VideoReport #477

Volume CDLXXVII- Portland Holiday

For the Week of 10/7/14

(Click the pics for more reviews!)

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Oh, and we have the best selection and prices and are locally-owned and also very pretty. It’s not bragging if it’s true.

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!

t>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Twin Peaks (in Mystery/Thriller). “It is happening… again.” With this week’s big announcement that David Lynch and Mark Frost have signed with Showtime to write, direct, and produce a new nine-episode series continuing the story of Twin Peaks, it’s a perfect time to revisit the original series—or watch it for the first time! It’s hard to explain the seminal influence of Twin Peaks on modern television, but in 1990, it was like nothing else on TV. To put it in context, consider some of the other network titles airing at 9 p.m. in 1990: Murphy Brown, Doogie Howser, M.D., Perfect Strangers, CheersThe Golden GirlsTwin Peaks‘ heady blend of heightened soap opera, noir tragedy, and surreal vision hit the network audience with disorienting, intense power. Let it hit you: rent the entire original series today at Videoport.

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 Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (in Comedy). This movie can’t not be funny, considering that it’s got Will Ferrell reprising one of his greatest roles alongside returning costars Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Christina Applegate, and new playmates like Greg Kinnear, Harrison Ford, James Marsden, Kristen Wiig, and others. And it is funny—scattershot and too long, but full of more laughs than any two normal movies. That being said, it’s about half as funny as the original Anchorman. That’s the knock on all sequels, of course—that they’re never as good and blah, blah, boring, blah. It took the super-lucrative and successful team of Ferrell and writer/director Adam McKay (The Other Guys, Talladega Nights) a surprisingly long time to get a movie studio to make the movie, which seems like a travesty, since those are some funny guys and some funny movies, and they always make money. And, yes, studios are congenitally, inherently stupid organisms, sure. But there’s a reason why comedy sequels generally fare even worse than other types of movies in the “next one’s not as good” column. A great comedy (which I content the first Anchorman is) is much harder to craft than any other genre of movie. One—comedy’s just hard. But more importantly, comedies that don’t just involve Adam Sandler farting around somewhere photogenic with his pals for 85 minutes have an internal logic, an essential structure that necessitates closure. There’s an arc to comedy that needs it to end when it ends, if you get my meaning. Throw in the fact that a movie like Anchorman is built on lightning-in-a-bottle improvisational riffing, and the idea that a sequel would recapture the magic without seeming like a retread. It’s not that Anchorman 2 is bad—it’s consistently pretty funny throughout—it’s that what seemed fresh and gaspingly original is a little effortful the second time around. Points as ever to McKay, who throws in some nicely smart and mean-spirited satire—this time about the birth of sensationalistic, jingoistic cable (FOX) news, and there’s still plenty here to like. But it also goes a long way toward proving that all comedies, no matter how brilliant, should really be left at one.

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!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests Bad Timing: A Sexual Obsession (in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section.) Quick, what’s the least sexy movie with the most sex in it that you’ve ever seen? WRONG—it’s this one! The AV Club’s David Ehrlich pretty much nailed the essence of this wrenching 1980 relationship drama/thriller from director Nicholas Roeg when he wrote: “It’s a miracle that Art Garfunkel’s performance in Bad Timing didn’t immediately and forever extinguish all sexual desire on Earth.” Yup. It’s not that the mutually-destructive, sexually-obsessive relationship between Garfunkel and Theresa Russell is especially explicit or repellant—they don’t do anything that freaky, and the nudity, while plentiful, is very matter-of-fact. It’s that the whole thing is so determinedly cold and offputtingly odd. Part of that is due to Roeg (Don’t Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth, Track 29) who, as ever, keeps a fragmented distance from the humans on the screen. And part of it is the performances from the two leads (and costar Harvey Keitel, playing a smug, suspicious detective)—everyone is sort of arch, and blandly cold, even when screwing, fighting, or being accused of awful things. Part of the reason is Garfunkel who—as inexplicable as it seems—was something of a sex symbol actor for a while there. As the male half of the doomed couple, he’s playing a cold, standoffish, controlling jerk, sure—but he’s awfully at home there. (That coupled with his signature red afro and lankly, muscleless, pasty body [which you see a lot of] makes him almost unwatchably unpleasant as he becomes increasingly mean and controlling to the dewy Russell. Theresa Russell, too, is an odd presence here—I’ve always liked Russell without finding her especially talented or magnetic, but here her seedy prettiness combines with the 80s fashions to make her look like she’s always heading to or from a cocaine orgy. She’s, as ever, game for anything Roeg asks of her (they married after the film), and her natural, peach-colored nakedness throughout is deliberately unappealing. Not unattractive—it sort of just…hangs there, and her “love” scenes with Garfunkel, coupled with Roeg’s icy camera have an almost nature channel remoteness. Told in the form of a series of flashbacks (and forwards, and sideways) while Russell is undergoing a series of very explicit and upsetting medical procedures in the wake of a seeming suicide attempt, the film watches their relationship with the same remoteness—it’s not that we don’t care about them, it’s like we’re watching another species. Part of my “close your eyes and pick something randomly from the Criterion Collection” series.

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!          

>>> You get a free kids movie every Friday, no other rental necessary. And Videoport just put a few hundred new movies in there—try it out. You don’t have to be a kid, even!

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, Dennis suggests V/H/S (in Horror). In order ot get hyped up for this year’s Damnationland (the Maine-made horror anthology premiering at the State Theatre on Thursday, October 17th), why not take home this non-Maine-made horror anthology, which, despite not being related to Maine in any way, is pretty damned solid. The anthology format (except for Damnationland) is, by its nature, hit-or-miss, but there really isn’t a clunker in this one, an exploration of the whole handheld, found footage horror genre. Taking the form of the series of VHS tapes found by a gang of burglar creeps when they break into a creepy house where a dead guy sits in front of a bank of static-y TV screens, the film sees each of the jerks pop in a tape, seeing a succession of surveillance or home video tapes of variably terrifying doings. A couple of the films are from the guys who made The House Of The Devil, The Innkeepers, You’re Next, 24 Exposures, and the like, there’s some good stuff here (and I don’t want to hear any complaints about found footage horror—done well, it’s very effective.) I’m not gonna spoil anything, except to say that douchebag guys have some serious karmic comeuppance throughout. Like, seriously. Good movie—can’t wait to see part 2 (in Videoport’s Horror section, of course.)

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests movies where everyone wakes up with amnesia and tries to discover how they’re in their weird predicament and then discover disturbing stuff and don’t know whom to trust! Prompted by my recent viewing of the new Open Grave (in Mystery/Thriller), I’m gonna say that this premise is so sure-fire, I don’t know why every movie doesn’t do this! In Open Grave, District 9’s Sharlto Copley wakes up in…an open grave! There are bodies everywhere and he doesn’t know who he is, and neither do any of the people who he discovers bickering in a nearby spooky house. Part of the fun of these sorts of movies is discovering what the hell’s going on along with the confused characters, so I won’t say much, except that things go in some icky, unexpected directions and it all pays off pretty satisfyingly. Then there’s Unknown (in Mystery/Thriller), where five guys (including Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Joe Pantoliano, Jeremy Sisto, and Jim Caviezel) all wake up in a decrepit warehouse and…have no idea who they are! There are some guys around, some guys have been tied up—who do they trust?! Same deal—the fun is not knowing, so I’ll just say vaguely good things and encourage you to rent it. And then there’s the trippy Canadian horror movie Cube (in Horror) where some people wake up in a weird cube, all dressed in identical jumpsuits, with no memory of how they got there, why they’ve been put there, or why the hell the identical cube-shaped rooms are freaking booby-trapped! Fun and nasty, it’s like a really good Twilight Zone episode. So bonk yourself on the head with a frying pan (or have a friend bonk you!), sit back, and enjoy some amnesiac fun!

New Releases this week at Videoport: Vikings- season 2 (This Norseman-centric period drama/hack-fest has been one of the most popular, surprisingly good series at Videoport in the last year. Travis Fimmel is back as Ragnar Lothbrok, the coolest, Viking-est Viking in Viking-land. Seriously, this is a good show.), Bates Motel- season 2 (Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore return as Norman Bates and his possibly-even-crazier mom in this Psycho prequel series that’s actually not that bad.), A Million Ways To Die In The West (Some of you love Seth MacFarlane and his creations Family Guy and Ted. I have come to accept that fact. So here’s his new movie, where MacFarlane himself [lucky us!] plays a snarky Old West guy who thinks living in a Western is very stupid and dangerous. Co starring the likes of Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Charlize Theron, Giovanni Ribisi, and Sarah Silverman—I’m sure the people who like this will really, really like it.), Edge Of Tomorrow (Despite the fact that this sci fi action movie

This seems suggestive...

This seems suggestive…

had a terrible title and was changed for DVD release to the even worse Live Die Repeat, and stars certified crazy person everyone’s tired of Tom Cruise, it’s actually supposed to be pretty darned good. Costarring the certifiably cool and not crazy Emily Blunt.), American Horror Story 3: Coven (Everyone loves this twisted horror series, where actresses like Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Sarah Paulsen, and more do gleefully nasty things to each other every year in a different horror movie setting. This year, everyone’s a witch, and everyone’s devious and sexy and nasty and depraved. Fun!), Million Dollar Arm (Mad Men’s Jon Hamm stars in this piece of based-on-a-true-story piece of Disney feelgoodery about an American pro baseball scout who heads to India to recruit a pair of cricket players to be big league baseball pitchers.), Sharknado 2 (Videoport finally caved and got the first one of these intentionally horrible SyFy Channel sci fi movies about a tornado—made of sharks! So, legally we suppose, we had to buy the sequel which came out this week. Not to spoil anything, but I’m almost certain this one is also about a tornado made if sharks.), Obvious Child (Former SNL-er Jenny Slate makes her big break for movie stardom in this acclaimed indie drama comedy about a successful single woman who finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and decides to exercise the choice part of pro-choice.), The Almighty Johnsons (Decidedly odd comedy fantasy series from New Zealand about a family of rambunctious brothers who find out that their family legacy is to turn into the Norse gods on their 21st birthdays. Pair it up with Vikings—see how that works out and report back to us!), Aftermath (Videoport brings you this acclaimed Polish thriller about a man who returns to his rural village after his father’s death and uncovers the town’s dirty secrets from WWII), Tasting Menu (Stephen Rea stars in this international foodie extravaganza about the closing of one of the world’s best, most eclectic restaurants and the eccentric group of gourmands who come to eat it out of business), Twelve O’Clock Boys (Fascinating indie documentary about the titular Baltimore street racers, a group of young African American boys who illegally race their dirt bikes through B-more’s worst neighborhoods. Perfect for anyone who loved The Wire!), Endeavor- season 2 (If you love Inspector Morse but wish he were a young, hunky British detective instead of an old, crusty British detective, then check out the new season of this BBC mystery prequel series.)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: A Million Ways To Die In The West

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!

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