Issue May 28, 2013

Video TapeWorm

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

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD

2013; $19.98-$39.98; R

With Bruce Willis’ John McClane character now an integral part of the national zeitgeist (check out the music video for “Yippee Ki-Yay, Mother Fucker” on the web), it was inevitable that he’d take his reluctant-army-of-one show on the road, this time to Russia in a much lower budgeted tale of nuclear secrets at Chernobyl. Leading the way is son Jack (Jai Courtney) with appearances by Mary Elizabeth Winstead as daughter Lucy. To be honest, this is not as gratuitously over-the-top as DH4, with its asinine hover-jet/elevated roadway shootout, but it has its moments — and any John McClane is better than no John McClane at all. We liked it.

WARM BODIES

2013; $14.98-$39.98; PG-13

OK, the zombie craze has officially run its course. Evidence? How about this lively and entertaining tale of a zombie boy who falls in love with a live girl, and it works as both an allegory for timeless romance and a spiritual tale where the world is actually saved by love. Maybe. Nicholas Hoult (“The Beast” from “X-Men”) plays the rotter-Romeo (here called “R”) to Teresa Palmer’s Julie — a gal who is quite literally edible in skinny jeans and a bodacious string-T. Damn! For reasons even he doesn’t understand, he saves her from being eaten, and a wickedly funny relationship develops that is really quite charming. The perfect date movie.

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A PORTRAIT OF JAMES DEAN: JOSHUA TREE, 1951

2012; $19.99-$24.95; UR

James Preston channels the late James Dean before he became a household name in this breakout film-festival darling. While an unknown actor, fresh off the farm and learning his craft in ’50s L.A., Dean shared an apartment with a quietly gay roommate, Bill Bast, at a time when homosexuals were social pariahs at best. Here, Bast is “represented” as “The Roommate” (Dan Glenn), who is secretly in love with Dean, and we experience his world through a tragic, dream-like reality. Beautiful, dizzying and sad; the definitive modern art film.

ADAM CHAPLIN: VIOLENT AVENGER

2011; $19.98; UR

This may be the single bloodiest move we’ve ever seen, but the splatters are not gratuitous, they are central to the plot. When a man discovers that his wife was killed by a local mob boss who has the corrupt police department in his pocket, he summons a demon for revenge. His pact with the creature gives him super-strength and dark powers, but there is a price to pay once the vengeance is over. Delivers what it promises.

BREAKING BAD: THE FIFTH SEASON

2013; $38.98-$65.98; UR

It would be foolish of us to attempt any sort of concise synopsis of this season (which has eight as-yet unaired episodes due in August). Suffice it to say that Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are once again cooking up meth while their crime family grows and writhes amid the ever-worsening depravity that has dragged Cranston’s once-upright science teacher character down since he was diagnosed with lung cancer in the first season. But he is a survivor, and more than anything else, that is what attracts us to him. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

ESCAPE FROM PLANET EARTH

2013; $14.98-$39.98; PG

What can we say about this silly animated comedy that’s new or original? Nothin’. But that’s OK, because the joy here is in its skewed look at our everyday selves from the vantage of a race of blue astronaut adventure-seekers. The voice work is first-rate, with Brendan Fraser leading Rob Corddry, Jessica Alba, Ricky Gervais and an especially evil William Shatner around at the frenzied pace of a “Madagascar” movie. Crazy fun for the wee ones.

IDENTITY THIEF

2013; $23.98; UR

Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are front-and-center throughout this uneven tale of a free-spirited low-life (McCarthy) living it up on the credit cards of a repressed sales rep (Bateman), who sets out to find her and clear his name. The comedy is broad, often physical and rarely high-brow, but there’s a good chemistry between the two, even when they’re trying to kill each other while stuck in the car on a 2,000-mile road trip. Watch for Jon Favreau, Amanda Peet, Morris Chestnut, John Cho and a host of others who chip in, always at the wrong time.

RAWHIDE: THE SIXTH SEASON: VOLUMES ONE AND TWO

2013; $31.98-$45.98 each; UR

The Western may be today’s most maligned genre of entertainment, largely due to its one-time market saturation (you listening, zombie movies?), but that also allowed it to mature to a degree that few genres have ever experienced. Case in point: This 1963-64 season of “Rawhide” starring Eric Fleming as cattle-drive boss Gil Favor, who each week imparted wisdom and BS to his maturing foreman, Rowdy Yates, played by an unknown actor named Clint Eastwood. Each volume contains four discs of classic American drama set to that delirious Frankie Laine theme song, with guest stars such as Elizabeth Montgomery, Beau Bridges, Burgess Meredith, Frankie Avalon, Barbara Eden and Forrest Tucker. Priceless.

THE LAST RIDE

2012; $17.98; PG-13

Henry “The Wonder Years” Thomas stars in this speculative biodrama on the mysterious final days in the life of country music’s original bad-boy, Hank Williams. We find hard-living Hank motoring through the Appalachians, a local kid at the wheel, heading for 1952 New Year’s gigs in West Virginia and Ohio, where he would die on New Year’s Day. There’s no music or sentimentality here — the driver doesn’t even know who his passenger is! — just the enigma of a legend who died too young. With Kaley Cuoco from “Big Bang Theory.”

VEXED SERIES 2

2012; $34.98; UR

Toby Stephens returns for more “Moonlighting”-ish Limey detective nonsense, but with a new partner. Pretty, spunky-smart and bosomy, Miranda Raison (“MI-5”) comes on board, raising the bar for her mismatched cop-buddy, throwing him off his game. The writing is even sharper and funnier than before as the two go about solving crimes despite their wildly different approaches and obvious physical attraction. When was the last time you laughed out loud watching TV? Addictive as hell.

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