THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:
MICHAEL JACKSON: THIS IS IT
2009; $16.95$-23.95, PG
Not so much a movie as a compilation of interviews and rehearsals by Jackson, but the effect — a look at the hard work behind his seemingly effortless genius — is a wonder to behold. No longer the airborn sprite of his childhood, this MJ is a grown man, as human as the rest of us, a man who gets tired after scores of rehearsals. But then he says, “OK, let’s do one for real”, and he’s once again the King of Pop, bouncing effortlessly across the stage with a power and presence that is nothing short of supernatural. Our highest recommendation.
2009; $18.95, PG-13
The new, more adult Drew Barrymore costars and directs (for the first time) Ellen “Juno” Page, Marcia Gay Harden and Kristen Wiig in this fun look at the lives and loves of Roller Derby girls. Page is a bored teen, listening to music and dutifully going to school while living with her parents in a small Texas town. Then she discovers female-wrestling/racing-on-wheels in nearby Austin and secretly redirects her life toward the camaraderie and flashy independence of the ring. … until daddy Daniel Stern finds out.
BRIDGETS SEXIEST BEACHES: SEASON ONE
2009; $17.95, UR
Bridget Marquardt, of Hef’s “Girls Next Door,” anchors this jiggly travelogue series that might best be described as a sandy, well-hootered train wreck. Her and some gal-pals travel the globe to display their bikini talents while generally making complete and total asses of themselves around the natives. Truly embarrassing but with a warm glow below.
2009; $19.95, PG
Jane Campion directs Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish in this artsy BBC PG-rated, three-hankie bio-love story about romantic poet John Keats and his muse Fanny Brawne. Their engagement lasted for three years until his death by masturbation at age 25. Look it up!
CARNERA: THE WALKING MOUNTAIN
A fascinating biopic on Italian boxer Primo Carnera, former world heavyweight champion. At 6 feet, 5.5 inches tall and a massive 284 pounds, he was the heaviest boxer ever to hold the title. Later in life he did well as a Hollywood actor, then as a pro wrestler, before marrying and moving to America to open a restaurant in L.A.
1980; $18.95, R
The recent remake can’t hold a candle to this wildly exuberant look inside the New York City High School for the Performing Arts. Trust us: If you’ve never seen this film, then you are truly leading a soulless, mind-numbing existence. Originally titled “Hot Lunch,” it made stars of Debbie Allen and Irene Cara and spawned one of the best TV series of the ’80s (also newly available on Blu-Ray for $28.95).
GIVE ’EM HELL MALONE
2009; $13.95, UR
Thomas Jane is the titular Malone, a gumshoe a la Sam Spade in this wonderfully awful ode to film noir. Costars Ving Rhames as “Boulder,” Doug Hutchison as “Matchstick,” French Stewart as “Frankie the Crooner” and the wonderboobs of Elsa Pataky. Need we say more? OK: fun.
2008; $17.95, UR
Film-frogs Gérard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant star in this fish-out-of-water comedy about a pair of upper-class French Jews who decide to find their Hebrew roots in Tel Aviv. We despise Depardieu, so watching him suffer through a circumcision was wonderful.
I HOPE THEY SERVE BEER IN HELL
2009; $19.95, UR
This wacky comedy deserved a much better theatrical release. Matt Czuchry drags his best friend into trouble at the friend’s bachelor party, getting himself in Dutch with the bride, and dis-invited to the wedding. Not as crazy as, say, “The Hangover,” but a lot meatier.
2008; $19.95, UR
Walter “Ensign Chekov” Koenig wrote and produced this silly sci-fier starring former TV face Richard Hatch as a guilt-ridden widower who discovers an alien parasite living in his bowels .. and it contains his DNA! Costars Koenig, cutie Amanda Mayfield and Marina “Troi” Sirtis.
JAZZ LEGENDS IN CONCERT
2009; $17.95, UR
Fans of old-school cool should check out this too-short (55 minutes) treat by some of the all-time greats, filmed in concert in 1993. Features Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, Rosemary Clooney, Tito Puente, Wynton Marsalis, Della Reese, Michael Bolton, the Count Basie Orchestra and more.
PAWN STARS: THE COMPLETE SEASON 1
A lot of our readers tell us they enjoy this reality show set in a family pawnshop in Las Vegas. We are not so afflicted, but if you can get past the human misery, petty bickering, backbiting, mugging for the camera and out-and-out larceny, the underlying “Antiques Roadshow”-like stories are sometimes worth checking out.
2009; $18.95-$27.95, R/UR
We’ve never enjoyed any of these torture porn tales, and this one is no exception. If you like this sort of thing, here it is. Seek help.
2009; $18.95-$25.95, PG-13
Bruce Willis heads a great cast in this ambitious — if relatively simple — sci-fier based on a graphic novel. In the near future, there is no crime or danger because everyone stays at home, letting mentally controlled robots take their consciousness abroad. Within this perfectly safe society comes the unthinkable: a robot surrogate is “killed,” and its owner dies as well. We enjoyed it.
THE LAST STAGE
1948; $26.95, UR
Savage autobiographical drama by director Wanda Jakubiowska on her interment and eventual rescue from the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. Filmed on location.
THE SKULL/THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH/THE DEADLY BEES
A three-disc set of veddy, veddy British horrors. “Skull,” of course, has Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee swapping possession of the haunted skull of the Marquis de Sade. The final, silent 10 minutes are movie magic. “Cheat” sends Lee and Hazel Court afoul of mad doctor Anton Diffring in classic Hammer fashion, while “Bees” is an underrated Amicus title, directed by Freddie Francis and written by Robert “Psycho” Bloch. A steal for the price.
1988; $17.95, UR
The Tromasterpiece Edition of a true cracked classic with Carolyn Beauchamp leading air-crash survivors through a Caribbean war nightmare. But when captured and tortured, they learn that the only way to survive to KICK TERRORIST BUTT! YAAAA!
Other DVDs of Interest:
INSPECTOR LEWIS COMPLETE SET: PILOT, SERIES 1 & 2
JOCKEYS: SEASON 1
LA INK: SEASON 1 V.2
MEERKAT MANOR: SEASON FOUR: NEXT GENERATION
MI-5: VOLUME 7
2009; $41.95, UR
MIAMI INK: SEASON 1
ORANGUTAN ISLAND: SEASON 1
PARKER LEWIS CAN’T LOSE: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
THE RED GREENHOW: THE INFANTILE YEARS: SEASONS 1991-1993
WHALE WARS: SEASON 1