VideoReport #492

Volume CDXCII- Synecdoche, Portland

For the Week of 1/20/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Oh, and we’re local, independent, and care about movies and our customers. But mainly it’s about the free movie thing.

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

.>>> Rent the big Academy Award Nominees at Videoport!

These are the ones that are available:

Best Picture: Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Supporting Actor: Boyhood (Ethan Hawke)

Best Actress: Gone Girl (Rosamund Pike)

Supporting Actress: Boyhood (Patricia Arquette)

Animated Feature: How To Train Your Dragon 2

Best Director: Boyhood (Richard Linklater), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

Best Documentary: Finding Vivian Maier

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

OR howsabout the Golden Globe Nominees!

Best Picture—Drama: Boyhood (winner),

Best Actress—Drama: Gone Girl (Rosamund Pike)

Best Picture—Comedy or Musical: Pride, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Best Actress—Musical or Comedy: The Hundred Foot Journey (Helen Mirren)

Best Actor—Musical or Comedy: The Grand Budapest Hotel (Ralph Fiennes)

Best Animated Film: The Lego Movie, How To Train Your Dragon 2 (winner)

Best Foreign Language Film: Ida

Best Supporting Actress: Boyhood (Patricia Arquette—winner)

Best Supporting Actor: Boyhood (Ethan Hawke)

Best Director: Boyhood (Richard Linklater—winner), Gone Girl (David Fincher), The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)

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!

best-top-desktop-wallpaper-buffy-the-vampire-slayer19-top-10-buffy-the-vampire-slayer-episodes>>> Dennis suggests his Joss Whedon fanboy shelf (in the Staff Picks section). Sure, I’m too old to be a fanboy. I was too old to become the world’s biggest fan of a show called Buffy The Vampire Slayer, too, but here I am, so we’ll all just deal with it. Whedon is the creator of the following. They are all incredibly entertaining, surprisingly deep, and angel_season1_promo_poster-e5b34way smarter than their genres may indicate to people with prejudices against such things. First, there’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer*, which was Whedon’s first introduction to the viewing public. A small percentage of the public (he never gets good ratings) but still. It’s Whedon’s mission statement—the blonde girl in the horror movie who usually gets killed in the dark alley is, instead, the newest in a long line of monster killers—and the monsters in the alley are the ones in trouble. Don’t let the title (or the admittedly shaky first season) scare you off—this is an outstanding show, one that combines horror, comedy, and coming-of-age high school drama in equal, and equally satisfying ffpostermidmeasure. Outstanding TV. And then there’s Angel, the Buffy spinoff that become Buffy’s equal—sometimes its better. Buffy’s beau—a vampire cursed with a soul—sets out as an unlicensed private dick in Los Angeles. High adventure and the signature Whedon wit and penchant for heartbreaking drama. Again—outstanding TV. Firefly is next—and the best thing that Wehdon’s done. Which of course means that no one watched this sci-fi series and it was cancelled after like 14 episodes—at least he got the gang back together for the movie Serenity. Which no one watched. I hate you people. Make it up to me, and yourselves I guess, by watching this show—a sci-fi series unlike any other you can think of. Perfect television—I’ve watched theCabin-in-the-Woods-Poster brief run of this show about 20 times. Dollhouse wasn’t Whedon’s finest TV outing, with a rough start and two short seasons. But boy howdy did it pick up, eventually broadening its initial concept (secret government agency uses rewritable human “dolls” to fulfill client’s nefarious desires) to become something apocalyptic, and stunningly imaginative. Cabin In The Woods was written by Whedon and directed by his Buffy pal Drew Goddard, and it is every horror fan’s bloody dream, a smart deconstruction of the horror genre that is also a kickass horror movie. I love this movie. Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog is a musical about a 1415_i3.1_Doctor_Horrible_Bannersensitive would-be supervillain (everyone’s pal Neil Patrick Harris) whose pursuit of world domination pales next to his love for a shy do-gooder and runs headfirst into his nemesis, the meathead superhero Captain Hammer (Firefly’s Nathan Fillion). Whedon’s a huge musical fan (see Buffy season 6, disc 2 for the superlative Buffy musical episode), and this is one of the best musicals I’ve ever seen. (Sure, I hate musicals, but that only proves how great this is.) The Avengers was where Whedon conquered the world. Wrapping all Marvel’s superhero mythologies together in this one blockbuster was entrusted to a cult TV director who’d never really been able to attract an audience—and I don’t have to tell you how well that went. All the money, all the critical acclaim—Joss now has all the power. Which makes the world a better damn place as far as I can see. (He went on to create the TV show Agents Of Shield, spinning off from The Avengers, too.) Much Ado About Nothing was the tiny-budget Shakespeare adaptation Whedon L_Kal8273made while in post-production on The Avengers. And it’s great. I’m a Shakespeare geek as well as a Whedon geek, and this tiny movie (made at Whedon’s house and starring friends from his various TV shows) is as good as the lauded Kenneth Branagh/Emma Thompson version, with a stunning turn from Angel’s Amy Acker as Beatrice. Whedon used to have drunken Shakespeare readings with his actors at that same house—this is as warm and intimate as those evenings must have been. Oh, and Whedon wrote the original Toy Story, too, just in case you needed more reason to love him. Get renting, people. This guy’s got a lot to offer you.

*Oh, and here’s an incredibly cool story about Anthony Head, who played Buffy’s British watcher/helper/father figure on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. If you need one cool story to put you over the top, this is it. Outstanding, this guy. 

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!                                                           >>> April suggests a double feature of all-lady rock band movies. There’s quite a few to choose from but I’ve picked two of my favorites. Linda Linda Linda (in Made in Japan) is an excellent Japanese film about a group of high school girls who have three days to prepare songs for their school’s rock concert. Unfortunately their lead singer quits, so they coerce Korean exchange student Son to join them, even though her Japanese isn’t great. It’s a fun coming of age drama with cool music originally by the Japanese punk band The Blue Hearts. Bandits (in Foreign Language) goes in a very different direction than Linda Linda Linda; it’s more of a prison break road movie but with rock & roll thrown in. Four women in a German prison form a band, but on the way to a performance they hear one of their songs on the radio and decide to escape. Along the way they become famous but they can’t run forever. Listen, it’s not a great movie, but I enjoy how outrageous and funny it is and it doesn’t hurt that star Jasmin Tabatabai wrote or co-wrote most of the songs because they’re great.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Ultraviolet (in Sci Fi/Fantasy). When Det. Sgt. Michael Colefield’s best friend disappears hours before his wedding day dawns, what could be simple cold feet turns out to be so much more. Tracking his missing friend leads Colefield (Jack Davenport, CouplingSmashPirates of the Caribbean) to a covert team policing squad (including Idris Elba and Susannah Harker) who specialize the threat of “Code Fives” preying on the population of London. This stylish, stylized six-episode thriller never utters the word “vampire,” and delivers some neat tricks and intriguing ideas along with its sang froid.

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

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

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

>>> For Saturday, April suggests The Mighty Boosh (in British comedy) Do you love absurd surreal comedy? Then you might like The Mighty Boosh, a bizarre yet perfectly normal comedy series from Noel Fielding (The IT Crowd) and Julian Barrett (A Field in England). Series one starts off in a zoo where Vince (Fielding) and Howard (Barrett) are zookeepers. There aren’t many animals in this zoo and most of the time Vince and Howard end up doing outrageous things like fighting a kangaroo, dressing up like a panda, or joining a band called Kraftwerk Orange. I told you it’s bizarre, but funny! Series two is equally strange although they’re no longer at the zoo but hanging out in the apartment above Naboo the Shaman’s shop. There they search for “the new sound”, hang out with goth girls, and discover the legend of Old Gregg, a part-fish part-woman/man creature. Series three takes place in Naboo’s shop where Vince and Howard work. It gets even weirder as Vince becomes infected with a Jazz virus, Vince and Howard’s doubles challenge them to a crimp off, and there is a crack fox. Yes. Watch it.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Fall—season 1 (in Mystery/Thriller). As Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, called in from The Met to head Belfast’s investigation into a string of murders, Gillian Anderson brings an incomparable cool polish to this smart, stylish procedural. Gibson is ferociously intelligent, deliberate, and uncompromising. The series is both a nailbiter of a thriller and a thoughtful commentary on the tropes too often invoked in serial-killer stories, making for a taut first season that never discounts the humanity of all its characters.

>>>Dennis suggests getting some free money! Any time you want, $20 gets you $25 in rental credit, or $30 buys you $40. That, my friends, is some free money.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Lucy (Even though that whole “people only use 10 per cent of their brains” thing is pure onsense [please Google it before you argue with me], but this action flick from action flick master Luc Besson [The Professional] is supposed to be a ton o’ fun. In it, Scarlet Johansson as a test subject whose —tee hee—10 per cent brain is unlocked, letting her use the 90 per cent of the human brain that we all use every day, only she gets all the superpowers that come with embodying an old wives’ tale. Morgan Freeman is on hand to intone spooky scientific stuff. So go ahead and use your whole brain and rent this one. Well, maybe not your whole brain…), The Boxtrolls (A young orphan boy raised by the titular, um, boxtrolls—which are trolls with box bodies, or something?—tries to save his grubby weirdo pals from an evil exterminator in this odd, little animated movie that’s actually supposed to be pretty good. Ben Kingsley and Jared Harris are in there, doing voices.), The Drop (In his last role, James Gandolfini plays a bar owner and low-level gangster who enlists younger brother Tom Hardy to help him out of a jam with the mob. A gritty goodbye to one of the best actors around.), Annabelle (Remember that movie The Conjuring? Well, there was a spooky doll in there somewhere—and here’s her own horror movie. Killer dolly!!!), Rudderless (Everybody loves William H. Macy, so everyone should rent his directorial debut, an indie drama about a grieving father who finds a box full of his dead son’s music and lyrics and, trying to understand the boy, forms a band to play his kid’s music. Starring the always-interesting Billy Crudup and Antonin Yelchin), The Zero Theorem (Terry Gilliam [Brazil, 12 Monkeys] is back, returning to the dystopian sci-fi that is his bread-and-butter, this time starring Christoph Waltz as a computer hacker whose inquiries into human existence run afoul of the shadowy totalitarian government called Management ), Coherence (Good-looking thinky sci-fi thriller about a group of bickering people huddling in a house when a comet passing by causes all manner of…things I can’t tell you about. Costarring everyone’s favorite Poster_largeeveryman, Nicholas Brendon from Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Expedition To The End Of The World (rousing Danish documentary about a group of eccentrics setting sail to the most unexplored regions left on the globe),Jimi: All Is By My Side (Andre Benjamin [aka Outkast’s Andre 3000] stars in this biopic of legendary guitar hero Jimi Hendrix), Honeymoon (A just-married young couple [including Rose jimi-all-my-sideLeslie from Downton Abbey and Game Of Thrones] find their lake house honeymoon getaway turning super scary—find it in the Horror section), The Scorpion King 4 (Lou Ferrigno and some UFC fighters continue the franchise that stared as a spinoff of the Mummy sequel. That’s how you know it’s good), Supernatural—season 9 (Sam and Honeymoon-Leigh-Janiak-Movie-PosterDean Winchester keep on fighting demons in this still-entertaining horror action series. I A1o8jBofp7L._SL1500_mean, it’s no Buffy The Vampire Slayer, but after you rent all the Buffy [and then all the Angel], you gotta have get your “pretty people fighting evil” TV fix somewhere.), Prisoners Of War— season 1 (Hey—you know how everyone in the world [and certainly at Videoport] looooves Homeland? Well here’s the Israeli TV series it’s a remake of! You…are…welcome!), Take Back Your Power (Activist and possible conspiracy nutjob Josh del Sol digs deep into the NSa government surveillance scandal and spins this documentary into theories that Big Brother is using your utilities and other means to spy on you. Nutjob…or not?!), Revenge Of The Green supernatural-season-9-dvd-cover-11Dragons (Based on a true story, this gangster flick watches two 1980s Chinese immigrant brothers rise through the Prisoners_of_War_Serie_de_TV-249938387-largeinfamous titular NYC Chinatown gang. Ray Liotta’s in there somewhere. ), The Pirates (Big budget high-seas Korean period adventure about a rag-tag group of pirates banding together to track down a legendary white whale that’s swallowed a royal trinket ), The Mule (Hugo Weaving stars in this Australian crime comedy about a first time drug mule who gets caught by law enforcement with contraband in somewhere very uncomfortable and undignified. [It’s his butt]), The Green Prince (The son of a Hamas leader becomes an Israeli informant in cdn.indiewire.com_this gripping documentary)

Revenge-of-the-Green-Dragons-Movie-PosterNew Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Scorpion King 4the-pirates-korean-movie

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VideoReport #484

Volume CDLXXXIV- Once More With Feeling

For the Week of 11/25/14

 Videoport gives you a free movie (or TV show DVD) every single day. Might we suggest some Buffy The Vampire Slayer or Angel? Read on and let us show you why that’s a very good idea, indeed.

 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 Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel (in Horror). Fearless defenders of the world from the forces of darkness, both Buffy (former cheerleader destined to be the one, chosen vampire killer) and Angel (former evil vampire cursed with a soul and trying to save the world while atoning for his sins), have faced it all. Demons, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, snake men, snake monsters, really big snake-demon-monsters, even (in one regrettable instance) an alien, and they’ve always come out on top. But last week, the intrepid duo almost went down at the hands of their most insidious enemy of all—time. Occasionally, Videoport will run a list of things that haven’t rented in a long time. Years, even. And some of that stuff has to go—there’s only so much space in our little basement, and Videoport is, in a very real way, an embodiment of the cultural zeitgeist. Some things last, some things fade—and the measurement of our cultural memory is made through the actions of our customers. (Of course, the really important stuff we keep even if you guys never touch it—we have standards.) But some stuff simply…falls away. And last week, both the Buff and Angel were, shockingly, up for the big, pointy stake through the heart, most of the discs having not rented…in years! Years?! So after being granted a reprieve by our wise and benevolent leader, some pals and I are gonna remind the world all over again why exactly these outstanding and influential series should have a resurgence. Come, let us show you…

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 Buffy. You bet he does. Look, the premise sounds dippy—bubbly California blonde finds out she’s the latest in a centuries-old line of vampire slayers. Oh, and there are vampires. But remember a few things: 1. This predates all the vampire over-saturation we’re experiencing nowadays. In fact, Buffy probably caused it—it was the little cult show that could, and its devoted following was made up of a lot of creative types, many of whom went on to get seriously into

From the scariest episode ever, "Hush." (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.

From the scariest episode ever, “Hush.” (Lest you think these shows are too mushy.)

vampires. So don’t blame Buffy for Twilight or True Blood or The Vampire Diaries—but understand that they only exist because Buffy was so great. 2. Everyone is all about Joss Whedon now, but this is where he really found his voice. Once The Avengers made, oh, all the money in the world, and everyone was amazed at its mix of action, drama, comedy, and super-team dynamics, he could do anything he wanted. But, like with Lord Of The Rings’ Peter Jackson, Whedon was making grubby, low budget greatness before Hollywood came a’calling—he just was able to translate some of what made his little vampire shows so great into major studio magic once he got the chance. Everything you loved about The Avengers (or Cabin In The Woods, or Much Ado About Nothing, or Firefly, or Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog) is all right here—seven seasons’ worth—just waiting to be discovered (or re-discovered). 3. The lovely Ms. Emily S. Customer, four very learned professional friends, and big, dumb me held years-long weekly Buffy Nights, where we made dinner, got drunk, and watched three or more episodes of an evening. It’s one of the most fun times of my life. 4. It’s got a pre-fame Alyson Hannigan (of How I Met Your Mother and being delightful fame) as Willow, Buffy’s best friend, the most adorable, formidably geeky witch the world has even known. 5-100. Once you get through the (short, sometimes rocky) first season, this show will own you. You’re going to devour it. Like all great serialized dramas, you’ll get attached to the characters, to a very protective, possessive extent. Apart from all the cool supernatural stuff and arse-kicking, Buffy is very much a coming-of-age ensemble drama, with Buffy and her pals (self-nicknamed The Scooby Gang) dealing with parents, boys/girls, sex, college, jobs, money—all in insightful, touching, and funny as hell ways (Whedon is one hell of a writer). It can go operatic like a Shakespearean tragedy, it can go broad and silly, it can be almost unbearably painful (Whedon is also a monster when it comes to hurting or killing the people you love the most). This is great American television. Up next:

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!                                                        

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests (under duress) Buffy! DENNIS IS FORCING ME TO WRITE THIS! Here are some things that make me think of Buffy: Dennis forcing me to think of Buffy is number one on the list. Second, there’s construction going on outside my office which makes it feel like a Hellmouth is sitting beneath me and it’s about to get all apocalypsey in this place. Third, using the word apocalyspey! Because Buffy was amazing at turning words into other words. I think it was Buffy that taught me grammatically that all words have the power to become verbs, adjectives, and/or adverbs. Fourth, there was a terrifying experience with a bug last night. I can’t get into it, but just know that it was horrifying and I’m still traumatized. There have been a lot of great bug monsters on Buffy! And the trauma they inflict continues unto other seasons. In general I think that’s awesome for shows to do and you’d think it would be obvious, but no. Quite a few sci-fi, horror, and/or fantasy shows have always been big fans of having something epic or interesting happen in one single episode and then never ever speaking of it again. Then TV started to get good! And I dare say Buffy was a frontrunner of our current heyday of shows being really good.  So you know, if you like things that are really good and you want Dennis to free me from this cage. Check out some Buffy! Or Angel…that works too. But Buffy first.

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 customers and staff vote for their favorite (and least favorite) episodes of Buffy and Angel! We threw a call out to the Videoport faithful on the Internet, and here are their picks:

Buffy favorites (with quotes):

—“Hush” (season 4, episode 10): “The silent episode with those weird, creepy spooks.” (Four votes)

—“Once More With Feeling” (season 6, episode 7— The musical episode! “My family still listens to the soundtrack in the car on a regular basis.”) (Four votes)

—“Restless” (season 4, episode 22—“Trumps the almighty Hush and OMwF for simply being so epic. Heck, even Simon Pegg tweeted about it a few weeks back.” (Three votes)

—“Smashed” (season 6, ep 9—“The one where Buffy and [redacted] get down and dirty”)

—“The Body” (season 5, ep 16—“A masterpiece of an experience.” “In a league of its own.”) (Four votes)

—“Seeing Red” (season 6, ep 19)

—“Graduation Day-Parts 1&2” (season 3, eps 21&22—“ I refuse to choose between part one and part two. They’re both parts of the same thing!”)

—“The Zeppo” (season 3, ep 13)

—“Bad Girls” (season 3, ep 14)

—“The original pilot with the other Willow” (?!?)

Buffy least favorites:

—“Chosen” (Series finale: “I hate it because they killed [redacted].” (Three votes)

—“The Pack” (season 1, ep 6)

—“Hell’s Bells” (season 6, episode 16)

—“I Robot, You Jane” (season 1, episode 8—“ Not only was it a stand-alone clunky episode, it felt like they were trying. First season kinks.”) (Two votes)

—“Beer Bad” (season 4, ep 5)

—“Um…every episode except the musical episode of season 6.”

—“Primeval” (season 4, ep 21—“That season finale with the original slayer; what the hell was that?”)

Angel favorites:

—“Smile Time” (season 5, ep 14—“You’re a wee puppet man!” Angel gets turned into a muppet. It is glorious.) (Two votes)

—“Spin The Bottle” (season 4, ep 6—”I love episodes where the established reality is intentionally broken and bent to explore character as much as plot.”)

The last scene of "Not Fade Away."

The last scene of “Not Fade Away.”

—“Not Fade Away” (series finale—“I mean, it was amazing.”) (Three votes)

—”A Hole In The World” (season 5, ep 15—”If you can make it to the end of this and not be devastated—nay destroyed—you have no soul.”)

Angel least favorites:

—“All of season 4.”

—“Expecting” (season 1, ep 12)

—“Origin” (season 5, ep 18—“The ep where [redacted] came back with his new family, it seemed kind of tacked on with no real purpose.”)

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

>>> Never too early to get your kids into Buffy and Angel Well, maybe it is, but do it anyway.

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

>>> For Saturday, Emily S. Customer goes in-depth into two of her favorite episodes. First up, it’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Restless,” S4 disc 6. In its fourth year, Buffy the Vampire Slayer broke with television tradition by slating the season’s climactic battle to end in its penultimate episode, “Primeval.” After the Scoobies overcome the infighting spurred by Spike’s sneaky sniping to band together and defeat the season’s Big Bad, they retire to Buffy’s home with a stack of movies and a big bowl of popcorn to ride out the post-battle buzz… and promptly doze off. The vignettes following Willow, Xander, Giles, and Buffy through the surreal landscapes of their dreams are just as eerie and absurd as you expect, but they’re also poignantly revealing and densely larded with foreshadowing. I always love watching dream sequences, which allow familiar characters to briefly step outside their mundane strictures and try on new roles — or fall into old traps — but this episode is all dream sequence, each weird, whimsical segment culminating in sudden violence. There’s something oddly restful about the rhythms of “Restless,” an uneasy lullaby rocking the viewer into quiet, wary watchfulness that’s miles away from rest.

>>>For Sunday, Emily heads over to Buffy’s sister show for Angel, “Spin the Bottle,” S4 disc 2. Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) has lost her memory, and her life story isn’t the kind of tale you’d swallow wholesale if someone told it to ya, even if anyone knew the whole truth, which they don’t. So Lorne (Andy Hallett) casts a memory spell intended to return Cordelia’s past to her present. But he doesn’t know secrets harbored in the heart of his fellows, or how heavily they’re weighing on them. And also, he doesn’t so much know how to cast a memory spell, turns out. The mystical spell comes on more like mushrooms and mescaline, sending Lorne, Cordie, Fred (Amy Acker), Gunn (J. August Richards), Wesley (Alexis Denisof), and Angel (David Boreanaz) into a loopy high that swiftly turns to regression. Not memory regression: straight-up age regression, taking each of them back to their teenaged persona, which is a considerably longer trip for the vampire with a soul — now an Irish boy named Liam — than it is for Wesley Wyndam-Pryce, Head Boy of the South Hampshire Watcher’s Academy. “Spin the Bottle” also functions as a bottle episode (I see what you did there, writers), saving production costs and time by shooting on an existing set with a minimum of special effects. Shucking off their dark secrets and tortured dynamics, the character (and the actors) weave a whole new fabric together as they explore the now-mysterious Hyperion Hotel that’s so familiar to Angel viewers, developing theories of how they’ve been brought here and why, discovering secrets about themselves they have to hide from the others, and soon the emotionally fraught fabric of their complicated relationships gets woven back together again from new threads. It’s giddy and gleeful and heartbreaking, all at the same time.

So that’s our collective case, people. Rent you some Buffy and Angel. Their survival is up to you…

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Expendables 3 (Sylvester Stallone is back, collecting all the creaky, HGH-juiced former action stars loitering around Hollywood for yet another mega-action spectacle of leathery grunting and automatic weaponry. Joining Sly this time are: Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Arnold Schwarzennegger, Wesley Snipes, Kelsey Grammer, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li [for team Metamucil] and younger generation Kellan Lutz, Jason Statham, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, and Ronda Rousey), The Giver (Jeff Bridges stars as a wise old weirdo in this young adult adaptation trying to fill that Harry Potter/Hunger Games bloodlust. In this one, a young guy learns that his seemingly perfect society is built on a whole bunch o’ lies when he must venture out and fight some evil. Meryl Streep picks up a paycheck, too.), November Man (Pierce Brosnan continues his Liam Neeson-esque late career action hero career with this thriller about an ex CIA operative who’s just trying to retire in peace, dammit. Unfortunately the Russian president and the CIA and whole bunch of dudes with guns make him pick up his guns and his stylish suits again.), A Merry Friggin’ Christmas (One of this year’s obligatory Christmas movies, this one about a terrible father coming to spend the holiday, reluctantly, with his resentful adult son. Should be a pip! One of the last films of Robin Williams, who stars alongside Community’s Joel McHale), What If (The interesting cast of Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, and Adam Driver should liven up this romantic comedy about a guy and a girl who fall in love, like you do.), Omar (Oscar-nominated drama about a young Palestinian freedom fighter forced to turn informant for the Israelis, and the probably understandable conflict that results), Housebound (Good-looking horror from New Zealand about a woman forced to move back in with her mother to serve out a house arrest. Awkward, but, to make things worse, the house turns out to be haunted!), Legends Of The Knight (Intriguing documentary about the disparate, often desperate, people around the world who have taken up the legend of Batman in surprising, often inspiring ways), A Letter To Momo (Delightful Japanese animated film about a young girl who finds a letter from her recently-deceased father—and a trio of strange creatures living in her attic), The Grand Seduction (In this remake of the French Canadian film Seducing Dr. Lewis, a small village sets up an elaborate scheme to convince a hunky young doctor to stay in order that they can keep their town alive. Starring Taylor Kitsch and Brendan Gleeson.), A Madea Christmas (Here we go again. Tyler Perry’s back in a dress! For Christmas churchiness this time!)

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Come Back To The 5 And Dime Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (Videoport brings in this just released on DVD Robert Altman obscurity, a play adaptation where Cher, Karen Black, and Sandy Dennis play a trio of women still obsessing over the time, long ago, when James Dean was filming Giant in their tiny Texas town. This was the first time people took Cher seriously—and she is pretty good.), Two Shadows (2012 indie dramedy about a young California hipster who takes off for Cambodia when she hears that she still has living family there), Festival! (1967 concert film about the best performances and personalities from the legendary Newport Folk Festival, featuring the likes of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, Donovan, and Judy Collins)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Miller’s Crossing, Letter To Momo, Expendables 3, The Giver

Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get your movies duplicated at Videoport! You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!

VideoReport #457

Volume CDLVII—Videoport: The Videoporting

For the Week of 5/20/14

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Why? We love movies and we want to share them with you. That’s why.

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 seven bucks!

>>> Dennis suggests using the Monday-Thursday special (3 movies for a week for 7 bucks) to sample some Middle Aisle greatness! You know how you keep hearing about all these shows and movies that everyone says you have to see but then you forget them all or you make a list and look at it and get all daunted? Well, since you can load up with that special I was talking about, why not make yourself a Videoport sampler on the chaep? Some ideas? You got it: Firefly (in Sci Fi) is one of the best science fiction series I’ve ever seen. Hell, it’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen, a thrilling, moving, funny, imaginative space opera about a small band of outlaws and misfits banding together by chance and just trying to scape by in a totalitarian future where human dignity is scarce. Top-to-bottom great performances and brilliant writing, all thanks to the great Joss Whedon (Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dollhouse, The Avengers, Cabin In The Woods). The Wire (in Mystery/Thriller). And this would be the best TV show I’ve ever seen. At root, it’s a story as old as TV—cops vs. drug dealers, this time on the very, very mean streets of Baltimore. But what this series does is take those well-worn raw materials and transform them over five stellar seasons, into the television equivalent of a great American novel. Fully a dozen of the most memorable characters in TV history come from this one show. Luther (in Mystery/Thriller.) Speaking of The Wire, Idris Elba, who plays Stringer Bell (one of those dozen memorable characters) stars (with his original British accent) in this gritty BBC cop show. In it, Elba is John Luther, tortured supercop. That’s really all you need to know—Idris Elba, supercop, awesome. The State (in Incredible Strange.) You love this 90s sketch comedy show and don’t even know it. I’ll prove it—have you enjoyed any of the following shows/movies: Wet Hot American Summer, Stella, The Ten, Children’s Hospital, The Baxter, Hell Baby, Burning Love, Wanderlust, Role Models, Reno 911—then you love The State, since the people involved in the still very funny sketch show went on to do all that other stuff.

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Blade Runner (in Sci Fi). It was in the middle of one more argument in the interminable ongoing daily argument that is the life of even the most tepid feminist that I suddenly understood, with the dazzling flash of suddenness that is the hallmark of revelation – my affection for Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Even an avid watcher and rewatcher like me can admit that the film, whichever version you watch, is flawed. As a woman, I have spent my entire life so far, and will doubtless spend the rest of it, being told in a thousand subtle ways that I’m not really human, even though I appear human and have all the necessary human traits and inside, I certainly feel like a full-fledged human. But there are plenty of people I would otherwise like and respect who’ve uncritically swallowed the dehumanizing sexism of our society, who’ve allowed themselves to be inculcated with the subliminal idea that men are the default human model and that women are… well, not quite. (Of course, it’s worse and more complicated than that: the default human template in the U.S. is youngish white heterosexual cisgender middle-class male; everything that deviates from that narrow demographic slice is tacitly treated as something suspect, something devalued, something not entirely human.) When you spend every day of your life learning the silent lesson that you aren’t entirely human, the social politics of Blade Runner become fascinating. Because no matter how completely human I feel, most days someone will come along to remind me that in his eyes, I’m not… but the real inhumanity lies in the bigots who deny that humanity, and in the safely privileged people who stand by silently and watch bigotry unfold. Every day, that tortoise lies on its back in the sand, and you’re not helping, Leon. Why aren’t you helping?

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 The Dogs Of War (in Action/Adventure.) At this point, Christopher Walken has become the movie industry’s weird, entertaining uncle. I’m not really complaining, Walken is exceptionally talented and always was, and whenever he shows up in one of the dozen or so crime thrillers he seems to do every year now it’s always strange and hammy and reliably thrilling. But if you go back in time (something Videoport is very good for), you can see Walken in movies where he was given a chance to be something different. I mean, he was always weird—those pale, koo-koo eyes were never going to cuddle up with Meg Ryan—but in movies like The Dead Zone, Pennies From Heaven, and even the reviled Heaven’s Gate, he could give some variety. For today (free on Tuesday with any other paid rental, of course), I’ll pick this 1980 war picture, where Walken applies his spooky intensity to the role of Jamie Shannon, a baby-faced mercenary who, betrayed and tortured while operating in a fictional African country, rounds up the guys in order to essentially overthrow the government. Don’t mess with Christopher Walken is the message, really. It’s a lean, muscular thriller, and Walken does a lot with a little—like I said, the young Walken had a blank-faced prettiness which makes his inevitable explosions of Walken-y violence all the more shocking here.

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 Like Someone In Love (in Foreign/The Criterion Collection.) A young Japanese call girl (Rin Takanashi) is engaged by an elderly widowed professor (Tadashi Okuno, looking like a much friendlier human version of the Muppet Waldorf). When she arrives at his tiny, book-lined apartment and finds he’s more interested in making her soup and talking than sex, she, already exhausted from her college exams, falls asleep. Accepting a ride back to Tokyo in the morning, she and the professor find themselves coping with Takanashi’s hot-headed, jealous boyfriend (Ryo Kase), mistaken identity and car trouble, leading to the typical Abbas Kiarostami ending: ambiguous, haunting and, to those less charitable, maddening. That ending — and most of the rest of this fascinatingly opaque film — worked just fine for me, as I remain a sucker for quiet, character-driven movies where again, the unsympathetic might say, “nothing really happens.” (See the films of Ming-liang Tsai, such as “Goodbye, Dragon Inn” and “What Time Is It There?” for more mesmerizing examples of the power of “nothing.”) I’d compare “Like Someone in Love” to the films of American auteur Jim Jarmusch as well, with its long, contemplative driving scenes (at least half of the film takes place inside the old man’s immaculate Volvo), welcome lack of exposition (we’re left to pick up on the characters’ situations as the story unfolds) and the driest of deadpan humor. It’s a delicate, minutely observed and quietly enthralling character study for people who, you know, are into that sort of thing.

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!                                        

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests a tribute. Legendary cinematographer Gordon Willis died this week at the age of 82. It’s hard to overstate Willis’ influence on film of the past 40 years. Just a glance at his credits proves that. In Klute, he painted scenes in warm neutrals lavished with shadow, a look that defined an era of filmmamking. In The Godfather trilogy, he translated that glamorous contrast into the language of morality, letting the darkness and beams of light play over the films as moments of moral clarity play in the characters’ consciences. But that distinctive canvas of dark punctuated with color weren’t the only tools in Willis’ kit. The black-and-white of Stardust Memories and Zelig tell stories as crisp and clear as a great newspaper epic. The Parallax View makes dizzying use of space, angle, and reflection to suffuse the film with the paranoia and panic that would become the signature of ’70s political thrillers. Gordon Willis didn’t define one look of a generation of film; he helped to set them all.

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

>>> It’s free! It’s for kids! Or the very immature!

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Malice (in Mystery/Thriller.) While I’m recommending so many of Gordon Willis’ great and well-remembered films, it’s a little anticlimactic to swan in and suggest you rent the overwrought, overheated, overplotted thriller Malice. (In his review of the film upon its theatrical release, Roger Ebert notes, “Offhand, this is the only movie I can recall in which an entire subplot about a serial killer is thrown in simply for atmosphere.” I can now add Mr. Brooks  to the list.) But I’m doing it anyway. It’s a great example of Willis’ exuberant use of dark with just a splash of light to set a scene, to set a mood, to create something where there is… well, not nothing, but not much. I recently rewatched Malice, hooting with mixed pleasure and derision, and all the while marveling at how deftly this swampy mess dragged me in despite knowing exactly where it was going, and marveling at how excellently it was shot. Now that I know it was the work of Gordon Willis, the film’s adeptness and visual appeal make more sense. He knew how to play light and dark, the simple presence and absence of shadow, into a portrait of moral complexity.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Wire (in Mystery/Thriller.)  ALERT, URGENT, ALERT. ALL VIDEOPORT STAFFERS RESPOND. I have just been informed by a denizen of another city, one not lucky enough to have access to Videoport, that “The Wire,” HBO’s prestige drama tackling urban decay and socio-political stagnation that drives our poorest citizens to crime or misery, is not available on N*tflix. That’s right: arguably the greatest drama of our time is not available from the popular streaming service, thanks to yet another of those exclusivity agreements and back-room deals that constantly reduce consumers’ access to the finest programming. This is why, however useful streaming services can be, there’s no replacement for the variety and consistency of brick-and-mortar indie video stores like Videoport. Videoport isn’t beholden to corporate overlords or restricted by back-room deals. Videoport just wants to get you the movies and shows you want to watch, when you want to watch them.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Monuments Men (George Clooney wrote and directed this fact-based WWII story about an unlikely team of soldiers who spent the last days of the war trying to recover all the stolen artworks the Nazis were trying to hide or destroy; Clooney stars as well alongside buddies John Goodman, Matt Damon, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Bill Murray, and Cate Blanchett; pair it up with the documentary about the same events The Rape Of Europa, which Videoport has because of course we do), 3 Days To Kill (Kevin Costner tries to jump start his own Liam Neeson, late-life action hero with this Taken-like thriller about a dying CIA agent whose daughter is kidnapped, forcing him to ply his “certain set of skills”), Vampire Academy (they’re young! They’re sexy! They’re vampires starring in another mystical action horror comedy based on a young adult book series! Gabriel Byrne’s in it, no doubt trying to keep a straight face!), About Last Night (when people say “loosely based on,” they’re probably thinking of stuff like this broadly comic take on David Mamet’s nasty one act play Sexual Perversity In Chicago; still, it’s got the very funny Kevin Hart [Ride Along] in there, along with talented and pretty people like Michael Ealy, Regina Hall, and Joy Bryant in a story about a couple of very mismatched couples), Call The Midwife- season 3 (you out there in Videoport-land love this BBC drama series about a group of plucky midwives in 1950s England dealing with sexism, illegal abortions, and tons o’babies), Pompeii (a slave-turned gladiator [think Spartacus and, well, Gladiator] rushes through the streets of the titular island city to save his beloved from having to marry a corrupt Roman senator, and then a freaking volcano erupts! Bad-freaking-day for that gladiator guy! Directed by the guy who did all the Resident Evil movies—so you know it’s good…),Like Someone In Love (from acclaimed Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami comes this typically enigmatic drama about an elderly Japanese professor who hires a troubled young call girl and has his ordered life turned upside down)

 

New Arrivals at Videoport: The Mirror Has Two Faces (for some reason, we didn’t own this Barabara Streisand movie on DVD; and for some reason, several people asked about it last week. So here you go—Babs is a frumpy lady who wants Jeff Bridges to notice her, but he thinks sex isn’t important so they get married with a strict no-sex policy. But then Babs puts on a dress and Jeff gets all moony over her. Will true love prevail? Well, you guys asked for it…)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: 3 Days To Kill, The Monuments Men, Pompeii

Free parking at Videoport! The parking lot behind the building is free for customers after 5PM on weekdays and all days on the weekends. Also, we can get you a free hour of parking at any downtown parking garage (including the courthouse garage which is, like, a one minute walk away). Just ask for one of our magic stickers!

Get your movies duplicated at Videoport!

You guys know we can make copies of your DVDs and VHSes at Videoport, right? No, it can’t be anything copyrighted (that’s sort of what that word means), so you’ll just have to buy another copy of Weekend At Bernie’s to replace that VHS you’ve played so often it finally shredded itself. But home movies or anything not copyrighted? We can do it! $10 bucks a pop and little Susie’s dance recital can be copied and sent to every relative on your Christmas card list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #425

Volume CDXXV- Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Person Who Was Murdered for Touching the Shiny Side of a Rental DVD and Then No One Came to His Funeral

 For the Week of 10/8/13

Videoport gives you a free movies every day. Who thinks that’s a bad thing? 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 Heat (in Mystery/Thriller.) While it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when Robert DeNiro stopped trying and/or being good at acting, but it was definitely after 1995. That’s when he starred alongside Al Pacino for the only time ever (nope—Righteous Kill never happened. It…just…didn’t.) In director Michael Mann’s superlative cops vs. robbers epic, DeNiro is icy cool and no-nonsense formidable as a career robber leading an equally-professional gang, with Pacino’s similarly brilliant and obsessed LA supercop on his trail. At nearly three hours, the film never flags for a second, keeping the action realistic and all the more exciting because of it. It’s like Mann took every element they usually leave out in favor of more dumb car chases and put them all back in expertly—while leaving plenty of time for car chases and shootouts. It’s essentially the perfect cop thriller—if the genre had been shut down right after this movie, I think we might all have been better for it. Moody, visually sumptuous, crisply directed, and filled to the tippy-top with stellar character actors like Val Kilmer (in one of his last good roles), Dennis Haysbert, Danny Trejo, Tom Sizemore, Wes Studi, Hank Azaria, Jon Voight, Mykelti Williamson, Ted Levine, Tom Noonan, William Fichtner, and on and on. Virtuoso extended shoot out sequence. Just about perfect. And again, Righteous Kill never happened.

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!

>>>Videoport customer Frank suggests Barry Lyndon (in Drama, but we’ll count it as Classics if you make a big stink about it). This film, Kubrick’s 13th, was made as the director’s taste pendulum swung into the past from the dystopian future of A Clockwork Orange.. Set in 18th century Ireland & England, It follows the life of Redmond Barry (Ryan O’Neal) as he attempts to claw his way into polite English society. There is no equal in it’s panorama, technical proficiency, color palate, costumes or sets. Kubrick, along with his brilliant cinematographer John Alcott, used lenses they procured from the Apollo program which had an f-stop of .6, enabling them to shoot the film’s indoor scenes with only window and candlelight, hence the shallow depth of field in many of these scenes. This use of natural light brings the past setting to life authentically, albeit cold as far as color temperature. One truly gets the sense of being there in the room with this lighting effect, and combined with the period costumes, drawing rooms, and dialogue, this film is much like a series of fine art photographs. The acting is excellent throughout, especially the brilliantly delivered drawing room statement by Lord Bullingdon (Leon Vitali) and subsequent brawl. Horses, pistol duels at 50 paces, Redcoat armies, pomp & circumstance are all part of a giant tableau in this fairly long film. Commercially, this film was not very successful, but it is a gem, and should be watched on the largest TV possible, while wearing an itchy wig.

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 paying tribute to a recently deceased French director. Patrice Chereau wasn’t especially well-known, but the director, who died on Tuesday directed some solid dramas over the years. So head to Videoport’s Foreign film section and check out his Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train, Queen Margot, and Gabrielle, and the hop over to the Drama section for his one English language film, the intense erotic drama Intimacy.

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 celebrating the release of Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing with his picks for the best Shakespeare adaptations! (In the Shakespeare shelf we’ve got goin’ in the middle aisle.) First—just rent Much Ado About Nothing. Joss Whedon is a hero to nerds everywhere—all kinds of nerds. Sci Fi nerds, horror nerds, comic book nerds, musical nerds, and now Shakespeare nerds. He is our God. Anyway, Whedon (creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Cabin In The Woods, and now Agents of SHIELD), while prepping the multi-million dollar tentpole superhero movie The Avengers, Whedon gathered some of the best actor pals from his TV series and movies and shot this microbudgeted adaptation of Much Ado in and around his house, over a few weeks. And, because he’s Joss, he got it released in theaters where it actually made a little money and got great reviews. So why not pair it up with some of the other best Shakepeare adaptation and so forth I’ve ever seen. 1. Much Ado About Nothing. Hey, wait…No this is the film version directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh alongside the luminous Emma Thomson. Playing Beatrice and Benedick, the two are simply perfect as the ever-bickering, destined to be together lovers, and the rest of the cast (Denzel Washington, Richard Briers, Brian Blessed) are great, too. Add in some gloriously gorgeous scenery (it was filmed in a sun-drenched Tuscany), and Branagh’s typically insightful and energetic interpretation, and this one’s a delight. 2. Slings and Arrows. Not a Shakespearean adaptation per se, this Canadian series is about the turbulently comic on-and-offstage doings at a prestigious Shakespeare festival is one of the nest shows I’ve ever seen. It’s as smart (and funny) about Shakespeare as anything I’ve ever seen as well. 3. Hamlet. Branagh again. The only full-length, uncut theatrical film version of the play, it clocks in at over four hours. And I’ve watched it in its entirety more than a dozen times. Nuff said. 4. King Lear. Legendary Laurence Olivier starred in this TV version of the play when he was 75 years old, lending the adaptation an almost heartbreaking pathos. Plus, Diana Rigg’s in there, too. 5. Ran. King Lear time again, this time in the hands of Japanese master director Akira Kurosawa who re-imagines Shakespeare’s tragedy as an epic samurai drama, with an aging feudal lord unwisely dividing his kingdom among his sons. Visually stunning and thrilling. 6. Throne Of Blood. Kurosawa again, this time lending his unmatched moviemaking skills to a samurai version of MacBeth, with the peerlessly charismatic Toshiro Mifune as the minor nobleman urged on to murder both by his ambitious wife and a very disturbing witch. Watch for Mifune’s final stand against what seems like a thousand archers. 7. Henry V. Branagh one more time. His feature directing debut saw the then 28 year old Branagh announce his presence as the premiere Shakespearean interpreter and actor of his generation. Deconstructing this notoriously difficult history play as a jaded referendum on gung-ho, jingoistic nationalism and militarism, Branagh the director and actor is simply masterful. Try to listen to his rendition of the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech and try not to invade France on a flimsy pretext!

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

>>>Hey, here’s an idea! Why not let your kids play around with your wedding china! What? You say that kids lack both the judgement and motor skills to handle something so delicate and precious? Hmm. Good point. Now let’s see if you can extend that logic to our DVDs…

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests a broke double feature (in Drama)! Brokedown Palace stars Claire Danes (“Homeland,” “My So-Called Life”) and Kate Beckinsale (Much Ado about Nothing, Pearl Harbor) as newly graduated high-school girls whose celebratory trip to Thailand turns nightmarish when they’re nabbed for smuggling heroin. Brokeback Mountain stars Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Zodiac, The Good Girl) and Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight, Candy) as midcentury shepherds surprised by love out in the wilds of Wyoming.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests suggests a three-pack of Charlton Heston dystopia! (Or, to be more precise, two Charlton Heston dystopias and one Charlton Heston post-apocalyptic landscape; you can work out on your own which is which.) Where Heston goes, can the end of the world be far behind? Challenge the fates with a weekend three-pack of Planet of the Apes, Soylent Green, and The Omega Man. Do it, I dare you…. did you do it? DID YOU FINALLY REALLY DO IT? YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU. DAMN YOU ALL TO HELLLLLLLLL.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Hangover Part III (Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and that boring guy return! I don’t want to harsh anyone’s enjoyment, but I just have to say that, at this point, we have to agree that these guys are total lightweights, right?), Bones- season 8 (this detective series returns asking the eight season long question, can that guy from Angel and Zooey Deschanel’s sister solve really gross mysteries while making go-goo eyes at each other? The answer is yes—yes, they can), After Earth (Will Smith continues his lucrative trend of nepotism, acting alongside real life son Jayden in this sci fi action flick directed by M. Night Shyamalan; in it, Will and son crash land on a long-abandoned Earth and find out exactly why it’s been abandoned for so long), American Horror Story: Asylum (Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, and a bunch of other good actors willing to do very weird stuff star in the second season of this dark, completely loopy horror series—this season set in a spooky loony bin!), Much Ado About Nothing (coolest guy in the world Joss Whedon took time out from shooting The Avengers to gather some of his best pals his various awesome TV series and shoot a super low budget Shakespeare production at his house; I, for one, am literally giddy that this exists; starring Nathan Fillion [Firefly], Amy Acker [Angel], Fran Kranz [Dollhouse], Alexis Denisof [Angel], Clark Gregg [The Avengers], and more), The Purge (Ethan Hawke stars in this high-concept horror flick about a future America where, one night a year, all laws are suspended; one family holes up in their, as it turns out, inadequately defended home when a gang of mask-wearing psychos decide to take advantage of that whole “no laws apply” thing), Psych- season 7 (James Roday and Dule Hill are back as, respectively, a fake psychic detective and his more responsible buddy in this still-reliably-funny detective comedy series), Europa Report (Sharlto Copley [District 9] and Embeth Davidtz star in this thoughtful sci fi film about a manned mission to discover if there’s life on Jupiter’s largest moon, Europa), Robot Chicken- season 6 (Seth Green continues to plunder his childhood toybox and make his action figures do really rude things to each other), Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levi Helm (you read the title, so expect a documentary about the former drummer of The Band; don’t say the title didn’t warn you—no refunds!), Zombie Hunter (can’t wait for the new Machete movie? Well check out ultra-cool, terrifying dude Danny Trejo in this direct-to-DVD movie; I’m fairly sure he kills zombies in it; like, 90-95% sure…), 100 Bloody Acres (check out Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section for this black comedy about a pair of brothers whose secret ingredient for their organic fertilizer business is…well, no spoilers—but it’s human blood…), Reality (Italian comedy about a small-time fishmonger whose family urges him to try out for the Italian version of Big Brother…which leads him to change his life somehow…), My Father And The Man In Black (music documentary about the troubled relationship between Johnny Cash and his manager; directed by the manager’s son, who’d like some answers, please…), How I Met Your Mother- season 8 (well, Ted still hasn’t met that damned mother yet, but this is still a reliably funny show; plus Alyson Hannigan—rrrrrowrrrr), Laurence Anyways (acclaimed French Canadian drama about a longtime couple whose relationship is shaken by the male half’s revelation that he wants to become a woman), The Look Of Love (Steve Coogan reteams with director Michael Winterbottom [Tristram Shandy, The Trip, 24 Hour Party People] for this darkly funny portrait of Paul Raymond, the smut impresario whose string of burlesque houses and softcore magazines transformed 1960s England), Mea Maxima Culpa (remember that whole unpleasantness when the Catholic Church hierarchy covered up the massive child molestation scandal among the clergy, thus enabling pedophiles to prey on innocent children? Well, the people behind this searing documentary do, and they are piiiiiiissed…), Resolution (good-looking, well-reviewed indie horror flick about a guy whose plan to help his friend kick his addictions by chaining him to a pipe in an abandoned cabin on an Indian reservation goes even wronger than you might expect), White Collar- season 4 (Joe Handsome [aka Matt Bomer] returns as a con man who works for the FBI to bring down the wealthy criminal jerks of the land), Curse Of Chucky (yup, they made another one of these, just in time for your slightly-disappointing Halloween horror viewing party! This time—it’s exactly the same as all the other times. There’s this evil doll who kills people and makes with the wisecracks; at least Brad Dourif still gets a paycheck), Home Run (Christian sports cinema strikes again with this tale of a hotshot baseball star whose off the field troubles get him sent back to his small, God-fearing home town to relearn his swing…and his faith)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: After Earth, The Purge, The Hangover- part III

                                                            Get free money at Videoport!

Look, once you’re in the door at Videoport, you know you’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars here and not on some horribly-run cable company (Time Warner cable’s customer service, according to a recent Press Herald survey, received an 18% “positive” vote, which means fully 82% of their customers think it sucks), or heartless internet concern (google “Netflix” and “class action lawsuits” sometime). Nope, you’re comin’ here, so why not get some free money while you’re at it. Pre-pay $20 on your account, and we give you $25 in credit. And $30 buys you $40. Dang.

VideoReport #394

Volume CCCXCIV- Star Wars: Episode 7- Again With the Jedi…

For the Week of 3/5/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. What’s the catch? Well, I suppose you have to pick one out…

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 taking a dip into the Incredibly Strangest movies in the Incredibly Strange section (if you dare!!!) I hear you out there. Strolling by the Incredibly Strange section, your eye catches some of the more mainstream titles contained therein and you scoff to your friends, “Pffft- The Mexican? That’s not incredibly strange…” And then your wander off to rent something with Gerard Butler in it. Okay, first- don’t rent that Gerard Butler movie. That’s just good advice across the board. Second- your eye only went to The Mexican because your brain was trying to protect you from the endless, dazzling array of perversity, violence, perverted violence, and all-out bug-nuts insanity that is the true soul of Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section. Well, here are some facets of that inky, titillating soul deep in the heart of Videoport. You know you want in…

The films of Alejandro Jodorowsky. Make a note of these titles: The Holy Mountain, Fando and Lis, La Cravate, Santa Sangre, and El Topo. For 40 years, Jodorowsky’s been plying his particular brand of hyper-symbolic, trippy myth-making and, in case that sounds dull, he does this through a combination of ultra-violence, twisted sex and nekkidness, and inexplicable, non-stop scenes of unparalleled loopiness.

The Extra Weird Something Weird Video Sampler. Sure, we’ve got some releases from Something Weird Video scattered through the ISS, but this mind-boggling trailer collection from the company legendary for digging through cinema’s trash bins for the most disreputable sleaze of all time. Of course, those films were in the trash heap for pretty good reasons, by and large, so this sampler is the perfect way to experience the best (meaning worst, creepiest, nudiest, sleaziest) bits of their extensive catalog without, you know, having to watch the entire movies.

The American Astronaut. Unclassifiable b&w sci fi musical made for about ten dollars and more inventive and fascinating than science fiction movies with fifty times its budget.

Kissed. The most touching necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see. (Starring Deadwood’s game-for-anything Molly Parker.)

Nekromantik. The most disgusting necrophiliac love story you’ll ever see.

Even Dwarfs Started Small. The first film from now-revered (still-bananas) German filmmaker Werner Herzog, this one’s got an all-little person cast as lunatics taking over their isolated institution. A monkey might get crucified.

A selection of Turkish Hollywood knockoffs. Since Turkey doesn’t recognize copyright law, and is apparently populated by nothing but lunatic filmmakers, check out their utterly insane versions of Star Wars, Star Trek and The Exorcist. Any resemblance to the originals is coincidental- and cranked up to eleven on the crazy meter.

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 a character actor film fest! This week- Royal Dano! If you grew up watching old syndicated black-and-white shows, you remember this actor’s face, but probably not his name. He appeared on dozens of shows, never landing a plum recurring character, but often returning over and over. It’s a bit perplexing that casting directors chose to cast and recast this memorable actor with the sonorous, melancholy voice and broad, craggy face; I can only imagine it’s a testament to his curious appeal winning them over, over and over. (And over. AND OVER.) It makes sense on anthology shows like “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Night Gallery,” but I always wonder what convinces casting directors to re-use such a distinctive actor in shows with long-arc character continuity. It happened to Dano again and again, especially in westerns: Royal Dano played four different characters on “Rawhide,” four on “The Rifleman,” four on “The Virginian,” three on “Bonanza,” four on “The Big Valley,” and a whopping eleven different roles in thirteen episodes of “Gunsmoke.”) You may remember him from his role as Tom Fury, the somber-faced lightning-rod salesman from Something Wicked This Way Comes, who laments “Some folks draw lightning to them as a cat sucks in a baby’s breath.” Or as the suspicious (with good reason!) sheriff in The Trouble with Harry, who gets paid by the arrest, or as gloomy seaman Elijah in John Huston’s Moby Dick, who warns Ishmael “At sea one day, you’ll smell land where there’ll be no land, and on that day Ahab will go to his grave, but he’ll rise again within the hour.” Or perhaps you remember Judge Sternwood on “Twin Peaks” (S2 ep4, S2 ep5), who assures newly-met FBI Special Agent Cooper “Let me say that when these frail shadows we inhabit now have quit the stage, we’ll meet and raise a glass again, together, in Valhalla.”

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 ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (in Comedy.) Jon Benjamin is the funniest guy you don’t know, or at least the one you don’t know on sight. Although Benjamin will pop up from time to time in the flesh (Parks and Recreation, The Comedians of Comedy, Human Giant) and had his own sketch show ‘Jon Benjamin Has a Van’ (sadly not on DVD yet), you’ll mostly recognize his disembodied voice. At least if you like outstanding animated comedy. He was the title character’s well-meaning but hilariously aimless son Ben on ‘Dr. Katz: Professional Therapist,’ and played two of the best animated characters in TV history (Jason and Coach McGuirk) on the truly charming and hilarious ‘Home Movies.’ He’s also competing with himself for best voice actor on television right now, starring in both ‘Archer’ (as the peerlessly douche-y secret agent Sterling Archer) and ‘Bob’s Burgers’ where he’s the titular regular schmo, a put-upon family man and restauranteur trying to keep his greasy spoon burger joint afloat amidst some inventively funny weirdness. It took me a little while to get into ‘Bob’s Burgers’ (while I took to ‘Archer’’s improv-y, one-liner-y spy spoof pretty much immediately.) Maybe it was that two of the female characters (Bob’s wife and oddball eldest daughter) were voiced by dude’s and seemed a little mean-spirited in their offputting whininess. But, revisiting the show recently, I’ve really warmed to the show. Of course Benjamin is money as always, but it’s the gradual development of the other characters and the show’s genuinely weird little world that eventually won me over. There’s Bob who, in Benjamin’s hands, comes to embody the underdog everyman like few characters I can remember; he loves his weird family, and takes endearing pride in his cruddy little diner, coming up with inventive ‘burger of the day’ specials on the chalkboard. Too bad for Bob that the world seems to conspire against him at every turn, as his eccentric seaside town (and his own family) continually thwart his attempts to make any headway. (You know, like the time a rumor started that his burgers contained human flesh, or the time his sister in law insisted on having an art show in the restaurant featuring her newest artistic obsession- animal anuses. Sometimes his son just befriends a stolen talking toilet in the woods. You know- regular stuff like that.) Through it all, Bob, exhibiting the signature Jon Benjamin snarkiness, like The Dude, abides. For all its wackiness, the show is gentler at heart than is ‘Archer’- it’s a great family comedy and workplace comedy and a showcase for one of the best voice actors of all time, and he’s supported by two brilliant standup comedians doing uniquely bananas work. As his ever-bunny-eared youngest daughter, you’ve got Kristen Schaal, bringing her traditional batsh*t insane energy to Louise, whose mind seems to be operating on “maximum chaos” setting. And Eugene Mirman plays middle child Gene , an overweight, clumsy outsider who, nonetheless, nearly matches his sister’s capacity for unpredictably-enthusiastic nonsense. Sure, I still question why mom Linda (John Roberts) and eldest Tina (Dan Mintz) are voiced, oddly, by dudes, but as the show’s progressed, the Belcher family has drawn some surprisingly well-drawn, even poignant, characters and storylines. Whether you know it or not, people- you’re living in the Jon Benjamin golden age of animation. Get on board…

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!

>>>Emily S. Customer re-introduces America’s favorite movie game- Premise! This week: Jean-Claude Van Damme is a romantic comedy lead pushed too far in…

Must Love Cyborgs

While You Were Streetfighting

Heart Target

The Forty Year Old Belgian

The Timecop Around the Corner

Bringing Up Belgy

The Philabelgia Story

Serenkickidy

Prelude to a Kick

Sleeperhold in Seattle

Knocked Out

P.S. – I Kick You

and

Walloonstruck

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

>>>It’s a free movie. For kids! What- you hate kids?

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Girls (in Comedy) and Enlightened (in Drama.) Both HBO shows. Both mixing comedy and drama in cringe-worthy proportions. Both starring, and created by strong female leads. Laura Dern co-created Enlightened with Mike White, while Lena Dunham created, writes and stars in Girls.) Both are in my top ten of shows on TV right now (I’d give Enlightened the slight edge.)

>>>For Sunday, Nancy Rat Attack suggest The African Queen (in Classics.) If you jumped back to 1992 and are also stuck with your VHS player as your sole form of entertainment for the next few months, might I recommend The African Queen? It lives up to the hype tenfold. A romantic adventure and adventurous romance, it works so magically because of the chemistry, warmth and kindness the two leads, Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, bring to their parts. It’s also nice to see a romantic comedy where it’s not wacky hijinks or misunderstanding that bring the two together, but the actual peril of oh, say, alligators and dehydration. This is a lovely movie, folks.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly lends his considerable vocal talents to this Oscar-nominated animated flick about the titular video game bad guy who decides he just doesn’t want to keep throwing barrels at a plumber [or whatever the in-movie equivalent is] and breaks out of his game; costarring the voices of cool people like Alan Tudyk, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Joe

Everybody wants this one.

Everybody wants this one.

LoTruglio, Dennis Haysbert, and on and on…), The Intouchables (no foreign film in recent memory has been more asked about by the ever-cool Videoport faithful than this heartwarming French drama about a paralyzed aristocrat and the inner city guy he hires as his new caretaker; we went big on this one, people- so go ahead and rent it a lot, ‘kay?), Red Dawn (Wolveriiiiines! Yeah- they remade this 80’s paranoid, lunkheaded bit of Russkie-bashing, except now it’s PG-13, and it’s not Russia, or China [because they were apparently afraid of offending our economic overlords], but some nondescript non-white people wantonly invading the good ol’

Ew.

Ew.

USA and being opposed by a high school football team), Playing for Keeps (Gerard Butler plays a broke, washed up soccer player whose efforts to coach his kid’s soccer team lead to every soccer mom in central casting trying to rub up all over his rugged, Scottish mediocrity; on a related note- Gerard Butler? Really?), The Bay (director Barry Levinson leaves behind his full-time job of telling quirky little tales of growing up in Baltimore for this disturbing horror film about people in Baltimore going swimming and getting infected by a terrifyingly icky new parasite monster), Interview With a Hitman (an Eastern European hitman heads home to try and erase any trace of his past- guess how that goes?), Gun Hill Road (Esai Morales plays an ex-con who leaves prison and tries to deal with his relationship with his estranged wife [Scrubs’ Judy Reyes] and son, who has his own issues to deal with), California Solo (when an aging, over-the-hill Brit rocker [the ever-interesting Robert Carlyle] gets popped for a DUI, he faces possible deportation and the long-buried conflicts of his aimless life in this indie drama), ‘Hit and Miss’- season 1 (the phrase “high concept” may have been invented for this crime series about a hitwoman with a secret- she’s a transgender woman who finds out she fathered a son in her penis-y days, and has to deal with him, and her daily work of, you know, killing guys and stuff; starring Chloe Sevigny), Strings (thriller about a grieving musician who realizes that his therapist is using his patients to commit crimes; that seems mildly unethical…), The Colors of the Mountain (a young boy’s dream of becoming a soccer star are imperiled [along with his life] when his only ball ends up in a Colombian minefield)

New Arrivals at Videoport this week: A Town Like Alice (Virginia McKenna and Peter Finch star in this harrowing true story of female prisoners of war captured by the Japanese in WWII), An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars (another movie based on a book based on a line of dolls), The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo Child (Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Rob Brydon, and Robbie Coltrane lend their voices to this award-winning animated film about a smart mouse who outwits one predator after another; then there’s a sequel)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Wreck-It Ralph, Red Dawn (2012)

VideoReport #1,000,000 is coming!

Six more issues to VideoReport #400/VideoReport word #one million, so start thinking about your submissions for the historic issue. Will there be prizes? Maybe. Will it consist of nothing but 2,500 repeated single words? Like “Whedon?” Or “Firefly?” Or “Buffy?” Or just 625 repetitions of “We love Joss Whedon?” We don’t know. You don’t know. So rent a ton of movies, write about them, and start thinking about what the 1,000,000th word’s gonna be.

Get free money at Videoport!

Look, we know you love us. And you’re gonna keep spending your hard-earned rental dollars here (and not on some scratched DVDs plunked out from a plastic vending machine in a scabby 7-11 parking lot), so why not get yourself some free money. Yup- prepay $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 worth of rental credit. And if you prepay $30, we give you $40 worth of rental credit. That’s just free money you’re leaving on the table, people.