Volume CDXVIII- Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Of How Forrest Gump Beat Pulp Fiction for Best Picture
For the Week of 8/20/13
Videoport give you a free movie every day. Why not use it to rent something you would never, ever, usually watch—there’s no risk, and you might see something wonderful. Or really disgusting. Either way—it’s free.
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 paying your respect to novelist Elmore Leonard by renting some of the great films based on his works. Leonard died this week leaving behind a body of work that’s inspired some truly
great movies. (I suppose you should read his books, too…) 1. Out Of Sight (in Feature Drama): One of the most purely enjoyable crime flicks ever, this features George Clooney at his most charismatic, playing a career bank robber dodging sexy, determined federal marshall Jennifer Lopez (don’t worry—she’s fine). Exciting, crisply-plotted, sexy, funny, and packed with great performances from Don Cheadle, Steve Zahn, the late Dennis Farina, Albert Brooks, Catherine Keener, Luis Guzman, and more. Just great. 2. Jackie Brown (in Mystery/Thriller): my pick for Quentin Tarantino’s best film is essentially a perfect movie. Combining Leonard’s tale of colorful criminal types and QT’s gift for mining exploitation film history, Jackie Brown features the ever-luminous Pam Grier as a smart flight attendant put into desperate straits when she’s caught with a purse full of illegal stuff and sets out to pit her gun-runner employer (Samuel L. Jackson), the DEA agent who busted her (Michael Keaton), and the world-weary bail bondsman who’s sweet on her (Robert Forster) against each other in order to escape. Thrilling, mesmerizing filmmaking from the first scene. 3. Justified (in Feature Drama): based on Leonard’s stories, this endlessly entertaining modern day Western series features quick-triggered US Marshall Timothy Olyphant bringing his old-school brand of frontier justice to his rural Kentucky home town. 4. The Tall T (in Classics): great Budd Boetticher Western from 1957 starring screen legend Randolph Scott. 5. Get Shorty (in Comedy): Again, just pitch-perfect blend of crime thriller, comedy, action, and great character performances turn this Leonard-based film into a modern classic of the genre. John Travolta (right before everyone got tired of him again) is great as Miami mobster Chili Palmer whose mission to find a weasel who skipped on his debts fuels his long-held dream of the movie business when the trail leads to Hollywood. Travolta, Gene Hackman, Rene Russo, James Gandolfini, Dennis Farina, Jon Gries, Danny DeVito—all just perfect. Even has a great score. Add to those: Freaky Deaky, Be Cool, KillShot, 3:10 To Yuma (both versions), The Big Bounce (both versions), Touch, 52 Pickup, Mr. Majestyk, Joe Kidd, Hombre…the guy was a gift to anyone who loves the movies.
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 Brother (in Action.) Fans of insane Japanese gangster flicks know the names Takeshi Kitano and Beat Takeshi. They’re both the same guy—one-time Japanese TV comedian goes by Beat Takeshi when he’s acting and Takeshi Kitano when he’s directing. Either way, he’s brilliant and/or insane. Working in Japan, his films, like Sonatine, Boiling Point, Violent Cop, Kikujiro, Fireworks, Dolls, his Zatoichi remake, and more combine a deceptively sedate visual sense with startling bursts of visceral violence and a deadpan comic sensibility that’s both thrilling and offbeat. In Brother, Kitano comes to America as an exiled Yakuza who uses his stone-faced intimidation and stone-cold killing skills to consolidate power in a bi-racial Los Angeles gang. Bringing his signature style to America is a decidedly disorienting experience, with his direction of American actors rendering dialogue scenes a strange mishmash of acting styles and cross-purposes—which could be the point, of course. At the center of the gathering storm of gunplay and unapproved uses for chopsticks is Takeshi (the actor), his impassive countenance presiding over even the most shocking carnage with a deadpan aplomb that’s equal parts hilarious and unnerving. Along the way, we’re treated to another of Takeshi’s utterly unique takes on the gangster genre. He’s a weird guy, no matter what his name is—and I like it.
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 movies where nothing happens! Yup, I love movies where nothing happens. I mean, of course things happen in them. But they happen reeeeeeaaaaaal slow. My love for films which seem to eb deliberately trying our patience was rekindled this week when I (over three-plus lunch hours) finally watched Chantal Akerman’s legendarily uneventful Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975- in the Criterion Collection) where nothing very slowly happens over the course of three and a half hours. Again, I’m being facetious, but only a little. The film follows the titular single mother (an enigmatic, fascinating Delphine Seyrig) who, over the course of three days, takes care of her taciturn teenage son, prepares meals, goes shopping, and, in as meticulous a manner as she performs every other task in her life, sleeps with three different men for money. As salacious as that description might sound, the film, like all the others on this list, is made with the deadpan determination of a nature film. As the film unfolds, it becomes clear, to everyone who sticks with it after the first fifteen minutes, that Akerman is going to take us along on one of the most minutely observed character studies ever filmed. We watch Jeanne prepare several meals in real time, watch her tidy up her Spartan apartment, watch her take a bath, watch her greet one customer after another, lead them down the hall to her bedroom, and then accept their money and let them out again, all with the speed of unadulterated, unedited real life. If that sounds dull, you’re not wrong—but if that’s all it sounds like, you are most assuredly wrong, at least if you approach the film knowing what to expect going in. Seyrig in the film creates, before your eyes, as engrossing and harrowing portrait of an incremental breakdown as ever seen on screen. Because Jeanne, for all her tightly-controlled routine and seeming placidity, has something going very slowly but definitely askew inside her, and as we watch her routine change ever so slightly over these three days, it becomes improbably mesmerizing—and eventually shocking. Seemingly inconsequential events like a lid being left off a bowl, a pot of ruined potatoes, and a mussed hairdo take on the gradual weight of a thriller. There’s no real precedent for a movie like this—approached in the wrong frame of mind, it could appear as the most pretentious, stereotypically-artsy nonsense imaginable. Let it get its hooks into you, however, and it’s revealed to be a unique, stunning achievement. Your call.
And, if this movie whets your appetite for deconstruction, I’d suggest the following films where nothing ever happens! Gerry (in Incredibly Strange), Goodbye Dragon Inn (in Foreign), I Don’t Want To Sleep Alone (Foreign), Solaris (the original, in Criterion), Friday Night (Foreign), In The Mood For Love (Criterion), What Time Is It There? (Foreign). So unplug the phone, settle in for the evening, and let them wash over you.
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 The ABCs of Death (in Horror.) I’m a sucker for a goofy premise, so I’m grading this one on a curve. Said premise: 26 international directors were given a letter of the alphabet then given free reign to choose any word beginning with that letter. Then they made a short film about some aspect of death embodied by that word. See? Premises are fun! The result is, unsurprisingly, all over the freaking place—some are grimly serious, some are goofy, some are disturbing, some are just gross and freakish. None of them land completely, and there are a depressing number of half-formed duds, but each film is over quickly and then you get a new one. Guaranteed, non-stop weirdness will always have a place in my cinematic life. Plus, there are a few which stand out—and part of the fun is watching the usually batsh*t-insane goings-on and trying to figure out what the relevant word is going to be. In the best shorts (I’d pick A, C, D, I, M, T, and X), the revelation of the word at the end acts as a neat little “aha!” moment that ties everything together. For all the others, amidst all the blood, torture, boobs, furries, and poop (a surprising amount), it’s all a brisk, varied parade of gross nonsense. Enjoy!
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>>Videoport gives you a free kids movie every Friday. No other rental necessary. Who’s got a problem with that? Not kids, that’s for sure…
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer gives you some free movie/fashion advice! Hat Guys, I adore you, so I’m gonna give it to you straight: some of you look self-conscious therefore a little bit silly. (No, not you. You look great. Ignore this.) The rest of youse, I have a little auntly advice to offer. (And I know about looking silly in hats: I like hats and, y’know, not having skin cancer, so I’ve been habitually wearing hats, sometimes becomingly and sometimes not, for decades.) For a fella under, say, 50, an old-school hat — a fedora, a trilby (the fedora’s little sister*), a porkpie hat, a homberg — well, these are tricky hats to pull off. They have to fit your head, and they also have to fit you. Even Don Draper is starting to look a little costume-y and passé in his brimmed felt hat, and if Don Draper can’t pull it off along with his crisp gray suit and tightly knotted tie, who can make an informal hat look good? You can. But you need to really consider your look. Are you aiming for a natty look, with a jaunty snapbrim to top off your dapper duds? Check out Fred Astaire in the more casual scenes of Top Hat, wearing his narrow-brimmed felt hat with casual but still crisply pressed trousers and jacket, or the straw boater more casually still (and seriously, dude: unless you want to make a Goth statement, save the actual top hat for when you’re dandied up in full morning attire, with tails and striped trousers). You can find a post-modern interpretation of the dandy hat-wearer in the retro stylings of Duckie (Jon Cryer) in Pretty in Pink, sporting a crisp trilby that looks so snazzy it breaks your heart to just know the high school bullies knock it off his well-coiffed head every day in study hall. Or maybe you’re a more utilitarian sort, wearing your creased and well-worn favorite hat to keep your vision free from blinding glare or blurring rain. The gold standard for this look, of course, is Indiana Jones, with that ever-present brown fedora that sums him up so well: unglamorous, even a little roughed-up and grubby, but soooo handy in the field. After all that, are still game to brave the haberdasher’s racks? I tip my cap to you.
*Did you know that the fedora and the smaller trilby were originally women’s hats? The fedora was popularized after Sarah Bernhardt’s role as Princess Fédora, in which her simple felt hat was a stark and stylish contrast to the often fluffy or feathered hats of the late 19th century. Similarly, the trilby was named for Trilby O’Farrell, the fictional laundress-maid and artist’s model whom Svengali mesmerized into diva-hood. You can check out John Barrymore and his mesmerizing prosthetic nose as the titular Svengali in the Classics section, but be aware that any trilby-sightings will be outpaced by in-scene anti-semitism.
>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Kate S. suggests The Jeffrey Dahmer Files (in Documentary.) The Jeffrey Dahmer movie was interesting – cool interviews with his neighbors – but I still don’t know what exactly made him into such a canibalistic sadistic maniacal psychopathic murderous freak.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Amour (for a foreign language film by director Michael Haneke, about an elderly couple [screen legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmauelle Riva] dealing with crippling illness, this Oscar-winning drama is far and away the most requested film in recent Videoport memory; well it’s here now folks—rent! Rent like the wind!), Boardwalk Empire- season 3 (Steve Buscemi is back as Nucky Thompson, kingpin of Prohibition-era Atlantic City in this handsomely-mounted, nice ‘n’ bloody HBO gangster series), The Good Wife- season 4 (Julianna Margulies is back as the hard-as-nails scorned wife of a crooked politician who goes back to work as a powerful attorney; great cast includes Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Chris Noth, and every high-powered guest star they can get their hands on), Killing Season (are you ready for the pulse-pounding spectacle of 59 year old John Travolta and 70 year old Robert DeNiro engaging in a mano-a-mano fight to the death in the woods? Well then you’re gonna love this action flick about two veterans of the Bosnian conflict trying to settle old scores—and speaking of pulse-pounding, I wonder how many on-set medical personnel are listed in the closing credits…), Love And A Bullet (rapper/actor Treach plays a hitman who falls in love with his boss’ girlfriend; I’m sure it goes fine…), Epic (animated fantasy sees a teenage girl transported to a magical world where she helps woodland fairies defend their forest home against meanies bent on chopping everything down; featuring the voices of Amanda Seyfried, Jason Sudekis, Colin Farrell, Aziz Ansari, Chris O’Dowd, and more), Post Tenebras Lux (for fans of poetic weirdness comes this psychedelic Mexican film from director Carlos Reygadas [Japon, Battle In Heaven, Silent Light] about the increasingly strange adventures of a family living in isolation in the countryside), Rapture-Palooza (wow—this weird-looking dark comedy full of great people sort of came out of nowhere, right? Anna Kendrick and her boyfriend are left behind when the Rapture comes. They deal with it pretty well until the Antichrist [always-excellent Craig Robinson] decides he wants Kendrick to be the mother of his Hell-spawn. Costarring the likes of Thomas Lennon, Ana Gasteyer, John Michael Higgins, and Rob Corddry), Saturday Morning Mystery (cult horror comedy about a team of paranormal investigators, and their loyal dog, who encounter some very Evil Dead-esque demons on their latest case; any similarity to a certain
cartoon series is entirely intentional), Scary Movie V (the comedy horror film series continues to point at things that happened in actual horror movies and assume that that constitutes a joke; Charlie Sheen appears), I Killed My Mother (the relationship between a young Montreal teenager and his single mother is the subject of this acclaimed Canadian drama; not be be spoiler guy, but the title suggests it doesn’t go well…), Shadow Dancer (Irish thriller about a young woman forced to return to Belfast and spy on her IRA-connected family by a hunky MI-5 agent [Clive Owen])
New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Aladdin and the King of Thieves (direct-to-DVD sequel to Aladdin at least lured Robin Williams back to the series)
New Arrivals On Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Boardwalk Empire- season 3, Monsters Inc, Blindness, The Jerk, Amadeus, Push, Scary Movie V
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…