VideoReport #510

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

For the Week of 5/26/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the Week of 5/12/15

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

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

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l-r: Crow, Joel, Tom

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

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental! OR Get any three non-new releases for seven days for $7.99!                                                            >>> Emily S. Customer suggests Camelot (in Musicals). It’s May! It’s May! The lusty month of May! I’m not going to sugar-coat it: the 1967 film version of Camelot is a little too slack and overstuffed to retain the magic of the stage musical. It’s hard to imagine being stuck in a theater for three hours while this candy-floss confection plays out. But it’s a great candidate for home viewing, where you have the freedom to unwind and enjoy it on your own terms. As King Arthur and Guenevere, Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave chew some of that (award-winning) scenery, but they’re passionate, playful, and weirdly sympathetic for squabbling royalty stuck in a love triangle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VideoReport #507

   Volume DVII— Zero Dark Thirty-One

For the Week of 5/5/15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12 Dogs of Christmas: Great Puppy Rescue (2012)

6 Bullets (2012)

The Accused (1988)

Airplane! (1980)

All I Want for Christmas (1991)

Along Came Polly (2004)

An American Haunting (2006)

BASEketball (1998)

Bitter Moon (1992)

Boys Don’t Cry (1999)

Bratz: Babyz: The Movie (2005)

The Brothers Bloom (2008)

Cecil B. Demented (2000)

Cloud 9 (2014)

Deuces Wild (2002)

Divine Secrets of the Ya­Ya Sisterhood (2002)

Fantastic Voyage (1966)

Finding Forrester (2000)

Flight (2012)

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

Funny Face (1957)

Ichi the Killer (2001)

The Jewel of the Nile (1985)

A Knight’s Tale (2001)

Life Is Beautiful (1997)

The New Guy (2002)

Princess Diaries 2 (2004)

Red Dawn (2012)

RoboCop (1987)

Robot & Frank (2012)

Romancing the Stone (1984)

Sabrina (1954)

The Secret of NIMH (1982)

Silent House (2011)

Skyfall (2012)

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

Valkyrie (2008)

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

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

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

VideoReport #504

Volume DIII—The Tax Day Wallet Massacre

For the Week of 4/14/15

 Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. If there’s something wrong with that, then…well, there’s nothing wrong with that.

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

>>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Interstellar (sort of) (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Never been a rabid science fiction fan, but I have a fond memory of being freaked out watching “Logan’s Run” with my Dad in 1976. Anyway, I liked the metaphysical questions raised in “Interstellar”, a movie that we watched last night. If you like outer-space survival epics where there’s a lot of oops-we-wrecked-the-planet-and-we-better-find-another-one and you live to cling to hopes that there are loving beings (aliens) out there somewhere giving us signs about how and where to survive, you’ll like this. I always love the odyssey of the return home — which is where all these space-time continuum travelers end up wanting to go. What I did NOT love at all was the nearly incoherent too-cool-for-school-mumble-mouth-whisper-talk-over-accented-ramblings that Matthew McConaughey was allowed get away with. Ugh. I kept asking Peter, “what the heck did he just 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 $7.99!

>>> Dennis suggests Hud (in Classics). Everyone loves the late Paul Newman. It’s pretty much mandatory now, but there was a time when Newman was thought sort of as a bit of a stiffy—a prettyboy, Actors Studio hunk plying his sub-Brando leading man skills in mediocre movies. But this 1963 modern western was a hint of the super-cool Newman we’re all required to love and respect. In it, Newman is Hud, the materialistic, pragmatic scion of a ranching dynasty led by boringly righteous old-timer Melvyn Douglas. Stifling under his pa’s dully decent practices, Newman’s Hud acts out by tomcatting around and trying to sell dad’s infected cattle out from under him, while occasionally attempting to force himself on rangy, sensible ranch hand Patricia Neal and providing a very bad example for manhood to ranch youngster Brandon De Wilde (the grown-up kid from Shane). All-time great film critic Pauline Kael called foul on the film’s moral stance, saying that “casting Newman as a mean materialist is like writing a manifesto against the banking system while juggling your investments to make a fortune.” Simply put, Newman’s scaliwag, for all his greed and shed moral values and date-rapiness, is by far the most magnetic character in the 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 $7.99!  

>>> Dennis suggests In The Loop (in Comedy). The feature film continuation of the Bristish comedy series The Thick Of It (which you should rent first from Videoport’s British Comedy section), this movie is the creation of acerbically brilliant Brit Armondo Ianucci, who also came over here right after to create the great HBO political comedy Veep (which you should also rent from Videoport’s regular Comedy section). Like The West Wing, except that all the fast-talking denizens of the British and American halls of power are vain, self-serving, variously incompetent a-holes, In The Loop sees a (very) minor British government official saying one minor, slightly stupid thing, which sets off a chain reaction of political catastrophe that proves—as we all imagined—that governments are run by people who may actually have the public good foremost in their minds. The chief attraction here—as it is in The Thick Of It—is Peter Capaldi (miles away from the sweet goof he played in my favorite movie of all time, Local Hero). As creatively, incessantly profane British government minister Malcolm Tucker, Capadli (now killing it as Doctor Who—available in the Sci-Fi section at Videoport!) tries to keep the US and England from getting into an unnecessary and deadly war, not becase he’s opposed to war really, but because he despises the @(*&% stupidity behind the latest international cock-up. His scene squaring off with American general James Gandolfini is an all-time classic, with both unbending badasses insulting each other—and their respective countries—with escalating brilliance. As cynical, yet hilarious, a political comedy as you’ll see anywhere, this is just the movie to get you prepared for the terrifyingly farcical presidential election season about to take us in its grip.

>>>Dennis suggests Scrubs (in Comedy). One of the unique things about working in a video store is the chance to see what pieces of pop culture retain their popularity in the zeitgeist and which ones fade. At Videoport, we will—reluctantly—let go of some TV shows that fade. We’ll run a list of things than haven’t rented (not one single disc) in years, and then hold out nose and let ‘em go. Sometimes, we choose to hang on to something that hardly rents any more (sometimes because an employee throws a hissy fit—on an unrelated note, rent Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel or things are gonna get messy). So, in that spirit, howsabout saving this hospital sitcom which—perhaps because of the general distaste for star Zach Braff’s efforts as director—has dropped off the cultural map. This is a really good show, you guys, following Braff as the goofy, good-hearted, slightly naïve first-year intern at a teaching hospital as he copes with learning the ropes, dealing with death, and looking for love, all the while desperately trying to win the respect of his insanely demanding would-be mentor John C. McGinley. Forget how annoyed you’ve been with Braff since, in movies like Garden State and Wish I Was Here (they’re not that bad), and enjoy how exceptionally well the show uses Braff’s inherent spazziness as the epitome of the neophyte doctor, and how the show undercuts the unflinching examination of the realities of doctoring with hilarious flights of fancy. If you’ve ever loved one of the ubiquitous hospital shows cluttering TV, Scrubs is the antidote, telling the same stories and having its exceptional cast of supporting characters learn the same lessons with an unrelentingly smart and silly sense of humor. Don’t let Scrubs go the way of, say, the indifferent and increasingly forgotten Rescue Me, people. Good show.

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

 >>> Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests Birdman (Or The Unexpected Value Of Ignorance) (in Feature Drama). Many of you likely saw this film before the Oscars, but last night Peter and I watched “Birdman” (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) by Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu, with Michael Keaton in the lead. It’s filmed in mostly real time in a sort of stream of consciousness style. I loved the big dose of magical realism. At first it felt like a pretentious vehicle to play out the narcissistic woes of actors, but it’s more layered than that. Who hasn’t had some version of an existential crisis? Freud’s idea of the human psyche divided into 3 — the ID, the EGO and the SUPEREGO are at work here (though never spoken of overtly) as the lead character battles his demons and insecurities. He seeks for redemption (always compelling)– regarding the choices he’s made that have affected his career and consequently his relationships with his former wife and his daughter. I love movies, but what I love almost as much is the conversations and questions brought out by movies of substance.

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

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

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

>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Do The Right Thing (in the Criterion Collection). Spike Lee has proven himself an inconsistent filmmaker, sometimes an outright dopey one over the years. But his constant engagement with social issues in America has produced some of the most devastating portraits of the country’s racial divide, none more devastating that this 1989 portrait of a single day in a Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood on the hottest day of the year. SPOILER TIME. At the end of the day, a young black man is choked to death by the New York City police. He’s not a particularly nice young man—Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) is something of a neighborhood fixture, the scowling, boom-box carrying guy everyone’s afraid of. But the film masterfully ramps up the tension of a single block on a single day until Radio Raheem’s death seems like the inevitable result of America’s inability to overcome its ingrained prejudices. This is a masterful movie, a furious, energetic, and—yes—thrillingly entertaining. And, in an America some 26 years later, where “police killing unarmed black men” has, thanks to the proliferation of cell phone cameras, been brought into daily internet breakfast viewing, Lee’s outraged cry of despair has come to seem both prescient and depressingly ordinary. In 1989, I wandered out of the theater showing it in a daze, stumbled to a park bench nearby, and wept, openly. Now, I open my computer every morning and see irrefutable evidence that things like that have been happening all along, and my youthful confusion and outrage at a fictional representation of what Lee knew all along was the product of my privileged, blinkered belief that only the “Bad apples” of institutionalized racism did that sort of thing. What can I say—I was young.

>>>For Sunday, Redfern Mini Movie Reviews by Lisa Redfern suggests This Is Where I Leave You (in Feature Drama). “This is Where I Leave You” is not great cinema, BUT as the old “family-gathering story vehicle” genre goes, it’s pretty entertaining and there are some genuinely funny moments and some moving ones too. For me, there was too much fighting and too much family dysfunction for it to be deeply enjoyable and for me to care too deeply about most of the characters — it just never plunges deep enough, but the movie is redeemed by nice performances by Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. And bonus: Bateman has a beard in this one. Yum.

>>>Dennis suggests Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong (in Comedy). You probably know comedian/character actor Oswalt from his stints on shows like Justified, Dollhouse, Parks & Recreation, or movies like Young Adult or Big Fan, all of which he’s great in. But his bread and butter is standup comedy, where his smart, nerdy, allusive voice makes him one of the best comedians working today. In this, his best special, Oswalt is simply a giddy, intelligently hilarious delight. There are only a handful of comedians out there who I’d call some of the best who’ve ever been, and Oswalt’s one of them, so you should wildcard-posterrent this (or the other two specials of his we’ve got.) (In case you were wondering, you should also pick up specials from Maria Bamford and Louis CK while you’re at it.) Oswalt’s become a divisive figure, thanks to his aggressive Twitter presence, LFB3but I choose to admire his chutzpa in taking on high-profile topics in such a public forum—even though he and I actually got into it online recently. It’s cool—we settled things with some comic book references.MV5BMTk0NTYzMjQ3MV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODAwODU2MzE@._V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_AL_ We both might be dorks, but it’s okay.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Liars, Fires & Bears (Acclaimed indie drama about a neglected 9-year-old foster child who tries to make her way back to her brother with the help of an immature, alcoholic 30-year-old drifter), Killers (Dark Japanese thriller about a psychotic businessman who begins to The-Babadook-Movie-Postermess with a reporter over the internet, only to find out that the journalist has his own secrets), The Babadook (YOU NEED THIS. The best reviewed horror film in years sees a single mother discovering that the imaginary monster in her son’s closet might not be so much imaginary.), Big Eyes (Tim Burton continues his stylized paeans to oddball artists with this biopic about painter Margaret Keane [Amy Big-Eyes-Poster1Adams], the woman who painted those terrifying, huge-eyed children pictures your grandmother loved, and her creepy manager/husband [Christoph Waltz] who took all the credit for the aboniations—and all her money), Maps To The Stars (The great and disturbing director David Cronenberg [Videodrome, A History Of Violence, The Brood, Eastern Promises, A Dangerous Method] takes on Hollywood, which, shockingly, he views as a twisted and horrifying maps-to-the-stars-posterfreakshow. Starring Julianne Mooore and John Cusack), The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (Certified insane genius RZA is back, writing and starring in a sequel to his over-the-top martial arts extravaganza about an inexplicably African American blacksmith with a Brooklyn accent in ancient Japan), The Woman In Black 2: Angel Of Death (You know that horror movie starring Daniel “Harry Potter” Radcliffe? Well here’s the sequel—whichMV5BODkyMTMwMjA0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzQ3MDc4NDE@._V1_SX640_SY720_ does not star Daniel Radcliffe, this time about the same haunted house housing WWII orphans some 40 years after the first movie. There may be some woman—possibly wearing clothes of a particular color), Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (Anthony Hopkins stars in this heist/kidnapping thriller about the real-life abduction of the titular tycoon responsible for that notoriously skunky faux-fancy beer. Also—check out the woman_in_black_angel_of_death_ver5_xlg1Dutch original The Heineken Kidnapping, starring Rutger Hauer in Videoport’s foreign language section), The Missing- season 1 (Riveting British thriller series about a pair of grieving parents [James Nesbitt, Frances O’Connor] who receive cryptic hints that their son is alive, some years after he was abducted on a holiday in Paris), Antarctica: A Year On Ice (Visually stunning documentary about what it’s like to spend an entire year on the most inhospitable continent on the planet. At least there are Kidnapping-Mr.-heineken2penguins), Wild Card (Strutting human headbutt Jason Staham stars in this action thriller about a top-flight Las Vegas bodyguard with a gambling problem who—spoiler!—gets into trouble with the mob)

 New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at The Missing - Promotional Key ArtVideoport: The Immigrant

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

VideoReport #503

Volume DIII— The Punchening

For the Week of 4/7/15

 

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Does that make us superheroes? Well, we are also, collectively, Batman, so yes.

 

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

>>> Dennis suggests The Specials (in Incredibly Strange). It’s superhero week here at the VideoReport! (Which means that no one sent in any reviews, leaving me to cobble together this community newsletter on my own and freeing me to babble on specabout stuff I like! Send in your reviews to denmn@hotmail.com to prevent this in the future!) Anyway, superhero movies have never been hotter—the coffers of Marvel and DC Comics (well, mostly Marvel) fairly burst with all the cash. Some might find it annoying, and it sort of is, especially to comics geeks (like me) tired of yet another damned Spider Man origin story. (Seriously, Marvel—“with great power comes great responsibility”—we get it.) But, as with any genre, there’s a lot of potential for greatness in the superhero idea. Playing it straight and doing it great is one way to go, although only the Christopher Nolan Batman movies have managed that (and only really The Dark Knight, flawlessly). Instead, the idea of people dressing in theatrical costumes and beating the crap out of similarly clad bad guys offers filmmakers with a more analytical—perhaps odder—sensibility to turn the genre inside out and see what falls out. Case in point, this 2000 superhero comedy, written by the now-insanely-famous James Gunn (The Guardians Of The Galaxy), which examines the dysfunctional dynamics of The Specials, “the fifth or sixth most powerful superhero team in the world.” As with the monster hit GOTG, Gunn applied his innately perverse sense of humor to undermine the concept of superheroism in every way possible. Not that The Specials don’t do good, it’s just both that they’re not very good at it, and most of the team is cynical about the gig and crabby about their own less-than-impressive powers. The cast is outstanding, underplaying the comedy of their roles to various, rewarding degrees. Thomas Hayden Church (laser beam hands) is The Mighty Strobe, team leader, who applies is super-serious, Shatner-esque bombast which clashes with his hidden insecurity. He’s being cuckolded by his bored wife Miss Indestructible (guess), played by Paget Brewster with a sad, funny weariness. Her paramour, The Weevil (“weevil’s speed and agility”?), played by a very funny Rob Lowe as the only Special remotely popular—he’s being courted by the creepily CIA-backed Crusaders, and mulls leaving the team. Then there’s Gunn himself as Minute Man (he shrinks), an unassuming guy who really only gets mad when people misinterpret his name (“Am I wearing a tri-corner hat? No!). Judy Greer is Deadly Girl (unspecified supernatural powers—one time, she summoned zombies that ate people’s faces), who, in Greer’s signature disdainful sensibleness, barely tolerates her superhero life, while conceding that she doesn’t have much choice but to stay with them. Jamie Kennedy is Amok, the sort-of reformed supervillain, whose unpredictably dangerous anti-matter powers are only second to his abrasive personality in the reasons why people don’t like him. There’s strong-but-dim American Bill, Mr. Smart, Alien Orphan Doug, Power Chick, and new recruit Nightbird, whose powers are—well, “uniquely unimpressive” might be the kindest description. What’s equally unique about this low-budget comedy is that we never see any o The Specials use their powers, instead watching them bicker over money, relationships, and the pending release of their own action figure line. It’s an odd, inventively funny little movie summed up perfectly by its tagline: “Not as good as regular superheroes, but slightly better than you.” What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s a job, it doesn’t solve your personal problems, and not everyone gets cool powers.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Futurama, “Less than Hero” (S4, ep4). Here’s why you should always read your medication labels carefully. When Leela and Fry sooth their sore muscles with an application of Dr. FlimFlam’s Miracle 006_the-new-justice-team-fry-leela-bender_by-kik0thek1llerCream, they experience some minor side effects… like superhero strength, invulnerability to attack, and lickety-speed. (Okay, not so minor. So sure me! No, wait, only sue Dr. FlimFlam, and only if you have a solid case to present.) Suddenly endowed with superhero abilities, the two take on secret identities of Clobberella and Captain Yesterday, forming the New Justice League (along with Spuer King, a.k.a., Bender — who, y’know, always had the power to prevent crime and instead chose to tolerate and occasionally commit it, but whatever). Will The New Justice League be able to stop The Zookeeper from stealing the quantum gemerald? Will their fight for justice interfere with Leela’s parents’ special trip to the surface? Will Leela’s parents recognize their daughter despite the mask that does so very, very little to obscure her identity because I mean c’mon she’s a one-eyed purple-ponytailed babe and COME ON. Will you be able to stop humming the New Justice League song? Tune in — same robot time, same robot channel — to find out.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Mystery Men (in Comedy). A lot like The Specials, this 1999 comedy follows an inept super-team as they try to overcome their individual problems and singularly unimpressive powers to save the day. A lot broader and more scattershot than the sly Specials, Mystery Men is nonetheless a hoot, with the overqualified cast similarly bringing home their large_fDdN4LqE20rjGz1M66rKgMpJlyvcharacters’ insecurities and questionable abilities in the film’s cartoonishly weird pseudo-Gotham city setting. There’s Ben Stiller’s Mr. Furious, whose strength increases as he gets angry (in theory). Janeane Garofolo is The Bowler (she can control a bowling ball which contains her hero father’s skull.) Kel Mitchell is Invisible Boy, who claims to be invisible as long as no one is watching him. William H. Macy is hilarious as The Shoveler, a sad-sack family man who goes into battle and whacks people with a shovel. Wes Studi is mentor The Sphinx, whose powers are “very mysterious,” although someone heard once that he can cut guns in half with his mind. Hank Azaria is the Blue Raja, who dresses sort-of like a swami (in green) and is moderately adept at throwing forks at people. And Paul (Pee Wee Herman) Reubens is The Spleen, who has—sigh—weaponized flatulence. Throw in funny turns from Tom Waits as their weapon supplier, Greg Kinnear as the city’s “real hero,” the egotistical Captain Amazing, and a thoroughly, delightfully hammy Geoffrey Wright as the impeccably named villain Casanova Frankenstein. It’s a scattershot comedy, splitting time between big, goofy special effect gags and loosy-goosy improv-y verbal bits from the underplaying cast, but it’s also frequently very funny. What it teaches us about superheroing: It’s the size of your heart that counts. Oh, and also some rudimentary training and a whole lot of luck.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Super (in Incredibly Strange). Hey, it’s James Gunn again, writing and directing this 2010 dark, dark, insane superhero comedy starring The Office’s Rainn Wilson. Wilson plays a poor shlub of a guy who goes nuts when his improbably beautiful ex-junkie wife (Liv Tyler) is seduced and re-addicted by super-sleazy drug dealer Kevin Bacon (who’s Super-James-Gunn-2010very funny here). Suffering in impotent misery, Wilson is visited (and graphically scalped) by the voice/tentacles of God (or he’s just nuts) and sees the way to win his wife back—by dressing in a very unflattering red costume and braining evildoers with a wrench as The Crimson Bolt. Wilson’s improbably affecting, when he’s not being terrifyingly unbalanced, and, as his unwanted sidekick, the comic book-obsessed Boltie, Ellen Page brings an even more violent and bananas commitment to the crusade, culminating in an over-the-top and bloody raid on Bacon’s mansion. It’s dark—as much a character study of repressed madness as a superhero movie—but Super is also unnervingly entertaining. What it teaches us about superheroing: In the real world, dressing weird does not take the crazy out of indiscriminately bashing people who’ve annoyed you with a wrench.

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

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

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>>> For Saturday, Dennis suggests Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law (in Animation). Before Michael Keaton, there was Birdman! Remember Birdman? Winged cartoon superhero from the beloved Hanna-Barbera stable of stiff, barely-animated superheroes? Anyone? Well, no, of course you don’t—he was a nothing. Even little kids were bored with him. Well, this bonkers animated series had the idea that, after his superheroing days were done, Birdman (first name Harvey, apparently) went to law school and started practicing superhero law, exclusively defending other famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters. It’s of the spazzy, rapid-fire Adult Swim animated comedy genre, which I think is hilarious when done well (Sealab, Frisky Dingo, Archer, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) and exhausting when done poorly (Squidbillies, Superjail). Thankfully, Harvey Birdman is pretty damned funny, with the ultra-square Birdman blessedly voiced by the great Gary Cole (Veep, Talladega Nights, Dodgeball) as he defends Scooby and Shaggy for being stoners, Fred Flintstone for being a Sopranos-esque crime boss, and so on. Throw in a lot of random gags, recurring catchphrases, and general absurdity—plus the voice talents of Stephen Colbert as the eyepatch-sporting head of the law firm, and Christopher Guest regular Michael Hitchcock as Mentok, psychic judge. What it teaches us about superheroing: Sometimes you need a fallback career.

>>>For Sunday, Emily S. Customer suggests The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror X” (S11, ep4). In “Desperately Xeeking Xena,” the X-ray machine provided by Springfield Elementary to examine children’s Halloween candy malfunctions and how, leaving Bart with the ability to stretch his limbs in a manner similar to be not legally infringing upon a certain trademarked toy figurine and Lisa with immense power and strength. Together, they’re Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, cleaning up the streets and keeping Springfield safe from weirdos. When The Collector (more commonly known as Comic Book Guy) tries to collect guest star Lucy Lawless, Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl swing into action, only to find themselves in over their heads.

>>>Dennis suggests Unbreakable (in Mystery/Thriller.) Okya, even listing this particular movie in this particular themed issue is something of a spoiler, but, well, it’s 15 years old at this point, so deal with it. The Sixth Sense gets all the praise, but I think this movie from M. Night Shyamalan and star Bruce Willis is better. Willis plays a family man who works as a security guard and, after a horrific train crash, realizes that not only was he the only survivor, but he has never been hurt, or sick, a single day in his life. It’s only when he’s contacted by a mysterious, cane-hobbled man played by Samuel L. Jackson does Willis start to examine what those facts really mean. Dark, moody, and deliberately, meticulously creepy, this nigh-unclassifiable movie is riveting and as smart about the superhero genre as any ever made. What it teaches us about superheroing: Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it?

A-Most-Violent-Year-2014-cover-largeNew Releases this week at Videoport: A Most Violent Year (Great looking, gritty indie drama about an immigrant businessman in 1981 New York City [Inside Llewyn Davis’ Oscar Isaac] who seeks to keep his business afloat by any means necessary; great cast includes Jessica Chastain and Selma’s David Oyelowo), The Book Of Negroes (Wrenching miniseries follows a kidnapped African woman sold into slavery in America; starring Aunjanue Ellis, Lou Gossett, Jr. and Cuba Gooding Jr. ), The Immigrant (James Gray directed this 2013 sprawling drama about an innocent woman who comes to America at the turn of the century, only to find herself tricked into a life of servitude, until a magnetic magician looks to save her and The-Book-of-Negroes-DVDreunite her with her sister. Great cast includes Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner), The Voices (Super-dark comedy about a mild-mannered guy who may or may not be imagining that his pets are evil and telling him to kill people. When the girl of his dreams stands him up—what will his furry pals make him do? Starring Ryan Reynolds, Gemma the-immigrant-2013-01Arterton, and Portland’s own Ana Kendrick!), Home Sweet Hell (Professionally unlikable Kathere Heigl stars in this dark comedy about a housewife who goes murderously bananas when she discovers her husband [terminally shifty Patrick The Voices new posterWilson] is having an affair. Con: Jim Belushi’s in it. Pro: He might get horribly murdered!), The Rewrite (Hugh Grant is at it again, being all charming and stammer-y, and vaguely disreputable in this romantic drama about a struggling screenwriter who takes a job teaching screenwriting, only to find that one of his students is really good at screenwriting! And since said student is played by the lovely Marissa Tomei, can he keep both his hands and his professional jealousy to himself? Rent it 140367_orig-e1423059128373and see! ), Inside Amy Schumer- seasons 1&2 (Very funny and filthy sketch comedy series from standup comic Schumer, who’s about to get super-famous as the star of Judd Apatow’s next movie Trainwreck), To Go Viking (Documentary follows a group of young people from Philadelphia as they take part in an international, full-contact series of Viking combat d800149d2f947ad4d64f34668f8b20f6_originalcompetitions. Ever watch Vikings and think, “I’d look really good wielding a battle axe”? Then this is the documentary for you!)

inside-amy-schumer2Get some free money at Videoport! Yup, free money. Put $20 on your Videoport account, and we give you $25 in store credit. And a pre-pay of $30 gets you $40 in store credit! That…is free money, people.2b49bc7f2e163c8945fa71aedb90fdff