Volume CDLVI—Godzilla Is Real
For the Week of 5/13/14
Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Locally owned, independent, principled, awesome. Plus a free movie every day. Not too shabby…
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 suggests Fargo (in Mystery/Thriller). Of course everyone’s seen Fargo, the Coen Brothers’ near-perfect thriller set among the least-likely murderers the Midwest has to offer. I say near perfect, but I’m just hedging my bets—this is one of the best movies you’re ever going to see, a spellbinding, mystifying depiction of the mundane, commonplace evil that lurks even in the most placid faces. And the heroism. William H. Macy is the former, the stunning Frances McDormand the latter. Do yourself a favor and rent it if you haven’t seen it, or if you have. Then tune in to the new TV series Fargo on TV now. Now, there is no earthly reason why that show should work. Honestly, it sounded like the dumbest damned idea I’ve heard in a while—a “spiritual sequel” miniseries following another tangled mess of unlikely criminals and a dogged, unassuming lady cop who simply embodies the best of a certain aspect of the American character. It’s not the movie, and wisely doesn’t try to be, but it finds a way to evoke the film’s spirit. Neat trick. (Fargo the movie is on DVD. Fargo the TV show is not yet on DVD. Rent the movie—Videoport will have the show as soon as the DVD gods let us.)
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 The Loved One (in Classics.) Videoport just brought in this notorious 1965 comedy which bills itself as “The motion picture with something to offend everyone!” You’re welcome! Starring a fresh-faced Robert Morse (you know him best as the significantly less fresh-faced advertising weirdo Bert Cooper on Mad Men), this black comedy about the Hollywood funeral business has a batsh*t insane cast including Rod Steiger (as Mr. Joyboy!), John Gielgud, Dana Andrews, Roddy McDowall, Tab Hunter, James Coburn, Milton Berle and Liberace. The studio hated it, writer Evelyn Waugh (upon whose novella the film was loosely based) disowned it, and the public either ignored it or hated it with a passion. Today, it’s thought of as a cult classic. Again, you’re welcome! (And hey, we also just got another Rod Steiger classic The Pawnbroker on DVD. I smell a Rod Steiger Tuesday double feature!)
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 using the vaunted Videoport 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks special (Monday-Thursday) to make yourself happy by taking home a trio of DVDs of the funniest TV shows we’ve got. Take three of the same show, or one each of three shows—either way, you’re gonna be laughing yourself silly and coming back for more. Party Down is a sitcom about a second rate Hollywood catering company where the employees are all hoping to be doing anything except serving hors d’oeuvres to the rich jerks at each week’s function. Truly amazing cast, with Adam Scott, Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr, Jane Lynch, Ryan Hansen, Megan Mullaly, Ken Jeong, and more. It’s rude, smart, and painfully hilarious. Key & Peele is simply the funniest sketch comedy show in more than a decade (since The Upright Citizen’s Brigade, which you should also rent), starring Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele, both of whom have the stunning ability to create very specific characters seemingly without limitation. Two black guys, Key & Peele do some of the most biting, insightful comedy about race since Chappelle’s Show, but I think this show’s better. Honestly, Jordan Peele is the most talented comic actor on television right now. Parks & Recreation. Videoport’s Sam refuses to watch this show (he calls it “Girl Office”) so I’m partly putting this one on the list just to annoy him. But this small town government sitcom starring the great Amy Poehler (See also Upright Citizen’s Brigade) is a better show than The Office. Yeah, I said it. The first season is a little rough—they hadn’t figured out Poehler’s Leslie Knope as a character yet, leaving her very Michael Scott-like in her bumbling obnoxiousness. But the show quickly found itself when it revealed Leslie as one of the most formidable, bizarrely optimistic characters in TV history, a small town functionary whose belief in the essential goodness of the loony townspeople of Pawnee, Indiana is both goofy and touchingly heartfelt. Plus, the show’s got one of the best supporting casts ever. Watch it all, but especially season four, where Leslie’s cockeyed run for public office produced one of the most brilliantly funny and improbably moving political satires ever. Sports Night is creator Aaron Sorkin’s sitcom, a pre-West Wing, pre-pre-The Newsroom portrait of the behind the scenes doings of the cast and employees of an ESPN-like sports cable channel. No, you don’t have to care about sports to like the show. (Much in the same way you can not care about football and still correctly assess Friday Night Lights as one of the best shows ever.) Peter Krause (Parenthood, Six Feet Under) and Josh Charles (The Good Wife, In Treatment) are the cool guy anchor best pals, Robert Guillaume is the wise, prickly boss, Felicity Huffman is the brilliant, work-obsessed producer, and Josh Malina and Sabrina Lloyd are the junior employees who spar and fall in love. It’s smart, fast-paced and full of some truly great TV writing. Nobody rents this show. You should rent this show. Girls is the deliciously divisive HBO sort of comedy from deliciously divisive writer/star/creator Lena Dunham about a quartet of twentysomething female friends trying to figure their sh*t out on the confusing mean streets of NYC. It’s smart, it’s sexy, it’s funny, it’s very, very painful. It’s great. 30 Rock is off the air now and I find myself missing it more all the time. Former Saturday Night Live writer Tina Fey created a show about the behind the scenes shenanigans of the people making a late night sketch comedy show. Along the way, Fey, playing perpetually lonely, overworked goofball writer/showrunner Liz Lemon created one of the most layered, feminist TV heroines ever, a perpetual screwup whose principles consistently get worked over by her commitment to her ever struggling trainwreck of a show and the need to cater to the whims of stars Jane Krakowski and Tracy Morgan, along with her boss Alec Baldwin. Consistently smart, hilarious, and downright insane. TV is 30% dumber and less weird now that 30 Rock is gone. Luckily you can get it (and all these great shows) at Videoport. What—you don’t like to laugh?
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 Hannibal (in Mystery/Thriller.) Following up on Monday’s Fargo recommendation, here’s another movie-based TV series which should not work in any sense known to humankind. The fact that this series, based on the characters from the Thomas Harris books which were turned into the ever-declining series of movies about Hannibal Lecter is one of the best shows on television this year is nothing short of a TV miracle. I’m gonna go ahead and say it—Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen [The Hunt, After The Wedding, Casino Royale] is a better Lecter than Anthony Hopkins. Yeah, I said it. And the look of the show (created by Bryan Fuller who made Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Wonderfalls) is simply stunning—gore or gourmet food, the show looks like nothing else on television. Hugh Dancy’s FBI profiler Will Graham and Laurence Fishburne’s formidable FBI man Jack Crawford chase Lecter, even though they don’t know they’re chasing him, a respected psychiatrist who is also the most brilliant, methodical serial killer ever. So far above what the usual TV cop/serial killer show throws at you, I don’t know if you can handle it. Yeah, I’m calling you chicken. Rent it and prove me wrong, you.
>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Searching For Sugar Man (in Documentary Arts.) Oscar-winning documentary director Malik Bendjelloul has died too soon. But he left behind a haunting, infuriating enchanting film: Searching for Sugar Man spins out its central mystery with provocative delay. The film centers around Bendjelloul’s search for folk musician Sixto Rodriguez, who dropped out of American public life in the early 70s despite industry rumors that he was tapped to be the next Bob Dylan. In our age of instant global connection, the mystery of Sixto Rodriguez isn’t so haunting, but Bendjelloul plays out the story in strategic bites; don’t spoil it by Googling the man and his music. For once, just let the story roll over your in its own time, in its own tune, as the director intended it. Just this once, as a memorial to him and a favor to yourself.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>> It’s free! It’s for kids! Or the very immature!
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Archer (in Animation.) As an adjunct to that whole funniest comedy TV shows in the store list, I’ll add this animated series to the list. (Editor’s note: if you want Dennis to just stop listing his favorite TV shows, send in your movie and TV reviews to The VideoReport at email@example.com or Videoport’s Facebook page Videoport Jones. Seriously—put a stop to this.) Anyway, I watch TV on DVD while I make dinner and I’ve worked my way through all four seasons of this series about the worst spy agency in the world and it’s head spy, the peerlessly douche-y Sterling Archer (voiced by the great Jon Benjamin of Bob’s Burgers and Home Movies fame—you should rent those too, while you’re at it.) Joining Benjamin are Aisha Tyler as Lana, the one sensible agent at spy agency ISIS, who nonetheless finds herself constantly being drawn to Archer, Chris Parnell as office drone Cyril, Arrested Development’s Jessica Walter as Mallory Archer, ISIS head and Sterling’s domineering mom, Judy Greer as Carol/Cheryl, secretary and nutjob, Lucky Yates as resident mad scientist/possible Hitler clone Krieger, and Amber Nash as HR person and greatest character ever Pam (you really have to experience the greatness that is Pam for yourself.) It’s a sendup of Bond spy stuff, of he-man action heroes, of workplace comedies—it’s also a laugh-a-minute joke machine of rude, catchphrase-y giddy greatness. Like creator Adam Reed’s previous shows like Sealab 2021 and Frisky Dingo the clipart-looking animation and improv-y vocal style, Archer is a unique beast. But it’s also more character-driven—impossibly, you find yourself getting drawn to these sex-crazed, violent, weirdball idiots. It’ll make you giddy.
>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests the works of H.R. Giger. Legendary artist H.R. Giger, who died this week at the age of 74, is perhaps best known to audiences as the designer of the xenomorph for Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien, and Giger’s indelible creature and set designs are deservedly renowned. But Giger had a long career in and out of film, and as a cinematic designer, he created some of the most haunting, horrific visions of dreadful beauty in film history. You can see Giger’s work in the Alien franchise and spin-offs (Alien, Aliens, Alien3, AVP: Alien vs. Predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem, and Prometheus), in Species, and in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. A great wave of relief washed over me when I realized that Videoport no longer boasts in its collection a film for which Giger served as creative consultant; I admit I wasn’t keen to suggest you watch Killer Condom [Kondom des Grauens], a 1996 German sex horror comedy with a protagonist named (I’m so sorry) Luigi Mackeroni. Let us wipe that from our collective minds and move on to anticipation of seeing Giger’s designs for Alejandro Jodorowsky’s scuttled Dune in Frank Pavich’s 2013 documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune. The doc’s DVD release date hasn’t been set yet, but that’s a little something to look forward to, with no German sex horror comedy anywhere.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Orange Is The New Black- season 1 (finally coming to DVD, this drama about a well-off woman sent to prison for a ten year old crime and forced to interact with the colorful denizens therein; rumor has it this show was created for some sort of fly-by-night internet site, but it’s now available to rent from Videoport on DVD like all decent shows should be; seriously, this is one of the best TV series of the year ), Her (the last of last year’s Best Picture nominees finally comes to DVD; Joaquin Phoenix stars as a lonely computer guy who falls in love with Siri, essentially; voiced by Scarlett Johannson, it’s the sexiest operating system/human love story of the year!!), I Frankenstein (Aaron Eckhart stars as the sexily scarred-up but still pretty sexy Frankenstein’s monster who sexily battles evil gargoyle/demon things in the modern day in this very Underworld-y looking action horror flick; Sexy Frankensteins!! ), That Awkward Moment (Zac Efron, Miles Teller, and the talented Michael B. Jordan [Fruitvale Station] star in this guy-centric rom com about three best pals who deal with being guys and kissing girls and stuff), Eastbound And Down- season 4 (Danny McBride returns for one final go-round as Kenny Powers, former baseball player and all-time jerkass in this consistently hilarious and painful HBO series), Is The Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation With Noam Chomsky (director Michel Gondry [Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind] made this typically odd, visually arresting documentary which uses hand-drawn animation to bring to life conversations with legendary linguist and philosopher Chomsky)
New Arrivals at Videoport: Waterloo Bridge (Vivien Leigh stars in this 1940 weeper about a ballerina who loses her job and becomes a prostitute when she believes her fiancée [Robert Taylor] dies in the war; then he comes back! Awkward…)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Bernie, I Frankenstein, Her
Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!
Get your movies duplicated at Videoport!
You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!