Volume CDXLVIII- 2014: The Year Videoport Kicks Ass And Chews Bubble Gum (And We’re All Out Of Bubble Gum)
For the Week of 3/18/14
Videoport give you a free movie every single day. Yes, even on that day. You know the one.
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!
>>> Dennis continues his tour of forgotten 70s thrillers with The Black Marble (in Mystery/Thriller). It was actually released in 1980, but just go with it. It’s one of the benefits of an indie video store that it’s packed full of hidden, eccentric treasures. This quirky cop flick pretty much fits defines that description. Directed by the always sort-of-interesting Harold Becker (Sea Of Love, The Onion Field, City Hall), the film follows drunken, sentimental LA copper Robert Foxworth as he works his bleary way through a missing dog case, copes with the trauma of his recently-deceased partner’s death, and tries to keep peace with his new partner, a fast-talking, no-nonsense lady cop played by the ever-entertaining Paula Prentiss. It’s a—pardon me—shaggy dog sort of cop flick, with the plot livened up by the oddball details and off-center character performances. As the villain of the piece, we’ve got the great Harry Dean Stanton, playing his signature role—a seedy, drunken lowlife in over his head. A dog groomer in debt to gamblers, Stanton hatches a dognapping plot, stealing the prize schnauzer of a seemingly wealthy middle aged lady. Investigating this dog—sorry again—of a case, Foxworth ends up sort of smitten with the lady and, convinced there’s more to the case, all the while trying to keep from passing out and/or being drummed out of the force by his by-the-book partner. Similar to films like The Long Goodbye, The Late Show, Harper, and others, the film rides along on its own cockeyed path. Foxworth, with his unkempt mustache, bleary clarity, and unexpectedly romantic soul is the chief asset, a weary, odd, and deceptively astute cop with a poet’s heart. Stanton exudes his particular bland of menace and hangdog pathos. And Prentiss, in one of her intermittent forays into pictures, remains one of the most formidably funny and alive presences in screen history. Never happy in Hollywood, Prentiss has retired any number of times, robbing us all of innumerable unique and exciting performances. Here, her “hardass who inevitably softens up” role might seem trite, but, as ever, Prentiss makes something more out of it than you’d expect. Sometimes you just want something good, and weird, that you haven’t seen before.
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 Dial M For Murder (in Mystery/Thriller, but it’s totally a classic, so we’ll count it.) Always one of my least favorite Hitchcock movies (I mean, it’s in the middle of the pack, but at least it’s not Topaz), I have recently watched this stagy murder mystery about ten times. Against my will? Maybe—but it was for the good reason that the lovely and talented Ms. Emily S. Customer was researching this typically brilliant article soon to be published somewhere other than the VideoReport. (Traitorous? Maybe—just because she got paid and stuff…) You should read it (keep checking http://the-toast.net/)—and be thankful she’s still slumming it with the likes of us. I still might not like the movie (I don’t) but she made it seem a lot more interesting than I thought.
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 you give a genre shows a chance. I watch (and recommend) a lot of genre shows, which means I hear a lot of flat rejections: “Oh, I don’t watch horror” – or sci-fi, or gangster shows, or fantasy. But if you’re dismissing entire swathes of entertainment out of hand, you never find out what you’re missing, and that’s a shame. Genre entertainment not only gives creators a place to play out familiar fantasies and story tropes; it often offers them a bastion to explore topical or cultural ideas that audiences (or producers) can’t stomach when interpreted literally. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” tells the truth that too many teenagers know, and most adults pretend to have forgotten: high school is Hell, and just managing to survive each day, each lunchroom bullying, each emotionally-fraught Homecoming Dance, each thwarted first kiss, can feel like the act of a hero. Tony Soprano, the mob boss with the mother complex, a man who destroys the lives of strangers and friends alike while persuading himself he’s a good guy, was inspired by David Simon’s guilt over the necessity to move his own mother into a nursing home. “Battlestar Galactica” provided its writers with a venue to discuss the specters of war and terrorism (and the concomitant social anxieties that drive citizen to imagine terrorism lurks in the most innocent places) without explicitly connecting those stories to contemporary conflicts. Genre shows give creators and writers a little breathing room, a chance to push metaphors of character and situation beyond the mundane and into the transcendent.
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 checking in with all the Best Supporting Actress Oscar winners at Videoport! Supporting actor awards are a treasure trove of weirdness. Unlike the whitebread predictability of the best actor/actress awards, the supporting categories are where Oscar voters tend to get a little more whimsical, and so you’re more likely to find some overlooked gems there. A one-scene wonder here, a super death scene there, or—gasp!—even an Oscar for being funny. Plus, some of these people were never heard from again! Check out the best supporting actresses (in chronological order):
- Alice Brady (In Old Chicago)
- Fay Bainter (Jezebel)
- Hattie McDaniel (Gone With The Wind—not allowed to attend the Oscars because she’s black and people are the worst)
- Jane Darwell (The Grapes Of Wrath)
- Teresa Wright (Mrs. Miniver)
- Katina Paxinou (For Whom The Bell Tolls)
- Anne Revere (National Velvet)
- Anne Baxter (The Razor’s Edge)
- Celeste Holm (Gentleman’s Agreement)
- Claire Trevor (Key Largo)
- Mercedes McCambridge (All The King’s Men)
- Josephine Hull (Harvey)
- Kim Hunter (A Streetcar Named Desire)
- Gloria Grahame (The Bad And The Beautiful)
- Donna Reed (From Here To Eternity)
- Eva Marie Saint (On The Waterfront)
- Jo Van Fleet (East Of Eden)
- Dorothy Malone (Written On The Wind)
- Wendy Hiller (Separate Tables)
- Shelley Winters (The Diary Of Anne Frank)
- Shirley Jones (Elmer Gantry)
- Rita Moreno (West Side Story)
- Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker)
- Lila Kedrova (Zorba The Greek(
- Shelley Winters (A Patch Of Blue)
- Sandy Dennis (Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?)
- Estelle Parsons (Bonnie And Clyde)
- Ruth Gordon (Rosemary’s Baby)
- Goldie Hawn (Cactus Flower)
- Helen Hayes (Airport)
- Cloris Leachman (The Last Picture Show)
- Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon)
- Ingrid Bergman (Murder On The Orient Express)
- Lee Grant (Shampoo)
- Beatrice Straight (Network)
- Vanessa Redgrave (Julia)
- Maggie Smith (California Suite)
- Meryl Streep (Kramer vs. Kramer)
- Mary Steenburgen (Melvin & Howard)
- Maureen Stapleton (Reds)
- Jessica Lange (Tootsie)
- Linda Hunt (The Year Of Living Dangerously)
- Peggy Ashcroft (A Passage To India)
- Anjelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor)
- Diane Wiest (Hannah And Her Sisters)
- Olympia Dukakis (Moonstruck)
- Geena Davis (The Accidental Tourist)
- Brenda Fricker (My Left Foot)
- Whoopi Goldberg (Ghost)
- Mercedes Ruehl (The Fisher King)
- Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny)
- Anna Paquin (The Piano)
- Diane Wiest (Bullets Over Broadway)
- Mira Sorvino (Mighty Aphrodite)
- Juliette Binoche (The English Patient)
- Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential)
- Judi Dench (Shakespeare In Love)
- Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted)
- Marcia Gay Harden (Pollock)
- Jennifer Connelly (A Beautiful Mind)
- Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)
- Renee Zellweger (Cold Mountain)
- Cate Blanchett (The Aviator)
- Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener)
- Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)
- Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton)
- Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona)
- Mo’Nique (Precious)
- Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
- Octavia Spencer (The Help)
- Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables)
- Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years A Slave)
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>> It’s a free movie! It’s for kids! Or kids at heart! Only a monster would deny a free movie to the children! A monster, I say!
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! >>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests RawFaith (in Documentary). A synopsis of RawFaith sounds like the sort of nice, well-meaning inspirational story that secretly makes peoples’ eyes glaze over—the true life tale of a Maine family’s dream of building a ship in order to take disabled people on sea cruises. Instead, Gregory Roscoe’s compelling film recalls nothing so much as a Maine version of a Werner Herzog film, where a man becomes obsessed with an eccentric dream which brings him too close to the inherent dangers of nature, and risks losing literally everything to his quest. Specifically, the decade-long journey of electrical engineer-turned self-taught shipbuilder George McKay recalls Herzog’s film “Fitzcarraldo,” in which a man with a seemingly impossible dream attempts to haul an enormous steamship over a rainforest mountain. In “RawFaith,” George McKay sells his home and enlists his family in a quixotic plan to build a massive, fully functional replica of a three-masted galleon in order to take handicapped people and their families on ocean voyages. Working for years on a roadside in Addison, Maine alongside his three sons, his wife, and his daughter (who’s afflicted with Marfan’s Syndrome), McKay, touting the knowledge gathered from “a couple dozen books,” indeed created the RawFaith, a 118 foot long, 300 ton behemoth. Which is impressive—even if the RawFaith would never win any beauty contests. Or inspire any confidence whatsoever in anyone who saw it. Lovingly, awkwardly hammered together from castoff lumber and slathered with tar and George’s steadfast dreams, the ship, looking like something castaways cobbled together to escape a desert isle, was finally launched in 2003. The launching, like nearly everything involved in the ship’s career, provokes in the viewer a mix of admiration, elation, and intense anxiety that the all-around ramshackle enterprise will come crashing down on the heads of the McKay family. That ambivalence permeates the film, with harbormasters, Coast Guard officials, and, gradually, even the members of George McKay’s family expressing their respect for what the man has accomplished, alongside a growing unease with McKay’s single-minded, and often unfathomable fixation on making the RawFaith what he dreamed it would be. Over ten years, we see the idealistic George McKay change, hardening in his approach to his family, bristling at the quite reasonable concerns and regulations of maritime officials, and introducing talk of God’s will and Satan’s obstacles to his mission’s narrative. Eventually driving away even the one son who sailed with him for years as his only crew, McKay rails against what he considers his family’s abandonment with a sad, suppressed rage that’s both affecting—and alienating. To Fitzcarraldo, add elements of King Lear, Noah, and Ahab. This level of emotional complexity is very impressive—as George McKay’s decade-long odyssey reaches what seems its inevitable conclusion, what began as an unapologetic celebration of one man’s eccentric dream becomes instead the gripping tale of what happens when monomaniacal passion clashes with the needs of others—and the unforgiving sea.
Reprinted from Dennis’ review in the Portland Press Herald.
>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests watching locally-set films in the comfort of your own home. I was living in central Maine when I saw In the Bedroom, a Maine-set thriller/family drama. Sitting directly ahead of me in the theater was a woman of almost impossible age and, I’m guessing, her mother, who spent the entire film switching (in voices that would have seemed loud in a small party) between complaints about the geography of the film and “Who’s he, now?” At the end of the first act, I murmured to my friend “I just can’t” and gestured to indicate I was moving a few rows back. At the height of the film’s tension, I heard a screech arise from 6 rows forward as the impossibly old woman’s impossibly old mother pointed out “YOU CAN’T DRIVE THAT WAY DOWN THAT ROAD!” Ironic afterword: I had so much trouble smothering my laughter that I was afraid I would get kicked out for disturbing other movie-goers.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Frozen (FROZEN! Everyone is crazy about Frozen! My niece will not stop talking about Frozen! No one’s niece will stop talking about Frozen! Frozen!! [Call 773-1999 to reserve one for the near future…]), American Hustle (Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Jenifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, and Jeremy Renner lead the all-star cast in this Oscar-nominated, 1970s-set conman flick directed by the ever-interesting David O/ Russell; everyone seems to love this one, although Videoport’s Regan says it just made her want to watch Boogie Nights again; hey—why not take both for a 70s hairstyle and sleaze double feature!), Saving Mr. Banks (Tom Hanks and Emma Thompsons star in this sanitized “true story” about the difficult task Walt Disney faced in convincing crotchety author P.L. Travers to let her Mary Poppins books be adapted by the Disney family movie machine), Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom (Idris Elba as Nelson Mandela sounds like the most ideal casting in the world, so I’m on board for this biopic about the late, great South African leader), Kill Your Darlings (Daniel Radcliffe continues to try and put that little wizard fella behind him, this time essaying the role of legendary poet Alan Ginsberg in a biopic about the author’s relationships with the likes of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs), Reasonable Doubt (thriller about hotshot district attorney Dominic Cooper who kills a guy in a hit-and-run and then—shocker!—finds himself in charge of the prosecution of Samuel L. Jackson who is charged with the crime that he himself committed; I’m sure this sort of thing happens all the time…), Contracted (interesting [and gross]-looking indie horror film about a troubled young woman whose ill-advised sexual encounter has some seriously unexpected bodily consequences), Swerve (indie neo-noir about a guy who, happening upon an accident, a pretty woman, a dead guy, and a suitcase full o’ cash, tries to keep it all—I’m sure it works out fine…), Atlantis-season 1 (fantasy series about a guy washing up in the sword-and-sorcery capital of the ancient world)
New Arrivals at Videoport this week: The Robe (Richard Burton starred in this 1953 Biblical epic about a Roman tribune who inherits Christ’s garment and finds his life changed; can you guess what garment it was???)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks