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May 15, 2007

Video Tapeworm - Releases through Tuesday, May 22

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS AFRO SAMURAI 2007; DVD $19.95, UR One of the dumbest things we’ve ever loved. Samuel L. Jackson provides the voice of the titular warrior, off on an epic animated quest to kick the snot out of Justice (Ron Perlman) for murdering his father. Lots of crude hip-hop noise, classic anime, undecipherable Japanese cultural references, futuristic weapons and the dumbest dialogue ever to be out of synch with a cartoon combine to make this Just Plain Fun. Available in the original broadcast (edited) version or a full-length Director’s Cut with 15 minutes more mayhem. LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA 2007; DVD $34.95-39.95, R A minor miracle from Clint Eastwood. Essentially taking his popular “Flags of Our Fathers” and telling it from the “enemy’s” point of view, this may be the most seductive anti-war film ever made. Ken Watanabe is amazing, as always, as the Japanese general who introduces us to the scant handful of truly wonderful men under his command — all of them fully aware that they are doomed. Their mission: Hold their island to the last man while they watch wave after wave of American troupes prepare to overtake them. Poetic and devastating. ALONE WITH HER 2007; DVD $19.95, UR An experimental thriller, the natural successor to such voyeuristic pleasures as “Body Double” and “Rear Window.” A man sliding into madness plants hidden cameras to spy on a young woman, then uses the information to arrange a “chance” meeting where they appear to have the same interests. Now the kicker: The entire movie is shot from the point of view of these hidden cameras. AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2 1969; DVD $24.95, UR Long heralded as one of the best American docs about America, this b&w look at the social upheaval of the ’60s is still powerful, evocative and moving, almost four decades later. The militant Black Panthers and the equally violent Young Patriots — poor Southern whites transplanted into Chicago — joined forces during the 1968 Democratic National Convention and took to the streets in a symbolic show of unity against a political system that gave them no voice. The Establishment forcibly overreacted and the resulting riots with police forever changed our notions of freedom. No script, no stars, no narration; just history as it happened. A must-own. APOCALYPTO 2006; DVD $29.95-34.95, R While a box office failure, this was another interesting cinematic experiment by Mel Gibson. The bloody final days of the Mayan Empire, told from the point of view of one man who has been selected for sacrifice, told in the native tongue. By juxtaposing the peaceful environment of the jungle with the violent, decadent existence in the great stone city, the message is clearly one of technology begetting moral decay. (A theme straight out of “Mad Max.”) Despite what you’ve heard, this is an amazingly good film; it’s just not “mainstream.” DARK CORNERS 2006; DVD $26.95, UR A fun little horror-thriller about a young woman (Thora Birch) who wakes up one morning with a new identity, and the suspicion that demonic creatures hiding in the shadows are the cause. We just call that “Monday.” EPIC MOVIE 2007; DVD $29.95, PG-13/UR A scattershot “Scary Movie”-esque jab at pop movies from “Harry Potter” to “Pirates of the Caribbean” to “Narnia” to “Willy Wonka” to “X-Men” starring the usual nobodies and a bunch of cameos (Crispin Glover, David Carradine, Carmen Electra, Fred Willard, etc.). We’ve seen worse. SANSHO THE BAILIFF 1954; DVD $39.95, UR An idealistic official in medieval Japan rebukes a feudal lord, who exiles the man, leaving his wife and children to the mercy of inhuman slave traders. A beautifully restored full-digital transfer of a Sino-classic, available in HD, with all the bells and whistles. THE BOLERO/IN SEARCH OF CEZANNE 2007; DVD $24.95, UR A pair of films about art by Allan Miller. The first is a fascinating, Oscar-winning look at how a master conductor (Zubin Mehta) turns a group of underpaid, overdressed professional musicians into a single, sensual organism. The second is a bio-adventure on the life of the 19th century French painter. THE GOOD GERMAN 2006; DVD $27.95, R While this went straight from the projector into the crapper, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett are absolutely amazing together. Set in dreary postwar Berlin, Clooney is a workaday journalist who stumbles into embittered one-time lover Blanchett and becomes entangled in the secrets, deception and lies of her new guy, Tobey Maguire. A good, old-fashioned noir that deserved/deserves more attention. THE MISTRESS OF SPICES 2005; DVD $19.95, PG-13 A truly unique movie experience, especially if you have two “X” chromosomes. A sensual and slyly psychic Indian woman (Aishwarya Rai of “Bride & Prejudice”) runs a spice shop in San Francisco. Her ability to help people through her wares is governed by natural laws, all of which go out the window when she meets hunky American Dylan McDermott . TWO SOLDIERS 2003; DVD $14.95, UR A pair of rural brothers, one still a child, are jolted by the events of Pearl Harbor. The elder joins the Army and the youngster, determined to do his part, runs away from home to join him. A troubled colonel (Ron Perlman), duty-bound to return the boy, instead takes him under his wing. One of the best things that Perlman — in an amazing career, often behind elaborate makeup (“Hellboy,” TV’s “Vincent”) — has ever done. Other DVDs of Interest DRAGON BALL Z: SEASON TWO 1996; DVD $49.95, UR FAY GRIM 2006; DVD $29.95, R MYTHBUSTERS: COLLECTION 1 2007; DVD $29.95, UR ROOTS: 30TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL EDITION 1977; DVD $59.95, UR THE JOHN WAYNE FILM COLLECTION 2005; DVD $49.95, UR THE O.C.: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON 2003; DVD $59.95, UR A more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!