Issue July 30, 2013

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, Aug. 6

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

OBLIVION

2013; $19.98-$34.98; PG-13

Frankly, this Tom Cruise movie is not really “a Tom Cruise movie”: It is more of a feature-length “Star Trek” episode with astounding visuals, big-budget stars and terrific effects that seem absolutely real. In the future, the Earth is dying after decades of war with marauders from the stars. Mankind has moved elsewhere in the solar system, leaving only a single pair of humans to manage a handful of important energy machines. But then someone new arrives, and she knows things that can’t possibly be true. To say more would spoil a brilliant cinematic experiment that sci-fi fans should be rallying around. We thought it was brilliant.

TRANCE

2013; $14.98-$29.98; R

James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel and Rosario Dawson star in this wildly popular Danny “Trainspotting” Boyle-directed production that the studio dumped to video after an exceedingly poor theatrical ad campaign. It’s a crime drama with definite “Inception” leanings about an auctioneer (McAvoy), in thrall to a gang of criminals, who works with a hypnotherapist to help find a lost painting. Director Boyle is on fire here, producing one of the best — if least seen — films in his exceptional career. Don’t miss this.

•••

AFTERSHOCK

2012; $19.98; R

Blunt-instrument horror director Eli Roth takes a break from directing to star in this natural-disaster movie. He’s the only American survivor in an underground nightclub after a massive Chilean earthquake. But the real terror occurs once they dig out to find humans behaving like sadistic animals. It seems to be a deliberately bad movie sometimes, with laugh-out-loud horror-humor and gags that will literally make you gag. Surprisingly effective on so many levels.

FRIDAYS: THE BEST OF

2013; $29.98; UR

The first-ever DVD release from “Fridays,” the historic (if little remembered) late-night music- and sketch-comedy series from the early ’80s that launched the careers of Larry David and Michael Richards (“Seinfeld”), as well as a score of others who became writers on the best shows of the late ’80s and early ’90s. Worth checking out if only for the guests that include Devo, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The Cars, The Clash, KISS and a rare stand-up performance by the late Andy Kaufman.

MUD

2012; $12.98-$24.98; PG-13

Matthew McConaughey, covered in filth, babbling about killers on his trail, and hiding on a tiny island in the Mississippi River, is clearly a mental case. He’s also in this movie. That’s where a pair of impressionable boys (Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland) discover him and become infatuated by his romantic tales of killing an evil man and searching for his true love (Reese Witherspoon) while evading an army of bounty hunters. It’s too crazy to be true, right? We won’t spoil it. Our only complaint is the PG-13 rating. We would have liked to have seen the themes ramped up to an R treatment. Good indie stuff.

ON THE ROAD

2013; $26.98-$29.98; R

When the decision was made to attempt a film of Jack Kerouac’s legendary book, “On The Road,” the studio hired one of the great filmmakers of a generation, Walter Salles (“The Motorcycle Diaries”), to direct. Good move! Sam Riley plays “Sal Paradise” (Kerouac), whose mundane life is shattered when he meets a true free spirit, played by Garrett Hedlund, and his ethereal girlfriend, Marylou (Kristen Stewart, in a winsome portrayal). Sex, drugs and the ultimate quest for freedom amid the staid conformity of the modern world. What more could you possibly want?

SMILEY’S PEOPLE

1982; $36.98-$59.98; UR

Limey-TV lovers know that this is the follow-up to John Le Carré’s superb “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” series, with Alec Guinness reprising the role that made him a household name: George Smiley, aging spymaster. Here he once again plays each of the human pawns against each other in a brilliant, deadly game of nerves to expose the machinations of his ghostly nemesis, Karla (played by Patrick Stewart, whose screen presence screams despite the actor never muttering a sound). Slow, thoughtful, deliberate and devastating. Highly recommended.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES

2013; $19.98-$34.98; R

This over-romantic drama is all over the map: Ryan Gosling, a carnival motorcycle stunter, meets up with old flame Eva Mendes, only to discover that they have a son. So he settles down and tries to be a good father, but new boss Ben Mendelsohn coerces him into a bank robbery, putting rookie cop Bradley Cooper and his evil detective-boss (Ray Liotta) on his trail. But that’s only a portion of the ever-mounting conflicts, destined to reverberate into succeeding generations, ad infinitum. Needed more killer robots.

THE SAPPHIRES

2012; $16.98-$30.98; PG-13

The more or less true story of a quartet of Australian Aboriginal girls, raised in a remote mission, who form a singing group à la The Supremes and tour Vietnam during the tumultuous year of 1968. The girls are terrific, but it is their rhythm-impaired soul-singer agent, Chris O’Dowd, that makes the chemistry work as the girls get a crash-course on life, love, racism, family and the PG-13 horrors of war. Simply terrific; don’t miss it.

TO THE WONDER

2012; $19.98; R

This high-pedigree adult drama is a bit long-winded and complex for our humble tastes, but you can’t argue with its power. Famed writer/director Terrence Malick (“The New World”) bites deep into human frailty as Ben Affleck falls for Olga Kurylenko while in Europe, and asks her to relocate to America with her 10-year-old daughter. Problem is, once here, their ardor cools as her visa runs out. Along the way she meets struggling priest Javier Bardem, while Affleck hooks up with Rachel McAdams (nice work if you can get it). Artsy, deep, mystical and moving.

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