Issue April 13, 2010

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price DVD releases on Tuesday, April 20

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

AVATAR

2010; $29.95, PG-13

Everyone — including us — was expecting this to be the greatest flop in movie history. We were all wrong. Yeah, it’s just a big fancy cartoon, but it’s also the most imaginative, beautiful and perfectly executed fantasy flick we ever saw — and if you missed it in 3-D, then you missed a truly magical movie experience. A crippled soldier in the distant future is given a temporary alien body that lets him live among a primitive yet spiritually linked race of giant blue warriors. There he falls in love and turns his back on his shallow, greedy Earth companions, leading the aliens in an impossible battle. (BTW: Director James Cameron — praise his name! — let it leak that there would be a more feature-packed release coming in November. Maybe in 3-D?)

FREE WILLY: ESCAPE FROM PIRATE’S COVE

2010; $27.95-$34.95, PG

The original “Free Willy” was a family favorite of ours: a lonely young boy falls in love with a killer whale and, ultimately, returns him to the wild. It also served to spark conservancy efforts around the globe, highlighting the condition of whales in captivity. This latest sequel stars little Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin, who is stepping into her father’s flippers to carry on the family business of educating us about nature. The movie, which co-stars Beau Bridges (also the child of an early environmental pioneer), is just OK, but the wee ones will love it … And maybe teach you a thing or two, too.

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FRATERNITY MASSACRE AT HELL ISLAND

2007; $29.95, UR

A gay horro-comedy about a closeted man who joins a fraternity, only to find himself and the other pledges targets of a killer clown with a big axe to grind. Costars a lass named Corie Ventura whom we’ve spied in several good little films. Remember her name.

GODSPEED

2009; $24.95, UR

If you want to know why we like independent movies so much, check this out. Joseph McKelheer stars as a faith healer living hand-to-mouth with his devoted wife and son. Then his life is shattered: They are murdered for no apparent reason. Months later, he is approached by a beautiful young woman (Courtney Halverson of “Big Love”) who may hold the key to understanding how it all went so horribly wrong. Very nice.

K-20: THE FIEND WITH TWENTY FACES

2009; $22.95, UR

An extraordinary experience, do not miss this movie! K-20, the famous Japanese “Robin Hood” — who also has an evil streak — frames the immortal Takeshi Kaneshiro for a theft. T.K. escapes prison and sets out to prove his innocence and unmask the bandit — both of whom fight like acrobatic madmen! While a bit long, with all the incredible stunts, breathtaking martial artistry, great music and American-style special effects, we doubt you’ll even notice. Our highest recommendation.

NATURE: HUMMINGBIRDS

2010; $17.95, UR

If you’re not in awe of the hummingbird, then you simply don’t know the first thing about them. These tiny dart-like creatures travel tens of thousands of miles every year — forming near-swarms in western Kentucky — and survive 24/7 on almost nothing except drops of sugar water. A nice look at one of the miracles outside your window. Watch it, then turn off the damn TV.

SPRING BREAK MASSACRE

2008; $16.95, UR

Your basic, crappy “six gorgeous women run around in their underwear for 90 minutes while a serial killer stalks them one by one” horro-comedy livened by Reggie “Phantasm” Bannister as the sheriff and a cameo by our favorite scream-queen, the lovely Linnea Quigley. Truly sharp-eyed gore-hounds will also recognize such obscure slasher-luminaries as Gigi Fast Elk Porter as the sheriff’s wife. Enjoy.

SUMMER HOURS

2008; $29.95, UR

While French films aren’t our bag, we’ll watch pretty much anything with Juliette Binoche in it. Here she stars with Charles Berling and Jeremie Renier as estranged siblings who come together to dispose of their late mother’s estate. The conversations that arise as they dig through each item, recalling memories and deciding who gets what, are as honest and heartfelt as real life. A profoundly moving and surprisingly uplifting film that has been hailed by many critics as the best film of 2009.

THE LOVELY BONES

2009; $16.95-$32.95, PG-13

Peter Jackson takes a break from doing big-budget sFx movies long enough to create this petite gem about parents unable to cope when their young daughter goes missing. They don’t know that she’s already dead, killed by a neighbor and buried nearby. But here’s the catch: The story is told through the eyes of the young girl’s spirit, who must guide them all to a final resolution. Does she desire vengeance or healing? Simply incredible with Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz as the parents and Saoirse Ronan as the girl. Highly recommended.

THE TIGER NEXT DOOR

2009; $22.95, UR

By some estimates, there are more tigers in private, backyard U.S. “zoos” than there are roaming the wild. And you can find 24 of them just a bit north of here in Flat Rock, Ind., where Dennis Hill has been breeding and selling tigers for more than 15 years. Or maybe you can’t find them — this doc looks at the state’s attempt to shut him down. Why? Check it out for yourself.

THE YOUNG VICTORIA

2008; $18.95-$34.95, PG

Most of these overblown, costumed historical tales put us to sleep, but the chemistry between Emily Blunt as the titular young queen and Rupert Friend as the dashing Prince Albert is absolutely palpable. Even if you couldn’t give a rat’s rectum about the British monarchy, you’ll enjoy this quiet, colorful and funny look at the sexual frustration that defined a era. A great date flick.