VideoReport #485

Volume CDLXXXV- Portland Alexanderplatz

For the Week of 12/2/14


Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. I don’t know how that can be anything but a good 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!

>>> Emily S. Customer helps you keep it local. Videoport knows that it can be a challenge even for the most devoted BUY LOCAL advocates to put their money where their mouths are, especially during the hustle-bustle of the busy holiday season. Sure, you want to support independent businesses and keep our local economy robust, but how do you fit your ideals into your budget and imagination? We’re here to help with some BUY LOCAL gift ideas, and a little something extra just for you.

The regular renter: For the Portland-area film aficionado on your list, there’s no better gift than The Spirit of Videoport Future! Choose a gift certificate (three rentals for $10, six rentals for $20, or 10 rentals for $30) or take advantage of Videoport’s great savings plan when you add credit directly to their account ($20 buys $25 in rental credits, $30 buys $40). Either way, these rentals qualify for Videoport’s great daily specials, so your recipient can get 2-for-1 rentals every weekday or 3-for-2 rental weekends! Throw in a FREE copy of the VideoReport to give them great ideas for future rentals and great free movies every day.

The movie-night basket: Pick up a new or previously-viewed DVD movie or TV season at Videoport, pack it up with a bag of Little Lad’s herbal popcorn, and a box of concession candy (try Snowcaps, Junior Mints, or Twizzlers!) and you’ve got a great gift basket for folks who want to stay in on a cold Maine night. You’ll also get a little something extra for yourself: with every DVD purchase of $3.99* and up, Videoport gives you a free rental on your own account!

The connoisseur: Can’t find just the right gift for the fancy, fussy, or hard-to-satisfy cinophile on your list? Videoport is here to help! Videoport can special-order any film in print for a gift that’s sure to please. (And you get that free rental on your account, just for buying from Videoport!)

—Some themed ideas to get you started, whether you pick them up off the shelf or special-order to get just the right title. And remember, with each DVD purchase of $3.99* and up, you get a free rental!

Arrested Development: Give a whole season of the legendary dysfunctional-family sitcom along with “a whole thing of candy beans” from Jelly Belly! If you haven’t seen the series, this doesn’t make much sense, but if you have, this idea raises an eyebrow… at least.

Finding Nemo: Pixar’s heartwarming classic will please young and old alike, and so will the Swedish Fish and chocolate-caramel turtles you pick up to go along with it!

E.T.: The Extraterrestrial: Spielberg’s modern classic doesn’t need any sweetening, but how can you not pick up some packets of Reese’s Pieces to go with it?

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: Willy Wonka and candy go together like Gene Wilder and a terrifying smile, so take your pick. I especially recommend the Jelly Belly Bean Boozled collection, where you spin the wheel and take your chances. Will you taste a Tutti Frutti or Stinky Socks? Lime or Lawn Clippings? Licorice or Skunk Spray?

Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate: For a delicious double-feature, pick these two romantic dramas, wrap them up with a few bars of Lake Champlain’s exquisite fair-trade, small-batch chocolate, and expect the winter to warm up fast.

*fine print and so on: offer subject to change, like everything else in life.

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 Vikings (in Action). I wrote some stuff about Vikings once. (Actually, I write about it a lot for one of my 35 other jobs).

“It took a while, but I finally came to the understanding that Ragnar’s caginess in his leadership is partly born of something like sheepishness and caution. He’s like the star quarterback who’s discovers the joys of poetry and tries to find the least obtrusive way to bring his hidden appreciation for higher culture into greater acceptance—without getting the Viking equivalent of a locker-room wedgie, which would probably involve a lot more cleaving. In retrospect, it’s a brilliant way to create a Viking hero for modern sensibilities without turning him into an anachronistically modern hero. (It’s also a smart way to deliver the expected Viking thrills in a reduced-guilt form.) As Ragnar’s ambitions are revealed, they are decidedly homey—land to farm, greater prosperity for his people, and an end to the constant violence that marks every aspect of Viking life. Ragnar’s desire to sail west into the unknown flies in the face of stolid Earl Haraldson’s (Gabriel Byrne) determination to simply keep raiding the doormat lands to the east, which is standard rebellious hero stuff. But when Ragnar discovers the rich and fertile England, what he sees is farmland (the Scandinavia of the period had precious little arable land)—and with it, the chance to fundamentally transform the Vikings’ pillage-based way of life. And while it’s never clear how fully articulated Ragnar’s plans to essentially colonize England are, even to himself (Vikings is at its weakest when it gives Ragnar too much to say on the subject), it is clear that what he’s longing for is an end to the necessity of constant warfare in favor of what we see him enjoying from the first episode: family and farm and security.”

This is a good show, is what I’m saying.

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 Party Down (in Comedy.) For one of those 35 other jobs, I have to come up with suggestions for the best sitcom episodes of the last 25 years. Still formulating, but I’ll definitely be including one episode from this short-lived sitcom about the very resentful staff of a Hollywood catering company. The cast is stellar, and the show traffics in character work in tandem with big physical gags to produce one of the best workplace comedies ever. If I had to pick one episode to represent the show, though, I’d say it’s be season two’s “Steve Guttenberg’s Birthday Party,” where Party Down Catering shows up to, yes, Steve Guttenberg’s house to staff his birthday party, only to find that the Gute has forgotten all about booking the gig. Faced with having to eat the deposit and waste all the food, the Gute, instead, tells the gang to come in and party with him, and to invite some friends. It’s a great setup (the Gute does some great self-parody, and seems like a great guy), and the episode offers the cast the chance to play out their ongoing stories as they hang around, with varying degrees of comfort, with a big (if faded) movie star. Adam Scott and Lizzy Caplan are simply amazing in this one, as their will-they-or-won’t they coworkers (he a failed actor, she a wannabe one) try to impress each other by acting out parts in coworker Martin Starr’s terrible sci-fi script. Meanwhile, Ken Marino’s perpetually bumbling and pathetic sort-of boss breaks the Gute’s priceless aquarium/work of art, Megan Mullaly’s social climber tries to get in good with the host, and dim actor Ryan Hansen fails to impress his much smarter actress date. Even McLovin’ shows up. The whole thing just works, coming together in a way that is simply perfect. Huge laughs, some unexpected heart, and the Gute. What more could you want?

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!                                        

>>> Andy suggests The Tee Vee Show, Episode 8 (in the Incredibly Strange section). The Tee Vee Show is a locally produced collaboration between developmentally disabled adults and local artists. A joint venture between the creative teams at The Art Department and Bomb Diggity Arts*, Episode 8 is a culmination of their 2014 short films, edited together into one cohesive program with clever transitions and some genuine enthusiasm for extended title sequences. But why should you watch this right now, you ask? Because it’s super fun (and thanks for asking)! Some of the short films are straight-up spoofs, like the MTV Cribs episode (“This is my stool I use to sit.”) and the Survivor parody. There are also well-produced genre exercises (Marc vs. Marc, Love Is In The Air), a cooking show (“I want my carrots sliced and diced!”), and a summery music video for a damn catchy song. But my favorite segments are the harder to categorize, stop motion animated flights of fancy that seem to tie The Tee Vee Show together. All About The Common Loon is a lovely and heartfelt ode to nature, and others are more difficult to describe. A brief description of the original fairy tale video couldn’t possibly do it justice! I’m just sayin’, you should check it out, adventurous Videoport renter**! After the ending title sequence that incorporates a generous helping of bloopers and behind the scenes footage, an Episode 9 is promised for 2015. Stay tuned!

*You have likely walked by their storefronts on Congress Street, or possibly even bought some of the artwork sold inside. If not, you should give it a try!

**And if you’re reading this review, I assume you are exactly the kind of adventurous Videoport renter who would be interested in taking The Tee Vee Showhome***.

***Also, thanks for reading this far. You must share my love of asterisks!

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 movie! And you don’t have to rent anything else to get it! Plus, Videoport’s conception of an appropriate kids movie is wonderfully broad—you’ll find something.

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 In A World (in Comedy). It’s nice when people I like do something I like. That’s pretty much my reaction to this unassuming, sweetly entertaining indie comedy drama from actress Lake Bell, who also writes and directs. You’ll recognize Bell, even if you don’t know her name—she’s very funny on the very funny Childrens Hospital and was good in the Maine-made horror thriller Black Rock (from Mainer-made-good Katie Aselton). But she’s usually stuck playing the funny pal to rom-com leads like Cameron Diaz or someone like that. So, in a role mirroring her own frustrations no doubt, Bell stars here as Carol, a sensibly shlubby vocal coach with aspirations to voiceover stardom like that possessed by her overbearing father (silky voiced Fred Melamed, the unlikely lover in A Serious Man). Everyone’s looking to fill the shoes of recently deceased, real-life movie trailer legend Don LaFontaine (famous for his “In a world…” opening catchphrase.) When Carol finds herself in the running for the gig voicing the trailers for a new Hunger Games-like franchise, she finds herself also in competition with her dad and the smarmy prettyboy up-and-comer played with his usual pitch-perfection by The State’s Ken Marino. Like all first features, everything’s sort of low-key and pleasant, but the cast is outstanding, including the likes of Michaela Watkins, Rob Corddry, Nick Offerman, Demitri Martin, and Tig Notaro, all bringing their roles the spiky, lived-in colors only comic character actors can really bring. And Bell is really good, resolutely refusing to let Carol be either to self-indulgently perfect, or anybody’s victim. Just a good little movie.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Broad City (in Comedy.) Look, there’s no doubt that the lovely Ms. Emily S. Customer will review this show—that she loves—very soon. In the meantime, I’ll just direct you to this show starring two of the funniest, weirdest, crudest women you don’t know about yet. Unless you’re one of the cool kids. (PS: Amy Poehler discovered them and produces this. That should be enough to convince anyone.)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Broad City- season 1 (Okay, this is the show you should be watching, a rude, crude, defiantly hilarious Comedy Central sitcom about two young women pursuing nothing in particular with unapologetic zeal. Serioulsy—all the cool kids love this one. And you want to be cool, don’t you? Don’t you?), The Hundred Foot Journey (Pretty much all I have to say is “Helen Mirren,” and you all are going to want to rent this one, but I’ll supply more details, because I’m a professional. In this one, HELEN MIRREN plays the snooty ruler of a five-star French restaurant who gets all snooty when an Indian restaurant opens up right down the street. Silly HELEN MIRREN—Indian food beats French food any day of the week.), Justified- season 5 (Timothy Olyphant is back as the ‘totally gona shoot you and say it was justified’-est marshal around in this still-pretty-good copper show, The Strain- season 1 (Guillermo del Toro [Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim] produced this horror series about the Center For Disease Control discovering that this new disease might have something decidedly unusual [read: fang-y] about it), Kite (Based on the cult anime film [which, of course, you can rent in Videoport’s Anime section], this action thriller sees a tough, gun-totin’ girl go after the thugs who murdered her parents with the help of her dad’s old cop partner [played by Samuel L. Jackson]), Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (Monkeys! All right, they’re apes, but still, it’s fun to yell Monkeys! In this sequel, the superintelligent ape Caesar and his rebellious brethren have pretty much taken over the world, leaving a band of human survivors [including Gary Oldman] to try and keep those damn dirty ape hands off of their throats), The Simpsons- season 17 (Look for Sideshow Bob on the cover this time!), The Jewish Cardinal (Long-awaited film, based on a true story, about a Catholic cardinal who discovers that he’s actually—well, you’ve read the title.), Stretch (Comic thriller from director Joe Carnahan [The Grey, Narc] about a down-on-his-luck limo driver who has one seriously bad day, ferrying around a series of increasingly crazy and violent characters), Trailer Park Boys: Don’t Legalize It (Those hard-drinking, doping, trailer park layabouts are back in another feature length adventure, this time realizing that legalized weed will deprive them of their only source of income.), Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays (Billy Crystal brings his one man Broadway smash show to DVD, as he reminisces about his childhood and—I’m just guessing here—tells a story or two about Mickey Mantle), The Congress (Robin Wright stars in this Being John Malkovich/Cold Souls-style reality bending film as herself, an aging actress who allows her essence to be captured by a movie studio’s computers in order that she can be inserted into any film they choose; Costarring Harvey Keitel, Paul Giamatti, Danny Huston, and Jon Hamm)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Kite, The Hundred Foot Journey, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes