Volume DIX— The Suspiciously Secluded And Creaky Cabin In The Woods With No Cell Phone Reception
For the Week of 5/19/15
Videoport gives you a free movie every day. If you like movies and free stuff, well, do we have to paint you a picture? Rent Videoport.
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!
>>> April suggests Secretary (in Incredibly Strange) and is indifferent to 50 Shades of Grey (in Drama/Feature Films). Both films have a successful male protagonist named Mr. Grey who engages in an s&m relationship with a younger woman, but that is where the similarities end. I tried to go into 50 Shades with an open mind and okay, it’s not as good or as bad as the reviewers say. Jamie Dornan (The Fall, 2013) plays Christian Grey, a damaged emotionless stalker who obsesses over Ana Steele played by Dakota Johnson (Need for Speed), a nervous waif. The acting is fine. The directing is fine. Ultimately I found 50 Shades of Grey boring and for a movie about sex it’s pretty tame, but I can see why people have issues with this films portrayal of s&m. He gives her vague warnings about his preferences but waits until he shows her his room filled with whips before making his intentions clear. She seems scared and reluctant to go along with it but she does because this is the only way he’ll allow her to be in a relationship with him, however, most of what follows is consensual. It’s a mediocre rescue fantasy. Secretary, on the other hand, is a fantastic dark comedy staring James Spader (Boston Legal) as E. Edward Grey, a lawer who hires Lee Holloway played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) as his secretary. Lee has recently been released from an institution and has a difficult home life. When she shows up to apply for the job she finds the lawyer’s office in disarray. This Mr. Grey is a nervous man who tenderly cares for his prized orchids but also has control issues. What follows is a sweet awkward build up to their eventual s&m relationship and its complications. Spader and Gyllenhaal may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Dornan and Johnson but they have better chemistry. Neither film is a perfect portrayal of this kind of relationship and both men exhibit behaviors that could be viewed as abusive or controlling, but I feel Secretary is the better balanced of the two because of it’s use of humor to defuse the more dramatic aspects and because Lee has far greater control over what happens to her in comparison to Ana.
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 Arrow (in Action/Adventure.) Sure, Marvel is kicking DC’s spandex-clad arse on the big screen, but the superior DC Comics (yeah, says me) has been carving out an interesting little niche on the TV box, with this CW show about perennial DC B-lister Green Arrow. In case you’re not cool (or a huge nerd, whatever), Green Arrow is Oliver Queen, wealthy playboy from the fictional Star City (renamed Starling City on the show, for no apparent reason) who, stranded via yacht-wreck on a dangerous island for a few years, taught himself to become really, really good at shooting a bow and arrow. Yeah, Green Arrow isn’t faster than a speeding bullet, etcetera, but I always found those sort of superheroes more interesting anyway, and the show does a good job of staying true to the character even as it goes pretty far afield from the stories we (well, I) know and love. (Check out Mike Grell’s graphic novel “The Longbow Hunters” for a good place to start.) As Ollie, Stephen Amell is a solid hero—maybe a little too clenched to play the Bruce Wayne playboy façade that Ollie needs, but that might just be because of how he must be silently doing mini crunches at every waking moment to keep the insane abs the show never tires of showing off. Seriously, though, this is a solid show, exploring the whole masked vigilante idea—and the moral conundrum of being a hero who relies on perforating baddies with very, very sharp pointy things. Meanwhile, the show stretches out Ollie’s backstory on that island nicely, showing exactly how far he had to go to survive and transform himself into the unerring archer who can zip the guns out of people’s hands from a football field away. (A lot of the island stuff works so well because of the presence of big, burly New Zealander Manu Bennett as Slade Wilson [aka Deathstroke The Terminator], Ollie’s friend-turned-nemesis.) For cool kids (aka geeks), there are plenty of hidden references to other characters we’d like to see get a turn in the TV spotlight (the repeated references to Kord Industries always make me all tingly—cool kids will understand). And the fact that the show has crossed over with the CW’s series The Flash is a cool harbinger of DC’s continued presence on the TV. (When The Flash comes out, you should really see that too—it’s a little less clenched and a lot of fun.)
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 the Eli Roth got mugged once on vacation. Seriously, look at this guy’s filmography. He directed Cabin Fever (a-hole white tourists go to a remote, rural cabin and get infected by horrible flesh-melting virus from the gross, poor-people water), Hostel (white a-hole American tourists head to eastern Europe looking for cheap sex and get tortured by foreign people), Hostel II (see Hostel), and the upcoming Green Inferno (rich, well-meaning American do-gooders go to the rainforest and get tortured by foreigners). Sure, it might be too easy to suggest that Roth is perpetuating racist and/or xenophobic stereotypes in his movies in order to capitalize on white Americans’ signature terror of brown people to pad his wallet, but that might be cruel. So let’s just go with the mugged on vacation and never got over it theory in deference to Roth. Oh, right, he’s also an actor—let’s see what his acting filmography yields up. Hm…he was pretty good in Inglorious Basterds…oh, what’s this Aftershock movie all about? A group of white a-hole American tourists go to Mexico for cheap thrills and are tortured after an earthquake splits open a prison full of…brown people?! Seriously, dude…
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 says, to celebrate the rapidly approaching vacation season, there’s nothing more traditional than a retreat to a rustic cabin in the woods., whether you’re heading to a family get-together or a raucous weekend with your drunk college buddies. But choose carefully: More than s’mores and ghost stories await. Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead (1981) is perhaps the prototypical cabin-in-the-woods horror flick, with five college students heading into the woods for spring break and finding more than they bargained for at their cabin in the woods, and its influence can be seen in horror films and franchises to this day. But it’s also just a hell of a horror movie, with effects ranging from goofy to ghastly and inventiveness making up for lack of budget. Be sure you grab the original, starring a young Bruce Campbell as Ash. (Some of this week’s recommendations might give you a hint where your fearless editor and I are writing from.)
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!
>>> Dennis says, It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free! Rent The Iron Giant. You can thank me later. Not only one of the best kids movies I’ve ever seen, but one of my favorite movies, period.
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 Cabin Fever. Eli Roth’s directorial debut is crude but effective. It pays rough homage to predecessors like Deliverance, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and (of course) Evil Dead. Five college students (again, of course) spend spring break (of course, of course) at a cabin in the (OF COURSE) woods for swimming, sex, and smokin’ weed. But the danger at this cabin is less a matter of course and more a matter of GROSS.
>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests Cabin in the Woods. You’re with me on this story by now, right? Five college students head into the woods to an isolated cabin where they’ll discover that there’s more to their quiet retreat than meets the eye. And there’s more to the film, too. I won’t spoil it for you, though I’m not sure it’s possible to consider something a twist if it is the very first thing the film shows you.
>>>Dennis presents his meaningless but cool DVD coincidence of the week! Mark Metcalf is one of those great character actors whose inherently unlikeable/vaguely threatening mug has ensured him a lucrative career as a go-to heavy, both dramatic and comic. He’s still probably best known as the psychotic ROTC sadist Doug Neidermeyer in Animal House, but—and here comes the pointless coincidence—why not check him out as The Master and The Maestro! Metcalf was The Master in the first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the bat-faced, deliciously snarky Big Bad of the admittedly shaky first season (Buffy gets way, way better, trust me). Apart from his cool makeup (“You have fruit-punch mouth,” snarks Buffy right back at him in the finale), The Master’s got a great deadpan comic thing going which undercuts the horror, and the genre’s self-seriousness (something creator Joss Whedon is so great at). Then, before that, Metcalf was The Maestro on Seinfled (in the season 7 episodes “The Maestro” and “The Doll”), a comically stuck-up local orchestra conductor who insists on being called “The Maestro.” Coincidence? Yes, yes, entirely.
New Releases this week at Videoport: American Sniper (Clint Eastwood directs the most American-est movie of America, with an appropriately grizzled Bradley Cooper as the titular, rifle-toting soldier who finds life returned from Afghanistan troubled with thoughts of what he’s done. Some inside Videoport info—you guys have asked about this movie more than any in recent memory. Which means we bought a ton of ‘em! So, get rentin’!), Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (John Cusack may have bailed, even after the unexpected box office success of the silly but pretty funny first film, but funny dudes Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry, and Clark Duke are back, and they’ve upgraded on the funny guy front, bringing in Party Down’s Adam Scott. [Along with similarly funny people like Gillian Jacobs, Jessica Williams, and Jason Jones.] This time, the guys head back into the time stream to try to fix all the things that get screwed up when a bunch of drunk guys have access to a time machine. I’m sure it goes fine), Orange Is The New Black- season 2 (The critically acclaimed dark comedy series about the variously guilty, crazy, or dangerous ladies of a women’s prison returns! Seriously, it came right out of nowhere, having not existed on any online streaming services which shall not be named and which doesn’t exist anyway. Seriously—only on DVD at local, independent video stores.), Leviathan (Sure, it’s no American Sniper in terms of hype, but this Russian film [nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar last year] hasn’t been to shabby in the customer request department. A Kafka-esque tale of a poor sap who finds his land seized by his town’s corrupt mayor and tries, with maddening futility, to fight city hall.), Strange Magic (This week’s entry in the “overqualified voice cast in animated kids movie that underperformed at the box office” tradition sees goblins, elves, fairies, imps, maybe some orcs, I dunno—anyway, they’re all fighting over some sort of magical doodad. Starring the following in vocal form: Alan Cumming, Maya Rudolph, Evan Rachel Wood, Alfred Molina, Kevin Michael Richardson, Peter Stormare, and Kristin Chenoweth), Call The Midwife- season 4 (The continuing adventures of a group of East London doulas helping women give birth in the late 50s. The late 1950s, not the women’s 50s—the women aren’t in their 50s and giving birth. Look, let’s just movie on from that poor sentence structure…), Girlhood (This acclaimed French drama about a teenage girl who joins a gang was originally titled Band Of Girls, but retitled to cash in on Boyhood, which it in no way resembles. But don’t blame the movie, which is supposed to be very good indeed), Cymbeline (One of Shakespeare’s lesser plays gets turned into a typically interesting movie by director Michael Almereyda [Nadja]. Like his Hamlet, this one also stars Ethan Hawke [alongside Ed Harris, John Leguizamo, and Dakota Johnson] in a loose, present-day adaptation. They’re all bikers and drug-runners here—just go with it)
New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Blackhat, American Sniper
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