Issue March 30, 2011

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, April 4

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

TRON

1982; $29.95, PG

When this movie hit the theatres in July 1982, critics praised its innovative blending of computer-generated backgrounds with live action, declaring it a new art form. Disney had to cheat a bit, of course, since no one had yet invented the digital optical printer, but we’ll give them credit for the effort. David Warner stars as a power-mad cybergeek devoid of pity who creates a computerized universe in which he rules supreme (Mark Zuckerberg). Sucked into this purply world of video games, Jeff Bridges spouts lots of early ’80s compujargon and types real fast. Waaaaay too long and now on Blu-Ray with lots of bonus crapola.

TRON: LEGACY

2010; $29.95-$49.95, PG

Like the original “Tron,” this is a visually interesting film-as-video-game with Jeff Bridges returning as his now-aged character — and as a young computer-generated version of his original self. A nice trick, as is the rest of the flick’s whiz-bang cyber-geegaw. But the movie’s biggest flaw (and there are many) is Bridges’ character, who has to be restrained from throwing himself into the sacrificial fire for the good of this son from the very first frame. Ya gotta build up to that, Dog! Olivia Wilde looks good in skin-tight leather. She’s also in this film.

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AMERICAN JIHADIST

2011; $17.95, UR

Why would an otherwise normal American boy take up a radical religion and declare “death to the unbelievers”? That’s the question behind this terrific documentary on Isa Abdullah Ali, an American family-man and soldier (since the age of 15), raised in Washington, D.C., who claims to have killed more than 150 men in defense of his adopted faith. There are no easy answers here, making this one of the best docs you’ll ever see. Highly recommended.

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: A DARK TALE

2009; $24.95, R

Estella Warren, who hasn’t exactly been burning up the big screen in recent years, stars with Rhett Giles in this SciFi Channel “re-imagining” of the classic tale. (An aside to those web readers who keep asking why we use “SciFi” instead of “SyFy”: The SciFi Channel changed its name in a legal maneuver to weasel out of commitments to its founders, men like Harlan Ellison who invested their time and money, truly believing it was to be an open forum for the most imaginative and thought-provoking material on the planet. We still call it SciFi in their honor.)

CASINO JACK

2010; $22.95, R

Kevin Spacey is in his element and having a ball as Jack Abramoff, Washington’s thoroughly corrupt master power broker who went down in flames after he and his sleazy partner (Barry Pepper) fell victim to a dimwit (Jon Lovitz) who couldn’t keep his mouth shut. A true tale of murder and greed — and one of the greatest meltdowns in modern history — portrayed in a funny movie with the always-welcome Kelly Preston. Simply terrific.

EARTH COLLECTION

2010; $19.95, UR

Seven episodes from the Discovery Channel’s excellent series on our planet, its past and would-be future. With 3-D graphics and stunning animation, they explain why you should give a damn about our fragile home. Our fave is “What If We Had No Moon”; you’ll never take a full moon for granted again. TV doesn’t get any better than this.

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS

2010; $27.95-$39.95, R

Jim Carrey, who likes to keep his fans off-guard, stars in this unrepentant gay romantic comedy that the studio all but refused to release. He plays a “true” cop-turned-conman who meets his soulmate, Ewan McGregor, in prison. As the amazing escape attempts and ruthless swindles mount, McGregor comes to understand that his buddy is just, plain bad — but his homosexuality doesn’t enter into: Carrey is also just plain nuts! You won’t be bored.

PHANTOM FROM 10000 LEAGUES/BEAST WITH 1,000,000 EYES

2011; $22.95, UR

A pair of wonderfully cheap — and too rarely seen — pre-American International Pictures howlers. The first finds Michael Whalen as a sleazy scientist who lusts after an underwater uranium deposit, protected by a sea monster, while Kent Taylor lusts after his sexy, dim-witted daughter, Kathy Downs. The second is far more imaginative as an alien crash-lands in the desert, able to see our planet through the eyes of the local animals and insects. Intent on taking over the world, it starts at a nearby family farm. Lots of would-be sleaze and an early Paul Blaisdell monster make this a no-budget keeper.

SARAH PALIN’S ALASKA

2010; $19.95, PG

America’s favorite swimsuit-contestant-turned-part-time-state-governor, Sarah Palin pads her 15 minutes of fame at the expense of the Alaskan moose population while cameras roll. It’s scary how many people think she’s playing with a full deck, much less suitable for public office. That being said, we’d love to see her naked. Surely this early Paris Hilton made a 16mm home sex-movie back in the day? Now THAT we’d pay to see!

TCM CLASSIC FILMS: JOHNNY WEISSMULLER AS TARZAN, VOLS. 1&2

2011; $27.95 each, UR

There once were halcyon days when we spent far too many an afternoon on the couch, immersed in the politically incorrect adventures of Tarzan with neither apology nor regret. These two four-movie offerings are just plain terrific, with non-actor Weissmuller showing natural talent before the camera, and Maureen O’Sullivan, stunning as his would-be bride. The first set is the best of the two, containing the original “Tarzan The Ape Man” (1932), “… Escapes,” “… Finds a Son,” and the blissfully sensual “Tarzan and his Mate.” Simply wonderful.

 

A More Complete Listing and Free Vids at www.videotapeworm.com.