VideoReport #517

Volume DXVII— Well, That Happened

             For the Week of 7/14/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Now Videoport’s owner Bill has something he has to tell you:

 

Videoport is closing in August. We want to thank the people of Greater Portland for your loyalty and friendship over these last 28 years, it’s been great. Thank You!

All is not lost! We are donating the Videoport movie collection to the Portland Public Library. Soon instead of a FREE movie every day at Videoport you will be able to get all your movies FREE at the library! Actually not all FREE, you need to support your public library just as you supported Videoport. Please enjoy all the Portland Public Library collections and services, and when you do, please make a donation to the library so they can keep up bringing in the New Releases!

The first movies moving to the Portland Public Library will be the Criterion Collection. You should find them on the shelf at the library sometime toward the end of July. Next we will start moving over the Foreign Language film section. Please stop by the library and check out their beautiful DVD section, sign up for a library card if you don’t already have one, and try out borrowing something! At Videoport the last day to rent movies will be Saturday August 15.

 

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!

>>> Former Videoporter Regan says goodbye, as only Regan can. I started renting from Videoport when I was a teenager, I’d get movies delivered (they used to deliver!) and I think Lenny delivered Angel at My Table and Heathers the night I decided to give my innocence away to a greasy-greaza. and one of the staff, after noticing my coming of age rental habits, suggested Valley Girl. And I still watch it on the reg! Love. It. That was when I wished to one day work at Videoport, and I did. For nearly 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS! And I loved mostly all of it. The last few years were a total bag of farts, and I started to resign myself to the end being near. But I just don’t get it. Portland had something great here! A museum of cinema! And assorted gross foods. I’m not the most cinephily of the cinephiles, but I do watch a sh*tload of movies, and it will still take me a lifetime to get through all of the movies I want to see at Videoport. But we don’t have the Housewives of the Suez Canal, and we don’t have that obscure documentary about swedish-Latino-Afro-punk bands (those might be fake). But Videoport has a HUGE documentary section, a unparalleled foreign section. But that’s not enough for Portland, Maine. Videoport has paid for health insurance for its employees before it became de rigueur to do so, but we NEED another f*cking locally sourced overpriced restaurant with signature cocktails. Eh. So it goes.

I love movies, and I thought this town did too. I’m mad as hell….and most of you don’t understand this reference. Thank you Bill, Yolanda, James, Betsy, Tim, Ivory, Johnny Snowballs, JackieO, Wheeler, Michelles-n-cheese, Greegan, Pook, JORDAN!, Pie HEAD, Allen, Christian, HAMMER, And the last of red hot lovers, Andy, Sam, April and Dennis. It was my ultimate pleasure.

>>>Former Videoporter JackieO says goodbye. Thank you for everything, Videoport. From Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid to The Third Man, from the roommates to the drinking buddies, from the undue street cred to learning how to count change back, it was a pleasure, mostly.

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!

>>> Former Videoporter Michelle (AKA Pook) says goodbye, too. When I first moved to Portland in 2000, I came with one piece of knowledge, Anyone that that was anyone had a Videoport card. And so I went from never having that many films available to me to a whole new world of film lined up before me. The foreign film section was my first exploration. When I watched “Lovers Of the Arctic Circle” and then “Chacun cherche son chat” (When The Cat’s Away), I fell in love. And then suddenly I had Roberto Benigni in my home; making me laugh with “Johnny Stecchino”, crying with “Life is Beautiful”, and opening up a deeper appreciation of film with “Down by Law”. At this point in the Videoport timeline, I could even have these movies delivered to me with candy! I also enjoyed going to the store and overhearing the conversations and passions the staff had for film.  It is no surprise that not only was Videoport the catalyst for my love of movies, but it also was what made Portland my home. I had the true honor of working of Videoport. I met so many wonderful people while being both a renter and an employee there. I would not have the wonderful friends that I have today. Also, I would not be called Pook by so many people outside of my family. I would not have had the opportunities to learn about movies from people who were so passionate and knowledgeable. I know the Internet is an endless abyss of movies. But it is simply not the same as talking to someone in person, telling them what movies you love, and then having them reveal to you a treasure chest of films that will fill the craving for the movie you are looking for. No algorithm on any media platform will ever contain the same movie know-how as many of the employees and customers of Videoport. Movies are a way to have a shared experience with someone. Videoport gave people the ability to find other people to create these moments with. It is not just a store, it is not just a place to grab a movie, it is a full experience. No, it is magical. I am not sure anyone can recreate the Videoport experience. It is something unique and special to Portland, It is something that any of us that rented or work there know is some kind of wonderful. Bill Duggan made more than a just a video store, he made a Portland experience. He created a gateway to so many other worlds with his store for so many. He created a sense of community for so many. I hope we can all continue this magic with movie nights, encouragement of local film makers, and just simply talking together on the movies that we loved, hated, and can not wait to see. Thank you, Bill, for giving us so many years of Videoport and so many movies.

>>>Former Videoporter Allen says goodbye. I truly dream that one day I can operate a company of cinephiles that provide to the community, and to each other, the value that Videoport has provided me and my community for so many years. It was among the best jobs coming out of college. Hey, want a job where you are publicly lauded for your film knowledge? Want to work at one of the coolest places in Portland, where EVERYONE will see you, and get to know your face? Want to be part of a loving and caring group of people that will always remain close friends until you die with VHS tapes in your hand? Yes, I do. Thanks Videoport. For everything.

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!  

>>> Dutch Dennis (AKA Disco, Frenchy) says goodbye. It is a sad day when an institution like Videoport leaves town. I was the 92nd and last person Videoport ever hired. Half the friends I have I met through the store. It is highly unlikely I would have started watching Friday Night Lights without Regan constantly yelling at me that this was one of the best shows on television. Or that I would’ve started watching Andy’s crazy Asian recommendations, Sam’s action movies, Jackie’s Spanish adventures, anything Dennis recommended. I would have never watched hard-to-find documentaries I devoured, like Death by Design, Cane Toads, or Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. I guess what I am trying to say is that movies and friends work well together. It sure did for me the three years I worked in that basement.

>>>Former Videoporter Matt M. says goodbye. I can’t add much more to what my former coworkers have said about Videoport. I made great friends with some of the sweetest, smartest, funniest(seriously) people around. I also got to wait on the sweetest, angriest, most eccentric customers you could ever imagine. I received countless free drinks due to being a “Videoport dude”. Videoport was a social hub for Portland, and it will not be replaced. Running into former coworkers is different than running into other old friends- much like what running into members of your fraternity/sorority must be like. We had the coolest, most fun job in town. Portland owes a huge debt of gratitude to Bill and Yolanda for making Portland what it is. I’m amazed, but not surprised, that Videoport is donating their collection to the PPL. Videoport cared about the community, and this donation cements that fact. This is truly a sad day for Portland.

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 has one last recommendation for you. The VideoReport has done a lot for me. In its infancy, I wrote thumbnail reviews as an excuse to flirt with the fella I’d been dating, and — because then as now, he did the bulk of the writing every week — every review I submitted freed him up for more smoochin’. A few years later (almost exactly six years ago today as I write this), I presented Dennis with a week’s worth of reviews, written in secret during spare minutes here and there, so he could take off the week of our wedding and not worry about turning out a half-dozen reviews on top of everything else. (Thanks, Andy, for guest-editing that edition of the VideoReport.) The backlog of reviews and reflections we’ve both (but mostly your unfailing editor, Videoport Jones, a.k.a., Pancakes W. Meat, a.k.a., Dennis Perkins, freelance writer, true cinemaphile*, and swell guy) accumulated, years and years of writing for free, gave us each a springboard into professional reviewing. I’ll always be thankful for that.  But neither of us did it for that reason. We wrote, and write, for the VideoReport, because we believe in independent cinema, in local business, in the virtue of a video library not restricted by transnational corporations’ backroom deals, in the delight of walking into a real brick-and-mortar video store and having a conversation with a movie lover who can steer you to some unexpected treasure. Videoport has been a haven for me, for lots of movie-lovers like me and movie-lovers nothing like me, for decades. It’s been a gift to Portland. I’m grateful for all it’s given me, and us — us the couple, us the city, us the loyal supporters of indie everything. Goodbye, Videoport, and thank you for your gifts.

*During an interview, Malcolm McDowell called Dennis that, and the compliment buoyed him for weeks. Mr. McDowell, you don’t know how right you were. 

The Last Picture Show. Peter Bogdanovich’s tribute to the great Westerns of years gone by, this black-and-white 1971 masterpiece was nominated for eight Academy Awards. In a dusty Texas town, the local movie theater, the site of a lot of memories and fumblings in the dark, of dreams and desires onscreen and off, is closing down. A handful of friends — including Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, all achingly young and lovely, all already looking back over their past with the keen combination of nostalgia, pleasure, and grief we all know too well — gather for a last hurray. It’ll break your heart, and it should.

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 goodbye. Too much to say. I wish it could be all “thanks for the memories” from me, but I’ve never been that guy. We’ve all put so much effort and worry, and doomed, desperate love into this place for me to put it in perspective. So I’ll just say to my coworkers: you are my best friends. To the customers who stayed: most of you are good people. To Netflix: I genuinely hope Anonymous infects you with a fatal virus. To me: go find something else to do with your life. To anyone who’s ever scratched our DVDs: you are genuinely bad people and we all think you are the devil. To everyone: movies still matter. I’m gonna go get a drink.

>>>Former Videoporter Christian says goodbye. Videoport exists in its own timewarp. It defied the odds and created a mythology all its own. I will always treasure my connection to Videoport. I’m so sorry to see it go!

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, Sam says goodbye. There aren’t a lot of jobs in which you get to do what you love, but for me Videoport clerk is one of them. I got my first membership card when I turned 18, and when I was hired 6 years and over 600 rentals later, I was hired. The boss told me he was reluctant to hire me because I was such a good customer. I loved Videoport then and I love it now, almost twelve years later. It is one of those rare things that has made my life measurably better. Not just the coworkers, who will remain like family to me. Not just comfort of that nerd-haven of a basement. No, I’m talking about the money, that sweet, sweet dollar bill! Seriously, though. Videoport has been my home in countless ways for exactly half of my life and I’m going to miss it more than you’ll ever understand.

>>>For Sunday, April says goodbye. April here. The most important thing I can say is this… thank you. Thank you for supporting us and loving us for so many glorious years. Videoport isn’t just a movie store to me and it certainly was never just a job. It’s been a privilege to work at a place that I genuinely love, with people that I respect and admire, and to belong to a community of movie loving geeks. I grew up in Portland and Videoport was always the coolest store around. My mother put me on her card but as soon as I turned 18 I got my own. Becoming a member at Videoport was a rite of passage and, naturally, the first thing I rented was an 18+ anime. I never finished watching it, but it seemed so scandalous at the time for me to rent it. This sort of thing was possible here. The vast selection that the store has always had makes it possible for you to rent obscure experimental films along with the latest popcorn action flick. It’s also a community gathering place. People meet here, couples fight, and old friends run into each other. Once, I was a witness to a marriage at the store and I’ve watched children grow up to get their own cards. Thanks for all of this goes to Bill, the best boss you could ever ask for. Generous and supportive, Bill is just as awesome as you could imagine the owner of Videoport to be. His dedication to the store, his employees, and to his community is unparalleled. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I will miss you.

New Releases this week at Videoport (because Videoport will keep bringing you the best movies right up ‘til the end): Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Well, not always the best movies, but we give you movies, anyway. Kevin James returns to fall down in a manner some people find amusing as the world’s best mall security officer heads on a Vegas vacation only to get stuck fighting terrorists—in a mall! What are the chances?!), It Follows (Now this is more like it. One of the best and best-reviewed horror movies in years, this indie from the director of The Myth Of The American Sleepover takes the idea of horny teenagers being pursued by an unstoppable monster to some genuinely terrifying and unique places. Artsy and terrifying, just rent it if you’re in the mood to wet yourself just a little bit), The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Everyone’s aunt’s favorite movie gets a sequel, as Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill NIghy, and Dev Patel continue to enjoy late-in-life love at the hotel of their dreams. This time, Richard Gere shows up to fill a vacancy, causing heart to go all aflutter), Ex Machina (If It Follows is the great, artsy horror flick of the week, then this is the great, artsy sci-fi flick of the week. In it, young researcher Domhnall Gleeson is brought in by eccentric scientist Oscar Isaac to test out his new artificial intelligence program, which is housed in a disturbingly sexy female robot body. Things do not go well.), Clouds Of Sils Maria (A legendary actress [the always-stunning Juliette Binoche] finds herself forced to confront her life and career when she agrees to take a role in a revival of the play that once launched her career alongside young actresses Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz), The Longest Ride (Another Nicholas Sparks adaptation about possibly doomed but probably not young lovers. This time, he’s a rodeo rider guy, and she’s very pretty, but in a circumstance that means they can never be together—or can they? Luckily, crusty old Alan Alda is on hand to offer sage love advice based on his own sweetly tragic love story)

localhero

Published in: on July 15, 2015 at 11:59 am  Comments (11)  
Tags: , , ,

VideoReport #516

Volume DXVI— Jurassic Park 5: We’ve Totally Got It Right This Time, We Swear

             For the Week of 7/7/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Netflix gives you a bewildering variety of venereal diseases through your television.

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 The Return of the Living Dead (in Horror) Zombies! Punks! This film is like a nice pair of novelty socks that you can’t being yourself to throw out, even though they’re full of holes, because you adore them. Not that Return of the Living Dead hasn’t aged well, it’s just as great as you remember, but it’s not quite classic cinema either. It’s Freddy’s first day of work at a medical supply warehouse and things are going swell until his boss accidentally breaks open some army canisters that contain a strange gas. The gas brings a medical corpse (and some half-dogs) back to life. Meanwhile Freddy’s punker friends decide to hang out in a nearby cemetery. The boss decides to use his friend’s mortuary to cremate the re-animated corpses which only spreads the zombie infection to the cemetery. All hell breaks loose, naturally. Written and directed by Dan O’Bannon (writer of Alien) and starring some not great but fun actors who really seem to relish digging into brains!

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 picking something at random from Videoport’s Classics section. That’s what a video store is for. We hold onto things that matter, care for them, curate them—and save them for you. Film history lives at Videoport—come get some. That’s what we do.

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 (in Comedy). Here is the pantheon of sketch comedy TV shows, in order. (And no, there is no debate): 1. Monty Python’s Flying Circus 2. Mr. Show 3. The Upright Citizens Brigade 4. Key & Peele. Yeah, I said it. Key & Peele starts its fourth season on Comedy Central this week, so now’s the perfect time to catch up on, yes, the fourth-best sketch comedy show of all time. The best sketch shows (see numbers 1-4 above—no debate) derive their character (not to mention characters) from the performers, and Key & Peele reveals Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele to be both hilarious and possessed of a lot to say, about race, sexuality, America, men and women, and just plain nonsense of all kinds. Anyone can point to something and say, “That is ridiculous/offensive/mean /just plain wrong and say nothing insightful or worthwhile—see: Saturday Night Live on a bad run. Key and Peele do a lot of material about race in America (they’re both black men)—and they find new and provocative ways to go about that, none of which are ever free from an admirable and original silliness. Apart from their writing—which is stellar—both guys are two of the best actors on television, regardless of the show or genre. Like the sketch show rankings (not negotiable)—yeah, I said it.

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 getting your hopes unreasonably high for Halt And Catch Fire (in Feature Drama). I’ve reviewed every episode so far of this AMC “we need a new Don Draper, STAT!” drama series. It started out okay, got a lot worse, and then improved quite a bit in its second season. Here’s my old review of the promising pilot from The AV Club (www.avclub.com): A handsome, carefully crafted machine, Halt And Catch Fire looks good coming out of the box. Set in 1983 Texas, the show has an unobtrusive period feel—the fashions feel right, and the decade-appropriate details are present but not overdone. In this first episode, the corporate offices of Cardiff Electric, a mid-level computer company content in its secure inferiority to industry giant IBM, is just the sort of placid, unadventurous corporate setting for a brilliant but cowed computer programmer/family man like Gordon Clark to drone away his once-lofty dreams of Steve Jobs superstardom and wealth. At least until Joe MacMillan blows into town in his Porsche, steals Gordon’s parking space, teases Gordon with his former ambition (in the form of a visionary article he once wrote for Byte), and seduces the downtrodden Gordon into reverse engineering one of those ubiquitous and lucrative IBM personal computers with him in order to—well, that’s the rub, isn’t it? Who is this Joe MacMillan, and what sort of game is he playing? In Todd VanDerWerff’s TV Review of the premiere ,“I/O” (the only episode AMC is letting critics see), he made the point that Halt And Catch Fire is made up of a lot of familiar components. Scoot McNairy’s Gordon is the former dreamer uneasily setting aside his ambitions under the pressures of fatherhood and husband-hood. His wife Donna (Kerry Bishé) loves him but is losing patience with his restlessness, wishing he’d forget that time the two of them almost started their own computer company and that he’d fix the kids’ damn Speak & Spell already. And then there’s Joe, the smooth-faced, smoother-talking mystery man with the impeccable suits and perfect hair and the seeming ability to make men and women do exactly what he wants—and what he wants is something only he (and the show) knows. And he’ll reveal it when he’s good and ready. It’s in the inevitable revelation of Joe’s endgame that Halt And Catch Fire is going to live or die, as his lightning fast machinations in this first episode are the only engine the show has. McNairy’s Gordon, receding behind his mousy beard and short sleeved work shirts, has some colors in the pilot—you can feel the character’s self worth wax when his technical expertise briefly makes him the dominant partner while disassembling the IBM—but he, like everyone else, is a reactive element in the story Joe’s writing. Like another AMC show I promised myself I wouldn’t compare Halt And Catch Fire to, there’s nothing especially compelling about the corporate world in which the main character operates in itself. Here, the 1980s computer industry (like the 1960s industry involving the advertising of goods and services on that other show) is merely the battleground upon which a brilliant, charismatic protagonist with a troubled past only hinted at will prove his worth to himself and to those shadowy past figures he’s ever haunted by. The degree to which the drama therein is going to succeed will rely on Lee Pace’s place at the center of all this, and his performance—indeed, his casting—assures things are at least going to stay interesting. I’ve always found Pace to be a vaguely unsettling presence, his blank affect and angular features reminiscent of someone manufactured into existence for the role at hand. That’s why he’s fit so well into the stylized TV universes of Bryan Fuller, the even more stylized cinematic world of Tarsem Singh’s The Fall, and why he makes a damned fine elf king. Here, too, in his crisp, Patrick Bateman ’80s suits and haircut (you just know he has a Bateman-esque defoliating ritual), Pace’s Joe orchestrates every relevant bit of plot in the pilot like a criminal mastermind, laying infallible snares for everyone around him. When those snares go off, it is, as another current Bryan Fuller TV mastermind might say, “by his design.” So when Gordon agrees to lie to his wife and help Joe, and when the pretty, punky computer student Cameron (a winningly no-bullshit MacKenzie Davis) becomes the guys’ third accomplice, and when Toby Huss’ blustering Cardiff exec is forced to allow their project to continue because Joe called IBM to force the company’s hand—it is all by Joe’s design. It’s fun watching Pace glide through all these machinations—it’s like every one of his speeches was designed to outdo Alec Baldwin’s inGlengarry Glen Ross—and Pace is magnetic as always doing so. But, like Joe’s plan, the first episode of Halt And Catch Fire is too calculated to allow much room for air. As the introductory crawl explains the title: “halt and catch fire” was “An early computer command that sent the machine into a race condition, forcing all instructions to compete for superiority at once. Control of the computer could not be regained.” Gee, that’s sort of like what Joe does. Halt And Catch Fire allows some cracks to show in Joe’s demeanor, but they, like much of the show, are deployed as if according to, well, a program. (File labeled: “prestige cable drama.”) When Joe, seemingly thwarted by Gordon’s initial refusal, digs out a baseball bat emblazoned with the motto “Swing for the fences, son” and starts smacking line drives into the walls and windows of his spacious, empty apartment, we’re meant to respond to the storytelling shorthand. There are enough spaces around the main characters that can still be filled in (Davis’ smudged humor is deployed to good effect), but, again like Joe’s master plan, there’s a lot of evident planning going on. It seems paradoxical, ungrateful even, to call Halt And Catch Fire out for being too assured in a TV landscape of ramshackle, clichéd nonsense. There’s a lot of promise here, and a few unique and welcome surprises. As thankless a role as Bishé is stuck with (at least in this one episode), it’s gratifying how quickly Donna and Gordon come to their understanding about him pursuing his dreams again. As the lone other female of the story, Davis is a welcome rogue element amidst all Joe’s control, and her outsider status as the only woman in her field of study makes narrative sense since Joe and Gordon have to find someone off the radar. Toby Huss remains an unheralded character-actor secret weapon—his understandable late-episode threat to find out just what Joe’s hiding marks him as a worthy adversary. And as hackneyed as his family story might be, McNairy looks to have some interesting moves of his own to play as Gordon continues to be drawn out of hiding. The show looks good, with a muted, shadowy palette that sets off every glowing electronic device with an evocative, neon nimbus. And it’s got Pace who, as programmatic as his character might appear, provides Halt And Catch Fire with a compellingly enigmatic center to build around. When, in the last scene (scored to Bonobo’s eerie, edgy “Cirrus”), Gordon asks Joe “What are you trying to prove with all of this?” as a seemingly endless parade of IBM lawyers file into the lowly Cardiff offices, Pace’s wordless reaction does a lot of work toward keeping the stakes palpable.

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 movie from the kids section every Friday, with no other rental necessary. Where else are you gonna get something for free for absolutely nothing? Nowhere, that’s where.

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 Delocated (in Incredibly Strange). You might recognize the very funny Jon Glaser from his recurring role as Leslie Knope’s d-bag city council nemesis Jeremy Jam on Parks And Recreation, or as Laird, the pathetic but sympathetic neighbor to Lena Dunham’s Hanna on Girls, or in any number of scene-stealing supporting roles, usually playing some sort of gross, pervy jerk—hey, everyone’s good at something. But you don’t have to worry about recognizing Glaser on this ludicrously silly sitcom about a guy in the witness protection program, as he never once takes off the black ski mask he thinks will protect his identity while he aims for fame with his own reality show. Which they’re filming during his time in the witness protection program. Funny stuff as ever from Glaser, whose persona and writing are as weird and unexpected as ever.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (in Comedy). I recently rewatched all ten seasons of this show for a thing—it’s a whole thing, I’ll tell you about it later—and can confirm that this disreputable sitcom is one of the most underrated comedies in TV history. The ongoing adventures of five of the worst people in the world, it does the highly improbable—it sustains itself through unremitting terrible behavior. Even Seinfeld (whose own terrible people would run screaming from the Sunny gang) ran out of gas after a while, finding the task of balancing the show’s comedy of bad behavior over its nine seasons. Indeed, last season was one of Sunny’s best, a refreshing refutation to the idea that all good things have to go on too long. Sure, Sunny is designed to test your willingness to empathize with (or, indeed watch) awful people do awful things—and come away happy.

8d41760ba8fb731f0a277c334f406984New Releases this week at Videoport: Hard To Be A God (Fans of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky [Solaris, The Sacrifice, Stalker, My Name Is Ivan] are urged to take their passion for slow, obscure, disturbing, three-hour films to this new film from director Aleksy German, a three-hour, black-and-white tale of Earth scientists sent to surreptitiously study the Medieval-level inhabitants of the terminally muddy and dire planet Arkanar, only to find their mission compromised when the natives start worshipping them as gods. Writing for the AV Club, film critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky opens with: The plot of Hard To Be A God—the late Aleksei German’s decades-in-the-making medieval sci-fi flick—is relatively straightforward, but it’s often difficult to follow, because it’s buried under all of the mud, muck, smoke, decay, and shit that German crams into every frame. To put it another way: If Hard To Be A God isn’t the filthiest, most fetid-looking movie ever made, it’s certainly in the top three. Everyone seems to be continually kicking each other, spitting on each other, or beating each other—and if they’re not, it’s because they’re busy picking things out of the mud, poking bare and dirty asses with spears, or smelling what they just wiped off their boots. It is grotesque and deranged and Hieronymus Bosch-like, and damn if it isn’t a bona fide vision—but of what, exactly? Rent it at Videoport and find out!), House Of Cards- season 3 (Kevin Spacey returns as Francis house-of-cards-s3Underwood, the most cartoonishly corrupt politician in TV history in this series from a company we don’t talk about at Videoport. Lots of you love this show out there—and thanks for renting it from us and not from that soulless, video store-killing corporation we don’t talk about), Woman In Gold (Helen Mirren stars as a woman attempting to regain possession of the titular portrait, a family heirloom of great value stolen by the Nazis. Based on a true story, it also stars Ryan Reynolds as 1118full-woman-in-gold-posterher lawyer who, I’m just guessing, wasn’t as doe-y eyed handsome in real life), Maggie (Arnold Schwarzenegger attempts to put “actor” on his resume at this late stage, playing a hulking, close-lipped famer who attempts to keep his zombie-bitten daughter around for as long as possible. Reviews say this artsy zombie flick wisely limits Arnie’s lines, and that he’s sort of 148449_aaeffective, actually), Slow West (Unusual Western about a young Scottish man who sets out on a long, perhaps slow journey through the harsh Old West in search of his lost love, a taciturn outlaw as his guide. Good cast includes Michael Fassbender [as the taciturn guide, of course], The Road’s Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Ben Mendelsohn, and the film is directed by John Maclean, who art-rocker types know better as the lead singer of Scottish cool-guy rockers The Beta Band), Kill Me Three Times (Everybody’s favorite, Simon Pegg [Shaun Of The Dead] tries out his tough guy muscles in this pitch-black Australian comedy thriller as a hitman who takes up position to observe [and occasionally facilitate] the bloody chaos caused by a trio kill-me-three-times_official-posterof variously competent Aussie adulterers, kidnappers, and assorted violent types ), 5 Flights Up (Sure, this late-life romantic comedy/drama looks a little cuddly and twinkly, but since it’s Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton doing the cuddling and twinkling as a long-married couple dealing with the upheaval of giving up their longtime, rent-controlled New York apartment, we’ll allow it), What We Do In The Shadows (Hilarious comedy from the people behind the equally hilarious show Flight Of b5200c6107fc3d41d19a2b66835c3974_500x735The Concords sees a group of contented vampires thrown into turmoil when one of their number turns a newcomer who’s a little more enthusiastic about the bloodsucking), The Lovers (Josh Hartnett stars in this time traveling romance as a present-day guy who enters a coma and finds himself romancing a princess in 18th century India; directed by The Killing FieldsWhat-We-Do-in-the-Shadows-UK-PosterRoland Joffe, which used to mean something)

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 take3MMsNZ0PIjIBdTnA1ZoVgRDFhWj advantage before we come to our senses!

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

Published in: on July 7, 2015 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

VideoReport #515

Volume DXV— Videoport: Fury Road—The Last Video Store On Earth

             For the Week of 6/30/15

 

Videoport will give you a free movie every day, whether you like it or not. Although we can’t think way you wouldn’t like it, we’re not here to judge. All your call.

 

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 As Above, So Below (in Horror.) As a horror movie fanatic, I’m both more and less demanding than the average movie fan. On the one hand, I think that a great horror movie is a rare and amazing thing to be held to as high, or higher, standard than any other kind of movie. Because making a great horror movie is harder. Horror movies generally don’t attract the best talent—and when they do, it’s often a case of the best slumming it for the paycheck or cashing in for the bucks before heading back to Oscar-town. So a real horror fan sets his or her sights low, and looks for little gems on the fringes. Which brings us to this decidedly above-average found-footage horror flick about a group of explorers unadvisedly heading into the depths of the Paris catacombs that boasts a unique setting, some decent shocks, a clever twist or two, and a compellingly charismatic lead performance. Honestly, those are more gems than you generally get, making this an unexceptional but more-than-acceptable horror movie. Actually filmed on location in the endless catacombs [read: spooky, ancient tunnels full of actual bones that stretch in mostly unexplored creepiness underneath all of Paris], the movie follows a driven/irresponsible scholar/explorer type (a solid Perdita Weeks) determined to uncover some National Treasure-esque prehistoric secrets. Enlisting some cool, hip French urban explorer thrill-seekers, she also seeks out her ex-sort-of-boyfriend and fellow explorer to help her out, and he’s the chief attraction, played as he is by Mad Men’s Ben Feldman. Sometimes a good performance in a horror movie is overvalued because it’s so unexpected, but Feldman’s just plain good here, the nervous energy he exhibited as Mad Man’s Ginsberg intact but layered with a leading man’s handsome charisma. The movie—solid all around really—offers Feldman the chance to show that he can carry a movie. It’s finding performances like this that makes being a horror fan so rewarding.

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 Grand Hotel (in Classics). There’s a lot to like in this star-studded 1932 Best Picture winner about a group of disparate people gathered in the titular Berlin hotel, but the best thing by far is the startlingly mature—and modern—performance from a young, fresh-faced Joan Crawford. As the secretary of boorish executive Wallace Beery, Crawford’s Flaemmchen looks her fate as this jerk’s eventual mistress in the face and doesn’t blink—there’s a moment when she, confessing her troubles to worldly cat burglar John Barrymore, lays out her seemingly inevitable future with a knowing weariness that’s easily the best acting she ever did. And it’s all one with one word.

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!  

>>> April suggests Vicious (in British comedy) It was amazing to see all the lovely photos of elderly LGBT couples who married after the Supreme Court ruling allowed same-sex marriage in all states on June 26th. Among those who were celebrating were Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi and I was reminded of just how adorable they are as a bickering couple who’ve been together for almost 50 years in Vicious. The show primarily revolves around their home and the friends and neighbors who stop by to interrupt their squabbles. A younger man moves in which prompts a great deal of flirting and awkward situations. The jokes are often too obvious, but Vicious is a delightful little sitcom if you’re looking for something light.

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 picking a movie you’d never find anywhere else. (You know, except Videoport, of course.) Here are some suggestions.

Heavy (in Feature Drama). Always nice when a great character actor gets a lead, this low-key drama about a hefty, terminally-shy cook who starts to come into himself gives Pruitt Taylor Vince a chance to show what he can do. Touching and deeply human.

One False Move (in Mystery/Thriller). Early-90s crime drama is more about performances and the dsins of the past than action. Great work from Cynda Williams, Bill Paxton, Michael Beach, and an unknown Billy Bob Thornton.

Hell Cab (in Incredibly Strange). Forget the deceptive, horror movie-looking cover art, this is an affecting, episodic night in the life of a typical Chicago cab driver (and understated, resolutely human Paul Dillon) as he makes it through a typically eventful night behind the wheel. Packed with interesting actors (John C. Reilly, Laurie Metcalf, John Cusack, Michael Shannon, Gillian Anderson, Julianne Moore), this indie is an overlooked 90s sleeper.

Killer Of Sheep (in Feature Drama). A legendary underground American indie, this low-key, black-and-white family drama about a poor black family from director Charles Burnett was only rediscovered for the groundbreaking indie it was decades later. (Look for the homage in David Gordon Green’s similarly great low-budget film George Washington.)

>>> Emily S. Customers suggests our favorite TV nurses! Doctors get a lot of acclaim, but we all know the medical system couldn’t run without the smarts and hard work of nurses. Here are a few of our favorites: Scrubs‘ Carla Espinosa (Judy Reyes). Scrubs starts when the newest crop of interns enter the work force, and J.D., Turk, Elliot, and Carla quickly form a unit of four, but the show never lets us forget: By the time the three newly minted doctors arrive at Sacred Heart, Carla’s been working there for years, snapping orders at green interns and ferociously defending the patients’ care and nurses’ rights. Parks & Recs Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones). [points] ANN PERKINS! It takes an unflappable character to be Leslie Knope’s best friends, and who’s more unflappable than a nurse? She can’t be flapped! Downton Abbey‘s Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton). When Matthew Crawley and his mother Isobel arrive in Downton, their aristocratic relatives at the manor turn up their noses ever so slightly at the idea of a new heir who (GASP!) practices a profession. It’s bad enough that Matthew is a lawyer, that his late father was a doctor; it’s downright shocking that Mrs. Crawley made it her business to keep abreast of the ever-changing medical techniques of her era, and whether her nursing experience formed her character or her character made her a fine nurse, the result is the same: There’s no character on Downton Abbey more sympathetic, practical, and demanding than Isobel Crawley. Don’t see your favorite TV nurse here? Peruse the shelves of Videoport and write us your own review for next week’s newsletter!

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 movie from the kids section every Friday, with no other rental necessary. Where else are you gonna get something for free for absolutely nothing? Nowhere, that’s where.

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 About Time (in Feature Drama). It’s about as sweet as time-travel stories get. In this light romantic dramedy from screenwriter Richard Curtis (Notting Hill, Love, Actually, S1 of Blackadder), on his 21st birthday, Tim (Domhnall Gleeson) learns from his father (Bil Nighy) that the men in their family are able to travel back in time — nothing momentous, just the ability to nip back and correct errors in their own timelines. Irresistibly, young Tim uses this special gift to meet Mary (Rachel McAdams), and to nudge their courtship along, before more serious demands draw his attention. It’s bittersweet and even a bit tame, but that tameness is comforting, like the toast you have with a cheerful cup of tea.

>>>For Sunday, It’s the monthly list of movies and TV shows that Netfl*x is taking away from their customers this month. Again—there is literally no reason for this massive corporation to do this, and, of course, Videoport has them all for you. Because we are local and independent and not evil and faceless and awful!

Big Fish (2003)

Big Top Pee­wee (1988)

Bowling for Columbine (2002)

Cast Away (2000)

Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980)

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Descent (2007)

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (2010)

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998)

The Fly 2 (1989)

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)

Fried Green Tomatoes (1991)

Jack Frost (1997)

The Langoliers (1995)

The Last Samurai (2003)

Louis C.K.: Hilarious (2009)

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Moonstruck (1987)

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

Natural Born Killers: Director’s Cut (1994)

Patton (1970)

Racing Stripes (2005)

Seven Years in Tibet (1997)

She’s All That (1999)

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004)

Space Cowboys (2000)

Stephen King’s The Stand (1994)

Super Troopers (2001)

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

Three Kings (1999)

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (2006)

Wahlburgers—season 1 (2014)

61AHNqzdcHL._SY445_New Releases this week at Videoport: Zero Motivation (Acclaimed Israeli film, nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, looks in on a group of disaffectedif-you-build-it-poster female soldiers at an isolated army base in the desert as they count down the days until they can get the hell out of there), If You Build It (Inspirational, award-winning documentary about a pair of educator-activists in the poorest country in North Carolina who teach underserved kids how to help their community and themselves by teaching them how to make stuff), Folsom Forever (Documentary about the neighborhood fair in San Francisco that sprung up after the destructiveness of the AIDS crisis and redevelopment savaged the scene, where gay activists and members of the city’s leather community banded together), Get Hard (Sure-fire box office winners Will Ferrell and ff-posterKevin Hart team up in this rude, crude comedy about a white collar executive facing a prison sentence who enlists the help of a family man [who Ferrell thinks is a gang banger, because racism] to 16089588504_b9d1e68edf_otoughen him up for the slammer. Two undeniably funny guys—so what if the reviews weren’t all that, right?), Last Knights (Hey, did you all remember when Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman starred together in a medieval action flick about guys with swords and so forth? Well, it happened—here’s proof), Danny Collins (Al Pacino decides to try for a change, playing the titular aging pop star, a 70-ish has-been cruising along on past glories who decides to sober up and start, well, trying again. Pacino got some of the best reviews in years for this one—here’s hoping it inspires him to continue giving a 147999_aacrap!), While We’re Young (The new comedy-drama from indie director extraordinaire Noah Baumbach [The Squid And The Whale, Frances Ha, Greenberg, Margot At The Wedding] sees middle-aged marrieds Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts find their lives reinvigorated while-were-young-poster1when they are befriended by a pair of younger oddballs [Amanda Seyfried and Adam Driver]), The Gunman (Professionally unlikable yet undeniably untalented star Sean Penn tries his hand at a Liam Neeson-esque action movie career resurgence in this thriller about a professional assassin who finds himself back in the Congo years after he assassinated a Congolese government minister. Strangely, the people in Congo are planning on The-Gunman-posterkilling him)

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 danny_collins-620x918store 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!

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

Published in: on June 30, 2015 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  

VideoReport #514

Volume DXIV— The Independent Video Store On Haunted Hill

             For the Week of 6/23/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. It’s the sort of thing you don’t notice, but you’d miss if it were gone.

 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!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests some Ray Bradbury! (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Phew! Elsewhere, I just finished reviewing a show (which shall remain nameless) loosely based on a Ray Bradbury short story — and I mean loosely. Like, so loosely as to be unrecognizable. It left me with nothing but a hankering to revisit the uncanny poetry and sweet sorrow of Bradbury’s stories. Let’s start with Something Wicked This Way Comes, the 1983 adaptation of the novel of childhood nostalgia and the bittersweet fumblings toward adulthood. Then move on to Ray Bradbury Theater, with weird little anthology stories like Jeff Goldblum as Cogswell, the city slicker looking for a little rural peace who alights from his train in “The Town Where No One Ever Got Off.” Finish up with Illustrated Man , a feature-length anthology collecting Bradbury’s The VeldtThe Other Foot, and The Long Rain. Soak in the small oddities and lavish poetry of his worlds.

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!

>>> The Videoport’s classic section is your friend. It’s sort of the soul of an independent video store—lost, forgotten stuff that you won’t find anywhere else. Take a chance—take two, in fact. One’s free today.

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!  

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Best In Show (in Comedy.) I’ve extolled the virtues of Christopher Guest’s oeuvre — and this very movie — here before. So this time, I’ll just say that while revisiting Best In Show once again on an idle evening, and despite my many viewings over the years, a forgotten throwaway line caught me so by surprise that I laughed long and hard for minutes. “Minutes” might not sound like much, but it’s an eternity in comedy, and that’s a huge compliment to the film, the ensemble, and to Larry Miller, the secondary character who drops the line with such offhand precision.

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 Friday Night Lights (in Feature Drama). This series about a Texas high school football team and its coach is a tough sell for some people. Not that those interested in quality television drama can’t love football, too, but there’s just something about the insularity of the sports genre that turns some people off. Not to worry, though—this is genuinely one of the best American television series in decades (I’ll go ahead and say ever, really), and one whose attraction has very little to do with good, ol’ American football. The show, one of the most sensitive and insightful about the high school experience ever, is more a layered, thoughtful (and, yes, also exciting and funny) examination of growing up, and how the adults in high schoolers’ lives can affect that experience, for good or, more frequently, ill. It’s also home to perhaps a dozen truly exceptional performances, none more indelibly impressive than those of Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, who, as head coach Erik Taylor of the Dillon Panthers and Tami Taylor, high school guidance counselor (and later principal), who create on of the most realistic and emotionally truthful married couples I’ve ever seen, on TV or anywhere else. The most resonant aspect of Friday Night Lights is its depiction of how life is a continuum, and that kids will grow up according to the influences of the adults in their lives, and Erik and Tami Taylor are, simply put, two of the most hearteningly decent people these often troubled kids could hope for. My dad was a football coach (my coach, as it happens, for my high school years), and so perhaps my affection, bordering on awe, at Chandler’s Erik Taylor colors how thoroughly the coach gets to me. On the other hand—no, no it doesn’t. Erik Taylor—a resolutely honorable man teaching young men a violent game in a town where that game is the all and the everything—comes as close to mentor perfection as you can get, all without ever coming across as preachy or melodramatic. As a coach, he wants and expects to win—especially in the hotheaded football hotbed of Dillon, Texas—and he’s often faced with some serious contradictions and tough moral choices. That he always (eventually) does the right thing, doesn’t make Taylor predictable—it makes him extraordinary, one of the most complete and heartening examples of American male virtue I can think of. In Chandler’s watchful, forceful-yet-eminently decent performance, Coach Erik Taylor navigates the coach’s perpetual navigation of the pitfalls of his role in Dillon with a stalwart goodness that’s enough to reduce me to tears—of something like awe—about once an episode. And Tami Taylor—hardly the “coach’s wife”—matches, often exceeds him, her position in Dillon less prestigious, but all the more admirable in how she supports her husband completely while never giving an inch when she thinks she’s right and he’s wrong (about his job, their marriage, or their teenage daughter.) Honestly, the Taylors are probably the healthiest, yet most realistic, married TV couple around—you can see, in their shared humor and sense of morality (not to mention their playful sexiness) what drew them together. And that’s all not even taking the show’s football aspect (and the uniformly remarkable young cast playing the players) into account—you don’t have to care a whit about the game to care, deeply, about these kids as they try to find their place on their team and in their town—and beyond. There are the expected teen dramas and traumas, both on and off the field—but Friday Night Lights (except for a network-mandated silly plotline in season two we will never discuss again) never succumbs to obviousness. Far, far from it. Honestly, if a show is so good that I start tearing up while writing about it—which I unashamedly am—then you should give it a shot. Oh, and—“Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.” (You’ll understand when you watch 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!          

>>> Videoport customer and all-‘round cool dude Kevin H. suggests The Moon Spinners (in the Kids Section). Teenaged Hayley Mills, having survived summer camp, is off to Greece for adventures! Not unchaperoned, of course, it’s 1964 and a Disney film – she’s travelling with her folk musicologist aunt (Joan Greenwood). The intrepid pair visit a remote seaside village, where there are strange doings afoot, most of which involve Eli Wallach being menacing and belligerent. A mysterious but charming young English fellow is also hanging about, and naturally he and Hayley pair up to investigate matters (and make eyes at one another). Lots of beautiful Greek scenery, mildly thrilling but not too scary adventures, chase scenes, humor….sort of like a junior Hitchcock thriller, scaled down for the younger set. Disney’s live action films don’t have the acclaim of the animated films, but I’ve always had a soft spot for them: they treated their adolescent audience as actual people who deserve serious, age-appropriate stories and quality entertainment. While dated in some respects (this one is from 1964, after all) the Disney live action films consistently provided a good story, well told, that adults could watch  – and enjoy – with the kids. I don’t know if people still watch these, but they  – you! – should.

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 Workaholics (in Comedy.) Here’s a review of a good episode from season 5, out now at Videoport! (Originally published at The AV Club.) There’s a moment at the end of “Menergy Crisis” where the guys are standing on stage in the TelAmeriCorp parking lot, singing their friendship anthem “Best Friends,” where I actually got a little choked up. Yeah, I said it. And that in an episode filled with: poop-filled homemade stink-bombs, throwing stars, Everclear references, a police shooting, teriyaki pancakes, and more bare butts than Adam sees in any 20 minute window on his Brazzers account. And it’s not that the song itself is great—it actually sounds a lot like Dirk Diggler singing “You Got The Touch”— but the moment worked on me nonetheless, coming at the end of one of my favorite Workaholics episodes in years. Written by Blake Anderson, “Menergy Crisis” is Blake-centric. Like last week’s “Speedo Racer” (written by Anders Holm), the writer gives his character the spotlight to good effect, but “Menergy Crisis” integrates Blake’s journey into the group’s even better, with Blake being excluded from this week’s diversion and turning his rejection into some Blake-style supervillainy. The episode begins with the guys getting typically overenthusiastic about something—this time, an epic musical encapsulation of their unbreakable friendship bond. Sadly, Blake can’t sing. (I mean, Adam and Ders’ crooning isn’t especially noteworthy, but, as Ders puts it, Blake’s singing sounds “like life leaving something—like a child’s nightmare.”) So, with customary, hairtrigger speed, Ders and Adam kick Blake out of the band (“Menergy”) inspired by a song about how MV5BMTk4NjY0OTg5Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODU0MjYyNTE@._V1_UY1200_CR110,0,630,1200_AL_they’re best friends ‘til the end of time. As the engine of an episode, it’s right on. It’s not that the three don’t believe in their friendship—it’s that they lose sight of the fact that the three of them need each other more than whatever shiny thing is calling to them at that moment. Workaholics falters most often in comic tone. The guys’ irresponsibility and crudity can curdle with the wrong tone, their happy juvenility shading into braying boorishness, something that happened too often last season. Here, however, the guys’ schism provides the impetus for an episode that turns conflict into perfectly-pitched laughs, especially once the guys start trying to sabotage each other as musical guest at the TelAmeriCorp picnic. The return to TelAmeriCorp is a big part of why this episode works as well, something last season lost sight of. The guys’ slacker shenanigans are easier to root for when they partake of rebellion, and there’s no workplace more conducive to rebellion that this ridiculous, soulless telemarketing firm. Plus, the workplace setting allows the show to weave supporting characters Montez, Bill, Alice, and Jillian back into the show, which is always a good thing. The stars of the show are funny guys and all, but a steady diet of concentrated them gets a bit much. So when Maribeth Monroe’s boss Alice (in a plot device cribbed liberally from The Office) has to spend a surplus or lose it, her plan for a company party (including a velcro wall, pancake station, carnival games, and batting cage) sets the guys against each other to show off their musical skills. (Blake wants to co-opt their wizard rap act with the help of Karl and a pair of rod puppets in place of Adam and Ders.) Thus begins an epically silly prank war, with Ders and Adam getting Blake suspended from work with a phone call to the cops (who, assuming Karl’s filthy van is being used to kidnap Blake, shoot one of the puppets in a genuinely unsettling scene). This causes Blake to ingeniously sabotage every aspect of the company party while taunting the other two with stereotypical evil mastermind phone calls and some light mayhem. Naturally, Blake’s plan is only “ingenious” as far as Blake goes, involving throwing stars deflating the velcro wall just as Jillian is about to make her velcro wall dream come true, Karl’s patented stink bomb perched on the “ring-the-bell” strongman game Montez is about to try, and squishable fruit loading Bill’s pitching machine. Too often, the guys’ conflicts result in too-mean revenges (last year’s rotting skunk burrito sticks in the mind), but, here, the alternating petty vengeance is silly and goofy, and punctuated with copious mooning. (Having seen the screener, I can’t be sure how Comedy Central will come down on the nudity, but if you were longing to finish your anatomically correct Workaholics butt portraits, this episode’s for you.) So when the guys finally put their differences aside and their butts away and take to the stage to perform, it all comes together quiet nicely, with Blake’s newly-introduced sign-language skills (he doesn’t really know sign language) giving him a natural spot in the band that doesn’t involve having to subject the world to his voice. Their triumphant performance (only clouded when Alice suspends them from work, which they don’t care about anyway) is the culmination of a truly well-constructed episode of Workaholics, one that balances plot, character, and inventive silliness just right. As does “Friends Forever,” really—it’s a ridiculous song about three guys who don’t realize how ridiculous they are riding a musical wave of unwarranted confidence in their own awesomeness until it becomes something both ridiculous and, yes, awesome:

We’ve got respect for each other

We will protect one another

Don’t waste your breath on the haters

They’re jealous of our friendship

Friends til the end ride or die

Best friends I’ll trust you with my life

Excuse me—I think there’s something in my eye…

>>>For Sunday, Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

survivor-brosnan-656New Releases this week at Videoport: Survivor (MIlla Jovovich is a spy tasked with preventing a terrorist attack on the US, but then is framed for setting up a terrorist attack on the US! What?! Then Pierce Brosnan starts chasing her with a gun, and Dylan McDermott is involved? Man, it’s tough being Milla Jovovich), The Forger (John poster212x312Travolta straps on his action hero wig in this thriller about an art forger , also suspiciously good at ass-kicking for an art forger, who gets embroiled in some big art forging shenanigans and has to save a cute kid and Christopher Plummer), Timbuktu (A cattle herder and his family find their apolitical timbuktu-posterexistence swept up in the rising tide of religious extremism in the titular African city in this drama that was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film), Workaholics—season five (It’s looking like this might be the last season for the three [mostly] endearing layabouts and their silly but enjoyable sitcom about a trio of the worst telemarketers in the history of the world. If so, it’s a good way to go out, as this fifth season can boast some of the best episodes of the whole run. Check out Saturday’s review, where a Videoporter who’s been reviewing the show on the AV Club for a few years runs down a particularly good one), Marfa Girl (Hey, did you like Kids? How about marfa-girl-posterKen Park? Or Bully? Or any other of Larry Clark’s movies where an increasingly aged movie director keeps making films where he gets to shoot barely-legal teens having lots of barely legal sex? Well, here’s another one for ya’!)

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!

Published in: on June 23, 2015 at 7:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

VideoReport #513

Volume DXIII— The Independent Video Store That Kept Punching The Soulless Internet Movie Streaming Service Until It Wet Itself And Died

             For the Week of 6/16/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. How many problems are there with that? None. None problems.

 

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 The Silent Partner (in Mystery/Thriller). This smart, nasty Canadian thriller is one of those forgotten 1970’s movies that remain viewers’ pleasant little discoveries. Written by Curtis Hanson (who went on to do L.A. Confidential), it stars Elliott Gould at the peak of his movie-stardom, as a quiet, unassuming bank teller who comes to realize that the Mall Santa who’s been coming into the bank is planning to rob it. So Gould rigs his drawer so that the robbery, when it comes, only nets Santa (an icily evil Christopher Plummer) a small amount of cash, while Gould keeps the real money for himself. Unfortunately for Gould, Plummer doesn’t take kindly to the trickery, and sets about stalking Gould for revenge. It’s solid all around, with Gould’s cagey clerk revealing hidden depths of ruthlessness himself as he tries to outwit the brutally intelligent Plummer for a second time. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a good little movie you’ve never heard of—try this one.

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 The In-Laws (in Classics). Peter Falk and Alan Arkin make one of the all-time great movie comedy teams in this 1979 movie about a mild-mannered dentist (Arkin) sucked into the ludicrously dangerous life of his pending in-law Falk, who may be a CIA agent, or insane, or both. The film is a masterpiece of comic timing, with Falk and Arkin playing off of each other like the comic geniuses they are, their signature vocal styles complimenting each other to produce the cinematic equivalent of a giggle fit. Arkin should be considered the straight man, with his Dr. Sheldon Kornpett, DDS being dragged into Falk’s nutty scheme to retrieve some stolen engravings from the US mint. The thing is, that Arkin’s in the guise of a sensible guy, is still Alan Arkin, fairly bursting with prickly intelligence and repressed mania. And Falk—well, you know Peter Falk. He’s the twinkly, wry, digressive crackpot here that he always was, here adding in the very real possibility that his typical silliness is hiding an irresponsible lunacy. And simply watching these two spar through all the shenanigans (eventually ending up the guests of an insanely silly South American dictator played by great character comedian Richard Libertini) is, again, the equivalent of a 90 minute giggle fit. Just delightful.

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!  

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests O Brother, Where Art Thou? (in Comedy). Some viewers complain that the Coen Brothers show contempt for The Common Folk. I can understand people who feel stung by the portrayals of everyday folks in their films, because protagonists and antagonists alike are almost invariably figures of fun. But the Coens show what too many auteurs overlook: We are funny creatures. We are laughable, with our foibles large and small, with our absurd tics and tendencies. We are figures of fun, every one of us, and that is just a facet of our humanity. The Coen Brothers tell larger than life tales about little people. In the prison escapees of O Brother Where Art Thou, I see Ulysses Everett McGill’s (George Clooney) foppish preoccupation with his hair pomade, or Delmar O’Donnell’s (Tim Blake Nelson) gawp-mouthed yearning for salvation, or Pete Hogwallop’s (John Turturro) squinty-eyed skepticism as incisively humanizing characteristics, not as insults to their characters. But it’s not just the protagonists who are humanized. Whether it’s Junior (Del Pentacost), the “soft-headed sumbitch” nephew leading Pappy O’Daniel’s (Charles Durning) gubernatorial campaign, Pappy O’Daniel, or the pencil-necked bonafide suitor of Penny (Holly Hunter), Ulysses’ wife, they’re both risible and sympathetic in their small ways. They’re silly. They’re fallible. They’re weak and strong by turns, self-obsessed or defensive. They’re human. In this film, true villainy is reserved for the faceless incarnations of perverse authority, for Sheriff Cooley (Daniel Von Bargen), who cruelly pursues the trio, flames of righteous fury reflecting off his mirrored sunglasses even at night, and for the white supremacists who lurk in the landscape, literal and political, reminding us that bigotry is insidious. And here, the pervasive humor of the Coens serves a greater purpose: The Klan rally first seems epic, a terrible spectacle of grandeur and horror, but they’re rapidly stripped of that fearsome power. They’re denied the grandness their costumes and pageantry strives for without ever denying the horrors they practice and incite others to. They can’t be called figures of fun. There’s nothing fun about them. They have no humor themselves; self-important zealots rarely do. Instead, they’re ridiculed and reduced, made less fearsome and stripped of the power of their atrocities, by being made the butt of the film’s jokes. And the Coens aren’t afraid to poke fun at their own studies of human behavior. “I like to think I’m a pretty astute observer of the human scene,” McGill—our entry point into the film, and as close to an auteurs’ avatar as O Brother contains—blithely tells Big Dan (John Goodman), failing to take in the danger unfurling around him, though Delmar’s wary eyes show his shrewd assessment of the shift in tone. The Coens are as human, and as aware of the frailty of their humanity, as any of their characters.

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 Reviews suggests The Immigrant (in Feature Drama). Marion Cotillard is magical in every movie I’ve seen her in and it’s true of this role too. I loved the amber-golden sepia tone of this whole movie–the ethos of it–set in the 1920’s in New York City, where the lead character and her sister come to Ellis Island to start a new life. Joaquin Phoenix is (yet again) playing a dark, creepy character. Jeremy Renner is engaging as Orlando the Magician. The characters could have rested at one-dimensional, but director James Gray delves a bit deeper and we get invested in their lives. I recommend.

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!

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 Debra T. suggests Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon (in Documentary). Supermensch is a documentary about a manager named Shep Gordon who is apparently extremely nice to the people he works for and their friends. Here are three reasons why you should rent it. 1) You get a good story about the beginning of Alice Cooper and decisions made in his career, 2) You learn some great publicity stunts such as how to fill up a concert hall by staging a traffic jam, and 3) You get some really useful tips on how to host a great diner. Really, I wish I wrote them down as I watched. I have to say my husband and I had very different opinions of Shep Gordon after this movie. He thought Shep was a nice guy and did a lot of great things. I thought Shep was really good at working angles for his clients. There are a lot of famous people talking about how nice Shep is (Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Alice Cooper, Mike Myers, Emeril Lagasse), but then when they go to actual stories of his life, very little of it actually seems “nice” but more like successful, efficient, manipulative, ambitious, sometimes funny. Outside of his helping the grandchildren of his ex-girlfriend and hosting dinner parties in his Hawaiian house, there isn’t a whole lot of backup to the oft-repeated statement that he’s the nicest guy ever. He may be, but those stories aren’t in this movie. As a woman, I also found the movie more of a “good old boys” club praising Shep as a great guy despite his (hilarious according to the talking heads) womanizing and the fact that he married a woman 30 years younger than him and then divorced her after they found out she couldn’t have children. Yeah, such a mensch. I found it telling that the only women who were on screen talking nicely about him were women he pays (and his ex-girlfriend’s granddaughter who he supports financially). Those issues could be just mine. It was definitely fun to see the world of famous people through the lens of a manager whom they all seemed to love.  My husband liked the movie and I didn’t mind it. I just didn’t come out thinking this guy was as nice as the packaging promised.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport’s Andy suggests DOCUMENTARIES! Recently a Videoport returned four movies: Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion, Stupidity, and Somm from the Documentary section, and Wish You Were Here, from Drama. He said, “These three were all very good; this one was very bad. G’night.” Guess which one was “very bad.” Well, lesson learned. Stick with documentaries. I haven’t seen any of the documentaries that this customer returned, but recently I enjoyed Corman’s World (in Documentary Arts), a documentary about the legendary (and still active, though very old) producer/director Roger Corman. Here is an impressive list of people who attest to Corman’s importance, kindness, loyalty, and greatness (as well as his more frustrating qualities): Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, David Carradine, Eli Roth, Joe Dante, Bruce Dern, Polly Platt, Mary Woronov, newsroom-season-3Dick Miller (of course), Pam Grier, John Sayles, and William Shatner. These people all love Roger Corman, so you should watch a documentary about him! Corman’s World is an inspiring story about a maverick filmmaker, businessman, and occasional artist. Or, hey, just KxSNBLWhave fun browsing Videoport’s documentary section! It’s that forgotten section next to Action and behind the Incredibly Strange Films section.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Newsroom- season 3 (Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama series about the big, bad world of television network news 8203_poster_iphoneconcludes, as Jeff Daniels’ right-about-everything Will McEvoy speechifies and tells us all what we should have done. Sorkin’s done this sort of thing so much better in The West Wing and Sports Night—you should rent those, too. Or, you know, instead), Chappie (From Neill Blomkamp [director of District 9 and Elysium] comes another sci-fi, high-concept flick, this one about a robot with an unappealing name who develops self-awareness and starts petting puppies and the like. Sadly, meanie government guy Hugh Jackman’s after Chappie to turn him back into the killing machine he was designed to wrecking_crew_ver2_xlgbe. Leave Chappie alone, Hugh Jackman!), Run All Night (Liam Neeson’s mid-sixties action hero career steamrollers on in this crime drama about an aging hitman [nicknamed “The Gravedigger”!] who swings back into action when his mob boss best bud Ed Harris puts a hit out on Unfinished-Business-posterNeeson’s estranged son [Joel Kinnaman]. As we all know by now, even looking cross-eyed at a relative of Liam Neeson’s is a sure ticket to knuckle sandwich town), The Wrecking Crew (Like last year’s Muscle Shoals, this musical documentary sheds some light on a group of unsung backing musicians, this time the session men behind Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, and more), Unfinished Business (Vince Vaughn does his signature motor-mouthed thing in this buddy comedy about a trio of businessmen desperate to land a big deal at a foreign conference. Costarring James Franco’s more likeable little brother Dave as the dump, the-lazarus-effect-postersweet one, and great British stalwart Tom Wilkinson as the British one), The Lazarus Effect (A much more interesting cast than is usual in this sort of thing [Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Olivia Wilde] bring some heft to this horror flick about a group of perhaps less-than-cautious scientists trying to resurrect the dead. I’m sure it goes juuuust fine), Wild Tales (Acclaimed Argentinian film from director Damian Szifrom tells six short stories of various people being driven to madness through life’s injustices, big and small), Beyond The Reach (Michael Douglass plays—wait for it—a rich a-hole! This time, he’s a mysterious, BMW-driving businessman who shows up in a tiny desert town looking for a hunting guide. The poor young guy who takes the gig [Jeremy Irvine] soon begins to suspect that Douglas isn’t on the up-and-up), Welcome To Me (When Krstin Wiig’s unbalanced loner wins the lottery, she stops taking her medication and buys herself a talk show in this dark comedy costarring James Marsden, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins, and Linda Cardellini),

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!

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,926 other followers