VideoReport #438

Volume CDXXXVIII- 2014: The Year Indie Video Stores Conquered The World

For the Week of 1/7/14

Videoport kicks of the new year by giving you a free movies every day. You know, like we have for the last 26 years, but still…pretty cool.

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 seven bucks!

>>>Andy’s Top Ten DVD Releases of 2013:

1, The World’s End. All the hilarity of Edgar Wright’s Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, but also really, really sad. It’s funny! It’s sad! It has a sci-fi twist! So like life.

2. Behind the Candelabra. Seriously, Matt Damon should act exclusively in Steven Soderbergh’s movies, as this and The Informant are, in my humbly correct opinion, his best performances. Or else, I’m just blinded by that incredible, grotesque dimple.

3. Game Change. The creative team behind Recount works their would-be-hilarious-if-it-wasn’t-true magic again in this HBO movie about Sarah Palin’s entrance onto the national scene. Julianne Moore makes Palin into a sympathetic character. Truly!

4. Blackfish. Orcas are amazing. People… less amazing.

5. Evil Dead. In the year of The Conjuring and Insidious Chapter Two, this remake of Sam Raimi’s classic is the one movie that had me hiding under the table in pure terror.

6. The Revisionaries. This is what happens when a young-Earth creationist is put in charge of the contents of science text books. Can’t we let Texas secede from the U.S.? Please?

7. The Lords of Salem. I’ve loved nearly everything auteur Robert Zombie has made. I have also found something to hate in everything he’s done. In other words, I have mixed feelings about Monsieur Zombie. But Salem is the first Zombie film that I have no bad feelings towards. Our relationship is complicated.

8. The Girl. The superior, and, from I’ve read about the man, more accurate film this year about Alfred Hitchcock. This one stars Toby Jones as the manipulative, possessive genius as he terrorizes Tippi Hedren during the creation of The Birds.

9. The Master. If Paul Thomas Anderson never tops Magnolia, but it won’t be for lack of ambition or talent.

10. Before Midnight. For fans of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, this new movie will surely satisfy. But the drastic differences from those films are the main reasons why Midnight is so great.

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 seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests writing for The VideoReport! Videoport is the best damned video store in the world. You know it, we know it. And The VideoReport has been the place movie fans in the know go to every week for the latest new releases at said best video store in the world, movie reviews from the staff and customers of said best movie store in the world, and other assorted movie stuff. Sure, the regulars usually hog all the space, but that’s only because they have to—so if you want to contribute your own reviews, best/worst of lists and assorted whatnots, send them to us and we’ll publish them. Seriously! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones. Or, you know, drop them off in the store, if your there renting movies and stuff anyway!

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 seven bucks!

>>> Emily S. Customer asks Did you need another reason to watch Ghostbusters again? You did not. Ghostbusters is its own rationale for watching it again. But I’m giving you one anyway: one of the momentary images included in the rise-to-fame montage is an Atlantic magazine featuring the Ghostbusters. The headline? The Politics of the Next Dimension: Do Ghosts Have Civil Rights? And now The Awl’s Matthew Phelan has written the article. See it here: http://www.theawl.com/2013/12/the-politics-of-the-next-dimension-do-ghosts-have-civil-rights

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 seven bucks!

>>>Dennis suggests The Act Of Killing (in Documentary.) If men who do evil are never punished, what do they turn into? How do they see themselves? What are their dreams? Those are the questions posed and answered by “The Act Of Killing,” the profoundly disturbing, unnerving, and downright baffling new documentary. Co-directed by Joshua Oppenheimer, Christine Cynn, and someone credited as “Anonymous” (for reasons which will become very clear), the film takes a unique approach to its subjects—men responsible for one of the most horrific genocides in modern history. After a failed coup in 1965, the Indonesian military government, employing local gangsters and paramilitary forces as executioners, orchestrated an anti-Communist purge (which also targeted intellectuals and ethnic Chinese) in which over half a million people were murdered in a single year. Today, the same government remains in power and the men who did the killing remain free and unchallenged for their actions, many functioning as government officials or respected and feared pillars of the community. Never faced with retribution for their actions, these men operate in a sort of sociological petrie dish, free to live their lives and craft their own narratives for their role in their country’s bloodiest hour. So the filmmakers let them make their own movie. Promised complete creative freedom to write and star in a feature film chronicling their deeds, these now old men (who, as young thugs, idolized Hollywood gangster movies above all else) through the course of “The Act Of Killing” gradually tell a horrifying story of their bloody actions, while at the same time offering up one of the most ludicrously inept films-within-a-film outside of a Christopher Guest movie. Centering on notorious death-squad leader Anwar Congo, a dapper old man who looks like an Indonesian Morgan Freeman, the film is as chilling a portrait of unrepentant evil as I’ve ever seen, while at the same time offering up Congo and associates’ ideal cinematic vision of their legacy. Which, given free reign in front of the directors’ cameras, is alternately hilariously ridiculous and almost surreally terrifying. Cajoling locals into portraying their former victims, the killers have them act out the terror and grief of those they murdered. Congo returns to a rooftop where he’d personally killed scores of people and shows off his dance moves before convincing a nervous extra to assume his favored killing position—hands tied and a long wire wrapped around the victim’s throat. Covered in grotesque makeup, several of the men hear an extra nervously tell how his stepfather had been dragged away in the night by men just like them before being drafted himself to play a torture victim in the ensuing scene. A scene depicting the massacre of a village by machete-wielding paramilitary troops quickly turns chaotic—and ugly. Coupled with the men’s predilection for drag, musical numbers, sentimentality, and slapstick comedy, their insane narrative gradually becomes a surreal portrait of pure, simpleminded evil. Incrementally, as intended, the directors get Congo and others to open up about their actions, and their individual rationalizations for the thousands of murders they committed, with or without theatrical flourish, are both queasily believable and morally incomprehensible. This is easily one of the most fascinating and singular documentaries I’ve seen all year.

Reprinted from Dennis’ column in the Portland Press Herald. Because he is lazy.

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Fraggle Rock. Dance your cares away! Worry’s for another day. Hear the music play… down at Fraggle Rock!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Prime Suspect 3 (in Mystery/Thriller.) Peter Capaldi, the newest incarnation of The Doctor (“Doctor who?”), wields his distinctive voice and physique to create a chameleon’s range of characters. In Prime Suspect 3, DCI Jane Tennison (Helen Mirren) investigates a brutal death by fire, following the trail of the teenaged sex worker’s brutal death into the seamy underworld of prostitution, illegal pornography, and institutional corruption, though some of her colleagues dismiss the victim as a “rentboy.” They display a similar callousness to their chief witness (and possible suspect): cabaret performer Vera Reynolds (Peter Capaldi), the tenant of the burnt-out apartment where the body was found, is known to the police by her birth name, Vernon. Capaldi’s Vera displays an exaggerated delicacy of gesture and tone more often seen in the BBC’s domestic dramas and middle-class comedies; she could be Hyacinth Bucket’s younger sister. Vera has the sweet fragility of a maiden aunt, and watching her questioning by gruff, rough police investigators is like watching an iris crushed under a boot. But there’s steel at her core, and when she has to, she shows it.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests checking out the Film Movement section (temporarily hanging out in the Staff Picks section). We love to be told what’s good—there are a lotta movies out there, so when a company slaps its imprimatur on a collection, we grab it up and devour it, right? Well, it helps if the company has an eye-catching logo. Oh, and if they only put out great movies. That helps, too. So, Videoport set up our Criterion Collection section a decade ago, simply because everyone wanted the Criterion movies. You know, because they’re the best movies ever. Well, several other companies have tried to set themselves up as the new Criterion Collection—but it’s not working out. The Meridian Collection? Nice try with the derivative Criterion-esque logo, but you’re a non-starter. Cohen Media Group? You’ve got some good movies, and I admire your deliberately ugly, uniformly orange covers, but you’re just not there yet. But Film Movement? We’ll give you a temporary section… Who are they? Largely foreign films, distinctive white box art, each film includes a short bonus film for your viewing pleasure. Well done. So head to the middle aisle and check out this newest would-be Criterion Collection. There’s some good stuff in there. New arrivals include: Helena From The Wedding (great cast [Melanie Lynskey, Lee Tergesen, Community’s Gillian Jacobs] star in this indie comedy drama from the people at Film Movement about a gaggle of friends whose attempt to have a nice, relaxing time at one couple’s remote mountain cabin is complicated by the fact that everyone hates each other and stuff), If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle (acclaimed Romanian drama, also from Film Movement, about a young guy being released from prison who attempts to handle a new relationship with a prison volunteer and the old relationship with his troubled mother), The Deflowering Of Eva Van End (Dutch comedy about the erotic havoc wrought upon a middle class family when they invite an impossibly beautiful German exchange student into their home), and this week’s Key Of Life (see this week’s new releases!)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Archer- season 4 (you might not realize it, but we are in the TV age of Jon Benjamin; he’s the voice behind Sterling Archer, this hilarious series’ peerlessly douche-y secret agent and voices the lead character in the equally great animated show Bob’s Burgers—he’s the funniest guy you don’t know), Closed Circuit (Eric Bana stars in this paranoid thriller about a pair of former-lovers/lawyers who find themselves under serious government surveillance when they take on a high-profile terrorism case; whew—thank goodness that’s just a fiction, right?), Runner Runner (Justin Timberlake butts heads with Ben Affleck in this thriller about a guy going to South America in order to confront the crimelord who swindled him out of all his money playing…online poker?), The Following- season 1 (Kevin Bacon stars in this serial killer series about a cop tracking down the army of disciples following the cult-like directives of a famous author/serial killer/Edgar Allan Poe scholar; classic Poe…), House Of Lies- season 2 (this show about a firm specializing in, I dunno, general sneakiness; it stars people like Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz, who I uniformly like, so that’s a thing…), Inequality For All (documentary about noted economist and smarty-pants Robert Reich and his kooky theory that the fact that the wealth gap between the rich and the poor in America keeps growing exponentially and that that’s somehow a bad thing; what a weirdo…), Top Of The Lake- The Complete Series (Mad Men’s Elizabeth Moss stars in this intense, New Zealand miniseries about a big city cop returning to the tiny, backwater hellhole she grew up in when a young girl goes missing; costarring the ever-stellar Holly Hunter and Peter Mullan and directed by Jane Campion [The Piano]), We Are What We Are (super-disturbing horror film about a suspiciously insular family whose strict family traditions involve something I’m not going to spoil for you; it’s super-gross though…), Thanks For Sharing (great cast including Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gwynneth Paltrow, Carol Kane and more star in this indie comedy drama about a trio of people bonding when they meet at a sex addiction support group), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—The Extended Edition (did you like The Hobbit? But were you mad that its three hour running time was just too darn short? Well, Videoport brings you an even longer version! You’re welcome!), Last Love (Michael Caine stars in this December/let’s call it May romance about an embittered professor falling in with that French girl from the Harry Potter movies), Somm (wine snobs! Have we got the movie for you! This documentary chronicles the secretive history of the uber-prestigious Court Of Master Sommeliers, the snobbiest wine-snobs in the world, who have only certified 200 people as Masters since that day someone said, “hey, these old grapes are making me feel all funny…”), The Act Of Killing (see Thusday’s review—and strap on your psychic armor for this one…), Key Of Life (Japanese comedy drama about a suicidal man who impulsively decides to switch places with a guy who bumps his head at a bathhouse, and then finds out the guy was in the Yakuza! Bad choice, guy!)

New Arrivals At Videoport This Week: Atrocious (Do you like Paranormal Activity? Do you like Spanish? Well, head over to Videoport’s foreign language section for this super-creepy found-footage Spanish horror movie about people who can’t stop filming scary things even when said scary things are trying to kill them!)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray This Week at Videoport: Closed Circuit, The Following- season 1, Thanks For Sharing, American Beauty, Don Jon, Becket

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VideoReport #437

Volume CDXXXVII- 2014: The Year Of The Indie Video Stores

For the Week of 12/31/13

Videoport pledges to give you a free movie every single day of 2014! You know, like we’ve done for the past 26 years. So I guess we’re going to continue to be awesome is the point. Whatever—have a free movie.

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 seven bucks!

>>>Videoport’s Regan gives her Best Of 2013! In no order, not really.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

This epic drama blew mah hair back and I think it’s best enjoyed if you know little going in. I will tell you that it’s directed by Derek Cianfrance who also helmed BLUE VALENTINE with hunky mcHunkerton Ryan Gosling. Thanks Derek, I get it, relationships ah stupid!

NEXT!

KEEP THE LIGHT ON

My next pick is about a couple struggling with the age old “can we stay together with one of us having a nasty crack habit” dilemma. Danish actor Thure Lindhardt is heartbreaking as Erik, the not-so-much a crack head boyfriend.

and NEXT!

UNDEFEATED

Who likes sports? I DON’T! but I love tv shows (Friday Night Lights) and this Oscar winning documentary about a man who volunteers to coach a football team that’s as good

at losing as I am at finishing a family size bag of JAX cheese curls. Try not to cry! I double daaawg dare ya!

alright, NEXT!

BLACKFISH

The whale documentary? Yeah. the whale documentary.

One sided? Sure. Riveting? FERSURE!

There’s this scene where a trainer is calmly trying to stay alive while a whale has his foot mangled in his whale mouth and… just watch it.

Oh wait, where’s Lili Taylor? She’s so tiny…OH there she is, in

THE CONJURING!

Or “The Conjoining” as we hear often at Videoport.

I absolutely enjoyed this horror movie. Most important, I was scared. and that’s snot so easy. Sure any movie can make me jump, but instill dread? Nah. And there’s no over-the-top gratuitous madness. Cuz I don’t care. Seen it, a thousand times, seen it. And it’s well lit, that’s important to me. And lastly, no kids crawling around all janky like they have rheumatoid arthritis. This is good stuff.

and last…

12 YEARS A SLAVE (Not on DVD yet! Patience, people!)

No doubt. Best movie of the year.

It was Michael Fassbender who lead me to the films of Steve McQueen (HUNGER, SHAME)

but it’s his f***ing wrenching films that keep me coming back.

And holy pajamas, he loves a looooong shot. In HUNGER it’s a guard endlessly sweeping piss down a hall. In SHAME it’s Fassbender running through the streets of New York. and in 12 YEARS…oooph. It’s incredibly excruciating. and you have to watch it.

—Every year I watch movies that make me want to curl up in the fetal position and I keep asking why I do this to myself— because these movies stick with you and I’ll take that versus the after effect of watching dozens of deadweight blockbusters (Avengers, Dark Knight Rises) that leave me with a string of drool hanging off my lip.

ENJOY!

And Regans pick for best tv this year..

GETTING ON (Not on DVD yet!)

Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne, Uncle Buck), Niecy Nash (Reno 911) and Alex Borstein (Mad TV) work in a woman’s geriatric unit and they should get all the awards. All three actresses are known for their comedy chops, and that shows here, but there’s so much compassion and starkness to their performances… all of the awards to all of them. NOW.

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 seven bucks!

>>>And Videoport’s Regan gives her Worst of 2013!

In no order. they all suck.

TRANCE. Danny Boyle…COME ON! and Rosario Dawson, I’m so disappointed in you, I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

HOBBIT, HOBBIT2, FUTURE HOBBITS. So dull, looks dull. smells dull. Dull dull dull. Mushrooms can’t save these. Booooooo.

THE CANYONS. Gross.

MAN OF STEEL. Hey! Let’s have a endless movie with the same fight 8 times! And where are his underwear! And Michael Shannon, shame on you.

I’m not mad, just disappointed.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Eh.

Instead watch: FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, THREE KINGS, the FIGHTER, I HEART HUCKABEES.

& last….DJANGO UNCHAINED.

Lazy. That’s all it deserves.

Worstest tv. SCANDAL. Overrated, overwrought boring pap.

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 seven bucks!

>>> Mysterious Videoport Customer 666 gives his/her/its Best and worst of 2013!

Best:

The Conjuring

Only God Forgives

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

The Evil Dead

Blackfish

Worst:

Pawn

The Wolverine

Prisoners

The Canyons

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 seven bucks!

>>>Videoport’s April gives her Best and Worst of 2013!

April’s Top 5 movies of 2013:

Behind The Candelabra

John Dies At The End

Hara-Kiri: Death OF A Samurai

The Heat

The World’s End

Two movies April loved but you might hate:

The Comedy

Small Apartments

And the worst movie April watched this year:

Twixt

Free Kids Friday! One free rental from the Kids section, no other rental necessary!

>>> Videoport begins the new year by giving your precious child all the free Dora the Explorer he/she can handle!

Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Videoport says thanks for another great year, everybody! We all know there are a multitude of buggy internet organizations that delete your favorite movies without warning just to be jerks and plastic vending machines scattered throughout convenience store parking lots that dispense scratched copies of the same few dozen movies to choose from when deciding how to spend your hard-earned entertainment dollar. So thank all of you who have chosen to stay loyal to an independent, dedicated, local movie store. Us, I mean. So keep it up, gang, tell a friend, and help Videoport carry the fire for years to come. We love you, you big ol’ sons o’ guns, you…

>>>For Sunday, Dennis presents his list of the Best and Worst Stuff of 2013! (In no particular order.)

Best:

-The Imposter

-The Master

-Holy Motors, Upstream Color, and Post Tenebras Lux (My picks for artsy, confusing, mesmerizing things that I’ll recommend and no one will rent, ever!)

-The World’s End

-Stories We Tell

-Computer Chess (My pick for artsy indie that I’ll never get anyone to rent. Take it with 2012’s nominee Turkey Bowl for a double feature of stuff only I liked!)

-This Is The End

-Much Ado About Nothing (If Amy Acker doesn’t become a movie star, I will burn Hollywood to the ground.)

-Before Midnight

-Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (Saw the movie, then bought all three Big Star albums right after.)

-Hell Baby (Essentially just some of the funniest people you know screwing around. That’s enough.)

Most disappointing:

-Skyfall (The ongoing squander of Daniel Craig’s Bond continues—James Bond in Home Alone!)

-The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Misconceived and pandering to IMAX junkies. Martin Freeman gives a truly lovely performance, though.)

-This Is 40 (Something made by people I love that made me want to stab myself by the end.)

-Django Unchained (Quentin is on the downslide. This just doesn’t hold together.)

-The ABCs Of Death

-Man Of Steel (Zack Snyder is NOT the guardian of my childhood. I hated this movie.)

-Twixt (Oh, Francis Ford Coppola…just stop, please. For all our sakes.)

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Greatest movie titles of 2013:

-Creep Van

-Manborg

-John Dies At The End

TV

Best:

-Enlightened- The Complete Series (The best show of 3013. Seriously.)

-Archer- season 3

-Vikings-season 1 (So much better than I thought it’d be.)

-Veep- season 1

-30 Rock- season 7 (Goodbye, one of the best sitcoms ever.)

-Orphan Black- season 1 (Everyone was outraged that Tatiana Maslany didn’t get an Emmy. They were right.)

-Breaking Bad- seasons 5 and 5.2

-Bob’s Burgers- season 2

-Rectify- season 1 (Wow. Just wow. Rent it, people.)

-Wilfred- season 2

-Girls- season 2

-New Girl- season 2

-Parks and Recreation- season 5

-It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia- season 8 (Overlooked because it’s still doing what it does so well.)

-Homeland- season 2

-Behind The Candelabra

-Hannibal- season 1 (Stunning. And vastly better than I imagined it would be.)

-Mad Men- season 6

-Doctor Who: Day Of The Doctor (Matt Smith and David Tennant together? Yes, please.)

Most disappointing:

-Life’s Too Short- season 1 (Did any comedy reputation suffered more in 2013 than Ricky Gervais’?)

-The Newsroom- season 1 (It seems ungrateful to complain about an intelligent, ambitious show. But…)

-Community- season 4 (Season 5 comes out this week, bringing back creator Dan Harmon. Let’s just agree that season 4 never happened.)

-Family Tree- season 1 (Funny people, directed by Christopher Guest. Consistently pleasant with a side of ‘meh.’)

Just sucked:

-The Bible (Sure, I’m a heathen and all, but this pedestrian, pedantic religious propaganda just blew.)

-Killing Lincoln (Based on a book by Bill O’Reilly. ‘Nuff said.)

-Liz & Dick

-Under The Dome- season 1 (Imagine a worse-written Lost. Yow.)

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Don Jon (everybody’s cool guy/boyfriend Joseph Gordon Leavitt writes, directs and stars as a porn-addicted goofus trying to relate to his super-hot girlfriend Scarlett Johannson; it’s good to be the writer/director…), Sweetwater (a pretty former prostitute trying to settle down, an evil preacher obsessed with her, a renegade, violent lawman in the middle! It’s a rootin’-tootin’ throwback Western starring Ed Harris, January Jones and Jason Isaacs!), CBGB (the ever-great Alan Rickman stars as Hilly Kristal, founder of the titular legendary New York City punk club; other, perhaps less awesome people star as unconvincing manques of Patti Smith, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, and more!), Dhoom and Dhoom 2 (Check Videoport’s Bollywood section for these Indian action flicks—easily the most popular Indian films of all time; In them, a pair of motorcycle ridin’

All the awesome.

All the awesome.

don’t-play-by-the-rules, hunky cops racing their bikes in pursuit of gangs of professional thieves!)

Awesome.New Arrivals This Week at Videoport: Atrocious (Do you like Paranormal Activity? Do you like Spanish? Well, head over to Videoport’s foreign language section for this super-creepy found-footage Spanish horror movie about people who can’t stop filming scary things even when said scary things are trying to kill them!), Helena From The Wedding (great cast [Melanie Lynskey, Lee Tergesen, Community’s Gillian Jacobs] star in this indie comedy drama from the people at Film Movement about a gaggle of friends whose attempt to have a nice, relaxing time at one couple’s remote mountain cabin is complicated by the fact that everyone hates each other and stuff), If I Want To Whistle, I Whistle (acclaimed Romanian drama, also from Film Movement, about a young guy being released from prison who attempts to handle a new relationship with a prison volunteer and the old relationship with his troubled mother)

Mad you didn’t get in on the Best Of/Worst Of fun this issue? No sweat—send ‘em to us at denmn@hotmail.com!