VideoReport #441

Volume CDXLI- 2014: The Year Everyone Realized Independent Video Stores Are Where Are The Cool Kids Get Their Movies

For the Week of 1/28/14

Videoport gives you a free movie every, single day. 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 says: In honor of discovering that current theatrical-release big-budget schlockfest I, Frankenstein will follow you on Twitter for mentioning it even in jest, I suggest a handful of movies and shows to rent [instead of/in addition to] I, Frankenstein. For Monday, it’s Ken Russell’s Gothic (in Horror.) During the long sunless summer of 1816, young Mary Shelley (née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) and her lover, Percy Bysshe Shelley, paid a visit to his dear friend Lord Byron in exile on the shore of Switzerland’s Lake Geneva. Over the course of this visit (and inspired by the ghost stories they took turns reading aloud), the assembled guests, all writers of some kind, undertook a friendly competition: each would write a ghastly tale to entertain and horrify their fellows. This contest is famously the event that spurred Shelley to write her iconic Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Ken Russell’s Gothic tells a fictionalized account of this visit, reducing it to a brief and harrowing weekend of the dissipation and debauchery for which Lord Byron was infamous, packed with laudanum guzzling, scantily-clad chases through a dank manor, and all steeped in lascivious innuendo. The film heaves with excess and imagery, and it’s either chomping great fun or crassly off-putting, depending on your temperament. (For me, it’s both.) But I can’t find fault with the performances: Natasha Richardson made her film debut as the ingenuous Mary Shelley, Julian Sands plays Percy with an odd combination of sleepy-eyed wonder and schoolboy zeal, Miriam Cyr is beguiling as Mary’s “cousin” (factually, her stepsister) Claire Clairmont, and Timothy Spall’s Dr. Polidori, leech enthusiast and literary lapdog, is indelible. But it’s Gabriel Byrne who carries this film on his capable shoulder, investing Lord Byron with every ounce of louche charm and repulsive assurance, making every facet of the character shine and shade as bright-and-dark as the sky in a thunderstorm.

>>>Piehead’s Emily-in-law recommends Pacific Rim (in Sci Fi/Fanatsy.) Charlie Hunnam’s American accent is really, really just not good.  Lucky thing for him that he’s sort of hot. And Idris Elba – his entire dialogue seems to consist of yelling; and for some reason they made him use a weird British accent that makes him sound like he’s an American actor doing a bad British accent (even though he’s actually British).  What’s the deal with the bad accent motif?  Oh, AND, I can’t tell if that guy is Joseph Gordon-Leavitt or he just looks eerily like JGL. It’s like it’s him but its not quite him. I suppose I could check the interwebs but not knowing is somehow funner. (BTW, it’s not him).  But despite all that this a totally fun movie!  And if you assume by looking at the cover that it’s actually another Transformers movie (which I did… duh), it’s so not.  It was directed by the ever-amazing Guillermo del Toro and I absolutely loved how he brought the whole Japanese monster movie sensibility into it with the requisite balance of drama and humor.  I will admit that the plot points are all a bit silly but damn if the spellbinding, edge-o-your-seat robot vs. subterranean alien monster scenes aren’t worth the price of admission.  Hey, what a great segue!  The “price of admission” for renting this film from your friendly Videoport store could be nothin’ if you so choose.  What?? Ok, it’s true.  They have a rent-one-get-one-free option pretty much always!  And if you put 20 bucks credit on your account, they will give you even more credit… for… free.  I know, it’s hard to grasp. Just take a breath and try to absorb the magnificence that is the land of Videoport.  Want to see the Turkish remake/mash-up of “Star Wars”? Or have the opportunity to discuss with a live, friendly human being the best lines from MST3K and discover that they actually know what you’re talking about?  Of course you do.

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!

>>>Free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit on your account. $30 buys you $40! You would be crazy not to do this!

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 Young Frankenstein (in Comedy.) Even I, who am iffy-to-uncomfortable about Mel Brooks’ oeuvre, must salute the marvel that is Young Frankenstein. The film revels in loving parody, which is only enriched by the authenticity of its aesthetics. The crisp, luscious black & white, the midcentury costumes, and the period sets perfectly recreate the look and feel of Universal’s classic monster movies – in some cases, literally; Brooks was able to rent the original electric apparatus used for James Whale’s Frankenstein from the engineer who created it. The perfections of the film are too many to count: Gene Wilder (and his wild shock of hair) as Frederick Frankenstein (“It’s pronounced Frahnkenschteen.” “You’re putting me on.”); the unparelleled Madeleine Kahn as Frederick’s chilly fiancée, Elizabeth; Marty Feldman’s rolling eyeballs as he humps his way along drafty, dusty corridors; Cloris Leachman as the sinister chatelaine, Frau Blücher; Peter Boyle creaking, groaning, and side-eyeing his way through his role as The Creature. But this is much more than a slapsticky rip on an enduring tale; Young Frankenstein displays an endearing fondness for its source material even as it upends the dramatic tropes of Frankenstein films past.

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 Gods And Monsters (in Feature Drama.) James Whale, the director of Universal’s iconic Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, flouted the dictates and strictures of polite society, refusing to repress or hide his homosexuality despite a culture and career most inhospitable to it – and, eventually, to him. Gods and Monsters stars Sir Ian McKellan as Whale in his last days, Brendan Fraser as Clayton Boone, the young gardener Whale ushers into his life and his home, and Lynn Redgrave as the stern housekeeper who defends and chides Whale in equal measure. The Oscar-winning screenplay was adapted by director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls, Kinsey) from Christopher Bram’s 1995 novel Father of Frankenstein, and the whole film has a sometimes sweet, sometimes salty nostalgia that never goes where you think it will.

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests X-Files “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” S5 ep 5. It’s a stand-alone Monster of the Week episode, so don’t worry about finding your place in the long-arc mythology of “The X-Files.” Just sit back and let it wash over you. Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) arrive in rural Indiana to investigate reports of a disfigured person or creature (witnesses are both fuzzy and, well, unkind in their descriptions) roaming the area, impregnating unconscious women. The assailant resembles The Great Mutato, a comic-book protagonist created by the grown son of one such woman based on townspeople’s descriptions of their encounters. Bring in the local hubristic mad scientist (every town has one, right? APPARENTLY SO), Dr. Pollidorri, and let’s see the sparks fly. Literally, right? I mean, this is a Frankenstein allusion. Speaking of Frankenstein allusions, “The Post-Modern Prometheus” is filmed in glorious black & white in homage to the great James Whale Frankenstein films of the ‘30s.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Gargoyles. So there are gargoyles in this nonsense Frankenstein movie? WHATEVER. For a proper tale of gargoyles, you gotta go to the 90s series “Gargoyles,” which features… well, y’know, gargoyles. When a jillionaire purchases a Scottish castle and has it rebuilt, stone by stone, atop a New York skyscraper, he unwittingly awakens the castle’s ancient gargoyles, who were turned to stone and doomed to remain so until the castle should soar above the clouds. HA, TAKE THAT, CURSE.

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Rocky Horror Picture Show (in Incredibly Strange.) An innocent young couple (Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick) are driving through ominous countryside when their car breaks down, stranding them and sending them search for help at a nearby estate. It’s a classic set-up, and RHPS delivers a classic plot… with a twist here and there. The nearby estate is staffed, as classic monster-movie grammar requires, by a taciturn handyman (Richard O’Brien) and wild-eyed maid. It’s owned by an urbane and welcoming scientist (Tim Curry) of dubious ethics (Patricia Quinn). And there is a most… interesting… experiment underway. But that’s very nearly the end of The Rocky Horror’s similarities to the classic monster movies of yore.

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests The Day After Tomorrow (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) The following is a dramatization of a conversation had with Videoport’s own Andy on New Year’s Day: Michelle: “We’re hung over and it’s cold out. Let’s watch a movie.” Andy: “You are a brilliant individual and all should read and respect your movie recommendations as seen in the Videoreport.” Michelle: “Behold! My movie collection! What would you like to watch?” Andy: “You know, I’ve actually never seen ‘Wet Hot American Summer’”? Michelle: “BLASPHEMY! I ABJURE THEE CREATURE OF DARKNESS LEST YOU WATCH THIS FILM IMMEDIATELY! Actually, I feel sort of weird watching a Summer movie in the Winter time.” Andy: “Well, do you have any movie where people are really cold and shiver all the time?” Michelle: “DO I EVER!” Thus commenced the viewing of The Day After Tomorrow where it was established that the title in this movie makes absolutely zero sense. At no point at all is there a timeline established where something significant will happen the day after tomorrow. It’s all like, in three weeks, or 3 days, or a few hours. My roomie Joe referred to it as “the movie where they run away from air”.  Despite these and many other criticisms, including how Jake Gyllenhaal at this point in his career looks far too old to be playing a High School teenager, it was agreed that the movie is still just dang entertaining. And with all these polar vortex shenanigans running amok I found it to be the perfect winter themed film to empty your brain of, well, pretty much everything.Your brain will be as pristine as freshly fallen snow.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (in Horror.) If you disdain the guttural moans and bleats of the classic movie Frankenstein’s monster and instead insist upon the eloquent Creature as Mary Shelly envisioned him, Kenneth Branagh’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the movie for you. In this ambitious if uneven epic, Doctor Frankenstein (Branagh) endows his resurrected man with his own mentor’s brain, but soon denounces and casts out his creation to seek his doom. But who among us will settle for such short shrift? Not you, not I, and not the innocent walking death that Frankenstein has brought forth from the world beyond. The film follows Shelley’s plot more faithfully than any other adaptation I’ve seen; though Branagh’s directing wasn’t yet up to the sweep and grandeur of this tale, it is gratifying for the pedants among us (AHEM) to see The Creature acting with the volition and intelligence that the original story envisioned.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Downton Abbey- season 4 (Videoport renter swarm!!!! You know, in a very British, stately, let’s have a cup o’ tea and GIVE IT TO ME!!!! sorta way…), Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2 (Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Terry Crews, Andy Samberg, Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, and a whole lot more funny people lend their voices to this animated sequel about sentient food), Rush (VROOOOM!!! Ahem—I mean this is Ron Howard’s rubber-burnin’ movie about the real life 1970s rivalry between two hotshot Formula One racecar drivers; Also, I can’t believe they just didn’t call this VROOOOM ), Last Vegas (old men trying to have sex are funny! At least that seems to be the premise of this comedy about a group of dapper senior citizens heading to Vegas for the bachelor party of their last single pal; starring the slumming Robert DeNiro, Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Douglas), Bad Grandpa (Jackass maven Johnny Knoxville dons some old age makeup, dragoons a foul-mouthed little kid into his service, and sets off on a Candid Camera roadtrip seeing how grossed out and embarrassed the sight of an old man farting can make people), Treme- season 4 (the last, five-episode season of this great, oft-overlooked series from the creator of The Wire about New Orleans after Katrina), The Fifth Estate (everyone’s undying, unquestioning affection for Benedict Cumberbatch was tested [and found wanting] in this biopic about Juian Assange, the shady, Bond villain-esque leader of the hacker group Wikileaks), House Of Bodies (Terrence Howard and Peter Fonda star in this serial killer thriller about a copycat killer who captures one of those ever-in-peril college co-eds kidnapped by a voyeuristic killer who puts her peril on those damned inter-nets), Big Bang (Korean crime thriller about a downtrodden husband who teams up with a street thug for a crime spree after his wife leaves him), Warriors Of The Yang Clan (Chinese epic drama about a Song Dynasty family who tend to solve their problems at sword-point), I Used To Be Darker (acclaimed Sundance indie drama about a young runaway who finds her supposed refuge with her troubled aunt and uncle in Baltimore is no oasis of safety), A Perfect Man (Liev Schrieber is a straying husband who finds himself falling back in love with his wife (Jeanne Tripplehorn] when she pretends to be another woman over the phone), Ass Ass-Backwards-Poster-001Backwards (a couple of very funny women [Casey Wilson, June Diane Raphael] star in this road comedy about a pair of friends who travel back to compete in the pageant that they didn’t win when they were younger; costarring the likes of Bob Odenkirk, Vincent D’Onofrio, Paul Scheer, and more]), Garibaldi’s Lovers (from the director of Bread And Tulips and Days And Clouds comes this Italian comedy drama about a widower falling for a penniless artist), Big Sur (another attempt to make a movie from a book by Jack Kerouac stars Jean-Marc Barr, Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, and Radha Mitchell), Comedy Bang Bang- season 1 (You should rent this great new faux talk show comedy show starring Scott Aukerman [Mr. Show] and Reggie Watts; because it’s funny—what more do you need?), Blue Caprice (acclaimed, disturbing movie about the real-life Washington DC snipers), Borgen- season 3 (this Danish political series has proven delightfully popular with you Videoporters—good work, gang!)

New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: The Dolls Of Lisbon and Anything Boys Can Do… (thanks to indie NYC filmmaker Ethan Minsker for sending Videoport these two of his DIY, artsy documentaries; The Dolls Of Lisbon should appeal to fans of Exit Through The Gift Shop, as Minsker creates a series of crude dolls, mails them to artists around the world, and waits for them to return suitably art-ed up; Anything Boys Can Do…is a portrait of some of the most outrageous female-fronted punk bands in the Big Apple), Lego Ninjago- season 1 (Lego Ninjas! Check the kids section!)

New Blu-Rays At Videoport: Captain Phillips, Blue Jasmine, Machete Kills, Riddick, The Spectacular Now, You’re Next, Fruitvale Station, Enough Said, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Fifth Estate, Last Vegas, Rush,

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