Volume CDLXXV- Portland, Texas
For the Week of 9/23/14
(Click the pics for more reviews!)
Videoport gives you a free movie every, single day. And reminds you that choosing a local, independent movie store like, say, us is good for the soul.
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 $7.99!
>>> Emily S. Customer suggests watching some forbidden films! Banned Films Week! To mark Banned Books week, Sept. 21-27, Videoport presents a collection of films based on banned, censored, or challenged books, and a handful of original films that faced similar challenges upon release. First up: Brokeback Mountain. A wealthy donor offered Austin’s St. Andrew’s School a six-figure endowment to remove Proulx’s Brokeback Mountain from their recommended reading list. St. Andrew’s refused the money… and kept the book on its list. Predictably, the film of Brokeback Mountain faced similar protests from Focus on the Family, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops raised BrokeBackMountain’s Film and Broadcasting Office rating from L (for films “Limited” to adult audiences) to O (for “Offensive”). A Salt Lake City theater removed the film from its slot, with the owner claiming that it was “dangerous” in its portrayal of love between two men. The Today Show’s critic Gene Shalit decries one of Brokeback’s protagonists as “a sexual predator,” for which GLAAD criticized him, pointing out that audiences and critics view heterosexual star-crossed lovers as romantic and heartbreaking. None of this controversy prevents Brokeback Mountain from a record-breaking per-theater gross during its opening weekend, nor from raking in prestigious awards, including a Best Director Oscar for Ang Lee.
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 $7.99!
>>> 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.
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 $7.99!
>>> Dennis suggests We Are The Best! (in Foreign Language). Swedish director Lukas Moodysson’s sure-to-be crowd-pleasing new film “We Are The Best!” is a lot of things—coming-of-age story, a tale of female friendship and solidarity, a rock movie. But most gratifyingly, it’s a return to early form for Moodysson, a filmmaker whose first films were some of the most perceptively warm and humanistic anywhere, but whose more recent output has tipped over into soul-crushing bleakness. “We Are The Best!” resembles nothing so much as Moodysson’s first film “Show Me Love,” a lovely, funny, and generous-hearted love story about two very different small-town Swedish girls who find the escape they’re seeking in each other. Set in 1983 Stockholm, “We Are The Best!” finds seventh grade outcast best friends Bobo (watchful, bespectacled Mira Barkhammar) and vocal, impulsive Klara (bright-eyed Mira Grosin) bonding over their outsider status, self-chopped haircuts, and defiant love of punk music, which has begun to wane in their peers’ estimation. (They stare in disbelief at a school dance recital set to The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me.”) Declaring themselves a punk band, largely to spite the mean boys playing loudly at the local teen center, the girls quickly recruit another outcast, the quiet, religious Hedvig (Liv LeMoyne) when they see her defiantly perform a classical guitar number in front of braying classmates at the same talent show. And so, with one member who knows how to play an instrument, a broken down bass and drum set, and all the attitude a trio of just-teenaged girls can muster, the girls forge an unlikely friendship which is as sweet, rude, and funny as any in recent memory. Moodysson’s follow up to “Show Me Love” was the equally charitable “Together,” about a disparate group of adults living in a modern-day commune. There, too, the director’s view of people was clear-eyed but generous, finding sympathy for everyone, even as they screwed up. After that, in the heart-wrenchingly bleak teen prostitution drama “Lilya 4 Ever” and the even more hopeless pornography drama “A Hole In My Heart” (never available in America), Moodysson seemed to have gazed too far over the edge and decided that the world is just too unforgiving of human weakness for anything like a happy ending. Thankfully, “We Are The Best!,” while maintaining the director’s edgy immediacy (it’s shot largely hand-held), looks into the lives of Bobo, Klara, and Hedvig and not only forgives their youthful errors, but loves them for them. I did too. A running theme in Moodysson’s work is how precarious the world can be for young women. And while this film never spills over into the darkness his more recent films have, that undercurrent of unease informs every aspect of “We Are The Best!” The girls’ simmering resentment (over unhappy home lives, jerk boys, judgmental peers, and condescending adults) is what draws them to each other—and to the raw, exuberant protest of punk music. And, as they navigate the traps of being young and inexperienced, their growing solidarity is absolutely winning, especially in the hands of the three remarkable young actresses. Based on a graphic novel by Moodysson’s wife Coco, the film treats its protagonists without sentimentality but with complete sympathy—the lessons they learn as they try find their musical voice (with hilarious accuracy, their first song is about how stupid sports are) aren’t hammered home, but are more striking because of it. (After Bobo and Klara get in trouble for urging the conventional Hedvig to cut her hair like theirs, their confrontation ends with Klara exclaiming, “Learn to say no when you don’t want something!”) And their final response to a provincial audience’s abuse at their first public performance is about as punk as you can get—while remaining hearteningly, movingly sweet. As rambunctious as they get (watch the closing credits), the girl rockers of “We Are The Best!” are utterly, defiantly loveable. So’s the movie.
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 $7.99!
>>> Emily S. Customer continues her tour of Banned movies with Monty Python’s Life Of Brian (in The Criterion Collection)> Banned for years in Ireland (and for a year in Norway, leading to its Swedish promotion touting it as “The film so funny it was banned in Norway!”) and picketed throughout the U.S. and England, Life of Brian was greeted (by people who’d never seen it) as blasphemy. It’s important to note that Life of Brian is not a satire of the life of Jesus, but a parallel story of an unwitting, unwilling false messiah pursued by devout believers trying to thrust him into a position of spiritual power. Brian of Nazareth (Graham Chapman bringing every gawky inch of his towering talent into play), born one stable over from Jesus on the same day, joins a band of would-be revolutionaries opposing the long-term Roman occupation of Judea. Like so many revolutionary organizations before and after them, the People’s Front of Judea spend most of their time and energy bickering and in-fighting instead of working for real social change. When Brian is misidentified as the Messiah, he has not only to avoid persecution by Pontius Pilate and the powers of the state, but also the internecine squabbling of assorted schism groups putatively devoted to following him. It’s not a satire about Christ, but a satire about the appeal of following and the faults of followers and statesmen alike.
Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!
>>> Videoport has a new special! Maybe you noticed that the heading for every single daily special is different. If so—well done. You should have your own Psych-type show where you’re very observant all the time. Regardless, here’s the new deal— NOW you can get 3 movies for a week for $7.99 EVERY SINGLE DAY! I know, right!? Also, on a specifically Friday vibe—we’ve put a ton of new stuff into the family section. Like, a lot of high-quality stuff. Now the part you might not like as much—all rentals at Videoport (including kids movies) are $3.50. Yeah, kids movies are now the same price as everything else, but you can still get a free movie from the kids section every Friday, no other rental necessary, no questions asked. And, now there are tons more movies packing that section for you to choose from. Be cool, everybody—Videoport’s got you covered, as always.
Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!
>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer continues her appreciation of banned movies with Beloved (in Feature Drama). Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel has been challenged a number of times in attempts to remove it from school curricula and reading lists all over the U.S.: In Ohio, Florida, Illinois, Idaho, Kentucky, Texas, and right here in Maine, Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel has faced challenges to remove it from curricula, libraries, and reading lists, with complaints about its subject matter and language. Surely the story of a former slave faced with the terrible choice to return her children to a state of slavery is one which brooks some painful language, necessary to describe the horrors of that life. The 1998 film adaptation starring Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, and Thandie Newton is admittedly a tempered version of the story, but it still garnered praise for its performances and moving story.
>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Abby L. suggests Palindromes (in Incredibly Strange). If you’re looking for something to do tonight, how about a good old-fashioned Todd Solondz soul-pummeling? For those unfamiliar with Solondz’ work, 2004’s Palindromes offers a mind-altering introduction to the writer-director’s jet-black worldview. To those who’ve already witnessed his cinematic, shall we say, risks: this was the Solondz film that couldn’t find a major studio to back it. Which isn’t to say Palindromes is any more or less shocking, say, Happiness or Storytelling, rather, it more directly attacks the pillars of the American identity, namely our perceived responsibility to procreate and the piety with which we view reproduction. Almost everyone will be uncomfortable watching Palindromes; those who are adventurous and armed with a cynical enough sense of humor will enjoy dissecting why. The film follows Aviva, a 13-year-old on a mission to get pregnant who eventually hits the road as a runaway and winds up as a sort-of Alice in Wonderland in the sordid post-9/11 American cultural landscape. Among the most daring choices in a film comprised almost entirely of daring (and many off-putting) choices is the revolving-door casting approach of its main character. Aviva is played by 8 different actors of varying ages, races, genders and sizes. It’s a decision that some may consider a gimmick intended to capitalize on shock value and provide a sarcastic visual sight gag. To others, it’s a stunt that pays off. By stripping its lead character of the traits considered central to one’s identity, Palindromes ponders the interconnectedness of its characters. At one point in the film a character wonders aloud, “How many times can I be born again?” That line is a brilliant encapsulation of the film’s premise, a skewering of both the sentimental evangelical Christian worldview and the meaningless cycle of birth and death created when the importance of being a vessel for more humans is elevated above all other elements of the human experience. Aviva’s flowery, middle-class pubescent existence is a direct primer for her loss of innocence on her path to becoming an empty-headed, baby-obsessed breeder zombie. Perhaps one day, Palindromes will earn its rightful place near the top of the Solondz canon. It was probably too nervy for the time it was released. The film is as potent a time capsule for the George W. Bush era as any that came out at the time. Beneath Solondz’ merciless satire is an emphatic critique of the treatment of young women in a fundamentally misogynistic culture. It’s also probably the best way to experience a laugh, a groan and a gasp at the same time.
New Releases this week at Videoport: The Rover (Great-looking action thriller from Down Under, with Guy Pearce playing a hardened loner tracking down the bad guys who stole his car—after a global economic collapse has turned the world into a Mad Max-esque wasteland. Costarring that vampire guy from those Twilight movies—although I hear he does a good job here…), Neighbors (Seth Rogen and that other little teen star who everyone says actually does a good job here [Zac Efron] costar in this crude, rude comedy about a nice couple whose life is turned all upside down and so forth when a fraternity movies into the house next door. Wackiness promises to ensue.), Brooklyn Nine Nine- season 1 (This is a funny, funny show. Andy Samberg plays a wiseass copper in the titular precinct and he’s absolutely surrounded by funny people as his workmates. Joe LoTruglio, Terry Crews, Stephanie Beatriz, Melissa Fumero, Chelsea Peretti, and the great Andre Braugher all stake out their comic territory. Braugher, especially, is a revelation, playing Samberg’s no-nonsense boss with an impeccable deadpan awesomeness.), Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt- season 1 (New anime series! So there are these two sisters who are sort of like angels? Except they get kicked out of heaven for being too wild and destructive, and wearing lingerie all the time? And they go to a city full of ghosts and fight the ghosts, but sometimes have sex with the ghosts? Oh, and their lingerie can turn into, like, chainsaws and bazookas? Oh Japan—never, ever change. Please? For me?), Key & Peele- season 3 (This is the best sketch comedy show in more than a decade [since The Upright Citizens Brigade, if you must know], so you should probably go ahead and rent it. Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key are two of the best comic actors on TV. The sketches are smart and silly and very, very funny. I cannot emphasize enough how much you should be watching this show right now. That is all.), Sharknado (It’s a tornado made of sharks. This is a movie that exists.), Modern Family- season 5 (You guys like this show. More power to you.), We Are The Best! (Really good new foreign film from director Lukas Moodysson [Show Me Love, Together, Lilya 4-Ever]—read Dennis’ review for Wednesday in this very newsletter!), Ida (Acclaimed film [it played at last year’s Maine Jewish Film Festival] about a devout Catholic nun who discovers that’s she’s actually Jewish.), Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A’Comin’ (Documentary about Jimi Hendrix, people. What more could you want?), Postman Pat: The Movie (Long a kids’ favorite in England, Videoport brings you the first feature film about that cartoon postman that little Brits love!), The Signal (Great reviews on this indie sci fi flick about a group of computer hackers who…well, I’ve been told the twists and turns are most of the fun of this one, so I’ll stop there. The great Laurence Fishburne is in it, though—that much I can tell you.)
New Arrivals This Week At Videoport: Seizure! (Head to the Incredibly Strange section, where Oliver Stone’s first movie rightly resides! Starring the guy from Dark Shadows as a writer being menaced in trippy fashion by a sexy dame, a bodybuilder and Herve Villecheize. It makes no sense!)