VideoReport #510

Volume DX— The House On People With No Self-Preservation Instinct Hill

For the Week of 5/26/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. You love movies, so have a free one. That’s juts common sense, really.

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 Looper (in Sci-fi/Fantasy), with reservations. Director Rian Johnson made a name for himself with his first feature film, the celebrated, mannered teen noir Brick. His sci-fi action thriller Looper is a completely different kind of device: It’s smart, stylish, and fun to watch, but like Brick, it has a gimmick at its heart. It’s a time-travel crime tale, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a hitman named Joe, 30 years apart. Bruce Willis is, well, Bruce Willis, with all his familiar tics and mannerisms; JGL is crisp and tightly controlled as young Joe. It’s a heck of a parlor trick to see him rein in his broad, mobile face to master the impersonation, and the resemblance is sometimes eerie, sometimes distracting. But it is a parlor trick. Gordon-Levitt’s one of the most interesting actors of his generation, and this gimmick constrains his performance and the movie as a whole.

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 Macbeth (in Classics.) The Orson Welles 1948 version. With Michael Fassbender ready to bring his big budget version of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy to the big screen, why not look back at the funky, oddball version that Orson Welles made on a frayed shoestring. An early example of how Welles’ ambitions were to be constantly thwarted by the people with the money for the rest of his career, this expressionistic adaptation was, out of financial necessity, shot on leftover sets from Republic Pictures’ westerns in less than a month. Welles freely re-jiggered the dialogue and plot, and had the actors dub their lines in post-production. The critics of the day hated it, and, like a shocking number of Welles’ projects over the years, it received only spotty distribution over the years before being cleaned up for the DVD release that came out a few years ago. It’s an odd experience—the dubbed Scottish burrs are alienating and unnerving, which actually sort of works. For Shakespeare nerds (like me) it’s essential.

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 Bob’s Burgers (in Comedy). I don’t know if you out there in VideoReportland still watch current episodes of The Simpsons (as opposed to the classic episodes available to rent at Videoport), but it’s something of a bobs-burgers-521fdf91f28e1bummer. Actually, it’s more than a bummer—The Simpsons (say, seasons 3-9) was one long run of classic comedy. Not just classic TV, or classic cartoons, but all-time classic comedy, possessed of a unity of plot, character, and inventiveness that was, at its best, essential. Seriously, think back at how central The Simpsons was—and remains—to American comedy. Now—eh. It’s a solid B-minus show, where the residual affection for the voice actors’ interpretations of their characters and echoes of past glories bump an indifferent show up a half-grade. There are flashes here and there—the Lego episode from last season could actually hold its own in a good season—but it’s mostly just there. Which is all a long preamble to me saying that Bob’s Burgers is the new Simpsons—a smart, delightfully silly, and improbably affecting animated family sitcom that combines huge laughs, great voice acting, and characterization. The family unit matches up precisely, with a mom and dad, and three kids (a boy and two girls.) Here, they live not in Springfield, but some unnamed New England seafront tourist trap of a town, where Bob Belcher (voiced by animation all-star Jon Benjamin, also the voice of Archer, which is also great) runs a dinky burger joint with the help (sort of) of his enthusiastically goofy wife Linda (John Roberts), and his kids, perpetually weird and longing Tina (Dan Mintz), happily strange and boisterous Gene (Eugene Mirman), and manically self-assured (and weird) Louise (Kristin Schaal at her Kristin Schaal-iest). Like early Simpsons, the Belchers are perpetually losers, their socioeconomic and social underdog status central to their storylines and their appeal. Bob is the mostly-sane one of the group, continually trying to rein in his clan’s propensity to follow their eccentric whims into disastrous places, but Bob’s hardly a killjoy. While the pressures of being a business owner and family man seem to dictate that he be sensible at all times, in Benjamin’s performance, Bob’s reactions to the strangeness all around him are delightfully deadpan. Plus, there’s always the hint of how family man Bob carries the seeds of oddity that have blossomed to wildly in the rest of his family—the chalkboard in his restaurant always carries evidence of his stifled creativity in daily punning names of his experimental burger specials (like the “We’re here, we’re gruyere, get used to it” burger), and his occasional bursts of defiance against life’s indignities. Linda is one of the most endearingly weird TV mom’s ever, Roberts’ performance always making her irrepressible enthusiasm and loyalty to her brood as funny as it is admirably unique. The kids are all originals, too: Gene is the master of bodily functions, farfetched dreams, and unashamed self-expression, Louise is all bright-eyed, crazy id, and Mintz’s Tina is one of the most singular representations of confused but hopeful adolescence ever, her owly monotone and crippling anxieties never keeping her from hopefully navigating her way through teenagerdom. This is just a warm, silly, uniquely hilarious sitcom that can match up with The Simpsons at its best.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Edge of Tomorrow (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). In the future, the nations of earth combine forces to battle an alien race that’s ravaging Europe and posed to take over the planet. (I ended up watching Edge of Tomorrow over Memorial Day weekend, not realizing its frequent references to somber landmarks of WWI & WWII would make that weirdly appropriate.) When Major Cage (Tom Cruise), a military public affairs agent and admitted coward, is unwillingly assigned a role in the first beach attack on the French shores, he gains an eldritch power that has him reliving the same day, the same storming of the beach, over and over. Only Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) understands what a tactical advantage that could give Earth’s forces in this battle, and in the war on which humanity’s fate hangs. Blunt’s Sgt. Vrtataski is huge fun to watch: strong, confident, tough, plenty of swagger but not an ounce of bluster. She’s every inch a soldier. And Edge of Tomorrow demonstrates Cruise’s understanding of his own uneasy appeal, and the public’s ambivalence about him. As in a videogame orGroundhog Day, Cage’s power to restart the day is triggered only by his death, and the film shows this initially unlikeable character dying — over and over, inevitably or suddenly or just repetitively — with a canny grasp of his potent charisma, which makes audiences enjoy and resent him in turns.

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, Dennis suggests Undead (in Horror). Sometimes you just need an over-the-top Aussie zombie flick. You know it’s true. Well, this visually inventive first film gorefest from the Spierig Brothers (who’ve gone on to do the interesting Daybreakers and Predestination) is right up your alley, with the requisite meteor strike causing the residents of a tiny Australian fishing village to become the requisite flesh-eating zombies. The twin directors clearly worship at the altar of the pre-Lord Of The Rings Peter Jackson (he of the spazzy, giddily fun splatter flicks Bad Taste and Dead Alive), mixing so-gross-it’s-fun gore with offbeat dialogue and characters and hyperkinetic camerawork. There must be something in the Aussie water to keep turning out inventively silly horror filmmakers like this. Plus, it’s not every day you watch a horror comedy starring someone named Mungo McKay who spouts lines like, “…time is short. So you gotta ask yourself: Are you a fighter, Fish Queen, or are you zombie food?” in an Australian accent.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Space 1999 (in Sci Fi). (From something I wrote somewhere else.) What’s it about? In a very 1970s-looking 1999, 311 multinational crew members peacefully man Moonbase Alpha, Earth’s first space colony, under the no-nonsense command of Martin Landau’s Commander John Koenig. But when a massive explosion sends the moon flinging out of Earth’s orbit, Koenig finds himself the captain of an isolated outpost of humanity, hurtling into uncharted space and dealing with dwindling supplies, the occasional mutiny, and each week’s requisite alien encounter. Essentially, the moon is the Starship Enterprise, with Landau as a much more dour Kirk, Barbara Bain as an even less-expressive Spock (and she’s completely human), and a wry Barry Morse as a less-excitable Bones. Why you should watch it: Because its inexplicable combination of deadly seriousness, utterly lazy (and bonkers) science, and sterile-yet-funky ’70s design produces a singularly schizophrenic viewing experience that’s as entertaining as the episodes themselves. Space: 1999 is always a minute recalibration away from unintentional self-parody, but every time you’re tempted to go full Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the action (as MST3K itself did in its UHF days), there’s a poetic interlude, a thoughtful philosophical theme, seventh-son-poster-598x360or an overqualified guest star (Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Brian Blessed among them) to bring you back to attention. Plus, the multi-ethnic cast (in the first season, anyway) was bold for the time, and Space: 1999 still boasts the most exciting theme song/opening sequence in TV history. Who should watch it: Sci-fi geeks (earnest or ironic); scientists (ironic only); jumpsuit enthusiasts.sonsofliberty

New Releases this week at Videoport: Seventh Son (Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore class up this fantasy ray-donovan-second-season.28519adventure tale about a young apprentice monster-hunter sent to recapture Moore’s evil witch with the help of grizzled ol’ Bridges), Sons Of Liberty (In this History Channel miniseries, hunky young versions of George Washington, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock kick some Redcoat arse as they build the country that would static1.squarespacebecome ‘Murica! Starring the likes of Henry Thomas, Rafe Spall, Martin Csokas, and Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris as Ben-freaking-Franklin! Watch out British jerks! Here come the Founding Fathers!), Ray Donovan- season 2 (The always-interesting Live Schreiber returns in this Showtime series as professional L.A. “fixer” Ray Donovan, the Hello-Ladies-Season-1-Promo-Postergo-to guy for rich jerks who need their latest misdeeds swept under the rug. He’s all morally compromised, as most cable protagonists are, with a decent supporting cast including Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan, and Steven Bauer), The Loft (A group of skeevy married guys [including Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, James Marsden, and url-1Eric Stonestreet] share a swanky bachelor pad for all their extramarital hijinx. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, right, dead lady in the communal bed.), Hello Ladies- season 1 (The very funny Stephen Merchant [Extras, The Ricky Gervais Show] stars in his own HBO sitcom about a terminally-awkward single guy trying to score in Los Angeles. Or with Los Angeles. Anyway, it’s another example of very solid cringe comedy from our uncomfortable British pals. ), Da Sweet Love Of Jesus (Have you ever heard of the cult horror film Ganja and supremacyHess? Well, you can rent it at Videoport, of course, possibly on a double feature with this oddball remake of the already oddball original from Spike Lee of all people. In it, a professor is cursed by an ancient African artifact with a thirst for human blood!), Supremacy (Based on a depressing true story, a young neo-Nazi gets out of prison and promptly takes an African American family hostage. Meanwhile, the head Nazi jerk scowls disapprovingly from prison, TMIT-VOD-key-art_{68d33bf6-3aa7-e411-8748-d4ae527c3b65}presumably because the young jerk is giving Nazis a bad name? I guess?), Two Men In Town (Another remake of a movie you don’t know, this drama sees Muslim ex-con Forest Whittaker forming an unlikely friendship with his parole officer, finding a good woman, and settling down, only to see a racist copper and his own past conspiring to pull him back into big trouble once again. Remake of the French film of the same name [but starring Alain Delon and Jean Gabin], which you can, of course, rent at Videoport, since we are so awesome.)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Seventh Son

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 May 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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VideoReport #509

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 936full-secretary-posterfilms 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 DeliveranceThe 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 American-Sniper-Movie-Posterhim 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 hot_tub_time_machine_two_ver5_xlgconductor 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 0XIULpPafter 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. Leviathan-Poster[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 61nTa3f1IsLof 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 CallTheMidwife_S4_DVDdepartment. 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 001_punderperformed 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 cymbelineposterlargeresembles. 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

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 May 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

VideoReport #508

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

For the Week of 5/12/15

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

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

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l-r: Crow, Joel, Tom

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

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!                                                            >>> Emily S. Customer suggests Camelot (in Musicals). It’s May! It’s May! The lusty month of May! I’m not going to sugar-coat it: the 1967 film version of Camelot is a little too slack and overstuffed to retain the magic of the stage musical. It’s hard to imagine being stuck in a theater for three hours while this candy-floss confection plays out. But it’s a great candidate for home viewing, where you have the freedom to unwind and enjoy it on your own terms. As King Arthur and Guenevere, Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave chew some of that (award-winning) scenery, but they’re passionate, playful, and weirdly sympathetic for squabbling royalty stuck in a love triangle.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

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

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!                                        

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

Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

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

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

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

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

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure really—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

VideoReport #507

   Volume DVII— Zero Dark Thirty-One

For the Week of 5/5/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. No one could have a problem with that. Unless they didn’t like movies, I guess. But, then, why are they here in the first place? Really confusing stuff. Take a free movie while we figure this out. 

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 a Monday Mother’s Day Double Feature! For Middle Aisle Monday, take a terrifying trip through maternity in preparation for Mother’s Day. Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and David Cronenberg’s The Brood convey the sublimated terror lurking in the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Paranoia and terror creep in all around Rosemary (Mia Farrow), crowding into the sunny days of her young marriage and throwing gloomy shadows across the freshly-painted walls of her handsome New York City apartment. The film hinges on a simple question: Is Rosemary’s imagination running away with her, or is something larger than mere maternal anxiety at play in her seemingly simple life? In Cronenberg’s cult favorite, Nola (Samantha Eggar) is fighting her ex for custody of their daughter, and seeking intense (and worryingly radical) treatments at The Somafree Institute, transforming the pain of her divorce and longer-buried traumas through a new therapy called psychodynamics — with startling results. Just how gruesome a Mother’s Day are you looking forward to, anyhow?

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!

>>>It’s another Mother’s Day Double Feature from Emily S. Customer! Mildred Pierce (1945) and The Manchurian Candidate. Left alone by her no-good husband, single mother Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) would sacrifice anything to make a better life for her daughters. She doesn’t have much, but she has a strong work ethic, a dab hand with pastry, and a level head on her shoulders, and soon Mildred works her way up from provisionally-employed waitress to restaurant entrepreneur, all for the good of her girls… but for her selfish daughter Veda, nothing will ever be enough. Lay in a supply of pie, and also of hankies, for this melodrama in noir disguise. While Mildred Pierce would sacrifice everything for her children, Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury, in an Academy-Award nominated performance) of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) would sacrifice her son, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), and much more on the pyre of her second husband’s political career. The addled, publicity-hungry Sen. Iselin (James Gregory, known to a generation as Inspector Luger from Barney Miller) leads a witchhunt devoted to rooting out (fictitious) Communists entrenched within the Department of Defense, and with his wife’s encouragement, he plays shamelessly on Raymond’s reputation as a war hero and (as his fellow platoon members invariably report) as “the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

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 continues her Mother’s Day double features! Pair up El Orfanato (one Foreign rental FREE today with a paid rental!) and The Others (Horror) for an eerie, emotional double whammy of scares and sentiment. Though the cast and story construction of El Orfanato is strong throughout, Belén Rueda carries the film on her slim shoulders, bringing heart and depth to the role of Laura, a mother doggedly trying to protect her adopted son from horrors both uncanny and all too tangible. In The Others, Nicole Kidman’s Grace is just as fierce in protecting her children, and just as haunted by the prospect of failure.

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 Brian’s Song (in Feature Drama). This football movie about the friendship between interracial NFL running back pals Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo is the movie that makes it okay for dudes to cry. Manly crying. Burly tears. Both drafted by the Chicago Bears in a time when the league’s racial attitudes were a lot less tolerant than now—and the league’s racial attitudes aren’t great now—Sayers and Piccolo were paired up as the team’s first mixed-race roommates and became pals even though they were competing for the same job. Made for TV, the whole thing’s a little hokey, but when James Caan’s Piccolo gets sick, and Billy Dee Williams’ shy Sayers stands behind his buddy, well, things get a little dusty, even for the manliest football-loving dude in the house. Caan and Williams are both great in this, and their big showdown—with Piccolo using a particular word to get the injured Sayers motivated and the two devolving into paralyzing giggle-fits—was pretty damned bold for its day. So rent it, and go ahead and cry, fellas—this is the movie that made it okay.

Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Penny Dreadful-season 1 (in Horror). For those of you who pay the frankly exorbitant and ridiculous cable television fees, you know that this excellent Showtime horror series returned this week for its second season. Which is fine, if you want to pay for cable, then pay extra for Showtime. Like a sucker. For all of us smarties out here, it’s time to catch up on the first season, available at frankly ridiculously low rental prices at Videoport. Starring Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper, and a surprisingly effective Josh Hartnett, it’s sort of like a Victorian League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in that it mixes historical and fictional characters (Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein, and others make appearances). Oh, except, unlike that misbegotten movie, Penny Dreadful doesn’t suck. (You should check out Alan Moore’s original LXG graphic novels, though.) In the show, Dalton is an Alan Quartermain-like explorer, returned to England to hunt down some ancient evil with the help of Green’s stunningly good psychic/medium and Hartnett’s American gunslinger (tortured veteran of his own brush with evil, recruited from a third-rate “Wild West” show). Bloody, gorgeous, and very well acted, this is a great, little series.

selma-movie-poster>>>For Sunday, Hey, it’s the beginning of the month, so that means it’s time for our list of the movies that Netfl*x is taking away from you for no reason whatsoever! Seriously—if there’s anything more representative of the greedhead corporate evil of Netfl*x, it’s that they do this each and every month and make their customers believe it’s normal. It’s not—it’s not like they have to squeeze all these movies onto shelves somewhere. They just feel like making the decision of what those customers should be able to watch away from the people giving them money. So here are the movies poor, dumb Netfl*x customers/dupes won’t be able to see in May. (Oh, and, of course, you can rent them all at Videoport. Because we don’t pull this crap.)

12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue (2012)

6 Bullets (2012)

The Accused (1988)

Airplane! (1980)

All I Want for Christmas (1991)

Along Came Polly (2004)

An American Haunting (2006)

BASEketball (1998)

Bitter Moon (1992)

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Bratz: Babyz: The Movie (2005)

The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Cecil B. Demented (2000)

Cloud 9 (2014)

Deuces Wild (2002)

Divine Secrets of the Ya­Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Finding Forrester (2000)

Flight (2012)

Friday the 13th: Part 7: The New Blood (1988)

Funny Face (1957)

Ichi the Killer (2001)

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

The New Guy (2002)

Princess Diaries 2 (2004)

Red Dawn (2012)

RoboCop (1987)

Robot & Frank (2012)

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Sabrina (1954)

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Silent House (2011)

Skyfall (2012)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Valkyrie (2008)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Selma (David Oyelowo is bigtmp_31367mesmerizing and complex as legendary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King in this uncompromising depiction of King’s leadership of the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in 1965. Shut out at the Oscars, now’s your chance, people. Directed by Ava DuVernay, whose excellent indie film Middle Black-or-White-PosterOf Nowhere you can also rent in Videoport’s Drama section), Mr. Turner (The great British director Mike Leigh [Naked, Secrets & Lies, Another Year, Topsy Turvy, High Hopes, Happy Go Lucky] brings out this visually stunning biopic of the last years of the life of legendary, and legendarily odd, English painter J.M.W. Turner. Starring always-stellar character actor Timothy Spall in a rare lead as Turner), Black Or White (In what I’m sure was a tumblr_nlvm7puvxA1r8iw09o1_250well-intentioned idea, this movie sees grieving [white] grandpa Kevin Costner fighting for custody of his beloved granddaughter after his son dies. Octavia Spencer is the [black] grandmother who’s doing the same. Man, I sure hope these two can come to some sort of symbolically palatable understanding on race. Just, fingers crossed over here), Mr. The-Bridge1Selfridge- season 3 (Jeremy Piven returns as turn of the century American mogul Harry Selfridge who opened London’s first department store), The Bridge- season 2 (While we’ve got the American remake, here’s the second season of the original, foreign-language mystery series about a pair of mismatched cops from opposite sides of the border rzCHEtBdxoZjNwRsO4pE7Q7U4Gq[Denmark and Sweden in this case] forced to work together to solve a murder where the body was right on the dividing line between their two countries), Spare Parts (George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marisa Tomei star in this fact-based inspirational movie about a team of Hispanic high school students who cobbled together car parts to take on the most advanced students in the country in a nationwide robotics competition), Lost River Lost-River-poster(Ryan Gosling makes his directorial debut with this artsy mystery drama about a single mother [Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks] who sets out to uncover the dark secrets of her dying small town in order to save her teenaged son; costarring Saiorse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, and Doctor Who’s Matt Smith), The Last Five Years 1.171988(Portland’s pride, Anna Kendrick stars in this musical adaptation of the play about the doomed romance of a novelist and his dream girl), Against The Sun (Based on a true story WWII survival tale about three downed airmen Against-the-Sunforced to go to unimaginable lengths to stay alive after their bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean), Masters Of Sex- season 2 (Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan return in the second season of this compelling drama series about the then-infamous sex researchers Masters and Johnson), Miss Julie (Legendary actress Liv Ullman writes the screenplay and directs this adaptation of the Strindberg play about an 18th century heiress encouraging the attentions of her father’s hunky valet. Starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell), 50 Shades Of Grey (Wait, wait, calm your pants—this adaptation of the internet fan fic-level erotic novel doesn’t come out until FRIDAY, miss-julieMAY 8th. Friday—so cool yourself with one of those big, ornamental fans, have a wine cooler, and look longingly at your bedside table until FRIDAY, when this tale of the sexy millionaire who likes some mildly kinky sex games Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Poster-4and the doe-eyed lady who allows him to do stuff to her. Be cool, everybody), The Berlin File (Korean thriller about a North Korean secret agent who finds himself on the run in Berlin after his cover is blown.)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Boy Next Door, Inherent Vice

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.the_berlin_file

VideoReport #506

Volume DVI—The Avengers 3: Punch Everything Until It All Comes Out Okay

For the Week of 4/28/15

Videoport gives you a free movies every single day. You know who gives you free movies never? Netfl*x, Redb*x, Time Warn*r Cable—that’s who. Local, independent—Videoport. Come have a free movie on us.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Popular Music, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

rare_exports_teaser_poster_en>>> Videoport customer Connor Q. suggests Rare Exports (in the Incredibly Strange section). Rare Exports is in Finnish, which is awesome. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was learn Finnish. Which was hard, since Portland was low on Finns then, and also lacked the now ample Finnish-media-providing powers of the Internet, since it was the early 1990s. So instead I had to run and see every Aki Kaurismäki movie that The Movies saw fit to put on—try saying “Tulitikkutehdaan Tyttö” seven times fast—and also rent Leningrad Cowboys Go America (available in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section)…only to find that, well, they don’t say much (this is kind of a Finnish thing), and they’re also in America, so there’s not exactly a great percentage of Finnish to English spoken. Nice hair, though. Oh yeah: the movie. Evil Santa Claus. But the people are pretty evil, too. Though to their credit, a nasty monster eating your whole caribou/reindeer herd will awaken the foul beast that lies within us all. Especially since reindeer are apparently worth like $2000 apiece. (Or $200? I’m not sure about my reindeer math. Need to re-watch the reindeer marginal-rate-of-return bit again. One never wants to be off by a whole decimal point when it comes to reindeer.) Anyhow, there is an evil Santa, a totally badass kid—this film apparently suggests that rural Finnish parenting norms are, to say the least, far from the overprotective views currently popular/lamented in the U.S.A.—and a theft of radiators. Somewhat bad things happen to potatoes, and there is a British-accented guy with a U.S. passport. And a pretty decent set of explosions, lots of blerpy CGI snowscape action, and a wicked deep hole. What more could you want?

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>> Dennis suggests Medium Cool (in Classics). Hey, a 1969 half-documentary about the press trying to film police abuses during political protests. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that some 46 years later, right? Oh, right. Anyway, this film—directed by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler—follows an apolitical news cameraman (an excellent Robert Forster, decades before he was excellent in Jackie Brown) as he covers the 1968 Democratic national convention. Wexler thrust his leading an and crew right in the middle of the thuggish Chicago PD as they ran roughshod over legally assembled hippies and political types who had the dumb idea to express their first amendment rights in the infamously corrupt and fascistic Windy City of Mayor Richard Daley. That might sound dry, but the film is an electric, Cassavetes-esque, semi-improvised piece of Gonzo drama. (In fact, the lead role was intended for Cassavetes.) And, in an age where the widespread availability of handheld cameras exposes police abuses daily, Medium Cool seems more ahead of its time than ever.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (in Comedy).

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

 

I do not think that they will sing to me.

 

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Taking its title from the famous—and famously depressing—poem, this 1987 Canadian film somehow avoids diving into the depths of existential despair the poem hints at, even as it tells the tale of an awkward, lonely young woman pining for both a 1139_IveHeardTheMermaidsSinging_Catalog_Poster_v2_Approvedwoman and a career she can seemingly never have. In one of the most beautifully moving performances I’ve ever seen, Sheila McCarthy plays Polly, an aspiring photographer who gains the unexpected position of assistant to the chic proprietor of a hip art gallery. Honestly, McCarthy’s performance is something uniquely, heartbreakingly hopeful, a portrait of a terminal outsider who nonetheless continues to find reasons to maintain her cockeyes optimism. This is one of those little movies that I can never get anyone to rent, so why not buck that futile trend. This is one of those movies that will get to you.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests Would You Rather (in Horror). One of the chief benefits of watching low budget horror movies—something I’ve done obsessively since I was 13 years old—is uncovering little unexpected moments. Sometimes it’s a talented director (Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were my discoveries, hidden gems I could hold onto even when they became justifiably famous for the likes of Spider Man and The Lord Of The Rings). Sometimes it’s a chance for an actor to shine in a disreputable genre—here, I look at people like Jeffrey Combs in Re-Animator or Tony Todd in Candyman. The love of horror movies is the joy of unexpected discovery. So a movie like Would You Rather is like a treasure trove. The main attraction is Combs, long a staple of genre films, having a field day as a mysterious millionaire who invites a group of disparate, unsuspecting people to his isolated mansion for his singularly twisted version of the titular summer camp game. It’s a nasty, low-budget little piece of work, relying on the grisly thrill of watching the various collection of characters decide how to cope with the bloody ethical dilemmas Combs’ malicious plans place them in. What makes the film so watchable are the performances from a top-to-bottom cast of interesting actors delivering the epitome of horror movie hidden gems. Apart from the always-great Combs, hamming it up with gleeful aplomb (Re-Animator, The Frighteners), the film stars Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse, Agent Carter), John Heard, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Eddie Steeples (Crab Man from My Name Is Earl), Robb Wells (Ricky from Trailer Park Boys), June Squibb (Oscar nominee from Nebraska), Robin Lord Taylor (The Penguin from Gotham), Charlie Hofheimer (Abe from Mad Men), and Sasha Grey (former porn star turned “legit” actress—The Girlfriend Experience). Oh, also, the main character—nice girl trying to win money to take care of her terminally ill brother—is Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) who is dull, but you can’t have everything. Grubby little horror with a ton of good actors doing interesting work—that’s the fun of seeking out the fringes.

Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!          

>>> It’s a free kids movie! There are a lot to choose from! For free!                                                                                

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section! OR get any three non-new releases for a week for $7.99!                                            

>>> For Saturday, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Inherent Vice (in Feature Drama). Seeing as most viewers are probably in search of perfect sense, it takes some serious balls to commit to perfect NONsense, and Paul Thomas Anderson has ‘em. This has been evident since the beginning of his career, though perhaps it just stands out more than usual in Inherent Vice, which is based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel from 2009. To varying degrees, it could certainly be argued that all of PTA’s films are comedies, but this is the one that most feels like a fearless screwball farce. It’s akin to watching a live action cartoon or a comic book adaptation in that it’s colorful, frequently amusing, and could not care less about whether it is understood or not. Pynchon’s novel was more concerned with a distinctive set of vibes than coherence, and Anderson clearly favors feelings over understanding where cinema and storytelling are concerned, so in that sense he is the perfect candidate to bring Doc Sportello and his truly out-there exploits to the screen. The film is very much alive, and quite frankly the energy is infectious. The spectacular ensemble cast certainly attributes to this, but its Anderson’s technical perfectionism and resonant cinematic philosophy that take it a step further. It’s something of a transcendent stoner comedy in that it’s incredibly playful while also delivering an engaging critique on the times (the story is set during the 1970’s) and digging deep, and I mean DEEP into its protagonist’s psyche. Everything is seen through bloodshot eyes and paranoid ears, so it’s frequently committed to disorientation. This may bother some, but I ran with it. Sometimes it truly is enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride, especially when said ride is as outrageously funny and visually stimulating as this.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Clerks (in Comedy). You know, sometimes after a particularly trying day working behind a counter, even the memory of this legendary, micro-budget comedy from writer-director-Silent Bob Kevin Smith provides some comfort. I still have a lot of affection for Smith, for a lot of reason, even though he’s never really progressed beyond the “guy from Jersey working out some stuff” level, artistically, especially when I think of how he transformed his time working 60985retail into a hilariously cathartic and filthy cinematic primal scream. Because sometimes people try to make themselves feel big by making the employees of a small business feel powerless and small—and sometimes said employees will…not…have…it. As one trEWtPexXuiZtEd7QGHyY9rhHLnof the characters states, “we push buttons.” But if you treat us like that’s all we do, people, prepare to have yourselves immortalized in all your supercilious, classist a-holery in the indie movies we’re all writing.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Paddington (He’s a little British bear, what more do you need? Based on the classic children’s books [and ubiquitous dolls], this family film is actually supposed to be really good. Again—cute British bear. What more do you want?), Wolf Hall (No one ever gets enough of that turkey-leg-chompin’, wife-beheadin’ Henry VIII! At least that’s the lesson learned from this recent Masterpiece Theater miniseries where Henry attempts to annul his marriage to the-gambler-movie-poster-20151901Anne Boleyn in order to get a male child—not knowing that it’s his damned fault that he keeps siring girl babies. Jerk. Starring Homeland’s Damian Lewis as Henry.), The Gambler (Mark Wahlberg stars in this Inherent-Vice-Poster1-e1420753199331crime thriller as a literature professor [not likely] and addicted gambler [much more likely] who gets himself in over his head and has to try one last gambling gambit to pull himself out. Good cast includes John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and The-Wedding-Ringer-Bar-640Michael K. Williams [aka Omar from The Wire]), Inherent Vice (This is the movie of the week, people. For one thing, director Paul Thomas Anderson has not only never made a bad movie, he’s never made anything but modern classics. [See: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master]. For another thing, this psychedelic detective story about a 1970s, spaced-out detective [Joaquin Phoenix] searching sun-drenched Los Angeles for a missing ex-girlfriend is the sort of ambitious adaptation of an “unfilmable” novel [this time by the ever-mysterious Thomas Pynchon] that only a masterful director like Anderson would take on. And last, here’s the supporting acccast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Michale K. Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Timothy Simons, and Jillian Bell. Just rent this one, you guys. See the Saturday from Videoport customer Ryan!), The Wedding Ringer (Kevin Hart stars as the titular wedding ringer, a guy who hires himself out to prospective grooms to provide thecapture-d_c3a9cran-2014-05-18-c3a0-16-33-04 fun bachelor party the poor shlubs can’t accumulate for themselves. Said shlub this time is Josh Gad [Frozen], who bonds with Hart as he tries to impress his bride and her family.), Accidental Love (The story behind this satirical comedy might be more entertaining than the film itself. Acclaimed director David O. Russell [Spanking The Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle] bailed on the film [along with much of the cast] when the producers ran out of money, and took his name of the movie. Completed without Russell, the movie, about a waitress [Jessica Biel] who becomes a nymphomaniac 1-would-you-ratherafter a nail gun accident and the dim-witted but ambitious politician [Jake Gyllenhall] who looks to capitalize, in various ways, on her affliction. With a supporting cast including James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, and Bill Hader.), Mommy (The newest from from precocious 25-year-old French Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan [Laurence Always, I Killed My Mother] about a time in the near future where Canadian parents can easily commit their troublesome teenage children to state-run institutions), Would You Rather (See the-boy-next-door-posterThursday’s review for details on this nastily entertaining horror flick), The Boy Next Door (Jennifer Lopez is a recently-cuckolded woman who falls for her hunky, young new neighbor, only to gradually discover that sexing up the mysteriously sexy teenager next door can have unexpectedly un-sexy consequences.)

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.

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