VideoReport #484

Volume CDLXXXIV- Once More With Feeling

For the Week of 11/25/14

 Videoport gives you a free movie (or TV show DVD) every single day. Might we suggest some Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel? Read on and let us show you why that’s a very good idea, indeed.

 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!

>>> Dennis suggests Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel (in Horror). Fearless defenders of the world from the forces of darkness, both Buffy (former cheerleader destined to be the one, chosen vampire killer) and Angel (former evil vampire cursed with a soul and trying to save the world while atoning for his sins), have faced it all. Demons, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, snake men, snake monsters, really big snake-demon-monsters, even (in one regrettable instance) an alien, and they’ve always come out on top. But last week, the intrepid duo almost went down at the hands of their most insidious enemy of all—time. Occasionally, Videoport will run a list of things that haven’t rented in a long time. Years, even. And some of that stuff has to go—there’s only so much space in our little basement, and Videoport is, in a very real way, an embodiment of the cultural zeitgeist. Some things last, some things fade—and the measurement of our cultural memory is made through the actions of our customers. (Of course, the really important stuff we keep even if you guys never touch it—we have standards.) But some stuff simply…falls away. And last week, both the Buff and Angel were, shockingly, up for the big, pointy stake through the heart, most of the discs having not rented…in years! Years?! So after being granted a reprieve by our wise and benevolent leader, some pals and I are gonna remind the world all over again why exactly these outstanding and influential series should have a resurgence. Come, let us show you…

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 Buffy. You bet he does. Look, the premise sounds dippy—bubbly California blonde finds out she’s the latest in a centuries-old line of vampire slayers. Oh, and there are vampires. But remember a few things: 1. This predates all the vampire over-saturation we’re experiencing nowadays. In fact, Buffy probably caused it—it was the little cult show that could, and its devoted following was made up of a lot of creative types, many of whom went on to get seriously into

From the scariest episode ever, "Hush." (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.

From the scariest episode ever, “Hush.” (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.)

vampires. So don’t blame Buffy for Twilight or True Blood or The Vampire Diaries—but understand that they only exist because Buffy was so great. 2. Everyone is all about Joss Whedon now, but this is where he really found his voice. Once The Avengers made, oh, all the money in the world, and everyone was amazed at its mix of action, drama, comedy, and super-team dynamics, he could do anything he wanted. But, like with Lord Of The Rings’ Peter Jackson, Whedon was making grubby, low budget greatness before Hollywood came a’calling—he just was able to translate some of what made his little vampire shows so great into major studio magic once he got the chance. Everything you loved about The Avengers (or Cabin In The Woods, or Much Ado About Nothing, or Firefly, or Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog) is all right here—seven seasons’ worth—just waiting to be discovered (or re-discovered). 3. The lovely Ms. Emily S. Customer, four very learned professional friends, and big, dumb me held years-long weekly Buffy Nights, where we made dinner, got drunk, and watched three or more episodes of an evening. It’s one of the most fun times of my life. 4. It’s got a pre-fame Alyson Hannigan (of How I Met Your Mother and being delightful fame) as Willow, Buffy’s best friend, the most adorable, formidably geeky witch the world has even known. 5-100. Once you get through the (short, sometimes rocky) first season, this show will own you. You’re going to devour it. Like all great serialized dramas, you’ll get attached to the characters, to a very protective, possessive extent. Apart from all the cool supernatural stuff and arse-kicking, Buffy is very much a coming-of-age ensemble drama, with Buffy and her pals (self-nicknamed The Scooby Gang) dealing with parents, boys/girls, sex, college, jobs, money—all in insightful, touching, and funny as hell ways (Whedon is one hell of a writer). It can go operatic like a Shakespearean tragedy, it can go broad and silly, it can be almost unbearably painful (Whedon is also a monster when it comes to hurting or killing the people you love the most). This is great American television. Up next:

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!                                                        

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests (under duress) Buffy! DENNIS IS FORCING ME TO WRITE THIS! Here are some things that make me think of Buffy: Dennis forcing me to think of Buffy is number one on the list. Second, there’s construction going on outside my office which makes it feel like a Hellmouth is sitting beneath me and it’s about to get all apocalypsey in this place. Third, using the word apocalyspey! Because Buffy was amazing at turning words into other words. I think it was Buffy that taught me grammatically that all words have the power to become verbs, adjectives, and/or adverbs. Fourth, there was a terrifying experience with a bug last night. I can’t get into it, but just know that it was horrifying and I’m still traumatized. There have been a lot of great bug monsters on Buffy! And the trauma they inflict continues unto other seasons. In general I think that’s awesome for shows to do and you’d think it would be obvious, but no. Quite a few sci-fi, horror, and/or fantasy shows have always been big fans of having something epic or interesting happen in one single episode and then never ever speaking of it again. Then TV started to get good! And I dare say Buffy was a frontrunner of our current heyday of shows being really good.  So you know, if you like things that are really good and you want Dennis to free me from this cage. Check out some Buffy! Or Angel…that works too. But Buffy first.

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!                                        

>>>Videoport customers and staff vote for their favorite (and least favorite) episodes of Buffy and Angel! We threw a call out to the Videoport faithful on the Internet, and here are their picks:

Buffy favorites (with quotes):

—“Hush” (season 4, episode 10): “The silent episode with those weird, creepy spooks.” (Four votes)

—“Once More With Feeling” (season 6, episode 7— The musical episode! “My family still listens to the soundtrack in the car on a regular basis.”) (Four votes)

—“Restless” (season 4, episode 22—“Trumps the almighty Hush and OMwF for simply being so epic. Heck, even Simon Pegg tweeted about it a few weeks back.” (Three votes)

—“Smashed” (season 6, ep 9—“The one where Buffy and [redacted] get down and dirty”)

—“The Body” (season 5, ep 16—“A masterpiece of an experience.” “In a league of its own.”) (Four votes)

—“Seeing Red” (season 6, ep 19)

—“Graduation Day-Parts 1&2” (season 3, eps 21&22—“ I refuse to choose between part one and part two. They’re both parts of the same thing!”)

—“The Zeppo” (season 3, ep 13)

—“Bad Girls” (season 3, ep 14)

—“The original pilot with the other Willow” (?!?)

Buffy least favorites:

—“Chosen” (Series finale: “I hate it because they killed [redacted].” (Three votes)

—“The Pack” (season 1, ep 6)

—“Hell’s Bells” (season 6, episode 16)

—“I Robot, You Jane” (season 1, episode 8—“ Not only was it a stand-alone clunky episode, it felt like they were trying. First season kinks.”) (Two votes)

—“Beer Bad” (season 4, ep 5)

—“Um…every episode except the musical episode of season 6.”

—“Primeval” (season 4, ep 21—“That season finale with the original slayer; what the hell was that?”)

Angel favorites:

—“Smile Time” (season 5, ep 14—“You’re a wee puppet man!” Angel gets turned into a muppet. It is glorious.) (Two votes)

—“Spin The Bottle” (season 4, ep 6—”I love episodes where the established reality is intentionally broken and bent to explore character as much as plot.”)

The last scene of "Not Fade Away."

The last scene of “Not Fade Away.”

—“Not Fade Away” (series finale—“I mean, it was amazing.”) (Three votes)

—”A Hole In The World” (season 5, ep 15—”If you can make it to the end of this and not be devastated—nay destroyed—you have no soul.”)

Angel least favorites:

—“All of season 4.”

—“Expecting” (season 1, ep 12)

—“Origin” (season 5, ep 18—“The ep where [redacted] came back with his new family, it seemed kind of tacked on with no real purpose.”)

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!          

>>> Never too early to get your kids into Buffy and Angel Well, maybe it is, but do it anyway.

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 goes in-depth into two of her favorite episodes. First up, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Restless,” S4 disc 6. In its fourth year, Buffy the Vampire Slayer broke with television tradition by slating the season’s climactic battle to end in its penultimate episode, “Primeval.” After the Scoobies overcome the infighting spurred by Spike’s sneaky sniping to band together and defeat the season’s Big Bad, they retire to Buffy’s home with a stack of movies and a big bowl of popcorn to ride out the post-battle buzz… and promptly doze off. The vignettes following Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy through the surreal landscapes of their dreams are just as eerie and absurd as you expect, but they’re also poignantly revealing and densely larded with foreshadowing. I always love watching dream sequences, which allow familiar characters to briefly step outside their mundane strictures and try on new roles — or fall into old traps — but this episode is all dream sequence, each weird, whimsical segment culminating in sudden violence. There’s something oddly restful about the rhythms of “Restless,” an uneasy lullaby rocking the viewer into quiet, wary watchfulness that’s miles away from rest.

>>>For Sunday, Emily heads over to Buffy’s sister show for Angel, “Spin the Bottle,” S4 disc 2. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) has lost her memory, and her life story isn’t the kind of tale you’d swallow wholesale if someone told it to ya, even if anyone knew the whole truth, which they don’t. So Lorne (Andy Hallett) casts a memory spell intended to return Cordelia’s past to her present. But he doesn’t know secrets harbored in the heart of his fellows, or how heavily they’re weighing on them. And also, he doesn’t so much know how to cast a memory spell, turns out. The mystical spell comes on more like mushrooms and mescaline, sending Lorne, Cordie, Fred (Amy Acker), Gunn (J. August Richards), Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and Angel (David Boreanaz) into a loopy high that swiftly turns to regression. Not memory regression: straight-up age regression, taking each of them back to their teenaged persona, which is a considerably longer trip for the vampire with a soul — now an Irish boy named Liam — than it is for Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, Head Boy of the South Hampshire Watcher’s Academy. “Spin the Bottle” also functions as a bottle episode (I see what you did there, writers), saving production costs and time by shooting on an existing set with a minimum of special effects. Shucking off their dark secrets and tortured dynamics, the character (and the actors) weave a whole new fabric together as they explore the now-mysterious Hyperion Hotel that’s so familiar to Angel viewers, developing theories of how they’ve been brought here and why, discovering secrets about themselves they have to hide from the others, and soon the emotionally fraught fabric of their complicated relationships gets woven back together again from new threads. It’s giddy and gleeful and heartbreaking, all at the same time.

So that’s our collective case, people. Rent you some Buffy and Angel. Their survival is up to you…

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Expendables 3 (Sylvester Stallone is back, collecting all the creaky, HGH-juiced former action stars loitering around Hollywood for yet another mega-action spectacle of leathery grunting and automatic weaponry. Joining Sly this time are: Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li [for team Metamucil] and younger generation Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Ronda Rousey), The Giver (Jeff Bridges stars as a wise old weirdo in this young adult adaptation trying to fill that Harry Potter/Hunger Games bloodlust. In this one, a young guy learns that his seemingly perfect society is built on a whole bunch o’ lies when he must venture out and fight some evil. Meryl Streep picks up a paycheck, too.), November Man (Pierce Brosnan continues his Liam Neeson-esque late career action hero career with this thriller about an ex CIA operative who’s just trying to retire in peace, dammit. Unfortunately the Russian president and the CIA and whole bunch of dudes with guns make him pick up his guns and his stylish suits again.), A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (One of this year’s obligatory Christmas movies, this one about a terrible father coming to spend the holiday, reluctantly, with his resentful adult son. Should be a pip! One of the last films of Robin Williams, who stars alongside Community’s Joel McHale), What If (The interesting cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver should liven up this romantic comedy about a guy and a girl who fall in love, like you do.), Omar (Oscar-nominated drama about a young Palestinian freedom fighter forced to turn informant for the Israelis, and the probably understandable conflict that results), Housebound (Good-looking horror from New Zealand about a woman forced to move back in with her mother to serve out a house arrest. Awkward, but, to make things worse, the house turns out to be haunted!), Legends Of The Knight (Intriguing documentary about the disparate, often desperate, people around the world who have taken up the legend of Batman in surprising, often inspiring ways), A Letter To Momo (Delightful Japanese animated film about a young girl who finds a letter from her recently-deceased father—and a trio of strange creatures living in her attic), The Grand Seduction (In this remake of the French Canadian film Seducing Dr. Lewis, a small village sets up an elaborate scheme to convince a hunky young doctor to stay in order that they can keep their town alive. Starring Taylor Kitsch and Brendan Gleeson.), A Madea Christmas (Here we go again. Tyler Perry’s back in a dress! For Christmas churchiness this time!)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Come Back To The 5 And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Videoport brings in this just released on DVD Robert Altman obscurity, a play adaptation where Cher, Karen Black, and Sandy Dennis play a trio of women still obsessing over the time, long ago, when James Dean was filming Giant in their tiny Texas town. This was the first time people took Cher seriously—and she is pretty good.), Two Shadows (2012 indie dramedy about a young California hipster who takes off for Cambodia when she hears that she still has living family there), Festival! (1967 concert film about the best performances and personalities from the legendary Newport Folk Festival, featuring the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Judy Collins)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Miller’s Crossing, Letter To Momo, Expendables 3, The Giver

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!

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