VideoReport #427

Volume CDXXVII- Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of Who Thought Charlton Heston As A Mexican Guy Was A Good Idea

 For the Week of 10/21/13

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Netflix just sent a nude selfie to your significant other.

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!

>>>Andy suggests Rosemary’s Baby (in Mystery/Thriller). I watch this movie every few months, whether it’s during the spookiest time of the year or not. Once, on the night before I took my SATs, I stayed up too late watching Rosemary’s Baby. I didn’t do particularly well on that test, but, well, no regrets. This is a real slow builder of a horror movie. It’s starts with Rosemary (so meek and vulnerable, played by Mia Farrow) and Guy (so charming and, I’ll say it, devilishly played by John Cassavetes), a hip, young married couple, renting an apartment in a spooky building. How spooky is the building? Elisha Cook, Jr. is their landlord. He is also a ghost*. Guy and Rosemary befriend their elderly neighbors, Roman (Sidney Blackmer) and Minnie (Ruth Gordon, in the most Ruth Gordon-est of all Ruth Gordon performances) and everything is very nice for a while. Guy and Rosemary decide to have a child and (SPOILER ALERT), they succeed in getting Rosemary’s pregnant! I mean, everything is pretty ducky if you disregard that strange, upsetting dream Rosemary has on the night of conception featuring Guy, Roman, Minnie, and possibly Nick Nolte and a coven of Nick Nolte-worshippers. Rosemary has a difficult pregnancy, which would make for a pretty wrenching movie by itself. But then she also begins to have suspicions about her neighbors’ intentions, and their possible involvement with Nick Nolte. Like I mentioned earlier, Rosemary’s Baby is a slow builder, but build it surely does, all the way to a conclusion that’s every bit as creepy and tense as you could hope! Also, I forgot to mention that Roman Polanski directed this movie, and it’s probably the best thing he has ever made.

*No, he’s not.

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Sunset Boulevard (in Classics.) Not every monster is unearthly, and not every monster movie needs a literal monster. Billy Wilder’s Hollywood horror is all too plausible. Just seconds ahead of the repo men on his tail, down-at-heel screenwriter Joe Gillis (William Holden) stashes his car in the garage of an abandoned mansion… but of course it isn’t abandoned. Reclusive, forgotten silent-screen star Norma Desmond (Gloria Swanson) lurking in her sprawling, dilapidated mansion as regally as Dracula in his castle, as foreboding as Dr. Frankenstein in his family manor, as sinister as a spider waiting for a fly to come wandering into her web. And Joe wanders right in. Joe uses Norma: her home, her money, her protection. But Norma doesn’t merely use Joe; she feeds on him, drinking in his youthful energy, his talent, and – most of all –his smallest gestures of affection to sustain her waning vitality. Wilder emphasizes the classic-horror flavor of the film by repeatedly shooting Swanson like a classic Universal monster: facing the frame, gothic shadows looming all around her, as she fixes her mesmerizing gaze on the camera – and, by extension, on us. She is as menacing and macabre as Bela Lugosi, and as tragic a figure in the end.

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!   >>> It’s the Videoport dating advice column!

Q—I met this great new guy—he’s considerate, generous, and even gets along with my parents—but I saw him leave a rental DVD out of its case on the coffee table. Should we get married?

A—Dump him. He’s clearly of low character and cannot be trusted. You’re welcome.

Q—I came home to find that my wife had made us a delicious dinner and planned a romantic evening, but I noticed that the rental copy of Hope Floats she had rented for our post-dinner snuggle-time was covered with fingerprints made of our supper’s delicious gravy. Should I ignore it?

A—Dump her. She is clearly a serial killer.

Q—When I went through my date’s DVD collection while he was in the bathroom, I noticed his personal DVDs were pristine but the one’s he’d rented for us to watch had been left out where his cat had walked all over them and scratched them. Is he a keeper?

A—Get out! Get out of there! He’s clearly planning to kill you! Oh god—he’s right behind you…[static]

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!

>>>Videoport customer Chad suggests The Thing (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Just to see that head turn into a spider.

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

>>>It’s free. For kids!

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Vikings (in Action.) I’ll write more at some point, but I will just say this—this show is outstanding in its approximation of a truly alien culture. Ragnar Lothbrok and company are legitimately, thrillingly…other. Good show.

>>>For Sunday, it’s Emily S. Customer’s five scariest movie endings. Many horror films tacitly celebrate and reiterate conventional values, both by punishing violation of the social order and by restoring that order at the end, maybe with a hint of future danger as a playful stinger.

But not these films. In these films, the end is the stinger, loaded with poison. There is no order; there is no safety; there is no peace or play or pleasure. There is only terror, repeated and rampant. [NB: This list is ALL SPOILERS. There are SPOILERS HERE. This is NOTHING BUT SPOILERS. SPOILERS, Y’ALL.]

Mulholland Dr. I’m a little shame-faced to admit how deeply the last few minutes of David Lynch’s twisty-turny neo-noir mindbender unsettles me, and I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it does. When I obsessively watch and re-watch the film (and of course I do, oh, I do), if I’m alone, I almost always stop just short of the terrible booming knock on Diane’s door; if you could peek in my window at that moment (and of course you do, oh, you do), you’d see me lunge for the remote in comical terror to avoid having to see the shrunken, tiny figures of the elderly visitors creep under the door and then grow to loom over her as she shrieks. Just thinking about it is giving me the actual, literal creeps.

The Blair Witch Project. The Blair Witch Project was something of a phenomenon at release. The simple premise: three student filmmakers disappeared while shooting a documentary researching a terrifying local legend; this is their last known footage. The film’s eerie realism, achieved by casting then-unknown actors (Heather Donahue, Michael C. Williams, Joshua Leonard) who improvised around a skeletal script as they trekked from campsite to campsite over an 8-day shoot, was reinforced by a then-innovative online promotional website tying in (fictional) police reports of missing film students, (faked) investigative interviews, and (embellished) reports of historical legends. The film hinges on the uncertainty of their fates, so it’s no surprise that the end is ambiguous. Some viewers were jarred by the sudden ending; some were annoyed by the lack of resolution. But for me, the mixture of simplicity and obscurity in The Blair Witch Project’s final moments is bone-chilling.

Night of the Living Dead. After a long night trapped in an abandoned house fighting off unending hordes of shambling corpses, only one of our characters survives, and deservedly so: even under attack by the inexplicable horror of shambling corpses, Ben (Duane Jones) is quick-thinking, capable, and tenacious. As the film draws to a close, Ben falls into a brief, uneasy slumber. He’s awakened to morning’s bright light by the sound of gunshots as sheriffs amble through the countryside, casually dispatching the last of the zombies. Thinking the nightmare is over, Ben approaches the window… and is shot dead by a deputy and tumbled onto the pyre of burning bodies. Given the social and political tensions in 1968 and the lazily assured good-ol’-boys cast as the posse, it’s not clear whether Ben’s killing is a moment of tragic negligence or an opportunistic hate crime, an ambiguity that caps off 90 minutes of supernatural horror with a far more resounding moment of mundane horror. Night of the Living Dead remains the only horror film that still leaves me sobbing – in sorrow, in frustration, in rage, in existential despair.

Let The Right One In (Swedish version). The contrast between the tone and the reality is jarring: in the moment, Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) is happy, smiling in the sunshine as the train zips through the frozen landscape, his new and dear friend Eli (Leana Leandersson) safely sheltered in the trunk at his knee, the sadistic bullies and negligent adults of his former life left behind, only adventure ahead. But in reality, we know what lies ahead for Oskar, and it’s the same fate Eli’s former caretaker suffered: to cut all ties of human contact, to stalk and slaughter victims for Eli to batten on, to practice and hone his appetite for violence and cruelty, and finally, inescapably, to grow older and older while Eli stays young, to lose his value to Eli, to see his charge’s affections wither and waste, and finally to be discarded for another. Oskar sees a world opening up before him, but that world is as empty and frozen as the winter terrain speeding by the window.

The Tenant. Polanski’s The Tenant feels like one long, sustained nightmare: oppressive, humiliating, paranoid, sweatily unstable. Meek expatriate Trelkovsky (Polanski) has been scouring Paris for someplace to live. Finally – what a lucky break! – he finds an apartment, newly vacated when the previous tenant threw herself out the window, smashing through the glass awning to the street. Trelkovsky snaps up the place despite the hostile proprietress (Shelly Winters) and standoffish fellow tenants. And that’s where the nightmare begins. The entire film is suffused with dread, but the first time I saw it – at the too-tender age of 11 – nothing in my small experience of the world prepared me for the horrors of the ending, when Trelkovsky’s doppelganger finally catches up to him.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Conjuring (from the director of Insidious [some people liked it more than I did] comes this pretty decent horror flick about a family calling in a pair of married demonologists when their new house starts haunting the bejeezus out of them; plus it’s “based on a true story” because ghosts are totally real and not the nonsensical products of dumb, gullible people’s childlike imaginations!), The Internship (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn try to recapture some of the Wedding Crashers magic as a pair of middle aged, laid-off execs who try to obtain the titular coveted gig at a certain internet company; will their undeniable comic chemistry triumph over the fact that the entire movie is just a poorly disguised exercise in product placement for Google? Rent it and see!), Before

You should really just rent all of these...

You should really just rent all of these…

Midnight (Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke are back as the formerly star-crossed lovers of Before Sunrise and Before Sunset; director Richard Linklatter and stars Delpy and Hawke reunite to drop back in on one of the most realistically-drawn couples in movie history, this time dealing with the pitfalls of marriage…and some other stuff I’m not going to tell you; just watch all three movies…), The Way, Way Back (great-looking indie comedy about a young guy who bonds with the oddball director of a water park; with an all-star indie cast including Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell, Maya Rudolph, and Allison Janney), Only God Forgives (everybody’s hunky boyfriend Ryan Gosling re-tems with Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn for this violent thriller about a disgraced guy running an underground boxing ring in Bangkok who has to deal with his mother [Kristin Scott Thomas] arriving looking for vengeance against the people who killed her other son [the one she really loved]; I’m hearing lurid, upsetting, and sordid—so enjoy!), Dead In Tombstone (busy awesome guy Danny Trejo stars in another bloody genre picture, this time as a murdered old West crime lord who makes a deal with Satan [Mickey Rourke, of course] to gun down the baddies who killed him; co-starring Anthony Michael Hall for some reason), A Hijacking (Danish maritime thriller about a cargo ship hijacked by Somali pirates; sure, Tom Hanks isn’t in it, but does he have to be in everything for you to watch it, people?), Psych- season 7 (James Roday and Dule Hill continue to be the most effortlessly funny comedy team in the “pleasant comedy detective show” TV universe), Vikings- season 1 (You should check out this History Channel series about, well, you read the title; it’s actually really good.), Foyle’s War- season 7 (everyone loves this British mystery series about a British detective investigating the murder of British people by other British people), Stuck In Love (Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, and Kristen Bell star in this indie drama about a writer’s family dealing with…things indie things…), Star Wars Clone Wars- season 5 (these animated Star Wars shows are clearly better than the actual Star Wars prequels), Shepard & Dark (I will be watching this documentary about genius playwright Sam Shepard and his lifelong friend and correspondent Johnny Dark as soon as you guys are done doing so), The Wall (enigmatic German film about a woman who suddenly finds herself shut off from the world by an invisible barrier [aka wall]; it has to be better than Under The Dome…)

New Arrivals at Videoport: Wuthering Heights (Laurence Olivier and Merle Oberon starred, at their impossibly beautiful best, in this sweeping 1939 adaptation of the Emily Bronte romance classic)

New Releases on Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Europa Report, Dead In Tombstone, Pacific Rim.

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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