Volume CDXLIV- 2014: The Year Indie Video Stores Became Ironically Cool Again
For the Week of 2/18/14
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Who else is gonna do that for you? No one, 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’s own Samuel James suggests Homicide: Life On The Street (in Mystery/Thriller). Now, let’s say there was a TV show in which Jake Gyllenhal, Paul Giamatti, Robin Williams, Steve Buscemi, Luis Guzman, Michael Peña, James Earl Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Wallace Shawn, Amy Ryan and Alfrie Woodard all guest starred. Now, let’s say that this show is also a gritty, cop show with an ensemble cast that includes Melissa Leo, Ned Beatty and Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s very own Andre Braugher. And let’s also say this show is a precursor to The Wire, from the same creators, also set in Baltimore. And finally, just for the sake of wonderment let’s also say that there are seven seasons of this show packed with clever lines, an ever graying morality and perpetual character development. Well, if you haven’t guessed by now this show is very real. It’s called Homicide: Life on the Street. Do yourself a f*ckin’ favor and just watch it. You’ll love it. Or I’ll hate you forever. Also, the show takes place in the same universe as Law & Order with two cross-over episodes. This show is also a huge part of the Westphall Universe. Nerd sh*t. Google it. 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 In The Heat Of The Night (in Classics.) There is so much to enjoy about this movie, and its place in history as the thing that truly cemented Sidney Poitier’s place can’t be denied. Plus, it pissed off soooo many of the right people at the time that it makes me giddy thinking about the sweaty bigots fuming in their seats. But none of that can take away from how damned enjoyable the movie is. Poitier’s the chief attraction, of course, with his still-unparalleled cool rattling the cages of southern rednecks simply by virtue of how unwilling he is to even acknowledge that he’s not the smartest man in any room. But don’t disregard Rod Steiger’s stellar comic work as the small town sheriff who unwillingly becomes Poitier’s Virgil Tibbs’ sidekick. Constantly chewing gum as forcefully as he chews his lines, and the scenery, Steiger’s Chief Gillespie is a hoot. The scene where Gillespie calls in his grinning deputy (Warren Oates) and baits him into realizing his mistake arresting Tibbs with a “Yeah! Ohhhh, yeah!!” is a thing of beauty. (Videoport’s Sam and I occasionally get the shared giggles just thinking about it.) Plus, you get to see Tibbs slap a rich old racist in his face. Good times…
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 checking out The Worst People In The World ! Staring with Seinfeld (in Comedy.) Callous, careless, and unsympathetic characters: the sitcom world is full of them. Most shows restrain themselves to one truly repellent character who is nonetheless welcomed and/or just barely tolerated by the lovable rag-tag bunch of protagonists with whom we’re supposed to identify. But a handful of shows go all in on the unlovability, making up a whole ensemble of characters you love to hate. Some let the loathing develop slowly, creeping in on you as the seasons accumulate. “Seinfeld” capitalized on this gradual dawning realization: at first, Jerry, Elaine, and George seem like Everyperson sitcom archetypes trapped in the daily conundrums we all grapple with. (Kramer? Not so much.) But as the series continued, always cleaving to the show’s guiding principle of “no learning, no hugging,” the callous, selfish nature of the characters became undeniable, as does the wake of sometimes life-ruining damage they leave wherever they go. Let’s see, just off the top of my head: Jerry mugs a frail old woman for her marble rye; by falsifying a physical disability, George fraudulent obtains a job, special office equipment and facilities, and a custom Rascal scooter from an employer enthusiastically pursuing Equal Opportunity hiring practices; Jerry allows a half-drowned man to wait unassisted while he and Newman bicker over which of them will perform the necessary resuscitation; Elaine retaliates against a germaphobe co-worker’s apparent dislike by rubbing her behind, tongue, and armpits on the woman’s possessions; Jerry, who has zero restaurant-business acumen, persuades the owner of a neighborhood restaurant to abandon his eclectic menu and decor in favor of an all-Pakistani menu, a move which bankrupts Babu’s Bhatt’s restaurant; later, Jerry and Elaine’s dilatory sorting of Jerry’s mail kept Babu’s misdelivered visa papers from reaching him and ended in his deportation; George pushes down children and elderly guests in his haste to escape what he thought was a kitchen fire; Elaine blackmails a local restaurateur after stumbling across his secret soup recipes, driving him out of business and depriving all New Yorkers of his unparalleled soups; after crashing a weekend getaway to which he was not invited (and bringing along Jerry’s girlfriend, whom Kramer is clearly romancing), Kramer burns down George’s girlfriend’s family cabin with a carelessly laid cigar.
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 continues her survey of The Worst People In The World! With It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (in Comedy.) The Gang – Charlie, Mac, Sweet Dee, Dennis, and Frank – are more than just absently selfish. They’re steeped in depraved indifference spiced with fierce cupidity on every front. Every episode finds them hatching a new scheme to feed their acquisitive or self-aggrandizing or just plain lustful natures, and often playing back-alley games to sell each other out. Their greed is matched only by their imaginative ignorance and hunger for vengeance. Sweet Dee, an aspiring actress who specializes in racist caricatures, has the unpromising traits of being completely bereft of talent and compulsively drawn to the spotlight to the exclusion of all human kindness. Her brother Dennis is a predatory womanizer who will say – or, the terrifying implication lurks in the subtext of his lines, do – anything to get his targets into bed. Their father-or-whatever, Frank, considers himself the group’s master manipulator and frequently delights in screwing over his kids by playing them against each other. Mac uses his theologically confused religious beliefs primarily as a cudgel to shame others or to distract himself and his friends from his own not-super-Bible-y sexual urges. Charlie Kelly is the closest thing the show has to heart, but Charlie’s weird mix of idiocy and selfishness might best be summed up by his relationship to the woman he persistently, stalkerishly insists is his true love, and whom he knows only by the not-remotely-a-name of Waitress.
>>>Dennis suggests Silent House (in Horror). A brisk, economical, pretty effective little horror flick. That might not sound like the highest praise (and it’s not), but for horror fans starving on a diet of the absolute crap the horror genre churns out, this movie was decidedly a treat. For one thing, it’s got the up-and-coming Elizabeth Olsen [Martha Marcy May Marlene] as a troubled young woman trapped in her family’s dilapidated summer house. Even though she’s the younger sister of the ubiquitously untalented Olsen twins, Elizabeth is undeniably very good, and she takes the “female victim” role to some impressive places. Plus, the film, before a final revelation which sort of sucks the life out of the terror, has a nice, nimble sense of shocks, and the “real time” conceit keeps things humming along with welcome economy. As horror fans, we seize on above-average horror flicks like this in a second.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer concludes her tour of The Worst People In The World! with the ladies of Absolutely Fabulous (in British Comedy.) Patsy and Edina do like to have a good time! Well, once in a while. Mostly they seem to pursue their dried-up pleasures in a viciously small, empty world smothered in bickering, insults, and alcohol fumes. Edina’s something of a dilettante; she uses drugs, drink, and a never-ending series of shopping jaunts to feed her ego and deny her constant fear of aging. Patsy, on the other hand, is heading toward rock bottom as if there’s a prize hidden down there, diving headfirst into dissolution and depravity with an appetite for disaster. Her past is so chequered that she’s blocked out most of it, but retains enough sordid detail to make a little extra cash in a spot of blackmail here and there. Edina’s utter reckless irresponsibility keeps her level-headed daughter Saffron busy supporting her mother emotionally and financially. Since Patsy leeches her meager survival off Edina, that means she’s another of Saffron’s dependents, a kindness for which Patsy repays her with alternating scathing jibes and cold indifference.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Skin I Live In (in Foreign Language.) There’s no director working today who gives lie to the idea that you have to get worse as you get older more than Pedro Almodovar. In 20 features over 30 years, Almodovar has done nothing but get better, his signature mixture of melodrama, strong roles for women, kinky sex, outrageous comedy, and sumptuous visuals honed to an almost delirious perfection. I recommend literally every one of his films, but, having just recently seen The Skin I Live In (2011), I’ll go all gushy about this one. (I can’t tell you much without spoiling the hell out of the film—which only a Hitler would do—but I’ll give you the broad strokes.) The film centers on reclusive millionaire plastic surgeon Antonio Banderas (never better—or sexier—than when he works with Almodovar) who, at his remote mansion/clinic, dedicates his every attention to one mysterious patient (the luminous Elena Anaya) who he keeps under constant surveillance in a locked room with the help of his dedicated, severe housekeeper (Almodovar regular Marisa Paredes). And that’s where I’ll leave off with the specifics (again—I’m not Hitler), except to say that here Almodovar incorporates elements of Eyes Without A Face, Frankenstein, and the early films of David Cronenberg. In fact, I’d describe this as Almodovar’s homage to the Canadian master of body horror—only if Cronenberg wasn’t repelled by the human body but, like Almodovar, madly in love with it. Twists, kinks, the occasional very disturbing thing I can’t tell you about, outstanding performances—this is just a great movie.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Game Of Thrones- season 3 (you may have heard of this little HBO show, so…ATTACK!!!—I mean, call us at 773-1999 to reserve what you want…for the foreseeable future) Nurse Jackie- season 5 (Edie Falco is back as the pill-popping, no-crap-taking titular nurse in this dark comedy), Afternoon Delight (the very funny Kathryn Hahn [Parks and Recreation, Step Brothers] stars in this indie dramedy about a bored wife whose impulsive decision to take her husband to a strip club to spice up their sex life leads to her hiring stripper Juno Temple to be her nanny), Underbelly- season 1 (Videoport brings in the rest of this infamous Australian crime series! You’re welcome!), The Armstrong Lie (documentary about Lance Armstrong…who is even worse than you imagined, apparently…), Revenge For Jolly (check out Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section for this dark comedy about a guy recruiting his hitman cousin to find out who killed his dog; great cast, including Oscar Isaac [Inside Llewyn Davis], Kristen Wiig, Elijah Wood, Garret Dillahunt, and Kevin Corrigan), Wadja (acclaimed Saudi Arabian film about an independent 10 year old girl who defies her country’s Neanderthal ideas about women in order to get the money to buy the bicycle of her dreams), Tiger Eyes (Judy Blume fans—have we got a treat for you with this adaptation of Blume’s novel about a grieving young woman who falls in love with a hunky guy with pretty eyes), Barracuda (sleazy thriller about a phone sex operator who decides that all those men she’s accepting money from in order for them to talk out their fantasies need to be exposed for liking sex. So she sets out on a not-at-all-insane cross country odyssey to make their lives miserable!), On The Job (Filipino crime thriller about the corrupt practice of releasing convicted killers from prison in order to loan them out as contract killers for high-ranking politicians), Sake-Bomb (indie comedy about a sarcastic Japanese-American guy who takes his naive Japanese cousin across country to find his girlfriend), One (if you liked the new movie Rush [about people who drive Formula One cars really fast], then check out this documentary, narrated by Michael Fassbender, about the actual people who drove Formula One cars really fast), Mr. Angel (documentary about the titular Buck Angel, transgender activist and porn pioneer)
New Blu-Rays At Videoport: Game Of Thrones- season 3, The Americans- season 1, All Is Lost, Wadja,
Free money at Videoport! Come and get it!!!
Seriously. Not a joke, people. This is not a drill. Anytime you want, you can get either 5 or 10 free bucks in rental credit at Videoport. Put $20 down on your Videoport account, and you’ll see it magically transformed into $25 worth of rental credit. And, if you’re feeling especially spendy/smart, $30 will buy you $40 worth of credit. (Which you would have spent at Videoport anyway, since we’re so great and you’re so intelligent.) There’s no down side to this deal, people. Come get your free money.
Be nice to our DVDs. Seriously.
There’s literally nothing we here at Videoport obsess about more than the health and safety of our precious movies. It’s our crusade, our raison d’etre—it’s given us nightmares, and made us wake up in cold sweats. As a small, independent video store, you might say that the safety of our movies is the most important thing in our jobs. So, when someone—not you, dear reader, never you—returns a movie that is: scratched up, smeared with prints, bearing water spots (at least we hope it’s water), etc, you might understand our skepticism at the “it was like that when I got it” lip service we often get. Like, super-skeptical. Look, sometimes a DVD won’t work right—anyone who claims differently is lying. But we here at Videoport clean every disc that goes out, buff any disc that has scratches on it, and basically treat our precious movies better than you do your (or we, our) kids. So, if you wanna lessen our night-sweats, and help Videoport out:
1. Never touch the shiny side of a DVD,
2. Never leave a DVD out of its case.
3. Don’t let kids handle our DVDs.
4. Get a real DVD player—computers stink at playing DVDs.
5. See 1-4. We love you. Don’t touch the shiny side.