VideoReport #438

Volume CDXXXVIII- 2014: The Year Indie Video Stores Conquered The World

For the Week of 1/7/14

Videoport kicks of the new year by giving you a free movies every day. You know, like we have for the last 26 years, but still…pretty cool.

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!

>>>Andy’s Top Ten DVD Releases of 2013:

1, The World’s End. All the hilarity of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but also really, really sad. It’s funny! It’s sad! It has a sci-fi twist! So like life.

2. Behind the Candelabra. Seriously, Matt Damon should act exclusively in Steven Soderbergh’s movies, as this and The Informant are, in my humbly correct opinion, his best performances. Or else, I’m just blinded by that incredible, grotesque dimple.

3. Game Change. The creative team behind Recount works their would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-true magic again in this HBO movie about Sarah Palin’s entrance onto the national scene. Julianne Moore makes Palin into a sympathetic character. Truly!

4. Blackfish. Orcas are amazing. People… less amazing.

5. Evil Dead. In the year of The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter Two, this remake of Sam Raimi’s classic is the one movie that had me hiding under the table in pure terror.

6. The Revisionaries. This is what happens when a young-Earth creationist is put in charge of the contents of science text books. Can’t we let Texas secede from the U.S.? Please?

7. The Lords of Salem. I’ve loved nearly everything auteur Robert Zombie has made. I have also found something to hate in everything he’s done. In other words, I have mixed feelings about Monsieur Zombie. But Salem is the first Zombie film that I have no bad feelings towards. Our relationship is complicated.

8. The Girl. The superior, and, from I’ve read about the man, more accurate film this year about Alfred Hitchcock. This one stars Toby Jones as the manipulative, possessive genius as he terrorizes Tippi Hedren during the creation of The Birds.

9. The Master. If Paul Thomas Anderson never tops Magnolia, but it won’t be for lack of ambition or talent.

10. Before Midnight. For fans of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, this new movie will surely satisfy. But the drastic differences from those films are the main reasons why Midnight is so great.

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 writing for The VideoReport! Videoport is the best damned video store in the world. You know it, we know it. And The VideoReport has been the place movie fans in the know go to every week for the latest new releases at said best video store in the world, movie reviews from the staff and customers of said best movie store in the world, and other assorted movie stuff. Sure, the regulars usually hog all the space, but that’s only because they have to—so if you want to contribute your own reviews, best/worst of lists and assorted whatnots, send them to us and we’ll publish them. Seriously! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones. Or, you know, drop them off in the store, if your there renting movies and stuff anyway!

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 asks Did you need another reason to watch Ghostbusters again? You did not. Ghostbusters is its own rationale for watching it again. But I’m giving you one anyway: one of the momentary images included in the rise-to-fame montage is an Atlantic magazine featuring the Ghostbusters. The headline? The Politics of the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights? And now The Awl’s Matthew Phelan has written the article. See it here: http://www.theawl.com/2013/12/the-politics-of-the-next-dimension-do-ghosts-have-civil-rights

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 Act Of Killing (in Documentary.) If men who do evil are never punished, what do they turn into? How do they see themselves? What are their dreams? Those are the questions posed and answered by “The Act Of Killing,” the profoundly disturbing, unnerving, and downright baffling new documentary. Co-directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and someone credited as “Anonymous” (for reasons which will become very clear), the film takes a unique approach to its subjects—men responsible for one of the most horrific genocides in modern history. After a failed coup in 1965, the Indonesian military government, employing local gangsters and paramilitary forces as executioners, orchestrated an anti-Communist purge (which also targeted intellectuals and ethnic Chinese) in which over half a million people were murdered in a single year. Today, the same government remains in power and the men who did the killing remain free and unchallenged for their actions, many functioning as government officials or respected and feared pillars of the community. Never faced with retribution for their actions, these men operate in a sort of sociological petrie dish, free to live their lives and craft their own narratives for their role in their country’s bloodiest hour. So the filmmakers let them make their own movie. Promised complete creative freedom to write and star in a feature film chronicling their deeds, these now old men (who, as young thugs, idolized Hollywood gangster movies above all else) through the course of “The Act Of Killing” gradually tell a horrifying story of their bloody actions, while at the same time offering up one of the most ludicrously inept films-within-a-film outside of a Christopher Guest movie. Centering on notorious death-squad leader Anwar Congo, a dapper old man who looks like an Indonesian Morgan Freeman, the film is as chilling a portrait of unrepentant evil as I’ve ever seen, while at the same time offering up Congo and associates’ ideal cinematic vision of their legacy. Which, given free reign in front of the directors’ cameras, is alternately hilariously ridiculous and almost surreally terrifying. Cajoling locals into portraying their former victims, the killers have them act out the terror and grief of those they murdered. Congo returns to a rooftop where he’d personally killed scores of people and shows off his dance moves before convincing a nervous extra to assume his favored killing position—hands tied and a long wire wrapped around the victim’s throat. Covered in grotesque makeup, several of the men hear an extra nervously tell how his stepfather had been dragged away in the night by men just like them before being drafted himself to play a torture victim in the ensuing scene. A scene depicting the massacre of a village by machete-wielding paramilitary troops quickly turns chaotic—and ugly. Coupled with the men’s predilection for drag, musical numbers, sentimentality, and slapstick comedy, their insane narrative gradually becomes a surreal portrait of pure, simpleminded evil. Incrementally, as intended, the directors get Congo and others to open up about their actions, and their individual rationalizations for the thousands of murders they committed, with or without theatrical flourish, are both queasily believable and morally incomprehensible. This is easily one of the most fascinating and singular documentaries I’ve seen all year.

Reprinted from Dennis’ column in the Portland Press Herald. Because he is lazy.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Fraggle Rock. Dance your cares away! Worry’s for another day. Hear the music play… down at Fraggle Rock!

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Prime Suspect 3 (in Mystery/Thriller.) Peter Capaldi, the newest incarnation of The Doctor (“Doctor who?”), wields his distinctive voice and physique to create a chameleon’s range of characters. In Prime Suspect 3, DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) investigates a brutal death by fire, following the trail of the teenaged sex worker’s brutal death into the seamy underworld of prostitution, illegal pornography, and institutional corruption, though some of her colleagues dismiss the victim as a “rentboy.” They display a similar callousness to their chief witness (and possible suspect): cabaret performer Vera Reynolds (Peter Capaldi), the tenant of the burnt-out apartment where the body was found, is known to the police by her birth name, Vernon. Capaldi’s Vera displays an exaggerated delicacy of gesture and tone more often seen in the BBC’s domestic dramas and middle-class comedies; she could be Hyacinth Bucket’s younger sister. Vera has the sweet fragility of a maiden aunt, and watching her questioning by gruff, rough police investigators is like watching an iris crushed under a boot. But there’s steel at her core, and when she has to, she shows it.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests checking out the Film Movement section (temporarily hanging out in the Staff Picks section). We love to be told what’s good—there are a lotta movies out there, so when a company slaps its imprimatur on a collection, we grab it up and devour it, right? Well, it helps if the company has an eye-catching logo. Oh, and if they only put out great movies. That helps, too. So, Videoport set up our Criterion Collection section a decade ago, simply because everyone wanted the Criterion movies. You know, because they’re the best movies ever. Well, several other companies have tried to set themselves up as the new Criterion Collection—but it’s not working out. The Meridian Collection? Nice try with the derivative Criterion-esque logo, but you’re a non-starter. Cohen Media Group? You’ve got some good movies, and I admire your deliberately ugly, uniformly orange covers, but you’re just not there yet. But Film Movement? We’ll give you a temporary section… Who are they? Largely foreign films, distinctive white box art, each film includes a short bonus film for your viewing pleasure. Well done. So head to the middle aisle and check out this newest would-be Criterion Collection. There’s some good stuff in there. New arrivals include: Helena From The Wedding (great cast [Melanie Lynskey, Lee Tergesen, Community’s Gillian Jacobs] star in this indie comedy drama from the people at Film Movement about a gaggle of friends whose attempt to have a nice, relaxing time at one couple’s remote mountain cabin is complicated by the fact that everyone hates each other and stuff), If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle (acclaimed Romanian drama, also from Film Movement, about a young guy being released from prison who attempts to handle a new relationship with a prison volunteer and the old relationship with his troubled mother), 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), and this week’s Key Of Life (see this week’s new releases!)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Archer- season 4 (you might not realize it, but we are in the TV age of Jon Benjamin; he’s the voice behind Sterling Archer, this hilarious series’ peerlessly douche-y secret agent and voices the lead character in the equally great animated show Bob’s Burgers—he’s the funniest guy you don’t know), Closed Circuit (Eric Bana stars in this paranoid thriller about a pair of former-lovers/lawyers who find themselves under serious government surveillance when they take on a high-profile terrorism case; whew—thank goodness that’s just a fiction, right?), Runner Runner (Justin Timberlake butts heads with Ben Affleck in this thriller about a guy going to South America in order to confront the crimelord who swindled him out of all his money playing…online poker?), The Following- season 1 (Kevin Bacon stars in this serial killer series about a cop tracking down the army of disciples following the cult-like directives of a famous author/serial killer/Edgar Allan Poe scholar; classic Poe…), House Of Lies- season 2 (this show about a firm specializing in, I dunno, general sneakiness; it stars people like Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz, who I uniformly like, so that’s a thing…), Inequality For All (documentary about noted economist and smarty-pants Robert Reich and his kooky theory that the fact that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor in America keeps growing exponentially and that that’s somehow a bad thing; what a weirdo…), Top Of The Lake- The Complete Series (Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss stars in this intense, New Zealand miniseries about a big city cop returning to the tiny, backwater hellhole she grew up in when a young girl goes missing; costarring the ever-stellar Holly Hunter and Peter Mullan and directed by Jane Campion [The Piano]), We Are What We Are (super-disturbing horror film about a suspiciously insular family whose strict family traditions involve something I’m not going to spoil for you; it’s super-gross though…), Thanks For Sharing (great cast including Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwynneth Paltrow, Carol Kane and more star in this indie comedy drama about a trio of people bonding when they meet at a sex addiction support group), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—The Extended Edition (did you like The Hobbit? But were you mad that its three hour running time was just too darn short? Well, Videoport brings you an even longer version! You’re welcome!), Last Love (Michael Caine stars in this December/let’s call it May romance about an embittered professor falling in with that French girl from the Harry Potter movies), Somm (wine snobs! Have we got the movie for you! This documentary chronicles the secretive history of the uber-prestigious Court Of Master Sommeliers, the snobbiest wine-snobs in the world, who have only certified 200 people as Masters since that day someone said, “hey, these old grapes are making me feel all funny…”), The Act Of Killing (see Thusday’s review—and strap on your psychic armor for this one…), Key Of Life (Japanese comedy drama about a suicidal man who impulsively decides to switch places with a guy who bumps his head at a bathhouse, and then finds out the guy was in the Yakuza! Bad choice, guy!)

New Arrivals At Videoport This Week: Atrocious (Do you like Paranormal Activity? Do you like Spanish? Well, head over to Videoport’s foreign language section for this super-creepy found-footage Spanish horror movie about people who can’t stop filming scary things even when said scary things are trying to kill them!)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray This Week at Videoport: Closed Circuit, The Following- season 1, Thanks For Sharing, American Beauty, Don Jon, Becket

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