VideoReport #405

Volume CDV- Indiana Jones and the Secret of the Recipe for Dr. Pepper

For the Week of 5/21/13

Videoport gives you a free movie every single day. That, and about 73 other reasons, means we are awesome and you should cancel your Netflix subscription.

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

>>> Andy suggests The Fly (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). “I’m talking about penetration beyond the veil of The Flesh!” The Flesh! You know it’s a David Cronenberg movie when the people talk this way. Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum) is a very Jeff Goldblum-like eccentric genius who invents a teleportation device. His Telepods can perfectly transport objects from one pod to the other, except when the objects are living things (The Flesh!). That’s when baboons get turned inside out*. So Brundle tweaks his invention and then, in a restless, drunken moment, decides to test his invention on himself (and a sneaky housefly). And it works! And then he notices that The Flesh is changing. You know the rest. Seth Brundle becomes “Brundlefly.” The Fly is an artfully made, smart, and disgusting science fiction film. For every thought-provoking moment in the movie, there’s at least one barf-provoking one. David Cronenberg is a filmmaker of great intelligence, taste, and craft, who also seems to realize that subtlety is inherently un-cinematic, and, frankly, boring. I would like to recommend The Fly to fans of John Carpenter’s The Thing. Both films share a deliberate, no bullshit approach to storytelling. They seem simple and straightforward, but with lots of big ideas under the surface. Both films are musically spare and quiet, but then explode with noise and elaborate special effects. There is nothing unnecessary in these movies. Their focus makes so many other movies seem cluttered and busy. And the characters in The Fly are often as isolated in their nearly empty, unnamed city as the Antarctic residents in The Thing. But most importantly, both The Fly and The Thing qualify as two of the best and smartest sci-fi horror films of the 1980s, and essential viewing for any horror fan.

*Why baboons? Why doesn’t Brundle test his invention on a smaller, cheaper, and easier to acquire test subject like a mouse, a guinea pig, or a dog? Just a small quibble.

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

>>>Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! We’re all in this together people: you rent the movies, we rent you the movies, but we all love the movies. And to talk about them with each other. That’s where The VideoReport comes in, people­—a weekly forum for us all to share our reviews of our favorite, or least favorite films and TV shows. And then to start a lot of arguments. So send your reviews to us at denmn@hotmail.com, our Facebook page “Videoport Jones”, or just drop them off at the store. All lengths, all movies and shows, any time! C’monnnnn!

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

>>>Dennis suggests some standup comedy goodness! With this week’s release of the new Kevin Hart standup film, Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain, here are some suggestions for a standup comedy double feature to go along with it. (OR a triple feature if you want three of these for a week for only seven bucks: warning—your sides may bust wide open).

1. Richard Pryor: Live On The Sunset Strip. Funniest example of the standup arts ever filmed.

2. Richard Pryor: Live. Exactly as funny as #1.

3. Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong. Pure, perfectly constructed comedy.

4. Any of the three Louis CK DVDs.

5. Maria Bamford: Plan B. Wow.

6. We’ve got a bunch of George Carlin. Pick one.

7. Patton Oswalt: Finest Hour.

8. Sandra Bernhard: Without You I’m Nothing. I don’t know what this is, but it’s brain-twirlingly awesome.

9. Zach Galifianakis: Live At The Purple Onion. His standup remains twice as funny as his movies.

10. The Comedians of Comedy. Bamford, Galifianakis, Oswalt, Jon Benjamin, Michael Ian Black, Sarah Silverman, and more all on the same bill? Yup.

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

>>> Dennis suggests Shaun of the Dead (in Incredibly Strange.) The movie triumvirate of director/writer Edgar Wright and costars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the closest thing to a sure thing in movie comedy these days. In the TV show ‘Spaced’ (in British Comedy), Hot Fuzz (in Comedy), and Shaun of the Dead (in Incredibly Strange), they have an infallible comic sensibility which does the seeming impossible: they work on every level. They’re all verging on perfect but Shaun actually is. Perfect, I mean. The tale of an underachiever whose bad day (his girlfriend dumps him) is topped off by a zombie invasion, Shaun is several things all at the same time: a legitimately scary and violent horror movie, a romantic comedy, a buddy comedy, and action flick, even a heart-wrenching drama. In another movie (assuming there exists another film so ambitious), this might seem overstuffed, off-balance, or just a big ol’ mess. But Shaun, improbably, manages to run all of its disparate elements in brilliantly effortless parallel. I honestly can’t think of another film like it. (Oh, and the third feature from the trio comes out in August. It’s called The World’s End, and it’s going to be awesome.)

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

>>>You get a free movie from the kids section, with no other rental necessary! Yeah! (Note: if you complain about the Friday special, that means you hate children.)

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests ‘Friends’ (in Comedy.) When I first started working at Videoport, I rather sheepishly admitted that I like Friends. People scoffed, one laughed, Regan may have whipped something at my head. But former Videoporter Laree Love, a cool arbiter of taste if ever there were one, validated my opinion simply by saying, “F*** it—funny is funny.” And for all its faults (the whitest TV show of all time?) and syndication ubiquity, Friends is still damned funny. So now Videoport has just brought in the entire ten season run of the show. Don’t let your friends keep you from renting them. Funny is funny.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Deb T. suggests Seven Psychopaths (in Incredibly Strange.) Post-modern – like quinoa – sounds more unapproachable than it is. When someone says they saw a post-modern movie or read a post-modern book, don’t run away. Did you read a Choose Your Own Adventure book when you were a kiddo? Well, then you’ve read a post-modern book. It’s hard to describe exactly what is post-modern, but here’s a try: Regular fiction is 2-dimensional. You watch the film it starts and goes to the end. You are a passive audience. You can believe what is happening. The characters do what they’re supposed to do. You have no idea what the writer’s thoughts were about the film. When a film is post-modern, those things don’t happen. It could be shot by the point of view of an unreliable narrator so you have to spend your time trying to figure out whether to believe him or not. The characters could lash out at the way they’re written – and may even overpower the writer. The writer herself could even put herself into the film to deal directly with these characters. It may even seem that decisions about the film are being made just at the same time the film is going along. Basically, you see beyond the story, you see the outside of the story, you see the construction of the story. You are even part of the story in a way. It’s more than just 2-dimensional. With that said, no, this isn’t a review about a Charlie Kauffman movie – although, yes, go see them. All. It’s about Seven Psychopaths, which I rented recently because I saw it on the shelf and vaguely remembered the title – yet nothing else about the film. Let’s start with the review. First, holy cast of characters – Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson, and even Tom Waits(!). My goodness. While they were all fun, Sam Rockwell’s character Billy and Christopher Walken’s character Hans were my favorites. Billy – because I love lovable crazy – and everyone should have a loyal psychotic friend. And Hugh – because (beside the fact that everyone has to love Christopher Walken) he plays such a nuanced role – between the loving husband and the slightly off personality to his job as part of a dog-kidnaping team and his thoughtful voluntary contributions to the film itself. The story is fun because it’s different – and post-modern. It’s about a writer trying to write a screenplay called “Seven Psycopaths” – (hey . . .wait a minute . . . ) However, he doesn’t want it to be all about guns and gore. He actually wants it to end being about love, peace and hope. His friend, Billy, has other ideas – and wants to help him write it. Billy’s character takes over the story for a bit and makes you wonder if he changed the story in the middle. Such as did the Jack of Diamonds killer have a different identity at the beginning of the film than the end? Upon reflection, you can see what parts Billy had his hand in, and which parts Marty wrote himself. There are parts of the film they didn’t need – they didn’t need to hammer away at the fact that he was basically writing the film as it happened. However, I guess the constant reminders make the audience better understand what is happening. There were other parts of the film I enjoyed greatly – such as the conversations between characters on their thoughts about film – such as on women in movies (or this movie) and pets in movies. The movie as a whole is fun, fast, easy to understand with a nice combination of gratuitous violence, sentimentality, odd humor, and thoughtful commentary on screenwriting as a whole. And, in the end, after all the psychopath stuff goes down, we are treated to a lovely monologue by Hans that ties the film up in a nice bow. It made me happy. If you like strange and funny. If you want to dip your toe into post-modern without making your head hurt too much. If you like to write fiction. Or if you like shih tzus, go rent this movie. It’s a fun one.

New Releases this week at Videoport: ‘True Blood’- season 5 (vampires are real! And they drink this junk that’s like vampire Red Bull instead of human blood! Except when they don’t- which is often! And then there’s all the vampire sex! The kids seem to like it…), Beautiful Creatures (a young woman learns that her family heritage comes complete with a spooky old mansion and some mysterious powers; with an overqualified cast for this sort of thing including Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Margo Martindale, Viola Davis, and Pruitt Taylor Vince), The Last Stand (Arnold Schwarzenegger, back from that job he was woefully unqualified for, returns to doing what he’s minimally qualified for, playing a lunkheaded action hero, this time alongside Johnny Knoxville), Side Effects (from always-interesting director Steven Soderbergh comes this thriller about a woman, prescribed experimental anti-anxiety medication by her doctor, who has some, um, issues; good cast including Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Cjanning Tatum, and Catherine-Zeta Jones; Videoport’s Regan says it’s pretty good!), Parker (Jason Statham plays, well, Parker; based on the Donald Westlake books, Parker is an enigmatic professional thief; based on Statham’s career, Parker is a dude who punches people until everything turns out okay), Stand Up Guys (slumming all-stars Al Pacino, Alan Arkin, and Christopher Walken star in this mob thriller about some aging mobsters out for one last big night on the town), Return To Nim’s Island (you know that movie about the little girl having adventures on a tropical island starring Jodie Foster? Well here’s the sequel- no one from the first movie is in it. Matthew Lillard is. Good luck), Yossi (there was a movie ten years ago called Yossi and Jagger about two Israeli soldiers in love; now here’s the sequel, following one of the pair as he tries to cope with the suspicious fact that he’s now the only one in the title), Open Road (Andy Garcia and Juliette Lewis lend their mid-wattage star power to this indie about a young free-spirited occasional waitress who’s torn between the free life of the road and some people who seem to like her), Gregory Crewdson-Brief Encounters (check out Videoport’s Documentary Arts section for this documentary about the famed photographer whose stunningly weird images make everyone feel funny), Cool Air (HP Lovecraft fans rejoice! Here comes another adaptation, this time of the tale of a guy who begins to suspect there’s something odd about his neighbor, who needs his apartment kept reeeeaaaaal cool all the time), A Common Man (Ben Kingsley and Ben Cross [two of the best British Bens] star in this thriller about a seemingly mild-mannered citizen who plants bombs all over the city and demands the release of several international terrorists), Kevin Hart: Laugh At My Pain (new standup comedy concert film from the diminutive, and very funny, Hart), Nightfall (Simon Yam [IP Man] stars in this Hong Kong-based thriller about a jaded detective out to discover who bumped off a beloved pianist), Witness: A World in Conflict Through a Lens (HBO documentary series about war photographers documenting atrocities around the globe), Penthouse Playboys (three young urban professionals [read: douches] in modern day Seoul cope with sex addiction, relationship troubles, and lots and lots of sex in this Korean erotic drama), Picture Day (Canadian drama about a young woman whose badass reputation forces her to repeat her senior year of high school where she befriends a dorky freshman she used to babysit; starring the very, very talented Tatiana Maslany, who you should check out on the show ‘Orphan Black’ on BBC America)

New Releases on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Parker, Last Stand, Beautiful Creatures, A Common Man, Side Effects, ‘True Blood’- season 5.

Get yourself some free money at Videoport!

As if you needed another reason to rent here, Videoport has these deals which just plain give you free money. Check it out: pay 20 bucks up front on your rental account, and we turn that into 25 dollars worth of rental credit. Do the same thing but with 30 dollars, and we give you 40 dollars worth of store credit. That’s either five or ten free bucks, which you were going to spend here anyway eventually. So why wouldn’t you go for this deal? Um–you hate deals maybe? I’m not your psychiatrist…

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VideoReport #375

Volume CCCLXXV- The Girl With the WASSSUUUP!? (Which She Doesn’t Show People Much Anymore) Tattoo

For the Week of 10/23/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. And we want you to have that free movie because we have all the movies and because we want you to watch all the movies.

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

>>> Dennis suggests a George A. Romero zombie trilogy Halloween extravaganza (in Horror, duh.) SPOILERS!Romero literally invented e modern horror genre with these three movies: Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead. You know the drill by now- inexplicably, the recently deceased start waking up and mindlessly chomping on the living, who then become zombies themselves, and start chomping, and so on. If you’ve got any math skills, you’ll call that an exponential progression, and the gradual-but-accelerating extinction of the human race (read: us) is all but assured- unless, you know, the disparate, divided, squabbling peoples of the earth can set aside our weaknesses, our prejudices, and out fears and work together. Yeah, good luck with that. What these initial three films sketch out so chillingly, so masterfully, is the fact that, in the face of such an incomprehensible global threat, it’s the human element more than the ravenous zombie hordes that are going to doom us all. In Night, the phenomenon has just begun, and the microcosm of our collective dunderheadedness is played out in an isolated farmhouse, with the only sane man (the great Duane Jones) unable to bring his reason to bear on the dimwits who inevitably muck everything up. In Dawn, things are getting worse, society is breaking down, and a quartet of refugees (led by the equally-awesome Ken Foree) hole up in a zombie-infested shopping mall, fortifying it into a safe haven-until humanity comes around to assert its inherent crappiness again. And then in Day, it’s all over. A tiny band of scientists and soldiers have retreated into an abandoned salt mine to wait out the end (although the scientists hold out hope for some sort of solution to the zombie plague which now outnumbers humans, as one guesses, some 300,000 to one.) In Romero’s trilogy (sadly, his return to the genre in later years has been thoroughly underwhelming), the inexorable extinction of us all was there all along- it was just waiting for the right catastrophe to reveal itself. (Oh, and fast zombies are the dumbest thing in the history of cinema and anyone who prefers them over the shambling, classic Romero zombies is a complete dumbass.)

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

>>>Dennis suggests The Worst Horror Monsters of All Time!

Feel like some giggles along with your squiggles this Halloween? Try these for the filmmakers who shot for the moon…and landed in crazy/sillytown instead.

1. The Giant Claw (in Classics-on a double feature DVD with Creature With the Atom Brain.) Deep in the giant monster craze of the 1950s, someone looked at all the giants ants, rabbits, mantises, spiders, and gila monsters, and thought, “Hey- no one’s done a giant turkey-buzzard thing, right?” And no, no they hadn’t. Nor had they thought of suspending said critter from some of the thickest and most secure wires in all the land. You really have to see this one to believe it.

2. Birdemic: Shock and Terror (in Incredibly Strange.) Over 50 years had passed since The Giant Claw, and giant guywires give way to the free software available in iMovie in this tale of killer birds flying amok and killing people through their powers of not being of the same opacity and believability as the actual humans they are trying to kill. Makes you long for Hitchcock’s stuffed bird puppets.

3. Mystery Science Theater 3000 (over 100 episodes available in the Incredibly Strange Section.)All people who love funny things and movies know about MST3k, wherein funny people (and robots) make with the wisecracks at the expense of some of the worst movies of all time. Sure sometimes they’re making fun of Joe Don Baker, but other times they’re mocking monsters even more rubbery and unconvincing, such as: The Giant Gila Monster, Gamera (many movies), The Giant Spider Invasion, Revenge of the Creature, The Blood Waters of Dr. Z, King Dinosaur, Devil Fish, Werewolf, Pod People, The Horrors of Spider Island, Bride of the Monster, and on and on. Guaranteed laughs if you have any sense of humor at all.

4. Attack of the Giant Leeches (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) How did the dudes in the wrinkly trash bags not drown in that swamp?

5. Troll 2 (in Horror- on a double feature DVD with the still awful, but so much better than this Troll.) Like Birdemic, Troll 2 is of the legendarily bad, so bad it’s good category, and part of the fun in this epic crapfest is the drug store-quality troll masks. Seriously? They don’t move when the trolls talk. It’s like trick or treating, except someone expected people to pay to see it.

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

>>>Videoport customer Deb T. suggests American Movie (in Comedy.) If you ever find yourself thinking you’re dreaming the impossible dream, or if you ever wonder if true friendship exists, I urge you to go rent “American Movie.” As a die-hard Evil Dead fan who occasionally makes awful movies with her friends, a documentary about some friends making a horror movie sounded like the perfect fit. And on that level, it did not disappoint. There were bad costumes, bad acting, and situations with people in robes in a field. I loved it all. But on top of all that was the amazing ability of the subject of this film – Mark – to hold onto his dream of making these movies against all odds (those odds including no money, no real actors, his own challenges in his life, etc.) Not only was his hope never diminished, but he was supported by the most incredible group of friends and family I have ever seen. Friends willing to be in his movies, fund his movies, and share in the excitement of Mark’s dream. These are friends we all need – the kind who are willing to let you slam their head into a cabinet over and over just to get the scene perfectly right in your movie. I rented this film thinking  it would be funny and interesting. I came away surprised at how inspired and moved it made me. I loved the friendships and the family loyalty. I loved Mark’s enthusiasm for his impossible dream. I loved all of the characters. It is truly an incredible film. That said, if Videoport still has “Britney, Baby One More Time,*” don’t, under any circumstances rent it. The only redeeming piece of this movie (which features Mark and his friend, Mike) is that it proves that Mark and Mike were totally genuine in the first movie because they certainly can’t act in this one.

*Editor’s note: we do. Please don’t judge us…

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

>>>Dennis suggests these scary TV episodes (for when you come in to find a scary movie at the last minute for Halloween.) Here are some genuinely scary TV alternatives. Nobody’s gonna rent these, so go nuts:

1. ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ – ‘Hush’ (season 4, episode 10) It’s an awesome show, but the Buff’s horror elements weren’t usually its main attractions. This one, though introduces The Gentlemen, easily one of the greatest, creepiest monsters on TV (or movies) ever. The plot: the town of Sunnydale wakes up one day unable to speak. Amidst the ensuing chaos, we meet The Gentlemen- whose skull-like faces, rictus grins, and silent obsequious politeness mark them as pure nightmare fuel as they drift through the now-silent streets of Buffy’s hometown harvesting hearts from people unable to scream. Sure, there’s comedy, and some affecting love stuff for the Buff and the stiff-but-noble Riley (well, I like him), but the image of The Gentlemen will haunt your dreams.

2. ‘Doctor Who’- ‘Blink’ (Season 3, episode 10.) “Don’t Blink. Blink and you’re dead. Don’t turn your back. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Good Luck.” That’s the advice Sally Sparrow [the delightful Carey Mulligan- Shame, An Education] receives from David Tennant’s Doctor on a series of inexplicable taped messages. It’s pretty good advice, since this episode’s villains, the absolutely chilling Weeping Angels, are statue-like monsters who can only move in on you when you’re not looking. And this episode, masterfully directed by Hettie Macdonald, makes terrifying use of that concept. Don’t look away. And don’t blink. Seriously…

3. ‘Firefly’- ‘Bushwhacked’ (episode 2) In this not-enough-complimentary-words-to-accurately-describe-it sci fi series, the scrappy, disreputable crew of the ship Serenity come face to face with the unspeakable aftermath of an attack on another spaceship by the infamous Reavers. Little-seen boogeymen of the show’s lonely outer space universe, the Reavers are rumored to be simply those who have gazed into the abyss of the edge of space and gone horrifyingly, savagely mad, raiding ships and outposts and doing…things to the unfortunate inhabitants thereof. As Nathan Fillion’s Captain Malcolm Reynolds pieces together the events that led up to one survivor of the Reaver attack’s strange behavior, the show draws tighter and tighter.

4. ‘Twin Peaks’ (Season 2, episode 7) Sure, season 2 got worse and worse, but this one has…well, I can’t tell you. Sarah Palmer sees…well, I can’t tell you. I just…can’t tell you.

5. ‘Angel’- ‘Reprise’ (season 2, episode 15) More of an existential horror, maybe, but chilling nonetheless. As David Boreanaz’ titular vampiric detective decides to make a final assault on the “senior partners” of Satanic law firm Wolfram & Hart, abetted by the firm’s recently deceased CEO Holland Manners, he enters a ghostly elevator which hurtles down, down, down into the depths of hell, all so Angel can see the worst people in the history of the world. With Manners’ oddly courtly guide explaining that he’s going to the worst place on the planet, Angel steels himself for what’s to come. And then the doors open.

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

>>> Check out the family-friendly Halloween movie shelf in the Staff Picks section in the middle aisle.

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggests Carnival of Souls/Dementia 13 (a double feature DVD in the Mystery/Thriller section.) One of the benefits of obscure movies slipping into the public domain is their inevitable inclusion in bargain basement collections. Sure, most of the time that means you get lured into buying a Mill Creek Entertainment 50 pack featuring six installments of The Falcon film series, but sometimes it means that you can rent this excellently grubby double feature of two atmospheric cult horror classics for the price of one. Carnival of Souls is the better of the two, a microbudgeted spook cult classic about a young woman whose near escape from a car crash leads to her increasing isolation and visions of creepy supernatural stuff. It’s eerily effective and deservedly heralded as a lost treasure. Dementia 13 was Francis Ford Coppola’s first feature, a strikingly directed black and white murder mystery set in Scotland. Sort of stately, but there’s a great, spooky scene where a bra-and-panties clad lady takes an ill-advised swim in a murky pond. Things don’t go well…

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Damnationland 2010 and Damnationand 2011 (both in Horror.) Congrats to this year’s Maine-made horror anthology which everyone had a chance to see at the State Theatre last Friday. (And look for future screenings at http://www.damnationland.com.) Rent the last two years’ entries for hours of all-Maine-made, all-ambitiously-insane local horror shorts. (Highest recommendations: Humoresque, Shambles, Are You The Walkers?, Keeper’s Refrain)

New Releases this week at Videoport: Magic Mike (Channing Tatum, Matthew McConaughey, Matt Bomer, Alex Pettyfer, and that True Blood werewolf guy are all shaking their stuff in this stripper drama that’s for the ladies…and some of the guys), Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness Protection (gee, wonder who directed this? Oh, and two possessives in a row? Nice ego, egomaniac. Plus, bad grammar…), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (in the first feature film developed entirely from internet commenter posts, the young Honest Abe has to kick some serious vampire butt; this exists…), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (Steve Carrell and Keira Knightley star in this sweet/dark comedy about two neighbors who bond on a roadtrip to find his high school sweetheart. Oh, and the world is going to end. Did I mention that part?), Wrong Turn 5 (yup- still making these. Once again, some obnoxious college types run afoul of one of those bands of inbred hillbilly murderer clans you read about. Man, will inbred hillbilly murderer clans ever catch a break? PS: just a hint-get a GPS and problem solved), Take This Waltz (directed by Sarah Polley [Away From Her] helms this indie drama about a happily married woman [Michelle Williams] who strays from her loving but goofy husband [Seth Rogen] with the hunky artist next door [Luke Kirby]; unsolicited recommendation- you should rent the superlative Canadian series ‘Slings and Arrows’ starring Kirby and Polley; seriously, do yourself a favor…), ‘Check It Out! With Doctor Steve Brule’- season 1 (John C. Reilly gets his own equally batsh*t insane spinoff from his gig on the decidedly batsh*t ‘Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!’ as his titular befuddled health reporter), ‘The House of Elliot’- seasons 2 &3 (the continuing adventures of two orphaned sisters in 1920s England are back in this epic BBC drama series), The Courier (Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the titular ‘bring stuff from here to there’ guy assigned to deliver a case to Mickey Rourke, the world’s most dangerous hitman; with some above-average character support from the likes of Lili Taylor and Miguel Ferrer), The Countess (Julie Delpy [Before Sunrise, Before Sunset] writes, stars in, and directs this gory period drama about Elizabeth Bathory, the bananas 17th century noblewoman who took to bathing in virgin blood to keep herself young…and because botox hadn’t been invented yet), Chained (David Lynch’s little girl Jennifer Lynch continues her string of disturbing, loopy dark thrillers [Boxing Helena, Surveillance] with this creepy tale of a serial rapist/killer [Vincent D’Onofrio] who trains the son of one of his victims to be his apprentice)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Tears of the Sun, Straw Dogs, Spaceballs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Day of the Dead (Romero), Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Chained.

Get free money at Videoport! $20 buys you $25 in rental credit, and $30 buys you $40 in rental credit. That’s what you call free money.

VideoReport #345

Volume CCCXLV- Kickpuncher 4: The Punchkickinator

For the Week of 3/27/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. If you can find a better deal than that, marry it. We hope you will be very happy…

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental!

>>> Videoport customer Meghan C. suggests Happy Accidents (in Incredibly Strange.) If you’re not shopping for your romantic comedies in the Incredibly Strange section, you’re doing it wrong. Because “romcom”s, as the kids call them, are terrible. And the Incredibly Strange section is great. And in that section there’s a romantic comedy called “Happy Accidents” that’s sweetly rom and kind of quirky-not-ha-ha com and except for some unfortunate 90’s floating-images-montage nonsense, pretty perfect. Ruby (Marisa (meh) Tomei) and Sam (Vincent (so-much-better-than-Noth) D’Onofrio, a commitment-phobic realist and a childlike romantic respectively, meet in a park and fall in love despite Ruby’s skepticism that like every other knucklehead she’s dated, Sam might not be as sweet and wonderful as he seems. When Sam reveals that he’s actually a time traveler from the future, Ruby thinks he’s crackers, and so do you…or do you? Instead of a lame “will-they-won’t-they”, this is a really well-executed “is-he-isn’t-he”, with a healthy dose of “with love like that who cares, you twit?!” mixed in. Philip K. Dick it ain’t, but the gentle sci-fi element keeps it this side of saccharin. Plus, Vinnie, you know?

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental!

>>> Dennis suggests The Caine Mutiny(in Classics.) But, you know, with some reservations. Weirdly enough I think this was the first Humphrey Boagart movie I ever saw (my dad liked WWII movies), so my first experience of Bogey was that of an indecisive, neurotic tyrant and not the Mr. Cool Guy he’s since become in my cinematic world view. As Captain Queeg, skipper of a rundown minesweeper in the Pacific, Bogart’s all petty torments and irrational anxieties and obsessions- it’s pretty unnerving, and probably something of a change of pace at the time for him. In this adaptation of the Herman Wouk novel, the crew of the Caine eventually rebels against Queeg’s authoritarian command and the titular mutiny (led by stolid first mate Van Johnson) takes place, leading to a lengthy courtroom drama. Frankly, it’s the courtroom

Queeg, fiddling with his balls. (That'll be much less filthy when you see the movie...)

stuff that’s the real draw here, a fact that Wouk himself used to transform his novel into the long-running play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial (which was filmed to great effect by Robert Altman at one point in a tragically-out-of-print version.) In the film, which shows all the events before they’re again recounted in the later courtroom scenes, things get a little draggy (especially when it takes time out to deal with a junior officer’s romantic plot and his weirdly-jealous mom), but stick with it; when the trial gets under way, you’re in for some world-class performances from Bogart (whose gradual breakdown under cross examination is riveting, and unlike anything he’d done since The Treasure of the Sierra Madre), and both Fred MacMurray (as an intellectual, scheming mutineer) and Jose Ferrer, as defense attorney Barney Greenwald, take turns stealing scenes. MacMurray’s untrustworthy blandness is put to the best use since Double Indemnity, and, as the brilliant, conflicted Greenwald, Ferrer underplays, until he springs his trap on poor ol’ Queeg (even if his role is hamstrung by the film’s determination not to offend anyone- it leaves out the anti-Semitism subplot so central to the novel/play, and goes out of its way to let the military off the hook at every turn.) Plus, he gets one of the best last lines ever, challenging the smug MacMurray to a fight with the classic, “If you wanna do anything about it, I’ll be outside. I’m a lot drunker than you are, so it’ll be a fair fight.”

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental!

>>>Dennis suggests some intensive movie geek double featuring! One of the advantages of having Videoport in your life is the ability to plumb the depths of the Videoport shelves to engage in an eccentric course of cinematic study. Let’s watch!

1. Shadow of the Vampire and Nosferatu (both in Horror.) Whether you’re checking out the original silent vampire classic or Werner Herzog’s 1979 remake with Klaus Kinski, it’s film geek de rigueur to pair it up with 2000’s Shadow of the Vampire, a prankishly-goofy recreation of the making of the original, with John Malkovich as director F.W. Murnau and Willem Dafoe as actor Max Schreck who, in this retelling, is actually a vampire, coerced into appearing onscreen and occasionally snacking on his costars.

2. My Week With Marilyn (in Drama) and The Prince and the Showgirl (in Classics.) Michelle Williams (as Marilyn Monroe) and Kenneth Branagh (as Sir Laurence Olivier) enliven this behind-the-scenes tale of the making of the relatively-forgettable 1957 romantic comedy mismatch of two of the least-compatible movie stars of all time.

3. RKO 281 (in Drama) and Citizen Kane (in Classics.) Liev Schreiber is typically-magnetic portraying Orson Welles in this HBO movie about the making of Citizen Kane, and Welles’ antagonistic (and litigious) relationship with James Cromwell’s William Randolph Hearst.

4. Baadassss! and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadassss Song (both in Incredibly Strange.) Mario Van Peebles does his career best acting and directing in this biopic about his father Melvin’s trials in making his groundbreaking blaxploitation cult classic.

5. Ed Wood and Glen and Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer Space (all in Incredibly Strange.) I generally disdain Tim Burton’s precious, too-pleased-with-themselves quirk-fests, but I concede that his biopic of legendarily-incompetent auteur Wood is a near-masterpiece. Recounting the making of Wood’s two most-infamously-awful flicks, Burton and star Johnny Depp (and a brilliant Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi) craft a heartbreakingly-funny portrait of the least-talented, most-optimistic filmmaker ever.

6. CQ (in Feature Drama) and Barbarella (in Sci Fi.) While aspiring director Jeremy Davies in CQ isn’t making the psychedelic sci fi sex opera Barbarella per se, his 1960s spacy sex romp Dragonfly is clearly meant to stand in, and CQ is a lovingly-satirical look at the Jane Fonda semi-classic.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store!

>>>Dennis suggests Bucktown (in Incredibly Strange.) The blaxpliotation era in American film was a good news/bad news type of deal. As the independent/low budget/grindhouse genres flourished in the 1970s, suddelny there was a market for black actors and filmmakers on the big screen. Of course, for the most part, that market was largely for fairly stereotypical roles in films that emphasized sex, violence, and, well sex and violence, really. Still, some performers survived and thrived in this new wild west of American film and overcame its limitations, becoming legends in the process. Bucktown, a fairly-typical 1975 blaxploitation product features two of the genre’s icons, Pam Grier and Fred Williamson, along with perennial blaxploit all-star the awesomely-named Thalmus Rasulala, in a typically-entertaining action drama about a righteous brother stickin’ it to the man. A lot of blaxploitation movies follow the form of a Clint Eastwood western, and Bucktown is no exception. Williamson is the stylin’ outsider who rides into the cartoonishly-awful (and racist) town (on a train) to attend his brother’s funeral, only to get caught up in the town’s hellish ugliness. Like Clint, Fred initially scores a victory, beating up some honky deputies, only to suffer some setbacks when the man strikes back. Also like Clint, Fred rises from his seeming grave to exact his revenge against whitey. There’s some marginally-interesting subtext when Fred calls in his big city pals to help out, only to see them succumb to the temptations of power, but that’s the basic idea. As ever, the main attraction of a blaxploitation flick is the opportunity it affords its stars to do their thing, and Bucktown‘s basically notable for Williamson and Grier. For those in the know, Pam Grier needs no introduction; statuesque, formidable, and uniquely-sexy, Pam remains the blaxploitation era’s prime icon for a reason, even if she’s shunted off into girlfriend mode for most of the movie. Williamson was an interesting second-tier hero of the genre, a former NFL-er-turned-actor whose impressive physicality and charisma made up for a rather more limited skill set. He’s a formidable action guy, and is more than capable with his customary bevy of buxom babes (see especially his increasingly-kooky duo Hell Up in Harlem and Black Caesar), and he and Pam, in blaxploitation world, make the perfect couple. Seriously, watching them together in Bucktown, you know that whitey doesn’t stand a chance.

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

>>>Videoport reminds us all that touching the shiny side of a DVD indicates one was, perhaps, not taught proper behavior in one’s childhood. Just sayin’…

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

>>>For Saturday, Dennis suggest you take the ‘most movie for your buck’ Videoport challenge! Sure, there’s an amazing free rental deal every day at Videoport. You know it. But why not work the system to try and pack as much entertainment as possible into your weekend. Some ideas:

1. A tough guy triple feature with the Clint Eastwood triple feature disc of Every Which Way But Loose/ Any Which Way You Can/ Honkytonk Man (in Comedy), and a couple of Charles Bronson double features Death Wish 2/Death Wish 3 and Death Wish 4/The Ambassador (in Action.) That’s seven movies for the price of only two!!

2. A classic comedy laugh-fest consisting of some Marx Brothers double feature discs Room Service/At the Circus and Go West/The Big Store (in Classics) alongside the W.C. Fields Short Film Collection (in the Criterion section.) Four features, six shorts, all for the price of two. Not bad…

Those are just a few suggestions- try to beat the record!

>>>For Sunday, Dennis suggests Warrior (in Feature Drama.) While on some level, a boxing or wrestling fan should consider MMA (mixed martial arts) as the best of both worlds, in reality, I’ve always found the actual MMA/UFC scene to be a bastion of sloppy thuggery, excessive macho posturing, and Joe Rogan. So, along with most of the world, I initially passed on this MMA-themed action drama- it just had that douche-y bro-stink all over it. But, perhaps persuaded by Nick Nolte’s best supporting actor nomination (he lost), I finally checked Warrior out and I gotta say…much better than I’d anticipated. Sure, the whole MMA thing still seems a decidedly lunkheaded milieu, but the movie is never less than watchable (bordering on riveting) due to its two stars, Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy. Apart from the fact that they both have clearly spent insane, animalistic hours at the gym, both of these guys are accomplished, charismatic actors in their own rights. Edgerton (an Aussie) and Hardy (a Brit) convincingly portray two Pittsburgh brothers whose lifelong rivalry, exacerbated by their alcoholic father (Nolte), culminates in a movie-friendly final confrontation at the traditional big MMA tournament. Like Rocky, et al, Warrior‘s pretty formula, but, for all that, it’s at least as affecting. Edgerton and Hardy (soon to be a megastar as Bane in the new Batman movie) are both pretty damned affecting, and convincing as brothers; both have a soft spoken, averted eyes torment thing going on (and their accents are spot-on.) And Nolte, as the remorseful, aging old trainer/father deserved his nomination; his scenes with his understandably-estranged sons walk a wrenching balance of recrimination and empathy. Sure, the film’s style might be a bit glib (is it really that easy to get into the big tournament?), but the final third of the film is nothing but solid gripping fight action (nicely bonded to character motivation), and the big showdown of brother against brother (was there any doubt?) will produce a veritable waterfall of manly, manly man-tears.

New Releases this week at Videoport: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (this exists; we’re all to blame in some way…), Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this drama about a mute li’l guy running around NYC trying to find a lock that fits the key his dad left him before dying on 9/11 stars the likes of Tom Hanks, Max Von Sydow, Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis and more), A Dangerous Method (based on a book written by Portland resident [and Videoporter] John Kerr, this drama centers on the contentious relationship among psychoanalytical pioneers Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and their patient Sabina Spielrein; directed by David Cronenberg and starring Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Machael Fassbender- that ain’t bad… ), ‘Eureka’- season 4.5 (small town, all the maddest scientists in the world; what could possibly go wrong?), ‘South Park’- season 15 (by season 15, you know whether or not you like this show…), The Broken Tower (James Franco takes on another famous gay American poet biopic after playing Allen Ginsberg in Howl; this time he writes and directs himself as Hart Crane, alongside the always-riveting Michael Shannon [Take Shelter]), In the Land of Blood and Honey (Angelina Jolie writes and directs this foreign language drama bout the presumably-doomed love of two people on opposite sides of the Bosnian War ), Hop (the animated version of Russell Brand is the new Easter Bunny!), The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch (Kristin Scott Thomas continues her lucrative bi-lingual film career costarring in this French thriller about the secret adoptive son of a murdered billionaire attempting to prove his legitimacy without being murdered his own self), Korkoro (Videoport-beloved French director Tony Gatlif [Latcho Drom, The Crazy Stranger, Vengo] continues his exploration of Gypsy life with this post-WWII drama about a Gypsy family traveling the French countryside alongside a little orphaned boy), The Zombie Diaries (with London overrun by the ravenous undead, whatcha gonna do? Why, capture it all on shaky handheld cameras and post it on Youtube, if you’re the plucky survivors in this British entry in the zombie sweepstakes), Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, season 6, part 1(everyone’s favorite grumpy chef continues to travel the world and eat weird stuff), and four, count ’em four new DVDs of ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’! This time around, Mike, Joel and the ‘bots lob snark-bombs at the cinematic stinkburgers King Dinosaur, The Castle of Fu Manchu, Code Name: Diamond Head, Last of the Wild Horses.

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Tokyo Drifter (check Videoport’s Criterion section for this super-snazzy new edition of Seijun Suzuki’s oddball yakuza hitman classic.)

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.

VideoReport #343

Volume CCCXLII- Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Mothras

For the Week of 3/12/12

Videoport gives you a free movie every day. Except that one day…oh, wait- yup, we give you a free one on that day, too. So, yeah, a free movie every single day.

Middle Aisle Monday! Take a free rental from the Science Fiction, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation, or Staff Picks sections with any other paid rental!

Andy loves invisible Bacon!

>>>Andy suggests Hollow Man (in Sci-Fi/Fantasy). Hollow Man is the kind of movie where an intriguing sci-fi premise serves only to set up spectacular scenes of action or horror. You know, like Jurassic Park and The Matrix. Those movies make their points early on, then make way for the exciting stuff*. None of these are as thought-provoking as they initially seem, but in the end, the flashy surface is its own reward. That said, Hollow Man isn’t nearly as good as those other movies. It’s probably the worst movie that Paul Verhoeven, the pride of Holland, ever made (and remember, this is the man who made Showgirls). But Verhoeven has never been accused of making a boring movie (again, remember Showgirls). Hollow Man is an unofficial remake of The Invisible Man. The story is this: a scientist figures out how to become invisible, tries the formula on himself, then goes insane and uses his powers for evil. The lesson: don’t play God, but if you do, don’t let it go to your head. This, of course, is just a set up for some creative and pretty fantastic special effects. And the action is certainly as visceral as you’d expect from the director of Basic Instinct and Robocop. In some of Verhoeven’s better movies, especially Total Recall and Starship Troopers, he created big, cartoonish worlds in which to set his violent stories. These worlds seemed meticulously imagined and dazzlingly designed, and were full of wit and attitude. Hollow Man, by comparison, is set in a generic near-future. The main sets are an unimaginatively designed laboratory/bunker and a couple of apartment buildings. Not exactly visionary. It seems like Verhoeven half-assed it this time. But, like I mentioned earlier, it’s never boring. Part of the credit should go to Kevin Bacon for his performance. Even when he’s invisible, he’s full of twitchy, mean-spirited energy.

*That’s why I prefer The Lost World to the first Jurassic Park. There’s no pretense of being science fiction; it’s just a big, fun monster movie.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday! Give yourself a free rental from the Action or Classics section with any other paid rental!

>>>Dennis suggests writing for the VideoReport! Check out the names on this week’s reviews- I see an “Alex,” an “Andy,” a “Stockman,” a couple of “Emilys”- good work gang! So if you want to have your reviews in the VideoReport, then send ’em to us at denmn@hotmail.com, our Facebook page “Videoport Jones” or just drop them off in the store. Remember, the more other people write for the VideoReport, the better it is…and the less you have to listen to me blab on and on. And isn’t that what we all want?

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday! You’ve got a free rental coming from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with any other paid rental!

>>>Former Videoporter Stockman suggests Head and ‘Stella’(in Comedy.) Many nods, tributes, hat tips, and acknowledgements have been made to the recently deceased Davy Jones, as well they should. I am a

If you thought I was going to write something like "Stockman loves Head," then I'm extremely disappointed in you...

lifelong fan of The Monkees, I love them to the very hidden and obscure depths of their canon as any true fan of something should. I think these recent  nods, tributes, hat tips, and acknowledgements have been lacking in proper tribute however, particularly in regards to the movie Head. It has gotten sloughed as that nifty time The Monkees tried to do a wacky movie and whatever; and it’s always remembered to mention that it was co-written by Jack Nicholson and/or features a cameo from Frank Zappa. Way to transfer any acknowledgement of this movie away from The Monkees and make it sound like a lame random thing that happened we should never speak of again. You should definitely speak of this movie again, in fact you should go so far as to watch it because it’s awesome. The Monkees truly tried to push the envelope of what they were constructed to be and that’s a feat to respect and appreciate. As with most things that were awesome and from the 60’s/70’s era I’m sure many people can pass it off under the heading “drugs were involved, weren’t those 60’s/70’s just chalk full of drugs, aren’t we cool for just mentioning drugs, drugs!” I’m not saying that’s false, just that it’s boring to mention and continues that whole sloughing of how awesome and deserving of praise this movie is. This movie is a rollercoaster ride of awesome. Headis a surreal collection of random vignettes strung together with chaos and dry wit. It takes some adjustment (and patience to tolerate said adjustment) to start

"Stockman loves Stella?" That's totally fine...

watching this plotless movie, and most importantly a certain appreciation for a certain kind of nonsensical random humor. It’s similar to when I first started watching the also beyond brilliant TV series Stella with cult heroes Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain. Stella takes some adjustment, but has an infinite payoff. Both require the understanding that what starts has potentially no relation whatsoever to what ends, there is no way to predict where an episode of Stella or a vignette in Head will end up. There is a stream of consciousness element to them that becomes awe inspiringly brilliant when you marvel at the mind that took you from point A to point B. Because of this or maybe in addition to, it’s hard to tell with these things, random is the name of the game. If characters are found wearing skunk tails or Davy Jones is confronted by a giant eye in a mirror and you are more inclined to think “that makes no sense” instead of “ha! Brilliant!” these are not for you. You will be frustrated and confused and I wouldn’t do such a thing to you. But if you are the latter indulge yourself in their pure insanity. The more you steep yourself in it the better it gets until you’re going around asking “Who’s Marcus?” and declaring “I’m the dummy”.

Thrifty Thursday! Rent one, get a free rental from any other section in the store!

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests “Doctor Who” and “The Twilight Zone” (both in Sci Fi/Fantasy) for a hide-behind-the-sofa double feature with two classic tv shows whose introductory theme music has inspired generations of children to crouch behind couches until it stops. One of my earliest memories is of hiding behind an armchair during the high-pitched, eerie Doctor Who theme (original composition by Ron Grainer). Only recent did I learn that I’m far from alone; the experience is so wide-spread that there’s even a high-profile collaborative Doctor Who blog named Behind the Sofa. These days when we watch “Doctor Who” at home, we embrace the eerieness, humming a full-throated upbeat rendition of the wickedly catch music. Take that, childhood fears! At least as legendary is the theme to Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” immortalized by re-runs and elevated to quirk of the modern lexicon, that often-hummed (and often-mangled) staccato tip-tap so firmly associated with uncanny or impossible experiences. The Twilight Zone‘s original plucky, staccato theme was created by renowned composer Bernard Herrmann (Citizen Kane, Psycho, Vertigo, Taxi Driver); the moodier later version was created by avant-garde composer Marius Constant.

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

>>>Two new kids movies this week: a Goosebumps and a Scooby; check the “New Arrivals” section of this here newsletter for the details. And remember: teaching your kids about proper DVD handling now will mean higher SAT scores later.

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

>>>For Saturday, Elsa S. Customer suggests ‘Twin Peaks’ (in Mystery/Thriller.) Despite some problematic aspects — and I don’t mean the wildly unsteady second season. [SPOILERS, oh so many show-ruining SPOILERS!] In the first episode, the sleepy town of Twin Peaks is rocked, not just by a murder but by the identity of the victim: beloved homecoming queen, model student, charity volunteer, and all-around golden girl Laura Palmer. As the investigation proceeds, Laura’s secret life is revealed: a second boyfriend, a heavy drug habit, trysts with shady older men and other girls, working at a bordello across the border. When the case is finally solved — when we learn that she has endured years of rape by a demonic presence in her own father’s body — we understand better how such a beloved princess could delve into such a sordid abyss… but what

Ms. S. Customer continues to ruin things with that pesky "thinking" thing she does...

about Ronette? Ronette Pulaski, a surviving victim of the same killer, whom we first see staggering out of the wilderness across a railroad trestle, stunned and all but catatonic. In this image, she is presented to us as a girl literally from the wrong side of the tracks. And it shows: in the lack of concern that the characters and writers (and presumably the viewers) show over Ronette’s reasons for the same behavior. Tacitly, the cops (and writers) of Twin Peaks are telling us that a child of privilege must be gravely damaged to sully herself so, but that a townie consorting with the same skeevy drug dealers, posing for smutty photos, and whoring needs no explanation. To his credit, Lynch firmly redresses this class imbalance with the investigation into Teresa Banks’ murder in the woefully uneven film prequel Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, but poor Ronette’s story is roundly ignored except as it sheds light on Laura’s tragedy. And speaking of Laura’s ongoing abuse… Okay, I’m gonna say it: David Lynch lets Leland Palmer off the hook. The mythology of Twin Peaks explains that Laura was raped, abused, terrorized, and ultimately murdered not by Leland but by Bob, a wandering spirit who visited his wrath upon Leland in childhood and possessed him at intervals thereafter. The writers make Leland’s obliviousness explicit by having him howl as Bob floods him with memories, “When he was inside, I didn’t know!” He’s shattered and remorseful, but ultimately largely blameless: though he is devastated by rush of memory, his only willful sin rests in his childhood (and therefore readily forgivable) embrace of the darkness Bob offered. Leland is thus relieved of any agency or choice in his daughter’s abuse, though Laura’s heartbreaking, soulcrushing experience the same either way: being raped repeatedly and routinely by something in the form of her father. Lynch’s films are preoccupied with the tragedy of incest and familial abuse, but in Twin Peaks he allows his concurrent obsessions with visiting spirits fluidity and the fluidity of identity erase Leland’s agency, largely absolving him of his role in Laura’s despair. Even more appalling, the show attempts to diminish the act of murder itself. Laura is presumed to have welcomed death as a release from her torment; her own psychiatrist concludes (from such benign evidence as Laura’s peaceful air in their last session) that she “had in fact arrived at a decision to end her life” and “maybe she allowed herself to be killed.” As he dies, Leland has a vision of Laura, which Agent Cooper interprets as Laura’s spirit forgiving and welcoming her father. It’s a painstaking process of absolution and ablution: Leland is exonerated of intent, given a chance to repent for his childhood transgression, and finally utterly forgiven by the victim herself.

>>>For Sunday, Videoport customer Alex suggests Make Out With Violence (in Incredibly Strange.) Make Out With Violence is the best movie I have seen about a man falling in love with a dead girl since Lars and the Real Girl. Of course, while I understand that Lars and the Real Girlis actually about a sweet, vaguely socially retarded man who strikes up with a relationship with a $6,000 anatomically correct sex doll, all the money in

I love you. Please don't eat me.

the world would not convince me that people who carry on relationships with these things don’t have a touch of necrophiliac in them. And if Lars and the Real Girl doesn’t count, Make Out With Violence is definitely the best movie I have seen about a man falling in love with a dead girl since Return of the Living Dead 3. I don’t know how the film holds up to Dead Girl, because I’m a white, 20-something male, a demographic made famous by serial killers who fixate on getting intimate with the corpses of the people they kill, so there are only so many films that fall into this genre I allow myself to be seen renting so that no one becomes inclined to start asking questions.

New Releases this week at Videoport: The Descendants (a rich land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after a tragedy in this Oscar-bait drama starring George Clooney and directed by Sideways

The Cloon, just makin' some sand castles...

Alexander Payne; also, the Oscar-winning script was written by Jim Rash, better know to those of us who are smart and like funny things as ‘Community’‘s Dean Pelton; on an unrelated note, you should really watch ‘Community’), The Adventures of Tintin (this computer-animated adaptation of the venerable Belgian adventure comics boasts some serious talent: actors Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, Nick Frost,and Simon Pegg, screenwriters Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat, and some director, name of Spielberg…), My Week With Marilyn (Michelle Williams is Marilyn Monroe, Kenneth Branagh is Laurence Olivier in this biopic about the two stars clashes on the set of 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl), Melancholia (director Lars Von Trier is back to alternately bum/freak you out, this time with an apocalyptic tale of two sisters [Kiersten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg] trying to sort out thier strained relationship while a mysterious, just-discovered planet threatens to slam into the earth), The Three Musketeers (I like a swash and a buckle as much as the next guy, but did we really need another version of this? Oh well, there are some good British actors in this one, and at least it doesn’t star Kiefer Sutherland…), Young Adult (the team behind Juno is back with this darkly-comic tale of a successful, if alcoholic, writer coming back to her home town determined to recapture her past by romancing her now-married high school flame; look for the great standup comic Patton Oswalt to steal the film as the former high school geek who reluctantly helps her), ‘Bag of Bones’ (Stephen King wrote the book of this horror miniseries about a- surprise!- writer who heads to a cabin in the Maine woods with his family to deal with some writer’s block and, I don’t want to spoil anything here, some creepy stuff happens), ‘The Killing’- season 1 (critically-adored AMC series about the investigation of the killing of a young girl), ‘Superjail’- season 2 (I generally appreciate Adult Swim series’ anarchic animated weirdness, but this show, about the insanely violent titular prison, seems like it was written and drawn by Beavis and or Butthead after a case of Mountain Dew and Pixie Stix), ‘Come Fly With Me’- season 1 (BBC comedy series from David Walliams and Matt Lucas, of LIttle Britain fame, is a reality show parody set in an airport), Women on the 6th Floor (in 1960s Paris a staid, wealthy couple’s placid existence is shaken up by their life-loving two Spanish maids in this French comedy), House of Pleasures (the lacy goings-on at a tun of the century French brothel play out in this saucy period drama), ‘Breakout Kings’- season 1 (PREMISE!- cops team up with incarcerated former escapees to track down current prison escapees; starring The Wire‘s Herc, and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Liam McPoyle), Neverland (from the guy who made Tin Man and Alice, this is another re-imagining of a classic children’s story with a darker, sci-fi twist; this time it’s Peter Pan’s turn as he and his gang of London street urchins are whisked away to the titular dangerous land), Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention (everyone’s favorite inventor/dog clay comedy team present their typically-quirky and delightful take on some real life inventions in this BBC series), Talking Heads: Chronology (career-spanning live performances from the legendary art-rockers), La Soga (true tale of a brave Dominican cop rebelling against his country’s dictatorship), The Man from London (the ever-fascinating Tilda Swinton costars in this thriller from acclaimed director Bela Tarr about a mild-mannered railway worker who stumbles upon some seriosuly shady dealings and finds himself and his family in danger), Marry Me (poor Lucy Liu finds herself unable to choose amongst three different, but equally-perfect, suitors for her lovely hand in marriage in this romantic drama).

New Arrivals this week at Videoport: Scooby Doo: Music of the Vampire (warning: may contain Scrabby-Doo), Goosebumps: Monster Blood (more kid-friendly horror!), High Hopes (charming early film from brilliant British director Mike Leigh [Naked, Secrets & Lies, Topsy Turvy] about two couples from different socio-economic strata of London; trust me- it’s really not as dull as that makes it sound…), Housekeeping (finally released on DVD, this film from director Bill Forsyth [Local Hero, Gregory’s Girl] features an all-time great performance by Christine Lahti as a very eccentric aunt who sweeps into her orphaned nieces’ lives), Danielson: A Family Movie (documentary about the devout Christian musician Daniel Smith as he forms his family into the titular band), E.T. (sure, Steven Spielberg infamously went back and gutted our childhoods when he re-edited E.T. to make it more ‘family-friendly’, but at least Videoport’s got a few new copies of the original [meaning ‘real] version…”penis-breath” and all).

New Arrivals on Blu Ray this week at Videoport: Glory, Stripes, The Descendants, The Three Musketeers (2011), Taxi Driver, Legend, X Men 3: The Last Stand

VideoReport #323

Volume CCCXXIII- Paul Blart: Timecop

For the Week of 10/25/11

Videoport gives you a free movies every day. Why not take an extra horror movie for Halloween? Sleep is overrated…

Middle Aisle Monday. (Get one free rental from the Sci-Fi, Horror, Incredibly Strange, Mystery/Thriller, Animation or Staff Picks sections with your paid rental.

Haunted house #1.

>>> In this week leading up to Halloween, Elsa S. Customer suggests cozying up with some of the truly great haunted-house movies, starting with The Shining (in Horror), arguably the king* of haunted-house movies. Stephen King complained that Stanley Kubrick’s adaption stripped away most of the motivation and plot, but I contend that the film (co-written by Diane Johnson and Kubrick) necessarily pares away distractions from a baroquely overplotted novel. While that elaborate web of motifs may work in a page-turning book, onscreen they would meld into a sloppy, tension-smothering stew of images. (And if you don’t believe that, check out the King-endorsed miniseries [also in the Horror section]: a flabby, slogging mess.) Kubrick’s film creates terror from nothing by winding up the three main players, emptying out that enormous labyrinthian space, and letting them blunder around in there. Kubrick’s The Shining is like a drum: it resonates because it is empty. [*See what I did there?]

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests The Ring(in Horror.) For once, I’m going to make a case for an American-language remake. Naomi Watts brings a somber, unnerving note to her role as Rachel, a reporter following up

Naomi Watts in the well of haunted house #2.

doggedly on a story about an urban legend and a string of teenager’s deaths. The blankness that sometimes overtakes Rachel’s face makes the sometimes dubious plot turns all too convincing. The Ring does fill the standard criterion of a haunted-house tale (by identifying one place as the site of a terrible deed and the locus for a ghost’s manifestation) but it also transcends the genre by unleashing it. No longer can we rest easy, knowing that the punishing spirit is safely stashed away in its house; in the logic of The Ring, it can (and WILL) follow us anywhere. Not only that, but The Ring devastatingly throws off the rules of resolution so familiar from campfire tales and old-timey short stories; we think we know how to quiet the dead, but we are oh so wrong.

Tough and Triassic Tuesday. (Get one free rental from the Action or Classics sections with your paid rental.)

>>>Elsa S. Customer suggests The Haunting (in Horror, but we’ll count it as a classic.) (note: Be sure

Haunted house #3.

you get the 1963 original starring Julie Harris and Claire Bloom, not the flabby 1999 remake.) It’s a well-chewed nugget of story: a motley group is called together to stay in — and to study — a notorious and putatively haunted house. But Robert Wise’s The Haunting (based on Shirley Jackson’s justly renowned novel The Haunting of Hill House) sets the standard for this trope. Instead of cheap jumps and scare chords, this film allows the pressure to simmer away slowly, letting us absorb not only the drab grimness of Hill House’s foreboding rooms but also the mounting tensions between the characters, especially between timid Nell and her roommate, the entrancing bohemian Theo.

Wacky and Worldly Wednesday. (Get one free rental from the Comedy or Foreign Language sections with your paid rental…OR…get 4 movies for 7 days for 7 bucks!)

>>> Elsa S. Customer suggests A Tale of Two Sisters (in Assorted Asian Exploitation.) A Tale of Two

Haunted house #4. (But it looks so nice...)

Sisters is based on a Korean folktale known as Rose Flower & Red Lotus, and despite its thoroughly contemporary setting and tone, the modern psychological thriller/haunted-house tale retains some of that folk-story pedigree in its balance and grace. The essence of the tale is as familiar as any fairy tale: two troubled girls cling to each other in the face of family strife, a most-unwelcome stepmother, and their belief that some evil force is manifesting itself in their rooms at night. It’s stylish and suspenseful without ever being dismissively slick, at times genuinely terrifying, and in equal parts devastating and heartening in its glimpse inside a family’s private moments.

>>>Elsa S. Customer says how about a Spanish-language haunted-house double-feature? With

The door to haunted house #5.

The Devil’s Backbone, director Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Cronos) manages to deliver a genuinely harrowing ghost story wrapped in a surprising blanket of genuine warmth and heart. While his father is off fighting in the Spanish Civil War, young Carlos (Fernando Tielve) is consigned to an orphanage, and we join him as he explores the landscape, learning its mysteries and trying to carve out a place for himself. Del Toro is a master of atmosphere and darkness, but more than that, he knows how to allow character to shape a story until each moment is a dark little poem. In The

And there's #6 in the background there...

Orphanage, director J.A. Bayona (funded in part and advised by del Toro) brings a similarly sorrowful tale to light; Laura (Belén Rueda) brings her husband and newly adopted son Simon to the long-abandoned orphanage where she herself grew up; Laura plans to refurbish the building and start a center for disabled children. Though The Orphanage delivers some chilling moments (including at least one that made us two seasoned horror-movie fans jump and holler), it also creates a curious and potent blend of sorrow and sweetness, an elegiac note in an often debased genre.

Thrifty Thursday. (Get one free movie from any section with your paid rental.)

>>>Elsa S. Customer keeps the haunted houses coming with Session 9(in Horror.) Okay, it’s not a house, strictly speaking, but director Brad Andersen’s low-budget high-tension psychological thriller captures the

I grew up hearing stories about haunted house #7.

essence of haunted-house stories. A small team works long hours at on the lonely grounds of an abandoned mental hospital; each member of the four-man team brings his own personal pressures to the job with them, but their tension is compounded by the rush job and by the oppressive atmosphere of the site. The hulking architecture of the actual long-derelict Danvers State Hospital lends its uniquely sinister air to the film, casting dread and a literal shadow over the landscape.

>>>Videoport customer Danuta suggests (via Post-It note on a copy of The Trip [in British Comedy.]) “If you like this movie, do watch the deleted scenes!”

Free Kids Friday. (Get one free rental from the Children’s or Family sections, no other rental necessary).

>>>April suggests some more free kids Friday Halloween movies! Looking for something a little bit rude for Halloween? Try Little Monsters with Howie Mandel and Fred Savage! Remember this one, 80’s kids? Howie Mandel pees in someone’s apple juice. It’s crazy! It’s like Monsters Inc. but gross and weird. If that one is a bit much for you, I’d tell you to rent The Ghost and Mr. Chicken with Don Knotts. I think he’s the best thing ever. How could you not love Don Knotts? He’s just so gosh darn loveable.

Having a Wild Weekend. (Rent two, get your third movie for free from any section on Saturday and Sunday.)

>>>For Saturday, Videoport customer Jason suggests Attack the Block (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) This film was once described to me as “The Wire meets Alien.” It is hard to think of a description that could do more to elevate my expectations (“Firefly” meets Seven Samurai? “Arrested Development” meets Citizen Kane? I could play this game for hours), combine that with the Shaun of the Dead connection and I was pretty much setting my self up for disappointment. I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed. Attack of the Block is the story of an alien invasion set in a public housing block in South London. The aliens can’t always land in small town America or suburbia, can they? The location is not just a gimmick. Every detail, from the imposing functionalism of the building to the racial and class tensions of the housing complex, become part of the believable backdrop of the film. The aliens are clearly done on the cheap, but the emphasis is on the action so you hardly notice. If Super 8 is this year’s tribute to Spielberg, all full of childhood wonder and small town innocence, then Attack the Block is perhaps this year’s tribute to John Carpenter, with more of sense of urban conflict and urban decay. Oh, now I have totally raised your expectations.

>>>And Videoport customer Ryan also suggests Attack the Block (in Sci Fi/Fantasy.) I found Attack the Block to be refreshing, funny, somewhat less painfully predictable than the usual Hollywood fare, and passable in terms of acting by the cast. Given my usual disdain for the vast majority of media content out there today, that’s high praise… particularly for a film that could be marginally described as both “sci-fi” and “silly,” two terms that I’m normally loathe to use to describe the same film….

>>>For Sunday, Elsa S. Customer’s haunted house tour concludes with Stir of Echoes(in

Bacon's totally digging up #8.

Mystery/Thriller.) This gritty little chiller defies a trope common to the haunted-house genre. Instead of a blandly comfortable upper-middle-class family stumbling upon a vacant ramshackle mansion and snapping it up for a song (without ever wondering about its dark history), Stir of Echoes starts off in a working-class Chicago neighborhood where telephone lineman Tom (Kevin Bacon) lives with his wife and kid. Tom is a forthright, no-nonsense guy who has little time for the mystical puffery spouted by his sister-in-law (Ileana Douglas), which makes his upcoming experiences all the more jolting. It’s a rough, plucky story about trying to carve out a life in rough times, even though death lurks in the corners.

New Releases This Week at Videoport: Captain America (Marvel Comics continues to trounce rival DC in the movie department with this solid superhero flick starring the suitably-earnest, and blond, Chris Evans as the shield-slinging WWII Nazi-puncher), Winnie the Pooh (do we really need another feature film about the Pooh-bear? When it’s narrated by John Cleese, we do), Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale(from Finland

Seriously, what is going on up there?

comes the tale of an archaeological team that unearths an evil, murderous creature… that wears a red suit, has a long white beard, and visits children one night a year- yup, it’s that evil Santa movie you were waiting for! Why not rent this and Troll Hunter and see just what the hell they’re up to in Scandinavia), ‘Robot Chicken’- season 5 (once again, cool guy Seth Green and friends open up their toy boxes for some rude, stop-motion action figure fun), A Serbian Film(you know how

After googling for images of "A Serbian Film," I can confidently assure you that you do NOT want to do a google search for images from "A Serbian Film."

Videoport will slap a “no one under 18” sticker on some movies? Well, don’t be surprised if you see six or seven of ’em on this notorious import, the insanely, apocalyptically vicious tale of an aging porn star lured back into the filmmaking underworld; seriously, you don’t want to rent this, unless you do…), A Little Help (‘The Office’‘s own America’s sweetheart Jenna Fischer stars in this quirky comedy/drama about a put-upon/adorable dental hygienist forced to cope with some unexpected obstacles), Shaolin (Chinese superstar Andy Lau [Infernal Affairs, House of Flying Daggers] stars as a weary warlord whose retreat amongst the monks is interrupted by his martial artist-y past; Jackie Chan’s in there somewhere, too), Father of Invention (Kevin Spacey stars in this comedy about a former infomercial maven, jailed after one of his products maims everyone in sight, trying to rebuild his empire), Monte Carlo (tween queens Leighton Meester and Selena Gomez star in this demographically-targeted comedy about American girls mistaken for royalty while on a European vacation), Page One: Inside the New York Times (acclaimed documentary about the inner workings of the paper of record), Spooky Buddies(dogs in

Indie goodness.

Halloween costumes! You can’t resist it!), My Effortless Brilliance (from Lynn Shelton [director of Humpday] comes another minutely-observed indie dramedy about two estranged friends having an awkward reunion at a mountain cabin), Nora’s

Foreign-y goodness.

Will (intriguing Mexican film about a philandering e-husband who finds himself tasked with following his deceased ex-wife’s mysterious list of tasks after she commits suicide), Severe Clear (wartime documentary about Mike Scotti, one of the first soldiers on the ground into Baghdad), The Rivals (Maine-made documentary details the titular football rivalry between blue collar Mountain Valley High in Rumford, and affluent Cape Elizabeth High.)

New Arrivals This Week at Videoport: Island of Lost Souls (the Criterion Collection gang brings us this deluxe edition of the still-freaky 1932 horror flick about a mad [really, really mad] scientist making hybrid people-animals on his own private isle), Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging (could this British coming-of-age comedy have a more British-y title? How about Lorries, Lifts, and Fannies? Or Prams, Knickers, and the Queen?), ‘Leverage’- season 2 (I know at least one Videoport customer family that’s gonna be very happy that we got the 2nd season fo this con-man caper show starring Timothy Hutton; if we can make just one family happy, then our day is that much brighter…), ‘V’- season 1 (‘Firefly’‘s Morena Baccarin takes over from Jane Badler [abstruse trivia alert!] as the queen of an

Hey look! Another haunted house!

invading alien lizard army in this remake of the kind-of beloved 80’s sci fi series), The House By the Cemetery (fans of goopy Italian horror rejoice! Italian ‘master of horror’ Lucio Fulci’s haunted house splatter-fest comes to Videoport, just in time for Halloween.)

New Arrivals on Blu-Ray This Week at Videoport: Captain America, Rare Exports, Shaolin, Pulp Fiction.

HANDHELD HORRORS!

(Now that Paranormal Activity 3 has become the biggest-opening horror movie of all time [seriously], here’s a list of horror flicks that take advantage of the fact that trying to catch the scariness, along with the characters, through the limited vision of a video camera can make you have to pee really badly.)

The Blair Witch Project

Cloverfield

[REC]

[REC2]

Quarantine

The Last Broadcast

Paranormal Activity

Paranormal Activity 2

Series 7

The Last Exorcism

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon

Cannibal Holocaust

Diary of the Dead

                       Videoport presents…ZOMBIE NIGHT!!

The days are running out…the end is near…to get your discounted tickets to the Halloween night zombie double feature of the original Dawn of the Dead and Shaun of the Dead at the State Theatre! Just $6 if you get your tickets ahead of time from us ($8 at the door.) See you there…unless you’re chicken…

     Did you miss this year’s Damnationland? No you didn’t.

The chillingly-awesome local horror anthology Damnationland 2011 is reopening the late, lamented Movies on Exchange St. this weekend only for many, many screenings! Check out www.damnationland.com for the details!