VideoReport #435

Volume CDXXXV- I Saw Mommy Arguing About The Credit Card Bill With Santa Claus

 For the Week of 12/17/13

 Videoport gives you a free movie every day. And, if you’re lucky enough to receive a Videoport gift certificate for the holidays this year, please know that those free rentals work just fine with that daily free movie special! Work the system and save…at Videoport!

 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!

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Suspicion (in Mystery/Thriller.) Joan Fontaine was the eternal ingenue, playing roles rich in hesitation and doe-eyed uncertainty: Suspicion, Rebecca, The Women (where the credit sequence explicitly compares her to a stumbling, fumbling doe). But there was mettle there, too, and pity the leading man who missed it and took her for easy prey. You can see it in the first act of Hitchcock’s Suspicion. The handsome young bounder (Cary Grant) who’s been playing on her affections and tromping over her demurrals asks her cheekily “What do you think of me? By contrast to your horse?” Every trace of discomposure vanishes from her lovely face and she replies quite evenly, “I think if I ever got the bit between your teeth, I’d have no trouble in handling you at all.” Fine horsewoman, that Joan Fontaine. Ingenue? Certainly. Doe-eyed? Maybe. But nobody’s prey, and nobody’s fool.

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Push (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) It’s not perfect. It deserved far more respect and accolades than it got, but it’s not perfect. I don’t want to talk it up because I don’t think the movie will withstand heightened expectations. So let me stress how imperfect the film is. Plot holes in abundance! I saw it in California where they actually still have theaters where you can watch second run films for $2 (oh, Nickelodeon I knew thee well). I remember sitting in theater with my brother thinking, “I can’t at all explain why I’m liking this movie so much, but I’m really into it.” I was worried that afterwards I was going to have to argue with him and he would explain all the reasons this movie was terrible and I would have to just sit back awkwardly going “yes, I agree completely, and yet…I loved it.” My brother had the same perplexing reaction. We walked away thoroughly, inexplicably awed and delighted. Maybe part of it is just how satisfying it is to see a superhero movie that’s not like all the superhero movies. I love me some Marvel and DC! Oh my do I ever! I get that you want to capitalize on the big familiar names to get your sweet sweet money and sew a cape and mask out of it and pretend you’re a philanthropic superhero. But it’s just so satisfying to have something delivered to you that follows some solid archetypes but is its own entity. Like picking a scab and finding fresh pink skin underneath. Maybe not at all like that, but I’m running with it! Also, full disclosure, both my brother and I adore the acting of Dakota Fanning. There’s no shame in it. No there isn’t! She’s great and she’s great in this film! And so is Chris Evans. I like Chris Evans too damn it! Look, do you like superheroes? Do you like movies? Then you should try this one because it really doesn’t suck.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests The Lion In Winter (in Classics.) It’s Christmas 1183, and Henry II has called his scattered family around him for the holidays… and for less sentimental reasons, too. I rewatch The Lion in Winter almost every Christmas, but this year, as we bid goodbye to Peter O’Toole, it’s is especially poignant to see him at his peak, matching wits and whipfast plotting with Eleanor of Aquitane (Katherine Hepburn), then melting into requited affection just as fast.

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 My Favorite Year (in Comedy.) Peter O’Toole died. Which I do not approve of. As you’ve no doubt been reminded by everyone’s posts on your Facebook feed, O’Toole was a damned delight, relishing in his dapper, impeccably dressed, brilliantly droll mega-stardom, even as he elevated every movie he appeared in with his impossibly luminous presence. And while he was all presence, the man was also one of the best actors in the world—it was an irresistible combination, and one shown to its best effect in My Favorite Year, in which O’Toole plays an alcoholic has been matinee idol not too far removed from his own public persona. Flown in to host a 1950s live comedy show very similar to Sid Caesar’s Your Show Of Shows, Swann is put in the care of spazzy junior writer Mark Linn-Baker, who gets to practice the sort of straight man double takes he’d deploy later against Cousin Balki. Frequently, and literally, falling-down drunk, Swann nonetheless exhibits his movie star charisma at every turn, whether attempting to rappel down a Manhattan high rise, attending a wacky dinner with Linn-Baker’s eccentric Jewish family, or executing a perfect front flip onto a writers’ room table. All until he’s confronted with the fact that he’s about to go on this live TV show—and that it’s, you know, live. Swann’s aghast backstage breakdown is the stuff of legend, with O’Toole letting fly with one of his all-time most memorable lines, “I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!!” It’s a hilarious, silly, surprisingly warm movie that reveals, perhaps better than any other of his movies, that Peter O’Toole was both.

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests A Good Old-Fashioned Orgy (in Comedy.) This is a fabulously sex positive film and I was thoroughly satisfied with it (take that in as risqué a manner as you would like). I don’t want to repeat the Secretary debacle so let me give fair warning that you need to be okay with a movie that plays with relationships and sex outside of the box. Wow, seriously EVERYTHING I say sounds SUPER dirty now! It’s fun. As is this movie. It’s not hilarious. It has a very hilarious and amazing cast, but don’t get your expectations of humor too high. The humor wasn’t what sold me on the movie though it is amusing. More of a smile on the inside type humor. It’s just a nice take on the ye olde slice-of-life-group-of-lifelong-friends movie. It’s really a very simple movie, comfortingly so I thought. What you see is what you get. I didn’t actually expect a move called A Good Old Fashioned Orgy to actually just be about exactly that. But it is and it’s nice.

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!

>>>Videoport customer Susan F. suggests The Tudors (in Feature Drama.) LOVE the Tudors series! I have seen it 3 times! Whether you love history or not, you will absolutely love this Showtime series! Have a marathon with it!

>>>Dennis suggests Creator (in Feature Drama.) I’ve always championed this admittedly lesser Peter O’Toole movie, even though its lesser-ness can’t be denied. From the great O’Toole’s 80s fallow period, it’s a shaggy, overstuffed, mishmash of mad scientist movie, Dead Poets’ Society teacher movie, rom-com, weeper, and academic satire. Luckily, it’s also a Peter O’Toole movie which means it’s never less that entertaining, at least when he’s on the screen—which is most of the time. Pete plays an eccentric professor at an American university who, in the course of things: keeps his dead wife’s DNA on ice in the hope of cloning her, falls for daffily-miscast Mariel Hemingway as a tough-talking townie chick, spars with stuffy administrator David Ogden Stiers over his unorthodox research and teaching methods, rambled on in signature wide-eyed O’Toole fashion about his theory of “the big picture,” helps research assistant Vincent Spano try to win over the girl of his dreams (Virginia Madsen), and even plays a game of touch football. What keeps all this spinning is O’Toole, of course, lending his character an affecting gravitas, a light comic touch, and just the right, tantalizing dash of mad in his mad scientist to make him subtly mysterious. And there’s this one scene where—nope, I can’t spoil it for you. It’s not a big moment, but O’Toole makes this one simple gesture which is as cathartically touching as I can ever remember. Not a perfect movie, but some great, overlooked O’Toole.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Perfection is a rare thing in this world. In 1966, author Theodor Geisel (know to your kids as Dr. Suess) and animator Chuck Jones collaborated to bring Suess’ popular book How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the screen, adding songs and action to stretch its length. It could have been a recipe for disaster; padding like that usually is. But the songs fit perfectly into the story’s spirit and distinctive rhythm – no surprise, with lyrics written by Geisel himself and music by two experienced composers specializing in animation scores. The additional action fits just as organically: an elaborate sequence of Christmas cheer with jingtinglers and floo-floobers and great big electroWhocardioschnooks to ramp up the Whos excitement (and the Grinch’s inksome anticipation); a long wild ride hauling his spoils up Mount Crumpet (to the tiptop! to dump it!), then a mad, inspired struggle to win those spoils back from the greedy clutches of gravity. All too often, padding out a short tale dulls and deadens it, but these additions only make The Grinch gleam brighter. Add to that the gravely courteous Boris Karloff intoning his lines with his inimitable twinkle, and the deep voice of Thurl Ravenscroft booming out his songs, and… Well, I’m going to say it: How the Grinch Stole Christmas is perfect.

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

>>>For Saturday, Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World (in Feature Drama.) I felt similarly to when I watched Idiocracy for the first time, another film I would recommend, somewhat simultaneously baffled and understanding that the movie didn’t do well. It’s a really smart movie in the commentary of how we’d react to the impending demise of the world. They go as far as you want them to which was maybe difficult for some people to find amusement in, but is then also the reason the movie starts so satisfying. It doesn’t completely maintain that edge throughout the film, but I’m a such a sucker for romance that I didn’t mind towards the end. As with most romantic movies there’s a predictability that you have to suffer through. I’m not sure that Keira Knightly and Steve Carrell were really leaping off the screen with chemistry, but it was enough to accept a really sweet film about love and friendship and all that I personally think I would want from the apocalypse, a loved one to share the experience with. I teared up a bit at the end even and it felt good to be swept away.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Susan F. says, “Oh boy,you may have unleashed the movie buff in me! Bogart marathon…African Queen followed by Casablanca with a follow up of the Maltese Falcon. All great snow day movies. Marathon of Rocky movies, Godfather flicks….so any to choose! I could go on. Videoport as I was once told by the guy who did my condo inspection, he said “you have Videoport just across the street. There’s nothing you won’t find there. Even shows and movies you never thought of watching!”

New Releases this week at Videoport: Elysium (from the director of District 9 comes another oddball, dystopian sci fi thriller—but this time it’s got Matt Damon wearing a crazy robot battle suit!! It’s also a well-reviewed, Blade Runner-esque tale of a future where the rich exploit and discard the poor…but did I mention crazy robot battle suit!?!), Kick-Ass 2 (everybody’s not-that-favorite would-be superhero is back! That boring kid returns as the titular super-guy, a super power-less vigilante whose exploits have spawned an army of copycat wannabe heroes and villains this time out. Co-starring the decidedly not boring Chloe Grace Moretz [Let Me In] as the much-more-interesting psycho heroine Hit Girl), The Family (action master Luc Besson [The Professional] attempts to coax something like an actual, awake performance from the somnambulant-for-decades Robert DeNiro in this action comedy about a mafia family relocated to France and getting targeted when their cover gets blow; costarring Michelle Pfeiffer—take home Married To The Mob and have a Michelle/Mafia double feature!), Jayne Mansfield’s Car (Billy Bob Thornton writes and directs this good-looking drama with a great cast about two very different sides of a family coming together after the matriarch dies; starring the likes of John Hurt, Robert Duvall, Tippi Hedren, Billy Bob, Frances O’Connor, Robert Patrick, and more), Prisoners (Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhall, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Viola Davis, Melissa Leo and more star in this thriller about a desperate father doing desperate things in order to find his kidnapped daughter), Shameless- season 3 (William H. Macy, Joan Cusack, Emily Rossum, and a lot of screaming kids are back in this Showtime series about the white-trashiest, least-responsible family ever), The Lone Ranger (the long Hollywood tradition of not getting the Lone Ranger right continues with this box office and critical dud starring someone named “Armie” and Johnny Depp as an Indian which is not racist because…um…because it’s Johnny Depp I guess)), Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters (it’s a sequel to that other Percy Jackson movie about a boy with magical powers who is totally not like Harry potter, no siree Bob!), Ain’t Them Bodies Saints (Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck star as a pair of criminal lovers on the run in this atmospheric road movie that’s compared to Terrence Malick’s movies in every review; so who am I to buck the trend…), Night Train To Lisbon (Jeremy Irons stars as a jaded professor who, on a whim, follows a beautiful Portuguese woman to Lisbon in order to find out the fate of a fellow academic who disappeared there), Bronies: The Extremely Unexpected Adult Fans Of My Little Pony (documentary examines why grown men are ironically enjoying the reboot of a childrens show based on a discontinued toy line about pretty, pretty horsies), Devil’s Pass (Renny Harlin [The Long Kiss Goodnight] directs this horror movie about the real-life, and real spooky, Dyatlov Pass Incident, where a bunch of Russian hikers were found dead under very mysterious circumstances; if it’s not Yetis this time, I’m gonna be very disappointed), Justified- season 4 (the excellent Timothy DevilsPassPosterOlyphant returns as shoot-often-first, no-nonsense US Marshall Raylan Givens who’s sent back to patrol his old stomping grounds in Kentucky), Spiral- season 2 (we threw you the first season of this acclaimed and gritty French cop series and you guys ate it up—so here’s the second season. Pace yourselves, people…), St. Nick (from David Lowery, director of this week’s Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, comes this earlier indie drama about a young brother and sister who, after running away from home, attempt to tough out the harsh Texas winter in an abandoned country house)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray at Videoport: The Sound Of Music, Elysium, Kick-Ass 2, The Lone Ranger, The Family, Percy Jackson: Sea Of Monsters, Prisoners.