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Blind Menace

June 9, 2010

Video TapeWorm

New, encore and low-price DVD releases on Tuesday, June 15

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:

BLIND MENACE

1960; $24.95, UR

A rare treat for fans of the “Zatoichi, Blind Swordsman” movies. The legendary star of those films, Shintarô Katsu, first played Suganoichi, a beloved yet secretly evil and diabolical blind court masseur, in this film. Essentially invisible among the lavish denizens of the city, he darkly manipulates others in a quest for power, regardless of who he crushes along the way. Excellent.

HORROR HOSPITAL

1973; $19.95, R

Latest in a long string of re-releases for this perennially loopy ’70s horro-comedy. A swinging London pop star (Robin Askwith) takes a vacation, winding up (along with sex-kitten Vanessa Shaw) at the abode of crazed scientist Michael Gough. His facility has hot-and-cold-running evil midgets, radio-controlled zombies and a big, gooey monster patrolling the grounds — and the mod pair are about to be the next to get their brains sucked out! It probably wasn’t written as a comedy, but the whole thing is so inept and ... ’70s ... that you just can’t help but titter.

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BURMA VJ: REPORTING FROM A CLOSED COUNTRY

2009; $29.95, UR

The most disturbing documentary we ever saw. In Burma, where journalism is illegal and possession of a video camera results in torture and death, a small band of journalists record and smuggle out film of the 2007 uprising among monks, protesting rampant government-initiated inflation. While the eventual crackdown was too brutal for words, the following propaganda — and global indifference — was even more devastating. Not for the timid.

COLLAPSE

2010; $19.95, UR

If you didn’t catch the interview with former L.A.-cop-turned-reporter Michael Ruppert on “The Daily Show” or “The Colbert Report” — or even if you did — you will enjoy this doc. Ruppert not only foresaw the global financial meltdown in his books — in amazing detail — he has even more predictions for the days to come. Suggest you watch this, then stock up on bottled water.

DAY OF VENGEANCE

2008; $24.95, UR

Better known in some circles as “Blood Loss,” this complex tale of a man whose father was killed executing a robbery, goes searching to know his father ... and maybe find the loot. But that’s all secondary to the action as he meets a girl whose father was murdered by his father. Add in an escaped con and a crazed lawman, and you have an unusual and ambitious indie production, all wrapped up in the music of The Blind Willies. Nice.

DIVIDED HEAVEN

1964; $24.95, UR

This famous German movie tracks the fortunes of the two Germanies during the ’50s and ’60s by way of a single young couple. The woman is 20 and the man 29, each trying to better themselves and make a life together, but constantly being pulled apart by social and political pressures, until their union — and future — is destroyed.

HAPPY TEARS

2009; $27.95, R

Parker Posey and Demi Moore star as strong sisters, coming together to take care of their aging father, the incomparable Rip Torn. A good, solid family drama.

MARY AND MAX

2009; $24.95-$29.95, UR

Wildly popular adult stop-motion arthouser from Oscar-winning animator Adam Elliot. A pair of isolated people correspond by mail over a period of 20 years. One is an 8-year-old Australian Goth voiced by Toni Collette, the other a 44-year-old agoraphobic New York Jew voiced by Philip Seymour Hoffman. The film’s insight, drama and profound humor comes from the two comparing the wretchedness of their own lives — and the human condition in general. May not sound like much, but can really draw you in.

THE BOOK OF ELI

2010; $27.95-$35.95, R

This hackneyed tale of super-warriors battling amid post-apocalyptic ruin would have been completely forgettable without the profound charisma of Denzel Washington as the titular “Holy Man” and grisly Gary Oldman as the bad guy. A fun, talky look back to the post-Mad Max era, when everyone was out in the desert filming great fight scenes. Solid entertainment, if unoriginal.

THE HORSEMAN

2008; $24.95, R

Someone called this “‘Jaws’, but about stabbing people.” Nice line. An Aussie crazed-dad-exacts-revenge-against-the-men-who-killed-his-daughter juggernaut with lots of explosions, punctured flesh, blood and villains crying for their lives. Would have made a great musical, but that’s just us.

UNTHINKABLE

2010; $24.95, R

Why this didn’t go to theaters is beyond us. Michael Sheen plays a former nuclear expert who turns terrorist, planting three A-bombs in separate cities before being caught by FBI investigator Carrie-Anne Moss. But she is shocked when the case is handed over to super-interrogator Samuel L. Jackson, who will use whatever methods necessary — no matter how unthinkable — to learn where the bombs are hidden.

VENGEANCE TRILOGY

2010; $64.95, UR

Complete Blu-Ray boxed set of Chan-wook Park’s groundbreaking titles “Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance,” “Oldboy” and “Lady Vengeance.” Highly recommended.

YOUTH IN REVOLT

2009; $28.95, R

This little-known Michael Cera film may be the best thing he’s ever done. Here he plays a 16-year-old kid who hates everything about his life until he meets Portia Doubleday, a summer fling who only likes bad boys. So he becomes a bad boy via an alter-ego named Frank Dillinger, who walks along beside him giving “sage” advice on how to be the man she wants him to be. Lots of madcap adventures follow — including blowing up his mother’s boyfriend’s car! — as Frank takes control. The rest of the amazing cast (Jean Smart, Zach Galifianakis, Steve Buscemi, Fred Willard, Ray Liotta, M. Emmet Walsh, etc.) appears to be having a ball. Silly, if disturbing, summer fun.

 

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