VideoReport #470

Volume CDLXX- The Criterioning

For the Week of 8/19/14

(Click the pics for more reviews!)

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. Just somethin’ to keep in mind…

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 checking out the sadly-relevant Robin Williams and Lauren Bacall tribute shelves in the Staff Picks section in the Middle Aisle. We’ve got a lot of movies by these two screen legends [and yes, I’m promoting Williams to legend.] Many you haven’t seen before. So now that the shocked grief-renting has subsided a bit, take home some of their movies and appreciate what’s been lost. Also, Death—we get it, you’re Death, you always win. But why not take it down a notch, just for a little while. No more cool dead actors, whattaya say?

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 Abby L. suggests Saturday Night Fever (in Musicals). In his 1914 short story collection, Dubliners, James Joyce captured the lives of everyday working-class Irish-Catholics and their struggles to prevail over not only poverty but a spiritual, emotional and mental hurdle known as “paralysis.” In Joyce’s world, paralysis was a combination of fear, self-doubt and self-sabotage that renders one immobile even in the opportunity for escape, a symptom of a hopeless life where endless struggle stunts the growth of one’s imagination and causes them to hesitate in the potential realization of even small, attainable dreams. Cut to 1977. At first glance, Tony Manero, the hero of the disco touchstone Saturday Night Fever, has little in common with the protagonists of Joyce’s English language masterpiece (most notably because he spouts gems like, “It’s a decision a girl’s gotta make early in life, if she’s gonna be a nice girl or a c**t”). Yet, the Catholic Damoclean sword of his blue-collar Italian family swings over his head. His hyena-like pack of goombah friends keep him preserved in childish arrogance and provincial Bay Ridge in-fighting. His followers and groupies, based in a single neighborhood disco, slobber over him with near-religious devotion and foster in the 20-year-old an unearned sense of accomplishment. The cautionary specter-like appearance of his disgraced older brother, who has just left the seminary, fuels Tony’s intense but impotent drive towards escape. The greatest articulation of class tension and anxiety in this film is the relationship between Tony and Stephanie, the upwardly-mobile, name-dropping fellow Brooklynite whom Tony befriends through dance. Stephanie is the only local the prodigy can call a peer, and she continually challenges his immaturity by reminding him of her own pursuit of glamour and betterment on the other side of the bridge. In the name of encouraging Tony to capitalize on his talent, she reminds the reigning king of the dance floor of what he really is: a big fish in a small pond. But her elaborate cosmopolitan act proves to be a smokescreen for her own crippling insecurity, an overcompensation for her naiveté which, as it turns out, presents itself constantly in her own professional life in Manhattan. Saturday Night Fever transcends its reputation as a mere 70’s time capsule in this delicate friendship, where the primary vulnerability shifts ceaselessly between Tony and Stephanie. In many ways, this film is the inversion of a film like Annie Hall, which also came out in 1977. Woody Allen’s depiction of the Manhattan intelligentsia so perfectly personifies the ranks Stephanie hopes to join, you can picture her character desperately trying to fit in at Alvie Singer’s cocktail parties. There are elements of this film that leave it stranded somewhere between class-conscious drama and 70’s camp. The dance sequences feature absorbing-but-dated visuals that today, despite the beauty of the flashing lights and smooth-flowing fabrics, are more at home in a thrift store than a dance club. A hackneyed action sequence between Tony’s friends and a cartoonish Hispanic rival gang only proves how un-tough these characters are. In short, these guys, in their silk shirts, salmon-colored skin-tight polyester pants and dainty gold disco chains, look like they got their laundry mixed up with their sisters.’ Today, John Travolta’s public image is closer to Battlefield Earth alien than Italian-American everyman. But the soundtrack, a record-shattering behemoth laden with the Bee-Gees at their most helium-voiced, is unimpeachable. It was Gene Siskel’s favorite movie, for God’s sake! The film’s shockingly dramatic conclusion reveals a few inevitable sacrificial lambs and reminds us that Saturday Night Fever is not the escapist slab of nostalgic, kitschy gouda the uninitiated viewer may expect. Tony’s future in dance, the ever-present threat of realizing fully his own greatness, fills him with the same internal doubt and dread Joyce’s Dubliners felt, the skepticism that dreams can be real, and the unanswerable question of who enjoys salvation, and why.

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 getting some serious free money at Videoport! You’re gonna spend your entertainment dollars with us, so why not get some free ones? No reason not to. $20 buys you $25 in store credit and $30 buys you $40. Boom—free money. Do that.

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!                                        

>>> Jeff el Customer recommends The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (in Feature Drama). The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was not a movie I wanted to run out and see. All I could think of was some boring short story they made us read in 7th grade. Maybe that’s what most of the reviewers were focused on when they panned this movie, too. But I, and the reviewers, were so wrong. Walter Mitty is brilliantly updated and made into a movie that will keep you pleasantly engaged for the entire 114 minutes. This is a fun time – from the moment Walter launches himself out the window of one skyscraper and crashes through into the burning building next door to save everyone inside (!) That scene is from Walter’s imagination, but soon he starts to take control of his life and his adventures become a reality of skateboarding, sharks, volcanoes, and mountain climbing. Great performances by Ben Stiller in the titular role, Kristen Wiig as his co-worker/love interest and tasty bit parts by Sean Penn as a deep, visionary photographer, Adam Scott as Walter’s annoying boss, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson as a drunken helicopter pilot in Iceland, and Patton Oswalt as the best CSR in online dating. My favorite part: check the look on Walter’s face when a friend is trying to drive him away from the erupting volcano – I see real terror there, the kind that can’t be faked – as he screams, “Holy sh*t! Drive faster!” Have the rewind button at the ready kids, you’ll want to watch some parts of Walter Mitty over and over, or rent it often from your friends at Videoport!

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

>>> Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Aladdin And The King Of Thieves. So, there have been many conversations both online and in person that have started with, “what’s your favorite Robin Williams film?” That’s always an easy question for me and I reviewed it last Videoreport, The Fisher King. As a person who has long adored making lists I want to immediately have an answer in my own head as to what the runner ups would be. Of course I love Dead Poet’s Society in every over the top inspirational way possible. But in all honesty I think the number two slot goes to Aladdin with a special nod to its underrated cousin Aladdin and the King of Thieves. We shall not speak of the Return of Jafar. It is not worth our time. Aladdin and the King of Thieves however, surprisingly entertaining! It brought back the original cast including Robin Williams who of course shines bringing the same level of humor he brought to the first. I always think it’s a sign of great character when a movie star is willing to participate in something straight to video. Aladdin and the King of Thieves ends up being sort of an Aladdin-Ali Baba hodge podge as Aladdin meets his long lost father. Spoiler alert…he’s a king…of thieves. Voiced by the ridiculously phenomenal John Rhys Davies which you would know from Indiana Jones, Lord of the Rings, and/or equally phenomenal cartoon series Gargoyles. The other cool aspect of this movie you get to see a post happily ever after that legitimately covers what a real couple would struggle and worry about it. Kudos to you Jasmine and Aladdin! I really think those crazy kids are going to make it work!  

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests closing you eyes and picking three movies at random from Videoport’s Criterion Collection section! Seriously—the CC is a company that has the best taste in movies anywhere. They put out deluxe editions of an impeccably chosen roster of classics, foreign films, choice new indies, and the occasional nutball head-scratcher (I’m looking at you, Equinox, Sweet Movie, and House). Basically, if you watched every film in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section, you’d be the most well-rounded movie expert in town. So take any three (you’ll get one for free all weekend) and begin the glorious journey into movie awesomeness. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Kevin H. suggests Adore (in Feature Drama). “Adore” is, apart from anything else, a stunningly beautiful movie. The setting is an isolated, lushly beautiful stretch of Australian coast. Lil (Naomi Watts) and Roz (Robin Wright) have grown up together in this paradise as neighbors and best friends. Now in their 40’s, they each have a son; Lil’s Ian (Xavier Samuel) and Roz’s Tom (James Frecheville), respectively. As with their mothers, the boys are the same age (now 19) and have grown up together. Mothers and sons are rooted to this place, to their lovely beach homes, and to each other. (And let me be clear, they are all exceptionally beautiful people). Other people seem extraneous. There have been husbands, but Lil’s died years ago, while Roz’s spouse Harold (Ben Mendelsohn) is clearly just far too drab of a person to really fit in, and soon it’s just the four of them. The natural beauty of the surroundings functions, I think, like an enchanted forest in a Shakespeare play –  a place where normal rules and conventions cease to exist. The four of them live more or less communally, moving between their neighboring houses, and….each woman takes up with the son of the other. They all decide, rather frankly and openly, that they like this state of affairs, and carry on in this way for at least a couple of years. The mothers, at least, seem to accept that this cannot continue forever. Yet none of them are really willing to stop, so long as they can keep the outside world out (they can’t. Or, maybe they can?). The movie asks us to accept this conduct as a matter of fact; it shows intimacy without dwelling on it, the characters are not spared consequences. Underneath it all there are questions circulating about female desire, the roles women are nominally allowed, how aging affects one’s view of self; the movie’s literary pedigree is from a Doris Lessing story titled “The Grandmothers.” Watch it for that, or watch it for just how beautifully and artfully it’s all put together.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Boardwalk Empire- season 4 (Steve Buscemi is back as Prohibition-era gangster Nucky Thompson in this HBO series set in an Atlantic City even more decrepit than the Atlantic City of today; with a great supporting cast including Michael K. Williams, Geoffrey Wright, Michael Shannon, and Kelly Macdonald), The Quiet Ones (Mad Men’s Jared Harris stars in this horror thriller about an Oxford professor who decides to test his theory about poltergeists on a disturbed young woman in an old, creepy house. I’m sure everything turns out fine…), Only Lovers Left Alive (The cool Videoport pick of the week, this is the latest film from ever-fascinating independent film legend Jim Jarmusch [Down By Law, Ghost Dog, Broken Flowers, Mystery Train]. This time, he brings us his version of a vampire tale, with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston starring as a pair of artsy immortal bloodusuckers who are more interested in lounging around and listening to music than cruising for victims.), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Andrew Garfield returns in this superhero sequel to the superhero reboot. This time, both Paul Giamatti and Jamie Foxx are on hand as the baddies trying to spoil the downtrodden spider-guy’s high school experience by smashing up New York City and occasionally kidnapping his girlfriend.), The Good Wife- season 5 (Julianna Magulies returns as the politician’s wife-turned-lawyer in this series that seemingly everyone loves. Great supporting cast helps, no doubt: Josh Charles, Christine Baranski, Alan Cumming, Chris Noth, and more.), Low Winter Sun- season 1 (Someone who works at Videoport got paid to watch this cop show about a Detroit cop on the edge. He suggests that that’s probably the way to watch this grim ‘n’ gritty series, but you can pay to watch it, too…), Fading Gigolo (John Turturro, in addition to being a hell of a character actor, is also an

Click the pic to read a Videoporter's reviews in the AV Club. If you dare.

Click the pic to read a Videoporter’s reviews in the AV Club. If you dare.

interesting director [Illuminata, Romance & Cigarettes] and here he plays the titular sex-for-hire guy of a certain age, selling his greying wares to the likes of Sharon Stone and Sofia Vergara. Oh, and Woody Allen plays his pimp—wrap your mind around that one.), The Sacrament (Indie horror director Ti West has made two very good horror movies—House Of The Devil and The Innkeepers—so you should probably check out his new one, about an investigative news team whose investigation of a creepy cult goes very, very wrong.)

New Arrivals At Videoport This Week: Tie Me Up, Tie Me Down! (Two, count ‘em two new releases from the kooks at the Criterion Collection this week—first up is this sexy, controversial film from the master of such things, Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. One of the first NC-17 films, it stars Antonio Banderas [never better than in Almodovar], an unstable former mental patient who kidnaps a porn star [the great Victoria Abril] in order to convince her to marry him.), Y Tu Mama Tambien (And speaking of sexy new Criterion releases, here’s the super-deluxe Criterion release of Alfonso Cuaron’s sexy, moving, funny road movie about a pair of Mexican teenagers [Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna] who find themselves taking an unexpected road trip with a mysterious, sensual older woman [Maribel Verdu])

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: The Quiet Ones, Boardwalk Empire- season 4, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Tie Me Up Tie Me Down!, The Sacrament

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VideoReport #461

Volume CDLXI—What The Bleep Does Videoport Know? Quite A Lot, Actually…

For the Week of 6/17/14

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Who hates a free movie? Nobody, that’s who.

 

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 soccer movies at Videoport! The World Cup is underway, so in deference to former Videoporter Dutch Dennis (aka Disco, aka Dutchelsberg) here’s all the soccer-y goodness you can find at Videoport!

Playing For Keeps (in Drama—2012). Tangentially soccer related but perpetual smirk machine Gerard Butler plays a failed soccer star who has sex with a lot of people.

United (Drama—2012). Feature about the 1958 Manchester United team, called the Busby Babes, who were the youngest team to ever win some soccer championship. Then a bunch of them dies in a plane crash.

The Damned United (2011—Drama). The excellent Michael Sheen stars in this fact-based drama about a soccer scandal that’s much more well know in England than over here. Great work from Sheen and Timothy Spall.

Goal, Goal 2, and Goal 3 (in Drama). A young guy would like to be very good at soccer. He becomes very good at soccer.

Gracie (2007—in Drama). Elizabeth Shue stars in this soccer story about her family’s true inspirational story. When a young man dies, his sister vows to take his place on the soccer team.

Once In A Lifetime” The Extraordinary Story Of The New York Cosmos (2006—Documentary). Remember that time in the 1970s when American almost but not quite bought in to soccer as a national sport? Well soccer legend Pele helped.

The Art Of Soccer (2006—Nonfiction Sports). John Cleese hosts this soccer documentary! John Cleese, people!

Green Street Hooligans (2005—Action). Elijah Wood stars as an expelled American college student who moves to England and falls in with a gang of British soccer thugs (led by Sons Of Anarchy’s Charlie Hunnam).

Kicking And Screaming (2005-Kids section). Will Ferrell stars as a high strung dude who coaches youth soccer and has to stop yelling at everyone. Pretty funny.

Real (2005—Nonfiction Sports). Documentary about Real Madrid, one of the richest and most successful soccer clubs in the world.

The Game Of Their Lives (2005—Drama.) Gerard Butler again, this time in a much better movie about the real life 1950 upset when the traditionally terrible American team beat the Brits.

Bend It Like Beckham (2002—Comedy). See Emily’s Saturday review!

Shaolin Soccer (2001—Comedy). Great action comedy from Stephen Chow about a hangdog soccer team who turn to martial arts for success.

A Shot At Glory (2000—Drama). Robert Duvall stars as a crusty Scottish soccer coach. Robert Duvall, people.

Mean Machine (1999—Former soccer enforcer/actor Vinny “Hard Man” Jones stars in this British soccer remake of The Longest Yard, with his jailed soccer star putting together a prisoner’s team.

Fever Pitch (1997—Drama). See Emily’s Thursday review!

The Firm (1989—Drama). Gary Oldman stars in this fact based tale of the notorious football hooligans fanatically following the West Ham United soccer team of the 1970s.

Victory (1981—Drama). Dopey but thrilling WWII soccer drama about a POW soccer team helping out the French Resistance by beating the Nazis…in

You have no idea what you're doing, do you Stallone?

You have no idea what you’re doing, do you Stallone?

soccer! Starring Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone…and Pele! Pele gets to do a really amazing bicycle kick which almost made me want to play soccer when I was twelve. Almost.

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 pays tribute to the late, great Ruby Dee. We’ve lost another great, readers: last week, just after the VideoReport went to press, legendary actor, activist, playwright, and author Ruby Dee died at the age of 91. Winner of the Emmy, Grammy, Obie, Screen Actors Guild (and also a SAG Lifetime Achievement honoree), Ruby Dee was also awarded the 1995 National Medal of Arts and a 2004 Kennedy Center Honor, along with her husband and partner in activism and art, Ossie Davis. She’s perhaps best known as Ruth in Raisin in the Sun (1961), recreating her star turn in the Broadway play, but Ruby Dee delivered riveting performances all her life, culminating in her Oscar-nominated role in American Gangster (2007). When news of her death reached me, I thought first of Dee’s unflappable wisdom in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (1989), where she observes and advises the neighborhood from her window. It’s hard to believe Ruby Dee is gone from us, that she’s not casting a watchful eye over us all. Mother Sister always watches.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests Ghostbusters (in Comedy). It was a year ago that my niece asked an innocent question that rocked my smug world to its foundations. “What’s Ghostbusters?” she asked, and I was appalled. Not at her — no, never — but at myself for having let my auntly duties escape me so thoroughly that she could reach 15 without watching this great American comedy. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters’ theatrical release*, I urge you not to fail in your duties to our youth as shamefully as I have. Rent Ghostbusters from Videoport this week and, if you can, share it with the next generation.

*You guys, we’re sorry. No excuses, no pretense. June 8th was the 30th anniversary of Ghostbusters’ theatrical release and we just… well, we just plumb forgot until after the VideoReport went to press.                                                                                      

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 you catch FÚTBOL fever! Fever Pitch (1997, not the 2005 American remake) adapts Nick Hornby’s intense and hilarious match-by-match memoir to tell the story of North London teacher Paul Ashworth (Colin Firth) as his soccer fanaticism impinges upon his blossoming romance with a fellow teacher. Fever Pitch rings notes similar to Hornby’s High Fidelity and About a Boy, but folds in an observation about how enthusiasm for a team expresses and sublimates a fan’s everyday anxieties and emotions, providing an outlet ill-afforded by most modern lives, and offering a substitute kinship system for those who bond over a team when they cannot connect in any other way.

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 kicks off another footie favorite! Bend It Like Beckham (in Comedy) stars Parminder Nagra as Jess, a talented football player forbidden by her patents to play on the local women’s team, and Keira Knightley as Jules, who recruits her anyway. Jules’ mother (Juliet Stevenson, household favorite chez Videoport) also discourages her daughter’s footie enthusiasm, constantly trying to lure Jules into pink sweater sets, Wonderbras, and other trappings of compulsory femininity. It sounds like a facile by-the-numbers movie, but Bend It Like Beckham won the hearts of a generation of girls with its winning combination of spirited competition and jubilant comradery. Roger Ebert observed “what makes it special is the bubbling energy of the cast and the warm joy with which Gurinder Chadha, the director and co-writer, tells her story.”

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer proves that the late, great Ruby Dee turns up in the darndest places. Did you remember that Ruby Dee — Emmy winner, Grammy winner, Oscar nominee, respected activist and poet — had a small role in Paul Schrader’s 1982 Cat Peopleremake? Yeah, me neither. But there she is, right in the first act: when Irina (Nastassja Kinski) arrives at her estranged brother’s home to reunite with him after a youth spent in foster care, she’s greeted by Paul’s housekeeper, Female. (It’s pronounced Fuh-mahl-ay.) I am not making this up.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Alan Partridge (first thing—head to Videoport’s British Comedy section and check out Knowing Me Knowing You, It’s Alan Partridge, and Steve Coogan Live to get a taste of Partridge. Alan Partridge, that is—comic Cogan’s most enduring creation, a clueless, egotistical, perpetually humiliated British TV and radio personality whose insatiable hunger for fame results in pain, embarrassment, and early morning radio DJ jobs in the North Country; now, in his first theatrical feature, the enduringly brilliant Cogan brings the enduringly squirmy Partridge to the big screen as his tiny radio station is taken over by a hostage taker), Walk Of Shame (the very funny Elizabeth Banks [30 Rock, Wet Hot American Summer] stars in this comedy she’s probably too good for about a professional woman who has a one night stand then has to slink across town for an important job interview), The Machine (British sci-fi about a near-future world where two brilliant researchers invent the world’s first self-aware artificial intelligence—that always goes well, right?), The Grand Budapest Hotel (director Wes Anderson continues his career as one of the most unique, singular moviemakers in the world with this universally loved bittersweet comedy about the titular luxury hotel and the comic misadventures of legendary concierge Ralph Fiennes; this is a good one, people), 2 Autumns, 3 Winters (charming French love story about some star-crossed thirtysomethings; from the good people at Film Movement—check out the Film Movement shelf in the middle aisle!), The Lego Movie (against all odds and logic and sense this animated comedy populated by Lego figures is apparently more than just a cynical toy commercial; I mean, it’s clearly a toy commercial, but it’s also supposed to be damned good. Weird…), Joe (both director Davd Gordon Green [George Washington, All The Real Girls] and Nicholas Cage [all the bad movies ever] attempt to reestablish their indie cred in this gritty, low budget drama about an embittered ex-con reluctantly choosing to help out a troubled teenager), The Attorney (Korean drama, based on a true story, about a shady lawyer who finds his conscience when he chooses to take on the case of a teenager whose been tortured after being falsely accused of a crime), House Of Cards- season 2 (Kevin Spacey is back as the least scrupulous politician since—well, all the real politicians in this series based on the British series House Of Cards, To Play The King, and The Final Cut which of course Videoport has—check the Mystery/Thriller section once you’ve run through the Spacey version), Ernest & Celestine (French animated film about the unlikely friendship between a lady mouse and a huge, honkin’ bear won all the awards and made everyone very, very happy; you should rent it if being happy is your thing…), Son Of God (who’s up for an edited-down version of that laughably bad History Channel miniseries The Bible, starring the most boring screen Jesus in memory? Well, Videoport’s got you covered!)

 

New Arrivals at Videoport: Lego Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (speaking of shameless toy commercials passing as legitimate entertainment, check out this animated Star Wars/Lego corporate synergy in the children’s section!), Kes (how awesome is Videoport’s Criterion Collection section? Well, it just got about 3% better with our addition of this 1969 British drama from the steadfastly uncompromising director Ken Loach [The Wind That Shakes The Barley, The Angels’ Share, The Navigators]; this one’s about a working class boy caring for his pet falcon)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Alan Partridge, The Machine, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Ernest & Celestine, The Lego Movie

 

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 #458

Volume CDLVIII—Godzilla vs. a Redbox Machine

For the Week of 5/27/14

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. That’s some free happiness every single day. What can we say—we love making people happy.

 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 Home Movies (in Animation.) It’s tough out there for a voice actor, but now that the great Jon Benjamin is getting some long-overdue adulation (since he voices the lead characters of two of the funniest shows currently on television—Bob’s Burgers and Archer), it’s time to look

Brendan, McGuirk

Brendan, McGuirk

back at Home Movies, one of the most enduringly funny and surprisingly sweet animated series ever. The story of Brendan, a gradeschooler with aspirations of being the world’s greatest movie director, the show strikes an inimitable balance of goofy, sharp, and adorable—with more than a touch of heart, even melancholy. Despite his inseparable friendship with pals/costars Melissa and Jason, and his combative but loving relationship with his single mother, Brendan’s a lonely kid, and an outsider, his eccentricities and his hobby making him worry far more than a little kid should. Perhaps that’s why he forms an unlikely friendship with his irascible, irresponsible soccer coach, John McGuirk (played, as is Jason, by Jon Benjamin.) As lonely and isolated in his own way as is Brendan, McGuirk finds himself drawn into the orbit of his odd student and his friends and family, much to everyone’s confusion and annoyance, and our hilarity. Honestly, I’d put McGuirk in my top twenty of all time TV characters—a uniquely ignorant, complexly silly character brought to life by Benjamin’s signature overweening overconfidence. (Benjamin also voices the equally weird Jason—who might just miss that top 20 list.) There’s so much to love about Home Movies—there’s a jazzy, improv-y verbal style that makes the laughs just roll along, one after another. But it’s Benjamin—and McGuirk—who truly take the show into some loopily resonant places. Do yourself a favor—this one’s just waiting to be discovered.

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 Bigger Than Life (in the Criterion Collection section.) You should rent this along with Martin Scorsese’s documentary A Personal Journey Through American Film (in the Documentary Arts section). In it, Scorsese waxes rhapsodic (with typical Scorsese fast talking enthusiasm) about this ahead of its time 1956 drama from director Nicholas Ray. In it, James Mason gives his riskiest performance as a loving family man and schoolteacher who becomes addicted to a new “miracle drug” intended to treat his many ailments and turns into one of the most frightening parental figures in screen history. Mason’s great as always, bringing his signature silky gravitas to the role of a normal guy who goes off the rails and, so doing, deconstructs the role of the “perfect father.” Sure, the muckraking aspect of the film (look out for the big, bad new drug…cortisone!) may be a little dated, but the drama itself is not. Another interesting sleeper unearthed by the good people at Criterion.

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 Legit- season 1 (in Comedy.) Videoport’s owner Bill, doing some of his mysterious boss research recently, revealed that neither disc of this new comedy series has rented. Like, not once. In more than a month. I mean, I know this wasn’t a big hit or anything (it got a second season on FX, but was recently cancelled), but not one rental? In a month? Pretty unprecedented. Which is a shame, because Legit, a showcase for Aussie standup comedian Jim Jeffries, is actually pretty funny. Like Louie or Seinfeld, it’s a sitcom purporting to show the life of a struggling standup comedian. It’s not as good as either of those shows, but it’s well worth catching—Jeffries’ shtick is that of a slobby, sort-of boorish stoner, but he’s got a sharp sensibility underlying the crudity. An outspoken atheist, Jeffries doesn’t get into that as much on the show, but the same willingness to rudely challenge oft-unquestioned beliefs and prejudices is part of Legit’s makeup. Living in a crappy house in LA where he’s trying to make it in showbiz, Jeffries ends up living with his sad sack divorced best friend (character actor Bakkedahl from The Heat), and Bakkedahl’s wheelchair-bound brother played by DJ Qualls. They go through the usual jerky motions, taking the sheltered kid to a strip club, getting him high, and so forth, but the thing that leavens Jeffries’ comedy, and the show, is that his heart is always in the right place. Jeffries’ comedy is of the “I’m just saying the hard truths that no one else has the guts to say,” which can be a haven for mean-spirited a-holery (see: Denis Leary, Adam Carolla, all of the Blue Collar Comedy jerks), but Jeffries, with his chipmunk teeth and inquisitive eyes, generally falls on the generous side of the spectrum, and the show has something of a thoughtful, melancholy vibe at times. Plus, lots of weed and fart jokes. C’mon—rent it already. Legit is getting lonely.

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 Pennies From Heaven (in Musicals.) Last week, I recommended a retrospective of cinematographer Gordon Willis’ most influential films. But perhaps my favorite film of his was not only not especially influential; it was a flop. Pennies from Heaven, the bleak Depression-set musical starring Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters, was promoted with woeful clumsiness, selling it as a lavish look back at a glitzy Golden Age of film, when in reality it’s an affecting (if grim) character study of a man unsatisfied – and unsatisfiable – with the real world. Willis’ command of light and dark illustrates the ironies and passions of Arthur Parker (Steve Martin), a down-on-his-luck sheet music salesman who rejects all the pleasures and profit of this life while daydreaming about the satiny, soft-focus pleasures of the Silver Screen. Willis made the most of the contrasts between the bright, light, frothy seductions of Arthur’s imagination and the drab realities of his everyday life, shifting from the dazzling light and precision of a musical number worthy of Busby Berkeley to the dankest, dreariest back alley in any Ashcan School painting.
It’s 1934, and two-bit sheet-music salesman Arthur Parker (Steve Martin) is deeply unsatisfied: with his work, with his marriage, with the drab everyday world he lives in. He wants to break out and seek adventure, romance, excitement, riches. He wants money to open his own record shop, he yearns to express his ardor, and he hankers for a little hanky-panky, but his prim and prudent wife Joan (Jessica Harper) won’t give up her nest-egg (if you know what I mean and I think that you do). Arthur takes up with a shy schoolmarm (Broadway baby Bernadette Peters) who harbors silver-screen dreams like his own. But nothing seems to make him happy, because nothing can. Arthur’s inner contradictions are crushing. He rejects tangible pleasure at every turn: he pushes away meals though he’s hungry; he brushes off his wife’s hard-won wooing; after his lyrical daydreams of wooing his true love, he presses for a hasty hump on the couch; when a lady of the evening asks if he’d like to “have a good time,” he growls “No, I like being miserable!” Moments later he coos dreamily, “But I want to live in a world where the songs come true.” This is the heart of his ambivalence: Arthur craves the flimsy joys of fantasy, not the modest but attainable pleasures of the real world. He doesn’t want plain ol’ happiness; he wants the glamour of a Happy Ending, Hollywood style. Coming on the heels of Steve Martin’s The JerkPennies from Heaven was woefully mis-marketed as a fond fantasy glancing back at the giddy musicals of the 1930s. That misreading must have made the actual film all the more jarring for contemporary audiences. Pennies from Heaven is a fantasy, all right, but a deliberately jarring one; the main characters break into song and dance to express their inner desires and fears, but after these glimpses into the dazzling paradise of their musical fantasies, the clunking return to the all-too-real world of grim Depression-era desperation stings viciously. In these tawdry studies in dark and light, director Herbert Ross deliberately evokes paintings from the ashcan school, a point that gets hammered home when we see Arthur and Eileen through the famous diner window from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Then the angle changes, placing us inside the famous painting. It’s a risky ploy that Ross carries off again and again with breathtaking ease, recreating several Ashcan landscapes that give depth to the film’s heart even as they blend seamlessly into Arthur’s garish gimcrack world. With its cruel interplay of luminous pipe dreams and dismal reality, Pennies from Heaven portrays the alienating effect of glitzy Hollywood fantasy as effectively as Sunset Boulevard or Mulholland Dr., raising us up along with the characters to grace the silver screen, then thumping us unceremoniously back to the dim, heavily shadowed rooms and streets of Arthur’s everyday.

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, Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! We want you! C’mon—maybe you’re shy, or you doubt your writing talents, but we know you’ve got opinions about movies and TV. So share ‘em! The VideoReport is Videoport’s weekly journal of movie-related stuff where the staff and customers (and pals) of the best, damned video store (remaining) in the world meet to argue. So send in your reviews to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our facebook page Videoport Jones. Throw your weight around, people!

>>>For Sunday, Dennis reprints his list of the best Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes (in Incredibly Strange.) A pair of very nice customers asked me what my favorite MST3k episode was last night and I blanked for a second, so here’s my list (but feel free to rent any of the more than 100 episodes Videoport’s got—they’ll make you happy):

Mitchell. A very made-for-TV-looking cop movie starring a very made-from-beefy-burritos-looking Joe Don Baker as the titular, pork-faced cop who overcomes his chronic lethargy to collar bad guy Martin Balsam and bed dippy hooker Linda Evans. Watch for Joel’s horrified scream of, “BABY OIL?! NOO!!!” after spotting a bottle on Mitchell’s nightstand during an unappealing love scene between the already-lubricious hero and Ms. Evans. Historically, this was Joel’s last episode after five years of hosting the show, as he is jettisoned back to earth in the heretofore-unknown escape pod, the Deus-Ex-Machina.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die. Taking over as host, head writer Mike Nelson ably fills Joel’s shoes as he and the ‘bots savage this sleazy 60’s mad scientist flick about a totally mental young doctor who keeps his fiancee’s decapitated head alive in a lasagna pan while he trolls strip shows, beauty contests and artists’ models so he can reassemble his beloved, preferably onto someone with a nice rack. Mike quickly gets into the swing of things: as the doctor, tucking the concealed head under his arm after the fateful car crash, runs through a park, Mike riffs, “He’s at the fifteen, the ten, no one will catch him!”
The Amazing Colossal Man. Joel and the lads take on the titular fifty foot atomic bomb survivor in this classic episode highlighted by very poor special effects, the whiniest giant around, and the spectacle of a huge, bald dude wearing an enormous, saggy diaper. In a skit, Joel sits in a cardboard dollhouse as the lugubrious, self-pitying hero, bemoaning his fate as Tom and Crow pepper him with irrelevant questions (Crow: How many fish can you name? Joel: Who cares? I’m immense, I’m huge, wahhhhhh). As the now-mental big guy complies with a soldier’s bullhorned order to release his understandably-upset girlfriend, Tom quips, “Thanks for putting down the girl. Now here are some bullets for you.”
Manos: The Hands of Fate. The legend. Although it has been said about almost every movie ever done on MST, this is officially the worst movie ever made, and Joel and the ‘bots let it have it with both barrels. A murky (Joel states that “every frame of this looks like someone’s last known photo”), sleazy, badly dubbed, atrociously acted tale of devil worshippers and a bland tourist family, Manos (yes, the title, translated, means “Hands, The Hands of Fate”) almost proves too much for our heroes, who periodically just break down and start weeping at its awfulness. All is saved, though, with Joel, dressing up as the berobed cultist from the film trying to subjugate the ‘bots, commanding, “Salutations, imperfect one! I am The Master and you are mysteriously drawn to me! Everything I say you must do right away without having to ask twice. I am evil and mean and unforgiving! In your brokenness, you have failed and now must repent. Bow down now before me! BOW DOWN!” Servo’s response: “Oh, hi Joel…”
Space Mutiny. Mike and the ‘bots vs a wretched space opera where all the space footage is purloined from the old Battlestar Galactica series, Cameron Mitchell plays the benevolent leader who looks like Santa in a mumu, the love interest appears to be about twenty saggy years older than the chunkhead hero, and all of the ‘spaceship’ interiors look suspiciously like decrepit warehouses. A running gag involves the boys yelling out alternative names for the bemuscled protagonist every time he does something ‘heroic’ (a partial list: Slab Bulkhead! Bridge Largemeat! Punt Speedchunk! Butch Deadlift! Splint Chesthair! Flint Ironstag! Bulk Vanderhuge! Thick Mcrunfast! Buff Drinklots! Slunk Slabchest! Fist Rockbone! Stomp Beefmob! Smash Lampjaw! Punch Rockgroin! Dirk Hardpeck! Rip Steakface! Crud Bonemeal! Brick Hardmeat! Gristle McThornbody! ) Watch for the Uwe Boll-worthy continuity error where a dead character suddenly reappears without comment back in the movie.
The Creeping Terror. Well, maybe this is the worst movie ever made… An alien (which looks suspiciously like a chinese dragon type thing covered with old burlap) shambles around an overexposed countryside in a very ineffectual attempt to do..something. It’s invaluably aided by the rock-stupid townies who just stand there screaming until it wobbles on top of them while they helpfully climb inside its mouth area. Most of the film is dubbed over by a supercilious narrator, reportedly because the original soundtrack was lost by the filmmakers; after one rare non-dubbed line emerges from someone’s mouth, Mike narrates, :”The sound of actual dialogue startled everyone”. Filled with odd interludes like the whitest high school dance you’ve ever seen (even for the 50’s), and a lengthy scene in which a young mother demonstrates the proper use of a rectal thermometer as soon as her baby starts crying (Mike: “How about talking to him? Or holding him even?”).
Cave Dwellers. It’s sword-and-sorcery time, with Joel and the ‘bots coping with this atrocious Conan ripoff by pointing out various continuity errors (like the medieval warrior wearing sunglasses. Crow: “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants? It’s OG!!”), logical inconsistencies (Joel: “Why is she limping?” Crow: “Because she’s got an arrow in her chest.” Joel: “Oh, I can see…huh?”), and the inexpressive, soloflexiness of former Tarzan Miles O’Keefe (“How much keefe is in this movie? Miles o’keefe.”)                           Night of the Blood Beast. Indie film maverick he may be, but there are few names that cause more collective horror to the gang on the Satellite of Love than Roger Corman, and this awesomely cheap sci fi thriller is the epitome of all that is Corman-tastic.  A cut-rate space program (consisting of six whole people in a shack in the California countryside) kill their only astronaut when their water-heater- rocket, unsurprisingly, crash lands.  Only he’s pregnant!  With alien sea monkeys!  And the outer space papa won’t be denied his visitation rights!  Mike and the boys are all over this one, and the riffing is as inspired as I can ever remember:  “This space program stinks!  I’m gonna go work for my uncle’s space program…”, “Look, they can launch their rockets in the morning and then sell corn out of their flat bed truck!”, and lots and lots of jokes about a doughy astronaut suddenly being all knocked up with brine shrimp.  Genius.  (Also includes one of the all-time bazonko shorts, the inexplicably phone-philic 50s ‘Once Upon a Honeymoon’.)

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Grand Piano (Elijah Wood stars as a concert pianist battling stage fright whose comeback concert is made slightly more difficult when sniper John Cusack sends him a note saying he’ll shoot if Wood plays even one wrong note! No pressure, Johnny C, geez…), Suits- season 3 (Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams are back as the shiftiest, suit-wearing-est lawyers in town in this entertaining legal series; They wear suit, I’m told!), Endless Love (a pretty rich girl falls for a pretty boy from the wrong side of the tracks and trouble ensues in this adaptation of the same novel that spawned that Brooke Shields movie which everyone still makes fun of), Gambit (in oddball fact of the week that will make you want to rent a movie you might otherwise ignore news—this remake of the 1966 Michael Caine/Shirley Maclaine art heist flick was written by—but not directed by—the Coen Brothers? Weird, but true. It stars Colin Firth, Alan Rickman, and Cameron Diaz this time around ), Cheap Thrills (check out Videoport’s Incredibly Strange section for this ghoulishly comic horror movie about a pair of down-on-their-luck pals who accept eccentric millionaire David Koechner’s [Anchorman] offer to compete in a series of fiendishly escalating dares in order to win a lot of money; I’m sure things go fine…)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Endless Love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #450

Volume CDL- The Fool Of Some Unspecified Date

For the Week of 4/1/14

 

Videoport doesn’t give you a free movie every day, isn’t independent and awesome, and thinks Netflix is a great, not-evil corporation. (Check the date, people…)

 

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 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) (in Horror.) Only for the strong of stomach and of heart. It’s all there in the title: this rural collection of chainsaws just… gets … MASSACRED. Oh, those poor, poor chainsaws. [Be sure to see Tobe Hooper’s 1974 original, and not the remake which – SPOILER ALERT – rounds up the chainsaws moments before the titular massacre and delivers them to a fix-it shop.]

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 Taxi Driver (in Action/Adventure.) Taxi Driver. Straying from his gritty roots, Scorsese anticipated the 1980s indie anthologies like Jim Jarmusch’s Mystery Train and Night on Earth with this lyrical glimpse into the stories of New York as told in the back of a cab. Titular Taxi Driver and nominal star Travis (Robert DeNiro) is the strand that weaves together the disparate tales of love, loss, and harrowing pain that spill out in the back seat of his cab as he pilots it around the dark streets of the city. Travis’s vantage point allows him to see a cross-section of humanity, and as the film reels on, his interests expand into everything from child welfare to the national election. But his sociological and political pursuits don’t keep this Everyman from expounding on the simple questions of life, like chewing the fat about the weather. As for Travis, he likes New York City when it rains and the streets are washed clean.

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

>>> Emily S. Customer suggests The Silence Of The Lambs (in Mstery/Thriller.) A sort of Babette’s Feast of the American West, Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs shows how the strength of one determined woman can save a ranch, a flock of sickly sheep, and a family – with a little bit of help, and a lot of quid pro quo. Determined to save her elderly uncle’s foundering sheep ranch, Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) gives up her demanding training with the FBI and moves to rural Montana to take over the operation. When the struggle becomes too much for one set of hands, veterinarian and father-figure Dr. Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) pitches in, joining her on the lonely landscape of the isolated ranch, and proves to be as adept in the field and the kitchen as he is in the clinic. Be sure to have a good Chianti on hand for the luscious dinner scene.

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 Streetcar Named Desire (in Classics.) Clang clang clang went the streetcar! Who knew Vivienne Leigh could sing?! Or, for that matter, that Elia Kazan, known for taut, gritty dramas like On the Waterfront and A Face in the Crowd, could – or wanted to – pull off a big-budget musical in the style of Vincente Minnelli’s Meet Me in St. Louis? When elegant older sister Blanche (Leigh) travels from the family’s country estate to visit sister Stella (Kim Hunter) and husband Stanley (Marlon Brando) in their working-class apartment in New Orleans, the fun begins! A Streetcar Named Desire pulls out all the bells and whistles and buttons and bows, sparking such musical-theater standards as Blanche & Mitch’s duet “Alpaca,” the haunting street chorus “Flores,” and Stanley’s rousing “Never Once Touched ‘er.”

>>>Dennis suggests F Is For Fake (in the Criterion Collection.) Orson Wells had his last laugh on the filmmaking word which notoriously rejected him in the last decades of his life by making this fascinating, fiendishly-clever documentary about fakers, forgers, and faux flim-flammers of all kinds. Ostensibly a portrait of the notorious art forger Elmyr de Hory, whose impeccable fakes, the film claims, hang in art galleries and museums all over the world. Then the film weaves in footage of de Horys supposedly shot by the infamous Howard Hughes hoaxer (see the film The Hoax) Francois Reichenbach, and then weaves in another story about an art swindle supposedly perpetrated on Pablo Picasso by a mysterious, beautiful woman who appears in the background of both stories. And then Welles, ever the sleigh of hand-man, pulls a final rabbit out of his stylish fedora. It’s a fascinating, prankish masterpiece—the last great Welles film in a career littered with unfinished projects.

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

>>> “A free movie—for children?! Why, back in my day, children worked in the fields all day and played with sticks to entertain themselves! Bah!”

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

>>>For Saturday, Emily S. Customer suggests Jaws (in Horror.) A sort of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead for the super-spy set, Jaws is a witty, bittersweet character study of the often-disregarded henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel). The James Bond franchise typically focused on Jaws’ attention-grabbing superficial attributes and abilities: his towering height and massive strength, his nine-lives-style survival skills, and, of course, the steel-capped teeth that allow him to bite through metal cables and human bones alike. But Jaws is more than a pair of murderously-powerful hands and a terrifying bite radius. More than any other character in the 007 universe, Jaws has insight into the daily lives, motives, and machinations of the most elite villains ever to threaten the earth’s very existence. He’s been employed at high levels in at least three different supervillain consortia, yet never before has a film addressed the ins and outs of Jaws’ no-doubt fascinating life.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Godfather (in Feature Drama.)  Get ready to laugh! In this 1972 kneeslapper, Vito (Marlon Brando), is just trying to get to the chapel on time. Vito’s single and schlubby; Tom’s settled down with his new wife, a house in the ‘burbs, and now a baby! Standing up as the baby’s godfather during his baptism will give Vito a chance to cement their once-vital friendship – but first he’s got to get to the chapel on time, and the Metro-North ain’t cooperating! Slapstick adventure turns to a farcical buddy-pic reminiscent of The Out-of-Towners when Vito finally calls on Tom for help (and a ride in Tom’s station wagon), culminating in a hilarious and heartwarming scene at the Causeway toll plaza where both men spill their guts in admiration for each other.

>>>Dennis suggests not emulating these prank-y movies (but definitely suggests renting them from Videoport.) Pranking is a pretty douche-y thing to do if you do it wrong (it’s pretty douche-y regardless, rally.) But some people have raised the art of making other people look stupid to, well, an art. Now a lot of you are gonna throw the Jackass dudes at me here, and, all right, I’ll concede that they occasionally make me laugh. When I’m not trying not to hurl. Look, I’m a grown man—I need to see less footage of dirtbags eating their own pee than they seem to think. That being said, there’s a certain genius in making people feel really uncomfortable by violating the social contract with seeming heedless glee, so more power to ‘em. Plus, it’s perversely satisfying to watch an obnoxious guy get really, really hurt. The one prank I remember liking most is in one of the Jackasses (don’t ask which one) where several of them stand overlooking a golf course and blast an air horn every time one of the rich golfers tries to take a swing, eventually provoking the upper-class twist to start winging their golf shots right at them. I think golf and country clubs are ridiculous and awful—it just appealed to the Caddyshack in me. The art of the prank phone call is another thing, and the show Crank Yankers takes some very funny people (Billy West, Tracy Morgan, Sarah Silverman) and has them do characters while calling to complain that, say, they can’t get a tee time at the local country club (golf, again, is stupid), or that they’re going to sue the strip club they’re applying to because they’re blind and have to bring their seeing eye dog onstage with them. That sort of thing. As with all pranksmanship, a little goes a long way, but the performers throw themselves into the necessarily improv-y performances with gusto, and, as I say, they are very funny people. Oh, and did I mention it’s all reenacted in puppet form? It’s an inspired idea, adding a whole other level of loopy rudeness to the proceedings. Of course, the mack-daddy of all current pranks is an unassuming Brit named Sacha Baron Cohen who, whether as alter-egos Borat, Ali G, or Bruno has taken the simple Candid Camera gag and turned it into something like satirical genius. His stuff (the Ali G Show and the movies Borat and Bruno) are certainly a tough watch, partaking in all the grossness and squirminess the genre requires, but his fiendish idea is to confront people with a character which brings out the worst in them. So that when they react, they’re unknowingly revealing some very ugly truths about themselves—and us. Cruel, sure—but there’s some stuff that Cohen pulls off which is like a sociology experiment masquerading as gross, dumb comedy bits. Getting fratboys to chant gleefully hateful things, or red staters to join in with the ignorant Borat’s racist song, or nearly provoking a homophobic riot at a mixed martial arts competition—Cohen is fearless and much smarter than the average prankster. Oh, there’s also a lot of poop. So please don’t try this stuff at home—you’re just not very good at it—but rent ‘em from Videoport. They will all make you very, very uncomfortable.

 

           An April Fool’s Day DVD-Handling Primer

So it’s totally okay to touch the shiny side of one of Videoport’s pristine, precious DVDs. Oh, and please, whatever you do, leave the disc our of its case so that your baby, dog, monkey, or just irresponsible friends and family can spread peanut butter, grit, dirt, grime, sand, crumbs, bongwater, and humus on it! Videoport definitely doesn’t need that movie to work properly! Oh, and if you have a chance, go ahead and let your young kids—who you don’t let operate anything more complicated than a nerf ball—handle and play with our DVDs without supervision—in fact, we insist you do that. Videoport is not a small, independent video store which depends on the health and safety of its hard-bought, precious DVDs! And if it’s not too much trouble, go ahead and play floor hockey with a Videoport DVD—Videoport’s employees don’t feel like screaming and crying and setting things on fire when they see one of their precious DVDs (which are all inspected and cleaned going out the door so we know exactly who’s messing them up every time) come back looking like they’ve been used to sand an antique coffee table. Seriously! All of these things! In no way ironic! Make it happen, people!

 

New Releases this week at Videoport: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (Ron Burgundy is back! Sure, it’s a sequel, but it’s a sequel to one of the funniest, most quotable films ever—Will Ferrell’s vain newsman is one of the most inspired comic creations ever and I’m going to watch this about 50 times and then annoy you with quotes until you punch me!), 47 Ronin (The very not-Japanese Keanu Reeves stars in this bananas big-budget retelling of the legendary Japanese tale of the titular samurai who, when their master is treacherously killed, go on a serious arse-kicking spree; fun fact—Keanu Reeves? Not Japanese! Like, in the slightest!), Psych—season 8 (say goodbye to everyone’s favorite comic crimefighting team with James Roday’s fake psychic detective and his sensible—and hilarious—pal Burton Guster solving crimes with the power of lying and comic timing), Broadchurch—season 1 (David “Doctor Who” Tennant and Olivia “Really Good Actress” Coleman star in this gripping British detective series about a pair of mismatched coppers teaming up to solve the murder of a young boy in a seaside town), The Bag Man (oddball crime thriller about John Cusack’s hitman tasked with delivering a mysterious bag to boss Robert DeNiro—without looking inside, no not even one little bit! No spoilers, but I bet he looks inside. Also starring Crispin Glover for added weirdness!), Knights Of Badassdom (a group of LARPers [that’s live action roleplayers to you] find themselves having to swap out their foam swords for the real things when some dope accidentally reads from a real spell book and raises demons; starring cool people Steve Zahn, Summer Glau, and Game Of Thrones knight of awesomeness Peter Dinklage!!), At Middleton (Andy Garcia and Vera Farmiga star in this grown up romantic comedy about a pair of mismatched parents taking their respective kids on a college tour who decide to play hooky and have a lovely day making moony eyes at each other), The Truth About Emanuel (Jessica Biel stars in this thriller about a disturbed young woman who becomes obsessed with the woman who moves in next door), The Pirate Fairy (Tinkerbell is back! And now she’s a pirate or something? Ask your daughter—she’ll fill you in)

 

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week At Videoport: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, 47 Ronin, King Of The Hill

An April Fool’s Money-Saving Tip from Videoport!

When you put $20 on your Videoport account, it magically turns into $25 worth of rental credit! And $30 buys you $40 worth of rental credit! Just kidding—it doesn’t! Just kidding—it totally does! (Seriously, these are real specials you can do any time to stretch your movie renting dollar. We’d never kid about things like that. Except we totally did that one time just now. Just get some free money, you…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VideoReport #443

Volume CDXLIII- 2014: The Year People Realize Netflix And RedBox Are The Snooki And Jwoww Of World Culture

For the Week of 2/11/14

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. You know that really bad day where you could really use a free extra movie to cheer you up? Yeah—we’ll be here for you.

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 RoboCop (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) Now that the new, shiny, probably really unnecessary remake will debut to middling business, why not revisit the original, a hyper-violent, slyly satirical sci fi action bloodbath from director Paul Verhoeven (who also slipped some seriously subversive satire of right wing, militaristic culture in Starship Troopers). While the new film apparently takes similar aim at the whole armored drone thing, the original, in which an evil corporation resurrects dead Detroit copper Peter Weller and turns him into the half-machine titular peacekeeper was more of a scattershot broadside against every excess of the 1980s. And it was frighteningly prescient, lobbing satire grenades against vapid, conservative TV news (in the years before Fox News), private security firms and prisons (read the news), and generally the entire 80s violent movie culture. Weller’s just right, using his classical movement training to imbue the actions of the at-first impassive RoboCop with an affecting pathos. Ronny Cox makes a super-slimy corporate villain, 70s=80s stalwart Nacy Allen brought some spunk to the role of RoboCop’s parter, Miguel Ferrer is the quintessential 80s executive d-bag, and on and on. And the once-shocking violence is, well, still pretty shocking (the goopy death of henchman Paul McCrane is the stuff delighted audience squeals of disgust are made of.) Violent, sly, and much smarter than its given credit for—RoboCop.

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 Beat The Devil (in Classics.) For several reasons. First of all, this is a really fun movie, with people like Humphrey Bogart, Gina Lollobrigida, Jennifer Jones, Peter Lorre, and Robert Morley all scheming and smooching and overacting as a mismatched rabble of world travelers vying for a big treasure and so forth. It’s fun, and entertaining and very weird, which makes sense, since: Two—legendary director and rapscallion John Huston (who directed Bogart and Lorre in the superlative The Maltese Falcon) decided to basically treat the whole enterprise as something of a goof—and didn’t really tell Bogart. Huston hired young novelist Truman Capote to rewrite the script with him and they turned this tale of high-seas heist-ery into a sly satire of big budget caper movies. Again, without telling too many people what they were up to. So, in the same scene, you might see a half dozen people, two of whom are playing it straight, two of whom are playing it big as parody, and two caught in the middle trying to keep up. Plus, for trivia fans, Bogart was out of commission for a while after a serious car accident which cost him a few teeth, and Huston brought in a young British actor to dub some of Bogey’s lines. They’re still in there—dubbed by Peter Sellers. A loopy nutball of a movie!

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 saying goodbye to the great Danish director Gabriel Axel who died this week with a rental of his Oscar-winning Babette’s Feast (in the Criterion Collection.) It’s about a young servant woman who uses her unexpected good financial fortune to prepare a sumptuous banquet for the people of the small, severe Danish village where she’s toiled for years. Everyone loves this movie.

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 The Crash Reel (in Nonfiction/Sports.) For me, the true test of a documentary is how much it makes me care about a subject I previously cared nothing about. Recent films that have passed the test: “Blackfish” (orcas in captivity), “Bending Steel” (self made strongman), “Drew: The Man Behind The Posters” (guy who created cool hand-drawn movie posters). And now the new documentary “The Crash Reel” (snowboarders). “The Crash Reel” centers on Kevin Pearce, a snowboarding prodigy who rose to the heights of the sport, vying for a 2010 Olympic berth while dueling with, and actually surpassing eventual gold medalist Shaun White (currently ripping it up at the Sochi games). While still a teenager, Pearce went pro, scored countless endorsements, and started besting White in competitions around the world. And then he fell. In footage, the fall, after missing a training move on a 22-foot half pipe, doesn’t look especially dramatic. We’ve all certainly seen worse, thanks to Youtube and the ubiquitous “crash reels” that come out of extreme sports competitions like the X Games. But Pearce landed squarely on his face, was choppered to a hospital, and diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury which left him comatose, then facing months of intensive rehabilitation. The film, from Oscar-nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker (“Devil’s Playground,” “Blindside”) follows Pearce, and his close-knit family, as Kevin slowly recovers and contemplates a comeback. So far so by-the-numbers for a sports documentary, except that as “The Crash Reel” progresses, it becomes less the expected “athlete overcomes obstacles” tale and more about both the way “extreme sports” are simply a poorly-regulated tragedy waiting to happen, and how Kevin Pearce learns, with his family’s help, that all those macho jock platitudes serve to distract young, invincible-feeling athletes from the fact that youth, and health, are very fragile commodities indeed. As an avid non-skier/snowboarder/risker of personal well being by showing off, I admit to feeling a little worn out by the beginning of the film, a typical montage of best buds bro-ing out on the slopes and saying “dude” a lot. But Walker’s approach serves a purpose, showing the beginning of a breezy, feel-good ski film before yanking the board out from under the viewer once the lively, graceful Kevin goes down and his toothy, cocky grin becomes the glassy, terrified stare of a young man suddenly unable to think clearly or move his limbs. As Kevin’s rehab progresses, we see him try to reassert his formerly world-class physicality with heartbreaking results, and witness how his dogged determination to return to pro snowboarding (and the physical and mental limitations resulting from his injury) try the understanding of his warm, supportive family (including his Down’s syndrome-afflicted little brother David, a Special Olympian who should probably get his own movie next.) So is “The Crash Reel” saying that you snow-fiends should hang up your boards? Not really. If there’s a target here, it’s more the proponents of extreme sports, who, promoters and fans alike, insist on more and more dangerous stunts to whet the public’s appetite for spectacle. Apart from pointing out the lack of insurance and safeguards for athletes, the film makes the point that other dangerous sports such as car racing eventually put limits on how fast and how perilous their sports should be. Not so for the X Games, where the ethos of “higher, faster, more dangerous” rules. Of course, pushing the physical limits of what humans can achieve is the essence of athletic competition, and I love the Olympics as much as anyone. But as the film shows its montage of crippled and dead extreme athletes (in harrowing footage), and we see Kevin try to impart what he’s learned to a twice-brain-injured snowboarder who has chillingly lost the ability to control his impulses, the X Games announcer who pays tribute to deceased freestyle skier Sarah Burke with the pronouncement, “It’s said that the brave do not live forever but the cautious do not live at all” seems like just the sort of person who should see “The Crash Reel” before he goes on TV again.

(Reprinted from Dennis’ column in the Press Herald—if you’d like to avoid this sort of blatant recycling, send in your reviews to us at denmn@hotmail.com or our Facebook page Videoport Jones!)

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

>>>It’s free.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests GETTING FREE MONEY AT VIDEOPORT! There’s no reason you wouldn’t do this, so listen up, gang. You love Videoport and you’re gonna spend your hard-earned entertainment dollar here. So why not get some free, not-at-all-earned entertainment dollars with our mega-awesome deals. Listen up: $20 gets you $25 in rental credit. $30 gets you $40 in rental credit. It’s free, and it never expires, and it just sits there on your account until you decide to use it. Free…money. Seriously.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests The Americans- season 1 (in Mystery/Thriller.) Another one of last year’s shows that was way better than I thought it would be (see: Vikings), this one, about Russian sleeper agents in 1980’s Washington DC, has a lot going for it (look for outstanding supporting roles from Margo Martindale and Derek Luke), but will grab you right by the throat in the very first sequence, a chase/fight scene scored to an era-appropriate but very unexpected pop song that I won’t spoil here. (Even though it’s got one of the most fun one-word names of any song ever and it’s a lot of fun to just yell out for no reason.) Good show.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Sherlock- season 3 (everybody’s favorite weirdo sociopath supersleuth is back, with your boyfriend Benedict Cumberbatch returning to solve a trio of mysteries alongside his stalwart companion and BFF John Watson [the ever-wonderful Martin Freeman]; chief among them—hey, didn’t Sherlock die at the end of last season?), The Best Man Holiday (it’s 14 years since that romantic comedy movie about a group of African American friends and lovers that you sort of remember came out, so here’s a sequel where the truly excellent cast [Taye Diggs, Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan, and Terrance Howard] reunites to see what’s going on in everyone’s lives), Ender’s Game (big budget sci fi adaptation about an alien invasion of Earth that can only be stopped when Ben Kingsley and Harrison Ford find a precocious little guy who’s the chose one of some kind; adapted from the novel by sci fi mainstay and noted homophobe Orson Scott Card), Austenland (Kerri Russell stars in this comedy about a Jane Austen-obsessed woman who flies off to vacation at the titular, Jane Austen-themed resort, only to find that things are slightly less stately and romantic in the real world; costarring Flight Of The Conchords’ Bret McKenzie and Baltar), The Americans- season 1 (more Kerri Russell, although slightly different this time, as she, alongside the very good Matthew Rhys, portray a typical 1980s suburban couple—who are secretly Russian spies!! Seriously though, this series is really good…look out for the opening action sequence, set to an unexpectedly-effective 80s pop song…), All Is Lost (Robert Redford stars in this sparse, gripping adventure tale about a lone sailor forced to battle for survival when his sailboat is unexpectedly struck by a rogue shipping container in the middle of the Atlantic; it’s a late-career one-man show from Redford, who’s the only man on screen—it’s like Castaway, except he’s not babbling to a volleyball and doing FedEx product placement the entire time), The Counselor (a huge all-star cast, including Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardem, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, and Brad Pitt, coupled with a major director [Ridley Scott], in an original script by acclaimed novelist Cormac McCarthy [No Country For Old Men, All The Pretty Horses, The Road]—this violent crime thriller sounds like a must-watch to me…), Young Detective Dee: Rise Of The Sea Dragon (prequel to the super cool Detective Dee, about a 7th century Chinese super-detective; this time director Tsui Hark flashes back to Dee’s first case, where he investigates reports of a sea monster terrorizing a small coastal town), Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth (directed by Spike Lee, this film version of Tyson’s one-man show, where he dishes some brutal [and actually quite disputed—cough—convicted rapist—cough] truths about his long, puzzling, often-tragic career in and out of the ring), The Returned- season 1 (chillingly acclaimed French series about a remote Alpine village shocked by the unexplained reappearance of several of it’s inhabitants—years after they died; and then a series of gruesome murders start turning up while the confused undead attempt to reconnect with their former loved ones; seriously, folks—this is a good one…), Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer (just in time to shed some light on the oppressive Putin regime [while he sits grimly at the Olympics on your TV every night] here comes the DVD release of this documentary about the titular all-female Russian punk band who were thrown in prison after offending the government with their music—and possibly their name), The Human Scale (documentary about famed architect and urban planner Jan Gehl, whose innovative ideas about city living may one day make you not look out your window and feel all sad inside), How I Live Now (in a near-future England, a disaffected American teenager [Saoirse Ronan] finds herself fleeing to the countryside to fend for herself when a European conflict causes society to break down; from the director of The Last King Of Scotland), The Artist And The Model (alluring French drama about an old sculptor [the great Jean Rochefort] in occupied WWII France who finds his creative spirit restored when a young Spanish refugee girl inspires him to return to his last, unfinished sculpture), The Adventurer—The Curse Of The Midas Box (Michael Sheen and Sam Neill star in this British family adventure about a young boy who, after his parents disappear and his young brother is kidnapped, delves deep into the mysteries of a sinister old hotel), Baggage Claim (comedy about flight attendant Paula Patton who decides she needs to get engaged in the 30 days before her little sister’s wedding; luckily [?], her friend cooks up a scheme where she can reconnect with all of her ex-boyfriends to see if any of them are the one who got away; costarring Taye Diggs! Again!), Marc Maron—Thinky Pain (host of one of the best podcasts out there [WTF?], standup comedian Maron brings his signature brand of self-lacerating ranting to the stage for this standup special), Mother Of George (a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn find their new marriage rocked by the pressures put on them to have a child by their families, and their inability to conceive in this well-reviewed indie drama starring The Walking Dead‘s Danai Gurira and the great Isaach De Bankolé [Ghost Dog, Night On Earth, The Limits Of Control]), Burton And Taylor (reportedly about 37 times better than the Lindsay Lohan-starring Liz & Dick], this biopic about the tumultuous romance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor swaps first names for last and real actors Helena Bonham Carter and The tumblr_inline_mub6aaPduT1qdivgoWire’s Dominic West), Bridegroom (heartbreaking documentary about a gay man whose dreams of marrying his boyfriend once California’s gay marriage law is passed are doubly dashed when his fiancee dies and the man’s d-bag family refuses to allow him to attend the funeral; seriously, family? Seriously?), 22 Bullets (Jean Reno stars as a retired mobster who gets seriously un-retired when he seeks revenge against the former friend who left him for dead with the titular number of slugs inside him), Spinning Plates (hellooooo, Portland foodies! Check out this acclaimed documentary about the eccentric owners of three unique restaurants!)

New Blu-Rays At Videoport: Sherlock- season 3, The Best Man Holiday, All Is Lost, Baggage Claim, Free Birds, 22 Bullets, Miami Connection