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Oz

June 5, 2013

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, June 11

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

HANSEL & GRETEL: WITCH HUNTERS

2012; $16.98-$54.98; R/UR

This is one silly-assed movie — and that’s a good thing! Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are the titular fairytale sibs, here re-imagined as blood-sport action heroes who rain hell down upon evil witches wherever they find them. Expect to see some nice action scenes, a bare butt or two (it is rated “R,” you know), crackly burning witch-flesh, and the always-welcome Famke Janssen. To say more would risk spoiling some neat surprises. Bottom line: Big Dumb Medieval Fun for adults — and now available in an unrated version! We get the couch!

OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL

2013; $31.98; PG

This supposed “prequel” to “The Wizard of Oz” is a gem, with director Sam Raimi completely losing his sanity once given access to Disney’s fabled stable of movie magicians. It is a visual delight from opening title to roll-credits, and that includes those three comely witches: Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz and Michelle Williams. But the story lacks L. Frank Baum’s brilliant character development, and star James Franco as the would-be wizard doesn’t really seem to “get it.” Hey, even the best gems have flaws, but Raimi knows how to wrap them in light to make them sparkle. Great family fun; but, oh, if only this were a musical …

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DEAD MAN’S BURDEN

2012; $24.98-$26.98; UR

This wonderful Western, focusing on a young family fighting for survival and the right to farm amid unscrupulous mining interests, comes from writer/director Jared Moshe (“Kurt Cobain: About A Son”). Remarkably, he has gene-spliced the artistry of both John Ford and Clint Eastwood with that fresh, nuanced feel of modern indie cinema. Trust us, this is one of the best movies you never saw. Fix that.

FERLINGHETTI: A REBIRTH OF WONDER

2009; $16.98; UR

If you don’t know the name Lawrence Ferlinghetti, you don’t deserve to be part of the world today. One of America’s greatest poets and writers, founder of the Beat Generation along with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, Ferlinghetti has been quietly guiding our cultural evolution for nearly a half-century with his irrepressible wit and unique insights. This biodoc takes a look at the man and his passions with help from an amazing array of friends. Infectious and highly recommended.

HOUSE OF CARDS: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON

2013; $33.98-$65.98; UR

Kentucky Senate Republicans should sue Netflix for revealing their secret dirty laundry in this thinly disguised tale of Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Terror from Tuscumbia, Ala. Kevin Spacey plays the powerful Majority Whip who will do anything to anyone to stay in power, endlessly back-stabbing and dirty-dealing his way to the presidency with wife Robin Wright by his side. Not that his fellow politicos are any better! They consider their constituency to be cattle, useful only for slaughter and profit. Waaaay too real for our blood, this series scares the living bejeebers out of us. You’ve been warned.

KILLING LINCOLN

2013; $14.98-$29.98; UR

Tom Hanks narrates the historically true tale of how — and more importantly, why — John Wilkes Booth (Jesse Johnson) killed President Abraham Lincoln (Billy Campbell). Made for the History Channel by producers Tony and Ridley Scott, based on Bill O’Reilly’s bestselling book, the perspective is perfect, and the reenactments are done with emotion and a critical eye to make sure that everything you see and hear is as accurate as physically possible. And it’s exciting! What more could you want?

LIFE AFTER DEATH PROJECT

2013; $24.95; UR

Wow. We really don’t know what to say about this. The late Forry J. Ackerman was the greatest movie fan who ever lived: the publisher of Famous Monsters magazine and muse to generations of moviemakers. But according to this doc, he also posthumously edited his own biography, literally marking out lines in a script after his death, which is then given the full CSI treatment to prove its authenticity. Includes comments, tributes and testimonials by Forry fans and friends such as Richard Matheson, Whitley Strieber — and even Forry himself! Simply too much fun to be viewed alone. Our highest recommendation.

MASQUERADE

2012; $12.98; UR

This was interesting: A classic Chinese-style historical costume drama, but from Korea and set in the days of their own culture’s royal intrigues. Crazed King Gwanghae (Byung-hun Lee) fears assassination, so he secretly recruits a look-alike peasant (also Lee) to become his reluctant stand-in/target. But before the pawn is ready, the king is poisoned into a coma and the substitute must take over, with his life constantly in peril from dangers inside the court and without. Based on a true story; worth checking out.

SNITCH

2013; $14.98-$39.98; PG-13

This is more a high-concept film than brainless actioner, which is surprising, considering that the star is Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He plays a dad whose son is wrongly accused of a drug crime and faces 10 years in prison due to mandatory sentencing laws. With no conspirators to turn over, the son is screwed — so dad makes a deal: He’ll go undercover and set up some REAL bad guys in exchange for leniency for his son. (It was inspired by a real “Frontline” news report.) A solid drama with just enough action to keep things interesting.

THE UNBROKEN

2012; $20.98; UR

A nice — if slightly hammy — bit o’ modern horro-fun with Aurelia Riley (she was the breathtaking AIM ping-pong girl/model in a scene from “Iron Man 3”) escaping a bad marriage, only to wind up in a grungy, haunted apartment with Daniel Baldwin as her neighbor (shudder). As her waking visions of a tortured little boy become more intense, she comes to realize that Baldwin might have something to do with it all. Spooky-good fun.

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