VideoReport #508

Volume DVIII— Time Warner Cable Customer Service: The Movie (a.k.a.12 Angrier Men)

For the Week of 5/12/15

 Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Netfl*x gives you gas, shingles, the grippe, the vapors, scrofula, scabies, and rabies. It’s a medical fact—you can look it up.

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!

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l-r: Crow, Joel, Tom

>>>Dennis suggests Mystery Science Theater 3000 (in Incredibly Strange). You know how you love movies, and laughter, and laughing at bad movies? Well, this is the show for you—if you like joy, that is. For ten seasons, this weirdball little series from some knuckleknobs in Minnesota got ahold of some terrible movies and mocked the hell out of them. Being from the Midwest, the mockery was sometimes gentler than it would be otherwise, a sort of sweetly silly riffing on the various shortcomings of, say, The Giant Spider Invasion, or Attack Of The Giant Leeches, or The Mole People, or Overdrawn At The Memory Bank, or, well, you get the idea. What made the show such an enduringly delightful experience was the framing concept—a poor working Joe (actually Joel—Joel Hodgson, and the Mike Nelson) gets kidnapped and shot into space by some evil scientist types (Dr. Forrester to start) as part of a scheme to take over the world by destroying his mind with terrible movies. Sounds practical. Anyway, what the evil scientists didn’t count on was that Joel would use his tinkering skills to craft a pair of robot pals to help him stave off the loneliness and the madness, that he’d give them sarcastic, goofy personalities, and that the three of them (Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot) would actually come to enjoy the experience, their bonding over goofin’ around at the expense of, say, Manos: The Hands Of Fate, providing more joy than insanity. It’s a delightfully silly-smart show that will appeal especially to movie lovers (if not bad movie lovers), but which is unendingly fun for everyone. Honestly, this show is one of the chief little pleasures in my life, and I’m not the only one. Paul Feig, creator of Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids, the upcoming Ghostbusters remake, and more is clearly a huge fan as well, seeing as how his new TV series (it’s on Yahoo, actually, because TV networks don’t know a good thing when they have it in their slimy claws) Other Space is about a rag-tag group of goofballs stranded in space—and features a goofy working stiff played by Joel Hodgson AND a wise-cracking robot pal named ART, voiced by the voice of Crow T. Robot, Trace Beaulieu! It’s a funny show on its own (and not on DVD yet), but the inclusion of two MST3k vets in the mix is a delightful surprise from one MST3k fan to the rest of us.

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 Camelot (in Musicals). It’s May! It’s May! The lusty month of May! I’m not going to sugar-coat it: the 1967 film version of Camelot is a little too slack and overstuffed to retain the magic of the stage musical. It’s hard to imagine being stuck in a theater for three hours while this candy-floss confection plays out. But it’s a great candidate for home viewing, where you have the freedom to unwind and enjoy it on your own terms. As King Arthur and Guenevere, Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave chew some of that (award-winning) scenery, but they’re passionate, playful, and weirdly sympathetic for squabbling royalty stuck in a love triangle.

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 Key & Peele, Mr. Show, and Upright Citizens Brigade (in Comedy). Sketch comedy is hard—these are the three funniest & smartest sketch comedy series since Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Watch them make it look easy.

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!                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests 12 Angry Men (in Classics/The Criterion Collection section). If you watch Inside Amy Schumer, read pop-culture sites, or just, like, have been on Twitter this week, you’ve probably heard about Schumer’s experiment in form last Tuesday, when she devoted the entirety of her show, usually filled with sketches featuring her, to a single episode-length sketch featuring 12 grizzled (and big-name) actors, with barely a peek at Amy herself. Entitled 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer, Schumer’s parody of courtroom drama is a daring move for a sketch comedy, and one that pays off royally, because it deftly balances note-perfect observation of 12 Angry Men — its set, its grain, its tone, its mercurial performances — with scathing observation of current cultural expectations. It’s a masterpiece, and if you haven’t revisited Lumet’s acclaimed12 Angry Men lately, with its roster of remarkable character actors wrangling between justice and convenience, now is a good time to do it.

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 North By Northwest (in Classics). After this week’s Mad Men, (no spoilers here for the final season here, by the way, though I will discuss one major plot twist from Mad Men Season 1) viewers and critics alike are pointing out similarities to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. But these similarities didn’t start this week; they date all the way back to the show’s beginning, as a comparison of their credit sequences will show. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is a Madison Avenue ad man who gets embroiled in international espionage through a simple case of mistaken identity, and soon he’s being chased across the country under another man’s name. It’s  thrilling adventure, and it’s also like a story the Don Draper of early seasons would spin about his own circumstances, simultaneously romanticizing his plight and displacing responsibility in favor of thrilling fantasy.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Female Trouble (in Incredibly Strange). When one hears the name, attention is either drawn to the grotesque excess of PINK FLAMINGOS or the far more commercially accessible HAIRSPRAY – so basically the two extremes. But to me, his magnum opus will always be the uproariously funny FEMALE TROUBLE. The film tells the story of Dawn Davenport, a suburbanite who pursues a life of infamy after running away from home on Christmas morning, played by the forever incomparable Divine. It’s a lot more complex than that – she gets knocked up, has a kid with serious psychological setbacks, robs houses with her clique from High School by night, gets married and almost immediately divorces to her hair stylist, etc. – but for the sake of time, I’ll spare the details. If you are familiar with the kinds of characters that Waters is most fascinated with (i.e. just awful, awful human beings), then you’ll know what to expect from this. Nothing is sacred, but the viewer is immediately thrown into the grimy little world that he has created, rather than building up to individually offensive moments. This way, one can appreciate the vicious attack on the nation’s obsession with celebrity that Waters dishes out through his obnoxious anti-heroine as well as the more genuinely witty elements of his writing. The characters are unmistakably his, and FEMALE TROUBLE contains a few of the best that Waters has ever written – I of course must give a honorable mention to Aunt Ida, the leather-clad neighbor of Ms. Davenport played by fellow “Dreamlander” Edith Massey who desperately wants her nephew to be gay and does not approve of his short marriage with the former in the Like-Sunday-Like-Rain-posterslightest. This is perhaps the most satisfying cinematic representation of the director’s personal beliefs and demented imagination; and much like the more technically accomplished POLYESTER, the film rests in the perfect crossroads between the earlier and later portions of a successful and positively scandalous career. An essential dark comedy.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Like Sunday, Like Rain (Sweet looking indie iLv6cJkQLvKLIWmBUFt2VYnvGkF[directed by actor Frank Whaley] about a lonely young cello prodigy’s unlikely friendship with an unemployed, aimless 23 year old musician, played by Leighton Meester [The Organges, The Roommate]), Beck- season 1 (You guys know how much you like Wallander, The Bridge, and all other Scandinavian murder? Well Videoport brings you this Swedish mystery series about a police commissioner and his eccentric partner solving crimes in Stockholm, Sweden. You’re welcome!), Halt And Catch Fire- season 1 (AMC continues to flail MV5BODA4MTA3MjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1MDk3MTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_around looking for the next Breaking Bad or Mad Men, and this 1980s-set drama is…their latest attempt. Set at a small computer firm at the birth of the computer revolution, Halt And Catch Fire has a good cast, with Lee Pace [Pushing Daisies] as the mysterious, charismatic executive out to beat IBM to the home computer market, and the oddly-named but talented Scoot McNairy as the downtrodden 5769_4290but brilliant programmer he enlists to actually build the thing. Your intrepid editor actually reviewed the entire series at the AV Club [http://www.avclub.com/tv/halt-and-catch-fire/] and wasn’t super-impressed or anything. But there’s some good stuff in there), Black Sea (Jude Law stars in this undersea thriller about a submarine captain searching the depths of the titular Black Sea for a sunken sub supposedly full o’ gold! Good cast features Ben Mendelsohn and…Scott McNairy?! It’s Scoot-mania all up in 84b0cbbae893d17ece8bb9ab8f319275here!), Last Days In Vietnam (Documentary miniseries examines the tumultuous, tragic [on many levels] final retreat of all American forces and personnel from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War), Cancer The Emperor Of All amira__sam_posterMaladies (Ken Burns presents this miniseries documentary about that disease that is basically the biggest jerk in natural history), Amira And Sam (The always interesting and cool Martin Starr [Freaks & Geeks, Party Down, Silicon Valley] stars in this indie drama about a returned soldier who finds himself drawn to an Iraqi immigrant facing deportation [newcomer Dina Shihabi]), Still Alice (Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance here as a brilliant woman who begins to succumb to the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease [possibly the second-biggest jerk disease in history]. Great cast includes Alec Baldwin, Seth Gilliam, Kristin Stewart), Mortdecai (Oh, Johnny Depp, what are you up to here, with your huge still-alice-postermustache and your over-the-top upper class twit British accent? Depp seems to be enjoying himself as a bumbling art dealer and would-be adventurer, dodging MI5, terrorists, and the Russian secret police in an attempt to discover a priceless painting which might also Mortdecai-UK-Quad-Poster-1024x768contain a secret map to buried Nazi gold. Gwynneth Paltrow and Ewan McGeregor are along for support ), Blackhat (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth plays the world’s most improbably hunky computer expert, a convict sprung to help track down a notorious gang of cyber-terrorists in this thriller which no doubt will have a scene BKH_31_5_Promo_4C_3F.inddwhere he’s typing really fast while a loading bar ticks away on the screen. What? “404 Not Found”? We’re doomed!), The Cobbler (Up until this point, Tom McCarthy has only directed great movies. The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win Win—all great, thoughtful, satisfying indie movies. Critics have suggested, however, that McCarthy bit off more COBB_OneSheet_FM1.inddthan even he could chew by trying to make Adam Sandler a real actor in this film about a New York cobbler who discovers that he can enter the lives of his customers by putting on their shoes. There’s a good cast [Ellen Barkin, Method Man, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi], and the trick of using Sandler’s shlubby charm in a real movie has been pulled off to great effect before [Paul Thomas Anderson’s excellent Punch-Drunk Love, Judd Apatow in Funny People, James L. Brooks in Spanglish], so we’re willing to give this one a shot for McCarthy’s sake), Fifty Shades Of Grey (We mentioned it last week, but this came out on Friday, for some reason, so here it is again, the movie one or the other member of a couple will pick up as a joke while secretly hoping the other person is into it!), Black Or White (In what I’m sure was a well-intentioned idea sees grieving [white] grandpa Kevin Costner fighting for custody of his beloved granddaughter after his son dies. Octavia Spencer is the [black] grandmother who’s doing the same. Man, I sure hope these two can come to some sort of symbolically palatable understanding on race. Just, fingers crossed over here)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Selma, Black Sea, Fifty Shades Of Grey, The Gambler, Boy Next Door

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. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure really—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

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