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, Dick 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 have 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 concludes, 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 be. 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 Neeson’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, sweet 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),
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