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October 28, 2008

The Video Tapeworm

Releases on Tuesday, Nov. 4

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

FUTURAMA: BENDER’S GAME
2008; $29.95 UR
For those keeping score, this is the third full-length “Futurama” movie. With the universe running short of spaceship fuel, the Planet Express crew (spoofing “Lord of the Rings”) visits the last remaining Dark-Matter mine, only to find a Dungeons-and-Dragons-like land — where everyone looks like Bender! (The next film, “Into the Wild Green Yonder,” is due out in 2009.)

GET SMART
2008; $28.95-$35.95, PG-13
Steve Carell still hasn’t found his signature role (at least in our worthless opinion), but this is a damn good comedy. He, of course, is Maxwell Smart, bungling idiot-agent of CONTROL, with Anne Hathaway as his partner, Agent 99. The plot’s a throwaway, but the costars play like a who’s-who of modern comedy, especially Dwayne Johnson as an obnoxious, violent “caricature” (yeah, right) of his “The Rock” persona. With Alan Arkin as The Chief, a wonderful Terence Stamp as Siegfried and James Caan as The President, all ably assisted by Bill Murray and Patrick Warburton as Hymie, the robot.

BATMAN: THE COMPLETE ANIMATED SERIES
1992; $107.95, UR
A 17-disc set — 109 episodes of WB’s killer first Batman animated series with Kevin Conroy as Batman, Richard Moll (Harvey Dent/TwoFace), Adrienne Barbeau (Catwoman), Paul Williams (The Penguin), Roddy McDowall (Dr. Jervis Tetch) and Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred the Butler. Includes a collector’s book, commentaries and featurettes.

BUDD BOETTICHER BOX SET
1957; $59.95, UR
Oscar “Budd” Boetticher Jr. was a film director during the 1950s who made some of the most powerful and adult minimalist Westerns ever lensed — all of them starring Randolph Scott. Wanna learn how to be a master filmmaker? Here’s the course: “The Tall T,” “Decision At Sundown,” “Buchanan Rides Alone,” “Ride Lonesome” and “Comanche Station,” plus a bio-doc on Boetticher, who was an adventurer as great as any he put on the screen.

CHILL
2007; $26.95, UR
An indie horror/thriller that starts off a la H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cool Air” — with a scientist who has a supposed skin condition requiring sub-freezing temps to survive — and runs with it with ghoulish delight. Lots of razor-edged fun.

DJ SPOOKY’S REBIRTH OF A NATION
2008; $26.95, UR
This wildly pretentious attempt at film-editing-as-art is interesting as hell, if nothing else. Paul D. Miller (DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid) mashes D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” — which infamously exposed the racism and murderous white supremacy of the post-Civil War South — to reveal its “true meaning.” Features music by the Kronos Quartet, which can be muted for your enjoyment.

HOME MOVIES 10TH ANNIVERSARY SET
2008; $129.95, UR
While it’s hard to call a TV show a “cult classic” in only 10 years, this one fills the bill. One of Cartoon Network’s first Adult Swim outings from Brendon Small (“Metalocalypse”), it’s a kinda South Park-ish look at the world through the eyes of a third-grader with the mind of a jaded adult. Twelve DVDs plus a 52-song CD, book bag and souvenir clapboard.

MOSCOW ZERO
2008; $24.95, R
Wow, what a great piece of crap! It seems that the gates to hell are under the city of Moscow where zombies and demons prowl. Here Vincent Gallo goes looking for a lost friend, which means passing the Gatekeeper … Val Kilmer! With an international cast and Russian/Spanish/British sensibilities, this is a far more textured horror thriller than Americans are used to seeing. That’s probably why they dumped it to video.

PROJECT RUNWAY: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON
2004; $27.95, UR
We don’t see what’s so interesting about this show, but our boss said to review it or we’d be doing “adopt-a-dog” duty next week. Super-babe Heidi Klum leads a passel of prissy, precious spoiled stylistas who somehow manage to make half-nekkid babes look ridiculous in a series of weekly “challenges.” Those who fail, win — they get to leave the show. Hand us that shovel, will ya?

SPIN CITY: THE COMPLETE SEASON 1
1996; $39.95, UR
This excellent sitcom went through more changes than a Republican presidential candidate over its six seasons, but the core cast of Michael J. Fox, the underrated Barry Bostwick, Connie Britton, Michael Boatman and Richard Kind came together like good friends, making the show shine. (Fox, of course, left in 2001 due to illness.)

STAR WARS PREQUEL TRILOGY
2008; $49.95, UR
A six-disc set from director George Lucus containing “Phantom Menace,” “Attack of the Clones,” “Revenge of the Sith” and a Banta-butt-load of commentaries, behind-the-scenes-ers, featurettes, Easter eggs, docs and more wonderful nonsense. Also available: a new six-disc version of the original trilogy for the same price. (For the curious: “The Clone Wars” comes out next week.)

THE WILD WILD WEST: THE COMPLETE SERIES
2008; $129.95, UR
Long overdue release of this seminal sci-fi/revisionist Western starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin as James West and Artemus Gordon, agents of President Grant who travel the country in a cool train, stamping out sinister plots. Watch for the rare early appearance by Richard Pryor as Villar in “The Night of the Eccentrics.”

TOO TOUGH TO DIE: A TRIBUTE TO JOHNNY RAMONE
2007; $19.95, UR
Gabba gabba hey! The damnedest concert DVD we ever saw! The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eddie Vedder, Rob Zombie, Deborah Harry, Henry Rollins, Lisa Marie Presley, Joan Jett and scores of others joined together in 2004 to raise money for cancer research and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Ramones’ first performance. Johnny Ramone died less than three days later. 

TRANS-SIBERIAN
2008; $28.95-$34.95
Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are terrific in this little-seen espionage drama that deserved a wider release. They are friendly Americans, traveling for pleasure on the Beijing-to-Moscow Trans-Siberian Express, where they meet another couple who entangles them with drug traffickers, murder and a relentless ex-KGB detective played by Ben Kingsley.

OTHER DVDS OF INTEREST
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA COLLECTION
2008; $234.95, UR
FRAGGLE ROCK: THE COMPLETE SERIES COLLECTION
2008; $139.95, UR
GET SMART: THE COMPLETE SERIES
2008; $199.95, G
PRIMEVAL: VOLUME 1
2007; $49.95, UR
PUNKY BREWSTER: THE COMPLETE SERIES
2008; $99.95, UR

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