VideoReport #439

Volume CDXXXIX- 2014: The Year Every- One Finally Realized That Netflix Is The Devil’s Butt

For the Week of 1/14/14

Videoport gives you a free movie (out of our insanely-complete movie collection) every single day.

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 just had her first cup of coffee in four months and OH BOY OH BOY LET’S TALK ABOUT MOVIES. Start off slow with Jim Jarmusch’s anthology Coffee and Cigarettes, which collects a series of lovingly textured black-and-white vignettes starring everyone from The White Stripes’ Meg and Jack White to Bill Murray to The Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA and GZA. Ramp up your caffeine buzz with the inimitable Pam Grier as Coffy, a respectable nurse who becomes a one-woman vigilante force out to take vengeance on the scum who hooked her baby sister on junk. And ride out the last dregs of hot-coffee excitement with, well, Hot Coffee (2011), a documentary examining the effects of tort reform in the U.S. judicial system, with 1994 case Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants as a key example. Thanks to media oversimplification and a rash of jokes, Liebeck vs. McDonald’s Restaurants was popularly misunderstood as a case of an frivolous tort by a customer inconvenienced when she slopped hot drive-thru coffee on herself; in fact, Stella Liebeck spent eight days in hospital, required skin grafts, and needed two years of follow-up treatment from third-degree burns.

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!

>>>Videoport customer Baxter Van West (age 11) recommends Terminator 2: Judgement Day (in Action/Adventure.) Terminator Two is a very funny movie, if you don’t mind a little sick humor. In this movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays another terminator, but this one has been sent back to protect the now ten-year-old Jon Connor. The other terminator, a more advanced model (bad news for Jon Connor), makes his appearance under a highway, takes on the form of a cop, and then goes around looking for Jon Connor, who then has to flee the city. All around I think it was a good movie. 9.5 stars.

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 checking out the best of foreign language TV at Videoport! You guys are getting pretty heavily into TV shows from other countries? What, is America’s unending supply of vapid sitcoms and sex-crime procedurals not enough for you? Well good thing Videoport’s been bringing in some of the best shows from around the globe to fill the gap. First up, there’s Borgen. Maybe you wouldn’t think that American audiences would be into an intelligent political drama about Danish politics. But then you don’t know Videoport customers, mister. Often compared to The West Wing at its best, this drama about Denmark’s first female prime minister is flying off the shelves. Up next is Wallander, the Swedish detective series to end all Swedish detective series. (There’s a really good BBC remake starring Kenneth Branagh as well.) The ongoing tale of the most epically bummed out detective in all of Scandinavia, Videoport literally can’t keep the two seasons of this show in the store. (773-1999 to reserve, by the way). And then howsabout some intense French detective thriller-ness? Well then slide over to the ‘S’ region of Videoport’s foreign section for Spiral. It’s French. It’s intense. It’s…um, French. (I may not have seen it yet.) Anyway, the massage should be clear—pester Videoport’s owner Bill enough and he’ll bring in all the obscure foreign stuff you’ve ever heard about from your aunt who has better cable than 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 using the 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks deal to rent the near-entirety of great TV shows that were cancelled before their time (because Americans would rather watch contrived surveillance footage of the decline of world culture: aka reality TV.) Some shows die (or, you know, are murdered by dumb people) before their time. For great shows, that means that they exist forever as sort of perfect little gems that you can knock off in a week. Like these (all of which I’d recommend with all my immortal soul!): Firefly (best sci fi series ever. Only four DVDs and a movie.) Party Down (brilliant workplace comedy. Only 4 DVDs, because people are the worst.) Stella (hilarious surrealist comedy from three guys from The State. Only 2 DVDs and a single standup DVD). The State (brilliant sketch comedy from 11 people who’ve gone on to produce some of your favorite shows. Only 4 DVDs). Ultraviolet. (British vampire series costarring the great Idris Elba. Only 2 DVDs.) Enlightened. (Cancelled because people are the worst—Laura Dern is stunning. Only 4 DVDs). Andy Richter Controls The Universe and Andy Barker PI (Three in the former, two in the latter—it’s Andy. You love Andy!) The Upright Citizens Brigade (Only 2 of the 3 seasons of the best sketch comedy show since Monty Python have been released. With a pre-stardom Amy Poehler, and only 4 DVDs in toto.)

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

>>>Did you know that every Friday you can just walk in off the street and, without renting another movie or even spending one single penny, you can choose a movie from the hundreds of movies in Videoport’s kids section? For free? No catch, no questions asked? Why, it’s true! Who would complain about that? Hitler? Hitler’s meaner big brother?

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Zero Effect (in Mystery/Thriller.) We all have those movies, not a favorite or a top-ten greatest film, but the ones you return to over and over for no reason you can quite put your finger on. For me, The Zero Effect falls squarely and securely into that category. It isn’t A Great Film, but it’s a great movie: full of eccentric and idiosyncratic characters that the film fleshes out ably and believably, a twisty-turny plot that feeds out just enough to keep you on the hook as you swim along with it, and a lively blend of comedy, drama, and pathos. Bill Pullman stars as reclusive master detective Darryl Zero (Bill Pullman), who solves the most arcane mysteries from the privacy of his home Sherlock-Holmes style, sending his diligent representative Steve Arlo (Ben Stiller) into the field to gather information and run errands. It’s only that buffer that conceals the truth from his powerful and prosperous clients: Zero is a mess, a shambling, rambling, drug-addled mess living in dismal, expensive squalor. He also happens to be a genius. His prestigious clientele pay Zero’s staggering (and non-negotiable) fee for his speed, his insight, and – of course – his discretion, but Zero only chooses on the most challenging, unlikely cases, like the case of The Man With The Mismatched Shoelaces: sought by kings and presidents, found by Darryl Zero with an hour’s work at his desk. The Zero Effect gives Bill Pullman a welcome break from his usual run of second-bananas and boyfriends to be jilted, and he leaps into Darryl Zero’s precarious neuroses with rare fervor, making this sad, confusing, infuriating character complex and weirdly engaging. Ben Stiller, too, brings something special to the role of Steve Arlo, employing his trademark snark and mercurial temper with sensitive restraint to give Arlo a crisp professionalism punctuated by tightly-controlled and riotous outbursts. Their chemistry keeps the frankly peculiar film ticking along nicely this side of “wacky,” which lets the audience focus on the characters and the action as the mystery of The Guy Who Lost His Keys gets deeper and darker.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Gasland II (in Documentary). Dear God, but corporations are evil. You should rent this alongside the equally-upsetting documentary The Corporation, which seeks to explain the underlying psychopathy which allows those corporations profiled in Gasland II to do what they do without their CEOs just open up a vein in the bathtub every night. Jesus. We all saw Matt Damon and Jon Krasinski adorably explain why fracking (releasing trapped natural gas in the earth under the land where, you know, people live and stuff) is essentially something only supervillains like Lex Luthor would try to perpetrate until the Justice League smacks him into the phantom zone. In a nutshell, companies grease enough politicians to perform this insanely unsafe gas-mining underneath the poorest people’s land, releasing not only the lucrative gas but a delicious cocktail of toxic chemicals (some used in the fracking process itself), thus poisoning the local water table and making everyone sick. But surely the affected people have some legal recourse, if not against the intrusive practice itself, that at the very least concerning the fact that your drinking water gives your kids cancer and you can, you know, actually light it on fire. Sigh—oh, you poor, poor, naive kid you. Nope. Watch the movie. The fix is in. Money makes morality irrelevant. Sorry about your kid’s leukemia. Oh wait, no they’re not. I hate everyone.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Lee Daniels’ The Butler (Forest Whitaker stars in this biopic about the long-suffering real-life White House butler who served under Nixon, for one; oh, and by the way, it’s only because of hideous, petty lawyer nonsense that that whole “Lee Daniels’” thing was appended to the title—feel free to refer to it as just The Butler), Riddick (Vin Diesel is back, continuing to insist that his character from 2000’s Pitch Black is an enduring sci fi action hero; it’s sorta cute!), Carrie (professional spooky girl Chloe Grace Moretz [Let Me In, Kick-Ass] stars in this horror remake of questionable necessity about the girl who can do stuff with her brain), Enough Said (you’re gonna want to see this indie romantic comedy/drama for a variety of reasons; directed by the cool Nicole Holofcener [Walking and Talking, Lovely and Amazing], and starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini in his last role), You’re Next (it’s always a great day at Videoport when a half-decent horror movie comes out, so hooray for this decidedly above-average scare-fest about a family gathered together in their isolated, swanky country house; stuff does NOT go well…), The Spectacular Now (a brainy girl and a charming rich guy fall in love in this teen rom-dram that’s actually supposed to be good; sorta like this year’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower), Fruitvale Station (look for this one on Oscar night, people—the true story of the last day in the life of a young African American guy in the Bay Area who gets shot for no reason at the titular subway stop; starring the cool Michael B. Jordan who smart people already love from Friday Night Lights), Short Term 12 (acclaimed indie about a young woman trying to cope with the heartbreaking challenges of working at a foster care facility), 20 Feet From Stardom (You so want to rent this! At least according to everything you’ve all been saying for the last few months—so come and get the many copies we bought of this documentary about the most famous backup singers you’ve never heard of), Gasland: Part II (sequel to that other Gasland, which convincingly makes the terrifying case that “fracking” practices of energy companies are both horribly dangerous and fraught with corruption that stomps, Godzilla-style on Americans’ rights), A Single Shot (the great Sam Rockwell and the even greater Jeffrey Wright star in this thriller about an Ozarks mountain man who accidentally shoots a young woman with a mysterious briefcase full of cash), Rewind This! (Videoport’s Regan says this documentary about the history of the VHS tape is actually a ton of fun; never, ever argue with Regan…), I’m So Excited (NEW ALMODOVAR MOVIE!!! Seriously—for most of you, that’s all you need to hear, but if you still need convincing to pick up the new film from one of the world’s best and most consistently-great directors, it’s about the wacky passengers of a plane who start to go entertainingly nuts when they think they’re about to die. People—NEW ALMODOVAR.), How To Make Money Selling Drugs (yup, this documentary does offer ten solid tips about how to make money in the drug trade, all under the aegis of deconstructing the unjust cluster-f*ck that is the war on drugs; with the participation of Woody Harrelson, Susan Sarandon, Eminem, 50 Cent, and creator of The Wire David Simon), Copper- season 2 (the continuing adventures of the best NYC cop of the 1800s; I’m trying to think of a way that New York could have been worse 150 years ago…hmm….nope, got nothin’…), Tumbledown (Maine’s own Todd Verow’s new movie chronicles the way sexual obsession can get messily out of hand when a gay couple invites a hunky bartender to spend a weekend with them in their isolated cabin’ look for it in Videoport’s Pride section), Man Of Tai Chi (Keanu Reeves directs his first movie! Try to contain yourself! Actually, this martial arts movie, about a young delivery guy whose fighting prowess sends him into the world of underground fight clubs, is actually supposed to be pretty good as such things go…), C.O.G. (David Sedaris fans out there should be jumping up and down with NPR-level enthusiasm over the release of this, the first screen adaptation of one of his works; in it, a young gay man finds himself on an Oregon apple-picking orchard where he feels, shockingly, out of place)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Neighbors (finally on DVD! John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd threw everyone for a loop with this still-unsettling dark comedy about a button-down suburbanite [Belushi, playing against type] whose duller than dull existence is thrown into chaos when a possibly psycho Danny and Cathy Moriarty move in next door), 47 Ronin (perhaps in protest of the Keanu Reeves big budget flop, Videoport brings in this 1941 film adaptation of the legendary Japanese tale of the titular samurai who, after the unjust execution of their master, roam the land seeking revenge)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray This Week at Videoport: Lee Daniels’ The Butler, Carrie, Riddick, The Spectacular Now, 20 Feet From Stardom, Thanks For Sharing, I’m So Excited, You’re Next

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