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American Hustle

March 11, 2014

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, March 18

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

AMERICAN HUSTLE

2013; $19.98-$40.98; R

Oscar-laden local lass Jennifer Lawrence once again uses her enviable talents to effortlessly become the wild card in an unpredictable game of politics, crime and money (OK, that’s redundant). Based on real events in the ’70s, Christian Bale plays her husband, a balding con artist who hangs with sultry Amy Adams, all under control of FBI guy Bradley Cooper, who forces them to con deadly Jersey mobsters, with Jeremy Renner destined to take a fall no matter how this game goes down. No action, no heroes, with a plot that changes minute by minute, but damn entertaining nonetheless.

FROZEN

2013; $17.98-$44.98; PG

We’ve not been big fans of Der Mouse’s corporate output of late, but we think even Uncle Walt would have loved this spry and original CGI tale of sisterly love overcoming all. Big Sis possesses a terrible power that she hides from the world — and her little sister, lest she come to harm. But when Big Sis’ powers cause tragedy, she hides herself away to protect her loved ones, setting in motion a brilliantly animated, song-filled journey with original characters and vocal talent that made us actually say “Wow!” in a crowded theater. Simply perfect; a must-own regardless of your age.

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ATLANTIS: SEASON ONE

2014; $26.98-$39.98; UR

This BBC series screws unnecessarily with Greek myth, but its low-rent mix of action, romance and CGI (reminiscent of the similar “Sinbad”) never takes itself serious enough to be offensive. Jason (Jack Donnelly) looks for his lost father in the fabled kingdom of Atlantis, fighting the Minotaur, beasties, goddesses, sirens and priests along the way. Educated by Pythagoras (Robert Emms of “War Horse”) and saved by the might (and girth) of a chubby Hercules (Mark Addy of “Game of Thrones”), they fight and laugh their way across the mysterious land. A family-friendly bunch of fluff that’s brainlessly entertaining and proud of it.

HERE COMES THE DEVIL

2012; $22.98-$29.98; UR

An overlooked Mexican entry in the “kids disappear into the woods, then come home with something invisible” genre. Simple, uncomplicated storytelling that wallows in nudity, gore and sex — including pedophilia and incest — illustrates why we’re so fond of Mexi-horror: American spookers just seem to have forgotten that we crave shocks. Wonderfully offensive in the best sense.

MANDELA: LONG WALK TO FREEDOM

2014; $29.98-$39.98; PG-13

Idris Elba (Heimdall, guardian of the Rainbow Bridge in “Thor”) portrays South African leader Nelson Mandela in this biopic based on Mandela’s autobiography. Arguably the most iconic leader of the 20th century, he spent 27 years in prison for being a dissident in the days of Apartheid, only to leave prison, publicly forgive his jailors and be elected president. Mandela’s life unfolds brilliantly in this excellent treatment with a cast that includes Naomie Harris as his wife, Winnie, and Tony Kgoroge from “Hotel Rwanda” as ANC President Walter Sisulu.

RETURN TO NUKE EM HIGH, VOL. 1

2014; $19.98-$24.98; UR

To those of us of a certain bent, the original 1986 “Class of Nuke ’Em High” was a life-changing event: the breakout hit of Lloyd Kaufman’s Troma Studios about a motley high school full of drugged-out crazies smoking atomic-waste dope to a loud, angry soundtrack. It was so cool! This “return” is a nice updating of the Tromaville standard, with mutated monsters, murder, mayhem, some skin, bad acting, worse special effects and deadly funny dialogue. Two cuties, Asta Paredes and Catherine Corcoran, learn that the glee club has morphed into a subhuman gang, and more uglies are to follow! Come on, you know you want to ...

SAVING MR. BANKS

2013; $19.98-$36.98; PG-13

The true story of Walt Disney’s 20-year battle to create “Mary Poppins.” Tom Hanks is a delight as Uncle Walt, who, inspired by his daughters’ love of the P.L. Travers book, sets out to do a nice “kiddie show,” unaware the author (Emma Thompson) is an unrepentant hard-ass who sees him as just another Hollywood suit out to bespoil her work. She nixes animation, hates the cast, hates the songs and is clearly leaning toward another studio’s offer. But there is a secret behind Travers’ abstinence, one that will require all of Disney’s boundless charm, wit and compassion to overcome. Simply wonderful.

SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE

1982; $22.98; R

Cult genius Roger Corman’s greatest film? Well, maybe not, but certainly one of his most enduring, now on Blu-ray. A teenage girl, home alone, decides to have a slumber party, unaware that a driller-killer is on the loose. He peeks in the windows (a nightie watchman perhaps?), enjoying the ripe teen flesh, when a brouhaha ensues, dividing the girls into smaller groups for easier disposal. Lots of blood, mountains of 20-something “teen” mammaries, showers galore, and neither plot nor motivation to get in the way. A series of sequels ramped up the nipple count to great effect. We do feel cleansed.

SPARKS

2013; $12.98; UR

Chase “John Dies at the End” Williamson is the titular everyman, cursed with superpowers, who turns super-vigilante when his parents are killed. To make matters worse, he falls hard for Ashley “Lady Heavenly” Bell, just as his mysterious savior, Clancy Brown, reappears. Set in the ’40s, this low-budget comic-booker does a damn fine job of competing with the mega-budgeted likes of “Iron Man” and “Thor,” with a cast that includes (ugh) Jake Busey, William Katt, Marina Squerciati and more. Check it out.

TOM HOLLAND’S TWISTED TALES

2013; $12.98-$27.98; UR

Holland, the man behind such greats as “Child’s Play” and “Fright Night,” dreamed up this Australian TV horror series, breathing much-needed new life into the ailing genre. A passel of experienced horror-vets (Danielle Harris, William Forsythe, Sarah Butler, etc.) populate nine cleverly macabre shorts that remind us of “Twilight Zone” entries — if Rod Serling was a demon-worshiping child-eater! But beyond the easy shocks and ironic endings, each is a master class in screenwriting. Extremely good.

A more complete listing and free vids at videotapeworm.com.