A (living) video store is doing something cool for film fans

It’s the ghost of Videoport again… WoOoOoOoOoO! Here to tell you about our still-surviving cousin Bart & Greg’s DVD Exposion! up in Bruswick. They’re teaming up with Brunswick’s own cafe theater Frontier for artsy-cool movie nights. You should go to those, then rent movies at Bart & Greg’s. You know, since they’re great (and, you know, still exist.)

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Read all about the Bart & Greg’s Film Series HERE.

And check out Bart & Greg’s website to see how great they are. Keep them alive, people.

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Published in: on January 22, 2016 at 3:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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You let Videoport croak—here’s how you can atone

Bart & Greg's. Brunswick. Go there.

Bart & Greg’s. Brunswick. Go there.

There’s another, equally-outstanding video store still hanging on up in Brunswick, people. Here’s an interview with the owner by a former Videoporter. Read it. Then take a little drive.

“It boils down to one thing – if you want it, we’ve got it.” So says Bart D’Alauro, owner and co-founder of Brunswick video store Bart & Greg’s DVD Explosion, and he’s not wrong. “At this point, we have about 35,000 discs, which translates to about 26,000 individual movies and TV series,” he said, explaining that his store, housed since 2002 in the Tontine Mall on Maine Street in Brunswick, quickly moved into a large space in the mall, at first doubling and then tripling in size.

If only the same could be said of Bart & Greg’s customer base. Subject to the same forces (Netflix, mainly) which finally, in August, choked the life from Portland’s own movie rental institution, Videoport, the store finds itself looking for new ways to convince people that the local, indie video store model still has value. Having worked right ’til the end at Videoport (and with Bart at another indie video store decades ago), I had a lot to ask him about.

People think “well, Netflix has everything.” But that’s not true, right?

Except for “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter,” Pixar, the Disney classics, “Indiana Jones” – all pretty glaring omissions. There’s this idea, too, that, except for those few things, they have just about everything else. There are about 7,500 titles to stream in a given month, compared to our 26,000. Plus, every title in my store has been hand-picked because someone will want to see it. Netflix is filled with movies no one wants because they’re part of a package licensing deal – studios say, “If you want this movie that people care about, you have to take the junk along with it.” You could subscribe to 20 different streaming services and maybe get access to everything we’ve got.

Apart from the fact that it’s killing off video stores, what’s do you see as the worst thing about people watching movies online?

Netflix affects the way people watch movies. They watch 10 minutes and, if they’re not into it, they flip to the next movie. With a video store, there’s the fact that they’ve paid their $3.50, they’re going to give this a shot – you’re watching more challenging movies for that reason. The Netflix effect means people are only watching things in their comfort zone, genres they’re comfortable with. Movies that give them all the info they need in the first 10 minutes when part of the fun of watching movies is trying to figure out who these people are, why they’re doing what they’re doing. It’s a variation on cable – you take what you’re given. Netflix is cable with a few more options.

Just a portion of Bart & Greg’s extensive inventory.

What’s lost when a community loses its last video store?

It’s a community spot, a gathering place. I enjoy that most people who return a movie want to have a short movie discussion, some analysis, some criticism – they’re not just zoning out to what’s on their screen. They’re actually thinking about it. We’ll get just about anything that’s requested, we pretty much get every new move people will have interest in – foreign films, foreign TV series, we get ’em all. I think the biggest loss is that without video stores you can’t go through Danny Peary’s “Guide for the Film Fanatic” and watch any of those movies – nothing on that checklist (of 1,600 essential films and cult classics) is going to be on Netflix. I have almost all of them.

Bart & Greg’s is a great video store (easily as good as Videoport was), so I urge anyone still smarting over Videoport’s demise, or anyone who values movies, to make the trip. Check out their website atbartandgregs.com. Like Bart & Greg’s on Facebook.

VideoReport #517

Volume DXVII— Well, That Happened

             For the Week of 7/14/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Now Videoport’s owner Bill has something he has to tell you:

 

Videoport is closing in August. We want to thank the people of Greater Portland for your loyalty and friendship over these last 28 years, it’s been great. Thank You!

All is not lost! We are donating the Videoport movie collection to the Portland Public Library. Soon instead of a FREE movie every day at Videoport you will be able to get all your movies FREE at the library! Actually not all FREE, you need to support your public library just as you supported Videoport. Please enjoy all the Portland Public Library collections and services, and when you do, please make a donation to the library so they can keep up bringing in the New Releases!

The first movies moving to the Portland Public Library will be the Criterion Collection. You should find them on the shelf at the library sometime toward the end of July. Next we will start moving over the Foreign Language film section. Please stop by the library and check out their beautiful DVD section, sign up for a library card if you don’t already have one, and try out borrowing something! At Videoport the last day to rent movies will be Saturday August 15.

 

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!

>>> Former Videoporter Regan says goodbye, as only Regan can. I started renting from Videoport when I was a teenager, I’d get movies delivered (they used to deliver!) and I think Lenny delivered Angel at My Table and Heathers the night I decided to give my innocence away to a greasy-greaza. and one of the staff, after noticing my coming of age rental habits, suggested Valley Girl. And I still watch it on the reg! Love. It. That was when I wished to one day work at Videoport, and I did. For nearly 15 years. FIFTEEN YEARS! And I loved mostly all of it. The last few years were a total bag of farts, and I started to resign myself to the end being near. But I just don’t get it. Portland had something great here! A museum of cinema! And assorted gross foods. I’m not the most cinephily of the cinephiles, but I do watch a sh*tload of movies, and it will still take me a lifetime to get through all of the movies I want to see at Videoport. But we don’t have the Housewives of the Suez Canal, and we don’t have that obscure documentary about swedish-Latino-Afro-punk bands (those might be fake). But Videoport has a HUGE documentary section, a unparalleled foreign section. But that’s not enough for Portland, Maine. Videoport has paid for health insurance for its employees before it became de rigueur to do so, but we NEED another f*cking locally sourced overpriced restaurant with signature cocktails. Eh. So it goes.

I love movies, and I thought this town did too. I’m mad as hell….and most of you don’t understand this reference. Thank you Bill, Yolanda, James, Betsy, Tim, Ivory, Johnny Snowballs, JackieO, Wheeler, Michelles-n-cheese, Greegan, Pook, JORDAN!, Pie HEAD, Allen, Christian, HAMMER, And the last of red hot lovers, Andy, Sam, April and Dennis. It was my ultimate pleasure.

>>>Former Videoporter JackieO says goodbye. Thank you for everything, Videoport. From Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid to The Third Man, from the roommates to the drinking buddies, from the undue street cred to learning how to count change back, it was a pleasure, mostly.

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!

>>> Former Videoporter Michelle (AKA Pook) says goodbye, too. When I first moved to Portland in 2000, I came with one piece of knowledge, Anyone that that was anyone had a Videoport card. And so I went from never having that many films available to me to a whole new world of film lined up before me. The foreign film section was my first exploration. When I watched “Lovers Of the Arctic Circle” and then “Chacun cherche son chat” (When The Cat’s Away), I fell in love. And then suddenly I had Roberto Benigni in my home; making me laugh with “Johnny Stecchino”, crying with “Life is Beautiful”, and opening up a deeper appreciation of film with “Down by Law”. At this point in the Videoport timeline, I could even have these movies delivered to me with candy! I also enjoyed going to the store and overhearing the conversations and passions the staff had for film.  It is no surprise that not only was Videoport the catalyst for my love of movies, but it also was what made Portland my home. I had the true honor of working of Videoport. I met so many wonderful people while being both a renter and an employee there. I would not have the wonderful friends that I have today. Also, I would not be called Pook by so many people outside of my family. I would not have had the opportunities to learn about movies from people who were so passionate and knowledgeable. I know the Internet is an endless abyss of movies. But it is simply not the same as talking to someone in person, telling them what movies you love, and then having them reveal to you a treasure chest of films that will fill the craving for the movie you are looking for. No algorithm on any media platform will ever contain the same movie know-how as many of the employees and customers of Videoport. Movies are a way to have a shared experience with someone. Videoport gave people the ability to find other people to create these moments with. It is not just a store, it is not just a place to grab a movie, it is a full experience. No, it is magical. I am not sure anyone can recreate the Videoport experience. It is something unique and special to Portland, It is something that any of us that rented or work there know is some kind of wonderful. Bill Duggan made more than a just a video store, he made a Portland experience. He created a gateway to so many other worlds with his store for so many. He created a sense of community for so many. I hope we can all continue this magic with movie nights, encouragement of local film makers, and just simply talking together on the movies that we loved, hated, and can not wait to see. Thank you, Bill, for giving us so many years of Videoport and so many movies.

>>>Former Videoporter Allen says goodbye. I truly dream that one day I can operate a company of cinephiles that provide to the community, and to each other, the value that Videoport has provided me and my community for so many years. It was among the best jobs coming out of college. Hey, want a job where you are publicly lauded for your film knowledge? Want to work at one of the coolest places in Portland, where EVERYONE will see you, and get to know your face? Want to be part of a loving and caring group of people that will always remain close friends until you die with VHS tapes in your hand? Yes, I do. Thanks Videoport. For everything.

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!  

>>> Dutch Dennis (AKA Disco, Frenchy) says goodbye. It is a sad day when an institution like Videoport leaves town. I was the 92nd and last person Videoport ever hired. Half the friends I have I met through the store. It is highly unlikely I would have started watching Friday Night Lights without Regan constantly yelling at me that this was one of the best shows on television. Or that I would’ve started watching Andy’s crazy Asian recommendations, Sam’s action movies, Jackie’s Spanish adventures, anything Dennis recommended. I would have never watched hard-to-find documentaries I devoured, like Death by Design, Cane Toads, or Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. I guess what I am trying to say is that movies and friends work well together. It sure did for me the three years I worked in that basement.

>>>Former Videoporter Matt M. says goodbye. I can’t add much more to what my former coworkers have said about Videoport. I made great friends with some of the sweetest, smartest, funniest(seriously) people around. I also got to wait on the sweetest, angriest, most eccentric customers you could ever imagine. I received countless free drinks due to being a “Videoport dude”. Videoport was a social hub for Portland, and it will not be replaced. Running into former coworkers is different than running into other old friends- much like what running into members of your fraternity/sorority must be like. We had the coolest, most fun job in town. Portland owes a huge debt of gratitude to Bill and Yolanda for making Portland what it is. I’m amazed, but not surprised, that Videoport is donating their collection to the PPL. Videoport cared about the community, and this donation cements that fact. This is truly a sad day for Portland.

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 has one last recommendation for you. The VideoReport has done a lot for me. In its infancy, I wrote thumbnail reviews as an excuse to flirt with the fella I’d been dating, and — because then as now, he did the bulk of the writing every week — every review I submitted freed him up for more smoochin’. A few years later (almost exactly six years ago today as I write this), I presented Dennis with a week’s worth of reviews, written in secret during spare minutes here and there, so he could take off the week of our wedding and not worry about turning out a half-dozen reviews on top of everything else. (Thanks, Andy, for guest-editing that edition of the VideoReport.) The backlog of reviews and reflections we’ve both (but mostly your unfailing editor, Videoport Jones, a.k.a., Pancakes W. Meat, a.k.a., Dennis Perkins, freelance writer, true cinemaphile*, and swell guy) accumulated, years and years of writing for free, gave us each a springboard into professional reviewing. I’ll always be thankful for that.  But neither of us did it for that reason. We wrote, and write, for the VideoReport, because we believe in independent cinema, in local business, in the virtue of a video library not restricted by transnational corporations’ backroom deals, in the delight of walking into a real brick-and-mortar video store and having a conversation with a movie lover who can steer you to some unexpected treasure. Videoport has been a haven for me, for lots of movie-lovers like me and movie-lovers nothing like me, for decades. It’s been a gift to Portland. I’m grateful for all it’s given me, and us — us the couple, us the city, us the loyal supporters of indie everything. Goodbye, Videoport, and thank you for your gifts.

*During an interview, Malcolm McDowell called Dennis that, and the compliment buoyed him for weeks. Mr. McDowell, you don’t know how right you were. 

The Last Picture Show. Peter Bogdanovich’s tribute to the great Westerns of years gone by, this black-and-white 1971 masterpiece was nominated for eight Academy Awards. In a dusty Texas town, the local movie theater, the site of a lot of memories and fumblings in the dark, of dreams and desires onscreen and off, is closing down. A handful of friends — including Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Cybill Shepherd, all achingly young and lovely, all already looking back over their past with the keen combination of nostalgia, pleasure, and grief we all know too well — gather for a last hurray. It’ll break your heart, and it should.

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 goodbye. Too much to say. I wish it could be all “thanks for the memories” from me, but I’ve never been that guy. We’ve all put so much effort and worry, and doomed, desperate love into this place for me to put it in perspective. So I’ll just say to my coworkers: you are my best friends. To the customers who stayed: most of you are good people. To Netflix: I genuinely hope Anonymous infects you with a fatal virus. To me: go find something else to do with your life. To anyone who’s ever scratched our DVDs: you are genuinely bad people and we all think you are the devil. To everyone: movies still matter. I’m gonna go get a drink.

>>>Former Videoporter Christian says goodbye. Videoport exists in its own timewarp. It defied the odds and created a mythology all its own. I will always treasure my connection to Videoport. I’m so sorry to see it go!

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, Sam says goodbye. There aren’t a lot of jobs in which you get to do what you love, but for me Videoport clerk is one of them. I got my first membership card when I turned 18, and when I was hired 6 years and over 600 rentals later, I was hired. The boss told me he was reluctant to hire me because I was such a good customer. I loved Videoport then and I love it now, almost twelve years later. It is one of those rare things that has made my life measurably better. Not just the coworkers, who will remain like family to me. Not just comfort of that nerd-haven of a basement. No, I’m talking about the money, that sweet, sweet dollar bill! Seriously, though. Videoport has been my home in countless ways for exactly half of my life and I’m going to miss it more than you’ll ever understand.

>>>For Sunday, April says goodbye. April here. The most important thing I can say is this… thank you. Thank you for supporting us and loving us for so many glorious years. Videoport isn’t just a movie store to me and it certainly was never just a job. It’s been a privilege to work at a place that I genuinely love, with people that I respect and admire, and to belong to a community of movie loving geeks. I grew up in Portland and Videoport was always the coolest store around. My mother put me on her card but as soon as I turned 18 I got my own. Becoming a member at Videoport was a rite of passage and, naturally, the first thing I rented was an 18+ anime. I never finished watching it, but it seemed so scandalous at the time for me to rent it. This sort of thing was possible here. The vast selection that the store has always had makes it possible for you to rent obscure experimental films along with the latest popcorn action flick. It’s also a community gathering place. People meet here, couples fight, and old friends run into each other. Once, I was a witness to a marriage at the store and I’ve watched children grow up to get their own cards. Thanks for all of this goes to Bill, the best boss you could ever ask for. Generous and supportive, Bill is just as awesome as you could imagine the owner of Videoport to be. His dedication to the store, his employees, and to his community is unparalleled. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I will miss you.

New Releases this week at Videoport (because Videoport will keep bringing you the best movies right up ‘til the end): Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 (Well, not always the best movies, but we give you movies, anyway. Kevin James returns to fall down in a manner some people find amusing as the world’s best mall security officer heads on a Vegas vacation only to get stuck fighting terrorists—in a mall! What are the chances?!), It Follows (Now this is more like it. One of the best and best-reviewed horror movies in years, this indie from the director of The Myth Of The American Sleepover takes the idea of horny teenagers being pursued by an unstoppable monster to some genuinely terrifying and unique places. Artsy and terrifying, just rent it if you’re in the mood to wet yourself just a little bit), The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (Everyone’s aunt’s favorite movie gets a sequel, as Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Bill NIghy, and Dev Patel continue to enjoy late-in-life love at the hotel of their dreams. This time, Richard Gere shows up to fill a vacancy, causing heart to go all aflutter), Ex Machina (If It Follows is the great, artsy horror flick of the week, then this is the great, artsy sci-fi flick of the week. In it, young researcher Domhnall Gleeson is brought in by eccentric scientist Oscar Isaac to test out his new artificial intelligence program, which is housed in a disturbingly sexy female robot body. Things do not go well.), Clouds Of Sils Maria (A legendary actress [the always-stunning Juliette Binoche] finds herself forced to confront her life and career when she agrees to take a role in a revival of the play that once launched her career alongside young actresses Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz), The Longest Ride (Another Nicholas Sparks adaptation about possibly doomed but probably not young lovers. This time, he’s a rodeo rider guy, and she’s very pretty, but in a circumstance that means they can never be together—or can they? Luckily, crusty old Alan Alda is on hand to offer sage love advice based on his own sweetly tragic love story)

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Published in: on July 15, 2015 at 11:59 am  Comments (11)  
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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 #512

Volume DXII—The Creaky Old House On The Edge Of Town With The Terrifying History That Nonetheless Is The Number One Destination For Horny Teens Looking For A Place To Make Out

             For the Week of 6/9/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. We have done for 27 years. You’re-freaking-welcome.

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!

>>> Former Videoporter (and director of Nyarlathotep and An Imperfect Solution in Videoport’s horror section) Christian suggests Predator 2 (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). When Arnie’s not available who is next on speed dial? Danny Glover of course! My god, just imagine if every Arnie film had a Danny sequel. Twins Too with Danny and Danny! But back to Predator 2: this film is a monumental failure on so many levels, and yet it is quite possibly the most creative action sequel of that era. It changes damn near everything that made the original so iconic. But one thing it didn’t change was the pairing of FX wizard Stan Winston with gone-too-soon character actor Kevin Peter Hall. There have been a few attempts at Predators since, but they all lack these two vital ingredients. Now what these guys were given with this script was a real gift: a fresh take on the character where instead of bigger and badder than the original (the standard approach) instead this hunter is less experienced and more reliant on his gadgets than the first. This subtle difference is the highlight of the film as Kevin really brings the character to life as he panics. Bill Paxton hams it up, we get some insanely bad Rastafarian caricatures, and a nifty nod in the Predator’s trophy case to Fox’s other big alien franchise. Give it a try!

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 Bigger Than Life (in the Criterion Collection section). From Nicholas Ray (Rebel Without A Cause), this intense drama is one of James Mason’s most unsung performances. In it, he’s a dad, husband, and professional who goes to a shrink to deal with his anxiety and, prescribed the new wonder drug cortisone, goes quietly psycho. For 1956, it’s shockingly dark and complex, with Mason never better, portraying his character’s descent into menacing craziness with genuinely upsetting depth. Look, not everything can be all nice and sweet and full of Helen Mirrens.

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 Wet Hot American Summer (in Comedy). I keep running into people who haven’t seen this movie, which just proves how much I think everyone has the same taste I do. But since I keep hearing evidence that some of you are depriving yourselves of joy, here’s a recommendation—watch this movie. From some of the people behind the cult, insanely-influential sketch comedy series The State (available and recommended in the Incredibly Strange Section), this movie—marginally a satire of 80’s summer camp movies (so, Meatballs, essentially)—is just an excuse for people like Michael Showalter, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bradley Cooper, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, David Hyde Pierce, Janeane Garofalo, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, and Chris Meloni to do their thing. And their thing is gloriously weird and hilarious riffing on the teen/summer camp movie clichés and/or just screwing around, using the whole plot as a clothesline for relentless comedy greatness. Seriously, this os one of the funniest movies in the last decade (I can’t imagine hanging out with someone who watched it and said, “I don’t get it”). There’s a prequel TV series coming out this summer on an internet concern whose name we do not say at Videoport, but I guarantee it’ll be worth watching too—when it comes to DVD.

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

>>> Videoport customer Kevin H. suggests Like Sunday, Like Rain (in Feature Drama). “Like Sunday, Like Rain” is the kind of quiet little movie that, for me, is always such a joy to discover at Videoport. Eleanor, played by Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl), is a young 20-ish woman trying to make a go of life in New York, and largely failing at it. She is out of a relationship, out of an apartment, and out of a job. Meester conveys the sense of someone who, in the face of one indignity or setback too many, is ready to fold. She is given a chance, however, on a slim lead obtaining work as a nanny. That chance leads to a temporary placement tending to precocious 12 year old Reggie, who seems to mostly care to himself with minimal assistance from the household staff, and very little from his mostly absent wealthy parents. His typical 12 year old hobbies include composing for the cello, becoming widely read, and vegetarian cooking. In some ways, he’s worldly and self-assured, whereas Eleanor is aimless and timid. Both are lonely in their own way, of course. These characters are familiar from other movies: a friendship develops between two oddballs who have no reason whatsoever to ever cross paths. Director Frank Whaley treats them as genuine people, though. There are no great adventures or zany plots here: the two of them talk and wander New York and slowly draw the other out. There is a bit of drama resulting in an unexpected road trip, but most of what happens is that they start to see and accept the other person as a friend, someone who has value simply for who they are and who isn’t just around because they are an employee or ward. The best moments of the movie are very gentle and sweet-natured and fundamentally hopeful about people, and I unabashedly sometimes want to see a movie like that. (Also co-starring Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.)

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 Victory (in Feature Drama.) Because, with the Women’s World Cup going on, this movie is ridiculous and wonderful! And ridiculous! Directed by the legendary John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, Under The Volcano, about 25 more great movies), this one must have been the result of a lost bet, or a drinking binge, or both. Sylvester Stallone’s an American WWII POW who becomes the goalie of an all POW soccer team roped into playing the Nazi all stars! Michael Caine is the coach/player! Pele is in there! They’re all trying to engineer a massive prisoner escape in the midst of the big game! There some great soccer action (Pele has an amazing bicycle kick I rewound about 20 times when I was a kid), and some ludicrously rousing heroics It’s silly and amazing!

MV5BMTkxMjgwMDM4Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTk3NTIwNDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests North Dallas Forty (in Feature Drama). With all of the heightened awareness of the hideous brain trauma suffered by professional footballers, this 1979 football movie seems especially prescient (also funny, exciting, and dramatic.) The-Duff-iPhone-6Written by former NFL-er Peter Gent, the most wrenching scene comes from then-current NFL-er John Matuszak, who, confronted with yet another instance of the coaches telling him to do what’s best for the team (at the expense of his health), explodes, “Every time I say it’s a game, you tell me it’s a business. Every time I say it’s a business, you tell me it’s a game.” Knowing that the formidable Matuszak (also Sloth in The Goonies, and a funny caveman in Ringo Starr’s Caveman) would end up addicted to painkillers and eventually die of a drug overdose makes the moment that much more powerful. Plus, you know, this is a really good football movie.

7750_poster_iphoneNew Releases this week at Videoport: Kingsman: Secret Service (Colin Firth stars as perhaps the least likely action hero ever in this over-the-top action extravaganza about the titular super-secret British government agency as they Red-Army-onesheetrecruit a young street tough into their ranks. Based on the comics series by Mark Millar, this one is all about giving you non-stop, silly mega violence! You’re welcome!), The Duff (The undeniably cool Mae Whitman [Arrested Development—her?)] stars as a normal-looking high school senior who discovers that she’s been designated her more popular, boringly pretty friends perpetual sidekick), Serena (Jennifer Lawrence and Silver Linings Playbook co-star Bradley Cooper reteam for this Depression-era drama/romance about a lumber baron’s love for a poor gal), Red Army (Remember Miracle? And that US Olympic hockey team that inspired Miracle? Well, there was another Project-Almanac-posterteam involved, and this documentary examines the game and its outcome from the perspective of the defeated-for-all-eternity Russian team), Project Almanac (In this sci-fi thriller, a bunch of pretty teens discover the secret of time travel. What could possibly go wrong? [A lot. A lot goes really, really wrong.]), Amy 600full-li'l-quinquin-posterSchumer: Mostly Sex Stuff (Standup special from naughty-eyed and very funny comic Schumer. Keep pestering us and we’ll get her very good sketch comedy show Inside Amy Schumer, too), Li’l Quinquin (In this French, Twin Peaks-style miniseries, human remains are found stuffed inside a cow in MV5BODQ3Mzc3NzUwNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMDMxNDQyNDE@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_AL_a small village. From Bruno Dumont, director of the genuinely unnerving and offputting movies Flanders, Humanite, and Camille Claudel 1915), Alive Inside (In this documentary, researchers present the case that music is the key to reaching people otherwise completely cut off by the total dick of a disease called Alzheimer’s), Appropriate Behavior (From writer/director/star Desiree Akhavan comes this great-looking indie about a young woman trying to make her way as a hip, bisexual, Persian woman in Brooklyn), Cinema Holdup (In this acclaimed appropriate-behavior-posterdebut film from director Iria Gomez Concheiro, a group of Mexico City teens knock over the local movie house, only to discover that their crime leads to unexpected consequences), These Final Hours (The world is ending, and a shiftless dude who wants nothing more than to get hammered at a “the world is ending” rager finds lg_cinemaholdupjpghimself reluctantly taking care of a young woman he rescues from a gang of “the world is ending” rapists in this indie “the world is ending” drama), Spring (Really great-lookin’ indie horror romance stars Lou Taylor Pucci [Thumbsucker] as an American backpacker in Italy who falls for a mysterious young woman [Nadia Hilker], who harbors a truly unexpected and terrifying secret. From the directors of the very interesting indie horror movie Resolution), 5 Centimeters Per Second (A young man’s life is the subject of the three vignettes in this gorgeous anime from the director of Garden Of Words. Someone on the DVD box compares him to Miyazaki, which 6Q8Zlj3is a bold claim…), Willow Creek (Look, you might not take someone named Bobcat seriously, but standup comic-turned-director Bobcat Goldthwait is the real deal. [See his Sleeping Dogs Lie, God Bless America, Shakes The Clown, and World’s Greatest Dad Spring-movie-horrorfilmfor proof.] In his newest movie, he goes scary, with a very Blair Witch-y first-person horror flick about a couple heading off into the woods in search of Bigfoot. It’s another good one from the Bobcat), Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus (I don’t know why Spike Lee thought it was a good idea to remake the cult 70s horror movie Ganja And Hess [available in Videoport’s horror section, of course], but I wholeheartedly approve. In this one, a buttoned-down professor finds himself hungering for human blood after coming into contact with an African artifact), Magician: The Astonishing Life And Work Of Orson Welles (Orson Welles had a life that was insanely adventurous enough5-centimeters-per-second-5216194f89e64 to fill up seven documentaries, but we’ll have to make due with this one, as it traces the Citizen Kane creator from his life as a child prodigy to he decades of post-Kane frustration where his cinematic genius willow-creek-dvd-cover-96was thwarted again and again by the people with the money and no taste), My Life Directed By Nicholas Winding Refn (Fascinating behind-the-scenes documentary examines the directing style and life of Drive and Pusher director Refn as he works to complete his indifferently-received Only God Forgives), The Taking Of Tiger Mountain (From legendary Chinese director Tsui Hark [Once Upon A Time In China] comes this bonkers historical action flick about a group of soldiers during the Chinese revolution battling a bandit gang on a mountain full of freaking tigers! Tigers!)

 

New Arrivals At Videoport: White Psalms (We don’t know what this is! A MECA student asked us to stock his Welles-Magician-purple-poster-LORESmy-life-directed-poster-460x680movie and we did! It has a very disturbing and striking booklet of photographs that come with it!), State Of Siege (From legendary political director Costa-Gavras [Z, Missing] comes this typically scathing thriller about an American official kidnapped by rebels in Uruguay. Oh, and the official is secretly working for the CIA trying to undermine the legally elected Uruguayan government, which is something that the US government totally did and Costa-Gavras was having none of. Look for it in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section)

 

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 the-taking-of-tiger-mountain-posterreally—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 9, 2015 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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