August 14, 2007

Video Tapeworm: Releases through Tuesday, Aug. 21

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:REEL TALENT: FIRST FILMS BY LEGENDARY DIRECTORS2006; DVD $19.95, URA wildly inventive and entertaining selection of 12 short films, all of them representing the earliest works of soon-to-be-famous directors. Offerings from George Lucas include “1:42:08 A Man and His Car,” “Electronic Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB” and “Freiheit”; while Robert Zemeckis sends us “Field of Honor” and “The Lift.” All proceeds benefit the USC School of Cinematic Arts.WORKING GIRLS1986; DVD $24.95, URFeminist director Lizzie Borden first gained prominence with this multi-award-winning drama, a cinema verite day-in-the-life of a lesbian prostitute at an upscale Manhattan whorehouse. Exploitive and raw, it succeeds by stripping away the patina of sensuality surrounding “The World’s Oldest Profession” and shows it for what it is: a simple, biological act for commerce; any semblance to pleasure, shame or the fulfillment of human need are simply social trappings to be ignored. A film you will talk about for days.A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM1935; DVD $19.95, URBy far our favorite movie version of The Bard’s classic comedy of love and other folly. Now all digitally diddled-up; also available as part of a Shakespeare boxed set. With James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland, Joe E. Brown, Louisville’s own Victor Jory and little Mickey Rooney who, at age 6, so perfectly intones “Lord! What fools these mortals be!” Amen.BROKEN ENGLISH2007; DVD $26.95, PG-13Parker Posey stars with Drea de Matteo, Tim Guinee, Gena Rowlands, Peter Bogdanovich and Roy Thinnes in this look at the lives, loves and relationships surrounding a 30-something Manhattanite, directed by Zoe Cassavetes. It’s a big-ol’ steamin’ pile of chick-flick, but Parker is terrific.ENCHANTED PACIFIC TO THE MAX SET2007; DVD $59.95, URAnother of those corny travelogue sets you find in the Wal-Mart cut-out bin — but don’t be so quick to dismiss it! Where else can you get a six-disc, eight-hour vacation to the South Pacific for under 60 bucks? Goes great with cold beer.HOUSE, M.D.: SEASON THREE2007; DVD $59.95, URSeason 3 — when most series’ find themselves sliding into a dull groove — introduced the character of Det. Tritter, a bullying policeman, bullied by House, who turns everyone’s lives upside down with invasions of their privacy, their homes, their bank accounts and their practices. Man, do we HATE that guy! Still one of the best shows on the planet.NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: GABON: THE LAST EDEN2007; DVD $19.95, URA remarkable tale, told as only National Geographic can do it. Gabon, an African country as backward and easily lost to greed as any, decides to take the high road, turning its oil and timber-rich lands into massive wildlife preserves while bordering nations pawn their futures on instant commerce. Is their gamble paying off in terms of eco-tourist dollars? Worth checking out.NOVA: POCAHONTAS REVEALED2007; DVD $19.95, URNOVA produced this lively look at the oft-misrepresented daughter of Powhatan who “assisted” the founding of Jamestown to mark its 400th anniversary last May. A fun tale, it’s a wonderful example of the Fortean phenomenon of true tales turning into myths and legends over time.PERFECT STRANGER2007; DVD $28.95-38.95, RAnother major misfire for Halle Berry, this time taking Bruce Willis down with her (though we’d volunteer for that trip). When her best friend is murdered, she suspects Willis and goes undercover as two different psychotically alluring women to bait the trap. As insanely stupid as anything made by Ashley Judd.ROBOCOP1987; DVD $22.95, URA 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition of the most underrated sci-fi movie ever made. Peter Weller is a good cop in a dystopian future, blown to bits by a sadistic criminal (Kurtwood Smith of “That 70’s Show”), then rebuilt as a cyborg by a corrupt corporation. But the best parts are director Paul Verhoeven’s stabs at pop culture — especially television — as it manipulates public opinion to suit its advertisers. A two-disc set with all the trimmings.SEPTEMBER 112007; DVD $26.95, UREleven directors from around the world each made an 11-minute short in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The results from this global perspective are shocking and thought-provoking.SIX DAYS IN JUNE1985; DVD $19.95, URIn June 1967, the newly formed state of Israel fought a war that lasted six days. They consider it a military victory, but you can draw a straight line from the “founding” of Israel to the events of 9/11 to the Constitutional abuses of the Bush administrations. And it’s still going on. This prescient 1985 doc was the first to examine the potential fallout to come.SOUTH PARK: THE COMPLETE 10TH SEASON1997; DVD $49.95, URAnother amazing season for Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who appear to have mastered the fine art of being both crudely funny and savagely intelligent. All 14 episodes, now minus Isaac Hayes as “Chef,” who was “killed” after becoming a prima donna pain in the ass. Their look at the furor over a cartoon picture of Mohamed is a classic.THE EX (AKA FAST TRACK)2007; DVD $28.95, PG-13/URAmanda Peet and Zach Braff star in this action movie that can’t make up its mind whether it’s about high-stakes illegal drag-racing or corporate ladder-climbing. Still a fun outing if you don’t expect too much, with a great supporting cast including Jason Bateman, Charles Grodin, Mia Farrow and Donal Logue.THE LIVES OF OTHERS2006; DVD $26.95-38.95, RThis 2006 Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film is a serious, sexy, emotional and erotic look at the myth of Freedom in a modern society. Behind the Berlin Wall, a State Secret Policeman is ordered to monitor a particular playwright because his boss wants to use the incriminating evidence to bed the writer’s gorgeous girlfriend. A taut — and occasionally funny — political thriller that works on many levels.OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTDEXTER: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON2006; DVD $39.95, URJAG: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON1995; DVD $64.95, URSERENITY: COLLECTOR’S EDITION2005; DVD $26.95, PG-13UGLY BETTY: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON2006; DVD $59.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at!