Free Hugs! Black Dog’s Top Picks for the Best Things!

Free Hugs!


Twas a fine year for films, one of the better years in recent memory. 2014 made 2013 look like a big pile of puke in comparison. This is Black Dog’s list of what we thought were among the best things that cinema had to offer in the year of our lord, 2014. Grand Budapest Hotel seemed to be a popular film amongst the staff. Great film. Doing up my list I couldn’t help but wonder what would have been on John’s list. He had the most eclectic taste in film. It probably would have include some great art-house foreign flick – I’m guessing the new Dardenne Brothers film – whatever Mike Leigh or Ken Loach put out this year and maybe some action (was there a new Die Hard film this year?) or horror flick. Miss that guy.

Anyways without further ado (no more ado for you!) here’s what some Black Doggers liked this past year. (We’ll have a few more lists – including mine – next week)

Patrick’s Picks…

The Guest
Night Moves
Dear White People
Grand Budapest Hotel
Hill of Freedom
Listen Up Philip
Tale of Princess Kaguya

And here’s what tinkled Alex’s fancy…

(in alphabetical order)

Finding Vivian Maier
Gone Girl
It Follows
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau
Only Lovers Left Alive
Starry Eyes
Under the Skin

And from Amanda we have…

Grand Budapest Hotel
The Babadook
Under the Skin
Obvious Child
I Origins
Big Eyes
Mr. Turner
The Dog
Finding Vivian Maier

Best in the realm of TV

The Comeback
True Detective
Inside Amy Schumer
Nathan for You
Tim and Eric’s Bedtime Stories

From RJ we have this fine selection…

10. Nightcrawler. Gylellenhaal and Rene Russo do some mighty fine acting in this tense thriller.
9. Ida. beauty and sadness often come together. Visually stunning.
8. Birdman. Michael Keaton really is a super hero. Innaritu makes a movie that isn’t depressing and guess what? .. It’s really good! The cast is on fire!
7. It Follows. Forget the Babadook! This movie s the most original horror movie in eons.
6. We are the Best!! Rebels with a cause! 80s punk teen girls rule!
5. Blue Ruin. A thrill ride thats never lets go and begins where you think it would end.
4. The Wonders. Italian new comer Alice Rorwacher’s coming of age story is true magic. Sweet but real with a hint of fantasy.
3. Under the Skin. Creepy Arty Genius. Glazer is a master of visual stimulation. Best soundtrack of 2014
2. Clouds of Sils Maria. I almost wrote this movie off and took a chance and was blown away. Layered and complex study of acting, actors and egos. Assayas has redeemed himself.
1.Force Majeure. This is the kind of movie that makes going to the theater worth every penny. A truly modern comedic masterpiece. Snow avalanches aren’t the only kind of disaster awaiting a family with deeply rooted issues .

Honorable mentions: Snowpiercer. Only Lovers Left Alive. Tracks. The Wind Rises. Lego movie. Grand Budapest Hotel. Edge of tomorrow. Stranger by the Lake.

Best TV shows/series in 2014

-Broad City
-The Leftovers
-Mad men
-Getting On
-The comeback
-The Kroll Show
-Nathan for you

Biggest Disappointments…

-Godzilla-dumb dumb dumb…ugh!
-Muppets most wanted…way too long and not funny enough…
-The Sacrement- ti west please some back and make a good movie! please!

Seems Bjorn didn’t see any new films this past 12 months but here’s a great list of older stuff that blew his hair back…

In order viewed…

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974)
A whip-crack 1970s thriller, with plenty of authentic grit and grime, awesome performances, and a perfect ending.

I Killed My Mother (Xavier Dolan, 2009)
Heartbreaking first feature from Canada’s boy genius. This kid whips out a screenplay in the time it takes me to fold my socks.

Brother’s Keeper (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, 1992)
Before they made Metallica cry, Berlinger and Sinofsky made a name for themselves with this forthright bit of investigative journalism that is equally charming and creepy.

The Set-Up (Robert Wise, 1949)
This poignant boxing potboiler unfolds in real-time. A true nail-biter that transcends straight noir.

Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, 1967)
This uncompromising, film is often brutal to watch, but it’s also bizarrely funny, and strangely charming.

Rome Open City (Roberto Rossellini, 1945)
Made under incredible circumstances, this first blast of neo-realism finds poetry in destruction.

Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion (Elio Petri, 1970)
Eye-poppingly stylish murder procedural morphs into devastating political satire. Hey Criterion, more unearthing hidden gems like this, and fewer releases like, uh, Tootsie.

Gates of Heaven (Errol Morris, 1978)
Morris’ first stab at a feature documentary is like the most serene psychosis, quietly burrowing into the lives of the seemingly ordinary and unearthing the perfectly weird.

Coal Miner’s Daughter (Michael Apted, 1980)
Enthralling biopic featuring (literally) note-perfect performances across the board.

Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki, 2004)
By avoiding provocation, Araki makes his most provocative film. One of the most honest films about surviving abuse ever made.

On the Shelves This Week

Not much. This is traditionally a very slow period for releases. January looks tremendous though!


Arrested Development Season 4 – It’s about friggin time this thing was released for all of us folk to enjoy. I hear that it’s great – maybe not as great as the first 3 seasons but you’ll want to see it none-the-less. Trust me.

Coming Next Week!

Alive Inside
Atlas Shrugged III
Get on Up
Girls Season 3
The Guest
Life After Beth
No Good Deed
The Skeleton Twins

We’re open until 8pm on New Year’s Eve and Noon till 11pm on New Year’s Day! Plan accordingly.

Happy viewing, my lovelies. We’ll have more picks for you next week (next year!). Hold on Tight.

Copyright © 2014 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Black Dog Video
Cambie Street and/or Commercial Drive

Free Hugs – 2014: A Year to Remember to Forget

Free Hugs – 2014: A Year to Remember to Forget

It all started with a phone call at 6am on Christmas Day. Swanson, my 8 year-old answered the phone. It was the police asking for me. “He’s asleep”, he told Johnny Law. “And he told me not to wake him up under any circumstances!” I had been making merry the night before with friends, drinking wine and sobbing our way through A Christmas Carol. It’s never good news when the phone rings that early. This was no exception as some chowder-head had thrown a rock through the large plate glass window at the Commercial Drive shop.


Merry Christmas!

And thus began one of the toughest years in Black Dog’s history (yes I know it wasn’t technically 2014, but close enough).

January saw my wife sign us up for Netflix (it was free for a month). This was both good and bad –  bad because, well, Netflix! – and good as it showed me what an utter wasteland that thing is. It took me maybe 20 minutes to go through their entire catalogue and I picked out 5 things I could possibly watch (4 of which I had already seen). I don’t know what people’s attraction to this is – convenience (re: laziness) can be the only thing I can think of – that and not giving a shit what you watch.

February my good friends and hockey teammates opened up Bomber Brewing! Great beer, great fellas! Not everything that happened in 2014 was bad.

March the Cambie store turned 18! Pretty cool. I’m hoping that the store will see it’s 20s. That’s a good decade.

April saw me pen the “Open Letter” about the current state of our business and what tough times we were facing. This lead to our Indiegogo campaign in July. I hated to do that – to ask for help –  but it was either that or we close at least one of the stores. The response was incredible. We raised some much needed capital to help us out and plan the next phase of the store (still in the works). It also got folks who really cared about us to come back in and support us. It seems that there is value to the community, especially the film-loving community, that we still provide.

Things were going along smoothly – business was picking up, folks were happy we were still around and the Commercial store turned nine, and then on November 12th, we received devastating news – our great friend and colleague, John Skibinski, passed away suddenly after a short bout with the flu. I still can’t believe this happened and it still seems so strange to write. One day he’s there, and the next he’s gone. So damn sad. I think about John everyday. He was was one of my favourite people on this planet, such a quality individual. Here’s a lovely piece written by a friend of his if you care to read it…


Over the course of the year a few long time colleagues moved on to (hopefully) bigger and brighter things. Torsten, Josie and Shoby all left us (but can you ever really leave the Black Dog family, we’re like the Mafia). But we gained some bright new up-and-comers in Bjorn, Rob and Eric. Welcome gentlemen!

Over the last 18 years we’ve suffered through a devastating fire, survived the insane construction for the Rav-Hole, been robbed, slapped around by technology amongst other things but 2014 was especially trying and tragic for us. I’m hoping all of that is behind us as we press forward into the uncertain but optimistic and exciting future.

The Smattering of New Films on the Shelves This Week


The Equalizer – Denzel Washington steps into Edward Woodward’s squeaky English shoes in this update of a guy with a big gun who is good at equalizing things.


Banshee S2 – Season 2 of this excellent little TV show about a thief who assumes the identity of a murdered sheriff amongst the Amish. We need more shows involving the Amish, don’t you think?


These Final Hours – Odd sounding flick about a self-obsessed guy going to a party on the last day of earths existence who ends up saving the life of a little girl. Life lessons, I presume, ensue.


Sorry the image for the John Cusack film wouldn’t upload. But here’s a photo of some Christmas dogs!

Reclaim – Some sort of scam-thriller involving John Cusack. 2014 was the year of John Cusack – he was in so many straight-to-video flicks (the kind of films you find in the bargin-bin at Walmart, or on Netflix). Must need a new boat or something.


The Longest Week – Jason Bateman loses all of his riches and he must fend for himself while hanging out with Olivia Wilde. Poor guy.


Last Weekend – Family reuniting at the lake house for some drama with Patricia Clarkson and some other actors.

Christmas is upon us and here’s the hours of operation for the stores over the holidays…

Christmas Eve – Noon till 7pm
Christmas Day – Closed
Boxing Day – Noon till 11pm
New Year’s Eve – Noon till 8pm
New Year’s Day – Noon till 11pm

Next Week we’ll feature the staff’s top picks of the year.

I hope that everyone has a safe and happy holidays. Drink some good Nog, spice it up with some rum (like I have to tell you), rent some quality flicks – there’s lots on the shelves!

Copyright © 2014 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up in-store or online.

Our mailing address is:
Black Dog Video
Cambie Street and/or Commercial Drive

Free Hugs! Black Dog Newsletter for the Week of December 15th to 22nd


A few housekeeping notices to pass along before we get to the meat of the day. Starting this Wednesday (December 17th) and running until the 24th, we will be doing or famous Food Bank Donations for late charges campaign. Drop off a non-perishable food item (please no lizard beaks in monkey gravy) and we’ll destroy any outstanding late charges you may have incurred up until the 17th. We reserve the right to judge you on your donation (if you have $100 in late, a package of crackers isn’t going to cut it). Hope to see you with lots of cans in your hands, man.

This Saturday (December 20th) the kids at the Commercial store would like to invite you over for a little Christmas cheer. There may be nibbles, possible libations and some sweet sounds courtesy of local musical hero Jason Zumpano! Also the deal of the day will be rent 2 get a third rental for free (of equal of lesser value of course). Cool beans.

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And don’t forget we have fabulous Black Dog T-Shirts still for sale at both locations. They make great gifts for the person in your family who wears clothes! We also have gift certificates available as well. Oh happy days!


New Releases!


Horns – Harry Potter is accused of murdering his girlfriend. So what is he to do? Sprout some horns out of his noggin that gives him the power to hear people’s thoughts and hopefully solve the mystery, that’s what! Read the book – which was pretty cool – heard mixed things about the film. Directed by Alexandre Aja (Piranha, High Tension). May be late on the shelves.


Swearnet – Ugh. The Trailer Park Boys start an intranet station so they can swear a lot on it. Hilarity, I presume, ensues.


Dr. Cabbie – Comedy finds an Indian immigrant unable to practice medicine in Canada so he does so out of the back of the cab he’s forced to drive. Remember that dentist who did dentistry out of his dingy apartment in Vancouver? It’s like that but funny.


The Maze Runner – Another entry into the futuristic teen dystopia genre finds a bunch of boys trying to figure their way of a giant maze. A giant maze in the future! Think Hungry Games but with more maze. Heard pretty good things about this one actually. Might I go so far as to say it’s amazing?


The Trip to Italy – Steve and Rob eat and talk their way through the gorgeous countryside of Italy. If you like The Trip, you’ll enjoy this one, because well, Italy!


Magic in the Moonlight – Jeez Louise, it’s a new Woody Allen film! Didn’t even know this one existed. A romantic type comedy with Colin Firth, Emma Stone and The Rock (not to sure about that last guy, but one can dream) about a swindle and an Englishman’s involvement in said swindle.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Ugh. And it “stars” Megan Fox.


The Immigrant – Solid cast (Jeremy Renner, Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix) star in this heavy drama about a recently arrived immigrant (probably the same immigrant in the title) to NY in 1921 who’s forced into a life of prostitution. Sounds like some great Christmas fun! Actually I’ve heard very good things about this flick.


This is Where I Leave You – Comedy/Dramady, again with a great cast – Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Tim Elephant, Jane Fonda, The Rock (sigh) – about a bunch of siblings reuniting for their father’s funeral. Enter drama and comedy.


Pride – UK gay activists work to help some miners during a strike in 1984 for some reason. Fine cast – Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton, McNulty from The Wire – add to the proceedings.

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Need something to get you through the holidays? Then you’ve come to the right place. Take a gander at our what we like…

Stay warm. Stay dry. Stay hydrated. Stay entertained. Be Good.




Free Hugs! Black Dog Newsletter for Week Ending December 15th


As I have a bit of time to spare in my travels, I thought that I’d give Jessica a break from doing the newsletter for a couple of weeks. But don’t fret, she’ll be back in the new year with more free hugs for you all.

Now onto the business at hand. December 20th over yonder at the Commercial store, we’re throwing a bit of a small Christmas hullabaloo. Local musician and all-round swell guy Jason Zumpano will be spinning some hot wax (or cold damp wax depending on the weather) and there will be nibbles, perhaps libations and rental deals to enjoy. Please stop by.

Dec_poster_01 4

If you need some Christmas things to stuff into various friends, family or whoever’s stockings, why not stuff ina feisty new Black Dog T-shirt or gift certificate? They stuff real good.


New Stuff on the Shelves!


Guardians of the Galaxy – It’s kinda like The Avengers but, in my opinion, better than The Avengers. Space Avengers! It’s clever, fun, well paced and features not only a talking tree, but a talking raccoon! With a big gun! Something for everyone! I couldn’t tell you the plot, something about some scary guys who want to blow up the universe and it’s up to a merry band of pranksters to stop them or something like that. Who cares? Available on DVD, Blu Ray and eye-exploding 3-D Blu Ray. By the by we still have 1 brand-new 3-D Blu-Ray copy for sale at Commercial $10. First come, first serve.


Calvary – From the director of the excellent The Guard comes this tough, funny and gripping tale of a priest (the always amazing Brendan Gleeson) who’s marked for death by one of his parishioners. Drama and other emotions, I presume ensue.


Frank – Original and weird and amazing (from what I’ve heard) tale that finds a guy joining a rock band led by Michael Fassbender who wears a giant paper-mache head. Kinda looks a bit like that thing from the Jack-in-the-Box ads. Check this one out!


I Origins – Odd little sci-fi movie that finds giant-headed (and not paper-mache) Michael Pitt as some sort of scientist who discovers some sort of sciency thing involving eyes that may change the science world as we know it. Shhh don’t tell science-phobe Stephen Harper!


Kroll Show – A guy named Nick Kroll is here to make you laugh. You like to laugh, right?


Yves Saint Laurent – Bio-pic, or biopic to some, about the famed designer of clothes. Clothes for your body. Well maybe not our bodies, but some folks bodies.


When the Game Stands Tall – Football movie about a famous coach who set records for having a real good team. Go sports!


Dolphin Tale – Family affair about a boy and his friendship with a dolphin who’s tail was lost in a crab trap (the dolphins not the boys). Stars a smiley Morgan Freeman and a bunch of other people, also with nice smiles..


20,000 Days on Earth – Sort of documentary finds Nick Cave marking his 20,000th day on earth. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this and being a big Nick Cave fan, it’s at the top of my list to watch.

Coming Next Week

The Immigrant
Magic in the Moonlight
The Maze Runner
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This is Where I Leave You

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Here’s a bunch of stuff that you make, or may not, like to watch over the next little while…

That’s it for this week folks. I hope that y’all stay dry and warm during this onslaught of dreary weather. Mulled wine, popcorn and a stack of DVDs should do the trick!

Copyright © 2014 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Black Dog Video
Cambie Street and/or Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC

Black Dog Newsletter for week of December 2nd – 8th


Hello December!

It’s that time of year now which means that certain radio stations have become unlistenable and everyone seems a bit more on edge than usual. Never fear, we’re here to help distract you from the holiday madness and the snow outside with some quality watching material.

Also, stay warm with a fine garment from your favourite local video store! They’re going fast and make excellent Christmas gift things for the ones you love!


Looks at those babies!

New movies this week:


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Sadly this installment of the franchise does not star James Franco, as it is set decades after the last film. The hyper-intelligent apes are now at war with humans after civilization has been devastated due to a pandemic. Sounds like a real feel-good movie.


The Hundred Food Journey
Lasse Hallstrom is back with another one. Helen Mirren plays a fancy, snobby French chef who antagonizes an Indian man who opens a restaurant nearby. If you liked Salmon Fishing in the Yemen or Chocolat you’ll probably like this too!


As Above So Below
The guy who played Ginsberg on Mad Men is now an explorer in the catacombs beneath Paris. Sounds romantic, right? Wrong! It’s super terrifying and horrific and spooky down there so watch this one with the lights on.


Third Person
Holy jeez there’s a lot of actors in this movie. They all play a bunch of rich couples having various love affairs in Rome, Paris and New York. I can’t even afford to visit these cities let alone live there and pay rent and have tumultuous love affairs. Also from the guy who made Crash. Take that for what it’s worth.


The Calling
The staunch Susan Sarandon plays a small town sheriff who stumbles upon a string of murders which turns out to be the work of a spooky serial killer. So many serial killers out there preying on small towns. Everyone be careful.


Turks and Caicos
Here’s the sequel to the 2011 movie Page Eight. This is the second film in the Johnny Worricker Spy trilogy. It’s pretty fun to say “Turks and Caicos”, don’t you think? Also this movie looks like it has the best cast ever.


Salting the Battlefield
The final film in the Johnny Worricker Spy trilogy. If Turks and Caicos left you feeling unfulfilled here’s the resolution, plus now Voldemort is in the cast. What could be better?


To Kill a Man
A Chilean film about a man who is sick and tired of being caught in between thugs and ineffectual police decides to take matters in to his own hands. Sounds like some risky business, mister.


A retro French Canadian coming of age movie. If that doesn’t grab you then you should probably just go fly a kite. A French Kite.


Broad City – Season 1
Wowza! This show is so great. I accidentally stayed up until 4 AM watching every single episode in one sitting. The show centres around two twenty-somethings in New York who don’t have much ambition. Reminiscent of the show Girls but less annoying and much funnier, or like Flight of the Conchords but with ladies and no singing. Also features comedians like Amy Pohler, Amy Sedaris, Rachel Dratch, and Fred Armisen in hilarious and memorable cameos. This will not disappoint.


Justified – Season 5
Handsome man, Timmy the Elephant is back as a cowboy hat-wearing man who is also a Marshal in rural Kentucky. I have never seen this show and barely know what it’s about but people seem to like it and rent it so you should probably check it out.

Coming Soon:

Guardians of the Galaxy
This Is Where I Leave You
Saint Laurent
I, Origins
When The Game Stands Still

Recently Viewed and Recommended:

Broad City – Season 1
Portlandia – Season 2
Drunk History – Seasons 1 & 2
Adventure Time – Seasons 1, 2, 3 & 4
Obvious Child
22 Jump Street
The Edge of Tomorrow
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Tom At the Farm

If thats not enough, here’s some more!

Have a nice week. Wear some mittens and a scarf.

Copyright © 2014 Black Dog Video, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Black Dog Video
Cambie Street and/or Commercial Drive
Vancouver, BC