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!

VideoReport #394

Volume CCCXCIV- Star Wars: Episode 7- Again With the Jedi…

For the Week of 3/5/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. What’s the catch? Well, I suppose you have to pick one out…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, 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!

>>> Dennis suggests taking a dip into the Incredibly Strangest movies in the Incredibly Strange section (if you dare!!!) I hear you out there. Strolling by the Incredibly Strange section, your eye catches some of the more mainstream titles contained therein and you scoff to your friends, “Pffft- The Mexican? That’s not incredibly strange…” And then your wander off to rent something with Gerard Butler in it. Okay, first- don’t rent that Gerard Butler movie. That’s just good advice across the board. Second- your eye only went to The Mexican because your brain was trying to protect you from the endless, dazzling array of perversity, violence, perverted violence, and all-out bug-nuts insanity that is the true soul of Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section. Well, here are some facets of that inky, titillating soul deep in the heart of Videoport. You know you want in…

The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Make a note of these titles: The Holy Mountain, Fando and Lis, La Cravate, Santa Sangre, and El Topo. For 40 years, Jodorowsky’s been plying his particular brand of hyper-symbolic, trippy myth-making and, in case that sounds dull, he does this through a combination of ultra-violence, twisted sex and nekkidness, and inexplicable, non-stop scenes of unparalleled loopiness.

The Extra Weird Something Weird Video Sampler. Sure, we’ve got some releases from Something Weird Video scattered through the ISS, but this mind-boggling trailer collection from the company legendary for digging through cinema’s trash bins for the most disreputable sleaze of all time. Of course, those films were in the trash heap for pretty good reasons, by and large, so this sampler is the perfect way to experience the best (meaning worst, creepiest, nudiest, sleaziest) bits of their extensive catalog without, you know, having to watch the entire movies.

The American Astronaut. Unclassifiable b&w sci fi musical made for about ten dollars and more inventive and fascinating than science fiction movies with fifty times its budget.

Kissed. The most touching necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see. (Starring Deadwood’s game-for-anything Molly Parker.)

Nekromantik. The most disgusting necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see.

Even Dwarfs Started Small. The first film from now-revered (still-bananas) German filmmaker Werner Herzog, this one’s got an all-little person cast as lunatics taking over their isolated institution. A monkey might get crucified.

A selection of Turkish Hollywood knockoffs. Since Turkey doesn’t recognize copyright law, and is apparently populated by nothing but lunatic filmmakers, check out their utterly insane versions of Star Wars, Star Trek and The Exorcist. Any resemblance to the originals is coincidental- and cranked up to eleven on the crazy meter.

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests a character actor film fest! This week- Royal Dano! If you grew up watching old syndicated black-and-white shows, you remember this actor’s face, but probably not his name. He appeared on dozens of shows, never landing a plum recurring character, but often returning over and over. It’s a bit perplexing that casting directors chose to cast and recast this memorable actor with the sonorous, melancholy voice and broad, craggy face; I can only imagine it’s a testament to his curious appeal winning them over, over and over. (And over. AND OVER.) It makes sense on anthology shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Night Gallery,” but I always wonder what convinces casting directors to re-use such a distinctive actor in shows with long-arc character continuity. It happened to Dano again and again, especially in westerns: Royal Dano played four different characters on “Rawhide,” four on “The Rifleman,” four on “The Virginian,” three on “Bonanza,” four on “The Big Valley,” and a whopping eleven different roles in thirteen episodes of “Gunsmoke.”) You may remember him from his role as Tom Fury, the somber-faced lightning-rod salesman from Something Wicked This Way Comes, who laments “Some folks draw lightning to them as a cat sucks in a baby’s breath.” Or as the suspicious (with good reason!) sheriff in The Trouble with Harry, who gets paid by the arrest, or as gloomy seaman Elijah in John Huston’s Moby Dick, who warns Ishmael “At sea one day, you’ll smell land where there’ll be no land, and on that day Ahab will go to his grave, but he’ll rise again within the hour.” Or perhaps you remember Judge Sternwood on “Twin Peaks” (S2 ep4, S2 ep5), who assures newly-met FBI Special Agent Cooper “Let me say that when these frail shadows we inhabit now have quit the stage, we’ll meet and raise a glass again, together, in Valhalla.”

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!

>>>Dennis suggests ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (in Comedy.) Jon Benjamin is the funniest guy you don’t know, or at least the one you don’t know on sight. Although Benjamin will pop up from time to time in the flesh (Parks and Recreation, The Comedians of Comedy, Human Giant) and had his own sketch show ‘Jon Benjamin Has a Van’ (sadly not on DVD yet), you’ll mostly recognize his disembodied voice. At least if you like outstanding animated comedy. He was the title character’s well-meaning but hilariously aimless son Ben on ‘Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,’ and played two of the best animated characters in TV history (Jason and Coach McGuirk) on the truly charming and hilarious ‘Home Movies.’ He’s also competing with himself for best voice actor on television right now, starring in both ‘Archer’ (as the peerlessly douche-y secret agent Sterling Archer) and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ where he’s the titular regular schmo, a put-upon family man and restauranteur trying to keep his greasy spoon burger joint afloat amidst some inventively funny weirdness. It took me a little while to get into ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (while I took to ‘Archer’’s improv-y, one-liner-y spy spoof pretty much immediately.) Maybe it was that two of the female characters (Bob’s wife and oddball eldest daughter) were voiced by dude’s and seemed a little mean-spirited in their offputting whininess. But, revisiting the show recently, I’ve really warmed to the show. Of course Benjamin is money as always, but it’s the gradual development of the other characters and the show’s genuinely weird little world that eventually won me over. There’s Bob who, in Benjamin’s hands, comes to embody the underdog everyman like few characters I can remember; he loves his weird family, and takes endearing pride in his cruddy little diner, coming up with inventive ‘burger of the day’ specials on the chalkboard. Too bad for Bob that the world seems to conspire against him at every turn, as his eccentric seaside town (and his own family) continually thwart his attempts to make any headway. (You know, like the time a rumor started that his burgers contained human flesh, or the time his sister in law insisted on having an art show in the restaurant featuring her newest artistic obsession- animal anuses. Sometimes his son just befriends a stolen talking toilet in the woods. You know- regular stuff like that.) Through it all, Bob, exhibiting the signature Jon Benjamin snarkiness, like The Dude, abides. For all its wackiness, the show is gentler at heart than is ‘Archer’- it’s a great family comedy and workplace comedy and a showcase for one of the best voice actors of all time, and he’s supported by two brilliant standup comedians doing uniquely bananas work. As his ever-bunny-eared youngest daughter, you’ve got Kristen Schaal, bringing her traditional batsh*t insane energy to Louise, whose mind seems to be operating on “maximum chaos” setting. And Eugene Mirman plays middle child Gene , an overweight, clumsy outsider who, nonetheless, nearly matches his sister’s capacity for unpredictably-enthusiastic nonsense. Sure, I still question why mom Linda (John Roberts) and eldest Tina (Dan Mintz) are voiced, oddly, by dudes, but as the show’s progressed, the Belcher family has drawn some surprisingly well-drawn, even poignant, characters and storylines. Whether you know it or not, people- you’re living in the Jon Benjamin golden age of animation. Get on board…

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer re-introduces America’s favorite movie game- Premise! This week: Jean-Claude Van Damme is a romantic comedy lead pushed too far in…

Must Love Cyborgs

While You Were Streetfighting

Heart Target

The Forty Year Old Belgian

The Timecop Around the Corner

Bringing Up Belgy

The Philabelgia Story

Serenkickidy

Prelude to a Kick

Sleeperhold in Seattle

Knocked Out

P.S. – I Kick You

and

Walloonstruck

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

>>>It’s a free movie. For kids! What- you hate kids?

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Girls (in Comedy) and Enlightened (in Drama.) Both HBO shows. Both mixing comedy and drama in cringe-worthy proportions. Both starring, and created by strong female leads. Laura Dern co-created Enlightened with Mike White, while Lena Dunham created, writes and stars in Girls.) Both are in my top ten of shows on TV right now (I’d give Enlightened the slight edge.)

>>>For Sunday, Nancy Rat Attack suggest The African Queen (in Classics.) If you jumped back to 1992 and are also stuck with your VHS player as your sole form of entertainment for the next few months, might I recommend The African Queen? It lives up to the hype tenfold. A romantic adventure and adventurous romance, it works so magically because of the chemistry, warmth and kindness the two leads, Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, bring to their parts. It’s also nice to see a romantic comedy where it’s not wacky hijinks or misunderstanding that bring the two together, but the actual peril of oh, say, alligators and dehydration. This is a lovely movie, folks.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly lends his considerable vocal talents to this Oscar-nominated animated flick about the titular video game bad guy who decides he just doesn’t want to keep throwing barrels at a plumber [or whatever the in-movie equivalent is] and breaks out of his game; costarring the voices of cool people like Alan Tudyk, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Joe

Everybody wants this one.

Everybody wants this one.

LoTruglio, Dennis Haysbert, and on and on…), The Intouchables (no foreign film in recent memory has been more asked about by the ever-cool Videoport faithful than this heartwarming French drama about a paralyzed aristocrat and the inner city guy he hires as his new caretaker; we went big on this one, people- so go ahead and rent it a lot, ‘kay?), Red Dawn (Wolveriiiiines! Yeah- they remade this 80’s paranoid, lunkheaded bit of Russkie-bashing, except now it’s PG-13, and it’s not Russia, or China [because they were apparently afraid of offending our economic overlords], but some nondescript non-white people wantonly invading the good ol’

Ew.

Ew.

USA and being opposed by a high school football team), Playing for Keeps (Gerard Butler plays a broke, washed up soccer player whose efforts to coach his kid’s soccer team lead to every soccer mom in central casting trying to rub up all over his rugged, Scottish mediocrity; on a related note- Gerard Butler? Really?), The Bay (director Barry Levinson leaves behind his full-time job of telling quirky little tales of growing up in Baltimore for this disturbing horror film about people in Baltimore going swimming and getting infected by a terrifyingly icky new parasite monster), Interview With a Hitman (an Eastern European hitman heads home to try and erase any trace of his past- guess how that goes?), Gun Hill Road (Esai Morales plays an ex-con who leaves prison and tries to deal with his relationship with his estranged wife [Scrubs’ Judy Reyes] and son, who has his own issues to deal with), California Solo (when an aging, over-the-hill Brit rocker [the ever-interesting Robert Carlyle] gets popped for a DUI, he faces possible deportation and the long-buried conflicts of his aimless life in this indie drama), ‘Hit and Miss’- season 1 (the phrase “high concept” may have been invented for this crime series about a hitwoman with a secret- she’s a transgender woman who finds out she fathered a son in her penis-y days, and has to deal with him, and her daily work of, you know, killing guys and stuff; starring Chloe Sevigny), Strings (thriller about a grieving musician who realizes that his therapist is using his patients to commit crimes; that seems mildly unethical…), The Colors of the Mountain (a young boy’s dream of becoming a soccer star are imperiled [along with his life] when his only ball ends up in a Colombian minefield)

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: A Town Like Alice (Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch star in this harrowing true story of female prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in WWII), An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars (another movie based on a book based on a line of dolls), The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo Child (Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Rob Brydon, and Robbie Coltrane lend their voices to this award-winning animated film about a smart mouse who outwits one predator after another; then there’s a sequel)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph, Red Dawn (2012)

VideoReport #1,000,000 is coming!

Six more issues to VideoReport #400/VideoReport word #one million, so start thinking about your submissions for the historic issue. Will there be prizes? Maybe. Will it consist of nothing but 2,500 repeated single words? Like “Whedon?” Or “Firefly?” Or “Buffy?” Or just 625 repetitions of “We love Joss Whedon?” We don’t know. You don’t know. So rent a ton of movies, write about them, and start thinking about what the 1,000,000th word’s gonna be.

Get free money at Videoport!

Look, we know you love us. And you’re gonna keep spending your hard-earned rental dollars here (and not on some scratched DVDs plunked out from a plastic vending machine in a scabby 7-11 parking lot), so why not get yourself some free money. Yup- prepay $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 worth of rental credit. And if you prepay $30, we give you $40 worth of rental credit. That’s just free money you’re leaving on the table, people.

VideoReport #391

Volume CCCXCI- Star Wars: Episode 7- Hoth Fuzz

 For the Week of 2/12/13

 Videoport gives you a free movie every day. If you have a problem with that, please seek psychological assistance.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, 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!

>>>Dennis suggests ‘The Zeppo’- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 3, episode 13 (in Horror.) In watching the excellent HBO series ‘Enlightened’ recently (see Thursday and Sunday’s review for much, much more), I was reminded of this, one of my favorite Buffy episodes. Enlightened has a habit of unexpectedly turning the show over to a supporting character for an episode, delving into that character’s life at least partially-apart from Laura Dern’s main character and her story. You know, the main story of the series. It’s used to great, surprising effect all through Enlightened, offering a depth of perspective that sheds light on both

Xander. Donuts.

Xander. Donuts.

that “minor” character and on how a hero’s essential adventures can look to someone whose life doesn’t get top billing. Like Xander. Played by Nicholas Brendon, Xander was the one member of the Scooby Gang (what Buffy and her friends call themselves) without any special abilities, powers, or anything like that (unless you count his self-deprecating wit, which no one does, really). Xander’s just Xander- helping out where he can, getting crushes on various female pals, occasionally offering a bit of endearing perspective. He gets knocked out a lot. (Although not as much as Giles.) In ‘The Zeppo’, we get to see what Buffy’s big, bad, vampire-slayin’ world (and show) is like through the eyes of J. Alfred Prufrock, as Xander, amidst his usual support role of getting donuts and making wisecracks, finds himself having a very dangerous, yet appropriately-Xanderesque) adventure with the psychotic high school bully and some zombies, all the while, at the edges of his story, we glean the fact that Buffy and the others are gearing up to prevent, literally, the apocalypse. It’s a gimmick, sure, but Brendon is superb as he navigates his C-team way through his own problems and, unbeknownst to the real heroes, saves the day. And if no one ever knows how brave, resourceful, and unexpectedly cool Xander was on his own? Well, that’s the sidekick’s lot in life.

“No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;

Am an attendant lord, one that will do

To swell a progress, start a scene or two,

Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,

Deferential, glad to be of use,

Politic, cautious, and meticulous;

Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;

At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—

Almost, at times, the Fool.”

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!

>>>Send in your reviews to The VideoReport! (denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones).

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!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Galentine’s Day,” Parks & Rec S2 ep16 [S2, disc 3]. At Leslie’s annual Galentine’s Day celebration (every February 13th, natch!), her mother, the usually hard-nosed Marlene Griggs-Knope (Pamela Reed), tells a wistful story of youthful romance, which gives Leslie an idea. And what’s more dangerous than Leslie with an idea?

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!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Enlightened,” (in Drama), the HBO dramedy starring co-creators Laura Dern and Mike White, has been evolving into one of the most compulsively watchable, cringe-y, laugh-out-loud, tears-in-your-eyes rollercoasters on TV. If you just started watching, now’s a great time to visit the first season (still new) on DVD. And while you’re at it, pair it up with a (FREE!) disc of legendary one-season wonder “Freaks & Geeks.” “Freaks & Geeks” is best known as the launching pad for Jason Segel, Seth Rogan, and James DiFranco, but there’s a staggering number of now-celebrated contributors to the short-lived show, including sometimes-writer/supervising producer/actor Mike White.

>>>Videoport customer Daniel R. suggests Wake In Fright (in Drama), saying, “That was something. It’s going to stick with me for a long time. I might even give up drinking.”

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

>>>You know- for kids! Having a Wild Weekend! Rent two movies, and get a third one for free from any section!

>>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer suggests “St. Valentine’s Day,” 30 Rock S3 ep11 [S3, disc 2] The luxurious debauchery Jack (Alec Baldwin) has planned for to celebrate Valentine’s Day gets scrapped when his virtuous girlfriend Elisa (Salma Hayek in an all-too-rare comic role) insists instead on spending the night at the St. Valentine’s mass, leading them to squabble right in front of the statue of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of judgmental statues! Meanwhile, Liz (Tina Fey) has finally worked up the nerve to ask out her impossibly handsome (“He looks like a cartoon pilot!”) downstairs neighbor Drew (Jon Hamm), realizing too late that their first date falls on — duh duh DUH ! — Valentine’s Day. Aaaaand the date goes downhill from there. BLERG!

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests ‘Enlightened’ (in Feature Drama.) Now in its second season on HBO, this half hour sort-of comedy series isn’t getting the same press as the uber-buzzworthy (and excellent) ‘Girls’. Maybe it’s the general lack of naked young flesh that’s keeping this show in semi-obscurity, or, you know, the fact that it is almost impossible to describe in a way that will make anyone want to watch it, ever. I mean, I

She's got the crazy face.

She’s got the crazy face.

resisted ‘Enlightened’ for a good long while before finally succumbing, and now it’s appointment viewing for me, so I’ll give it a shot. A vehicle for actress Laura Dern, the show follows her character who, as the show begins, is Amy, a hard-driving, even harder-partying junior executive at a typical corporate multi-whatever who, after a particularly public breakdown at work finds herself attending a holistic rehab facility. While there, Amy wholeheartedly adopts the spiritual awakening philosophy and returns to work, only to find that she’s being phased out of her old job and that, shockingly, her newfound social/environmental/all other ways consciousness doesn’t jibe with the corporate philosophy. Shunted down to the literal and figurative basement of the company, she finds herself little more than a data entry drone, surrounded with the rest of the company’s misfits; the company can’t really fire an employee who’s undergone the recommended treatment, but they sure can bury her in drudgery and humiliation and hope she’ll quit on her own. The thing is- this new Amy is filed with the righteousness that only the truly self-righteous can know and she takes it upon herself to bring her newfound, well, enlightenment to the corporate world- and then probably the world, especially when she accidentally discovers that the company may be up to more than the typical corporate malfeasances that go hand in hand with good ol’ capitalism. There- now you can see that I’ve spent a lot of words trying to convince you to watch this show and that I have failed completely. It sounds like a drag, frankly: maybe it’ll be a bummer of a self-satisfied liberal polemic, or a nasty-headed cringe comedy mocking new agey types. I thought it was going to be one of those, but what I didn’t count on was Mike White, the sneaky genius whose written things like Chuck & Buck, School of Rock, Year of the Dog, and more, and under whose guidance (he writes every episode), ‘Enlightened’ has revealed itself as one of the most multi-layered, surprising, character-based series in a long time. The key to the show (as it was with White’s underrated Year of the Dog) is that it’s entirely possible to be absolutely right in your convictions and yet be absolutely insufferable in your actions. Dern’s Amy, like Molly Shannon’s awakened animal rights activist in Dog, undergoes what to her is a meaningful spiritual awakening that completely takes over her life, and then loses all perspective on the fact that, just because you’ve had an epiphany, you can’t just assume that the rest of the world is going to do everything you say. Now, that may sound a lot like the aforementioned “new age bashing” but ‘Enlightened’ really isn’t that; sure Amy’s newfound obsessions are played for queasy, uncomfortable laughs more often than not, but you get the sense that White thinks her positions are essentially correct. It’s more a show about a fundamentally unhappy woman who exchanges one unhealthy obsession (her career) for another (fixing the entire world) without the leavening wisdom of perspective to prevent her from becoming, well, a monster. Because, in Dern’s hands, a monster is what Amy becomes, her toothy, wide eyed earnestness whooshing past the needs of others and sweeping the unwary along with her on her monomaniacal yet unformed crusade to save the word, largely by destroying the company she’d once lived for. It’s a stunning performance which (like Shannon’s in Dog), plays empathy ping-pong with the viewer as Amy is at once the humiliated underdog out for vindication and a single-minded zealot out to wreak revenge on those who she thinks have wronged her, no matter who her vendetta destroys. (And, as ever, the shocking openness of Dern’s face is absolutely captivating to watch- and terrifying.) The balancing act White and Dern pull off here is fascinating, but that’s just the half of it. The show has a habit of pulling back from Amy’s story unexpectedly to throw an entire episode at one of the minor characters (that’s how she sees them, anyway) in Amy’s life, giving them an entire episode to show what a life in Amy’s fanatical orbit is like. Luke Wilson, who hasn’t been this good since The Royal Tenenbaums, gets one as Amy’s still-addicted ex-husband, and Diane Ladd (Dern’s real mom) gets one as Amy’s put-upon mother who takes Amy back into her quiet retirement (and house). And Mike White himself, who heartbreakingly portrays Tyler, the ghostlike office mole and computer expert who finds himself unable to resist getting sucked into Amy’s quest. (Seriously, his season 2 episode had me in awe-struck tears throughout, when I wasn’t laughing.) So there you go- ‘Enlightened’ is a weird, ambitious, unsettling, funny, heartbreaking, nigh-uncatagorizable series anchored by great writing and a daringly bananas lead performance. I’d watch it, if I were you…

New Releases this week at Videoport: Skyfall (Daniel Craig returns as that guy…what’s his name? Oh yeah- James Bond! You know him- the one with the shooting and the sexing and then the more shooting? That guy…), The Perks of Being A Wallflower (very good reviews for this high school dramedy about an introverted freshman taken under the wing of a pair of seniors; starring Harry Potter’s Emma Watson), ‘Weeds’- season 8 (the THC-tastic adventures of suburban mom turned pot dealer finally come to an end, hopefully freeing up the ever-enchanting Mary Louise Parker to do some more interesting stuff), The Man With the Iron Fists (in what can only be the culmination of his childhood dreams, the RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan writes, directs, and stars in his own insanely-over the top kung fu epic, bringing along Lucy Liu and Russell Crowe), Bully (acclaimed documentary about the rampant problem of school bullying, this one was controversial, asking as it did parents to, maybe, crazily, teach their kids not to be dicks), The Sessions (always-cool character man John Hawkes gets a rare lead [and an Oscar nomination] for playing a real life guy whose desire to lose his virginity was complicated by his near-total body paralysis, and aided by Helen Hunt’s understanding “sex surrogate”), ‘Nurse Jackie’- season 4 (out from under The Sopranos shadow, Edie Falco continues to anchor this dark medical comedy about a no-nonsense, yet pill-popping nurse who won’t take crap from anyone), Silent Hill: Revelation (people just keep going back to the creepiest town on earth in this sequel to the semi-popular horror franchise; just don’t go there!), Robot and Frank (old pro Frank Langella stars in this much-demanded slightly-sci fi drama about a retired cat burglar whose declining health prompts his kids to procure one of those fancy new humanoid robot caretakers they’ve got; rumors about that this one is heartwarming and pretty great), Postcards From the Future: The Chuck Palahniuk Documentary (all there in the title, as the author of Fight Club, and a lot of books even more disturbing, gets his own life story film), Goyokin (from the director of Three Outlaw Samurai and Sword of the Beast comes another of his stunningly shot, violent samurai masterpieces)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Skyfall.

VideoReport 1,000,000!

This being VideoReport #391, and each VideoReport being approximately 2,500 words long, this continues the countdown to VideoReport #400 which means the last word of that issue will be VideoReport word #1,000,000 (approximately- just go with it). That’s a million damned words of the staff and customers of the best damned independent video store in the world have spilled talking about their favorite, least favorite, and/or most indifferent movies and TV shows over the years. That’s a lot of pontification, and to commemorate there’s gonna be some sort of contest, or prizes, or something- we haven’t figured it out yet and there’s eight more weeks to do so. Still, who’s got a guess what the 1,000,000th word in VideoReport history is gonna be? (Some guesses: “pants,” “imaginarium,” “sasquatch,” “Walken,” “Whedon,” “Screw Netflix,” “underpants”- who knows? So send in your reviews to the VideoReport, think on that last word, and, yeah, screw Netflix.

Get free money at Videoport! We keep saying this, and I don’t think you guys believe it, or think there’s some catch involved. There isn’t. If you pre-pay $20 on your Videoport account, you get $25 worth of rental credit. And $30 buys you $40 worth. That’s five or ten free bucks (which you were going to spend eventually anyway.) Honestly- I can see no reason not to do this. Free money, people.