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November 6, 2007

Video TapeWorm: Releases through Tuesday, Nov. 13

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:CHRISTMAS TIME IN SOUTH PARK2007; DVD $19.95, URA welcome selection of holiday favorites from those amazingly insightful, foul-mouthed little cartoon shits at South Park. With hilarious sing-alongs like “Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo” and “Christmas Time in Hell,” the boys head to Iraq to spread some cheer, then jet back in the States to rag on being a Jew at Christmas.SHREK THE THIRD2007; DVD $29.95-39.95, PGWhile not as inspired as the original, this sequel-sequel brings together the previous lunatics behind the CGI “camera,” original voice-talent (Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz), and a raft of great supporting actors (Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Julie Andrews, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Amy Sedaris) to send the big ogre out on yet another adventure: to rid himself of the unasked-for throne of Far Far Away! The plot takes a backseat to inspired character bits, the best of which may be Fiona and her fiery band of kick-butt fairy-tale princesses. With all the DVD trimmings.A CHINESE TORTURE CHAMBER STORY1995; DVD $24.95, UROne of the over-the-top funniest movies ever made. The coroner rules that a man died of aphrodisia — his penis exploded! This leads to a bizarre investigation; a mix of fantasy, sex, absurd slapstick tortures, wire-stunts and erotic martial moves like “Invincible Tongue” and “Wonder Screw.” Formerly available only on the American black market, this is the first official release of a true Hong Kong gonzo masterpiece, completely uncut with the original music and special bonus material. AMAZING GRACE2006; DVD $29.95, PGHistorical morality tales — no matter how good — often don’t do well at the box office. This dramatization of the life of William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), who spearheaded the abolishment of the slave trade in 18th century Britain, fared better than most, but there’s still a lot of great moviemaking here that far too many people missed. The best part of the story is his relationship with mentor John Newton (Albert Finney), a minister and former slave ship captain who walked away from his lucrative career and wrote the title song.AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION2007; DVD $19.95, URA trio of teens fights back when their town is overrun by virulent zombies in this wonderful example of the no-budget regional student horror film. Stars lots of unpaid residents of several small towns in Florida, many of whom did their own makeup.CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND1977; DVD $39.95-49.95, PGA three-disc, 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition of Steven Spielberg’s masterwork with hapless Richard Dreyfuss as the lineman who stumbles into a life-changing alien encounter with colorful, musical ETs. Teri Garr is terrific as his confused wife. Includes all three versions of the film, including the first-ever video release of the 1977 theatrical original, plus a ton of special features.GILMORE GIRLS: THE COMPLETE SERIES COLLECTION2007; DVD $258.95, URLauren Graham is the free-spirited hot mama and Alexis Bledel is the killer-babe-daughter whose eyes make us drool in this chick-light-drama about living life to its fullest, yada yada yada.JEROME BIXBY’S THE MAN FROM EARTH2007; DVD $26.95, URDuring a goodbye party in his honor, Prof. John Oldman reveals his personal secret to a small cadre of friends: He is more than 14,000 years old. Sci-fi master Jerome Bixby started this treatise on the perils of immortality in the early 1960s, not finishing it until 1988, appropriately enough, on his deathbed.KILLER OF SHEEP1977; DVD $39.95, URDeclared “One of the 100 Essential Films” by the National Society of Film Critics, this tale of the beauty of life amid the horrors of the ghetto has been painstakingly restored to its original condition after decades of hack-editing and abuse. In the shadow of affluent L.A., a poor-but-sensitive man toils numbly at a Watts slaughterhouse, taking time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life to a killer soundtrack.LA VIE EN ROSE2007; DVD $27.95, PG-13The true tale of Edith Piaf, who became an international singing star despite growing up in a skid-row whorehouse in France. Sickly and alone, she sang in the streets as a child to avoid becoming a prostitute like her grandmother. Stars Marion Cotillard with Emmanuelle Seigner, and (of course) Gerard Depardieu.LEGEND OF SEVEN MONKS2006; DVD $19.95, URA throwback to the early days of HK martial-arts films with J.J. “Sonny” Chiba (last seen in “Kill Bill”) and Yasuaki Kurata (“Fist of Legend”) together for — as far as we can tell — the first time.OCEAN’S THIRTEEN2007; DVD $28.95-35.95, PG-13“Ocean’s 11" was a gang of fun, but “Ocean’s 12" was a turd. So director Steven Soderbergh and stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon asked for one more shot to end the franchise on a high note. A flashier heist with a scarier villain (Al Pacino), this suffers from the loss of sexy eye-candy Julia Roberts, but the boys — including Elliott Gould, Bernie Mac, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner and Eddie Izzard — are having such a good time you won’t notice. By the way: Don’t try to follow the plot, it just gets in the way of all the fun.PARIS, JE T’AIME2006; DVD $28.95, RTwenty-one of the world’s top directors — including the Coen brothers, Alexander Payne and Gus Van Sant — create 18 odes to the city of Paris using some of the top actors from America and France. With Juliette Binoche, Steve Buscemi, Willem Dafoe, Gerard Depardieu (of course), Marianne Faithfull, Ben Gazzara, Hippolyte Girard, Natalie Portman, Elijah Wood, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Bob Hoskins, Nick Nolte, Miranda Richardson, Ludivine Sagnier and many others. A Collector’s Edition release of an art-house/crossover blockbuster.THE ADDAMS FAMILY: THE COMPLETE SERIES2007; DVD $69.95, URAll 64 episodes from the original series on nine discs starring John Astin, Carolyn Jones and Ted Cassidy as “Lurch.” With commentary on selected episodes and a number of terrific featurettes, including “You Rang, Mr. Addams?”THIS IS ENGLAND2006; DVD $19.95, URA provocative and lively look at the skinhead culture of Britain during the mid-’80s. Starts with the popular TV character “Roland Rat,” then segues into sexy aerobics, Maggie Thatcher, the Falklands, race relations and, of course, punk music. Wonderful.OTHER DVDS OF INTERESTDA VINCI’S INQUEST SEASON 21998; DVD $59.95, URMELROSE PLACE: THE THIRD SEASON1992; DVD $54.95, URMIAMI VICE: THE COMPLETE SERIESDVD $199.95, URNORTHERN EXPOSURE: THE COMPLETE SERIESDVD $199.95, URTHE COMPLETE BLACK BOOKS2001; DVD $59.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.videotapeworm.com!