Volume CDLXXI- Big Trouble In Little Portland
For the Week of 8/26/14
(Click the pics for more reviews!)
Videoport gives you a free movie every single day! Let’s all just kick back and think about how undeniably cool that is.
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 Abby L. suggests Ladies And Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains! (in Incredibly Strange.) Punk is a barbed knot of contradictions, and anyone who tries to untie that knot is going to get hurt. Like its tough female protagonists, the 1982 cult classic, Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains, tries to untangle it anyway. Stains features a 15 year-old Diane Lane as Corinne “Third-Degree” Burns, the recently-orphaned lead singer of the titular punk group she’s formed with her sister, Tracy, and cousin, Jessica, played by fellow future heavy-hitter Laura Dern. Set against the misty gray backdrop of a fading Pennsylvania steel town, Corinne’s inevitable future in her hometown is laid out clearly before her: be someone’s girlfriend, be someone’s wife, be someone’s mother, and die. Her dreams of marriage and family having been extinguished by the death of her mother, Corinne develops a defensive snarl and cynical attitude. The Stains hit the road as a supporting act for the prophetically-named Metal Corpses, KISS-like glam rock dinosaurs, and the Looters, a sniveling English punk band played by members of the Sex Pistols and the Clash, on a failing tour of the Midwest. The mismatched groups are managed by a long-suffering Rastafarian nicknamed Lawn Boy, who’s a symbol of the political camaraderie between punk and reggae which linked the seemingly disparate musical genres in the 1970’s. The film drifts in and out of a somewhat clumsy mockumentary format as the Stains become a continuing human interest story on the local news, spurred by a sympathetic female newscaster. Looking like a cross between X-Ray Spex and the Misfits from Jem, the group is a near-literal overnight sensation because of a the media attention (a primitive version of going “viral”) and a galvanizing slogan, “We don’t put out.” A few gigs later, they have a devoted following of young girls dressed just like them. But Corinne and her bandmates have clearly given more thought to their clothes and their mission statement than their music, and in punk rock, it’s a very fine, nearly invisible, line between success and “selling out.” The third-act moralizing in the Fabulous Stains is emblematic of punk’s central conflict. If pop music stars are disposable, then punk stars are combustible. Punk fans demand contradicting values from their idols: rawness and purity, steely ideology and strident apathy, toughness and relatability, youth and wisdom. In weeks, the Stains go from heroes to hypocrites. Regardless of its philosophy, the Fabulous Stains is a valuable document of the original punk rock scene and features a fascinating cross-section of music legends and budding stars. Lane channels admirable depths of both perseverance and vulnerability. Mercifully, the musicians aren’t forced to do much acting. Most of all, it’s a loving tribute to American punk music and rust-belt grit. Stains is absolutely mandatory viewing for anyone who dares to call themselves a riot grrl, past, present and future.
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 Big Sleep (in Classics.) With the death of Lauren Bacall, here’s my pick to see her at her best. She and Bogart were a great team, their offscreen chemistry translating in the way that most real couples don’t Here, he’s private dick Philip Marlowe and she’s Vivian Rutledge, wild and wealthy daughter of the wealthy Sternwood clan. There’s a case—a particularly confusing one (author Raymond Chandler admits even he doesn’t know who killed a certain character)—but the real attraction is Bogart and Bacall, their verbal sparring and obvious smoldering making them one of the hottest screen couples in history. (All without much physical contact at all.)
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 getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.
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 The Simpsons (in Animation.) You know how you know that this is one of the greatest TV shows of all time? With a cable network no on watches otherwise running the entire run of The Simpsons for 12 straight days, people are still coming in to rent i. Maybe they missed the episodes they really wanted to see because they were on at 4:30 in the morning on a Wednesday. Or maybe they saw some episodes they loved and just had to see them again immediately. Or maybe they realized the horrifying scam cable TV is and have no idea what FXX is. Regardless, Videoport’s got all the best seasons of the show (let’s say, up ‘til season 10) and the diminishing returns thereafter.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>> You can just come in and get a free movie here, people. No other rental necessary. Who else does that? No one, that’s who.
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Jeremy A. suggests The Sacrament (in Horror). Ti West should make a fast paced film called Slow Burn. Slow burn is the primary description attached to Ti West’s films. It’s a tad lazy and implies most other films are fast burners. I enjoyed West’s last two efforts, The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers. Indeed his films are deliberate in their glacial pace and often retro styled in the vein of late 70’s horror films. Back when studio execs and audiences didn’t demand a jump scare every 8 minutes. You could get to know characters, build upon a situation and create genuine atmosphere. A Ti West film is an investment of time and patience. The payoff being, you earn tension and ultimately care about what transpires. In real life crazy sh*t doesn’t happen every 8 minutes. There’s usually a slow escalation of circumstances and before you know it you’re in too deep. So it’s interesting that The Sacrament draws heavily from the very real and tragic Jonestown Massacre of 1978. Even more fascinating that such a retro-centric filmmaker would use the exhausted and unimaginative found-footage style to tell this story. Presented as a VICE documentary, The Sacrament focuses on documentarians Sam and Jake (AJ Bowen and Joe Swanberg) accompanying fashion photographer Patrick (Kentucker Audley) to a remote commune called Eden Parish. Patrick’s troubled sister Caroline (Amy Seimetz) has invited them to visit her at the spiritual sanctuary. Initially it appears to be a bona fide utopia, where good people have escaped the racism and hassles of modern life to live off the land. Enter the commune’s enigmatic leader, Father (Gene Jones) in easily the best performance and scene of the film. Sitting down for an interview with the outsiders, Father’s disdain for the media quickly becomes apparent. If you scratch at the surface of paradise, things are often not quite what they seem. Due to the found-footage constraint, we never truly know what’s going on behind the scenes at Eden Parish. Nor gain any real insight into the mindset of what drives folks to join such a cult, or follow it to an unholy conclusion. There’s also straight up technical flaws as to who is filming what, when all cameras are accounted for. I honestly thought the movie may go in a Wicker Man direction, revealing far more sinister reasons for Caroline’s invite to the compound. The tension of waiting for a twist or unexpected turn was exciting, but a huge disappointment when it embraced the Jonestown template and staggered toward the obvious ending. In The Sacrament West is basically recreating the Jonestown Massacre on a smaller scale with artistic liscense. The problem is I wish he’d taken more artistic liberties or simply done a film on the 1978 Peoples Temple. See Kevin Smith’s underappreciated Red State for similar themes about religious cults and their silver tongued leaders. Or watch any of the numerous Jonestown documentaries. Terrifying cause they’re true. I can only hope the found-footage genre is in the death rattle phase. Out of options, ready to drink the kool aid, lay down the video camera and film itself crawling off into the sunset.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Rectify (in Feature Drama) and Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). Now that the Emmys are over, we can all stop complaining about who/what got nominated/won, right? Hahahahaha…mercy, no! Like all the big awards shows, they get most everything wrong, inevitably erring on the side of bland/safe/pleasant (Modern Family, I’m looking at you…), and this year was no exception. Although Breaking Bad—yes. So I’m going to use my time here for some stumping on behalf of two of the best performances that didn’t even get nominated. In Rectify, Aden Young plays Daniel Holden, a man imprisoned on death row since he was 17 who’s released to his small Georgia hometown and family when DNA evidence voids his conviction. There’s simply nothing like this show, maybe ever, and Young’s performance as the wary, courtly Daniel is truly remarkable. There’s a mystery still at the heart of Rectify (one that the show is in no hurry to clear up), but the real mystery is of what makes Daniel tick. I’ve tried to explain the effect this show and Young’s performance has on me, that I watch both in a sort of rapt, meditative attention unique in all my millions of TV watching hours. Orphan Black’s Tatiana Maslany is a wonder as well, except her gift is for knocking your socks off with versatility. Virtuosity, even. I don’t want to spoil anything if you don’t know the premise of this fun, exciting Canadian thriller series, so I’ll just say that Maslany gives several of the best performances on TV. Like, eight of them. (Think Dollhouse, only with a lead actress who can actually play anyone other than that one character and you’ll get what I’m talking about.) So again—in Smart World, these two would have been there on Emmy night, listening to Breaking Bad win all the drama awards, but at least they’d be there. Plus—if neither gets nominated next year, I may do something drastic. Like…write another snarky blog post! Watch your back, Emmy voters!
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Walking Dead- season 4 (ZOMBIES!!!!! Ahem—I mean here is the fourth season of the AMC drama where a rag-tag group of survivors of an unthinkable apocalypse fight for survival against external dangers and the darkest recesses of the human soul. Plus—ZOMBIES!!!!), Sons Of Anarchy-season 6 (BIKERS!!! Yeah, this one is pretty much just about a bunch of smelly, ignorant, violent bikers. BIKERS!!!!!!!), Elementary- season 2 (Go ahead and swoon over your precious Benedict Camblebooblebobble, but, improbably, this American update on the whole Sherlock Holmes deal is actually pretty interesting. Starring Lucy Liu as Watson and the unfortunately not-ridiculously-named Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes), The Double (Directed by cool British comedian Richard Ayoade and based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevshy, this thriller sees meek government clerk Jesse Eisenberg finding his humdrum existence turned upside down when his exact physical double comes to work at his office—and seems to be living his life better than he does), Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in this period piece about the mixed-race daughter of a British admiral trying to deal with all the awfulness of fitting in with an 18th century British society), Blended (Adam Sandler reunites with pal Drew Barrymore in this typically goofy, sort of lazy comedy about a couple of single parents who have a disastrous blind date and then find themselves on the same vacation tour of Africa! Womp-womp. It does co-star the very funny Terry Crews, so that means something… ), The League- season 5 (Full of funny people who are very, very good at improve, this sitcom is reliably hilarious and rude even if you care 100% nothing about fantasy football), The Love Punch (Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson star in this comedy about a divorced couple who reluctantly reunite in order to go after the scammer who stole their retirement fund), The Normal Heart (Acclaimed, award-winning cable movie from AIDS activist and hero Larry Kramer about the struggle of an activist to bring the fact of the early days of the AIDS epidemic to the attention of a public all too happy to ignore it. Starring the likes of Mark Rufalo, Jim Parsons, Julia Roberts, Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer, BD Wong, Denis O’Hare, and Alfred Molina), Portlandia- season 4 (Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s delightfully odd sketch comedy series about the denizen’s of the other Portland continues), Trust Me (Everybody’s favorite Marvel movie universe also-ran Clark Gregg [aka Agent Coulson] writes, directs, and stars in this dramedy about a former child star turned agent trying to hustle his prepubescent clients into the big time. Co-starring the great Felicity Huffman, who also teamed with Gregg in the last season of the great TV show Sports Night, which you should also really rent.), Legends Of Oz: Dororthy’s Return (Indifferently worthy animated sequel to that movie about that wizard from Oz features the voices of Lea Michelle, Kelsey Grammer, Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Bernadette Peters, Brian Blessed, Martin Short, Oliver Platt, Hugh Dancy, and a whole lot more people than you’d expect in this sort of thing), Age Of Uprising: The Legend Of Michael Kolhaas (The great Mads Mikkelsen—you should really be watching Hannibal—stars in this French/German historical epic about a wronged horse trader who assembles an army to get some justice against the lord who swindled him)