VideoReport #513

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

             For the Week of 6/16/15

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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VideoReport #510

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

For the Week of 5/26/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Published in: on May 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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VideoReport #508

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

For the Week of 5/12/15

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

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

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l-r: Crow, Joel, Tom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VideoReport #505

Volume DV—The Town That Dreaded Brunch

For the Week of 4/21/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every, single day. What movie should you get? Well, since you have seven movies a week for free to choose from, there’s really no pressure to narrow it down. Go nuts, people. 

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

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That’s her. One of her, anyway.

>>>Dennis suggests Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). Season three of this BBC America/Canadian series, so here’s my annual reminder that Tatiana Maslany is your favorite actress—you just don’t know it yet. Here’s also my annual warning that, unless you have seen this show, STOP READING NOW. Okay—for the rest of us, Maslany gets to play about, oh, 426 roles on this show, and she’s outstanding in all of them. The premise—again stop if you don’t want to get spoiled (as only inhuman, narcissistic monsters thoughtlessly spoil things for other people)—is that there’s this conspiracy to produce clones for nefarious purposes. Only thing, most of the clones have no idea they’ve got identical twins running around the world, so, when we meet the series’ main heroine, Sarah Manning (Maslany) sees a woman who looks just like her jump in front of a train, she—seeing an opportunity and being something of a rascal—steals her identity. Bad move, Sarah, as her chicanery embroils her in a tangled web of badness. All the sci-fi clone stuff you may have seen before, but believe me when I tell you that you’ve never seen anyone like Maslany, who creates a seemingly impossible array of characters as the series winds its way through its appealingly outlandish plot. Honestly, at times, Maslany’s skills are even more outlandish, especially when she’s sharing the screen with different versions of herself—sometimes with one or more characters pretending to be other characters at the same time. One more time—Tatiana Maslany. Your new favorite actress.

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 Goin’ South (in Classics.) Okay, let’s just get this out of the way—a 1978, mostly forgotten Western comedy belongs in the Classics section because we said so. Also because it wasn’t renting where it was and we didn’t want to get rid of it. (It rented almost immediately as soon as it moved to Classics, so there.) Is it “classic”? Well, no—it’s something of a mess, really. But the Classics section is more about time, and the movie is actually a lot of grubby fun, with Nicholson—directing himself—playing the grimiest, most lecherous character he’s ever played—and that’s saying something. In it, he’s a disreputable cowpoke/bandit who’s set to be hanged until a bizarre local loophole allows frontier spinster Mary Steenburgen to claim him as a husband. See, she’s got a gold mine and needs a man to work it—plus, you know, spinster. The two spar, and sneer, and Nicholson flirts like a rutting dog, and eventually they fall in dusty Western love. Naturally, there are complications in the form of Nicholson’s old gang (including John Belushi, Veronica Cartwright, and Christopher Lloyd) and the local law. Honestly, though, the main attraction is Nicholson on Nicholson—if you’ve never seen Jack Nicholson without anyone but himself to rein in his hammiest instincts, then you haven’t seen Jack at his Jackiest. Here, he scratches, and leers, and bats his lashes, and grins his Nicholson grin, and raises those eyebrows more than in any other ten movies combined.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (in Comedy). I’m going to be frank with you: even the most avid critic gets worn out by churning out reviews and recommendations every day, every week, every month, for years. It can start to feel like you’ve recommended everything you’ve ever enjoyed. But it’s the small moments that remind you how powerful even the lightest of entertainments can be. The moment when you stumble ontoAnchorman’s “Afternoon Delight” sequence and watch in a combination of bellylaughs and stunned appreciation, and the moment after the scene ends when you rewind and rewatch it, just because you can.

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

>>>Dennis suggests The Babadook (in Horror). There are so few good horror movies that come out in a year that the tendency is to overpraise any horror flicks that aren’t outright terrible. Sadly, this year was no exception. Not sadly, the two BABADOOK-POSTERmovies that got overpraised—this one and It Follows (which is not out on DVD yet)—weren’t overpraised by much. The story of a terminally exhausted single mother and her overactive, over-imaginative son, The Babadook is a lot of things—and the horror movie aspect isn’t even the most effective. As the mother, Essie Davis channels every single mom who struggles to deal with work, loneliness, grief (her husband died horrifically on the way to the hospital where she gave birth), and a difficult child—she’s capable, well-meaning, and at the absolute end of her rope, especially when the kid’s hyperactivity gets him tossed out of school. Essentially trapped alone in their house by their isolation and near-poverty, their loving but strained relationship starts to show more and more strain—and that’s even before the Babadook shows up. In trying to lull her son (an impressively obnoxious Noah Wiseman—you get to like him eventually) to bed one night, she reads to him from a book she doesn’t recall buying. It’s—a disturbing book, and she gets rid of it. But, well, you know how well that sort of thing goes. First-time director Jennifer Kent has an assured plan for her film—and if its homages to past films (The Shining, Repulsion, Nosferatu, Home Alone, believe it or not) aren’t subtle, they’re also really effective, especially once the Babadook starts bleeding into the mother and son’s reality. Or, you know, does he? This is one of the best horror movies in years, slightly overrated or not.

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

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

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

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Cutter’s Way (in Mystery/Thriller). Some movies just grab you. Maybe you saw them at the right (or wrong) time. Maybe there’s just something you can’t put your finger on that one un-definable moment that just 3991243b7912d9581f3e58c5379362camakes sense. (Or sometimes you read about the film in Danny Peary’s Cult Movies and rush out to rent it, finding it as mysteriously moving as he claimed.) Cutter’s Way is like that for me. Sort of a mystery, it is more like a meditation on war and madness and America in the form of a mystery. In it, a young Jeff Bridges is Bone, prettyboy playboy beach bum, sleeping his way through the bored, rich housewives of sleepy Santa Barbara. John Heard is his best friend, Alex Cutter, one-legged, one-armed, and one-eyed after being maimed in Vietnam, a brilliant but bitter alcoholic berating everyone around him in his impotent rage—especially draft-dodger Bone and his long-suffering wife Mo (Lisa Eichhorn, in a remarkable performance that should have made her a star, but didn’t). One night after another assignation, Bone’s car breaks down just in time to see someone dump something into a trashcan—when it turns out to be a murdered teenage girl, the disreputable Bone is both a suspect and a witness. When the trio drunkenly attends the city’s patronizing, Mexican-themed parade, Bone impulsively says, “It’s him” when he sees a local millionaire arrogantly riding his horse down the main street, which is all the cynical—yet wrenchingly idealistic—Cutter needs to hear, as he sets out on a quest to hold responsible just one of the fat cats he blames for sending him, and thousands of poor guys like him, to Vietnam. Director Ivan Passer displays a poetic, unnerving lyricism to what follows, as Cutter and Bone quickly see their friendship tested—and just as quickly get in over their heads. Bridges and Eichhorn are great, but it’s Heard (best known now as the go-to unlikable authority figure or alcoholic cop in everything) who snarls and limps away with the movie. The scurrilous, drunken vet has a poetic soul—and a sense of justice and heroism that seems to have to place in a world where powerless people are considered disposable. Some movies just get to you. This one gets to me.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Ryan M. sugests Possession (in Incredibly Strange). The best way to go into what is perhaps director Andrzej Zulawski’s most notorious slice of sheer cinematic insanity is to know as little as possible about it. Indeed in today’s day and age, with the all-knowing Internet and all, it can be a tad difficult at times to experience a film isabelle_adjani_possession_movie_poster_2acompletely spoiler free, so there are surely images from Possession that have resonated deeply with audiences over time. Ask anyone who’s seen it, and they will most likely refer to it as “the movie wherein Isabelle Adjani cheats on Sam Neil with an octopus”, although to do so would doing Zulawski’s art-house genre-bender a great disservice. This isn’t a B-horror picture, nor can it be pinned down into a single category. In fact, Possession is one of the few movies that I feel is truly uncatagorizable- a strange mixture of divorce drama and monster movie; the anti-romantic and the chase thriller; and finally, the spiritual and the political. It seems like it’s biting off more than it can chew, but it’s not. Both Adjani and Neil are fully committed to a couple of over-the-top and nakedly emotional performances and Zulawski’s camera gives off the illusion of constant, often aggressive motion. The scenes don’t transition into one-another so much as they glide, shake, and twirl – guaranteed to get under your skin. It is an experience like no other, one that will surely only appeal to a select audience of adventurous movie-goers, but to them it is essential. And for those who are constantly looking for a horror film which branches out successfully into other genres so often to the point where it almost doesn’t come off as a horror film at all; well, this is it.

Taken 3 New PosterNew Releases this week at Videoport: Taken 3 (Let Liam Neeson tell you about this second sequel: “Listen to me carefully. I have a very particular set of skills. They are hungryforchangeneither preventative nor especially filled with foresight. But, once you have kidnapped one [or more] of my female relatives, and once I have determined that you are not American, but some sort of foreign person, then—blammo—those skills of mine kick right in. They will imbue me with the strength and, let’s be honest, age-inappropriate martial arts and face-kicking skills to retrieve my female relatives from your not-American, not white clutches with only minor collateral damage to various European cities and any female friends of my female relatives who have been snatched up alongside them, especially if those female friends are more promiscuous MV5BMTczNDkyODA1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIwOTI4MjE@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_than my virginal female relatives. At that point, my mighty elderly skills will take your henchmen’s guns away and smash them in the faces with them repeatedly until everything comes out okay), Hungry For Change (Hey, you know all jennifer-aniston-cake-movie-poster-sosnation.com_those unbelievably optimistic claims made by diet, nutrition, and food companies about how you can lose weight with minimal effort as long as you buy their products? Well, shockingly, this documentary suggests that said companies are misleading you. I know—weird, right?), You’re Not You (Hilary Swank made her unsuccessful bid for another Best Actress Oscar when she played a talented classical pianist who finds out she has ALS [aka Lou Gehrig’s disease] in this weeper. Emily Rossum plays the spunky college student who tries to help her cope), Cake (Jennifer Anniston makes her own unsuccessful Oscar bid in this acclaimed [but award-less] drama about a woman in a chronic pain support group who finds herself obsessed url-1with why a fellow group member committed suicide), Frontera (Contemporary western sees Ed Harris as a hard-bitten former Arizona sheriff who goes on a racist rampage after his wife is murdered by, he assumes, an illegal Mexican immigrant. Presumably, he learns a lesson in tolerance 169c6f081c49a875dcbff5246a7ab4e7and understanding actual Arizonans seem to have trouble wrapping their heads around), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Black and white, Iranian vampire movie, anyone? This artsy foreign horror film about a spooky young woman stalking the streets of an isolated village has all the arthouse buzz about it), Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed (In this Spanish comedy, an English teacher picks up two young hitchhikers on his journey to find and meet his idol, John Lennon. Points if you know what Beatles song the title’s from), The Missing (Riveting British livingiseasywitheyesclosed.poster.ws_thriller series about a pair of grieving parents [James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor] who receive cryptic hints that their son is alive, some years after he was abducted on a holiday in Paris), Tracks (Certified cool actors Mia Wasikowska [Stoker, Maps To The Stars, Only Lovers Left Alive] and Adam Driver [Girls] star in this drama about a youngtracks_ver3_xlg woman on a trek across the desolate Australian desert with only her loyal camels and an odd-looking guy for company), Fortitude—season 1 (Great new mystery series you haven’t seen! How do I know you haven’t seen it? Well, it aired on a network called Pivot—anyone out there heard of Pivot? Anyway, this series, about the very first murder in the history of the titular Arctic town, boasts a great cast including Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, and Christopher Eccleston and is, as I mentioned, Fortitude-season-2-renewalreally good), Little Accidents (Elizabeth Banks tries out her dramatic side, starring in this small town mystery drama about a mine accident, a missing teenager, and a whole lot of depressed people)

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free little-accidents-character-poster-2money, people.

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VideoReport #503

Volume DIII— The Punchening

For the Week of 4/7/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Does that make us superheroes? Well, we are also, collectively, Batman, so yes.

 

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

>>> Dennis suggests The Specials (in Incredibly Strange). It’s superhero week here at the VideoReport! (Which means that no one sent in any reviews, leaving me to cobble together this community newsletter on my own and freeing me to babble on specabout stuff I like! Send in your reviews to denmn@hotmail.com to prevent this in the future!) Anyway, superhero movies have never been hotter—the coffers of Marvel and DC Comics (well, mostly Marvel) fairly burst with all the cash. Some might find it annoying, and it sort of is, especially to comics geeks (like me) tired of yet another damned Spider Man origin story. (Seriously, Marvel—“with great power comes great responsibility”—we get it.) But, as with any genre, there’s a lot of potential for greatness in the superhero idea. Playing it straight and doing it great is one way to go, although only the Christopher Nolan Batman movies have managed that (and only really The Dark Knight, flawlessly). Instead, the idea of people dressing in theatrical costumes and beating the crap out of similarly clad bad guys offers filmmakers with a more analytical—perhaps odder—sensibility to turn the genre inside out and see what falls out. Case in point, this 2000 superhero comedy, written by the now-insanely-famous James Gunn (The Guardians Of The Galaxy), which examines the dysfunctional dynamics of The Specials, “the fifth or sixth most powerful superhero team in the world.” As with the monster hit GOTG, Gunn applied his innately perverse sense of humor to undermine the concept of superheroism in every way possible. Not that The Specials don’t do good, it’s just both that they’re not very good at it, and most of the team is cynical about the gig and crabby about their own less-than-impressive powers. The cast is outstanding, underplaying the comedy of their roles to various, rewarding degrees. Thomas Hayden Church (laser beam hands) is The Mighty Strobe, team leader, who applies is super-serious, Shatner-esque bombast which clashes with his hidden insecurity. He’s being cuckolded by his bored wife Miss Indestructible (guess), played by Paget Brewster with a sad, funny weariness. Her paramour, The Weevil (“weevil’s speed and agility”?), played by a very funny Rob Lowe as the only Special remotely popular—he’s being courted by the creepily CIA-backed Crusaders, and mulls leaving the team. Then there’s Gunn himself as Minute Man (he shrinks), an unassuming guy who really only gets mad when people misinterpret his name (“Am I wearing a tri-corner hat? No!). Judy Greer is Deadly Girl (unspecified supernatural powers—one time, she summoned zombies that ate people’s faces), who, in Greer’s signature disdainful sensibleness, barely tolerates her superhero life, while conceding that she doesn’t have much choice but to stay with them. Jamie Kennedy is Amok, the sort-of reformed supervillain, whose unpredictably dangerous anti-matter powers are only second to his abrasive personality in the reasons why people don’t like him. There’s strong-but-dim American Bill, Mr. Smart, Alien Orphan Doug, Power Chick, and new recruit Nightbird, whose powers are—well, “uniquely unimpressive” might be the kindest description. What’s equally unique about this low-budget comedy is that we never see any o The Specials use their powers, instead watching them bicker over money, relationships, and the pending release of their own action figure line. It’s an odd, inventively funny little movie summed up perfectly by its tagline: “Not as good as regular superheroes, but slightly better than you.” What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s a job, it doesn’t solve your personal problems, and not everyone gets cool powers.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Futurama, “Less than Hero” (S4, ep4). Here’s why you should always read your medication labels carefully. When Leela and Fry sooth their sore muscles with an application of Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle 006_the-new-justice-team-fry-leela-bender_by-kik0thek1llerCream, they experience some minor side effects… like superhero strength, invulnerability to attack, and lickety-speed. (Okay, not so minor. So sure me! No, wait, only sue Dr. FlimFlam, and only if you have a solid case to present.) Suddenly endowed with superhero abilities, the two take on secret identities of Clobberella and Captain Yesterday, forming the New Justice League (along with Spuer King, a.k.a., Bender — who, y’know, always had the power to prevent crime and instead chose to tolerate and occasionally commit it, but whatever). Will The New Justice League be able to stop The Zookeeper from stealing the quantum gemerald? Will their fight for justice interfere with Leela’s parents’ special trip to the surface? Will Leela’s parents recognize their daughter despite the mask that does so very, very little to obscure her identity because I mean c’mon she’s a one-eyed purple-ponytailed babe and COME ON. Will you be able to stop humming the New Justice League song? Tune in — same robot time, same robot channel — to find out.

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 Mystery Men (in Comedy). A lot like The Specials, this 1999 comedy follows an inept super-team as they try to overcome their individual problems and singularly unimpressive powers to save the day. A lot broader and more scattershot than the sly Specials, Mystery Men is nonetheless a hoot, with the overqualified cast similarly bringing home their large_fDdN4LqE20rjGz1M66rKgMpJlyvcharacters’ insecurities and questionable abilities in the film’s cartoonishly weird pseudo-Gotham city setting. There’s Ben Stiller’s Mr. Furious, whose strength increases as he gets angry (in theory). Janeane Garofolo is The Bowler (she can control a bowling ball which contains her hero father’s skull.) Kel Mitchell is Invisible Boy, who claims to be invisible as long as no one is watching him. William H. Macy is hilarious as The Shoveler, a sad-sack family man who goes into battle and whacks people with a shovel. Wes Studi is mentor The Sphinx, whose powers are “very mysterious,” although someone heard once that he can cut guns in half with his mind. Hank Azaria is the Blue Raja, who dresses sort-of like a swami (in green) and is moderately adept at throwing forks at people. And Paul (Pee Wee Herman) Reubens is The Spleen, who has—sigh—weaponized flatulence. Throw in funny turns from Tom Waits as their weapon supplier, Greg Kinnear as the city’s “real hero,” the egotistical Captain Amazing, and a thoroughly, delightfully hammy Geoffrey Wright as the impeccably named villain Casanova Frankenstein. It’s a scattershot comedy, splitting time between big, goofy special effect gags and loosy-goosy improv-y verbal bits from the underplaying cast, but it’s also frequently very funny. What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s the size of your heart that counts. Oh, and also some rudimentary training and a whole lot of luck.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Super (in Incredibly Strange). Hey, it’s James Gunn again, writing and directing this 2010 dark, dark, insane superhero comedy starring The Office’s Rainn Wilson. Wilson plays a poor shlub of a guy who goes nuts when his improbably beautiful ex-junkie wife (Liv Tyler) is seduced and re-addicted by super-sleazy drug dealer Kevin Bacon (who’s Super-James-Gunn-2010very funny here). Suffering in impotent misery, Wilson is visited (and graphically scalped) by the voice/tentacles of God (or he’s just nuts) and sees the way to win his wife back—by dressing in a very unflattering red costume and braining evildoers with a wrench as The Crimson Bolt. Wilson’s improbably affecting, when he’s not being terrifyingly unbalanced, and, as his unwanted sidekick, the comic book-obsessed Boltie, Ellen Page brings an even more violent and bananas commitment to the crusade, culminating in an over-the-top and bloody raid on Bacon’s mansion. It’s dark—as much a character study of repressed madness as a superhero movie—but Super is also unnervingly entertaining. What it teaches us about superheroing: In the real world, dressing weird does not take the crazy out of indiscriminately bashing people who’ve annoyed you with a wrench.

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, Dennis suggests Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law (in Animation). Before Michael Keaton, there was Birdman! Remember Birdman? Winged cartoon superhero from the beloved Hanna-Barbera stable of stiff, barely-animated superheroes? Anyone? Well, no, of course you don’t—he was a nothing. Even little kids were bored with him. Well, this bonkers animated series had the idea that, after his superheroing days were done, Birdman (first name Harvey, apparently) went to law school and started practicing superhero law, exclusively defending other famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. It’s of the spazzy, rapid-fire Adult Swim animated comedy genre, which I think is hilarious when done well (Sealab, Frisky Dingo, Archer, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and exhausting when done poorly (Squidbillies, Superjail). Thankfully, Harvey Birdman is pretty damned funny, with the ultra-square Birdman blessedly voiced by the great Gary Cole (Veep, Talladega Nights, Dodgeball) as he defends Scooby and Shaggy for being stoners, Fred Flintstone for being a Sopranos-esque crime boss, and so on. Throw in a lot of random gags, recurring catchphrases, and general absurdity—plus the voice talents of Stephen Colbert as the eyepatch-sporting head of the law firm, and Christopher Guest regular Michael Hitchcock as Mentok, psychic judge. What it teaches us about superheroing: Sometimes you need a fallback career.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror X” (S11, ep4). In “Desperately Xeeking Xena,” the X-ray machine provided by Springfield Elementary to examine children’s Halloween candy malfunctions and how, leaving Bart with the ability to stretch his limbs in a manner similar to be not legally infringing upon a certain trademarked toy figurine and Lisa with immense power and strength. Together, they’re Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, cleaning up the streets and keeping Springfield safe from weirdos. When The Collector (more commonly known as Comic Book Guy) tries to collect guest star Lucy Lawless, Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl swing into action, only to find themselves in over their heads.

>>>Dennis suggests Unbreakable (in Mystery/Thriller.) Okya, even listing this particular movie in this particular themed issue is something of a spoiler, but, well, it’s 15 years old at this point, so deal with it. The Sixth Sense gets all the praise, but I think this movie from M. Night Shyamalan and star Bruce Willis is better. Willis plays a family man who works as a security guard and, after a horrific train crash, realizes that not only was he the only survivor, but he has never been hurt, or sick, a single day in his life. It’s only when he’s contacted by a mysterious, cane-hobbled man played by Samuel L. Jackson does Willis start to examine what those facts really mean. Dark, moody, and deliberately, meticulously creepy, this nigh-unclassifiable movie is riveting and as smart about the superhero genre as any ever made. What it teaches us about superheroing: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

A-Most-Violent-Year-2014-cover-largeNew Releases this week at Videoport: A Most Violent Year (Great looking, gritty indie drama about an immigrant businessman in 1981 New York City [Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac] who seeks to keep his business afloat by any means necessary; great cast includes Jessica Chastain and Selma’s David Oyelowo), The Book Of Negroes (Wrenching miniseries follows a kidnapped African woman sold into slavery in America; starring Aunjanue Ellis, Lou Gossett, Jr. and Cuba Gooding Jr. ), The Immigrant (James Gray directed this 2013 sprawling drama about an innocent woman who comes to America at the turn of the century, only to find herself tricked into a life of servitude, until a magnetic magician looks to save her and The-Book-of-Negroes-DVDreunite her with her sister. Great cast includes Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner), The Voices (Super-dark comedy about a mild-mannered guy who may or may not be imagining that his pets are evil and telling him to kill people. When the girl of his dreams stands him up—what will his furry pals make him do? Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma the-immigrant-2013-01Arterton, and Portland’s own Ana Kendrick!), Home Sweet Hell (Professionally unlikable Kathere Heigl stars in this dark comedy about a housewife who goes murderously bananas when she discovers her husband [terminally shifty Patrick The Voices new posterWilson] is having an affair. Con: Jim Belushi’s in it. Pro: He might get horribly murdered!), The Rewrite (Hugh Grant is at it again, being all charming and stammer-y, and vaguely disreputable in this romantic drama about a struggling screenwriter who takes a job teaching screenwriting, only to find that one of his students is really good at screenwriting! And since said student is played by the lovely Marissa Tomei, can he keep both his hands and his professional jealousy to himself? Rent it 140367_orig-e1423059128373and see! ), Inside Amy Schumer- seasons 1&2 (Very funny and filthy sketch comedy series from standup comic Schumer, who’s about to get super-famous as the star of Judd Apatow’s next movie Trainwreck), To Go Viking (Documentary follows a group of young people from Philadelphia as they take part in an international, full-contact series of Viking combat d800149d2f947ad4d64f34668f8b20f6_originalcompetitions. Ever watch Vikings and think, “I’d look really good wielding a battle axe”? Then this is the documentary for you!)

inside-amy-schumer2Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.2b49bc7f2e163c8945fa71aedb90fdff