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 #506

Volume DVI—The Avengers 3: Punch Everything Until It All Comes Out Okay

For the Week of 4/28/15

Videoport gives you a free movies every single day. You know who gives you free movies never? Netfl*x, Redb*x, Time Warn*r Cable—that’s who. Local, independent—Videoport. Come have a free movie on us.

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!

rare_exports_teaser_poster_en>>> Videoport customer Connor Q. suggests Rare Exports (in the Incredibly Strange section). Rare Exports is in Finnish, which is awesome. When I was in high school, all I wanted to do was learn Finnish. Which was hard, since Portland was low on Finns then, and also lacked the now ample Finnish-media-providing powers of the Internet, since it was the early 1990s. So instead I had to run and see every Aki Kaurismäki movie that The Movies saw fit to put on—try saying “Tulitikkutehdaan Tyttö” seven times fast—and also rent Leningrad Cowboys Go America (available in Videoport’s Criterion Collection section)…only to find that, well, they don’t say much (this is kind of a Finnish thing), and they’re also in America, so there’s not exactly a great percentage of Finnish to English spoken. Nice hair, though. Oh yeah: the movie. Evil Santa Claus. But the people are pretty evil, too. Though to their credit, a nasty monster eating your whole caribou/reindeer herd will awaken the foul beast that lies within us all. Especially since reindeer are apparently worth like $2000 apiece. (Or $200? I’m not sure about my reindeer math. Need to re-watch the reindeer marginal-rate-of-return bit again. One never wants to be off by a whole decimal point when it comes to reindeer.) Anyhow, there is an evil Santa, a totally badass kid—this film apparently suggests that rural Finnish parenting norms are, to say the least, far from the overprotective views currently popular/lamented in the U.S.A.—and a theft of radiators. Somewhat bad things happen to potatoes, and there is a British-accented guy with a U.S. passport. And a pretty decent set of explosions, lots of blerpy CGI snowscape action, and a wicked deep hole. What more could you want?

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 Medium Cool (in Classics). Hey, a 1969 half-documentary about the press trying to film police abuses during political protests. Thank goodness we don’t have to worry about that some 46 years later, right? Oh, right. Anyway, this film—directed by legendary cinematographer Haskell Wexler—follows an apolitical news cameraman (an excellent Robert Forster, decades before he was excellent in Jackie Brown) as he covers the 1968 Democratic national convention. Wexler thrust his leading an and crew right in the middle of the thuggish Chicago PD as they ran roughshod over legally assembled hippies and political types who had the dumb idea to express their first amendment rights in the infamously corrupt and fascistic Windy City of Mayor Richard Daley. That might sound dry, but the film is an electric, Cassavetes-esque, semi-improvised piece of Gonzo drama. (In fact, the lead role was intended for Cassavetes.) And, in an age where the widespread availability of handheld cameras exposes police abuses daily, Medium Cool seems more ahead of its time than ever.

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 I’ve Heard The Mermaids Singing (in Comedy).

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

 

I do not think that they will sing to me.

 

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea

By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

—T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Taking its title from the famous—and famously depressing—poem, this 1987 Canadian film somehow avoids diving into the depths of existential despair the poem hints at, even as it tells the tale of an awkward, lonely young woman pining for both a 1139_IveHeardTheMermaidsSinging_Catalog_Poster_v2_Approvedwoman and a career she can seemingly never have. In one of the most beautifully moving performances I’ve ever seen, Sheila McCarthy plays Polly, an aspiring photographer who gains the unexpected position of assistant to the chic proprietor of a hip art gallery. Honestly, McCarthy’s performance is something uniquely, heartbreakingly hopeful, a portrait of a terminal outsider who nonetheless continues to find reasons to maintain her cockeyes optimism. This is one of those little movies that I can never get anyone to rent, so why not buck that futile trend. This is one of those movies that will get to you.

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 Would You Rather (in Horror). One of the chief benefits of watching low budget horror movies—something I’ve done obsessively since I was 13 years old—is uncovering little unexpected moments. Sometimes it’s a talented director (Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson were my discoveries, hidden gems I could hold onto even when they became justifiably famous for the likes of Spider Man and The Lord Of The Rings). Sometimes it’s a chance for an actor to shine in a disreputable genre—here, I look at people like Jeffrey Combs in Re-Animator or Tony Todd in Candyman. The love of horror movies is the joy of unexpected discovery. So a movie like Would You Rather is like a treasure trove. The main attraction is Combs, long a staple of genre films, having a field day as a mysterious millionaire who invites a group of disparate, unsuspecting people to his isolated mansion for his singularly twisted version of the titular summer camp game. It’s a nasty, low-budget little piece of work, relying on the grisly thrill of watching the various collection of characters decide how to cope with the bloody ethical dilemmas Combs’ malicious plans place them in. What makes the film so watchable are the performances from a top-to-bottom cast of interesting actors delivering the epitome of horror movie hidden gems. Apart from the always-great Combs, hamming it up with gleeful aplomb (Re-Animator, The Frighteners), the film stars Enver Gjokaj (Dollhouse, Agent Carter), John Heard, Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (The Wire), Eddie Steeples (Crab Man from My Name Is Earl), Robb Wells (Ricky from Trailer Park Boys), June Squibb (Oscar nominee from Nebraska), Robin Lord Taylor (The Penguin from Gotham), Charlie Hofheimer (Abe from Mad Men), and Sasha Grey (former porn star turned “legit” actress—The Girlfriend Experience). Oh, also, the main character—nice girl trying to win money to take care of her terminally ill brother—is Brittany Snow (Pitch Perfect) who is dull, but you can’t have everything. Grubby little horror with a ton of good actors doing interesting work—that’s the fun of seeking out the fringes.

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, Videoport customer Ryan M. suggests Inherent Vice (in Feature Drama). Seeing as most viewers are probably in search of perfect sense, it takes some serious balls to commit to perfect NONsense, and Paul Thomas Anderson has ‘em. This has been evident since the beginning of his career, though perhaps it just stands out more than usual in Inherent Vice, which is based on Thomas Pynchon’s novel from 2009. To varying degrees, it could certainly be argued that all of PTA’s films are comedies, but this is the one that most feels like a fearless screwball farce. It’s akin to watching a live action cartoon or a comic book adaptation in that it’s colorful, frequently amusing, and could not care less about whether it is understood or not. Pynchon’s novel was more concerned with a distinctive set of vibes than coherence, and Anderson clearly favors feelings over understanding where cinema and storytelling are concerned, so in that sense he is the perfect candidate to bring Doc Sportello and his truly out-there exploits to the screen. The film is very much alive, and quite frankly the energy is infectious. The spectacular ensemble cast certainly attributes to this, but its Anderson’s technical perfectionism and resonant cinematic philosophy that take it a step further. It’s something of a transcendent stoner comedy in that it’s incredibly playful while also delivering an engaging critique on the times (the story is set during the 1970’s) and digging deep, and I mean DEEP into its protagonist’s psyche. Everything is seen through bloodshot eyes and paranoid ears, so it’s frequently committed to disorientation. This may bother some, but I ran with it. Sometimes it truly is enough to just sit back and enjoy the ride, especially when said ride is as outrageously funny and visually stimulating as this.

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Clerks (in Comedy). You know, sometimes after a particularly trying day working behind a counter, even the memory of this legendary, micro-budget comedy from writer-director-Silent Bob Kevin Smith provides some comfort. I still have a lot of affection for Smith, for a lot of reason, even though he’s never really progressed beyond the “guy from Jersey working out some stuff” level, artistically, especially when I think of how he transformed his time working 60985retail into a hilariously cathartic and filthy cinematic primal scream. Because sometimes people try to make themselves feel big by making the employees of a small business feel powerless and small—and sometimes said employees will…not…have…it. As one trEWtPexXuiZtEd7QGHyY9rhHLnof the characters states, “we push buttons.” But if you treat us like that’s all we do, people, prepare to have yourselves immortalized in all your supercilious, classist a-holery in the indie movies we’re all writing.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Paddington (He’s a little British bear, what more do you need? Based on the classic children’s books [and ubiquitous dolls], this family film is actually supposed to be really good. Again—cute British bear. What more do you want?), Wolf Hall (No one ever gets enough of that turkey-leg-chompin’, wife-beheadin’ Henry VIII! At least that’s the lesson learned from this recent Masterpiece Theater miniseries where Henry attempts to annul his marriage to the-gambler-movie-poster-20151901Anne Boleyn in order to get a male child—not knowing that it’s his damned fault that he keeps siring girl babies. Jerk. Starring Homeland’s Damian Lewis as Henry.), The Gambler (Mark Wahlberg stars in this Inherent-Vice-Poster1-e1420753199331crime thriller as a literature professor [not likely] and addicted gambler [much more likely] who gets himself in over his head and has to try one last gambling gambit to pull himself out. Good cast includes John Goodman, Jessica Lange, and The-Wedding-Ringer-Bar-640Michael K. Williams [aka Omar from The Wire]), Inherent Vice (This is the movie of the week, people. For one thing, director Paul Thomas Anderson has not only never made a bad movie, he’s never made anything but modern classics. [See: Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch-Drunk Love, There Will Be Blood, The Master]. For another thing, this psychedelic detective story about a 1970s, spaced-out detective [Joaquin Phoenix] searching sun-drenched Los Angeles for a missing ex-girlfriend is the sort of ambitious adaptation of an “unfilmable” novel [this time by the ever-mysterious Thomas Pynchon] that only a masterful director like Anderson would take on. And last, here’s the supporting acccast: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Owen Wilson, Michale K. Williams, Reese Witherspoon, Timothy Simons, and Jillian Bell. Just rent this one, you guys. See the Saturday from Videoport customer Ryan!), The Wedding Ringer (Kevin Hart stars as the titular wedding ringer, a guy who hires himself out to prospective grooms to provide thecapture-d_c3a9cran-2014-05-18-c3a0-16-33-04 fun bachelor party the poor shlubs can’t accumulate for themselves. Said shlub this time is Josh Gad [Frozen], who bonds with Hart as he tries to impress his bride and her family.), Accidental Love (The story behind this satirical comedy might be more entertaining than the film itself. Acclaimed director David O. Russell [Spanking The Monkey, Flirting With Disaster, Three Kings, I Heart Huckabees, Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter, American Hustle] bailed on the film [along with much of the cast] when the producers ran out of money, and took his name of the movie. Completed without Russell, the movie, about a waitress [Jessica Biel] who becomes a nymphomaniac 1-would-you-ratherafter a nail gun accident and the dim-witted but ambitious politician [Jake Gyllenhall] who looks to capitalize, in various ways, on her affliction. With a supporting cast including James Marsden, Tracy Morgan, and Bill Hader.), Mommy (The newest from from precocious 25-year-old French Canadian writer-director Xavier Dolan [Laurence Always, I Killed My Mother] about a time in the near future where Canadian parents can easily commit their troublesome teenage children to state-run institutions), Would You Rather (See the-boy-next-door-posterThursday’s review for details on this nastily entertaining horror flick), The Boy Next Door (Jennifer Lopez is a recently-cuckolded woman who falls for her hunky, young new neighbor, only to gradually discover that sexing up the mysteriously sexy teenager next door can have unexpectedly un-sexy consequences.)

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 #505

Volume DV—The Town That Dreaded Brunch

For the Week of 4/21/15

Videoport gives you a free movie every, single day. What movie should you get? Well, since you have seven movies a week for free to choose from, there’s really no pressure to narrow it down. Go nuts, 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 $7.99!

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That’s her. One of her, anyway.

>>>Dennis suggests Orphan Black (in Mystery/Thriller). Season three of this BBC America/Canadian series, so here’s my annual reminder that Tatiana Maslany is your favorite actress—you just don’t know it yet. Here’s also my annual warning that, unless you have seen this show, STOP READING NOW. Okay—for the rest of us, Maslany gets to play about, oh, 426 roles on this show, and she’s outstanding in all of them. The premise—again stop if you don’t want to get spoiled (as only inhuman, narcissistic monsters thoughtlessly spoil things for other people)—is that there’s this conspiracy to produce clones for nefarious purposes. Only thing, most of the clones have no idea they’ve got identical twins running around the world, so, when we meet the series’ main heroine, Sarah Manning (Maslany) sees a woman who looks just like her jump in front of a train, she—seeing an opportunity and being something of a rascal—steals her identity. Bad move, Sarah, as her chicanery embroils her in a tangled web of badness. All the sci-fi clone stuff you may have seen before, but believe me when I tell you that you’ve never seen anyone like Maslany, who creates a seemingly impossible array of characters as the series winds its way through its appealingly outlandish plot. Honestly, at times, Maslany’s skills are even more outlandish, especially when she’s sharing the screen with different versions of herself—sometimes with one or more characters pretending to be other characters at the same time. One more time—Tatiana Maslany. Your new favorite actress.

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 Goin’ South (in Classics.) Okay, let’s just get this out of the way—a 1978, mostly forgotten Western comedy belongs in the Classics section because we said so. Also because it wasn’t renting where it was and we didn’t want to get rid of it. (It rented almost immediately as soon as it moved to Classics, so there.) Is it “classic”? Well, no—it’s something of a mess, really. But the Classics section is more about time, and the movie is actually a lot of grubby fun, with Nicholson—directing himself—playing the grimiest, most lecherous character he’s ever played—and that’s saying something. In it, he’s a disreputable cowpoke/bandit who’s set to be hanged until a bizarre local loophole allows frontier spinster Mary Steenburgen to claim him as a husband. See, she’s got a gold mine and needs a man to work it—plus, you know, spinster. The two spar, and sneer, and Nicholson flirts like a rutting dog, and eventually they fall in dusty Western love. Naturally, there are complications in the form of Nicholson’s old gang (including John Belushi, Veronica Cartwright, and Christopher Lloyd) and the local law. Honestly, though, the main attraction is Nicholson on Nicholson—if you’ve never seen Jack Nicholson without anyone but himself to rein in his hammiest instincts, then you haven’t seen Jack at his Jackiest. Here, he scratches, and leers, and bats his lashes, and grins his Nicholson grin, and raises those eyebrows more than in any other ten movies combined.

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

>>>Emily S. Customer suggests Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (in Comedy). I’m going to be frank with you: even the most avid critic gets worn out by churning out reviews and recommendations every day, every week, every month, for years. It can start to feel like you’ve recommended everything you’ve ever enjoyed. But it’s the small moments that remind you how powerful even the lightest of entertainments can be. The moment when you stumble ontoAnchorman’s “Afternoon Delight” sequence and watch in a combination of bellylaughs and stunned appreciation, and the moment after the scene ends when you rewind and rewatch it, just because you can.

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 The Babadook (in Horror). There are so few good horror movies that come out in a year that the tendency is to overpraise any horror flicks that aren’t outright terrible. Sadly, this year was no exception. Not sadly, the two BABADOOK-POSTERmovies that got overpraised—this one and It Follows (which is not out on DVD yet)—weren’t overpraised by much. The story of a terminally exhausted single mother and her overactive, over-imaginative son, The Babadook is a lot of things—and the horror movie aspect isn’t even the most effective. As the mother, Essie Davis channels every single mom who struggles to deal with work, loneliness, grief (her husband died horrifically on the way to the hospital where she gave birth), and a difficult child—she’s capable, well-meaning, and at the absolute end of her rope, especially when the kid’s hyperactivity gets him tossed out of school. Essentially trapped alone in their house by their isolation and near-poverty, their loving but strained relationship starts to show more and more strain—and that’s even before the Babadook shows up. In trying to lull her son (an impressively obnoxious Noah Wiseman—you get to like him eventually) to bed one night, she reads to him from a book she doesn’t recall buying. It’s—a disturbing book, and she gets rid of it. But, well, you know how well that sort of thing goes. First-time director Jennifer Kent has an assured plan for her film—and if its homages to past films (The Shining, Repulsion, Nosferatu, Home Alone, believe it or not) aren’t subtle, they’re also really effective, especially once the Babadook starts bleeding into the mother and son’s reality. Or, you know, does he? This is one of the best horror movies in years, slightly overrated or not.

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 Cutter’s Way (in Mystery/Thriller). Some movies just grab you. Maybe you saw them at the right (or wrong) time. Maybe there’s just something you can’t put your finger on that one un-definable moment that just 3991243b7912d9581f3e58c5379362camakes sense. (Or sometimes you read about the film in Danny Peary’s Cult Movies and rush out to rent it, finding it as mysteriously moving as he claimed.) Cutter’s Way is like that for me. Sort of a mystery, it is more like a meditation on war and madness and America in the form of a mystery. In it, a young Jeff Bridges is Bone, prettyboy playboy beach bum, sleeping his way through the bored, rich housewives of sleepy Santa Barbara. John Heard is his best friend, Alex Cutter, one-legged, one-armed, and one-eyed after being maimed in Vietnam, a brilliant but bitter alcoholic berating everyone around him in his impotent rage—especially draft-dodger Bone and his long-suffering wife Mo (Lisa Eichhorn, in a remarkable performance that should have made her a star, but didn’t). One night after another assignation, Bone’s car breaks down just in time to see someone dump something into a trashcan—when it turns out to be a murdered teenage girl, the disreputable Bone is both a suspect and a witness. When the trio drunkenly attends the city’s patronizing, Mexican-themed parade, Bone impulsively says, “It’s him” when he sees a local millionaire arrogantly riding his horse down the main street, which is all the cynical—yet wrenchingly idealistic—Cutter needs to hear, as he sets out on a quest to hold responsible just one of the fat cats he blames for sending him, and thousands of poor guys like him, to Vietnam. Director Ivan Passer displays a poetic, unnerving lyricism to what follows, as Cutter and Bone quickly see their friendship tested—and just as quickly get in over their heads. Bridges and Eichhorn are great, but it’s Heard (best known now as the go-to unlikable authority figure or alcoholic cop in everything) who snarls and limps away with the movie. The scurrilous, drunken vet has a poetic soul—and a sense of justice and heroism that seems to have to place in a world where powerless people are considered disposable. Some movies just get to you. This one gets to me.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Ryan M. sugests Possession (in Incredibly Strange). The best way to go into what is perhaps director Andrzej Zulawski’s most notorious slice of sheer cinematic insanity is to know as little as possible about it. Indeed in today’s day and age, with the all-knowing Internet and all, it can be a tad difficult at times to experience a film isabelle_adjani_possession_movie_poster_2acompletely spoiler free, so there are surely images from Possession that have resonated deeply with audiences over time. Ask anyone who’s seen it, and they will most likely refer to it as “the movie wherein Isabelle Adjani cheats on Sam Neil with an octopus”, although to do so would doing Zulawski’s art-house genre-bender a great disservice. This isn’t a B-horror picture, nor can it be pinned down into a single category. In fact, Possession is one of the few movies that I feel is truly uncatagorizable- a strange mixture of divorce drama and monster movie; the anti-romantic and the chase thriller; and finally, the spiritual and the political. It seems like it’s biting off more than it can chew, but it’s not. Both Adjani and Neil are fully committed to a couple of over-the-top and nakedly emotional performances and Zulawski’s camera gives off the illusion of constant, often aggressive motion. The scenes don’t transition into one-another so much as they glide, shake, and twirl – guaranteed to get under your skin. It is an experience like no other, one that will surely only appeal to a select audience of adventurous movie-goers, but to them it is essential. And for those who are constantly looking for a horror film which branches out successfully into other genres so often to the point where it almost doesn’t come off as a horror film at all; well, this is it.

Taken 3 New PosterNew Releases this week at Videoport: Taken 3 (Let Liam Neeson tell you about this second sequel: “Listen to me carefully. I have a very particular set of skills. They are hungryforchangeneither preventative nor especially filled with foresight. But, once you have kidnapped one [or more] of my female relatives, and once I have determined that you are not American, but some sort of foreign person, then—blammo—those skills of mine kick right in. They will imbue me with the strength and, let’s be honest, age-inappropriate martial arts and face-kicking skills to retrieve my female relatives from your not-American, not white clutches with only minor collateral damage to various European cities and any female friends of my female relatives who have been snatched up alongside them, especially if those female friends are more promiscuous MV5BMTczNDkyODA1N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIwOTI4MjE@._V1_SY1200_CR90,0,630,1200_AL_than my virginal female relatives. At that point, my mighty elderly skills will take your henchmen’s guns away and smash them in the faces with them repeatedly until everything comes out okay), Hungry For Change (Hey, you know all jennifer-aniston-cake-movie-poster-sosnation.com_those unbelievably optimistic claims made by diet, nutrition, and food companies about how you can lose weight with minimal effort as long as you buy their products? Well, shockingly, this documentary suggests that said companies are misleading you. I know—weird, right?), You’re Not You (Hilary Swank made her unsuccessful bid for another Best Actress Oscar when she played a talented classical pianist who finds out she has ALS [aka Lou Gehrig’s disease] in this weeper. Emily Rossum plays the spunky college student who tries to help her cope), Cake (Jennifer Anniston makes her own unsuccessful Oscar bid in this acclaimed [but award-less] drama about a woman in a chronic pain support group who finds herself obsessed url-1with why a fellow group member committed suicide), Frontera (Contemporary western sees Ed Harris as a hard-bitten former Arizona sheriff who goes on a racist rampage after his wife is murdered by, he assumes, an illegal Mexican immigrant. Presumably, he learns a lesson in tolerance 169c6f081c49a875dcbff5246a7ab4e7and understanding actual Arizonans seem to have trouble wrapping their heads around), A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (Black and white, Iranian vampire movie, anyone? This artsy foreign horror film about a spooky young woman stalking the streets of an isolated village has all the arthouse buzz about it), Living Is Easy With Eyes Closed (In this Spanish comedy, an English teacher picks up two young hitchhikers on his journey to find and meet his idol, John Lennon. Points if you know what Beatles song the title’s from), The Missing (Riveting British livingiseasywitheyesclosed.poster.ws_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), Tracks (Certified cool actors Mia Wasikowska [Stoker, Maps To The Stars, Only Lovers Left Alive] and Adam Driver [Girls] star in this drama about a youngtracks_ver3_xlg woman on a trek across the desolate Australian desert with only her loyal camels and an odd-looking guy for company), Fortitude—season 1 (Great new mystery series you haven’t seen! How do I know you haven’t seen it? Well, it aired on a network called Pivot—anyone out there heard of Pivot? Anyway, this series, about the very first murder in the history of the titular Arctic town, boasts a great cast including Stanley Tucci, Michael Gambon, and Christopher Eccleston and is, as I mentioned, Fortitude-season-2-renewalreally good), Little Accidents (Elizabeth Banks tries out her dramatic side, starring in this small town mystery drama about a mine accident, a missing teenager, and a whole lot of depressed people)

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 little-accidents-character-poster-2money, people.

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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!                                                                                

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 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