Volume CDLXXIII- Portland, Je T’aime
For the Week of 9/9/14
Videoport is the locally-owned, independent video store of your dreams. Assuming you love movies and have very specific dreams about great video stores with all the movies ever.
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 Coming Apart (in Incredibly Strange.) If you ever wanted to see a young Rip Torn’s butt, have I got a movie for you! Seriously, though, this ahead-of-its-time erotic drama is a fascinating, intense trip right into the heart of the madness of a psychiatrist who’s, well, coming apart. Like, at the seams. Torn, still snarly but oddly handsome, plays a married shrink whose office/bachelor pad is under constant surveillance by the movie camera he keeps hidden in plain sight (he calls the bulky casing “kinetic sculpture”)—and which he uses to film his numerous trysts with a succession of women. Sure, he’s a creep, but Torn digs deep into the soul of a guy running right off the rails, his obsession with filming every encounter also capturing his self-aware torment. This 1969 drama sees director Milton Moses Ginsberg anticipate the self-filming confessional indie genre by decades, and Torn, alongside remarkably natural performances from Sally Kirkland and Viveca Lindfors among others, uses the levels of self-awareness inherent in the film’s gimmick to provide some pretty searing insight. (Kirkland’s film-ending rampage upon discovering the depths of Torn’s betrayal is stunning.) Raw, risqué (there were serious ratings controversies), and ultimately more gripping than you’d imagine.
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!
>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Stranger (in Classics). Orson Welles directed this 1946 film in which an agent of the U.N. War Crimes Commission (Edward G. Robinson) travels to a sleepy New England town in pursuit of a Nazi fugitive. Is Charles Rankin (Orson Welles), the popular young teacher at the local boys’ school, something more sinister than he seems? Welles’ only undisputed box office success, it’s an entertaining but undistinguished little film, but it will always have a place in my heart—not only for Welles’ chilly charm but for the easy wit jammed in around the edged. My vote for best line that got past the censors: when Rankin and his new wife Mary (a doggedly cheerful Loretta Young) return from their skiing honeymoon, her little brother Noah (Richard Long) asks his sister with a breezy lack of irony “Did you remember to keep your knees together and your apparatus in?” MIND YER BEESWAX, BROTHER.
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!
>>> April suggests The Big Bird Cage (in Incredibly Strange but currently residing in the Blaxploitation tribute shelf in the Middle Aisle.) Don’t pass this movie by just because it has chained, half-naked ladies on the cover. The Big Bird Cage is super entertaining! Yes, it’s a 197s women in prison film where the ladies are treated terribly by the men, but these women are strong and defiant. Anitra Ford (1978s The Longest Yard) is one of these tough as nails inmates who tries to break out, and Pam Grier (Coffy, Jackie Brown) is the revolutionary who breaks in to the prison to get the girls out and start her revolution. Also starring the awesome and sleazy Sid Haig (Spider Baby, House Of 1000 Corpses).
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!
>>> It’s a free movie! And you don’t have to rent anything else to get it! Just take it—take a free movie! Do it!
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!
>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Abby L. suggests Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work (in Documentary). In the last few days, like millions of other people, I have been reflecting on the death of Joan Rivers and why her passing affected me so much. Unlike most octogenarian entertainers, Rivers remained active and vital until the very end of her life; in fact, with her hit show on E!, Fashion Police, she was experiencing somewhat of a career renaissance. She had obtained a kind of cultural omnipotence which is nearly non-existent in our fractured popular culture, and doubly rare for a woman. For such a controversial figure, I expected a more mixed reaction to her death, as cold as that sounds. Then again, I never seriously considered that Rivers would ever die. She seemed immortal to me (here, Rivers would have been the first to joke about her quest for immortality through never-ending plastic surgery). Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, the rightly-heralded 2010 documentary about the comedienne, meditates upon the sacrifice behind such ubiquity. The film follows Rivers behind-the-scenes for fourteen months and mostly eschews flattering historical treatises on her fabled comedy career, favoring instead the nuts-and-bolts behind it. It is as flinty and unflinching about Rivers as Rivers is about virtually everyone else on the planet. Unsatisfied to dwell on her status as a pioneer of “women in comedy,” the entertainer battles ageism and takes on gigs that could be categorized as selling-out in order to stay relevant, everything from the Celebrity Apprentice to stand-up shows in Mid-West casinos. The pursuit of steady work is an obsession for Rivers. About facing the the twin challenges of sexism and age discrimination, she states in a voice-over, “If one more woman comedian comes up to me and says, ‘You opened the doors for me,’ you wanna say, go f*** yourself, I’m still opening doors.” For a woman who spent the latter-half of her career slinging zingers about celebrities, Rivers shows a surprising amount of fear when preparing for her own Comedy Central Roast. She is touchingly vulnerable as she speaks of personal regret in the face of family tragedy and craving acceptance for her writing and acting talents with her biographical theater production. None of these representations inspire pity, though; the woman who was once blacklisted by Johnny Carson has done pretty well for herself, with her Louis XII-style apartment and dedicated support staff. Still, Rivers is dogged by her own work ethic, at an age where many have a hard time even getting out of bed. One of the most poignant parts of A Piece of Work comes when Rivers handles an angry heckler in the middle of her act and explains, ferociously and without missing a beat, her compassion-through-catharsis motive behind her cynical yet self-effacing comedy routines. For this moment alone, I can recommend the film even to those who find the comedienne’s point-of-view excessively vicious and catty. Such sharpness is the byproduct of mandatory toughness in a brutal industry. Rivers personified a quality that’s somehow refreshingly-classic and exceptionally rare in contemporary comedy: jokes with actual punchlines. In an era where mere awkwardness seems to pass for humor, Rivers had a practically Vaudevillian work ethic and dedication to making her audience laugh. To many, including myself, her absence leaves a palpable void in entertainment.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Road Movie (in Incredibly Strange). The world (meaning Videoport) is crowded with movies that just aren’t going to get rented often. Or ever. It’s not fair—but that’s just the way it is. Nondescript cover art, unmemorable title, no stars, tucked away in a corner of the store (in the Incredibly Strange section in this case), a little movie like Road Movie fits all those categories and is doomed to obscurity. Well, not on my watch! Nope, I make it my mission to watch random crap from time to time, just because I love weirdness, I’m an ornery cuss, and because Videoport has such things. In fact we love them. So Road Movie it was recently—and, as is often the case, dipping randomly into Videoport’s deepest crevices yielded something interesting. In this grubby little indie from 1974, writer/director Joseph Strick (Ulysses), who worked as an independent long-haul trucker in his youth, presents a strikingly stark tale of two long-haul truckers and the unstable “lot lizard’ hooker they hire to service them on a trip to Chicago. One of the tuckers (a very young, unrecognizable Barry Bostwick) seems the gentler country boy, while his macho pal Robert Drivas, appears harder, and not averse to roughing up their hired companion. And the hooker herself (played with unsettling, smudge-faced edginess by Regina Baff), has some surprises herself. It’s a decidedly low-rent, realistic tale of three losers using each other, but Road Movie also presents a creepily vivid portrait of the American underclass, where three people without any connections try to hustle their way through each day. Not every movie is for everyone (and how boring would a movie for everyone be?)—so why not just take a chance on something you ordinarily wouldn’t? That’s what makes having a Videoport in your life so valuable.
New Releases this week at Videoport: They Came Together (David Wain and Michael Showalter, the alums of The State who made the modern comedy classic Wet Hot American Summer have a new movie out—and, not surprisingly, it’s hilarious! Comic genius sweetie-pies Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler star as a pair of mismatched lovebirds in this spoof of all things romantic comedy. Costarring the likes of Ken Marino, Jason Manzoukas, Melanie Lynskey, Chris Meloni, and basically everyone you like.), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (When Captain America was fighting the Nazis in WWII, he had a kid sidekick named Bucky. Strangely, sending a teenager into battle in a funny costume didn’t go well, and Buck was killed—or was he?!? [He wasn’t.] So now the star-swaddled Avenger has to battle his seriously pissed-off former sidekick in a superhero movie everyone is saying is pretty darned good indeed. Chris Evans continues to impress as Cap.), It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia—season 9 (That this show is still as funny as it is after nine seasons is something like a miracle, especially since it’s one of the most high-wire comedy balancing acts in TV history. Five of the worst people in the world run the worst bar in Philadelphia while doing the worst things they can conceive of, to each other and to the unsuspecting citizens of the City of Brotherly Love.), Crossbones—season 1 (Pirates!! John Malkovich hams it up big time in this network pirate drama about pirates doing pirate things. Malkovich is a pirate, people!), The League- season 5 (Full of funny people [Paul Scheer, Maine’s Katie Aselton, Jason Manzoukas, Mark Duplass, Nick Krohl, and that other guy] who are very, very good at improv, this sitcom is reliably hilarious and rude even if you care 100% nothing about fantasy football.), The Galapagos Affair (Pulled from one of the oddest true stories around, this documentary explores the reasons why a disparate group of people looking to set up an Eden-like existence in the then-isolated Galapagos Islands turned into a vipers’ nest of sex, betrayal, and murder.), Night Moves (New thriller from always-interesting director Kelly Reichardt [Meek’s Cutoff, Wendy & Lucy, River Of Grass, Old Joy] about young environmentalists Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning, and Peter Sarsgaard edging deeper into environmental terrorism when they contemplate bombing a hydroelectric dam), Homeland—season 3 (More intense spy vs. terrorist vs. sleeper agent thrills with Claire Danes, Mandy Patinkin, and Damian Lewis double-crossing he hell out of each other.), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—season 1 (From the lucrative world of The Avengers comes this spy series about some fairly dull agents with a cool plane fighting some of the more marginal bad guys of the Marvel Universe. At least it’s got the always-cool Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson.), Fed Up (Katie Couric narrates and is mad as hell in this documentary outlining how the government and BIG FOOD have conspired to make Americans fat and docile.), Brick Mansions (Remember that coolly ludicrous French action flick about a walled-off slum where everyone uses their insane parkour skills to fight for their freedom? Well, here’s the American remake—at least they brought over the French guy who, you know, actually knows parkour to prop up deceased stiffy Paul Walker. RZA also appears, for some reason.), Doctor Who: Deep Breath (The great Peter Capaldi [check out his BBC series The Thick Of It in Videoport’s British Comedy section for proof] is the new Doctor! And here’s his first adventure since he transformed from floppy sweetie Matt Smith into the formidable, frightening new version of the immortal Time Lord!), Borgman (Super creepy Dutch thriller about a menacing homeless guy who insinuates himself into the placid household of a typical family.), Korengal (In this sequel to the acclaimed documentary Restrepo, co-director Sebastian Junger [the other director was killed acting as a war correspondent], the unbelievable stress of the young men and women patrolling the most dangerous valley on the planet is examined once more.)
New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Love Streams (John Cassavetes last film was this typically wrenching, improv-heavy drama about a pair of adult siblings [Cassavetes and real-life wife and screen legend Gena Rowlands] trying desperately to find their way through their own problems. Check out Videoport’s Criterion Collection section—that’s where all the good stuff lives!)
New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Homeland- season 3, Brick Mansions, 13
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!