VideoReport #492

Volume CDXCII- Synecdoche, Portland

For the Week of 1/20/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Oh, and we’re local, independent, and care about movies and our customers. But mainly it’s about the free movie thing.

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!

.>>> Rent the big Academy Award Nominees at Videoport!

These are the ones that are available:

Best Picture: Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Supporting Actor: Boyhood (Ethan Hawke)

Best Actress: Gone Girl (Rosamund Pike)

Supporting Actress: Boyhood (Patricia Arquette)

Animated Feature: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Best Director: Boyhood (Richard Linklater), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

Best Documentary: Finding Vivian Maier

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

OR howsabout the Golden Globe Nominees!

Best Picture—Drama: Boyhood (winner),

Best Actress—Drama: Gone Girl (Rosamund Pike)

Best Picture—Comedy or Musical: Pride, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Actress—Musical or Comedy: The Hundred Foot Journey (Helen Mirren)

Best Actor—Musical or Comedy: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Ralph Fiennes)

Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2 (winner)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Supporting Actress: Boyhood (Patricia Arquette—winner)

Best Supporting Actor: Boyhood (Ethan Hawke)

Best Director: Boyhood (Richard Linklater—winner), Gone Girl (David Fincher), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

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!

best-top-desktop-wallpaper-buffy-the-vampire-slayer19-top-10-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-episodes>>> Dennis suggests his Joss Whedon fanboy shelf (in the Staff Picks section). Sure, I’m too old to be a fanboy. I was too old to become the world’s biggest fan of a show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer, too, but here I am, so we’ll all just deal with it. Whedon is the creator of the following. They are all incredibly entertaining, surprisingly deep, and angel_season1_promo_poster-e5b34way smarter than their genres may indicate to people with prejudices against such things. First, there’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer*, which was Whedon’s first introduction to the viewing public. A small percentage of the public (he never gets good ratings) but still. It’s Whedon’s mission statement—the blonde girl in the horror movie who usually gets killed in the dark alley is, instead, the newest in a long line of monster killers—and the monsters in the alley are the ones in trouble. Don’t let the title (or the admittedly shaky first season) scare you off—this is an outstanding show, one that combines horror, comedy, and coming-of-age high school drama in equal, and equally satisfying ffpostermidmeasure. Outstanding TV. And then there’s Angel, the Buffy spinoff that become Buffy’s equal—sometimes its better. Buffy’s beau—a vampire cursed with a soul—sets out as an unlicensed private dick in Los Angeles. High adventure and the signature Whedon wit and penchant for heartbreaking drama. Again—outstanding TV. Firefly is next—and the best thing that Wehdon’s done. Which of course means that no one watched this sci-fi series and it was cancelled after like 14 episodes—at least he got the gang back together for the movie Serenity. Which no one watched. I hate you people. Make it up to me, and yourselves I guess, by watching this show—a sci-fi series unlike any other you can think of. Perfect television—I’ve watched theCabin-in-the-Woods-Poster brief run of this show about 20 times. Dollhouse wasn’t Whedon’s finest TV outing, with a rough start and two short seasons. But boy howdy did it pick up, eventually broadening its initial concept (secret government agency uses rewritable human “dolls” to fulfill client’s nefarious desires) to become something apocalyptic, and stunningly imaginative. Cabin In The Woods was written by Whedon and directed by his Buffy pal Drew Goddard, and it is every horror fan’s bloody dream, a smart deconstruction of the horror genre that is also a kickass horror movie. I love this movie. Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog is a musical about a 1415_i3.1_Doctor_Horrible_Bannersensitive would-be supervillain (everyone’s pal Neil Patrick Harris) whose pursuit of world domination pales next to his love for a shy do-gooder and runs headfirst into his nemesis, the meathead superhero Captain Hammer (Firefly’s Nathan Fillion). Whedon’s a huge musical fan (see Buffy season 6, disc 2 for the superlative Buffy musical episode), and this is one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen. (Sure, I hate musicals, but that only proves how great this is.) The Avengers was where Whedon conquered the world. Wrapping all Marvel’s superhero mythologies together in this one blockbuster was entrusted to a cult TV director who’d never really been able to attract an audience—and I don’t have to tell you how well that went. All the money, all the critical acclaim—Joss now has all the power. Which makes the world a better damn place as far as I can see. (He went on to create the TV show Agents Of Shield, spinning off from The Avengers, too.) Much Ado About Nothing was the tiny-budget Shakespeare adaptation Whedon L_Kal8273made while in post-production on The Avengers. And it’s great. I’m a Shakespeare geek as well as a Whedon geek, and this tiny movie (made at Whedon’s house and starring friends from his various TV shows) is as good as the lauded Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version, with a stunning turn from Angel’s Amy Acker as Beatrice. Whedon used to have drunken Shakespeare readings with his actors at that same house—this is as warm and intimate as those evenings must have been. Oh, and Whedon wrote the original Toy Story, too, just in case you needed more reason to love him. Get renting, people. This guy’s got a lot to offer you.

*Oh, and here’s an incredibly cool story about Anthony Head, who played Buffy’s British watcher/helper/father figure on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. If you need one cool story to put you over the top, this is it. Outstanding, this guy. 

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 a double feature of all-lady rock band movies. There’s quite a few to choose from but I’ve picked two of my favorites. Linda Linda Linda (in Made in Japan) is an excellent Japanese film about a group of high school girls who have three days to prepare songs for their school’s rock concert. Unfortunately their lead singer quits, so they coerce Korean exchange student Son to join them, even though her Japanese isn’t great. It’s a fun coming of age drama with cool music originally by the Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts. Bandits (in Foreign Language) goes in a very different direction than Linda Linda Linda; it’s more of a prison break road movie but with rock & roll thrown in. Four women in a German prison form a band, but on the way to a performance they hear one of their songs on the radio and decide to escape. Along the way they become famous but they can’t run forever. Listen, it’s not a great movie, but I enjoy how outrageous and funny it is and it doesn’t hurt that star Jasmin Tabatabai wrote or co-wrote most of the songs because they’re great.

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 Ultraviolet (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). When Det. Sgt. Michael Colefield’s best friend disappears hours before his wedding day dawns, what could be simple cold feet turns out to be so much more. Tracking his missing friend leads Colefield (Jack Davenport, CouplingSmashPirates of the Caribbean) to a covert team policing squad (including Idris Elba and Susannah Harker) who specialize the threat of “Code Fives” preying on the population of London. This stylish, stylized six-episode thriller never utters the word “vampire,” and delivers some neat tricks and intriguing ideas along with its sang froid.

Free 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, April suggests The Mighty Boosh (in British comedy) Do you love absurd surreal comedy? Then you might like The Mighty Boosh, a bizarre yet perfectly normal comedy series from Noel Fielding (The IT Crowd) and Julian Barrett (A Field in England). Series one starts off in a zoo where Vince (Fielding) and Howard (Barrett) are zookeepers. There aren’t many animals in this zoo and most of the time Vince and Howard end up doing outrageous things like fighting a kangaroo, dressing up like a panda, or joining a band called Kraftwerk Orange. I told you it’s bizarre, but funny! Series two is equally strange although they’re no longer at the zoo but hanging out in the apartment above Naboo the Shaman’s shop. There they search for “the new sound”, hang out with goth girls, and discover the legend of Old Gregg, a part-fish part-woman/man creature. Series three takes place in Naboo’s shop where Vince and Howard work. It gets even weirder as Vince becomes infected with a Jazz virus, Vince and Howard’s doubles challenge them to a crimp off, and there is a crack fox. Yes. Watch it.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Fall—season 1 (in Mystery/Thriller). As Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, called in from The Met to head Belfast’s investigation into a string of murders, Gillian Anderson brings an incomparable cool polish to this smart, stylish procedural. Gibson is ferociously intelligent, deliberate, and uncompromising. The series is both a nailbiter of a thriller and a thoughtful commentary on the tropes too often invoked in serial-killer stories, making for a taut first season that never discounts the humanity of all its characters.

>>>Dennis suggests getting some free money! Any time you want, $20 gets you $25 in rental credit, or $30 buys you $40. That, my friends, is some free money.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Lucy (Even though that whole “people only use 10 per cent of their brains” thing is pure onsense [please Google it before you argue with me], but this action flick from action flick master Luc Besson [The Professional] is supposed to be a ton o’ fun. In it, Scarlet Johansson as a test subject whose —tee hee—10 per cent brain is unlocked, letting her use the 90 per cent of the human brain that we all use every day, only she gets all the superpowers that come with embodying an old wives’ tale. Morgan Freeman is on hand to intone spooky scientific stuff. So go ahead and use your whole brain and rent this one. Well, maybe not your whole brain…), The Boxtrolls (A young orphan boy raised by the titular, um, boxtrolls—which are trolls with box bodies, or something?—tries to save his grubby weirdo pals from an evil exterminator in this odd, little animated movie that’s actually supposed to be pretty good. Ben Kingsley and Jared Harris are in there, doing voices.), The Drop (In his last role, James Gandolfini plays a bar owner and low-level gangster who enlists younger brother Tom Hardy to help him out of a jam with the mob. A gritty goodbye to one of the best actors around.), Annabelle (Remember that movie The Conjuring? Well, there was a spooky doll in there somewhere—and here’s her own horror movie. Killer dolly!!!), Rudderless (Everybody loves William H. Macy, so everyone should rent his directorial debut, an indie drama about a grieving father who finds a box full of his dead son’s music and lyrics and, trying to understand the boy, forms a band to play his kid’s music. Starring the always-interesting Billy Crudup and Antonin Yelchin), The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam [Brazil, 12 Monkeys] is back, returning to the dystopian sci-fi that is his bread-and-butter, this time starring Christoph Waltz as a computer hacker whose inquiries into human existence run afoul of the shadowy totalitarian government called Management ), Coherence (Good-looking thinky sci-fi thriller about a group of bickering people huddling in a house when a comet passing by causes all manner of…things I can’t tell you about. Costarring everyone’s favorite Poster_largeeveryman, Nicholas Brendon from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Expedition To The End Of The World (rousing Danish documentary about a group of eccentrics setting sail to the most unexplored regions left on the globe),Jimi: All Is By My Side (Andre Benjamin [aka Outkast’s Andre 3000] stars in this biopic of legendary guitar hero Jimi Hendrix), Honeymoon (A just-married young couple [including Rose jimi-all-my-sideLeslie from Downton Abbey and Game Of Thrones] find their lake house honeymoon getaway turning super scary—find it in the Horror section), The Scorpion King 4 (Lou Ferrigno and some UFC fighters continue the franchise that stared as a spinoff of the Mummy sequel. That’s how you know it’s good), Supernatural—season 9 (Sam and Honeymoon-Leigh-Janiak-Movie-PosterDean Winchester keep on fighting demons in this still-entertaining horror action series. I A1o8jBofp7L._SL1500_mean, it’s no Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but after you rent all the Buffy [and then all the Angel], you gotta have get your “pretty people fighting evil” TV fix somewhere.), Prisoners Of War— season 1 (Hey—you know how everyone in the world [and certainly at Videoport] looooves Homeland? Well here’s the Israeli TV series it’s a remake of! You…are…welcome!), Take Back Your Power (Activist and possible conspiracy nutjob Josh del Sol digs deep into the NSa government surveillance scandal and spins this documentary into theories that Big Brother is using your utilities and other means to spy on you. Nutjob…or not?!), Revenge Of The Green supernatural-season-9-dvd-cover-11Dragons (Based on a true story, this gangster flick watches two 1980s Chinese immigrant brothers rise through the Prisoners_of_War_Serie_de_TV-249938387-largeinfamous titular NYC Chinatown gang. Ray Liotta’s in there somewhere. ), The Pirates (Big budget high-seas Korean period adventure about a rag-tag group of pirates banding together to track down a legendary white whale that’s swallowed a royal trinket ), The Mule (Hugo Weaving stars in this Australian crime comedy about a first time drug mule who gets caught by law enforcement with contraband in somewhere very uncomfortable and undignified. [It’s his butt]), The Green Prince (The son of a Hamas leader becomes an Israeli informant in cdn.indiewire.com_this gripping documentary)

Revenge-of-the-Green-Dragons-Movie-PosterNew Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Scorpion King 4the-pirates-korean-movie

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VideoReport #488

Volume CDLXXXVIII- Happy Holidays, Portland!

For the Week of 12/23/14

Videoport gives you a free movie every day—including, but not limited to this holiday season. I don’t think there’s any possible objection you could have to that, frankly.

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 (really does) suggest The Junky’s Christmas (in the Holiday Section). William S. Burroughs narrates this back and white stop-motion animated film based on his short story. Danny he car wiper gets out of jail on Christmas Eve and wanders around New York City looking for a fix. He comes across some people who are friendly and others who aren’t. Danny may be a junky, but he’s a good man at heart. Make sure to check out the other short films included on the DVD—they’re quite good, too.

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Three Days Of The Condor and The Conversation (in Mystery/Thriller). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Christmas can be a loving, joyous time of year, and there are plenty of films and specials to celebrate that feeling. It can also be a stressful, cold, or lonely season, and that’s a sentiment that can be harder to find echoed in our pop culture, making it even lonelier. Maybe that’s why — even though I’m mostly a holly-jolly bundle of Christmas cheer — my favorite Christmas double feature is a brace of ’70s thrillers rich in paranoia and quiet dread. Set at Christmastime, Sydney Pollack’s Three Days of the Condor (1975) and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation(1974) play out their intrigues against a backdrop of holiday shoppers, party-goers, twinkling lights, and carolers, which throw the tension and terror of the protagonists (respectively, Robert Redford and Gene Hackman) into poignant contrast. )And how many movies have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment with a young Harrison Ford offering Hackman a taste of the Christmas cookies he baked himself to bring into the office?)

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 O Henry’s Full House (in Classics/Videoport’s Holiday Section.) This anthology film, made up of adaptations of stories from the titular master of the twist ending is fine, full of, well, neat twist endings. But the best and most relevant reason to take it out now is that it includes an adaptation of his best and most famous story “The Gift Of The Magi.” I love that story, also perhaps the best Christmas story ever—honestly, I can’t read it without getting all weepy. You know the tale—young couple, terribly poor, trying desperately to scrounge up enough money separately to get each other a decent present. And then there’s that ending—I know you know it, but I won’t spoil it anyway. The prose is straightforward, and unfussy. It’s lovely, and perfect, and right. It’s something like the truest meaning of whatever Christmas might mean. Getting a little weepy just thinking about it, frankly. As for the segment here, it’s fine—nothing can be as spare and pure as the story, but it’s drawn from the same spirit, and it’ll get you, too. Jeanne Crain and Farley Granger are, as ever, too earnest (especially Granger), but it sort of works for the characters. Everyone forgets about this one come Christmastime—so it’ll probably be around when you’re looking for something different. Or, you know, when you’re looking at the three or four holiday movies left on Christmas Eve.

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Shop Around the Corner and Holiday. Start your holiday right with a pair of adorable old-school B&W romantic comedies: Shop around the Corner (1940) and Holiday (1938). Mr. Kralik (Jimmy Stewart) and Miss Novak (Margaret Sullavan) work together in Mr. Matuschek’s little store, and as the year trundles along toward Christmas, they spar and spark, always at odds with each other and picking little fights. This film was famously remade in the ’90s — and once the plot gets rolling, you’ll recognize it, but don’t worry: there are still plenty of pleasant surprises in the original that didn’t make it into the remake. But there’s nothing quite like the Ernst Lubitsch touch to put a little twinkle in your heart. The Shop around the Corner pairs up nicely with George Cukor’s effervescent Holiday,starring Cary Grant as Johnnie, the hopeful self-made fiancé of an heiress (Doris Nolan), and Katherine Hepburn as her free-spirited sister, who tries to usher Johnny into the family’s philosophies without betraying her own along the way.

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 Scrooged (in the Holiday Section.) Christmas movies are lousy, generally. Obligatory is the word I’d apply to them most often—they just are made because they’re supposed to exist around this time of year. Cheap sentiment, obvious jokes—something to keep everyone quiet and mildly and inoffensively entertained for the night. And Scrooged isn’t immune to the perfunctory Xmas movie taint, despite the best efforts of some very talented people. Another version of A Christmas Carol, transplanted to the 190s TV executive suite, it’s by-the-numbers, all right. Meanest man in the world, three ghosts, redemption, all the rest of it. What saves the movie (despite being directed with borderline ineptitude by Superman’s Richard Donner) is both the script (from infamous SNL prince of darkness, writer Michael O’Donoghue), and, of course, the great Bill Murray as the evil Frank Cross. There are some fringe benefits in the cast: Bobcat Goldthwait is his weird, put-upon Bob Cratchit, Karen Allen (never more dewy eyed and fetching) is the good woman who he let get away, and Carol Kane is indescribably loopy and hilarious as a shockingly two-fisted Ghost Of Christmas Present. But Murray is stunningly good—he strains a little for effect here and there, not having found the understated style he uses to such great effect these days—but he’s terribly funny, running roughshod over his underlings as his network president plans a live Christmas Eve version of A Christmas Carol starring the likes of Buddy Hackett, Mary Lou Retton, and the Solid Gold dancers. Murray’s aided immeasurably by O’Donoghue’s script, which savages the holiday movie spirit as far as it possibly can while still remaining a viable Christmas movie. O’Donoghue hated sentimentality, and Hollywood, and probably Christmas, too, and he was reportedly incensed at the ending, when Murray’s Cross gives a long, rambling speech about the real meaning of the holiday. The speech is a mess—Donner reportedly let Murray improve his way around the set and make up his lines. And while it does strain a bit as I’ve said, it also finds the sweet spot between realism and sentimentality, with Murray’s contention that the true miracle of Christmas is that we all find the will to not be a-holes for one night a year. Now that’s a holiday moral I can get behind.

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!                                        

>>> April (can’t really) suggest Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever (in the Holiday Section) because it’s terrible. I guess if you like cats, or memes, or TV movies made to make you buy crap you don’t need, then this is the perfect movie for you!

Don't blame Grumpy Cat. She's just a damn cat.

Don’t blame Grumpy Cat. She’s just a damn cat.

Aubrey Plaza (Park and Recreation) is awesome, but her running commentary as the voice of Grumpy Cat is freaking annoying. Grumpy Cat lives in a pet store at a mall, this little girl can hear the cat’s thoughts or something. Some dudes steal a dog from the shop because it’s worth a billion dollars or something I’m not really paying any attention to it. Let’s look at the back of this case. 90 minutes?! Why is this 90 minutes?! Rent it for your kids They’ll love it. Just make sure you leave the room before it starts.

Free 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!          

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests more Christmas double-features! What are you in the mood for? We’ve got your double-feature right here. Furious family Christmas?The Ref (comedy) and The Lion in Winter (Classics). Disaffected, disenchanted consumerist Christmas? Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil. Arty, meditative action-adventure Christmas? In Bruges and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Disruptive houseguest Christmas? Gremlins and Edward Scissorhands. Sweaty Bruce Willis Christmas? Die Hard, natch, and Twelve Monkeys. We have some Christmas fare, is what I’m saying.

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 Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Season 3, episode 10—“Amends.” Tired of the usual versions of A Christmas Carol? Then why not toss in some vampires, maybe a demon? Honestly, this is one of the best episodes of a still-outstanding TV series, a holiday episode, Hellmouth style! See, the Hellmouth is what it sounds like, and it’s right under Buffy (the titular vampire slayer)’s hometown of Sunnydale, California (remember that last word when it comes to the episode’s beautiful, emotionally rich twist ending.) Buffy’s true love Angel (he’s a vampire, but has a soul now and therefore is generally very tormented about the hundred or so years he spent killing people all over the world), has been having visions of, well, all those dead people he killed all over the world. It ties in with an entity called the First (as in, the first evil), which comes o him every night around Christmastime in the form or one of his most recent victims (he lost his soul for a little while there.) She keeps urging him to kill Buffy (or, failing that, himself), and the mental anguish is driving him to do one, or the other. Meanwhile, Buffy’s freaking out because she can see Angel edging toward the dark side, her best pal Willow (I love Alyson Hannigan) is contemplating finally having “the sex” with cool, laconic boyfriend OZ (Seth Green, also awesome), and poor group sad-sack Xander just wants to camp outside to escape his drunken parents’ yuletide bickering. When it all goes down, Buffy confronts Angel on a cliff overlooking the sleeping Sunnydale as he, not wanting to hurt anyone again, waits with all the sleeping kids—for the sun to come up. While neither Sarah Michelle Geller nor David Boreanaz have done anything that interesting after this show, they are both outstanding in this episode (and on their individual shows in general), and neither was ever better than in this final scene. (Creator Joss Whedon [Firefly, The Avengers, Cabin In The Woods] cites Boreanaz’ acting here as the proof he needed that he could lead his own show (Buffy spinoff Angel—which is also outstanding.) And the ending (which I won’t spoil) is truly something astonishing—a giant, inexplicable holiday story Hail Mary of an ending that pays off everyone’s story perfectly. So if you’re tired of watching A Christmas Story for the 30th time, why not go further afield for your holiday entertainment?

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Simpsons. Season 7, episode 11—Marge Be Not Proud.” For this one, I’ll just quote pal and Videoport customer Zack Handlen, writing in the AV Club. It’s a Christmas episode in which Bart gets caught shoplifting the videogame he just has to have, and interprets Marge’s cold anger as confirmation that she doesn’t love him anymore. I’ll let Zack tease why you should watch it:

The final segment of “Marge Be Not Proud” is all the more remarkable for how it manages to be devastating without ever really pausing in the jokes. Marge’s sadness is real, but we still get time for Homer’s complicated plan for punishment (“No stealing for a month!”). Bart’s loss is palpable, but it leads to the hilarious, and heartbreaking, bit with Milhouse’s mother—”Tell me I’m good” is at once nakedly pathetic, entirely understandable, and a great punchline. (Not to mention Milhouse’s newfound obsession with the ball and cup. You never know which way it’s gonna go!) The sincerity contextualizes the humor, gives it weight that makes it funnier. This isn’t just a child trying to get a contact high from hanging out with someone else’s mom. This is Bart, and the fact that he needs to fill a void that can’t be filled is something that’s recognizable and human, and we laugh harder because of it.

Damn, that guy’s good. So’s this episode.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Trip To Italy (British comedians and friends Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon return in a sequel to their enduringly entertaining and funny The Trip. Like last time, director Michael Winterbottom [24 Hour Party People, Tristram Shandy] follows Coogan and Brydon [playing versions of themselves] as they take a tour of some excellent restaurants, this time in—you guessed it—Italy! The Trip saw the two eating, drinking, and snarking hilariously at each other, their personal and professional issues emerging through bites of food and a running commentary of great, funny impressions and jokes. It’s like Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, only with two middle aged British friends making tipsy fun of each other.), The Americans- season 2 (Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys return in this outstanding Cold War spy series as a pair of Russian sleeper agents posing as a typical American couple. Action, romance, sex, and some seriously tingly suspense—just a really good show), Black Sails- season 1 (Pirates! Thanks in no small part to Johnny Depp, everyone loves pirates now! At least, they sort of do, as evidenced by this, the second network pirate show to come out in the last year [Crossbones is the other one—and at least has John Malkovich hamming it up, pirate-style]. In this one [which originally aired on some cable channel you don’t get] we follow the pirate-y activities of some pirates, including a pre-Treasure Island Long John Silver, who, in this, is all young and sexy and bipedal. Pirates!), The Good Lie (Inspiring true tale of a group of Sudanese refugees to America who end up in Missouri. Luckily, Reese Witherspoon is there as the spunkiest, nicest social worker in all the land.), Intruders- season 1 (Interesting British sci-fi supernatural series [created by the X Files’ Glen Morgan] about a former cop who investigates his wife’s disappearance and discovers the existence of a race of…well, I’m not telling. Starring Mira Sorvino and Doctor Who’s John Simm), Pride (Feel-good true story about a group of striking Welsh coal miners who find their cause joined by some unexpected allies when a group of London gay activists show up. Starring Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, and Paddy Considine.),

VideoReport #484

Volume CDLXXXIV- Once More With Feeling

For the Week of 11/25/14

 Videoport gives you a free movie (or TV show DVD) every single day. Might we suggest some Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel? Read on and let us show you why that’s a very good idea, indeed.

 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 Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel (in Horror). Fearless defenders of the world from the forces of darkness, both Buffy (former cheerleader destined to be the one, chosen vampire killer) and Angel (former evil vampire cursed with a soul and trying to save the world while atoning for his sins), have faced it all. Demons, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, snake men, snake monsters, really big snake-demon-monsters, even (in one regrettable instance) an alien, and they’ve always come out on top. But last week, the intrepid duo almost went down at the hands of their most insidious enemy of all—time. Occasionally, Videoport will run a list of things that haven’t rented in a long time. Years, even. And some of that stuff has to go—there’s only so much space in our little basement, and Videoport is, in a very real way, an embodiment of the cultural zeitgeist. Some things last, some things fade—and the measurement of our cultural memory is made through the actions of our customers. (Of course, the really important stuff we keep even if you guys never touch it—we have standards.) But some stuff simply…falls away. And last week, both the Buff and Angel were, shockingly, up for the big, pointy stake through the heart, most of the discs having not rented…in years! Years?! So after being granted a reprieve by our wise and benevolent leader, some pals and I are gonna remind the world all over again why exactly these outstanding and influential series should have a resurgence. Come, let us show you…

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 Buffy. You bet he does. Look, the premise sounds dippy—bubbly California blonde finds out she’s the latest in a centuries-old line of vampire slayers. Oh, and there are vampires. But remember a few things: 1. This predates all the vampire over-saturation we’re experiencing nowadays. In fact, Buffy probably caused it—it was the little cult show that could, and its devoted following was made up of a lot of creative types, many of whom went on to get seriously into

From the scariest episode ever, "Hush." (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.

From the scariest episode ever, “Hush.” (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.)

vampires. So don’t blame Buffy for Twilight or True Blood or The Vampire Diaries—but understand that they only exist because Buffy was so great. 2. Everyone is all about Joss Whedon now, but this is where he really found his voice. Once The Avengers made, oh, all the money in the world, and everyone was amazed at its mix of action, drama, comedy, and super-team dynamics, he could do anything he wanted. But, like with Lord Of The Rings’ Peter Jackson, Whedon was making grubby, low budget greatness before Hollywood came a’calling—he just was able to translate some of what made his little vampire shows so great into major studio magic once he got the chance. Everything you loved about The Avengers (or Cabin In The Woods, or Much Ado About Nothing, or Firefly, or Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog) is all right here—seven seasons’ worth—just waiting to be discovered (or re-discovered). 3. The lovely Ms. Emily S. Customer, four very learned professional friends, and big, dumb me held years-long weekly Buffy Nights, where we made dinner, got drunk, and watched three or more episodes of an evening. It’s one of the most fun times of my life. 4. It’s got a pre-fame Alyson Hannigan (of How I Met Your Mother and being delightful fame) as Willow, Buffy’s best friend, the most adorable, formidably geeky witch the world has even known. 5-100. Once you get through the (short, sometimes rocky) first season, this show will own you. You’re going to devour it. Like all great serialized dramas, you’ll get attached to the characters, to a very protective, possessive extent. Apart from all the cool supernatural stuff and arse-kicking, Buffy is very much a coming-of-age ensemble drama, with Buffy and her pals (self-nicknamed The Scooby Gang) dealing with parents, boys/girls, sex, college, jobs, money—all in insightful, touching, and funny as hell ways (Whedon is one hell of a writer). It can go operatic like a Shakespearean tragedy, it can go broad and silly, it can be almost unbearably painful (Whedon is also a monster when it comes to hurting or killing the people you love the most). This is great American television. Up next:

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!                                                        

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests (under duress) Buffy! DENNIS IS FORCING ME TO WRITE THIS! Here are some things that make me think of Buffy: Dennis forcing me to think of Buffy is number one on the list. Second, there’s construction going on outside my office which makes it feel like a Hellmouth is sitting beneath me and it’s about to get all apocalypsey in this place. Third, using the word apocalyspey! Because Buffy was amazing at turning words into other words. I think it was Buffy that taught me grammatically that all words have the power to become verbs, adjectives, and/or adverbs. Fourth, there was a terrifying experience with a bug last night. I can’t get into it, but just know that it was horrifying and I’m still traumatized. There have been a lot of great bug monsters on Buffy! And the trauma they inflict continues unto other seasons. In general I think that’s awesome for shows to do and you’d think it would be obvious, but no. Quite a few sci-fi, horror, and/or fantasy shows have always been big fans of having something epic or interesting happen in one single episode and then never ever speaking of it again. Then TV started to get good! And I dare say Buffy was a frontrunner of our current heyday of shows being really good.  So you know, if you like things that are really good and you want Dennis to free me from this cage. Check out some Buffy! Or Angel…that works too. But Buffy first.

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!                                        

>>>Videoport customers and staff vote for their favorite (and least favorite) episodes of Buffy and Angel! We threw a call out to the Videoport faithful on the Internet, and here are their picks:

Buffy favorites (with quotes):

—“Hush” (season 4, episode 10): “The silent episode with those weird, creepy spooks.” (Four votes)

—“Once More With Feeling” (season 6, episode 7— The musical episode! “My family still listens to the soundtrack in the car on a regular basis.”) (Four votes)

—“Restless” (season 4, episode 22—“Trumps the almighty Hush and OMwF for simply being so epic. Heck, even Simon Pegg tweeted about it a few weeks back.” (Three votes)

—“Smashed” (season 6, ep 9—“The one where Buffy and [redacted] get down and dirty”)

—“The Body” (season 5, ep 16—“A masterpiece of an experience.” “In a league of its own.”) (Four votes)

—“Seeing Red” (season 6, ep 19)

—“Graduation Day-Parts 1&2” (season 3, eps 21&22—“ I refuse to choose between part one and part two. They’re both parts of the same thing!”)

—“The Zeppo” (season 3, ep 13)

—“Bad Girls” (season 3, ep 14)

—“The original pilot with the other Willow” (?!?)

Buffy least favorites:

—“Chosen” (Series finale: “I hate it because they killed [redacted].” (Three votes)

—“The Pack” (season 1, ep 6)

—“Hell’s Bells” (season 6, episode 16)

—“I Robot, You Jane” (season 1, episode 8—“ Not only was it a stand-alone clunky episode, it felt like they were trying. First season kinks.”) (Two votes)

—“Beer Bad” (season 4, ep 5)

—“Um…every episode except the musical episode of season 6.”

—“Primeval” (season 4, ep 21—“That season finale with the original slayer; what the hell was that?”)

Angel favorites:

—“Smile Time” (season 5, ep 14—“You’re a wee puppet man!” Angel gets turned into a muppet. It is glorious.) (Two votes)

—“Spin The Bottle” (season 4, ep 6—”I love episodes where the established reality is intentionally broken and bent to explore character as much as plot.”)

The last scene of "Not Fade Away."

The last scene of “Not Fade Away.”

—“Not Fade Away” (series finale—“I mean, it was amazing.”) (Three votes)

—”A Hole In The World” (season 5, ep 15—”If you can make it to the end of this and not be devastated—nay destroyed—you have no soul.”)

Angel least favorites:

—“All of season 4.”

—“Expecting” (season 1, ep 12)

—“Origin” (season 5, ep 18—“The ep where [redacted] came back with his new family, it seemed kind of tacked on with no real purpose.”)

Free 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!          

>>> Never too early to get your kids into Buffy and Angel Well, maybe it is, but do it anyway.

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 goes in-depth into two of her favorite episodes. First up, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Restless,” S4 disc 6. In its fourth year, Buffy the Vampire Slayer broke with television tradition by slating the season’s climactic battle to end in its penultimate episode, “Primeval.” After the Scoobies overcome the infighting spurred by Spike’s sneaky sniping to band together and defeat the season’s Big Bad, they retire to Buffy’s home with a stack of movies and a big bowl of popcorn to ride out the post-battle buzz… and promptly doze off. The vignettes following Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy through the surreal landscapes of their dreams are just as eerie and absurd as you expect, but they’re also poignantly revealing and densely larded with foreshadowing. I always love watching dream sequences, which allow familiar characters to briefly step outside their mundane strictures and try on new roles — or fall into old traps — but this episode is all dream sequence, each weird, whimsical segment culminating in sudden violence. There’s something oddly restful about the rhythms of “Restless,” an uneasy lullaby rocking the viewer into quiet, wary watchfulness that’s miles away from rest.

>>>For Sunday, Emily heads over to Buffy’s sister show for Angel, “Spin the Bottle,” S4 disc 2. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) has lost her memory, and her life story isn’t the kind of tale you’d swallow wholesale if someone told it to ya, even if anyone knew the whole truth, which they don’t. So Lorne (Andy Hallett) casts a memory spell intended to return Cordelia’s past to her present. But he doesn’t know secrets harbored in the heart of his fellows, or how heavily they’re weighing on them. And also, he doesn’t so much know how to cast a memory spell, turns out. The mystical spell comes on more like mushrooms and mescaline, sending Lorne, Cordie, Fred (Amy Acker), Gunn (J. August Richards), Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and Angel (David Boreanaz) into a loopy high that swiftly turns to regression. Not memory regression: straight-up age regression, taking each of them back to their teenaged persona, which is a considerably longer trip for the vampire with a soul — now an Irish boy named Liam — than it is for Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, Head Boy of the South Hampshire Watcher’s Academy. “Spin the Bottle” also functions as a bottle episode (I see what you did there, writers), saving production costs and time by shooting on an existing set with a minimum of special effects. Shucking off their dark secrets and tortured dynamics, the character (and the actors) weave a whole new fabric together as they explore the now-mysterious Hyperion Hotel that’s so familiar to Angel viewers, developing theories of how they’ve been brought here and why, discovering secrets about themselves they have to hide from the others, and soon the emotionally fraught fabric of their complicated relationships gets woven back together again from new threads. It’s giddy and gleeful and heartbreaking, all at the same time.

So that’s our collective case, people. Rent you some Buffy and Angel. Their survival is up to you…

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Expendables 3 (Sylvester Stallone is back, collecting all the creaky, HGH-juiced former action stars loitering around Hollywood for yet another mega-action spectacle of leathery grunting and automatic weaponry. Joining Sly this time are: Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li [for team Metamucil] and younger generation Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Ronda Rousey), The Giver (Jeff Bridges stars as a wise old weirdo in this young adult adaptation trying to fill that Harry Potter/Hunger Games bloodlust. In this one, a young guy learns that his seemingly perfect society is built on a whole bunch o’ lies when he must venture out and fight some evil. Meryl Streep picks up a paycheck, too.), November Man (Pierce Brosnan continues his Liam Neeson-esque late career action hero career with this thriller about an ex CIA operative who’s just trying to retire in peace, dammit. Unfortunately the Russian president and the CIA and whole bunch of dudes with guns make him pick up his guns and his stylish suits again.), A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (One of this year’s obligatory Christmas movies, this one about a terrible father coming to spend the holiday, reluctantly, with his resentful adult son. Should be a pip! One of the last films of Robin Williams, who stars alongside Community’s Joel McHale), What If (The interesting cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver should liven up this romantic comedy about a guy and a girl who fall in love, like you do.), Omar (Oscar-nominated drama about a young Palestinian freedom fighter forced to turn informant for the Israelis, and the probably understandable conflict that results), Housebound (Good-looking horror from New Zealand about a woman forced to move back in with her mother to serve out a house arrest. Awkward, but, to make things worse, the house turns out to be haunted!), Legends Of The Knight (Intriguing documentary about the disparate, often desperate, people around the world who have taken up the legend of Batman in surprising, often inspiring ways), A Letter To Momo (Delightful Japanese animated film about a young girl who finds a letter from her recently-deceased father—and a trio of strange creatures living in her attic), The Grand Seduction (In this remake of the French Canadian film Seducing Dr. Lewis, a small village sets up an elaborate scheme to convince a hunky young doctor to stay in order that they can keep their town alive. Starring Taylor Kitsch and Brendan Gleeson.), A Madea Christmas (Here we go again. Tyler Perry’s back in a dress! For Christmas churchiness this time!)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Come Back To The 5 And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Videoport brings in this just released on DVD Robert Altman obscurity, a play adaptation where Cher, Karen Black, and Sandy Dennis play a trio of women still obsessing over the time, long ago, when James Dean was filming Giant in their tiny Texas town. This was the first time people took Cher seriously—and she is pretty good.), Two Shadows (2012 indie dramedy about a young California hipster who takes off for Cambodia when she hears that she still has living family there), Festival! (1967 concert film about the best performances and personalities from the legendary Newport Folk Festival, featuring the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Judy Collins)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Miller’s Crossing, Letter To Momo, Expendables 3, The Giver

Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get your movies duplicated at Videoport! You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!