VideoReport #413

Volume CDXIII- Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery Of Why The Aliens’ Ships In Independence Day Were Mac-Compatible

For the Week of 7/16/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Who doesn’t want a free movie every day? No one—that’s who.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Sealab 2021 (in Animation.) Now that everyone loves Archer (which they most definitely should), I suggest going back in time to check out creator Adam Reed’s earlier series, an even more bananas cartoon which repurposes a terminally bland 1972 series about the stalwart scientists protecting the oceans from their undersea base. In Reed’s hands, those brave oceanographers are transformed into a gaggle of sex-crazed, sociopathic, and downright dumb loonies who turn their sub-sea base into a den of sin, dada-ist humor, and all-out psychotic weirdness. (See the similar Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law for another very funny example of insane cultural repurposing.) Of course, the whole enterprise is basically an excuse for Reed and his talented voice cast to riff loopily on anything they feel like. What’s the most representatively insane example? The fact that Sealab’s pod 6 (“pod 6 are jerks!”) explodes almost every episode? Or that Sealab itself implodes nearly every third? Or that at least one of the crew seems to be some sort of world-dominating mastermind? Or the one where Sealab’s Captain Murphy (the estimable Harry Goz) spends the whole time trapped under a soda machine? Or the one that’s essentially one, episode-long riff on the phrase “un-oh”? Or the one where the crew is kidnapped by their alternative universe counterparts The Bizzarros? I’d choose that one because I nearly laughed myself into a coma, and because it nearly broke my brain. The perfect show—for certain people.

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

>>>Dennis suggests becoming Videoport’s resident expert on various things! The beauty of Videoport’s weekly special (3 movies for a week for 7 bucks) is the opportunity it affords the aspiring film geek to delve deep into the filmographies of a myriad actors or directors. Want to know what the big deal about Humphrey Bogart is? I’d say take home The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, and In A Lonely Place. Or Bette Davis? Howsabout All About Eve, Now Voyager, and The Petrified Forest? Underrated action director Walter Hill (director of this week’s Bullet To The Head)? I’d suggest The Warriors, Southern Comfort, and The Long Riders. Or cult horror/weirdo director Don Coscarelli? Take home Phantasm, Bubba Ho-Tep, and John Dies At The End and sit with those for a week. Or if you want to become Portland’s foremost authority on Serbian wildman director Dusan Makevejev? If you dare, I’d steer you towards Sweet Movie, WR: Mysteries Of The Organism, and The Coca Cola Kid. Films based on the novels of cult mystery writer Jim Thompson? Look for After Dark My Sweet, The Killer Inside Me, and The Grifters. American maverick indie pioneer John Sayles? My call (out of many) is for Matewan, Eight Men Out, and Lone Star. I could go on, and I will in the future, but you get the point by now. Videoport’s got all the movies, and we make it unreasonably affordable to simply delve into the movies that you love and enjoy the unique rewards and pleasures movies have to offer.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Hannah And Her Sisters (in Comedy.) Oof, family is complicated. (But, um, this complicated? Really? … I guess if you’re Woody Allen, your family life just might be this complicated, OH SNAP. Let’s move on.) What a cast! At the opening of every scene, I found myself restraining a cry of “OH MY GOSH, that’s ___ ______!” Because OH MY GOSH, that’s Max von Sydow! And John Turturro! And Julia Louis-Dreyfuss! And Lewis Black! And Maureen O’Sullivan! And Richard Jenkins! And Julie Kavner! And Fred Melamed! And Daniel Stern! And Joanna Gleason! And Carrie Fisher! And Sam Waterston! It’s a great indication of Woody Allen’s pull and prestige, that in addition to a stable of his usuals like Mia Farrow and Eric Roberts, he could assemble such a remarkable cast of past, current, and future stars, some of whom appear for only a few lines. This is the stuff that great ensembles are made of, and great it is. Hannah’s husband muses “She gives me a very deep feeling of being part of something.” That sums up the film’s structure and explains its title: Hannah (Mia Farrow) and her sisters Lee (Barbara Hershey) and Holly (Dianne Wiest) act as a single pivot point around which various men whirl in a muddle of love, passion, angst, and life crises. Elliot (Michael Caine) believes he’s fallen in love with Lee; Lee’s older partner (Max von Sydow) is a reclusive artist who relies upon her for human contact; Hannah sets up her ex-neurotic husband Mickey (Woody Allen) a disastrous date with ditzy Holly; Mickey still circles around her extended family rather than forging new connections of his own. In an homage to Bergman’s Fanny & Alexander, he action plays out over two years, bookended by big, bustling holiday dinners (Christmas in F&A; Thanksgiving in HahS) where Hannah hosts her whole circle of family and friends, allowing us to see these shifting, swinging dynamics as part of a larger whole. The convoluted liaisons within the film are complicated by our awareness of Allen & Farrow’s own family history, but despite the perhaps-unrealistically scandalous details, Hannah and her Sisters examines in depth their love and confidences and rivalries, revealing sisterly relationships as they are rarely seen on the big screen.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Orphan Black- season 1 (in Mystery/Thriller.) Here’s the thing_I’m not gonna tell you a whole lot about this show, a Canadian import about, well, that’s the thing. I went into this show not knowing what was going on and I was the better for it, and since only the worst people in the world thoughtlessly blurt out details of a show or movie, thus ruining it for everyone within earshot, I’m gonna remain cagey about the show. I will say that lead actress Tatiana Maslany (Picture Day) should become much, much more famous come Emmy time, and that the show is reliably surprising throughout its first season. There’s drama, action, suspense, aaaand a bunch of stuff I can’t tell you about. I will say that it’s a good show, and that Maslany is gonna be a big star because of it. That I can tell you.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer says, name that Disney movie!

1. Abandoned at birth, you’re raised by a fiercely dedicated adoptive mother who always treats with with the same love and affection she shows her biological children, and who prepares you for both the rigors and joys of life. At the first sign of danger, you cast off your adoptive family forever without hesitation. You spend the next few days and weeks hanging around with various older bachelors, two of whom looooooove jazz. Eventually, you forget about them, too. You fall for the first girl you see and follow her home.

2. Born to privilege and power, you spend your happy childhood accumulating a rich collection of exotic artifacts. When an interloper from an alien culture injures himself in your territory, you spirit him to safety. In his absence, you become obsessed with him, finally persuading a shady sorceress to perform an extreme body-mod on you so you can pass unnoticed among his people. You forsake your family and your people to pursue a man to whom you’ve never even spoken.

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

>>>For Saturday, Regan suggests Maitresse (in the Criterion Collection.) I started this movie at Mother’s house while she was making a strawberry/rhubarb pie, and she walked in while a man was fellating a stiletto. And my Mom was all, “Gross!”, and then a man was peed on and I thought…perhaps I’ll watch this on my own. Gerard Depardieu, back when he was all hunky, falls in love with a dominatrix (Bulle Ogier—what a cool name) and finds it difficult to deal with her dick-hammering lifestyle. But daaaaaamn—she looks good doing it. I enjoyed every moment of this movie. But fair warning…Gerard eats some horse meat and you get to see exactly where it comes from. Bon appetite! PS: My mom let me put pie dough dicks and boobs on her pie. She’s the best!

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer asks you to play This Movie Or That Movie?

The Sitter stars Jonah Hill as a delinquent college student reluctantly babysitting the neighbors’ kids with little preparation; hijinks ensue. The Babysitter stars Alicia Silverstone as the precociously attractive girl who minds the neighbors’ kids while their skeevy older dads fantasize about her; skeevings ensue. Lars and the Real Girl stars Ryan Gosling as an introverted young man who begins an affectionate but chaste romance with an elaborate sex doll. All the Real Girls stars Paul Schneider as a young womanizer suddenly gripped by the desire to chance his ways, to the derision and disbelief of his friends. Angels & Insects depicts the Victorian romance between a penniless naturalist recently returned from a shipwreck and a young woman of titled birth whose most recent suitor died by his own hand, and much of the action focuses on the movements of ants. Angels & Demons follows up The DaVinci Code by portraying the actions of a shadowy cabal, and much of the action focuses on the movements of anti-matter.

New Releases this week at Videoport: 42 (while this baseball biopic about Jackie Robinson’s struggles as the first black player in modern baseball might suffer from a bit of flattened-out bio-pic-itis, Jackie Robinson is my hero and he should be yours, and Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford are very good in this), Evil Dead (sure it doesn’t have Sam Raimi or cult hero Bruce Campbell involved except in a “we’re gonna sign off on this and collect some serious residuals” way, but this remake of the still-shocking horror classic is still, by all reports, insanely violent and scary; rent it…IF YOU DARE!!!), Orphan Black- season 1 (here’s a name you should memorize come Emmy season—Tatiana Maslany; here’s something you should do right now—rent this very solid and surprising Canadian sci fi drama starring Tatiana Maslany), Erased (Aaron Eckhart stars as a suddenly disavowed CIA operative on the run with his teenage daughter in this thriller), Damages- season 5 (Glenn Close is back as the imperious head of a very, very morally conflicted law film), Hell On Wheels- season 2 (this AMC period series continues to follow the dusty adventures of the people involved in the construction of America’s first intercontinental railroad), Misfits- season 3 (the continuing, disreputable adventures of a group of British juvenile delinquents who’ve, rather inadvisedly, been given superpowers; check Videoport’s British Comedy section), The Fruit Hunters (attention foodies! Bill Pullman narrates this documentary about humanity’s long and delicious history with fruits of all kinds), London: The Modern Babylon (director Julien Temple [Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten] helms this documentary about the long and delicious history of immigrants and bohemians in London), Inescapable (Deep Space Nine’s Alexander Siddig stars in this thriller about a former Syrian government operative forced to return from his new home in Canada when the daughter he’d abandoned goes missing; costarring Fringe’s Joshua Jackson), Lucky (from the people at Film Movement luckycomes this heartwarmer about a 10 year old South African orphan take in by a crusty-yet-softhearted Indian woman; rent it and let your heart he warmed all up!), Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special (are Seth Green and company gonna make a whole lotta jokes at the expense of Aquaman? You know it!), Combat Girls (sort of a girl-centric German American History X, this German film’s about a pair of teenage girls drawn into the neo-Nazi movement), Bullet To The Head (Sylvester Stallone keeps trotting his HGH-ed, sexagenarian bod out there, this time as a world-weary New Orleans hitman who teams up with an Asian cop

It might actually get old...

It might actually get old…

when his last job goes bad; it’s directed by venerable action master Walter Hill [The Warriors] though, so that’s something…),

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: The Scapegoat (Alec Guiness does one of his multiple-roles gigs in this 1959 drama about a mild-mannered guy who has his identity stolen by an identical, and very unscrupulous, aristocrat; Bette Davis is in there, too), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Enter Shredder (those kooky turtles; they still like kickin’…)

New Arrivals On Blu Ray This Week At Videoport: Spring Breakers, Admission, Dead Man Down, The Host, 42, Bullet To The Head, Evil Dead.

Get yourself some free money at Videoport! As if you needed another reason to rent here, Videoport has these deals which just plain give you free money. Check it out: pay 20 bucks up front on your rental account, and we turn that into 25 dollars worth of rental credit. Do the same thing but with 30 dollars, and we give you 40 dollars worth of store credit. That’s either five or ten free bucks, which you were going to spend here anyway eventually. So why wouldn’t you go for this deal? Um–you hate deals maybe? I’m not your psychiatrist…

Write for The VideoReport! The VideoReport (the thing you are reading right now) is the weekly newsletter of Videoport, the best, damned movie store left in the free world. It’s the place for the staff and customers of Videoport to share their reviews, views, and, um, shoes? screws? on their favorite, least favorite, and most reviled films and TV shows of all time. So if you want in on the action, send your reviews to us at, our Facebook page Videoport Jones, or just drop them off here at the store. We all love the movies, we all love to shoot our mouths off about what we love and don’t love about them, and the VideoReport is the place to bond with the rest of us film geeks and support, as I said, the best damned movie store left on the planet.

VideoReport #376

Volume CCCLXXVI- The Votening

For the Week of 10/30/12

Write in Corey Haim, if you want to…just vote.

Videoport says it only takes a few minutes to vote, and we’re open for 13 hours a day. So go and vote- we’ll be here.

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

>>> Dennis suggests using the 3 movies for a week for 7 bucks deal to load up with these solid political-type thrillers, just in time for election day! The Contender (in Mystery Thriller) has a great performance by the always-dignified Joan Allen who, as a potential vice presidential nominee is subjected to some especially undignified smear campaigning from, among others, Gary Oldman’s slimily-evil Republican creep. Bonus points for the idea of Jeff Bridges as the president, loss of points for a particularly silly plot twist. City Hall (in Drama) is an overlooked political drama where NYC mayor Al Pacino bombastically rules his city with charisma, political connections, and perhaps some shady dealings while his right hand man John Cusack (in one of his best overlooked roles) tries to maintain his belief in hizzoner’s honor. A stunning Pacino scene at the funeral of a child. ‘Parks and Recreation’- season 4 is a great series that just keeps getting better, with Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope, an idealistic bureaucrat in the small town of Pawnee, Indiana, representing all that’s good (and more than a little silly) in the American character. In season 4, Leslie’s lifelong dream of running for office becomes a reality as she runs for city council against the peerlessly clueless rich offspring of the town’s richest family (Paul Rudd has never been better). Leslie’s journey is hilarious, and incredibly insightful about the political process, without ever becoming preachy, and the debate episode is simply one of the funniest (and ultimately most moving) half hours of TV you’ll see this year. Silver City (in Drama) follows the stumbling-upwards political campaign of the wealthy son of a powerful family (the great Chris Cooper) as he, aided immeasurably by the political operatives hired by his family to prevent the discovery that he is a dimwit, ascends toward the presidency. From director John Sayles [see Matewan], any similarities between the lead character and George W. Bush are entirely intentional.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Manchurian Candidate (in Classics.) Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey) should be on top of the world. He’s returned from the war in Korea, where his platoon was taken prisoner. Based on grateful testimony from his fellow soldiers and Captain Bennett Marco (Frank Sinatra), Raymond was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism in battle. He’s the scion of a privileged family; his stepfather is a prominent senator and his mother, the epitome of steely elegance, is the woman behind the man. His friendship with the girl next door is blossoming promisingly, and even his mother approves. As his fellow soldiers keep saying, “Raymond Shaw is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.” So why is Ray so confused and downcast? In director John Frankenheimer’s The Manchurian Candidate, nothing is quite as it seems. Senator Iselin (James Gregory) is an anti-Communist zealot, a buffoon who’s roundly mocked in Washington. Eleanor Iselin, Ray’s chilly and distant mother, is a single-minded political advisor, controlling and commanding her loudmouthed husband as his cool-headed in-house advisor. And Ray’s war buddies are starting to have nightmares… about him. Don’t let its crisp black-and-white cinematography fool you; The Manchurian Candidate is as fresh and chilling today as it was in 1962. In the opening scene, when Capt. Marco wakes up from a nightmare, you can almost feel the sweat as it drips from his brow; you can almost smell the stale reek of desperation permeating his apartment, piled with political-intrigue books and heaping ashtrays. This is one of Sinatra’s greatest roles and he delivers to the hilt. Marco is not just disturbed but disturbing; his agitation leaps across the screen to infect us, overcoming the audience’s natural resistance to his paranoid intensity and creating an uncomfortable empathy in us. The film furthers this unease by swinging potently between sweaty anxiety and cool dramatic irony, and by presenting us with jarring moments of disconnect where characters speak in seeming riddles. In one such scene, Capt. Marco meets a girl named Rosie (Janet Leigh) on the train, and the two carry on one of the oddest little conversations in movie history. Frankenheimer’s framing and the abbreviated narrative arcs keep us on our toes, guessing what twists and turns the next moment will hold even as we make sense of the moment we’re in.

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

>>>Dennis suggests Primary Colors(in Comedy.) This political dramedy should have just made me sad/annoyed. Based on Anonymous’ (aka Joe Klein)’s thinly-veiled satire on the first Clinton campaign, it also stars John Travolta whom I have come to avoid in all forms. The ads for the film almost ensured I wouldn’t see it; lots of fat jokes, womanizing jokes, and lots and lots of Travolta as Southern governor Jack Stanton, the donut-eating, broad-banging Democratic candidate for president. Yeah- sounds like a grim,

Seriously- it’s great.

shallow, mean-spirited parade of easy jokes. However, in the hands of comedy legends Mike Nichols (director) and Elaine May (screenwriter), and a cast including Emma Thompson, Kathy Bates, Billy Bob Thornton, Maura Tierney, Larry Hagman, Tony Shalhoub, and a remarkable young British actor named Adrian Lester, Primary Colors is, instead, one of the savviest, funniest, and most insightful films about the American political process I’ve ever seen. As little use as I have for Travolta, his performance here is astonishingly effective, his Jack Stanton, a populist underdog with bottomless charisma and unfathomably low impulse control, as complex and intelligent as the actual man he’s oh-so-loosely based on. The whole film hinges on Travolta’s ability to convey the near-sociopathic combination of idealism, manipulation, media-savvy, and ruthlessness that’s been the dispiritingly necessary cocktail for every triumphant presidential candidate since the invention of television, and dammit if he doesn’t knock it out of the park. It’s an Oscar-worthy performance, and it’s matched by at least three other members of the ensemble. As Susan Stanton, Jack’s ambitious, long-suffering would-be first lady, Emma Thompson (clearly the best actor in the film) is characteristically brilliant, bringing a credible American accent and some nimble willful-ignorance to her role. Susan and Jack, in love with politics and ambition as much as with each other, have fashioned themselves into a White House-seeking power couple, both employing selective blindness to the faults in their relationship as they pursue their shared goal. Kathy Bates just destroys every scene as the Stanton’s longtime friend and political operative, the enduringly-idealistic and unstable Libby Holden, whose return to the Stanton fold (in order to sweep some of Jack’s most recent indiscretions under the rug), points up the inherent contradictions in the political process, and Bates’ ability to play heartbreak. And Lester, like Thompson another Brit playing flawless American, is the perfect center for the film; as the young idealistic advisor, charmed into joining the Stanton campaign by Jack, Lester’s our representative. It’s through his hopeful (but not naive) eyes that we view the machinations of the political system and its too-often distasteful and soul-crushing realities, and his journey becomes ours. Not giving anything away, but his last, silent scene (the last scene in the movie) says more about politics than any amount of well-meaning speechifying. If you’re counting, that’s four Oscar-worthy supporting performances (it really is an ensemble). And if you want to throw in Billy Bob’s turn as a conspicuously James Carville-esque campaign manager, and/or Hagman’s role as a late-comer Stanton challenger with secrets, I wouldn’t argue at all. Sure, we’re all f***ing exhausted by the petty nonsense, bigot-baiting, and outright lowest denominator pandering of this election season (screw you, Republican Party, by the way), but Primary Colors offers a shockingly complex and moving take exactly why that is.

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

>>>Dennis suggests Matewan(in Drama.) Presented in this election season without further comment. In this superlative historical drama from maverick American independent auteur John Sayles about a coal miner’s strike in 1920’s West Virginia, national labor organizer Joe Kenehan (an early role from the ever-brilliant Chris Cooper) is addressing the beleaguered striking miners of the local union. After they’ve

This is the scene.

insulted Few Clothes (leader of the unintentional scab negro workers brought in to replace them, played by the obviously-awesome James Earl Jones), Kenehan slaps his union brethren down: “You think this man is the enemy? Huh? This is a worker! Any union keeps this man out ain’t a union, it’s a goddam club! They got you fightin’ white against colored, native against foreign, hollow against hollow, when you know there ain’t but two sides in this world – them that work and them that don’t. You work, they don’t. That’s all you get to know about the enemy.” Again, presented without comment- except to say vote. Just vote.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Schoolhouse Rock. There’s a whole disc just called Election Rock! Your kid will know how a bill becomes a law!

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Bulworth (in Comedy.) In the “brass balls as big as pumpkins” category, you’ve got to give it up to writer/director/star Warren Beatty for his decision to dress in a track suit and rap in this 1998 political satire. Wait- don’t run away! As longtime senator J. Billington Bulworth, Beatty is, at the start, a portrait of the middle of the road, accomplish nothing career politico; deeply entrenched, reliant on big money contributors, and almost entirely focused on remaining elected at all costs. And it’s killing him. Literally. As the movie begins, Bulworth, driven to despair by what he’s become, has a gun in his mouth. Unable to pull the trigger, he instead hires a hitman to take him out before election day. Thus freed from responsibility, Bulworth embarks on an increasingly bizarre series of campaign appearances, peppering his blandly inoffensive stump speeches with profanely honest appraisals of what is actually wrong with America and politicians’ sound-bite-friendly glibness. Meeting up with a young, radical black woman (Halle Berry is actually good), and some even more radical African American gang members (led by the ever-brilliant Don Cheadle), recklessly-truthful Bulworth starts, yes, incorporating a stream of consciousness rap flow into his speeches, culminating in a TV talk show appearance which is one of the most breathtakingly audacious scenes I’ve ever seen. As much as I love a lot of his movies (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Parallax View, Heaven Can Wait, Shampoo), I’ve never been the biggest fan of Beatty as an actor. As accomplished as he is as an actor and director I’ve always kept a certain distance, and the concept of this millionaire white guy megastar rapping for satirical purposes sounds just ghastly, but look at the scene where Bulworth, decked out in street gear, hijacks a live TV appearance, his caustically sensible singsong delivery of the unsaid truths of the election season making the talking head host more and more unsettled. It’s truly mesmerizing, and Beatty’s finest onscreen moment. Cynical, idealistic, and, yes, ballsy, Bulworth is one of the best political satires ever.

>>>For Sunday, Former Videoporter Stockman says- In honor of the season I offer you this triple feature to take a break from the stronger spirits of Halloween you are no doubt imbibing. Well, a break for you, Joe T. Average Renter, who I assume can handle a traditional horror story…unlike yours truly. I get scared when people describe the plot of a scary movie, let alone if I ever actually watch one. So, if you’d like something seasonal, but need a break from wetting yourself in terror I present: the three most ridiculous examples of things that have scared me! In order from least to most ridiculous. My fear of Monster Squad gets the least ridiculous spot solely because I was still young. Monster Squadis obviously not scary any longer. It really should never have been scary. It is not a scary movie, it’s ridiculous. At the time though it was my first PG-13 movie and I think I was like 6 or 7. And I was terrified. And confused because I had no idea what a “virgin” was. It just seemed like a really important made up word.  For my second selection, know this, in general I try to avoid shows with even the vaguest undertones of spookiness. Some shows are impossible to

Shawn and Gus. They are awesome.

resist despite this. Psych is just such a show, I adore the chemistry and banter between Shawn and Gus far too much to refrain from it. I just don’t watch any episodes before bed since most episodes are all murdery, but I should have probably not watched “Tuesday the17th” from Season 3 at all. I thought I would be safe watching this with my cousin to help protect my fragile psyche! I should know better. I spent well over two weeks sleeping with the light on and begging people to sleep over so I wouldn’t be alone. I still can’t think about it without getting the heebee jeebies. Last and the absolutely least scary thing to ever scare me, Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror episodes! So many to choose from. I’m not even giving myself credit for the fact that they only scared me specifically around Halloween and only when I was a teenager constantly left alone in an old house in the creepy-quaint-village-waiting-for-a-serial-killer-and/or-zumba-prostitute of Kennebunkport. No, there is no excuse for being terrified of the Simpsons. I think my personal favorite is definitely Treehouse of Horror III. It’s not a decision I make lightly! But, my love of “Dad, we did something very bad!”, “Did you wreck the car?”, “No”, “Did you raise the dead?”, “Yes”, “But the car’s okay?”, “Uh-huh”, “All right then.” Is a force to be reckoned with!

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Campaign (if there’s a surer-fire pitch for a comedy, “Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis running against each other in a political campaign” then I don’t know it; it’s pretty funny…), ‘Copper’- season 1 (a play-by-his-own-rules cop (-per) in filthy, turn of the century New York, um, plays by his own rules in this BBC America series), ‘Metalocalypse’- season 4 (the dunderheaded, head-banging adventures of the world’s most popular, violence-inducing metal band continues in this bats*it-insane animated comedy series from the guy who created the still-excellent [and significantly less violent] series click for review!Home Movies), Safety Not Guaranteed (indie goodness about an investigative team who investigates the personal ad of a guy [‘The League’’s Mark Duplass] looking for a companion to travel back in time with him; costarring ‘Parks and Recreation’’s Aubrey Plaza), First Position (harrowing, sometimes inspirational documentary about aspiring ballet dancer types), Ruby Sparks (an aspiring writer [Paul Dano] is understandably nonplussed when he finds his newest creation, the titular manic pixie dream girl, sitting on his couch one day when he gets home), Reef 2: High Tide (deep breath…if a crappy-looking Finding Nemo animated knockoff featuring vocal performances by the likes of Rob Schneider, Andy Dick, Jamie Kennedy, and a Jonas Brother sounds great to you then, well, we love you anyway), Elena (from the Russian director of The Return comes this acclaimed thriller about a mundanely married housewife who hatches a darkly-intricate plan when she discovers she’s been cut out of her wealthy husband’s will), Polisse (sort of a serio-comic French SVU, this foreign language dramedy follows the dedicated men and women of the Parisian child protective squad), The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (oddly touching documentary about the years-long journey of former Throbbing Gristle frontman Genesis P-Orridge and dominatrix/performance artist Lady Jaye as they attempt to transform themselves into exact replicas of each other), Bindlestiffs (dark indie comedy about three high school guys who, unjustly suspended, set out on a quest to act out The Catcher in the Rye), The Girl From The Naked Eye (a driver for an escort service [Jason Yee] goes on one of those roaring rampages of revenge when his friend, a young prostitute, is murdered), Secret of the Wings (it’s a Tinkerbell movie! You know- for kids!), ‘Lost Girl’- season 1 (supernatural action series about a sexy succubus who rebels against her society’s rigid rules and tries to help the helpless and find love, without draining everyone she meets of their life energy), Becoming Chaz (documentary about the journey of Sonny and Cher’s daughter Chastity as she becomes her own man), ‘Upstairs Downstairs’- season 2 (the 2010 update of the classic British series continues! Calling all Downton Abbey fans!), ‘Star Wars Clone Wars’- season 4 (the animated adventures of the Star Wars prequels continue to be better than the actual movies themselves)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: House of Dark Shadows (just in time to cash in on the middling Johnny Depp/Tim Burton cash-in comes this reissue of the TV movie based on the long-running, Maine-set, not very good vampire soap opera), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (finally a DVD release for this 1962 version of the Eugene O’Neill play starring Katherine Hepburn, Jason Robards, and Dean Stockwell), In Love and War (can you picture Chris O’Donnell as the young Ernest Hemingway? Well someone could, and this WWI romance between Hemingway and nurse Sandra Bullock exists because of that), Fear and Desire (Stanley Kubrick’s long-lost first film has been restored, and Videoport brings this poetic war movie to you! PS- Kubrick hated his own film and urged you not to see it, but you’re not gonna be bossed around by a dead guy are you?)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Erin Brockovich, Secret of the Wings, The Campaign, Night Watch, In Bruges, and every single James Bond movie ever!

VideoReport #325

Volume CCCXXV- Paul Blart: Bad Lieutenant

For the Week of 11/8/11

Videoport reminds you that, for each movie you buy from us (instead of some heartless online corporation), you get a free rental for yourself (plus we don’t charge you shipping.) This message has been brought to you from the “holy crap, they’ve started playing Christmas music in malls already” department.

Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests Red Eye (in Mystery/ Thriller.) To describe a movie as competent, solid, and efficient sounds like damning with faint praise, but to its credit, Red Eye is all these things. Even better, it’s relatable. We’ve all been where Lisa (Rachel McAdams) starts out: her flight is delayed, she’s tired and sad, and she just wants to get home without any incident. But this is a movie, so you know darn well she’s not gonna. This is more than just a bumpy flight. Through no fault of her own, Lisa becomes a pawn in a grand plot, all orchestrated from right there on the plane. And it’s not just Lisa who’s relatable; the plot is exactly big enough to be believed without stretching credulity, and the film itself gives us just as much action as the plot requires without too much overblown splashiness. Veteran director Wes Craven understands the tropes of thrillers and action flicks impossibly well, and in Red Eye he doles them out perfectly, beat for beat, for our (and, I’m sure, his own) entertainment. But this isn’t a winking self-referential self-satire like Craven’s 1996 Scream. The narrative of Red Eyeisn’t self-aware, just

McAdams in 'Slings & Arrows.' Which you should really watch.

clean and clever. Lisa isn’t genre-savvy, she’s just plain savvy. I like that about her: she’s not a hero, risking all for glory and taking crazy chances, but she’s not a victim, either. She feels very real to me, partly thanks to the luminous McAdams’ grounded and sensitive acting, and partly because the plot never pushes her beyond believability. (You’ll remember McAdams from Sherlock Holmes, Mean Girls, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and that Canadian series “Slings & Arrows” that Dennis and I keep hounding you to watch. Seriously, y’all, watch “Slings & Arrows.” The End.) Cillian Murphy (Inception, Sunshine, the Batman franchise) delivers a measured balance, too, first laying on a nicely credible amount of easy charm, then shifting into charmless uneasiness without tipping too far too fast. You get to see what makes these people tick without ever having it pounded into the story; Red Eye knows to show, not tell. Indeed, every small part in this small movie is cast thoughtfully and performed admirably, fleshing out the stock characters that populate the film. And when I say “stock characters,” for once I am saying it with appreciation. Each background character gets filled in for us with the quick shorthand of movie vocabulary, which is exactly as much character development as we need; the weight of Red Eye rests on McAdams and Murphy, and everything else is pared down to the essentials. No one is pretending this is A Great Film, but it knows exactly what it is: a very satisfying action-suspense flick. It’s competent, solid, perfectly efficient, and very enjoyable. So there.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>>Dennis suggests Tekken(in Martial Arts), because why the hell not? Sure, we could get all hoity-toity

Don't worry, they're gonna start kicking each other soon.

here about movies based on video games just because they’re shameless corporate marketing wrapped in crap execution and drizzled with a steaming gravy of creative bankruptcy, but who wants to be that much of a bore. If you’re gonna go ahead and voluntarily watch a video game movie, reviewing it as if you’re above watching it in the first place makes you a complete douche. So I watched this on a couple of lunch breaks here at Videoport and while it’s perfunctory and pretty lame, it’s certainly not the worst video game-spawned cinematic atrocity I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen, well, a lot.) It’s better than, for example: Doom, DOA, Super Mario Brothers, Street Fighter, the other Street Fighter, Double Dragon, Mortal Kombat, the other Mortal Kombat, Wing Commander, and, obviously, any of the abominations from professional worst director in world history Uwe Boll (Alone in the Dark, the BloodRaynes, In the Name of the King, House of the Dead). And if it’s not quite as good as things like Hitman, the Resident Evils, Silent Hill, Max Payne, Prince of Persia, et all, it’s only because Tekken couldn’t lure any real actors slumming it for an addition on the country house (Tekken makes do with 80’s martial arts also-rans like Gary Daniels and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa.) For those of you who haven’t stayed up until four in the morning getting your digital arse kicked by expert Tekken-er The Guak (government name withheld) at his lair, Fort Awesome, here’s the gist: there’s a fighting tournament. You fight each other. Sure, there’s some backstory about a sinister organization running the thing and all, but it’s basically just arse-kicking. In the movie version, they waste some time setting up some sort of dystopian future deal, but they get to the kicking pretty smartly, with all the colorfully-ridiculous fighters whomping the crap out of each other at a moderately-entertaining clip (although the director feels it necessary to chop every fight up into approximately 7,000 little hyper pieces.) I dunno, what else do you want?

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental…OR…get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)

>>> Elsa S. Customer recommends brushing up on a great character actor on DVD!Hey, you guys, I watched regular old TV and guess what I learned? A. I like watching TV on DVD muuuuuuuch better;

Sisto, helpfully labeled.

with TV on DVD (from Videoport! WOOT!) I get to pick and choose among the best shows out there, skip all the ads, and shotgun three or four episodes in a row. B. Hey, you guys, hey, listen: there’s a new series where Jeremy Sisto is playing someone’s dad. A TEENAGED-someone’s dad. Hey, remember when Jeremy Sisto was the go-to bad-boy for indie films and edgy dramas alike? Let’s return to our youth, or at least Jeremy Sisto’s youth, or maybe just my youth: check out Jeremy Sisto in groundbreaking, award-winning dramedy “Six Feet Under” (in Drama), in excellent horror/character study May (in Horror), and in 90s Jane-Austen-update Clueless (in Comedy).

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>>Dennis suggests Turkey Bowl(in Comedy.) No one’s going to rent this. I understand that. This is exactly the sort of microbudgeted indie trifle destined solely to be championed by several lonely film geeks before being forgotten completely (or perhaps rediscovered once one of its top-to-bottom talented young stars breaks out in something else.) Indeed, I have already attempted to recommend Turkey Bowl to several Videoport customers, all of whom invariably have smiled politely, nodded, and then snuck it back on the shelf when they thought I wasn’t looking. Fine, but I’m not giving up-

Okay, lets blow one lonely film geek's mind on two! Break!

this little film is one of the best things I’ve seen in months, and I just want you to be happy, people. Made by a group of presumably-struggling young actors, all using their own first names and all of whom have credits like “waitress,” “prying neighbor,” “young lawyer,” and, well, “waitress,” Turkey Bowl is the record of a yearly touch football game organized by a disparate group of college friends. And that’s it. In its short, 65 minute running time, the film takes a few minutes to watch everyone gather and chat before they divvy up into teams and start the game. And then it’s the game. And that’s, as I say, it. And I was riveted, frankly. It’s a novel (and sort of bold, really) strategy for a character study and the film, directed and written by one Kyle Smith, uses its gimmick for some of the most natural, and funny, character development around. It reminded me of John Sayles’ Return of the Secaucus Seven in that way (and indeed, that film’s basketball sequence may have been an inspiration)- the reunion of a group of college friends who have been drifting apart lets us listen in to their conversations and interactions and gradually divine their pasts, and their present conflicts. Except, as I’ve been saying, this is just the touch football game. One thing Turkey Bowl does astoundingly well is to introduce a large number of characters only through seemingly-inconsequential, largely football-related dialogue, and make them distinct, and engaging, even as they at first seem to fit into obvious types (the hyper-competitive jock, the self-deprecating snarker, a bickering couple, etc.) Another thing the film does exceptionally well is to present the actual game, for all of its sloppy play and frequent digressions, with crystal clarity- obviously we don’t really care who’s going to win any more than most of the players do, but director Smith’s facility with visual storytelling is far above the average Hollywood action director. They should take lessons. Adding to the film’s dynamic, one of the friends invites a couple of guys she just met to join the traditional game- and they, unlike the solidly white and well-off friends, are black and latino, respectively, and their presence in the group dynamic brings some perhaps needed friction to the proceedings. Not that anything especially momentous, or even noteworthy happens- it’s just friends, playing a game. Some things get said, a lot more we figure out for ourselves. It’s funny, and charming, and even a little exciting. It ends with a great little gag over the end credits that made me laugh out loud. It’s a great little movie full of bright, funny actors I hope to see more of. You should watch it. It’ll make you excited to see what can be done by smart, creative people with a camera and a handful of pocket change.

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>>Andy suggests The Rocketeer. Last week’s superhero flick Captain America: The First Avenger was pretty good, but I, for one, was not surprised. The same director made The Rocketeer way back in 1991, and it’s the same kind of deal. Both are fun, nostalgic, let’s-fight-the-Nazzies superhero stories with good period flavor. Director Joe Johnston clearly has an interest in WWII-era American life, and especially American films from that time. So, if you liked Captain America, The Rocketeer might become your new favorite movie.

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer John S. offers some constructive criticism to his fellow Videoport customers. (I’m just gonna step out of the way…) “Maybe it’s time for Dennis to resume his diatribes against the mishandling of DVDs, without restricting the subject to kids’ movies. In this meantime: Damn the inbred, peasant halfwit, degenerate spawn of foul and reckless couplings whose indifference to the proper usage of videodiscs deprived me and mine of the denouement of the excellent film The Haunting (original version.) The last two scenes were unviewable due to scratches, perhaps due to the use of the disc to reduce a pill to some kind of inhalable fragments. The damage at that crucial point in the movie was likely unintentional, as to believe otherwise would be attributing to the cloddish miscreant a degree of subtlety and intelligence that he would find unimaginable.”

Editor’s note: I think what John is trying to get across here (and I think I’m on solid footing with this), is DO NOT TOUCH THE SHINY SIDE OF OUR DVDS.

>>>For Sunday, Andy suggest Chamber of Horrors* (in Classics). My movie-loving history has shown

He can just snap-tite any murder attachment on there...

me that I am truly a sucker for gimmicky horror movies set in wax museums. The 1953 Vincent Price film House of Wax, filmed in 3D**, is one of my very favorite films of all time. Mystery of the Wax Museum, from 1933, is a super cool movie that was shot in beautiful, painterly two-strip Technicolor. Then there’s the 2005 House of Wax remake. Ugh. Despite the gimmick of the clearly talentless Paris Hilton in an “acting” role, this dull horror flick couldn’t be saved***. But that one is an exception to the rule. Recently I watched Chamber of Horrors (1966), featuring two fun gimmicks: The Fear Flasher and The Horror Horn. Basically, when something scary happens in the movie, a fake-sounding horn blasts on the soundtrack and the screen flashes red for a few seconds. But, like Mystery of the Wax Museum and House of Wax (’53), Chamber of Horrors stands on its own, despite the gimmicks. It’s a fun, violent movie with a weird sense of humor**** and some nasty, delightfully macabre moments. The first scene is especially memorable: The villain forces a preacher at gunpoint to marry him to a corpse. That’s a sick and fantastic way to start a movie! But I would have liked this movie anyway, with all those scenes set inside the House of Wax, a great set crammed with mannequins re-enacting famous murders. There’s something about those wax figures. They’re realistic enough to almost pass for human, but fake and stiff… like a corpse. Chamber of Horrors also features one of the most enjoyably ridiculous final scenes of any movie I’ve seen in a long time, and a surprise Tony Curtis cameo*****!

*Chamber of Horrors is on a double-feature DVD with The Brides of Fu Manchu, an oh-so British adventure starring Christopher Lee as the diabolical supervillain Fu Manchu.

**Yes, I count 3D as a gimmick. Sorry, James Cameron.

***The 2005 House of Wax even got the premise wrong: it was set in a house that was made out of wax, which is both wrong and makes no sense. Duh.

****There are a lot of midget jokes made at the expense of Tun Tun, the little person actor who plays an artist at the Wax Museum. Tun Tun must have been a good sport.

*****Umm, except for the surprise. But there are lots of surpises I haven’t spoiled yet, if you dare to rent Chamber of Horrors!

New Releases This Week at Videoport: ‘Dr. Who’- season 6, part 2 (Matt Smith’s floppy-haired version of the venerable time lord is back; people seen to enjoy him!), Atlas Shrugged- part 1(this first

It really is very floppy...

half of a planned multi-film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s objectivist screed/novel [and Tea Party fave] bombed pretty hard in theaters, making its continuation sort of unlikely; there are those who are sad about that fact, and then there’s me…), Change-Up (I love me some Jason Bateman, and Ryan Reynolds is growing on me, so why haven’t I watched this raunchy body-switch comedy about a horny bachelor and his married pal swapping bodies? I think it was seeing a baby poop right into Bateman’s mouth in the trailers- man, I must be getting old…), 13 (when a film sits on the studio’s shelves for three years after it was completed, even though it’s got an eclectic-but-impressive cast [in this case Ray Winstone, Jason Statham, Mickey Rourke, 50 Cent], well, that not always a good sign…; still, this Americanized remake of the undeniably-intense foreign thriller 13 Tzameti [in the foreign section at Videoport, natch’] should benefit from the films’ inherently-nail-biting premise…which I’m not gonna spoil for you), Life in a Day (July 24th, 2010 becomes one of the most documented days in history with this film where two directors sent out a call for some 80,000 youtube users to film their lives and then culled the best stuff out of the some 4,500 hours of footage they received), The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (this raucous, joyous documentary about the titular yodeling, country-singing lesbian sibling comedy duo is the highest-grossing documentary in New Zealand history), The Sleeping Beauty (French provocateuse Catherine Breillat [Fat Girl, Bluebeard, The Last Mistress, Romance, Anatomy of Hell, etc] brings us yet another twisted fairy tale deconstruction with this creepily-erotic take on the fable of a cursed girl in a hundred-year coma living a disturbing dream life), Boy Wonder (ever wonder what a real-life Bruce Wayne would turn into? Check out this disturbing thriller about a young guy who turns vigilante after his mother is murdered to find out…), The Robber (German thriller about the improbable real-life career of a champion marathon runner who robs banks in his spare time), The Nutcracker (cool cast [Elle Fanning, John Turturro, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson, Nathan Lane] try to liven up this new film adaptation of the old Christmas chestnut), Wake Up (documentary about a seemingly-normal guy who woke up one day to discover that he can see angels and the like; inspirational call to spiritual awakening or phony nutjob claiming to see things that don’t exist in actual reality? You decide…)

Videoport gives you free money. Totally true. You can buy yourself $25 worth of store credit for only $20, and $40 worth of credit for only $30. I’m not a math guy, but that seems to come out to five or ten free dollars for you, from us. Lemme check my figures here…yup. Free money for you.

VideoReport #307

Volume CCCVII- The C.H.U.D. and the Whale

For the Week of 7/5/11

Videoport’s unparalleled selection gives you the unique opportunity to be the only human on the planet to rent the VHS copy of the 1986 film Blue City, starring Ally Sheedy and Portland’s own Judd Nelson. Go on, we dare you…

Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Dennis suggests King Kong(2005) in Action Adventure.) I finally got around to watching

Look, every couple has to make adjustments, honey...

this, Peter Jackson’s massive take on the classic story. And I gotta say,I don’t know what people were complaining about, really. Sure, it takes a while to rev up, but, in the hands of someone like Jackson (Lord of the Rings– duh), even the to-some-interminable set up is filled with neat bits of detail and the unmistakable impression of a guy just enjoying making movies. Plus, I like a grand cinematic bit of folly- it’s like the movie Heat, a three hour exercise from a director who just wants what he wants, and conventions be damned. And, for everyone who complains about action movies sacrificing character development in favor of special effects and eye candy, well, with Peter Jackson, you get the character development, and the detailed period setting, and the social realism, and the whiz-bang special effects. So again, I don’t see what you’re complaining about. In the casting department, a lot of criticism got lobbed at Jack Black’s performance as cinematic huckster Jack Denham, and I can sorta see the point there; I think Jables is a uniquely-talented

Serkis, human.

comic, and think he can even act a little [see Margot at the Wedding, The Holiday], but he does seem a little out of his depth here, although, with his portly frame in his natty suits. he does call up the young Orson Welles, as his fanatical pursuit of ever-more-dangerous shots for his film puts everyone in increasing peril. As the non-apey point of the film’s love triangle, Adrien Brody is fine; it’s kind of a thankless role, but he pulls of the hero stuff with aplomb, and, if we’re as disappointed as the leading lady seems when she ends up with him at the end, well, that’s not his fault, really. It’s hard to compete with the King. And, as for the central relationship (you know, between a girl and her monkey), Jackson handles it uniquely, and beautifully. Sure, sociologists and ethnologists can have their usual field day deconstructing the gender or racial tropes underlying the tale of a blonde white woman being lusted after by the hulking ape, etc. I’m sure

Serkis, mokey.

they’ll all get solid B-pluses on their term papers. But this is a big monkey movie. The big monkey falls in love with Naomi Watts, because, well, who wouldn’t. And she, unlike the still-misguided (and creepy) Jessica Lange performance in the 1976 version, doesn’t so much get all hot and bothered at the thought of hot (albeit anatomically-impossible) monkey sex, as she comes to understand and respect the devotion of a wild animal to her, to feel protective of it when outsiders attempt to harm it, and be grateful for the seemingly-unending series of instances when it ignores its own safety in order to keep her from having her head ripped off. I mean, in the original, all Fay Wray had to do was scream really, and Lange was a spacey, what-the-hell-lets-go-for-it flower child with Stockholm Syndrome. Watt’s Ann is more like Koko’s kitten, adored and protected by something that has, improbably, taken a shine to her, that their relationship goes so far outside of the natural inclinations of their respective natures gives it surprising power. It’s an interesting vision of Kong, too; some complained that, by making him more realistically just a big ape (strikingly and realistically embodied by Andy Serkis and an army of technicians), Jackson robbed the character of some of the mythic power of the original (and let’s just go ahead and pretend the 1976 one never happened from here on out, ‘kay?). But I disagree; Serkis’ realism makes the improbability of the devotion he feels for the human lady that much more tragic to me; for whatever reason, the big ape decides to override its genetic programming and risk its life for this tiny, shiny creature. And look at the scene where they watch the sunset together and try not to feel something like awe… And Serkis’ physical performance (and it is a performance) is really a joy to watch on screen. Throw in some of the ickiest monsters in move history (man, Skull Island is not where you want to get stranded, you know, if you like your face), and the heartbreakingest ending of all time, and King Kong is exactly the sort of oversized spectacle that the movies were made for.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests The Seven Year Itch (in Classics.) It was a mid-century ritual in Manhattan: as July and August heat up the streets, thousands of wives and kids leave the city for summertime cabins in New England while their working salaryman husbands and fathers eke out bachelor lives for a few lonely weeks. Well, maybe not so much with the “lonely.” In The Seven

Why no, you're not old and creepy at all...

Year Itch, Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) packs off his wife and son to Maine on the very same day that he meets his glamorous new neighbor (Marilyn Monroe, playing a character known only as The Girl) aaaaaand the day that he reads an article about infidelity. The two ideas understandably collide in Richard’s imagination. The film lets us peek in upon his fantasies, his daydreams, and his guilty panics, which play out operatically on screen as Richard lounges around woolgathering. Some classic comedies are timeless and universal, some are snapshots of their time. The Seven Year Itch is the latter: it’s amusingly dated and broad, and the script was cut to ribbons to meet the Hays code and pressure from the Legion of Decency. Because these restrictions cut much of Richard’s motivation, The Girl steals the show… though it’s hard to imagine it playing out otherwise. Marilyn Monroe, just reaching the peak of superstardom, wields her unique mix of luscious ripeness and impossible innocence with nary a wink, managing both to play the role straight and to send up the stock characters she’s best known for. Plus, the movie gives two pieces of indispensable summertime advice: 1) When it’s swelteringly hot, pop your undies in the icebox; 2) once in a great while when it’s too hot to cook, have champagne and potato chips for dinner.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental…OR…get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests A Fish Called Wanda (in Comedy.) Half heist film, half classic farce, 100% hilarious. The first time I saw A Fish Called Wanda, I laughed so outrageously hard

WARNING: This film may kill you.

that I thought the theater might throw me out. The first time my dad saw it (on video at home), he laughed so hard I thought I might need to call an ambulance. Turns out, I wasn’t wrong to be concerned: in 1989, a Danish man named Ole Bentzen did apparently laugh himself to death during a screening of A Fish Called Wanda. Reports do not elaborate, so we’ll never know whether it was the sight of a nude John Cleese hopping on one foot while intoning Russian poetry that did him in.)

>>>Dennis suggests 13 Assassins (in the Made in Japan section.) (Sure, the new Takashi Miike film is a new release, but I suggest you pair it up with any of the 20 or so other Miike films currently lurking together in the Staff Picks section.) A quick primer on Miike: An absurdly prolific director, with more than 80 films to his credit (since 1991!), he’s perhaps best-known for the legendarily horrifying Audition, a mainstay in any “scariest movie of all time” argument; the shocking yakuza ultra-violence of Ichi the Killer; the pitch-black satire of family sexual mores Visitor Q (my pick for the “wrongest” film in his oeuvre, which is a compliment); the constantly-topping-itself Dead or Alive crime trilogy; or even the utterly bananas musical The Happiness of the Katakuris. Boundary-shattering sex and violence coupled with a sly sense of humor and consummate filmmaking chops — that’s Takashi Miike. 13 Assassins is Miike’s foray into the venerable samurai genre, with an aging samurai (Koji Yakusho of The Eel and Shall We Dance?) gathering the titular warriors in order to take out the evil lord (Goro Inagaki), whose Caligula-level depredations threaten to undermine the peace that’s held for so long. The setup obviously recalls The Seven Samurai, with the gathering of a

Here they are...

hopelessly outnumbered band of swordsmen for what seems like a suicide mission (complete with a final showdown in a tiny, booby-trapped village). For the film’s first hour, it’s surprisingly traditional, even (by Miike’s standards) a little poky. Plus, with almost twice the number of warriors being introduced in two-thirds the running time of The Seven Samurai, most characters (excepting Yakusho’s dignified leader and Inagaki’s cartoonishly supervillainous lord) get lost in the shuffle of samurai robes. But when the film’s final battle scene comes, 13 Assassins really kicks in, delivering an unbroken, 40-minute orgy of samurai swordplay. The tiny band takes on the lord’s entire 200-strong army, their peerless (and energetically choreographed) bladesmanship backed with an escalating series of elaborate, if increasingly improbable, traps that bring the vivid colors of fire and blood to the film’s heretofore resolutely earth-toned palette. Sure, the finale’s virtuoso set piece occasionally recalled Home Alone (one truly regrettable CGI surprise is a mistake), and perhaps 13 Assassins doesn’t scale the heights either of Akira Kurosawa’s admittedly unreachable standard or of Miike’s own more daring works. But it’s still a uniquely thrilling samurai flick in its own right.

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>> Andy’s Noir CorNOIR! Andy suggests Human Desire (in Classics). To be honest, and I always am when talking about movies, Human Desire is not an especially good movie. I don’t really recommend it unless something in this mini- review interests you, or if you’re a Fritz Lang completist, or if you want to compare it to Jean Renoir’s La Bete Humaine(1938), which was

Andy says rent the original instead.

based on the same Emile Zola novel. This movie is a noir story of love, lust, and murder, about unappealing Glenn Ford falling in love with unappealing Gloria Grahame, who manipulates him into plotting the murder of her unappealing, blackmailing husband, Broderick Crawford. It’s not that bad, really, but it’s often very…unappealing. I was disappointed to see how, um, un-appealing Gloria Grahame is as the femme fatale, considering how beautiful and sympathetic she is in Nicholas Ray’s In A Lonely Place (1950). On the plus side, Human Desire has lots of trains in it! There are many scenes set on moving trains, with the engineers or in passenger cars, on train tracks, and in train yards. Trains are pretty cool, and there’s something about the way they look and move that works well in movies (think of The General, Strangers on a Train, Emperor of the North, Murder On The Orient Express, and Source Code). So Human Desire may be burdened with unappealing characters, but at least it has an attractive setting. For all the good, neglected classics released in the Columbia Film Noir sets (The Lineup, The Brothers Rico, The Sniper), there are also some forgettable Double Indemnity knockoffs. Human Desire is one of those. Another one is Pushover, which is actually a lot more enjoyable than Human Desire, thanks to Double Indemnity‘s own Fred MacMurray, and sexy young Kim Novak in the femme fatale role.

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>> Videoport loves kids so much that we give them a free movie every Friday! In gratitude, howsabout we teach those lucky kids the intricacies of proper DVD handling! Ready, ’cause it’s complicated: DON’T TOUCH THE SHINY SIDE!!!

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Regan suggests Peter’s Friends and Return of the Secaucus Seven (in Feature Drama.) Friends with Peter. If you’re up for some Big Chill in your life then rent Return of the Secaucus Seven. Oh wait, it’s called Peter’s Friends! Thanks, Andy! Andy is so helpful. Like Lassie, only balder. My deeply hungover body started yelling at me around 5am, and so I was all “I got it! I’m up!” I put on Peter’s Friendsto lull me back to sleep. But I stayed awake because it’s

Rent this.

just-good-enough. The cast is great: those Fry-and-Laurie guys, Imelda Staunton. And the soundtrack is a hit machine. But it left me longing for…something more. More funny. More touching. Like Return of the Secaucus Seven. Some old activist-y friends get back together to huff glue and stuff. Not really. But it’s directed by John Sayles and if you haven’t seen this one, or Lone Star or Brother from Another Planet, then maybe this 4th of July you should go sit in a corner and decide if you really love America.

>>>For Sunday, Mrs. Piehead suggests renting Monsters (in Sci Fi), for certain reasons. Are you looking for an edge-of-your-seat, thrilling, alien action film? Then don’t rent this movie. Looking for a beautifully-photographed journey through rural Mexico with long, sumptuous shots of lush water and real people doing real, local things? Awesome! This is the movie you want. Just put your TV on mute or slow FF every time the two really bad American actors in the film start talking. There is really only one monster in this film, but you see it 3-4 times. You don’t need to know the “plot” here, as it’s an old one and poorly done. If you want to enjoy some beautiful scenery and don’t mind being bored out of your mind in between the quiet and pretty stuff, go for it.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Hobo with a Shotgun(the Grindhouse rebirth continues with this hyper-violent actioner about Rutger Hauer; he’s a hobo…and I understand he

Rutger is one, and he has one.

has a weapon of some kind), BloodRayne 3: The Third Reich (There are those who say that Uwe Boll is the world’s worst director; those people are correct. Here’s the second sequel to a god-awful, based-on-a-video-game vampire movie…I’m sure this will end well), 13 Assassins (the new film from Takashi Miike [Audition, Ichi the Killer– check out the Miike tribute shelf in the staff picks section] is an over-the-top samurai action flick that all the cool kids are watching; see Wednesday’s review for more…), Of Gods and Men (acclaimed, much-requested film about a group of isolated monks who must decide whether to flee their Algerian monastery when local religious upheaval threatens violence), ‘Eureka’- season 4 (more sci fi comic weirdness in an isolated small town where the government keeps all its mad scientists and a regular guy sheriff tries to keep them from blowing themselves up and stuff…)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Zombie Holocaust (this notorious 1980 zombie splatterfest finally lurches its way onto DVD [and Blu Ray!?!?]), The Asphalt Jungle (Sterling Hayden, a young Marilyn Monroe, James Whitmore, and Sam Jaffe star in this John Huston-directed film noir about a heist gone wrong)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: 13 Assassins, Of Gods and Men, Zombie Holocaust.

VideoReport #242

Volume CCXLII- Videoport the Conqueror

For the Week of 4/6/10

Videoport is just gonna say it- we’re the best movie store in the world. Best selection. Best rates. Best staff. We could dance around this all day, but…that’s just the way it is. Sorry to be all braggy, but our moms taught us never to lie.

Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.)

>>>Dennis suggests Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (in Incredibly Strange). The movie (based on ‘Gong Show’ host Chuck Barris’ memoir in which he claims to have been a CIA assassin) is utterly insane and pretty great. And, if you didn’t already recognize how uniquely cool star Sam Rockwell is, rent this, go to the Special Features, and press play on the outtake labeled ‘Gong Show’. You will thank me.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests you take home two from the Action aisle: Kill Bill Volumes I and II (in Martial Arts). The master of the postmodern pastiche does it again: Quentin Tarantino hits you with a one-two kick — or a double-barreled blast, depending on your fighting style. Kill Bill delivers loving homages to action flicks of almost every stripe, from the stylized grandeur of samurai films to chopsocky kung-fu-sploitation, and all along the gamut: Spaghetti western, martial arts, anime, biker movie, women in prison (okay, “women in hospital”) exploitation, Giallo. At its center, of course, Kill Bill is a revenge narrative. The Bride (played by Uma Thurman, who all but defines the phrase tour de force) is making a list of those who wronged her and left her for dead. At the top of it — you guessed it — is Bill (David Carradine in a restrained, graceful performance that makes me miss him all the more). The marketing department chopped Kill Bill in two, but with the magic of DVD (or BluRay), you can enjoy the film at its original epic length, with a quick intermission while you change the discs and catch your breath.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental.)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests The Orphanage (in Foreign Language). Watching a classic ghost story, new or old, is a bit like listening to a familiar piece of classical music played by a talented pianist. Director Juan Antonio Bayona and writer Sergio G. Sanchez hit all the familiar notes of domestic horror, and to keep them fresh and vibrant. Laura (Belén Rueda) and her husband Carlos (Fernando Cayo) buy the rambling old orphanage where Laura grew up, intending to found a home for disabled or disadvantage children. Of course, it’s not long before trouble crops up: an unexpected visitor announces herself as a social worker with unwelcome questions; their adopted son Simón talks about his imaginary friends; Laura’s childhood memories, at first nostalgic, turn unsettling. Bayona wisely refrains from the scare chords and cheater’s cuts that are the mainstay of modern ghost stories, and instead relies on subtle acting, character-driven interaction, and building tension to create a creeping, uneasy atmosphere. The Orphanage is his directorial debut, and it shows a delicacy and grace that make me eager to see his future work.

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>>April suggests you let go of your stubborn attachment to stupid spoken words by presenting an all silent film addition of April’s VHS corner (all in Classics, of course)! Here are some great silent films that Videoport has only on glorious VHS!

Wings (Clara Bow) out of print on dvd! But it looks like a blu-ray version will be coming soon. It won the FIRST Oscar ever for best picture! Yay! Wings is a tale of two men who vie for the attention of Sylvia (Jobyna Ralston). Sylvia loves David, David loves Sylvia, Jack loves Sylvia, and Mary (Bow) loves Jack. Sylvia doesn’t love Jack but doesn’t have the heart to tell him since both he and David are going off to fight in World War I. Mary wants to tell Jack she loves him but doesn’t. Both women give Jack their pictures to take with him as a good luck charm. David takes an old little teddy bear his mother gives him. Both men become aviators and that’s when the real fun starts. The comedy comes in the form of a German-American who’s running gag is his American flag tattoo. Bow (not wanting to be left behind) joins in the war effort by becoming an ambulance driver. Gary Cooper has a small role as Cadet White. Wings has some of the best biplane scenes ever shot on film. I highly recommend it.

Queen Kelly (starring Gloria Swanson and directed by Erik von Stroheim) on dvd but Videoport doesn’t have it… yet. An unfinished film due to Gloria’s dislike of Stroheim’s “African brothel scenes” that she claims she thought were set in a dance hall when she was filming them. When she saw the rushes she realized it was meant to be a brothel she had Stroheim fired and completed the film herself, taking out all the scenes set in Africa. The “Swanson Ending” is set entirely in Europe. As luck would have it Videoport’s VHS version is the Kino Video restoration of Stroheim’s vision, they completed it using photos and the few scenes that remain of the African sequences. Swanson plays Patricia Kelly, a convent girl who is seduced by a Prince. When the Queen finds out what has happened she beats Swanson and has her thrown out of the castle. In Swanson’s version her character dies soon afterwards. In Stroheim’s version she leaves Europe and goes to Africa to visit her aunt, is forced to marry an older man while her aunt is on her death bed, and inherits the brothel when her aunt dies. Refusing to stay with her new husband she becomes the brothel’s new madam. She is called “Queen Kelly” because of her extravagant lifestyle. It’s high melodrama at it’s best and Stroheim’s sets and costumes are brilliant. It’s easy to see why Swanson thought he was being too lavish. Be sure to keep an eye on Seena Owen who plays Queen Regina. She’s amazing! (and half naked most of the time, although with a conveniently placed cat)

Orphans of the Storm (Lillian & Dorothy Gish) on DVD but Videoport doesn’t have it… yet. Directed by D.W. Griffith, Orphans is set during the French revolution. Lillian plays Henriette and Dorothy is her blind adopted sister Louise. In hopes of curing Louise’s blindness the sisters travel to Paris and are separated from each other. Henriette is kidnapped by the evil Marquis de Praille and Louise is forced to beg by a woman called Mother Frochard. Griffith is a little heavy handed with the historical and political aspects of the film but, like Queen Kelly, it’s got some awesome sets and costumes.

Broken Blossoms (Lillian Gish & Richard Barthelmess) on DVD but Videoport doesn’t have it… yet. Richard Barthelmess isn’t remembered now but in the silent years he was a brilliant actor. In G.W. Griffith’s Broken Blossoms he plays a Chinese man who falls in love with Lillian Gish, a white woman who has run away from her abusive father and finds solace with Barthelmess. Their happiness is short lived, however, and ultimately ends badly for both of them. While this film would be seen as racist today (a white actor playing an Asian man, opium dens, an unhappy ending) you have the feeling while watching it that Griffith meant the audience to have sympathetic feelings towards Barthelmess’ character. Gish is amazing in her role as Lucy, the battered daughter of a boxer.

P.S. If anyone is interested in joining my Silent Film Enthusiasts Club, email me at

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>> Dennis suggests letting unsupervised children manhandle your cell phone. Oh, what’s that? That’s a terrible idea, since children haven’t the understanding of how to handle sensitive electronic equipment or the responsibility necessary to take care of them? Huh. Hadn’t thought of that…hey! How could we apply this lesson to DVD handling?

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, April suggests ‘Degrassi Junior High’ (in Feature Drama). I have to admit that I didn’t watch ‘Degrassi’ when I was a kid and only saw it when Videoport got it on DVD. I was blown away at how realistically it showed life as a pre-teen and teenager in the late 80s. Sex, drugs, violence, teen pregnancy, peer pressure and everything else that teens deal with is here, but it’s not all ‘after school special’. It’s shows real kids with real problems. It’s awesome. And Canadian! Then in 2001, they made a new ‘Degrassi’ and, although the new kids deal with many of the same problems as the 80s kids, it’s intensified, with the issues of the aughts like cell phones and computers which only lead to some creepy encounters with scummy internet predators and such. All this means is I don’t like the new ‘Degrassi’ because I was in the 8th grade in 1995 and in 1995 nobody I knew had a cell phone, let alone a pager (remember those?) and only a few people I knew had a home computer. So it’s easier for me to relate to the ’87 show.

>>>For Sunday, Regan suggests Valley Girl and Real Genius (in Comedy). This week Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is coming to a Videoport near you! I’m not enjoying this ridiculous movie as much as an Andy or a Bill, but watching Nicholas Cage and Val Kilmer takes me back to when they both starred in some totally amazing Martha Coolidge movies. Oh yeah. That’s right. Valley Girl and Real Genius. Dammit, I love both so much!! Real Genius has been playing for nearly nine hours in the store today. (“This goes under ‘h’ for ‘toy’.) And Valley Girl has a soundtrack that introduced me to The Sparks. Ask Andy about The Sparks, he’ll cream his jeans.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (in the utterly bananas movie idea of the week, idiosyncratic German genius director Werner Herzog decides to remake/make a sequel to/satirize Abel Ferrara’s notoriously lurid 1992 cop flick with Nicholas Cage and Val Kilmer), ‘Party Down’- season 1 (I couldn’t be more excited for this sitcom about a catering company, starring as it does some alums ‘The State’ [Ken Marino] and ‘Freaks and Geeks’ [Martin Starr], along with certified comedy goddess Jane Lynch), Taxidermia (I’m just gonna let the synopsis from the IMDb take this one: “Gyorgy Palfi’s grotesque tale of three generations of men, including an obese speed eater, an embalmer of gigantic cats, and a man who shoots fire out of his penis.”), The Collector (this serial killer flick’s cover brags that it’s from the writer of Saw 4, 5, & 6…so you know it’s good), ‘Being Erica’- season 1 (Canadian series about the odd relationship between a young woman and her therapist), The Yes Men Fix the World (documentary about the prankster pair who periodically make life miserable for corporate America), Jade Warrior (big budget martial arts goodness!).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Sharpe’s Peril (Sean Bean returns as the titular Sharpe, swashbuckling his way through Imperial India on behalf of Her Majesty), Youssou N’Dour: I Bring What I Love (documentary about the famous Senegalese singer in Egypt), La France (Sylvie Tedtud’s husband writes her from the WWI trenches that he’s left her. Nope! She dresses up like a guy and goes to war and find him), Yesterday Was a Lie (pretty lady looks for…something. Anyone interested in a position as a research assistant?), Storm (new from the Film Movement series comes this drama about a woman investigating Serbian war crimes), ‘Lark Rise to Candleford’ (BBC costume miniseries about a 19th century lass yearning to become a postmistress), Resurrection (Ellen Burstyn is great in this 1980 film about a woman who finds she can heal people after a near death experience), Carny (Lou Diamond Phillips will save us from demented circus freaks!), 4 Little Girls (Spike Lee’s documentary about the murder of the titular children by racist a-holes), 211: Anna (investigative documentary about the death of a Russian reporter who just happened to be onto some big, ugly government doings at the time…), Tom and Huck (Mark Twain, start spinnin’ all over again…)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray this week at Videoport: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, The Collector, Hellboy 2, Hellboy, Ocean’s 13, Gran Torino, The Mask, Edward Scissorhands, Toy Story, Toy Story 2, The Mask, Collateral, John Woo’s The Killer.

Play MF-ing BALL!!! Finally!!!! A movie list from Dennis

Of course, as Videoport owner Bill will tell you, sports are stupid and pointless and certainly nothing to watch in lieu of movies and TV shows rented from Videoport, but still…I’ve been waiting so long!!!! Do you people know how long the winters are around here?! And how long it’s been since I heard anyone yell YOOOUUUUKKKK?!?! It’s all I live for, don’t you people know that?!?!?

Ahem. Anyway, here’s my list of the all-time best and worst baseball movies. (See Bill, movies and baseball can go together in a profitable partnership of wonderfulness…)

The Worst:

So...what time's kickoff?

>Major League. Apart from the bad luck to be released parallel to Bull Durham (see ‘The Best’ category), and thus inviting comparisons between the Berenger/Sheen and Costner/Robbins duos, this movie pisses me off to no end for one simple reason: it has zero respect for baseball. Seriously, these guys could be wacky jai-alai players for all the baseball verisimilitude on display. Pedro Serrano could not only be a major league player, but a season-long starter without being able to hit a curve ball…ever!?! WTF!?! Toss in the limp script and utter lack of convincing baseball action, and I want to set this movie on fire.


>Bang the Drum Slowly. Sure, I get teared up at the end. I’m a big girl after all, welded to a huge, hairy baseball freak. But this has to be one of the younger Robert Deniro’s worst performances; I get that he’s supposed to be a bumpkinny, hayseedy type, but he way overdoes it. His dimwitted catcher is almost literally mentally-challenged, and very, very uninvolving. Michael Moriarty saves his ass, acting-wise. (I like Albert Salmi’s take on the role in the original TV version on the Golden Age of TV collection in the Criterion section at Videoport.)

>*61. This is actually a really good portrayal of the legendary 1961 home run race between teammates Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, directed by Billy Crystal of all people. It lands in tweener-land because it’s about the Yankees.

Hey, this baseball movie's goin' great, huh? I think I'll put John Travolta's wife in it...

>For Love of the Game. The actual game stuff, about an aging pitcher who finds himself in the middle of a possible last perfect game, is very compelling and moving (John C. Reilly’s best pal catcher is affecting as hell), but the flashback-y crap with the pitcher making goo-goo eyes at Mrs. John Travolta drags the whole thing to a slog. Kevin Costner shouldn’t make any movies that aren’t about baseball.

The Best:

>Field of Dreams. You can call it shamelessly manipulative. You can call it sappy. You can say it deifies a silly kids’ game out of all proportion. And I can’t really argue with you on any point. But, when James Earl Jones intones: “Ray, people will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”…well, I got teary-eyed just cut-and-pasting it into this newsletter. I swear to god.

>Eight Men Out. Personal hero John Sayles’ recounting of the notorious Black Sox scandal is, like most

My heart is in pieces just looking at this...

of his works, a great, resonant film and a trenchant examination of the social forces underlying American life, and, being about baseball, it also destroys me. Again, I point to a climactic speech, this time a heartbreaker from John Cusack’s Buck Weaver, who Sayles’ film maintains is the honest-yet-tragic hero of the piece, as he contemplates his possible exile from the game he loves more than anything in the world: “You get out there, and the stands are full and everybody’s cheerin’. It’s like everybody in the world come to see you. And inside of that there’s the players, they’re yakkin’ it up. The pitcher throws and you look for that pill… suddenly there’s nothing else in the ballpark but you and it. Sometimes, when you feel right, there’s a groove there, and the bat just eases into it and meets that ball. When the bat meets that ball and you feel that ball just give, you know it’s going to go a long way. Damn, if you don’t feel like you’re going to live forever.” I…I think there’s something in my eye…excuse me…

>Sugar. My pick for the best film of 2009. This tale of a young Dominican pitching prospect trying to make his way to the majors, and his way through small-town, single-A ball in America is as moving, authentic, and compelling a baseball film (and a film of any kind) I’ve seen in years. I love this movie. (See a more extensive review way back in VideoReport #215, either online at our movie blog or in the big, black binders to read it on old-fashioned paper and stuff.)

>Bull Durham. Director Ron Shelton played minor league ball for years, and this, the best baseball film of all time, shows it; it is simply imbued with the spirit of the game. Costner is great (really) as Crash Davis, the oldest catcher still in the minors, a baseball genius trapped in a body almost, but not quite, good enough, and Tim Robbins (despite some truly embarrassing pitching mechanics) is as good as he’s ever been as Ebby Calvin ‘Nuke’ Laloosh, the bonus baby with, as Davis pegs him, “a million dollar arm and a five cent head”, the can’t miss prospect that Crash is assigned to shepherd to the show. Hilarious, poetic, heartbreaking, and (thanks to Susan Sarandon) really, really sexy, Bull Durham is the cinematic soul of the game. Oh, and, by the way- Sox win on Opening Day! Suck it Yankees!