Saturday, December 26, 2015

Five For Five For $5 - Here's some VHS-era movies you should have seen by now!

When Emerald City Video was a thing that existed as a video store, we used to have a five VHS tapes for five nights for $5 sale.

It was, as you would probably imagine, a customer favorite.

You don't have to give me $5 for these -- and I'm not sure there would be a way to do that anyway -- but I figure one of the things we can do with this blog and the podcast is to simulate some of that old fun.

So every so often, one of us will suggest a bunch of movies that you could have got on VHS, and can still rent or buy for fairly cheap now.

Zero Effect

Bill Pullman and Ben Stiller star in...wait, no! It's good! Really!

Here, check out the trailer:

As you can probably tell by the above, it's a riff on Sherlock Holmes, and specifically on A Scandal In Bohemia. The film is one of my favorites ever, and while most people don't fall in love with it the way I did, every customer I ever sold it to at least enjoyed it.

Fun fact about this movie: I hand-sold it so aggressively at ECV that we kept adding more copies to inventory. Since it was a five-day rental, it was often out of stock. One year, it actually made it on our Top 1000 (or maybe 100?) movies of the year...something that the owners steadfastly believed couldn't have happened and that I had to have somehow "rigged" it.

No, I totally didn't.

The Limey

Everybody loves a revenge thriller, and everyone loves -- or at least everyone should love -- Terence Stamp.

This movie comes from the director of Ocean's Eleven and stars, among others, Peter Fonda and Luis Guzman. It's a gritty film that nevertheless manages to be stylish and smart whilst having its most iconic moment be the 70-year-old protagonist screaming "TELL HIM I'M FUCKING COMING!"

Hudson Hawk

This is one of my favorite Bruce Willis movies, even though it's self-evidently a bad film, objectively speaking.

Even just watching this fan-edited trailer, it's pretty obvious that this was made with tongue firmly in cheek and has "camp classic" written all over it.

Seriously, you won't have more fun this side of Die Hard.

Cradle Will Rock

I'm going through a period of historical dramas right now, and this one -- Cradle Will Rock from director Tim Robbins and featuring one of the best casts ever assembled on film -- is probably my favorite of all time.

Politically it's pretty left-of-center, and yes, it's a little didactic. But the way it weaves a half-dozen stories -- some true and some made up -- together to tell a great story of a moment in time is pretty great.

It gets less love than Robbins's previous directorial effort, the award-winning Dead Man Walking -- but I've always found it to be smarter, funnier and more enjoyable.

The Paper

In my day job, I'm a reporter...and for my money, there's never been a better movie about journalism than The Paper.

I count it as director Ron Howard's best work. No kidding.

Everyone in this film gives a great performance, but this is the moment when everyone should have known that Michael Keaton was destined for years of being an Academy Award frontrunner. Of course, it's a comedy, so it's not like anyone was paying attention to that kind of thing.

It's also insanely quotable, which would be more effective if more people had seen it and could understand what you were quoting at them.

-Russ Burlingame

Announcing the Emerald City Video Podcast

If you’ve known me for a while, you probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that I sort of miss video stores.
Having worked in them for years, I have an affection for the now-mostly-dead industry, in which each store was its own kind of cultural outpost. The relationships between the staff and clientele were special — so much so that many of my old customers from Emerald City Video in East Syracuse/DeWitt are friends of mine on Facebook.
Well, that and I married one of our regulars.
Anyway, there was something special offered by in-person recommendations, conversations and the like that you just can’t duplicate with a Netflix or Amazon algorithm that fails to take into account things that your kids, your friends or whoever else has your password watched, or that you turned on by mistake while looking for something else.
It’s something that can’t really be recaptured — especially the feel and moment of something as special as what we had for a while at Emerald City, which was a truly fun time (if utterly chaotic).
That isn’t going to stop us from trying to create a new way to have a dialogue with our old customers, our old co-workers…and cinema itself.
Starting in January 2016, I will co-host a monthly podcast with Logan Bretschneider, Dan Fecteau and David Nielsen titled the Emerald City Video Podcast.
You can check out our Facebook page here or follow us on Twitter at @ECV_Podcast.
Each episode, we will discuss a new theatrical release as well as what would have been a “catalog” release at the video store: an old movie that you could have rented as part of a five for $5.00 deal on VHS back in the day. We’ll also have other features like “If you liked this, try this” and a suggested “five for five” that we’ll select using old movies that can be found free on popular streaming sites. We encourage our listeners — and especially our old customers — to call in and get personalized advice and interactions. When you listen to the first episode, we’ll share information there on how to reach us. We’ll get the show set up with an RSS feed and an iTunes account as soon as we have recorded the first episode, which we hope to do in the first week of January.
In all likelihood, episodes will go live on Fridays. The plan at present is to record on Thursdays, and I have Thursdays and Fridays off from work, so I can spend some time editing a podcast I’m not getting paid for then.
The first episode will feature a lot of introductory talk and some feature content, but the two “spotlight” movies will be Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Josie and the Pussycats.
(No, really. Josie and the Pussycats.)
You can reach us on Twitter and Facebook if you want to recommend movies or send us e-mails before the first episode airs. Tag any of your friends who remember Emerald City Video or who might enjoy a crazy idea like this.
Russ Burlingame

There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?