VideoReport #421

Volume CDXXI- Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of How Many Sherlock Holmes Shows And Movies We Really Need

For the Week of 9/10/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Plus, since we are an independent, locally-owned video store battling against the malignant forces of heartless corporations, renting here is good for your soul. And also us. Good for us. Rent at Videoport is what we’re saying, I guess…

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!

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Scandal (in Mystery/Thriller). The rumors are all true. You really should be watching Scandal. I just binged my way through (one little episode left mocking me while I’m stuck at work!) and I’m still floored. I just assumed it was going to be dramatic tripe! I thought, “sure I’ll give it a try and I’m sure I’ll like it, but I bet I wouldn’t ever recommend it to anyone. I bet it’ll be like a giant spoonful of fluff. Oh so gooey and delicious, but lacking nutritional value. I’ll consume it and then be ready for real food. Now I lie before you, full of Scandal, looking like a cartoon character after Thanksgiving with my stomach distended to the skies staring back at you with a dazed look and stars circling about my head. I have a gasp and hitch in my breathing when I speak Olivia Pope’s name, just as any character in that world would. And should! Olivia Pope is a woman to respect! She earns your respect.  They all do one way or another. Gladiators in suits. Really, you should be watching Scandal right now.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests getting a loooong triple feature. The Long Goodbye is Robert Altman’s modern take on Raymond Chandler’s novel, with Elliot Gould as a careworn Philip Marlowe and a screenplay written by The Big Sleep’s Leigh Brackett. The Long Good Friday stars Bob Hoskins as a gangland kingpin trying to go legit as a real-estate developer in 1970s London and Helen Mirren as the moll who elevates him to a new social class. The Long Kiss Goodnight stars Geena Davis as a woman who established a new life after being found eight years previously in a state of amnesia, and Samuel L. Jackson as the private eye who finally uncovers some clues to her past.

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests a heroic double feature! In Hero (2002), a nameless man (Jet Li) claims to have killed the assassins stalking the king, earning himself a close audience with the ruler, who urges his guest to tell the tale of his adventures. In Hero (1992), directed by Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Prick Up Your Ears, My Beautiful Laundrette, The Grifters, Dirty Pretty Things), a low-level criminal (Dustin Hoffman) rescues several victims from a crashed airliner, only to watch someone else claim the credit — and the media attention from a grateful reporter (Geena Davis) who was a passenger.

>>>And she’s got another double feature for you! (Emily’s a giver.) The Trouble with Charlie is Hitchcock’s delicious dark comedy starring gamine Shirley McLaine and dashing young John Forsythe. (I know, right?). The Truth about Charlie is a flabby remake of Charade, Stanley Donen’s engaging trifle of a thriller starring gamine Audrey Hepburn and dashing Cary Grant.

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 suggests Clue (in Mystery/Thriller.) I had a confession to make: I didn’t enjoy Clue too terribly much the first time I saw it. It was 1986, I was a mere stripling of a teen, just young enough to think my tastes sophisticated, and I chose Clue from the videostore shelves as a kind of compromise for family movie night, expecting it to be slapstick-y enough to please Dad, tame enough to mollify Mom, with an ensemble of my favorite comedic actors to keep me happy, and the whole story framed around a favorite family game. So we watched it and ate pizza and… it was okay. Mom and Dad enjoyed it, but it fell flat for me. And now I see why: Clue is not a teenager’s movie. Clue is either a child’s movie or an adult’s movie. An ’80s idea of the 1950s, set in the artificially constrained universe of a mysteriously convened house party, Clue actually winks over its shoulder to earlier novels and films, with hints of everything from Agatha Christie mysteries to Vincent Price chillers, all swaddled up in evening dress and dished out as fluffy farce. With the overlapping romances and innuendo and the fake glamor of dinner jackets and satin and deep rich wood panelling, it’s a child’s idea of sophistication — too shiny to be truly polished and too goofy to be witty, and perfectly happy with its pedigree. It takes a patently false assortment of characters, crams them into a tiny box, and sets them free to careen around, getting loopier by the minute.

>>>Dennis suggests It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (in Comedy.) This show should receive some sort of comedy medal of honor for presenting a world populated by truly awful people in such an exhilarating way. I mean, it’s easy to make a show full of awful people doing awful things and have the resulting program be a shrill, unpleasant, soul-crushing exercise in crude hatefulness. (See Family Guy.) But what this show almost invariably does is to present a world populated by the worst people in the world and have the resulting program be a paradoxically hilarious, even joyful experience. The continuing misadventures of five friends who run a run-down bar in the titular city of brotherly love, It’s Always Sunny makes the “no hugging, no learning” world of Seinfeld seem downright cuddly in comparison. Twins Dennis (Glenn Howerton) and Dee (Kaitlin Olson), buddies Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Charlie (Charlie Day), and Dennis and Dee’s father Frank (Danny Devito) approach every problem, decision, and calamity with exactly the wrongest decisions possible. What makes the show so special? One one hand, it’s the performances that life the show so high—all five display a level of commitment to their characters and the gags that any actor should emulate. Day especially is Sunny’s secret weapon—a manic, excitable, borderline illiterate manchild, Charlie is the one character that you can almost root for, his terrible behavior, unlike the others’, seemingly stemming from deep inside the realm where he and only he lives. That being said, he’s horrible, inflicting untold chaos wherever he goes—it’s just that he’s not malicious about it generally. At its best, the show’s episodes are fiendishly-constructed torture machines, equal parts squirmy and hilarious. What makes the gleefully offensive and upsetting subject matter palatable (and often thrillingly smart and funny) is that the Gang is always the butt of the joke—they’re exaggerations of the worst in us, but in their exaggeration they are most assuredly still us. You know—the worst people in the world. (And the show’s setting is perfect—just google the phrase “Eagles fans” + “Santa Claus” + “Snowballs” sometime…)

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

>>> Two new kids section movies this week: Standing Up and a new Dora The Explorer thing. Take ‘em home for free today!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Lufer” — ahem, I mean, “Luther” (in Mystery/Thriller). One of the great pleasures — by no mean the only pleasure, but a very great one — of watching the utterly batty BBC cop show “Luther” chez nous is the variety of terribly attempted British accents into which we delve during lulls and breaks and, eventually, every moment when we aren’t saying “WHOA” and “WHAT” and “OH NO THAT HAPPENED D’INNIT?” The accent has nuffink — ahem, I mean, nothing to do with John Luther (Idris Elba), the dedicated and charismatic grizzled detective from the Serious Crimes Unit. Welllll, not nuffink; Luther does smack a little of the London streets, just enough to knock some roughness into his smooth cosmopolitan polish. But I suspect we dredged up our terrible half-cocked Cockney clowning from the depths of “Prime Suspect” and added in a little Monty Python for good measure.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer sort-of suggests Murder By Death (in Mystery/Thriller.) Aaaaand some big-name ensemble mystery spoofs that don’t hold up as well as Clue: Murder by Death. The world’s greatest detectives — Sam Diamond (Peter Falk), Jessica Marbles (Elsa Lanchester), Milo Perrier (James Coco), Dick and Dora Charleston (David Niven and Maggie Smith), and Sidney Wang (Peter Sellers) — are invited, along with their guests, to a mysterious dinner party. Once there, they discover they’ve been assembled by their unknown host to solve a murder to be committed that night in their presence, with a prize of a million dollars to the victor — or their host will claim the title of “world’s greatest detective” for himself. (Presumably, the sobriquet comes with a matching coffee mug from Spencer’s Gifts.) Sigh. For fans of old-school mystery novels, the characters lampooned should be obvious, but for a general audience is probably not going to recognize Nick and Nora Charles (from The Thin Man series) or Charlie Chan as readily as they will Sam Spade or Hercule Poirot or Miss Marple. And even if they do, they might rather not. The film’s cheerful immersion in dated mores has aged badly; in particular, Peter Sellers’ Sidney Wang, in full imperial garb and sporting a pair of buck teeth, is jaw-dropping in its casual racism. It’s hard to remember that this unfunny, unkind, unreflective frolic was written by Neil Simon. Yeesh, the ‘70s.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Star Trek Into Darkness (Benedict Cumberbatch beams on board and causes no end of crowd-pleasing mayhem on the Enterprise in the rebooted Star Trek universe), Homeland- season 2 (STAMPEDE!!! Here’s the deal—call 773-1999 before you come down to Videoport. We’ll put your preferred disc of this enduringly popular spy series on hold and then you can come down and pick it up and we can all laugh and laugh at the poor shnooks who didn’t call ahead…), Short Order (Portland foodies alert—Videoport has responded to your numerous requests and brought in this acclaimed indie about a brilliant young female chef who squanders her talents in a grungy diner and trades stories with a killer cast of customers including Vanessa Redgrave, Jon Polito, John Hurt, Rade Serbedzija, and that guy short_orderfrom Game Of Thrones), Supernatural- season 8 (attention forces of evil—the good guys are all hunky and drive a muscle car in this still quite-entertaining series), Luther- season 3 (the great Idris Elba is back, bringing his supercool supercop to the streets of London; check out the lovely Emily S. Customer’s Saturday review!), Parade’s End (hey, that busy bee Benedict Cumberbatch is back, this time in a British period drama about the love triangle among a conservative aristocrat, his socialite wife, and the young suffragette who steals his heart), Three Worlds (when a trio of rich jerks run over an illegal immigrant in their car, their decision to act like rich jerks and say nothing is threatened by a pesky witness in this French drama), Mary and Martha (made for HBO drama about a pair of grieving mothers [Hilary Swank and Brenda Blethyn] who team up to fight malaria after their kids die from the disease), Phil Spector (also made for HBO, this isn’t so much an inspiring true story as a dramatization of that time loonybird music producer legend Spector shot that lady [B-movie legend Lana Clarkson] and had to stand trial as if he weren’t a rich music legend; starring Helen Mirren and Al Pacino in a ridiculous [if accurate] fright wig), Love Is All You Need (a woman betrayed by her husband and suffering from cancer finds some serious solace in the arms of hunky stranger Pierce Brosnan in this autumnal romance set in the gorgeous-est parts of Italy), Petunia (infidelity, sex addiction, and other dysfunctional family problems beset the all-sort-of-star cast of this indie drama: Christine Lahti, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Brittany Snow, Thora Birch and others star), Peeples (the ever-watchable and funny Craig Robinson gets a rare lead in this wacky comedy as a suitor who ill-advisedly crashes the family reunion of his fiancee[Kerry Washington]’s eccentric family, led by David Allen Grier), I Do (Meadow Soprano and Alicia Witt star in this indie about a gay Brit whose plan to stay in the country by marrying his lesbian friend, perhaps unsurprisingly, causes problems), Unit 7 (action-packed Spanish thriller about the titular elite police squad tasked with cleaning out the most drug-cartel-infested neighborhoods of the city), The Big Bang Theory- season 6 (the continuingly popular sitcom about the loveable nerds who do loveable nerdy things continues), Castle- season 5 (ever-cool Nathion Fillion continues to slum it in this formulaic, if comfortably entertaining cop show about a playboy mystery writer who, rather improbably, keeps hanging out and solving mysteries for the NYPD).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Electric Horseman (Robert Redford and Jane Fonda starred in this 1979 comedy/drama about a drunken former rodeo star who rebels and rides off into the desert with the prize racehorse a huge corporation plans to exploit), Solarbabies (remember the days when Jason Patric and Jami Gertz could open a movie? No? well, those of us who first got cable in the 80s certainly do, having watched this ludicrous post-apocalyptic adventure about a crew of rollerblading teenagers who find a glowing, sentient orb and try to set it free and free the world from its tyrannical government; no, I did not just make that sentence up…), Standing Up (based on a supposedly beloved young adult novel I’ve never heard of, this anti-bullying message film’s about a young boy and girl stripped naked and abandoned on an island by their bullying camp-mates), Dora’s Great Roller Skate Adventure (more shrill adventures of that little cartoon girl! This time presumably on roller skates!).

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Pain & Gain, From Up On Poppy Hill, Lords Of Salem, The Walking Dead- season 3, Sons Of Anarchy- season 5. West Of Memphis (yet another documentary about the so-called West Memphis Three, who, falsely accused of some horrific child murders, are finally free and adjusting to the outside world), Homeland- season 2.

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