Issue April 8, 2014

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price releases on Tuesday, April 15

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

PHILOMENA

2013; $22.98; PG-13

This wildly popular dramatization of the wildly popular biographical tale stars Judi Dench as Philomena Lee, an Irish woman who became pregnant as a teen in 1952. Forced into a convent for “fallen women,” she raised her child until the age of 3, at which time the church stole it and sent it to the U.S. for adoption. Legally forbidden from contacting the child, she nonetheless spent the next 50 years searching. A great story, well told, with beautiful Sophie Kennedy Clark (“Nymphomaniac”) as the young Philomena and Steve Coogan as the writer who aids in their search.

THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY

2013; $24.98; PG

Ben Stiller has finally made an honest-to-God good movie! He plays and directs James Thurber’s immortal daydreamer with Kristen Wiig as the unknowing object of his affections. She wordlessly launches the bumbling nebbish into a real-world adventure (or is it?) filled with heroism, danger, intrigue, guns, bad guys, falls, animals and snow. Visually breathtaking at times, Stiller seems to be consciously avoiding his usual shtick, making this sprightly, entertaining and exciting. With help from Jon Daly, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine and cameos by Conan O’Brien, Sean Penn and Andy Richter. Recommended.

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95ERS: TIME RUNNERS

2013; $26.98; UR

This ambitious low-budget sci-fi thriller is a marvel: a great central character played by lovely Alesandra Durham, an intriguing story, interesting effects and nice surprises. Durham is an FBI agent with a secret ability, trying to make a difference in a rag-tag future destroyed by “time wars” — where future enemy combatants travel to the past to pre-destroy their opponents. Add in paranormal activity, the “ghost” of her missing husband, an unborn child and the slow unraveling of the fabric of reality, and you’ve got one hell of a picture. Here’s hoping for a sequel.

ALICE

1988; $22.98-$24.98; UR

This surreal and nightmarish animated/live-action/stop-motion Czech interpretation of “Alice In Wonderland” will blow your frickin’ mind! Very dark, it oozes over some of the more forgotten elements in Lewis Carroll’s tale, wringing the Disney from Wonderland to evoke a nicely exaggerated, if playful, attic-realm of universal childhood fears. Largely dialogue-free and wildly original — while simultaneously sticking closer to Carroll’s tale than any previous version — this is simply jaw-dropping. Don’t miss it.

BEING GINGER

2013; $24.98; UR

In Britain, a place populated by all the colors and languages and races of Europe, Asia and Africa, to be a red-headed person is akin to a racial epithet. But ginger filmmaker Scott P. Harris uses it as a warmhearted comic device in his film about uniqueness, finding your place in the world and especially about finding love, with help from some talking heads, a bit of brilliant animation and the universality of our differences. A surprising and unique film.

CAMP DREAD

2014; $15.98-$27.98; UR

If you were a fan of the “dead teenager” movies of the ’80s, have we got a flick for you! This posits “What happened to all the summer camp horror movie filmmakers?” Well, it left one of them (played by Eric Roberts, always a sign of quality) unemployable, so he decides to resurrect the genre with an online “contest” to pick the next generation of stars. Problem is, his “contestants,” stuck in an abandoned summer camp, keep dying horribly! Great cameos, Danielle Harris, hot babes, blood and stale ’80s horror-humor. What more could you want?

RIDE ALONG

2014; $19.98-$34.98; PG-13

OK, we are officially tired of Kevin Hart. This flick may be his starring vehicle, but it is saved by the innate charisma of partner Ice Cube. Cube plays a hot-tempered cop with a beautiful sister (Tika Sumpter) who has hooked up with annoying motormouth/rookie cadet Hart. He proposes they go on patrol together to prove he’s worthy of the girl. Hoping to scare the guy off, Cube agrees, resulting in your basic mismatched-buddy comedy with guest stars John Leguizamo, big Bruce McGill, Laurence Fishburne and Gary Owen running interference. A fun ride if you keep your thumb on the mute button whenever Hart fires up.

THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW: CAROL’S CRACK UPS

2014; $46.98-$59.98; UR

TimeLife has been selling “Carol Burnett Show” megasets for what seems like forever; so why would you want this six-disc offering? Because (1) most of these episodes were omitted from the other releases, and (2) these are some of the funniest skits ever broadcast on TV! Includes the largely unscripted world’s-oldest-firefighter sketch, classic “As The Stomach Churns” soapers, plus skits with Andy Griffith, Carl Reiner, Roddy McDowall and Dick Van Dyke. But the best reason is a look back at the brutal physical comedy of Tim Conway and his hapless foil, Harvey Corman. Terrific.

THE END OF TIME

2012; $27.98; UR

We are science junkies, having practically memorized every “Cosmos” and “Nova”-type TV title ever broadcast. But this doc from Peter Mettle stands high above, tackling that most perplexing and ethereal of topics: the nature of time. To say more might deprive you of the surprise, the romance and the sheer poetry of Mettle’s presentation — his visuals alone are worth the price of the disc, but the lessons contained within are mind-blowing. Do it.

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN

2013; $24.98-$35.98; R

You might not think of author Charles Dickens as sexy, but that’s because you’ve never seen him portrayed by a very married Ralph Fiennes, with damn-hot — and decades younger — Felicity Jones as the object of his affections! This true tale not only explores the social mores of the 1800s, its treatment of women, the institution of marriage and the nature of celebrity, but also lays bare the unique life and personality of Western literature’s greatest grumbler — even though the movie is more about her than Dickens. Recommended; with the always welcome Kristin Scott Thomas and not a single mention of “Dickens Cider.”

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