VideoReport #434

Volume CDXXXIV- The Shopocalypse Is Coming…

For the Week of 12/10/13

Videoport—Your one-stop for holiday shopping! Since we’re local, independent, and not evil! Like, not at all!

Okay, here’s the Xmas shopping propaganda. (We know—but it’s gotta be done.)

1. Videoport Gift Certificates! Get the movie-lovin’ buddy on your list some free movie rentals! They come in all the denominations, and tell the lucky so-and-so that he/she can basically double their freebies, since gift certificate rentals work just fine with Videoport’s already-generous daily free rental specials! Yeah!

2. Buy movies at Videoport! Again—Videoport: not evil. So why not buy your DVD gifties from us? Oh, you need another reason besides “not evil”? Well, howsabout the fact that you get a free rental for yourself for every movie you buy for us? No one needs to know you got something for yourself out of the deal… (We can order everything you need in time for the holidays—but hurry it up, people…)

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, 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!

>>>Emily S. Customer tells you what’s what. Sometimes They Come Back (1991) stretches Stephen King’s short story of a high school history teacher haunted by the perpetual teenagers who terrorized him as a child. They Came Back (original title Les Revenants) hauntingly depicts the inexplicable but seemingly benign return of the recently dead to a small French town; “The Returned,” the new series inspired by the film, is gathering both critical and popular acclaim.

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 getting some free money from Videoport! In this season where your loved ones are draining you dry, why not take advantage of Videoport’s pre-payment deals to get yourself some free money. You know—for yourself. Put down $20 on your rental account and see it transformed magically into $25 in store credit. Or, if you’re feelin’ saucy, put down $30 and we give you $40 in credit. That’s for you…not for them.

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 Oldboy (in Assorted Asian Exploitation.) So, Spike Lee’s Oldboy remake is getting all kinds of side-eye from critics and audiences alike. It was inevitable, really: some films brook no comparison, and Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy (2003) is one of the greats. Rent the original now before the remake spoils it for you. My review from 2009: The beginning swoops in on us out of nowhere: when me meet Oh Dea-su (Min-sik Choi), he seems a sillyminded salaryman, a drunkard and a fool, an irresponsible father and an indifferent husband, but he is no worse than many silly, sad people. In the film’s opening, Dae-su is inexplicably abducted by an unknown person, and held in captivity… for fifteen years. When he’s finally released, the almost magically transformed Dae-su is intent upon revenge. Director Park Chan-wook brings us a tale that echoes the long tradition of vengeance tragedies, bringing that dramatic form forcefully into a modern setting. Buried in its dizzyingly grand fight sequences is a mediation on the compulsion to seek vengeance, and on the utter futility of it. At first glance, Oldboy seems to exult in glamorizing violence, and it is at times excruciating to watch. The film seethes with stylized violence that is horrifically potent, but also weirdly beautiful. One fight scene in particular is as stunningly graceful as any ballet, and as guttingly sorrowful as any diva singing her dying aria. It’s a tragedy, it’s a delicate dance of violence and harrowing grief, it’s filled with pain and tenderness and confusion and pure human heartbreak of the most naked kind. It’s beautiful.

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 Inside Man (in Mystery/Thriller.) Oh, Spike Lee, I can’t stay mad at you. Not only have you created a string of beloved and well-admired social dramas with humor, delicacy, and heart, but you can knock out a super-slick heist thriller without breaking a sweat. A gang of identically-clad robbers swarm into a Manhattan bank, taking the customers and staff hostage, the action intercut with a monologue from their leader (Clive Owen) quietly explaining that – but not how! – he’s going to pull off the perfect crime. NYPD Detectives Frazier (Denzel Washington) and Mitchell (Chiwetel Ejiofor) set up nearby to investigate and negotiate, and as I type I realize how well-trodden this territory sounds. But Inside Man takes a familiar formula and turns it upside-down and inside-out, breathing freshness into every frame.

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

>>> Videoport gives you a free movie from the thousands of movies in the kids section on Fridays! With no other rental necessary! Why, you’d have to be some sort of Scrooge-like, curmudgeon-y monster to complain about something so generous and wonderful!

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer tells you what’s what. 28 Days Later (2002) stars Cillian Murphy (The Batman Trilogy, Sunshine, Disco Pigs) as a coma patient who awakens to a world inexplicably altered and abandoned by some disaster, and he must wander out into a hauntingly empty London to find out why. 28 Days (2000) stars Sandra Bullock as a newspaper columnist compelled into a rehab center after she trashes her sister’s wedding.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests some Christmas stuff you can actually stand! Sure, Videoport’s got a bulging Holiday Movie section (Middle Aisle, where the more-interesting Staff Picks are for the rest of the year), but maybe you’ve seen them all over and over again since you were a little kid and can’t bear to hear that damned Grinch song one more damned time or you’re going to set your tree on fire and throw the damned roast beast out the damned window!!! Ahem. Anyway—here are a few ideas for holiday viewing that might not drive you to candy cane-based violence.

1. Community: Season 2, episode 11 “Abed’s Uncontrollable Christmas.” If you haven’t watched Community, well, I forgive you. But you should really watch Community. It’ll make you believe in TV comedy again. And make you happy. Anyway, you don’t really need to have seen the whole show (although you probably just do that), to appreciate this one. The story of a disparate group of adult community college students banding together against their better judgement into a surrogate family, Community features a septet of remarkable performances, none better than Danny Pudi’s Abed, a pop culture-obsessed oddball with a serious propensity to retreat into fantasy. This episode takes Abed’s story to its logical Christmastime outcome, with him asserting (and we seeing) that everyone at Greendale Community College has been transformed into Rankin-Bass-style stop motion animation as they act out his idealized version of the holiday. It’s an adorable gimmick episode on one level, sure, but if you know anything about Community (and, again, you should), you’ll know that there’s a lot more to it than that. As each member of the group aids Abed in trying to work through what’s clearly a psychotic episode, everybody’s character pays off, Abed’s reasons for his delusion are heartbreakingly revealed, and, for all of the groups various reasons to be cynical about the season, there are more moving moments than any Charlie Brown special you can think of. Oh, and it’s a musical—with a pair of the most improbably affecting tunes in Xmas TV history.

2. A Very Sunny Christmas. For anyone familiar with It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia you wouldn’t expect their one Christmas special to be anything but a parade of cruelty, depravity, and decidedly un-Christmassy actions. And you’d be right, as the Gang splits off to try and celebrate the holiday season in the most selfish ways possible. Actually, Charlie and Mac try to revisit their own childhood holiday traditions—only to discover some heartbreaking truths that send them into a tailspin. Dee and Dennis try to cope with the fact that their father Frank alwyas flaunted their ideal presents in front of them only to take them for himself. That’s pretty horrible. In true Sunny fashion, however, all of these storylines serve to illustrate the deeply, really-sad-if-you-think-about-it-too-much inner lives of the show’s protagonists. It’s almost moving in spite of itself—plus there’s another stop-motion animated sequence and you get to see Danny DeVito’s butt! Merry Christmas!

3. Peter’s Friends. This movie isn’t especially well-written, written as it was by intensely mediocre American comedienne Rita Rudner (who also, regrettably, appears) but for all that, it’s one of my favorite holiday movies. Why? Well, check out this lineup: Kenneth Branagh, Stephen Fry, Imelda Staunton, Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie. These are some of the most talented, funny, and all-round shiny British talents ever, and seeing them spar and canoodle in a Christmas-themed Big Chill-esque reunion movie is like a warm, bracing shot of pure talent and enjoyment. Every moment they’re on screen is a little giftie, none moreso than the one where they, all former university performers, chime in for a lovely, warmhearted version of “The Way You Look Tonight” as director Branagh’s camera pans around them, and their twinkling Christmas tree, creating a brief oasis of holiday perfection. Lovely little movie. Just ignore Rudner.

These things...

These things…

New Releases this week at Videoport: Despicable Me 2 (Steve Carell is back voicing the would-be mad scientist turned adoptive dad, this time recruited by the superhero community to defeat a new, evil supervillain; costarring a lot of funny people and those jabbering yellow tylenols that your kids have been conditioned to worship), Fast & Furious 6 (Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, and that other guy return in this car-racin’ action flick that’s going to rent a lot better than it would have otherwise…), Doc Martin- series 6 (check out Videoport’s British Comedy section for another season of the daily adventures of the grumpiest doctor in the British Isles), Doctor Who: The Day Of The Doctor (Doctor Who fans—you’re in heaven, as the current Doctor [Matt Smith] and the previous Doctor [David Tennant] team up alongside a mysterious Doctor we’ve never heard of before; seriously—this is delightful…), The Hunt (the magnetic Mads Mikkelsen [Hannibal’s Hannibal] stars in this searing, heartbreaking Danish drama [which is getting major Oscar buzz] about a dedicated teacher whose life is thrown into hell when a little white lie blossoms out of control ), The Angel’s Share (from British indie maverick Ken Loach [The Wind That Shakes The Barley] brings us this comedy about an ex-con who bands together with his disreputable pals in pursuit of the most expensive whiskey in the world), Sightseers (British dark comedy about a couple whose holiday adventure gradually escalates into a serial killing spree), Berberian Sound Studio (thriller about a sound engineer [Toby Jones—The Girl, Infamous] working at an Italian film studio on a horror flick who finds his life embroiled in one of those “reality is stranger than fiction” deals…), Lilyhammer- season 1 (Steven Van Zandt [you know him either as Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist or Silvio from The Sopranos] stars in this Norwegian TV series comedy about a not-entirely-dissimilar-from-Silvio mobster who takes his new witness protection program secret identity to the titular town in Norway), The Rooftop (loopy action/ romance/ fantasy/musical starring Taiwanese pop superstar/actor Jay Chou [The Green Hornet] as a rooftop-dwelling vagabond who sets out to woo his lady-love, an up-and-coming pop star/model), Prince Avalanche (Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch star in this good-looking indie from director David Gordon Green [All The Real Girls, George Washington, Pineapple Express] about a pair of mismatched road workers bonding against their will as they spend a summer repainting road lines), Albatross (British coming of age drama about a young aspiring writer whose friendship with another is threatened when she embarks on affair with her new pal’s father; awkward…), All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (intriguing indie thriller starring Amber Heard as a formerly-unpopular high school girl invited to a country getaway with the cool kids, only to see people start to drop dead; I’ve heard it compared to Cabin In The Woods, so that’s not a bad thing…), Drinking Buddies (great cast [New Girl’s Jake Johnson, Portland’s own Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Olivia Wilde] star in this indie comedy about a pair of couples whose relationships are threatened on a long, drinky weekend getaway; directed by indie maven Joe Swanberg [LOL, Kissing On The Mouth, Hannah Takes The Stairs, V/H/S]), Poirot- seasons 7&8 (more punctilious sleuthing from Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective, played with panache as ever by David Suchet), Blancanieves (Spanish homage to Snow White [translate the title], this one has a female bullfighter, seven dwarf toreadors, and lots more!), The Deflowering Of Eva Van End (Dutch comedy about the erotic havoc wrought upon a middle class family when they invite an impossibly beautiful German exchange student into their home)

New Arrivals at Videoport: The Cure (1995 AIDS-era relic about the friendship between an HIV-positive 11 year old and his tough neighbor who set out to seek out a scientist in New Orleans who’s reported to have found a cure; starring the late Brad Renfro)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray at Videoport: The King’s Speech, Moulin Rouge, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Erased, The Great Escape, John Dies At The End, Despicable Me 2, Fast & Furious 6, Hoosiers, Ruby Sparks, Weeds- season 6, The Wolverine, Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

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