VideoReport #513

Volume DXIII— The Independent Video Store That Kept Punching The Soulless Internet Movie Streaming Service Until It Wet Itself And Died

             For the Week of 6/16/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. How many problems are there with that? None. None problems.

 

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

>>> Dennis suggests The Silent Partner (in Mystery/Thriller). This smart, nasty Canadian thriller is one of those forgotten 1970’s movies that remain viewers’ pleasant little discoveries. Written by Curtis Hanson (who went on to do L.A. Confidential), it stars Elliott Gould at the peak of his movie-stardom, as a quiet, unassuming bank teller who comes to realize that the Mall Santa who’s been coming into the bank is planning to rob it. So Gould rigs his drawer so that the robbery, when it comes, only nets Santa (an icily evil Christopher Plummer) a small amount of cash, while Gould keeps the real money for himself. Unfortunately for Gould, Plummer doesn’t take kindly to the trickery, and sets about stalking Gould for revenge. It’s solid all around, with Gould’s cagey clerk revealing hidden depths of ruthlessness himself as he tries to outwit the brutally intelligent Plummer for a second time. Sometimes you’re in the mood for a good little movie you’ve never heard of—try this one.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

>>> Dennis suggests The In-Laws (in Classics). Peter Falk and Alan Arkin make one of the all-time great movie comedy teams in this 1979 movie about a mild-mannered dentist (Arkin) sucked into the ludicrously dangerous life of his pending in-law Falk, who may be a CIA agent, or insane, or both. The film is a masterpiece of comic timing, with Falk and Arkin playing off of each other like the comic geniuses they are, their signature vocal styles complimenting each other to produce the cinematic equivalent of a giggle fit. Arkin should be considered the straight man, with his Dr. Sheldon Kornpett, DDS being dragged into Falk’s nutty scheme to retrieve some stolen engravings from the US mint. The thing is, that Arkin’s in the guise of a sensible guy, is still Alan Arkin, fairly bursting with prickly intelligence and repressed mania. And Falk—well, you know Peter Falk. He’s the twinkly, wry, digressive crackpot here that he always was, here adding in the very real possibility that his typical silliness is hiding an irresponsible lunacy. And simply watching these two spar through all the shenanigans (eventually ending up the guests of an insanely silly South American dictator played by great character comedian Richard Libertini) is, again, the equivalent of a 90 minute giggle fit. Just delightful.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests O Brother, Where Art Thou? (in Comedy). Some viewers complain that the Coen Brothers show contempt for The Common Folk. I can understand people who feel stung by the portrayals of everyday folks in their films, because protagonists and antagonists alike are almost invariably figures of fun. But the Coens show what too many auteurs overlook: We are funny creatures. We are laughable, with our foibles large and small, with our absurd tics and tendencies. We are figures of fun, every one of us, and that is just a facet of our humanity. The Coen Brothers tell larger than life tales about little people. In the prison escapees of O Brother Where Art Thou, I see Ulysses Everett McGill’s (George Clooney) foppish preoccupation with his hair pomade, or Delmar O’Donnell’s (Tim Blake Nelson) gawp-mouthed yearning for salvation, or Pete Hogwallop’s (John Turturro) squinty-eyed skepticism as incisively humanizing characteristics, not as insults to their characters. But it’s not just the protagonists who are humanized. Whether it’s Junior (Del Pentacost), the “soft-headed sumbitch” nephew leading Pappy O’Daniel’s (Charles Durning) gubernatorial campaign, Pappy O’Daniel, or the pencil-necked bonafide suitor of Penny (Holly Hunter), Ulysses’ wife, they’re both risible and sympathetic in their small ways. They’re silly. They’re fallible. They’re weak and strong by turns, self-obsessed or defensive. They’re human. In this film, true villainy is reserved for the faceless incarnations of perverse authority, for Sheriff Cooley (Daniel Von Bargen), who cruelly pursues the trio, flames of righteous fury reflecting off his mirrored sunglasses even at night, and for the white supremacists who lurk in the landscape, literal and political, reminding us that bigotry is insidious. And here, the pervasive humor of the Coens serves a greater purpose: The Klan rally first seems epic, a terrible spectacle of grandeur and horror, but they’re rapidly stripped of that fearsome power. They’re denied the grandness their costumes and pageantry strives for without ever denying the horrors they practice and incite others to. They can’t be called figures of fun. There’s nothing fun about them. They have no humor themselves; self-important zealots rarely do. Instead, they’re ridiculed and reduced, made less fearsome and stripped of the power of their atrocities, by being made the butt of the film’s jokes. And the Coens aren’t afraid to poke fun at their own studies of human behavior. “I like to think I’m a pretty astute observer of the human scene,” McGill—our entry point into the film, and as close to an auteurs’ avatar as O Brother contains—blithely tells Big Dan (John Goodman), failing to take in the danger unfurling around him, though Delmar’s wary eyes show his shrewd assessment of the shift in tone. The Coens are as human, and as aware of the frailty of their humanity, as any of their characters.

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

>>> Redfern Mini Reviews suggests The Immigrant (in Feature Drama). Marion Cotillard is magical in every movie I’ve seen her in and it’s true of this role too. I loved the amber-golden sepia tone of this whole movie–the ethos of it–set in the 1920’s in New York City, where the lead character and her sister come to Ellis Island to start a new life. Joaquin Phoenix is (yet again) playing a dark, creepy character. Jeremy Renner is engaging as Orlando the Magician. The characters could have rested at one-dimensional, but director James Gray delves a bit deeper and we get invested in their lives. I recommend.

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

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

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

>>> For Saturday, Videoport customer Debra T. suggests Supermensch: The Legend Of Shep Gordon (in Documentary). Supermensch is a documentary about a manager named Shep Gordon who is apparently extremely nice to the people he works for and their friends. Here are three reasons why you should rent it. 1) You get a good story about the beginning of Alice Cooper and decisions made in his career, 2) You learn some great publicity stunts such as how to fill up a concert hall by staging a traffic jam, and 3) You get some really useful tips on how to host a great diner. Really, I wish I wrote them down as I watched. I have to say my husband and I had very different opinions of Shep Gordon after this movie. He thought Shep was a nice guy and did a lot of great things. I thought Shep was really good at working angles for his clients. There are a lot of famous people talking about how nice Shep is (Michael Douglas, Sylvester Stallone, Alice Cooper, Mike Myers, Emeril Lagasse), but then when they go to actual stories of his life, very little of it actually seems “nice” but more like successful, efficient, manipulative, ambitious, sometimes funny. Outside of his helping the grandchildren of his ex-girlfriend and hosting dinner parties in his Hawaiian house, there isn’t a whole lot of backup to the oft-repeated statement that he’s the nicest guy ever. He may be, but those stories aren’t in this movie. As a woman, I also found the movie more of a “good old boys” club praising Shep as a great guy despite his (hilarious according to the talking heads) womanizing and the fact that he married a woman 30 years younger than him and then divorced her after they found out she couldn’t have children. Yeah, such a mensch. I found it telling that the only women who were on screen talking nicely about him were women he pays (and his ex-girlfriend’s granddaughter who he supports financially). Those issues could be just mine. It was definitely fun to see the world of famous people through the lens of a manager whom they all seemed to love.  My husband liked the movie and I didn’t mind it. I just didn’t come out thinking this guy was as nice as the packaging promised.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport’s Andy suggests DOCUMENTARIES! Recently a Videoport returned four movies: Tibet: Cry of the Snow Lion, Stupidity, and Somm from the Documentary section, and Wish You Were Here, from Drama. He said, “These three were all very good; this one was very bad. G’night.” Guess which one was “very bad.” Well, lesson learned. Stick with documentaries. I haven’t seen any of the documentaries that this customer returned, but recently I enjoyed Corman’s World (in Documentary Arts), a documentary about the legendary (and still active, though very old) producer/director Roger Corman. Here is an impressive list of people who attest to Corman’s importance, kindness, loyalty, and greatness (as well as his more frustrating qualities): Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Demme, Robert De Niro, Peter Bogdanovich, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese, David Carradine, Eli Roth, Joe Dante, Bruce Dern, Polly Platt, Mary Woronov, newsroom-season-3Dick Miller (of course), Pam Grier, John Sayles, and William Shatner. These people all love Roger Corman, so you should watch a documentary about him! Corman’s World is an inspiring story about a maverick filmmaker, businessman, and occasional artist. Or, hey, just KxSNBLWhave fun browsing Videoport’s documentary section! It’s that forgotten section next to Action and behind the Incredibly Strange Films section.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Newsroom- season 3 (Aaron Sorkin’s behind-the-scenes drama series about the big, bad world of television network news 8203_poster_iphoneconcludes, as Jeff Daniels’ right-about-everything Will McEvoy speechifies and tells us all what we should have done. Sorkin’s done this sort of thing so much better in The West Wing and Sports Night—you should rent those, too. Or, you know, instead), Chappie (From Neill Blomkamp [director of District 9 and Elysium] comes another sci-fi, high-concept flick, this one about a robot with an unappealing name who develops self-awareness and starts petting puppies and the like. Sadly, meanie government guy Hugh Jackman’s after Chappie to turn him back into the killing machine he was designed to wrecking_crew_ver2_xlgbe. Leave Chappie alone, Hugh Jackman!), Run All Night (Liam Neeson’s mid-sixties action hero career steamrollers on in this crime drama about an aging hitman [nicknamed “The Gravedigger”!] who swings back into action when his mob boss best bud Ed Harris puts a hit out on Unfinished-Business-posterNeeson’s estranged son [Joel Kinnaman]. As we all know by now, even looking cross-eyed at a relative of Liam Neeson’s is a sure ticket to knuckle sandwich town), The Wrecking Crew (Like last year’s Muscle Shoals, this musical documentary sheds some light on a group of unsung backing musicians, this time the session men behind Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Monkees, The Beach Boys, and more), Unfinished Business (Vince Vaughn does his signature motor-mouthed thing in this buddy comedy about a trio of businessmen desperate to land a big deal at a foreign conference. Costarring James Franco’s more likeable little brother Dave as the dump, the-lazarus-effect-postersweet one, and great British stalwart Tom Wilkinson as the British one), The Lazarus Effect (A much more interesting cast than is usual in this sort of thing [Mark Duplass, Donald Glover, Olivia Wilde] bring some heft to this horror flick about a group of perhaps less-than-cautious scientists trying to resurrect the dead. I’m sure it goes juuuust fine), Wild Tales (Acclaimed Argentinian film from director Damian Szifrom tells six short stories of various people being driven to madness through life’s injustices, big and small), Beyond The Reach (Michael Douglass plays—wait for it—a rich a-hole! This time, he’s a mysterious, BMW-driving businessman who shows up in a tiny desert town looking for a hunting guide. The poor young guy who takes the gig [Jeremy Irvine] soon begins to suspect that Douglas isn’t on the up-and-up), Welcome To Me (When Krstin Wiig’s unbalanced loner wins the lottery, she stops taking her medication and buys herself a talk show in this dark comedy costarring James Marsden, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Joan Cusack, Tim Robbins, and Linda Cardellini),

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure really—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

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Published in: on June 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm  Comments (1)  
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VideoReport #512

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

             For the Week of 6/9/15

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

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

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

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!

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

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure the-taking-of-tiger-mountain-posterreally—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

 

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on June 9, 2015 at 1:37 am  Leave a Comment  
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VideoReport #510

Volume DX— The House On People With No Self-Preservation Instinct Hill

For the Week of 5/26/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. You love movies, so have a free one. That’s juts common sense, really.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Looper (in Sci-fi/Fantasy), with reservations. Director Rian Johnson made a name for himself with his first feature film, the celebrated, mannered teen noir Brick. His sci-fi action thriller Looper is a completely different kind of device: It’s smart, stylish, and fun to watch, but like Brick, it has a gimmick at its heart. It’s a time-travel crime tale, with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a hitman named Joe, 30 years apart. Bruce Willis is, well, Bruce Willis, with all his familiar tics and mannerisms; JGL is crisp and tightly controlled as young Joe. It’s a heck of a parlor trick to see him rein in his broad, mobile face to master the impersonation, and the resemblance is sometimes eerie, sometimes distracting. But it is a parlor trick. Gordon-Levitt’s one of the most interesting actors of his generation, and this gimmick constrains his performance and the movie as a whole.

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 Macbeth (in Classics.) The Orson Welles 1948 version. With Michael Fassbender ready to bring his big budget version of Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy to the big screen, why not look back at the funky, oddball version that Orson Welles made on a frayed shoestring. An early example of how Welles’ ambitions were to be constantly thwarted by the people with the money for the rest of his career, this expressionistic adaptation was, out of financial necessity, shot on leftover sets from Republic Pictures’ westerns in less than a month. Welles freely re-jiggered the dialogue and plot, and had the actors dub their lines in post-production. The critics of the day hated it, and, like a shocking number of Welles’ projects over the years, it received only spotty distribution over the years before being cleaned up for the DVD release that came out a few years ago. It’s an odd experience—the dubbed Scottish burrs are alienating and unnerving, which actually sort of works. For Shakespeare nerds (like me) it’s essential.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests Bob’s Burgers (in Comedy). I don’t know if you out there in VideoReportland still watch current episodes of The Simpsons (as opposed to the classic episodes available to rent at Videoport), but it’s something of a bobs-burgers-521fdf91f28e1bummer. Actually, it’s more than a bummer—The Simpsons (say, seasons 3-9) was one long run of classic comedy. Not just classic TV, or classic cartoons, but all-time classic comedy, possessed of a unity of plot, character, and inventiveness that was, at its best, essential. Seriously, think back at how central The Simpsons was—and remains—to American comedy. Now—eh. It’s a solid B-minus show, where the residual affection for the voice actors’ interpretations of their characters and echoes of past glories bump an indifferent show up a half-grade. There are flashes here and there—the Lego episode from last season could actually hold its own in a good season—but it’s mostly just there. Which is all a long preamble to me saying that Bob’s Burgers is the new Simpsons—a smart, delightfully silly, and improbably affecting animated family sitcom that combines huge laughs, great voice acting, and characterization. The family unit matches up precisely, with a mom and dad, and three kids (a boy and two girls.) Here, they live not in Springfield, but some unnamed New England seafront tourist trap of a town, where Bob Belcher (voiced by animation all-star Jon Benjamin, also the voice of Archer, which is also great) runs a dinky burger joint with the help (sort of) of his enthusiastically goofy wife Linda (John Roberts), and his kids, perpetually weird and longing Tina (Dan Mintz), happily strange and boisterous Gene (Eugene Mirman), and manically self-assured (and weird) Louise (Kristin Schaal at her Kristin Schaal-iest). Like early Simpsons, the Belchers are perpetually losers, their socioeconomic and social underdog status central to their storylines and their appeal. Bob is the mostly-sane one of the group, continually trying to rein in his clan’s propensity to follow their eccentric whims into disastrous places, but Bob’s hardly a killjoy. While the pressures of being a business owner and family man seem to dictate that he be sensible at all times, in Benjamin’s performance, Bob’s reactions to the strangeness all around him are delightfully deadpan. Plus, there’s always the hint of how family man Bob carries the seeds of oddity that have blossomed to wildly in the rest of his family—the chalkboard in his restaurant always carries evidence of his stifled creativity in daily punning names of his experimental burger specials (like the “We’re here, we’re gruyere, get used to it” burger), and his occasional bursts of defiance against life’s indignities. Linda is one of the most endearingly weird TV mom’s ever, Roberts’ performance always making her irrepressible enthusiasm and loyalty to her brood as funny as it is admirably unique. The kids are all originals, too: Gene is the master of bodily functions, farfetched dreams, and unashamed self-expression, Louise is all bright-eyed, crazy id, and Mintz’s Tina is one of the most singular representations of confused but hopeful adolescence ever, her owly monotone and crippling anxieties never keeping her from hopefully navigating her way through teenagerdom. This is just a warm, silly, uniquely hilarious sitcom that can match up with The Simpsons at its best.

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 Edge of Tomorrow (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). In the future, the nations of earth combine forces to battle an alien race that’s ravaging Europe and posed to take over the planet. (I ended up watching Edge of Tomorrow over Memorial Day weekend, not realizing its frequent references to somber landmarks of WWI & WWII would make that weirdly appropriate.) When Major Cage (Tom Cruise), a military public affairs agent and admitted coward, is unwillingly assigned a role in the first beach attack on the French shores, he gains an eldritch power that has him reliving the same day, the same storming of the beach, over and over. Only Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt) understands what a tactical advantage that could give Earth’s forces in this battle, and in the war on which humanity’s fate hangs. Blunt’s Sgt. Vrtataski is huge fun to watch: strong, confident, tough, plenty of swagger but not an ounce of bluster. She’s every inch a soldier. And Edge of Tomorrow demonstrates Cruise’s understanding of his own uneasy appeal, and the public’s ambivalence about him. As in a videogame orGroundhog Day, Cage’s power to restart the day is triggered only by his death, and the film shows this initially unlikeable character dying — over and over, inevitably or suddenly or just repetitively — with a canny grasp of his potent charisma, which makes audiences enjoy and resent him in turns.

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

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

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

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Undead (in Horror). Sometimes you just need an over-the-top Aussie zombie flick. You know it’s true. Well, this visually inventive first film gorefest from the Spierig Brothers (who’ve gone on to do the interesting Daybreakers and Predestination) is right up your alley, with the requisite meteor strike causing the residents of a tiny Australian fishing village to become the requisite flesh-eating zombies. The twin directors clearly worship at the altar of the pre-Lord Of The Rings Peter Jackson (he of the spazzy, giddily fun splatter flicks Bad Taste and Dead Alive), mixing so-gross-it’s-fun gore with offbeat dialogue and characters and hyperkinetic camerawork. There must be something in the Aussie water to keep turning out inventively silly horror filmmakers like this. Plus, it’s not every day you watch a horror comedy starring someone named Mungo McKay who spouts lines like, “…time is short. So you gotta ask yourself: Are you a fighter, Fish Queen, or are you zombie food?” in an Australian accent.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Space 1999 (in Sci Fi). (From something I wrote somewhere else.) What’s it about? In a very 1970s-looking 1999, 311 multinational crew members peacefully man Moonbase Alpha, Earth’s first space colony, under the no-nonsense command of Martin Landau’s Commander John Koenig. But when a massive explosion sends the moon flinging out of Earth’s orbit, Koenig finds himself the captain of an isolated outpost of humanity, hurtling into uncharted space and dealing with dwindling supplies, the occasional mutiny, and each week’s requisite alien encounter. Essentially, the moon is the Starship Enterprise, with Landau as a much more dour Kirk, Barbara Bain as an even less-expressive Spock (and she’s completely human), and a wry Barry Morse as a less-excitable Bones. Why you should watch it: Because its inexplicable combination of deadly seriousness, utterly lazy (and bonkers) science, and sterile-yet-funky ’70s design produces a singularly schizophrenic viewing experience that’s as entertaining as the episodes themselves. Space: 1999 is always a minute recalibration away from unintentional self-parody, but every time you’re tempted to go full Mystery Science Theater 3000 on the action (as MST3K itself did in its UHF days), there’s a poetic interlude, a thoughtful philosophical theme, seventh-son-poster-598x360or an overqualified guest star (Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and Brian Blessed among them) to bring you back to attention. Plus, the multi-ethnic cast (in the first season, anyway) was bold for the time, and Space: 1999 still boasts the most exciting theme song/opening sequence in TV history. Who should watch it: Sci-fi geeks (earnest or ironic); scientists (ironic only); jumpsuit enthusiasts.sonsofliberty

New Releases this week at Videoport: Seventh Son (Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore class up this fantasy ray-donovan-second-season.28519adventure tale about a young apprentice monster-hunter sent to recapture Moore’s evil witch with the help of grizzled ol’ Bridges), Sons Of Liberty (In this History Channel miniseries, hunky young versions of George Washington, Sam Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock kick some Redcoat arse as they build the country that would static1.squarespacebecome ‘Murica! Starring the likes of Henry Thomas, Rafe Spall, Martin Csokas, and Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris as Ben-freaking-Franklin! Watch out British jerks! Here come the Founding Fathers!), Ray Donovan- season 2 (The always-interesting Live Schreiber returns in this Showtime series as professional L.A. “fixer” Ray Donovan, the Hello-Ladies-Season-1-Promo-Postergo-to guy for rich jerks who need their latest misdeeds swept under the rug. He’s all morally compromised, as most cable protagonists are, with a decent supporting cast including Jon Voight, Dash Mihok, Eddie Marsan, and Steven Bauer), The Loft (A group of skeevy married guys [including Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, James Marsden, and url-1Eric Stonestreet] share a swanky bachelor pad for all their extramarital hijinx. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, right, dead lady in the communal bed.), Hello Ladies- season 1 (The very funny Stephen Merchant [Extras, The Ricky Gervais Show] stars in his own HBO sitcom about a terminally-awkward single guy trying to score in Los Angeles. Or with Los Angeles. Anyway, it’s another example of very solid cringe comedy from our uncomfortable British pals. ), Da Sweet Love Of Jesus (Have you ever heard of the cult horror film Ganja and supremacyHess? Well, you can rent it at Videoport, of course, possibly on a double feature with this oddball remake of the already oddball original from Spike Lee of all people. In it, a professor is cursed by an ancient African artifact with a thirst for human blood!), Supremacy (Based on a depressing true story, a young neo-Nazi gets out of prison and promptly takes an African American family hostage. Meanwhile, the head Nazi jerk scowls disapprovingly from prison, TMIT-VOD-key-art_{68d33bf6-3aa7-e411-8748-d4ae527c3b65}presumably because the young jerk is giving Nazis a bad name? I guess?), Two Men In Town (Another remake of a movie you don’t know, this drama sees Muslim ex-con Forest Whittaker forming an unlikely friendship with his parole officer, finding a good woman, and settling down, only to see a racist copper and his own past conspiring to pull him back into big trouble once again. Remake of the French film of the same name [but starring Alain Delon and Jean Gabin], which you can, of course, rent at Videoport, since we are so awesome.)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Seventh Son

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure really—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

Write for The VideoReport! This whole weekly blog/newsletter/thingy was started some 509 weeks ago as a place for people who work at/love Videoport to share their reviews, opinions, and occasional furious screeds about their favorite/least favorite movies. So do that! Send ‘em to denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”! Do it!

Published in: on May 26, 2015 at 4:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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VideoReport #508

Volume DVIII— Time Warner Cable Customer Service: The Movie (a.k.a.12 Angrier Men)

For the Week of 5/12/15

 Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Netfl*x gives you gas, shingles, the grippe, the vapors, scrofula, scabies, and rabies. It’s a medical fact—you can look it up.

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!

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l-r: Crow, Joel, Tom

>>>Dennis suggests Mystery Science Theater 3000 (in Incredibly Strange). You know how you love movies, and laughter, and laughing at bad movies? Well, this is the show for you—if you like joy, that is. For ten seasons, this weirdball little series from some knuckleknobs in Minnesota got ahold of some terrible movies and mocked the hell out of them. Being from the Midwest, the mockery was sometimes gentler than it would be otherwise, a sort of sweetly silly riffing on the various shortcomings of, say, The Giant Spider Invasion, or Attack Of The Giant Leeches, or The Mole People, or Overdrawn At The Memory Bank, or, well, you get the idea. What made the show such an enduringly delightful experience was the framing concept—a poor working Joe (actually Joel—Joel Hodgson, and the Mike Nelson) gets kidnapped and shot into space by some evil scientist types (Dr. Forrester to start) as part of a scheme to take over the world by destroying his mind with terrible movies. Sounds practical. Anyway, what the evil scientists didn’t count on was that Joel would use his tinkering skills to craft a pair of robot pals to help him stave off the loneliness and the madness, that he’d give them sarcastic, goofy personalities, and that the three of them (Joel, Tom Servo, and Crow T. Robot) would actually come to enjoy the experience, their bonding over goofin’ around at the expense of, say, Manos: The Hands Of Fate, providing more joy than insanity. It’s a delightfully silly-smart show that will appeal especially to movie lovers (if not bad movie lovers), but which is unendingly fun for everyone. Honestly, this show is one of the chief little pleasures in my life, and I’m not the only one. Paul Feig, creator of Freaks & Geeks, Bridesmaids, the upcoming Ghostbusters remake, and more is clearly a huge fan as well, seeing as how his new TV series (it’s on Yahoo, actually, because TV networks don’t know a good thing when they have it in their slimy claws) Other Space is about a rag-tag group of goofballs stranded in space—and features a goofy working stiff played by Joel Hodgson AND a wise-cracking robot pal named ART, voiced by the voice of Crow T. Robot, Trace Beaulieu! It’s a funny show on its own (and not on DVD yet), but the inclusion of two MST3k vets in the mix is a delightful surprise from one MST3k fan to the rest of us.

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!                                                            >>> Emily S. Customer suggests Camelot (in Musicals). It’s May! It’s May! The lusty month of May! I’m not going to sugar-coat it: the 1967 film version of Camelot is a little too slack and overstuffed to retain the magic of the stage musical. It’s hard to imagine being stuck in a theater for three hours while this candy-floss confection plays out. But it’s a great candidate for home viewing, where you have the freedom to unwind and enjoy it on your own terms. As King Arthur and Guenevere, Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave chew some of that (award-winning) scenery, but they’re passionate, playful, and weirdly sympathetic for squabbling royalty stuck in a love triangle.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests Key & Peele, Mr. Show, and Upright Citizens Brigade (in Comedy). Sketch comedy is hard—these are the three funniest & smartest sketch comedy series since Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Watch them make it look easy.

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 12 Angry Men (in Classics/The Criterion Collection section). If you watch Inside Amy Schumer, read pop-culture sites, or just, like, have been on Twitter this week, you’ve probably heard about Schumer’s experiment in form last Tuesday, when she devoted the entirety of her show, usually filled with sketches featuring her, to a single episode-length sketch featuring 12 grizzled (and big-name) actors, with barely a peek at Amy herself. Entitled 12 Angry Men Inside Amy Schumer, Schumer’s parody of courtroom drama is a daring move for a sketch comedy, and one that pays off royally, because it deftly balances note-perfect observation of 12 Angry Men — its set, its grain, its tone, its mercurial performances — with scathing observation of current cultural expectations. It’s a masterpiece, and if you haven’t revisited Lumet’s acclaimed12 Angry Men lately, with its roster of remarkable character actors wrangling between justice and convenience, now is a good time to do it.

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, Emily S. Customer suggests North By Northwest (in Classics). After this week’s Mad Men, (no spoilers here for the final season here, by the way, though I will discuss one major plot twist from Mad Men Season 1) viewers and critics alike are pointing out similarities to Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. But these similarities didn’t start this week; they date all the way back to the show’s beginning, as a comparison of their credit sequences will show. Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is a Madison Avenue ad man who gets embroiled in international espionage through a simple case of mistaken identity, and soon he’s being chased across the country under another man’s name. It’s  thrilling adventure, and it’s also like a story the Don Draper of early seasons would spin about his own circumstances, simultaneously romanticizing his plight and displacing responsibility in favor of thrilling fantasy.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Female Trouble (in Incredibly Strange). When one hears the name, attention is either drawn to the grotesque excess of PINK FLAMINGOS or the far more commercially accessible HAIRSPRAY – so basically the two extremes. But to me, his magnum opus will always be the uproariously funny FEMALE TROUBLE. The film tells the story of Dawn Davenport, a suburbanite who pursues a life of infamy after running away from home on Christmas morning, played by the forever incomparable Divine. It’s a lot more complex than that – she gets knocked up, has a kid with serious psychological setbacks, robs houses with her clique from High School by night, gets married and almost immediately divorces to her hair stylist, etc. – but for the sake of time, I’ll spare the details. If you are familiar with the kinds of characters that Waters is most fascinated with (i.e. just awful, awful human beings), then you’ll know what to expect from this. Nothing is sacred, but the viewer is immediately thrown into the grimy little world that he has created, rather than building up to individually offensive moments. This way, one can appreciate the vicious attack on the nation’s obsession with celebrity that Waters dishes out through his obnoxious anti-heroine as well as the more genuinely witty elements of his writing. The characters are unmistakably his, and FEMALE TROUBLE contains a few of the best that Waters has ever written – I of course must give a honorable mention to Aunt Ida, the leather-clad neighbor of Ms. Davenport played by fellow “Dreamlander” Edith Massey who desperately wants her nephew to be gay and does not approve of his short marriage with the former in the Like-Sunday-Like-Rain-posterslightest. This is perhaps the most satisfying cinematic representation of the director’s personal beliefs and demented imagination; and much like the more technically accomplished POLYESTER, the film rests in the perfect crossroads between the earlier and later portions of a successful and positively scandalous career. An essential dark comedy.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Like Sunday, Like Rain (Sweet looking indie iLv6cJkQLvKLIWmBUFt2VYnvGkF[directed by actor Frank Whaley] about a lonely young cello prodigy’s unlikely friendship with an unemployed, aimless 23 year old musician, played by Leighton Meester [The Organges, The Roommate]), Beck- season 1 (You guys know how much you like Wallander, The Bridge, and all other Scandinavian murder? Well Videoport brings you this Swedish mystery series about a police commissioner and his eccentric partner solving crimes in Stockholm, Sweden. You’re welcome!), Halt And Catch Fire- season 1 (AMC continues to flail MV5BODA4MTA3MjQwMl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzU1MDk3MTE@._V1_SX640_SY720_around looking for the next Breaking Bad or Mad Men, and this 1980s-set drama is…their latest attempt. Set at a small computer firm at the birth of the computer revolution, Halt And Catch Fire has a good cast, with Lee Pace [Pushing Daisies] as the mysterious, charismatic executive out to beat IBM to the home computer market, and the oddly-named but talented Scoot McNairy as the downtrodden 5769_4290but brilliant programmer he enlists to actually build the thing. Your intrepid editor actually reviewed the entire series at the AV Club [http://www.avclub.com/tv/halt-and-catch-fire/] and wasn’t super-impressed or anything. But there’s some good stuff in there), Black Sea (Jude Law stars in this undersea thriller about a submarine captain searching the depths of the titular Black Sea for a sunken sub supposedly full o’ gold! Good cast features Ben Mendelsohn and…Scott McNairy?! It’s Scoot-mania all up in 84b0cbbae893d17ece8bb9ab8f319275here!), Last Days In Vietnam (Documentary miniseries examines the tumultuous, tragic [on many levels] final retreat of all American forces and personnel from Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War), Cancer The Emperor Of All amira__sam_posterMaladies (Ken Burns presents this miniseries documentary about that disease that is basically the biggest jerk in natural history), Amira And Sam (The always interesting and cool Martin Starr [Freaks & Geeks, Party Down, Silicon Valley] stars in this indie drama about a returned soldier who finds himself drawn to an Iraqi immigrant facing deportation [newcomer Dina Shihabi]), Still Alice (Julianne Moore won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance here as a brilliant woman who begins to succumb to the effects of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease [possibly the second-biggest jerk disease in history]. Great cast includes Alec Baldwin, Seth Gilliam, Kristin Stewart), Mortdecai (Oh, Johnny Depp, what are you up to here, with your huge still-alice-postermustache and your over-the-top upper class twit British accent? Depp seems to be enjoying himself as a bumbling art dealer and would-be adventurer, dodging MI5, terrorists, and the Russian secret police in an attempt to discover a priceless painting which might also Mortdecai-UK-Quad-Poster-1024x768contain a secret map to buried Nazi gold. Gwynneth Paltrow and Ewan McGeregor are along for support ), Blackhat (Chris “Thor” Hemsworth plays the world’s most improbably hunky computer expert, a convict sprung to help track down a notorious gang of cyber-terrorists in this thriller which no doubt will have a scene BKH_31_5_Promo_4C_3F.inddwhere he’s typing really fast while a loading bar ticks away on the screen. What? “404 Not Found”? We’re doomed!), The Cobbler (Up until this point, Tom McCarthy has only directed great movies. The Station Agent, The Visitor, Win Win—all great, thoughtful, satisfying indie movies. Critics have suggested, however, that McCarthy bit off more COBB_OneSheet_FM1.inddthan even he could chew by trying to make Adam Sandler a real actor in this film about a New York cobbler who discovers that he can enter the lives of his customers by putting on their shoes. There’s a good cast [Ellen Barkin, Method Man, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi], and the trick of using Sandler’s shlubby charm in a real movie has been pulled off to great effect before [Paul Thomas Anderson’s excellent Punch-Drunk Love, Judd Apatow in Funny People, James L. Brooks in Spanglish], so we’re willing to give this one a shot for McCarthy’s sake), Fifty Shades Of Grey (We mentioned it last week, but this came out on Friday, for some reason, so here it is again, the movie one or the other member of a couple will pick up as a joke while secretly hoping the other person is into it!), Black Or White (In what I’m sure was a well-intentioned idea sees grieving [white] grandpa Kevin Costner fighting for custody of his beloved granddaughter after his son dies. Octavia Spencer is the [black] grandmother who’s doing the same. Man, I sure hope these two can come to some sort of symbolically palatable understanding on race. Just, fingers crossed over here)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Selma, Black Sea, Fifty Shades Of Grey, The Gambler, Boy Next Door

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people. It’s money you’d spend at Videoport anyway, since we’re so super and you love us so much. But we give it to you for free. Why? Um, not sure really—come take advantage before we come to our senses!

VideoReport #507

   Volume DVII— Zero Dark Thirty-One

For the Week of 5/5/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. No one could have a problem with that. Unless they didn’t like movies, I guess. But, then, why are they here in the first place? Really confusing stuff. Take a free movie while we figure this out. 

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests a Monday Mother’s Day Double Feature! For Middle Aisle Monday, take a terrifying trip through maternity in preparation for Mother’s Day. Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby and David Cronenberg’s The Brood convey the sublimated terror lurking in the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. Paranoia and terror creep in all around Rosemary (Mia Farrow), crowding into the sunny days of her young marriage and throwing gloomy shadows across the freshly-painted walls of her handsome New York City apartment. The film hinges on a simple question: Is Rosemary’s imagination running away with her, or is something larger than mere maternal anxiety at play in her seemingly simple life? In Cronenberg’s cult favorite, Nola (Samantha Eggar) is fighting her ex for custody of their daughter, and seeking intense (and worryingly radical) treatments at The Somafree Institute, transforming the pain of her divorce and longer-buried traumas through a new therapy called psychodynamics — with startling results. Just how gruesome a Mother’s Day are you looking forward to, anyhow?

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!

>>>It’s another Mother’s Day Double Feature from Emily S. Customer! Mildred Pierce (1945) and The Manchurian Candidate. Left alone by her no-good husband, single mother Mildred Pierce (Joan Crawford) would sacrifice anything to make a better life for her daughters. She doesn’t have much, but she has a strong work ethic, a dab hand with pastry, and a level head on her shoulders, and soon Mildred works her way up from provisionally-employed waitress to restaurant entrepreneur, all for the good of her girls… but for her selfish daughter Veda, nothing will ever be enough. Lay in a supply of pie, and also of hankies, for this melodrama in noir disguise. While Mildred Pierce would sacrifice everything for her children, Eleanor Iselin (Angela Lansbury, in an Academy-Award nominated performance) of The Manchurian Candidate (1962) would sacrifice her son, Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), and much more on the pyre of her second husband’s political career. The addled, publicity-hungry Sen. Iselin (James Gregory, known to a generation as Inspector Luger from Barney Miller) leads a witchhunt devoted to rooting out (fictitious) Communists entrenched within the Department of Defense, and with his wife’s encouragement, he plays shamelessly on Raymond’s reputation as a war hero and (as his fellow platoon members invariably report) as “the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!  

>>>Emily S. Customer continues her Mother’s Day double features! Pair up El Orfanato (one Foreign rental FREE today with a paid rental!) and The Others (Horror) for an eerie, emotional double whammy of scares and sentiment. Though the cast and story construction of El Orfanato is strong throughout, Belén Rueda carries the film on her slim shoulders, bringing heart and depth to the role of Laura, a mother doggedly trying to protect her adopted son from horrors both uncanny and all too tangible. In The Others, Nicole Kidman’s Grace is just as fierce in protecting her children, and just as haunted by the prospect of failure.

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!                                        

>>> Dennis suggests Brian’s Song (in Feature Drama). This football movie about the friendship between interracial NFL running back pals Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo is the movie that makes it okay for dudes to cry. Manly crying. Burly tears. Both drafted by the Chicago Bears in a time when the league’s racial attitudes were a lot less tolerant than now—and the league’s racial attitudes aren’t great now—Sayers and Piccolo were paired up as the team’s first mixed-race roommates and became pals even though they were competing for the same job. Made for TV, the whole thing’s a little hokey, but when James Caan’s Piccolo gets sick, and Billy Dee Williams’ shy Sayers stands behind his buddy, well, things get a little dusty, even for the manliest football-loving dude in the house. Caan and Williams are both great in this, and their big showdown—with Piccolo using a particular word to get the injured Sayers motivated and the two devolving into paralyzing giggle-fits—was pretty damned bold for its day. So rent it, and go ahead and cry, fellas—this is the movie that made it okay.

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, Dennis suggests Penny Dreadful-season 1 (in Horror). For those of you who pay the frankly exorbitant and ridiculous cable television fees, you know that this excellent Showtime horror series returned this week for its second season. Which is fine, if you want to pay for cable, then pay extra for Showtime. Like a sucker. For all of us smarties out here, it’s time to catch up on the first season, available at frankly ridiculously low rental prices at Videoport. Starring Eva Green, Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper, and a surprisingly effective Josh Hartnett, it’s sort of like a Victorian League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen, in that it mixes historical and fictional characters (Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein, and others make appearances). Oh, except, unlike that misbegotten movie, Penny Dreadful doesn’t suck. (You should check out Alan Moore’s original LXG graphic novels, though.) In the show, Dalton is an Alan Quartermain-like explorer, returned to England to hunt down some ancient evil with the help of Green’s stunningly good psychic/medium and Hartnett’s American gunslinger (tortured veteran of his own brush with evil, recruited from a third-rate “Wild West” show). Bloody, gorgeous, and very well acted, this is a great, little series.

selma-movie-poster>>>For Sunday, Hey, it’s the beginning of the month, so that means it’s time for our list of the movies that Netfl*x is taking away from you for no reason whatsoever! Seriously—if there’s anything more representative of the greedhead corporate evil of Netfl*x, it’s that they do this each and every month and make their customers believe it’s normal. It’s not—it’s not like they have to squeeze all these movies onto shelves somewhere. They just feel like making the decision of what those customers should be able to watch away from the people giving them money. So here are the movies poor, dumb Netfl*x customers/dupes won’t be able to see in May. (Oh, and, of course, you can rent them all at Videoport. Because we don’t pull this crap.)

12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue (2012)

6 Bullets (2012)

The Accused (1988)

Airplane! (1980)

All I Want for Christmas (1991)

Along Came Polly (2004)

An American Haunting (2006)

BASEketball (1998)

Bitter Moon (1992)

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Bratz: Babyz: The Movie (2005)

The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Cecil B. Demented (2000)

Cloud 9 (2014)

Deuces Wild (2002)

Divine Secrets of the Ya­Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Finding Forrester (2000)

Flight (2012)

Friday the 13th: Part 7: The New Blood (1988)

Funny Face (1957)

Ichi the Killer (2001)

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

The New Guy (2002)

Princess Diaries 2 (2004)

Red Dawn (2012)

RoboCop (1987)

Robot & Frank (2012)

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Sabrina (1954)

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Silent House (2011)

Skyfall (2012)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)

Valkyrie (2008)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Selma (David Oyelowo is bigtmp_31367mesmerizing and complex as legendary civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King in this uncompromising depiction of King’s leadership of the march for voting rights from Selma to Montgomery Alabama in 1965. Shut out at the Oscars, now’s your chance, people. Directed by Ava DuVernay, whose excellent indie film Middle Black-or-White-PosterOf Nowhere you can also rent in Videoport’s Drama section), Mr. Turner (The great British director Mike Leigh [Naked, Secrets & Lies, Another Year, Topsy Turvy, High Hopes, Happy Go Lucky] brings out this visually stunning biopic of the last years of the life of legendary, and legendarily odd, English painter J.M.W. Turner. Starring always-stellar character actor Timothy Spall in a rare lead as Turner), Black Or White (In what I’m sure was a tumblr_nlvm7puvxA1r8iw09o1_250well-intentioned idea, this movie sees grieving [white] grandpa Kevin Costner fighting for custody of his beloved granddaughter after his son dies. Octavia Spencer is the [black] grandmother who’s doing the same. Man, I sure hope these two can come to some sort of symbolically palatable understanding on race. Just, fingers crossed over here), Mr. The-Bridge1Selfridge- season 3 (Jeremy Piven returns as turn of the century American mogul Harry Selfridge who opened London’s first department store), The Bridge- season 2 (While we’ve got the American remake, here’s the second season of the original, foreign-language mystery series about a pair of mismatched cops from opposite sides of the border rzCHEtBdxoZjNwRsO4pE7Q7U4Gq[Denmark and Sweden in this case] forced to work together to solve a murder where the body was right on the dividing line between their two countries), Spare Parts (George Lopez, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Marisa Tomei star in this fact-based inspirational movie about a team of Hispanic high school students who cobbled together car parts to take on the most advanced students in the country in a nationwide robotics competition), Lost River Lost-River-poster(Ryan Gosling makes his directorial debut with this artsy mystery drama about a single mother [Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks] who sets out to uncover the dark secrets of her dying small town in order to save her teenaged son; costarring Saiorse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn, and Doctor Who’s Matt Smith), The Last Five Years 1.171988(Portland’s pride, Anna Kendrick stars in this musical adaptation of the play about the doomed romance of a novelist and his dream girl), Against The Sun (Based on a true story WWII survival tale about three downed airmen Against-the-Sunforced to go to unimaginable lengths to stay alive after their bomber crashes into the Pacific Ocean), Masters Of Sex- season 2 (Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan return in the second season of this compelling drama series about the then-infamous sex researchers Masters and Johnson), Miss Julie (Legendary actress Liv Ullman writes the screenplay and directs this adaptation of the Strindberg play about an 18th century heiress encouraging the attentions of her father’s hunky valet. Starring Jessica Chastain and Colin Farrell), 50 Shades Of Grey (Wait, wait, calm your pants—this adaptation of the internet fan fic-level erotic novel doesn’t come out until FRIDAY, miss-julieMAY 8th. Friday—so cool yourself with one of those big, ornamental fans, have a wine cooler, and look longingly at your bedside table until FRIDAY, when this tale of the sexy millionaire who likes some mildly kinky sex games Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Poster-4and the doe-eyed lady who allows him to do stuff to her. Be cool, everybody), The Berlin File (Korean thriller about a North Korean secret agent who finds himself on the run in Berlin after his cover is blown.)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: The Boy Next Door, Inherent Vice

Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.the_berlin_file