Volume CDXCIII- Snownado 2015!
For the Week of 1/27/15
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Yes, even on days when we’re the only business open during a blizzard because we have never closed because of bad weather because we are very hardy and very foolish.
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 Snowpiercer (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Who’s up for an icy wasteland!? Well, dig yourself out and come get some frozen thrills with this utterly loopy and entertaining post-apocalyptic action flick from Korean master director Joon-ho Bong. The guy has made some eccentrically brilliant genre films like Mother, Memories Of Murder, and The Host (all available at Videoport, of course), and this, his English language debut is perhaps the strangest of all. Harvey Weinstein, as is his wont, messed with it some for American release (because he’s a philistine bully jerk) but what we got was weird enough indeed. The setup: we tried to stop global warming (which is a thing, no matter what 49 hayseed Republican senators just voted) with a quick fix which—shocker—went so, so wrong and froze the Earth. Good one, humanity. As the film opens, hurtling along its track like the titular train, all of remaining humanity is packed into a massive train which smashed through the frozen wasteland on a year-long circuit. Humanity being what it is, all is not equality and team spirit on the Snowpiercer—nope, the proletariat are crammed into the rear, stinking and starving and being exploited and occasionally hauled away into the unseen front, where the wealthy (probably including a bunch of senators who voted that global warming wasn’t a thing) live a life of luxury. There’s a revolutionary hero (Chris “Captain America” Evans) who’s planning to storm the front of the train and seize control, despite the iron, Margaret Thatcher-y rule of Tilda Swinton’s cartoonishly schoolmarm-like overseer. (She’s hilarious, lecturing the proles like a disappointed auntie.) If you’re getting a whiff of political allegory here, you’re not wrong, but the director never lets the politics get too preachy—or too predictable, filming the inevitable car-by-car revolt with flair, wit, and his signature precision. I won’t say what happens when the poor folks (after liberating a tech wizard played by the director’s favorite actor Kang-ho Song) finally busts out, but it’s never dull, and never predictable, with a complexity of thought and action that is exactly the kind of thing an American mogul dimwit would try to bleed out of it. Great fight scenes, good performances, and like nothing you’ve seen in a long, long time.
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!
>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Muppet Show! BLIZZARDCANE 2015 is upon us, and in some homes, whole families will be hunkering down with cocoa and popcorn and blankets and the wind howling outside — and they’ll need something that will keep everyone, of every age, entertained. Jim Henson designed The Muppet Show to catch the imaginations of kids and of their parents, using a vaudeville-style variety show to showcase… oh, anything that caught the writers’ fancy that week, from the requisite musical numbers to comedy sketches to flat-out surrealist experiments, all of it suitable for children as well as adults. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorite episode, but you might start with Vincent Price or John Cleese and work your way through.
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 Happythankyoumoreplease (in Comedy) & Liberal Arts (in Feature Drama). This is not about how you feel or felt about How I Met Your Mother at any point. Nor is it about how you feel or felt about the main character Ted Mosby. This is about the actor who played Ted Mosby, Josh Radnor. I imagine many actors, like him, have fought to be differentiated from the character they played. I listened to him being interviewed by Aisha Tyler on her podcast Girl on Guy (which I highly recommend by the way she has a very entertaining conversational style way of interviewing) and discovered I was quite fond of the man himself. Did you know that Josh Radnor wrote and directed two movies? Did you know these movies are mediocre, but have a certain magical pizzazz? Did you know that Josh Radnor is endearingly understanding and aware of their pizzazzful mediocrity? I agree with Josh Radnor that we are not always encouraging of fledgling artists in the movie industry. Movie critics immediately pick them apart, cut them down, and leave nothing left. It makes sense though wouldn’t it? That initial efforts of someone to write and direct a movie wouldn’t be perfect? Doesn’t it also make sense though that if there is something special there, that something special should be nurtured? I certainly think so! And I think that’s what both of these movies are. These are the movies of someone who is doing this for the first time and because of that they are a little clunky. They have some of that artsy blandness to them. But they both have a certain special something that makes me want to support and nurture Josh Radnor’s future at movie making! They both are engaging and have stories with the power to resonate with the right audience. They both left me wanting to talk about them and watch them again. And the best part about them is that they both left me happy and hopeful and that’s a really nice feeling to be left with. So I dare say give them a try, but with your eyes wide open and a little bit forgiving. In my opinion the winter is cold and dreary, and a little bit of magical pizzazz sounds mighty nice right about now.
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 Art And Craft (in Documentary Arts). Mark Landis’ story is such a perfect fit for an Errol Morris documentary, it’s strange that Morris’ name isn’t attached to it. Morris – America’s preeminent documentarian – specializes in finding people whose monomaniacal passions isolate them from the rest of society, and Landis, whose career as an art forger is depicted in “Art And Craft,” is one of the most eccentrically lonely criminals ever seen on film. Of course, “criminal” is a tricky label to apply to Landis, a stoop-shouldered late-middle-aged man who, over the course of 20 years, has duped dozens of museums and other reputable institutions into accepting over a hundred of his forged paintings into their collections. Except that Landis has never asked for a penny for any of his impeccably phony masterpieces (aping artists as diverse as Picasso, Holbein, Charles Schultz, and Dr. Seuss), instead crafting elaborate cover stories (involving fictional deceased family members, pseudonyms, and, occasionally, a priest’s collar) in order to simply give them away. As one FBI agent states in the film, “The art world’s a very strange place.” Art has value because people decide it does, and anyone like Landis who undermines both the perceived value of great works and the authority of those professionals whose job it is to authenticate them is going to make some enemies. In Landis’ case his mission creates a nemesis in the person of Matthew Leininger, a bluff, burly museum registrar who becomes obsessed with making every curator in the world aware of Landis’ career in deception. Directors Sam Cullman, Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker construct their movie with admirable restraint and care, springing unexpected twists that take the viewer deeper and deeper into Landis’ sad, enigmatic story. Especially once Leininger’s Inspector Javert-esque hounding tips off a British journalist (along with museum directors across the land), and Landis’ mysteriously fragile little world is threatened with exposure. The antagonistic relationship between the driven Leininger and the mumbly, hermetic Landis gradually reveals each to have more parallels than it seems at first sight. Landis lives in a cluttered little apartment overstuffed with the remnants of his dead mother’s possessions (it’s hinted that she died in Hurricane Katrina) and crafts his nearly flawless phonies with the same ritualistic motions with which he prepares endless frozen dinners and drives to a succession of barely-listening mental health caseworkers. Meanwhile, Leininger’s all-consuming campaign against Landis is gradually revealed to have had consequences of its own, his bravado manifesting itself in the increasingly desperate mantra that museums need to “do their due diligence,” even as we see how his life has been transformed by his need to spoil what Landis calls his “philanthropy.” The real reasons behind both Leininger and Landis’ obsessions remain suitably elusive – but, as seen in their eventual meeting (at a gallery show of Landis’ works), those obsessions have made them both outsiders. In the art world and elsewhere.
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!
>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!
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 suggests Downton Abbey (in Feature Drama). I’ve been revisiting the first few seasons of Downton Abbey FOR IMPORTANT PROFESSIONAL REASONS, and it is both ridiculous and delicious. The ITV program airs in the US under the banner of PBS’ Masterpiece Theater, and coupled with its lavish period productions, that gives the show a veneer of sophistication and elegance. But under its sumptuous wardrobe and posh accents, Downton Abbey is a straight-up melodrama, complete with villains who barely stop short of twirling their moustaches and tying screaming women to the railroad track. It’s as sudsy a soap as ever there was… and I love it for that.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Downton Abbey- season 5 (You know it, you love it—the Upstairs Downstairs intrigues of the aristocrats and servants of the titular British mansion roll on in the new season of this BBC show which Videoport will be stocking a lot of, as usual. Still—call 773-1999 to reserve for the near future), Fury (War is Hell…but with Brad Pitt, in this brutal WWII flick about the morally questionable American soldiers manning [he-manning] a Sherman tank in the waning days of the war), The Judge (Dramatic heavy lifters Robert Downey Jr. and Robert DuVall star in this courtroom thriller about a crusty old judge who reluctantly accepts the legal help of his slick lawyer son when he’s accused of murder), White Bird In a Blizzard (Former punk, take-no-prisoners director Greg Araki [check the Pride section for his first film, entitled Totally F***ed Upfor proof] has toned it down with this literary adaptation about a young woman who goes on a search for her drug-addicted mom after she disappears; starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Chris Meloni, Thomas Jane, and Gabourey Sidibe), Book Of Life (A young man must face his fears across three fantastical worlds in this classy-looking animated adventure featuring the voice talents of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana, ), My Old Lady (Kevin Kline plays an American who finds his rented Paris apartment comes with a cantankerous Maggie Smith who won’t leave in this crowd-pleaser for the Downton Abbey set), Before I Go To Sleep (Twisty-turny [gimmicky] thriller starring Nicole Kidman as a housewife with a brain disorder that keeps her from remembering anything about her life every time she goes to sleep. Colin Firth is her husband who has to convince her that they’re married every morning. And Mark Strong is a psychiatrist who urges her to question some things—with the help of a secret video diary. Directed by The Killing Fields’ Rowan Joffe), Days And Nights ()Katie Holmes, Allison Janney, William Hurt, Jean Reno, and Ben Whishaw play a dysfunctional family dealing with their buried desires and resentments over one Memorial Day weekend in this adaptation of Chekhov’s The Seagull), Art And Craft (See Dennis’ Thursday review above for the rundown on this fascinating documentary about the strangest art forger you’ve ever heard of ), Open Windows (Elijah Wood and former porn star Sasha Grey star in this thriller about an obsessed fan drawn into some unsavory doings when he’s given the chance to cyber=spy on his favorite actress. Directed by the always interesting Nacho Vigalondo [Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial]), The Color Of Time (Nine directors each direct part of this film chronicling the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning author CK Williams; starring the likes of James Franco, Mila Kunis, Jessica Chastain, Zach Braff, and ultimate cool dude Bruce Campbell), Falcon Rising (Certifiable direct-to-DVD badass Michael Jai White [you should really watch Black Dynamite] stars in this —surprise!—direct-to-DVD action flick about an ex-Marine fighting the Yakuza—in the slums of Brazil!), Why Don’t You Play In Hell? (Super-crazy Japanese action thriller about a renegade movie crew who get in a violent rivalry…with the Yakuza?! Those guys are everywhere! ), The Kingdom Of Dreams And Madness (You know how you [and everyone in the world] love Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki? Well, here’s a great documentary about his and his legendary animation house, Studio Ghibli!), Miss Meadows (Violent dark comedy about goody=two-shoes elementary school teacher Katie Holmes, who moonlights as a gun-toting vigilante, taking out anyone who violates her version of niceness), Regular Show—Mordecai Pack (More cartoon goodness from this weird, funny animated series), Justice League—Throne Of Atlantis (The Justice League finally meets Aquaman in this animated DC Comics movie. PS: Aquaman jokes are sooo over)