VideoReport #440

Volume CDXL- 2014: The Year Videoport Made Netflix Wish It Were Never Born

 For the Week of 1/21/14

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Who else does that? Not Netflix, that’s who.

 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!

>>>Videoport customer Caleb C. suggests Maniac (in Horror.) This 2012 re-imagining of William Lustig’s film from 1980 was as joyfully hard to watch as the original. Written by French men Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur (Hills Have Eyes 2007, High Tension, P2), directed by Franck Khalfoun (P2, High Tension), and produced by Lustig, this movie had a budget that could have paid for the making of it’s predecessor 10 times over (that’s not really saying much.) Khalfoun’s version takes us though the daily events of a serial killer named Frank Zito. He owns a mannequin shop in New York City that has been in his family for 3 generations. He drives a van. He breathes heavy. He admires beauty. He collects the scalps of women. He tacks said scalps to mannequins and keeps them set up around his apartment. The original Maniac was a dark, gritty, and dangerous look into a man’s sinister lust and mental sickness. It was shot in a different New York, a scarier New York. It was written by, and starred Joe Spinell (the bookie from Rocky, Cicci from the Godfather I-II, the guy that hires DeNiro in the beginning of Taxi Driver). It features an exploding head and many other impressive gory effects courtesy of Tom Savini (who got to shoot off his own head with a shot gun!) …… wait, I’m not reviewing this movie, I’m reviewing…. This new film looks through the eyes of the killer. 99%  of this was shot POV (point of view). We catch glimpses of Frank (Elijah Wood) in mirror and window reflections. We see what he sees and what he sees is his hand and his knife. He also sees a lot of woman die. Zito meets Anna (Nora Arnezeder), a young, attractive, likable fine art photographer who becomes enchanted by his mannequin shop and they strike up a friendship. He’s so cute and quirky, what’s the harm? Frank is able to keep his murderous tendencies separate from her…. and then he finds out she has a boyfriend. Why is this always the case? And that’s right, you guessed it, ……. he’s a total DICK!Wood played the part of the misfit psychopath well (sorry, there won’t be any cheap Hobbit breaks bad jokes here). One can see he had a lot of fun getting into the psychology of this madman, and relished the roll. There’s lots of talking to himself, hallucinations of living mannequins, and flash backs of a prostitute mother. It’s very obvious the filmmakers want the viewer to empathize with him, but after the opening scene, it’s brutally clear that this dog needs to be put down. As ghastly as the subject matter was, there were few surprises. This was a slasher movie that relied on anticipation of what WE KNOW is about to happen. We aren’t waiting for the killer to jump out at us. We ARE the killer. We ride along with the jumping. While I was watching this movie I felt as if I was doing something wrong. Great flick or no, that is effective film making. Maniac should please fans of the genre, but few others. The performances are convincing, and The effects are gory, realistic, and cringe-worthy. Slasher fans rejoice, but exercise caution, this ain’t yer grandmother’s horror movie! But who wants to see your grandmother’s horror movie? ME, that’s who! Note: Please ladies, be careful who you meet on dating sites. There’s a lot of creeps out there.

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 says, Let me introduce you to some friends from the Classics and Action sections: Gilda, Harvey, Marty, Mr. Skeffington, Laura, Mildred Pierce, Stella Dallas, Citizen Kane, Lawrence of Arabia, Rebecca, Cool Hand Luke, Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Ben Hur, Becket, Spartacus, Beau Geste, Hud, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Dirty Harry, Cleopatra, and – of course – my Auntie Mame.

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 “Community” [ominous chung CHUNG sound] In the entertainment-justice industry, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: the audience, who observe the proceedings, and the critics, who contemplate the content. These are our stories. In “Basic Lupine Urology” (“Community” S3, ep17), when the study group’s biology project is smashed, they team up to investigate and uncover the the yam-smashing perp. Each member finds their role with an effortless ease: Troy and Abed as the wisecracking detectives who’ve seen it all, Shirley as their no-nonsense chief, Jeff and Annie as the driven DAs who prosecute the offense… and Britta and Pierce Britta-ing it whatever they do, which I don’t know exactly, what am I, a “Community” staff writer? I am not. I SAID GOOD DAY, SIR. Oh, I didn’t? Well, GOOD DAY, SIR.

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 “30 Rock” [ominous chung CHUNG sound] Whiskey-based offenses are considered especially heinous. At 30 Rockefeller Plaza, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious depredations are members of an elite squad: the stars of TGS. These are their stories. In “Alexis Goodlooking and the Case of the Missing Whiskey,” someone drinks Pete’s special birthday whiskey, which he was counting on to bribe the writers into hanging out on his birthday and listening to his Billy Joel song adapted to recount the story of that time he saw Phil Donahue at the mall, and who wouldn’t want to show up for that? The mystery spurs Jenna (Jane Krakowski) to adopt a persona from her failed pilot, Goodlooking; she played Alexis Goodlooking, “who was also good-looking, and my special ability was being good at looking for clues,” and co-star Tracy (Tracy Morgan) tags along gamely, as is his wont until he gets distracted by his pet snake or a solid-gold candy bar or a pigeon failing to demonstrate adequate self-respect. Together, the two dig in and solve the mystery, or do they?

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

>>> It’s a free movie for kids! And you don’t have to rent anything else to get it! Only a Grinch would object to that! (Oh, and you can totally rent How The Grinch Stole Christmas with this special…)

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests You’re Next (in Horror.)I love horror movies. Have my whole life, ever since I was sneaking them on cable after my parents went to sleep and renting them from the TV repair shop/video store which didn’t give two craps about preteens renting R rated movies. Unfortunately, it remains true now as much as then that fully 93% of all horror movies are tediously dreadful. I mean, at least 75% of all movies are lousy, but the horror genre is even more fraught with lousiness—the genre just generally doesn’t attract the best and the brightest. It’s a prejudice, but it’s true. Anyway, in that blasted landscape of half-baked bloody nonsense and cheapjack crap, an even half-competent horror flick makes everyone at Videoport, staff and customers, practically giddy with relieved pleasure. That’s where You’re Next comes in. Directed by horror up-and-comer Adam Wingard, who helmed a pair of horror shorts in the anthology films VHS and VHS2, You’re Next boasts a passel of attributes most horror flicks just can’t be bothered with. First, it’s got good acting. Perhaps keyed in by the presence of fellow indie directors (in acting roles) Joe Swanberg [Drinking Buddies, Kissing On The Mouth, Nights And Weekends, LOL] and Ti West [House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers], the movie partakes of an almost mumblecore acting aesthetic for its first 20 minutes. It’s about the members of a wealthy family gathering to celebrate the parents’ wedding anniversary at their isolated country home. For this opening sequence (apart from the pre-title slammer that clues everyone in that they’re actually in the right theater for a horror movie) this might be an American remake of the Danish The Celebration. Family tensions and buried animosities are hinted at, relationships are strained, and dark family secrets are hinted at—and then an arrow whizzes through a window. The actors are uniformly solid—apart from West and Swanberg, who have proven their chops in films of their own and others, everyone brings more to their roles than the average horror movie cast could dream of. Apart from indie horror mainstay AJ Bowen [House ORe-Animator,f The Devil, The Signal], also look for a very handsome-looking Barbara Crampton [ for cryin’ out loud] as the family’s troubled matriarch. There are some twists, some smart fake-outs, and some creative nastiness, plus every horror movie could do with a strong , strapping Aussie female lead. Seriously, Sharni Vinson is like a Zoe Bell who can act. Again—good horror movie! It’s like a Videoport national holiday.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests A Decade Under The Influence (in Documentary Arts.) For a variety of reasons, the 1970s were the last time that movie studios actually put their muscle behind independent filmmakers. Sure, every once in a while these days a studio-proclaimed “indie film” will get some press, but that’s just marketing. In the 70s, actual studios put actual money and actual creative control in the hands of some truly independent-minded directors, resulting in the all-too-brief flowering of a genuine American movie renaissance. And sure, guys like Michael Cimino (Heaven’s Gate) came along and used that indulgence to ruin everything for the rest of us, but at the time, the decade became home to what is easily the greatest period of American cinema, with directors like Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Bob Rafelson, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, William Friedkin, John Cassavetes, Paul Mazursky, Sidney Lumet, Peter Bogdanavich, Monte Hellman, and pre-bloat Steven Spielberg and George Lucas producing dozens of the best films you should rent from us at Videoport right now. Let’s run down a partial list, shall we: The Godfather I&II, Taxi Driver, Five Easy Pieces, Two Lane Blacktop, Harold And Maude, Coming Home, The Exorcist, Sorcerer, THX1138, Duel, Jaws, Dog Day Afternoon, Bob + Carol + Ted + Alice, Nashville, The Long Goodbye, Serpico, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Easy Rider, Klute, Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, Husbands, A Woman Under The Influence, MASH, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, The Friends Of Eddie Coyle, Chinatown, The Last Picture Show, The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, California Split, Thieves Like Us, and on and on. What do they all have in common? Well, they’re all in the top tier of the best American films of all time. And they’re all covered in A Decade Under The Influence, Ted Demme and Richard LaGravenese’s compelling documentary which seeks to explore the reasons why conservative Hollywood suddenly started throwing money at the eccentric, singular visions of some scruffy independent directors. Rent it and come out with a list of great movies you are gonna have to rent. And, of course, Videoport has them all…

New Releases this week at Videoport: Captain Phillips (Barkhad Abdi is nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this purportedly gripping tale of an American ship hijacked by Somali pirates; oh, and Tom Hanks is nominated for Best Actor blue_jasmine_ver2and I guess the film itself is nominated for Best Picture as well…), Blue Jasmine (the ever-stunning Cate Blanchett stars in this latest Woody Allen movie about an oblivious society dame who goes to impose on her working class sister after her financier husband gets busted for being a Bernie Madoff-style scam artist; costarring the typical Woody amazing cast, including Louis CK, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Michael Stuhlbarg, and, um, Andre Dice Clay?), Machete Kills (Robert Rodriguez’ over-the-top grindhouse throwback action series continues with Danny Trejo returning as the blade-happy Machete, this time working for the man to take down a crime lord who plans to launch some sort of deadly space laser; with the Robert Rodriguez version of a Woody Allen cast: Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, Michelle Rodriguez, Walton Goggins, Lady Gaga, Tom Savini, and Cuba Gooding Jr.), Instructions Not Included (this Mexican comedy drama about a single dad whose happy relationship with the daughter left on his doorstep is threatened hen her birth mother shows up is one of the most successful Mexican films in US box office history; it’s also supposed to be very good ), In A World (great buzz around this indie dramedy about a female voiceover artist [the cool Lake Bell from Childrens Hospital, who also write and directed] trying to break into the competitive movie trailer game), Bad Milo! (horror comedy starring certified cool people Ken Marino [The State, Wet Hot American Summer] and Gillian Jacobs [Community] about a guy who has weird stomach problems…which are…unusual…and…oh, hell, it’s a butt demon!), Bullet In The Face- The Complete Series (remember that 80s TV cop-parody series Sledge Hammer!? well, it was weird and funny, and so is this new crime parody from the same creator, this time about a psychotic criminal who finds himself working for the cops and shooting people, possibly in the face), Sunlight Jr. (Matt Dillon and Naomi Watts strap on their designer poor-people clothes to play a subsistence-level Florida couple in this indie drama; from the director of Sherrybaby), Best Man Down (a newlywed couple [Justin Long and Jess Weixler] rush home from their honeymoon to attend the funeral of their party animal best man, who dropped dead after the wedding celebrations), The Prey (French action thriller about a convicted bank robber who busts out of prison in order to protect his family when his former cellmate turns out to be a serial killer), Adore (Naomi Watts and Robin Wright play two friends who each start affairs with each others’ grown sons in this mother-kissin’ drama), Straight A’s (Ryan Phillipe, Anna The-Prey-2011-Movie-Poster-600x889Paquin and Luke Wilson star in this drama about an addict who, after the death of his mother, returns to the family he abandoned), Detective De Luca (Italian TV detective series about an honest cop in Fascist WWII Italy—Videoport customers Adore_posterhave been totally getting into foreign TV lately [Borgen, Wallander, Lilyhammer, Spiral], so we brought in a new one! You’re welcome!)DeLuca-MHz

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