Volume DVI—The Avengers 3: Punch Everything Until It All Comes Out Okay
For the Week of 4/28/15
Videoport gives you a free movies every single day. You know who gives you free movies never? Netfl*x, Redb*x, Time Warn*r Cable—that’s who. Local, independent—Videoport. Come have a free movie on us.
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!
>>> Videoport customer Connor Q. suggests Rare Exports (in the Incredibly Strange section). Rare Exports is in Finnish, which is awesome. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was learn Finnish. Which was hard, since Portland was low on Finns then, and also lacked the now ample Finnish-media-providing powers of the Internet, since it was the early 1990s. So instead I had to run and see every Aki Kaurismäki movie that The Movies saw fit to put on—try saying “Tulitikkutehdaan Tyttö” seven times fast—and also rent Leningrad Cowboys Go America (available in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section)…only to find that, well, they don’t say much (this is kind of a Finnish thing), and they’re also in America, so there’s not exactly a great percentage of Finnish to English spoken. Nice hair, though. Oh yeah: the movie. Evil Santa Claus. But the people are pretty evil, too. Though to their credit, a nasty monster eating your whole caribou/reindeer herd will awaken the foul beast that lies within us all. Especially since reindeer are apparently worth like $2000 apiece. (Or $200? I’m not sure about my reindeer math. Need to re-watch the reindeer marginal-rate-of-return bit again. One never wants to be off by a whole decimal point when it comes to reindeer.) Anyhow, there is an evil Santa, a totally badass kid—this film apparently suggests that rural Finnish parenting norms are, to say the least, far from the overprotective views currently popular/lamented in the U.S.A.—and a theft of radiators. Somewhat bad things happen to potatoes, and there is a British-accented guy with a U.S. passport. And a pretty decent set of explosions, lots of blerpy CGI snowscape action, and a wicked deep hole. What more could you want?
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 Medium Cool (in Classics). Hey, a 1969 half-documentary about the press trying to film police abuses during political protests. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that some 46 years later, right? Oh, right. Anyway, this film—directed by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler—follows an apolitical news cameraman (an excellent Robert Forster, decades before he was excellent in Jackie Brown) as he covers the 1968 Democratic national convention. Wexler thrust his leading an and crew right in the middle of the thuggish Chicago PD as they ran roughshod over legally assembled hippies and political types who had the dumb idea to express their first amendment rights in the infamously corrupt and fascistic Windy City of Mayor Richard Daley. That might sound dry, but the film is an electric, Cassavetes-esque, semi-improvised piece of Gonzo drama. (In fact, the lead role was intended for Cassavetes.) And, in an age where the widespread availability of handheld cameras exposes police abuses daily, Medium Cool seems more ahead of its time than ever.
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 I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (in Comedy).
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Taking its title from the famous—and famously depressing—poem, this 1987 Canadian film somehow avoids diving into the depths of existential despair the poem hints at, even as it tells the tale of an awkward, lonely young woman pining for both a woman and a career she can seemingly never have. In one of the most beautifully moving performances I’ve ever seen, Sheila McCarthy plays Polly, an aspiring photographer who gains the unexpected position of assistant to the chic proprietor of a hip art gallery. Honestly, McCarthy’s performance is something uniquely, heartbreakingly hopeful, a portrait of a terminal outsider who nonetheless continues to find reasons to maintain her cockeyes optimism. This is one of those little movies that I can never get anyone to rent, so why not buck that futile trend. This is one of those movies that will get to you.
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 Would You Rather (in Horror). One of the chief benefits of watching low budget horror movies—something I’ve done obsessively since I was 13 years old—is uncovering little unexpected moments. Sometimes it’s a talented director (Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were my discoveries, hidden gems I could hold onto even when they became justifiably famous for the likes of Spider Man and The Lord Of The Rings). Sometimes it’s a chance for an actor to shine in a disreputable genre—here, I look at people like Jeffrey Combs in Re-Animator or Tony Todd in Candyman. The love of horror movies is the joy of unexpected discovery. So a movie like Would You Rather is like a treasure trove. The main attraction is Combs, long a staple of genre films, having a field day as a mysterious millionaire who invites a group of disparate, unsuspecting people to his isolated mansion for his singularly twisted version of the titular summer camp game. It’s a nasty, low-budget little piece of work, relying on the grisly thrill of watching the various collection of characters decide how to cope with the bloody ethical dilemmas Combs’ malicious plans place them in. What makes the film so watchable are the performances from a top-to-bottom cast of interesting actors delivering the epitome of horror movie hidden gems. Apart from the always-great Combs, hamming it up with gleeful aplomb (Re-Animator, The Frighteners), the film stars Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse, Agent Carter), John Heard, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Eddie Steeples (Crab Man from My Name Is Earl), Robb Wells (Ricky from Trailer Park Boys), June Squibb (Oscar nominee from Nebraska), Robin Lord Taylor (The Penguin from Gotham), Charlie Hofheimer (Abe from Mad Men), and Sasha Grey (former porn star turned “legit” actress—The Girlfriend Experience). Oh, also, the main character—nice girl trying to win money to take care of her terminally ill brother—is Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) who is dull, but you can’t have everything. Grubby little horror with a ton of good actors doing interesting work—that’s the fun of seeking out the fringes.
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, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Inherent Vice (in Feature Drama). Seeing as most viewers are probably in search of perfect sense, it takes some serious balls to commit to perfect NONsense, and Paul Thomas Anderson has ‘em. This has been evident since the beginning of his career, though perhaps it just stands out more than usual in Inherent Vice, which is based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel from 2009. To varying degrees, it could certainly be argued that all of PTA’s films are comedies, but this is the one that most feels like a fearless screwball farce. It’s akin to watching a live action cartoon or a comic book adaptation in that it’s colorful, frequently amusing, and could not care less about whether it is understood or not. Pynchon’s novel was more concerned with a distinctive set of vibes than coherence, and Anderson clearly favors feelings over understanding where cinema and storytelling are concerned, so in that sense he is the perfect candidate to bring Doc Sportello and his truly out-there exploits to the screen. The film is very much alive, and quite frankly the energy is infectious. The spectacular ensemble cast certainly attributes to this, but its Anderson’s technical perfectionism and resonant cinematic philosophy that take it a step further. It’s something of a transcendent stoner comedy in that it’s incredibly playful while also delivering an engaging critique on the times (the story is set during the 1970’s) and digging deep, and I mean DEEP into its protagonist’s psyche. Everything is seen through bloodshot eyes and paranoid ears, so it’s frequently committed to disorientation. This may bother some, but I ran with it. Sometimes it truly is enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride, especially when said ride is as outrageously funny and visually stimulating as this.
>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Clerks (in Comedy). You know, sometimes after a particularly trying day working behind a counter, even the memory of this legendary, micro-budget comedy from writer-director-Silent Bob Kevin Smith provides some comfort. I still have a lot of affection for Smith, for a lot of reason, even though he’s never really progressed beyond the “guy from Jersey working out some stuff” level, artistically, especially when I think of how he transformed his time working retail into a hilariously cathartic and filthy cinematic primal scream. Because sometimes people try to make themselves feel big by making the employees of a small business feel powerless and small—and sometimes said employees will…not…have…it. As one of the characters states, “we push buttons.” But if you treat us like that’s all we do, people, prepare to have yourselves immortalized in all your supercilious, classist a-holery in the indie movies we’re all writing.
New Releases this week at Videoport: Paddington (He’s a little British bear, what more do you need? Based on the classic children’s books [and ubiquitous dolls], this family film is actually supposed to be really good. Again—cute British bear. What more do you want?), Wolf Hall (No one ever gets enough of that turkey-leg-chompin’, wife-beheadin’ Henry VIII! At least that’s the lesson learned from this recent Masterpiece Theater miniseries where Henry attempts to annul his marriage to Anne Boleyn in order to get a male child—not knowing that it’s his damned fault that he keeps siring girl babies. Jerk. Starring Homeland’s Damian Lewis as Henry.), The Gambler (Mark Wahlberg stars in this crime thriller as a literature professor [not likely] and addicted gambler [much more likely] who gets himself in over his head and has to try one last gambling gambit to pull himself out. Good cast includes John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and Michael K. Williams [aka Omar from The Wire]), Inherent Vice (This is the movie of the week, people. For one thing, director Paul Thomas Anderson has not only never made a bad movie, he’s never made anything but modern classics. [See: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master]. For another thing, this psychedelic detective story about a 1970s, spaced-out detective [Joaquin Phoenix] searching sun-drenched Los Angeles for a missing ex-girlfriend is the sort of ambitious adaptation of an “unfilmable” novel [this time by the ever-mysterious Thomas Pynchon] that only a masterful director like Anderson would take on. And last, here’s the supporting cast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Michale K. Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Timothy Simons, and Jillian Bell. Just rent this one, you guys. See the Saturday from Videoport customer Ryan!), The Wedding Ringer (Kevin Hart stars as the titular wedding ringer, a guy who hires himself out to prospective grooms to provide the fun bachelor party the poor shlubs can’t accumulate for themselves. Said shlub this time is Josh Gad [Frozen], who bonds with Hart as he tries to impress his bride and her family.), Accidental Love (The story behind this satirical comedy might be more entertaining than the film itself. Acclaimed director David O. Russell [Spanking The Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle] bailed on the film [along with much of the cast] when the producers ran out of money, and took his name of the movie. Completed without Russell, the movie, about a waitress [Jessica Biel] who becomes a nymphomaniac after a nail gun accident and the dim-witted but ambitious politician [Jake Gyllenhall] who looks to capitalize, in various ways, on her affliction. With a supporting cast including James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, and Bill Hader.), Mommy (The newest from from precocious 25-year-old French Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan [Laurence Always, I Killed My Mother] about a time in the near future where Canadian parents can easily commit their troublesome teenage children to state-run institutions), Would You Rather (See Thursday’s review for details on this nastily entertaining horror flick), The Boy Next Door (Jennifer Lopez is a recently-cuckolded woman who falls for her hunky, young new neighbor, only to gradually discover that sexing up the mysteriously sexy teenager next door can have unexpectedly un-sexy consequences.)
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