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April 10, 2007

Video Tapeworm: Releases through Tuesday, April 17

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS FORGIVING DR. MENGELE 2005; DVD $24.95, UR In one of the most powerful docs we’ve ever seen, Eva Mozes Kor, a survivor of the Auschwitz death camp and victim of Dr. Joseph Mengele’s cruel and barbaric genetic experiments, returns to Germany along with another Death Camp doctor to forgive her torturers. The story of her metamorphosis from broken survivor — her twin sister died from Mengele’s “attentions” — to advocate for worldwide reconciliation and forgiveness sets her apart from other Holocaust-ers who, she says, have let their anger ruin the world. THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND 2006; DVD $29.95, R This dramatization of true events behind the headlines of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin would have been just another modern-day costumer if not for the simply astonishing performance of Forest Whitaker as Amin. Publicly jovial and charismatic, he was privately a bloodthirsty tyrant, ordering the genocide of his own people, becoming more and more unstable as each day passed. The tale is well told from the point of view of his fictional personal physician, played by James McAvoy, but the movie belongs to Whitaker from first frame to last. ALIEN INVASION ARIZONA 2007; DVD $26.95, R A would-be ripoff of the “Alien” franchise with a busload of Death Row inmates and a lone Special Ops captain racing to save themselves — and the world — from savage outer-space boogens before a squad of planes arrive in an ill-conceived bid to bomb them off the face of the Earth. Hey, we love crap like this! BALZAC AND THE LITTLE CHINESE SEAMSTRESS 2005; DVD $26.95, UR A terrific Chinese tale of first love amid socially-condemned intellectualism. During the repressive 1970s, educated Chinese were often stripped of property and sentenced to hard labor in rural farms as “re-education.” Here, the son of one such family falls in love with a local girl who desires to know the forbidden secrets of Western thought. Surprisingly erotic as her eyes are first opened to a larger world. ENTER THE DRAGON 1973; DVD $28.95, R An all-new HD (Blu-ray) pressing of one of the best films ever made! Bruce Lee will live forever as the too-fast-for-the-camera karate master, recruited by a spy agency to infiltrate a fighting competition, expose a white slavery/drug ring and avenge his sister’s death. We usually avoid these HD-re-releases as just another way to squeeze a buck from the captive consumer, but Lee’s astounding charisma and grace, which suffered from bad video transfers of the past, can be seen in all their glory here. FREEDOM WRITERS 2007; DVD $29.95, PG-13 The true story of an idealistic teacher’s efforts to save at-risk teens from a life of crime and violence. Hillary Swank leads with Patrick Dempsey and Scott Glenn, but the true stars are the largely unknown teens — many of them the same at-risk urbanites the movie is about — who behave in the same threatening, misanthropic manner that you’d expect. It’s chilling, scary and uplifting. What more do you want? MASTERS OF HORROR: JOHN LANDIS: FAMILY 2006; DVD $14.95, UR John Landis of “An American Werewolf in London” brings his special brand of black humor to this tale of suburban Everyman (George Wendt) “building the perfect family” (trust us) when he is distracted by a sexy new neighbor (Meredith Monroe of “Dawson’s Creek”). NOTES ON A SCANDAL 2006; DVD $29.95, R Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett — can you smell the chick-flick cooking? — are a pair of teachers at an oh-so-proper school. Spinster Dench develops a decidedly Sapphic crush on the much younger woman, though never acknowledging it, even to herself, until she learns that Blanchett is having an affair with one of her teen pupils! Then, as the British so admirably put it, “the shit hits the fan.” RANCID 2004; DVD $26.95, R A Swedish-made drama/thriller about a once-promising writer (been there), now jaded and cynical (am there), who rekindles an affair with the former love of his life, giving him fresh hope for brighter tomorrows (wanna be there). But then the police break in (been there) and accuse him of murder and it all spins away in a tide of deceit, passion and statuesque blonds (been there, done that). SMOKIN’ ACES 2007; DVD $29.95, R This starring vehicle for HBO’s Jeremy Piven is SO out-there, SO over-the-top and SO full of itself, it can’t help but be a hit. And a “hit” is what’s planned when he plays a washed-up Vegas magician turned stoolie against the Mob. The Mob, on the other hand, decides to make rubbing him out a bit o’ fun, and soon the screen is full of colorful, crazy assassins of every shape and size, all aiming to collect their $1 million payday. With Ryan Reynolds and Ray Liotta as his FBI protectors, and everyone else in Hollywood as the hitmen. THE HISTORY BOYS 2006; DVD $27.95, R A lively, loving look at eight exuberant tenants of an English prep-school, based on the award-winning play. Very, very British, but with a wit and spark that captures what its like to be young, free and full of beans with all the world ahead of you. A typical exchange: ”And you, Rudge? How do you define history?” “Can I speak freely without being hit?” “You have my protection.” “How do I define history? Well it’s just one fucking thing after another, isn’t it?” Priceless. THE ORIGINAL GHOST BUSTERS: THE COMPLETE SERIES 1975; DVD $29.95, UR All 16 episodes of the wonderfully bad live-action comic-spook kid-show that premiered some nine years before that Bill Murray movie. Stars Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker (both from “F Troop”) and our good buddy, the phenomenal Bob Burns as Tracy The Gorilla. The guest list reads like a who’s who of comedy: Jim Backus, Billy Barty, Ted Knight, Bernie Kopell, Howard Morris and Joe E. Ross to name a few. So, if you remember “Far Out Space Nuts” or “The Harlem Globetrotters Show” — or even if you don’t — you’ll love this! OTHER DVDS OF INTEREST FOXWORTHY’S BIG NIGHT OUT: THE COMPLETE SERIES 2006; DVD $26.95, UR HAPPY DAYS: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 1974; DVD $38.95, UR LAVERNE & SHIRLEY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 1976; DVD $38.95, UR MORK & MINDY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON 1978; DVD $38.95, UR SPIDER-MAN 2.1 (UNRATED, EXTENDED CUT) 2004; DVD $19.95, PG-13 A more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!