Volume DIII—The Tax Day Wallet Massacre
For the Week of 4/14/15
Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. If there’s something wrong with that, then…well, there’s nothing wrong with that.
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!
>>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Interstellar (sort of) (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Never been a rabid science fiction fan, but I have a fond memory of being freaked out watching “Logan’s Run” with my Dad in 1976. Anyway, I liked the metaphysical questions raised in “Interstellar”, a movie that we watched last night. If you like outer-space survival epics where there’s a lot of oops-we-wrecked-the-planet-and-we-better-find-another-one and you live to cling to hopes that there are loving beings (aliens) out there somewhere giving us signs about how and where to survive, you’ll like this. I always love the odyssey of the return home — which is where all these space-time continuum travelers end up wanting to go. What I did NOT love at all was the nearly incoherent too-cool-for-school-mumble-mouth-whisper-talk-over-accented-ramblings that Matthew McConaughey was allowed get away with. Ugh. I kept asking Peter, “what the heck did he just say?”
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 Hud (in Classics). Everyone loves the late Paul Newman. It’s pretty much mandatory now, but there was a time when Newman was thought sort of as a bit of a stiffy—a prettyboy, Actors Studio hunk plying his sub-Brando leading man skills in mediocre movies. But this 1963 modern western was a hint of the super-cool Newman we’re all required to love and respect. In it, Newman is Hud, the materialistic, pragmatic scion of a ranching dynasty led by boringly righteous old-timer Melvyn Douglas. Stifling under his pa’s dully decent practices, Newman’s Hud acts out by tomcatting around and trying to sell dad’s infected cattle out from under him, while occasionally attempting to force himself on rangy, sensible ranch hand Patricia Neal and providing a very bad example for manhood to ranch youngster Brandon De Wilde (the grown-up kid from Shane). All-time great film critic Pauline Kael called foul on the film’s moral stance, saying that “casting Newman as a mean materialist is like writing a manifesto against the banking system while juggling your investments to make a fortune.” Simply put, Newman’s scaliwag, for all his greed and shed moral values and date-rapiness, is by far the most magnetic character in the movie.
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 In The Loop (in Comedy). The feature film continuation of the Bristish comedy series The Thick Of It (which you should rent first from Videoport’s British Comedy section), this movie is the creation of acerbically brilliant Brit Armondo Ianucci, who also came over here right after to create the great HBO political comedy Veep (which you should also rent from Videoport’s regular Comedy section). Like The West Wing, except that all the fast-talking denizens of the British and American halls of power are vain, self-serving, variously incompetent a-holes, In The Loop sees a (very) minor British government official saying one minor, slightly stupid thing, which sets off a chain reaction of political catastrophe that proves—as we all imagined—that governments are run by people who may actually have the public good foremost in their minds. The chief attraction here—as it is in The Thick Of It—is Peter Capaldi (miles away from the sweet goof he played in my favorite movie of all time, Local Hero). As creatively, incessantly profane British government minister Malcolm Tucker, Capadli (now killing it as Doctor Who—available in the Sci-Fi section at Videoport!) tries to keep the US and England from getting into an unnecessary and deadly war, not becase he’s opposed to war really, but because he despises the @(*&% stupidity behind the latest international cock-up. His scene squaring off with American general James Gandolfini is an all-time classic, with both unbending badasses insulting each other—and their respective countries—with escalating brilliance. As cynical, yet hilarious, a political comedy as you’ll see anywhere, this is just the movie to get you prepared for the terrifyingly farcical presidential election season about to take us in its grip.
>>>Dennis suggests Scrubs (in Comedy). One of the unique things about working in a video store is the chance to see what pieces of pop culture retain their popularity in the zeitgeist and which ones fade. At Videoport, we will—reluctantly—let go of some TV shows that fade. We’ll run a list of things than haven’t rented (not one single disc) in years, and then hold out nose and let ‘em go. Sometimes, we choose to hang on to something that hardly rents any more (sometimes because an employee throws a hissy fit—on an unrelated note, rent Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel or things are gonna get messy). So, in that spirit, howsabout saving this hospital sitcom which—perhaps because of the general distaste for star Zach Braff’s efforts as director—has dropped off the cultural map. This is a really good show, you guys, following Braff as the goofy, good-hearted, slightly naïve first-year intern at a teaching hospital as he copes with learning the ropes, dealing with death, and looking for love, all the while desperately trying to win the respect of his insanely demanding would-be mentor John C. McGinley. Forget how annoyed you’ve been with Braff since, in movies like Garden State and Wish I Was Here (they’re not that bad), and enjoy how exceptionally well the show uses Braff’s inherent spazziness as the epitome of the neophyte doctor, and how the show undercuts the unflinching examination of the realities of doctoring with hilarious flights of fancy. If you’ve ever loved one of the ubiquitous hospital shows cluttering TV, Scrubs is the antidote, telling the same stories and having its exceptional cast of supporting characters learn the same lessons with an unrelentingly smart and silly sense of humor. Don’t let Scrubs go the way of, say, the indifferent and increasingly forgotten Rescue Me, people. Good show.
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!
>>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Birdman (Or The Unexpected Value Of Ignorance) (in Feature Drama). Many of you likely saw this film before the Oscars, but last night Peter and I watched “Birdman” (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) by Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu, with Michael Keaton in the lead. It’s filmed in mostly real time in a sort of stream of consciousness style. I loved the big dose of magical realism. At first it felt like a pretentious vehicle to play out the narcissistic woes of actors, but it’s more layered than that. Who hasn’t had some version of an existential crisis? Freud’s idea of the human psyche divided into 3 — the ID, the EGO and the SUPEREGO are at work here (though never spoken of overtly) as the lead character battles his demons and insecurities. He seeks for redemption (always compelling)– regarding the choices he’s made that have affected his career and consequently his relationships with his former wife and his daughter. I love movies, but what I love almost as much is the conversations and questions brought out by movies of substance.
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, Dennis suggests Do The Right Thing (in the Criterion Collection). Spike Lee has proven himself an inconsistent filmmaker, sometimes an outright dopey one over the years. But his constant engagement with social issues in America has produced some of the most devastating portraits of the country’s racial divide, none more devastating that this 1989 portrait of a single day in a Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. SPOILER TIME. At the end of the day, a young black man is choked to death by the New York City police. He’s not a particularly nice young man—Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) is something of a neighborhood fixture, the scowling, boom-box carrying guy everyone’s afraid of. But the film masterfully ramps up the tension of a single block on a single day until Radio Raheem’s death seems like the inevitable result of America’s inability to overcome its ingrained prejudices. This is a masterful movie, a furious, energetic, and—yes—thrillingly entertaining. And, in an America some 26 years later, where “police killing unarmed black men” has, thanks to the proliferation of cell phone cameras, been brought into daily internet breakfast viewing, Lee’s outraged cry of despair has come to seem both prescient and depressingly ordinary. In 1989, I wandered out of the theater showing it in a daze, stumbled to a park bench nearby, and wept, openly. Now, I open my computer every morning and see irrefutable evidence that things like that have been happening all along, and my youthful confusion and outrage at a fictional representation of what Lee knew all along was the product of my privileged, blinkered belief that only the “Bad apples” of institutionalized racism did that sort of thing. What can I say—I was young.
>>>For Sunday, Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests This Is Where I Leave You (in Feature Drama). “This is Where I Leave You” is not great cinema, BUT as the old “family-gathering story vehicle” genre goes, it’s pretty entertaining and there are some genuinely funny moments and some moving ones too. For me, there was too much fighting and too much family dysfunction for it to be deeply enjoyable and for me to care too deeply about most of the characters — it just never plunges deep enough, but the movie is redeemed by nice performances by Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. And bonus: Bateman has a beard in this one. Yum.
>>>Dennis suggests Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (in Comedy). You probably know comedian/character actor Oswalt from his stints on shows like Justified, Dollhouse, Parks & Recreation, or movies like Young Adult or Big Fan, all of which he’s great in. But his bread and butter is standup comedy, where his smart, nerdy, allusive voice makes him one of the best comedians working today. In this, his best special, Oswalt is simply a giddy, intelligently hilarious delight. There are only a handful of comedians out there who I’d call some of the best who’ve ever been, and Oswalt’s one of them, so you should rent this (or the other two specials of his we’ve got.) (In case you were wondering, you should also pick up specials from Maria Bamford and Louis CK while you’re at it.) Oswalt’s become a divisive figure, thanks to his aggressive Twitter presence, but I choose to admire his chutzpa in taking on high-profile topics in such a public forum—even though he and I actually got into it online recently. It’s cool—we settled things with some comic book references. We both might be dorks, but it’s okay.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Liars, Fires & Bears (Acclaimed indie drama about a neglected 9-year-old foster child who tries to make her way back to her brother with the help of an immature, alcoholic 30-year-old drifter), Killers (Dark Japanese thriller about a psychotic businessman who begins to mess with a reporter over the internet, only to find out that the journalist has his own secrets), The Babadook (YOU NEED THIS. The best reviewed horror film in years sees a single mother discovering that the imaginary monster in her son’s closet might not be so much imaginary.), Big Eyes (Tim Burton continues his stylized paeans to oddball artists with this biopic about painter Margaret Keane [Amy Adams], the woman who painted those terrifying, huge-eyed children pictures your grandmother loved, and her creepy manager/husband [Christoph Waltz] who took all the credit for the aboniations—and all her money), Maps To The Stars (The great and disturbing director David Cronenberg [Videodrome, A History Of Violence, The Brood, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method] takes on Hollywood, which, shockingly, he views as a twisted and horrifying freakshow. Starring Julianne Mooore and John Cusack), The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (Certified insane genius RZA is back, writing and starring in a sequel to his over-the-top martial arts extravaganza about an inexplicably African American blacksmith with a Brooklyn accent in ancient Japan), The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (You know that horror movie starring Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe? Well here’s the sequel—which does not star Daniel Radcliffe, this time about the same haunted house housing WWII orphans some 40 years after the first movie. There may be some woman—possibly wearing clothes of a particular color), Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (Anthony Hopkins stars in this heist/kidnapping thriller about the real-life abduction of the titular tycoon responsible for that notoriously skunky faux-fancy beer. Also—check out the Dutch original The Heineken Kidnapping, starring Rutger Hauer in Videoport’s foreign language section), The Missing- season 1 (Riveting British thriller series about a pair of grieving parents [James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor] who receive cryptic hints that their son is alive, some years after he was abducted on a holiday in Paris), Antarctica: A Year On Ice (Visually stunning documentary about what it’s like to spend an entire year on the most inhospitable continent on the planet. At least there are penguins), Wild Card (Strutting human headbutt Jason Staham stars in this action thriller about a top-flight Las Vegas bodyguard with a gambling problem who—spoiler!—gets into trouble with the mob)
Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.