. Brilliant, hilarious political satire. Now rent it, you…), Vehicle 19 (Paul Walker ditches those big bald guys from the Fast and the Furious movies and strikes out on his own in another vroom-vroom car chase flick that, um, no one went to see, ever; Mr. Not-Vin-Diesel plays an American tourist whose rental car is the target of some serious bad guys), Hello, I Must Be Going (indie drama about a thirtyish divorced woman forced to move back in with her mom; an affair with a much younger guy reawakens her to life and causes some raised eyebrows; starring the always-interesting Melanie Lynskey [Heavenly Creatures]), The Matchmaker (Israeli film set in 1968 about a young guy who goes to work for the titular matchmaker, a Holocaust survivor), The Big Wedding (sigh—Robin Williams, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, and Robert DeNiro star in this comedy about a long-divorced couple pretending to still be together as the titular event approaches; just in case you wanted another Meet the Parents franchise…), The Company You Keep (Robert Redford directs and stars as a former 60s radical forced to take it on the lam when a weenie reporter [Shia LaBeouf, of course] uncovers his secret), Emperor (Tommy Lee Jones plays General Douglas MacArthur as he negotiates the surrender of Japan at the end of WWII; please alert your dad…), Enlightened- season 2 (the final season of one of the best TV shows in recent memory, with Laura Dern delivering a thrillingly hard-to-pin-down performance as a corporate drone whose titular spiritual awakening and attendant, fervent mania to make the world a better place causes squirmily comic upheaval all around her; check Thursday’s review for more details of the best episode of television I saw all year), Girls- season 2 (writer/director/star/internet lightning rod Lena Dunham returns at the helm of this very good indeed series about a quartet of twentysomething young women making all manner of mistakes all over NYC; this is a great show), Errors Of The Human Body (acclaimed German medical thriller about a [pioneering scientist shocked to discover that he’s discovered a new, potentially-human-race-destroying virus in his lab…and that its loose; oops…), Hatchet 3 (there were two other hatchet movies; they were about people being killed..possibly with hatchets; here’s another one…), Lost And Found In Armenia (Jaime Kennedy is back! Wait, don’t leave… In this Armenian comedy, he plays a Senator’s sun whose para-sailing mishap while on vacation lands him in a small village where he’s accused of being a spy), Olympus Has Fallen (the first of the two “terrorists storm the White House” movies this year, this one has hunky prez Aaron Eckhart being saved by hunky disgraced former Secret Service agent Gerard Butler), Southland- season 5 (you should listen to Videoporters like Regan and Jackie who say that this perennially underwatched cop series is something special; don’t debate them…), A Werewolf Boy (South Korean drama about an elderly woman whose visit back to the orphanage she escaped some fifty years before dredges up memories of the mysterious boy from her past), What Maisie Knew (a couple’s divorce seen through the eyes of their unfortunately-perceptive young daughter in this acclaimed drama starring Julianne Moore, Steve Coogan, and Alexander Skarsgard)
New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Cary Grant stars as the titular dreamer, whose plans for his self-designed house in the country go uproariously wrong; costarring the ever-delightful Myrna Loy)
New Arrivals On Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: The Company You Keep, Girls- season 2, Olympus Has Fallen, Monsters Inc, Blindness, The Jerk, Amadeus
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…