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December 12, 2006

Video Tapeworm: Releases through Tuesday, Dec. 19

THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKSA SCANNER DARKLY2006; DVD $27.95, RThis first film treatment of the seminal Philip K. Dick novel about drugs, reality and identity is a mixed bag — as are most Phildickian flicks — but deserved a better run at the theater. Fred, an undercover narc, is hooked on Substance D, a disassociative drug that can cause split personalities. Bob is his intended target; a clever and enigmatic dealer who is always one step ahead of the law. But anyone who has ever read Dick knows it can’t be that simple. Stars cartoonized Keanu Reeves, Winona Ryder, Robert Downey Jr. and Woody Harrelson.JET LI’S FEARLESS2006; DVD $29.95, URErrantly hyped as “Jet Li’s final martial arts film,” this may be his most impressive work. The true story of Huo Yuanjia, a brutal professional fighter at the turn of the 20th century who turned from combat to find the spiritual heart of martial arts at a time when China was being subjugated and corrupted by England, Spain, Belgium and Japan. Forced into a death-match, Huo fought the bloodiest battle imaginable, but did so with such grace and serenity that it literally changed the course of Chinese culture.AGNES AND HIS BROTHERS2005; DVD $29.95, URA wonderfully subversive tale from Germany about a dysfunctional trio of sibs — a transsexual, a peeper and (ugh!) a politician — trying to find common ground and understanding amid the everyday pressures for love, sex and fulfillment.ALL THE KING’S MEN2006; DVD $28.95, PG-13Sean Penn is fabulous as Willie Stark in this new telling of Robert Penn Warren’s thinly disguised bio-drama of the life of Huey Long, a Southern politician who rose from abject poverty to be governor, and personification of the phrase “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Co-stars Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Patricia Clarkson, James Gandolfini, Kathy Baker and more.GABRIELLE2005; DVD $24.95, URThis week’s artsy French weeper, based on the works of Joseph Conrad. Wealthy Pascal Greggory (named for the celery) is happily married to Isabelle “Hubba-Hubba” Huppert, until she reveals she has been sleeping with another guy. He gets angry, American art-festivals give them awards, you buy the DVD. The end.GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS: THE COMPLETE SEASON ONE2006; DVD $24.95, UROne of the better rip-offs of “The Osbournes” about the daily life of Kiss bassist Gene Simmons. A life much more “normal” (whatever that means) than you’d expect with a pair of teenagers (Nick and Sophie) whose parents are a legendary demon-rocker and his 23-years-and-counting “girlfriend”/soft-porn-poster-girl, Shannon Tweed.INVINCIBLE2006; DVD $29.95-39.95, PGMark Wahlberg stars in this true sports tale of bartender Vince Papale, a diehard Eagles fan who, out of work and bored, went to an open tryout and came home with a new career. Predictable, but very entertaining, Wahlberg faces the press, the bruises, Greg Kinnear and the antagonistic team, angry that a non-professional has stepped into their workplace.LADY IN THE WATER2006; DVD $34.95, PG-13M. Night Shyamalan’s latest. Paul Giamatti finds Bryce Dallas Howard floating in his apartment’s pool, only to discover that she is actually from a kid’s storybook and needs protection and help to return to her home. The other members of his co-op have their own plans for her as the denizens of fairyland begin to show up.LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE2006; DVD $29.95, RThe best-kept secret of 2006! Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Alan Arkin and Steve Carell headline a wonderfully fractured family, all on the road in a rusty VW bus to get little 7-year-old Abigail Breslin to the titular kiddie beauty contest on time. Sound like every bad TV sitcom you ever saw? Trust us, this thing is just plain hysterical! Talent, ingenuity, gags that are actually FUNNY, and a spry and subversive sense of adventure make this our favorite comedy of the year.MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND2006; DVD $29.95, PG-13A terrific idea that just plain flopped. Ivan Reitman directs Uma Thurman and Luke Wilson in this goofy tale of a couple who meet, date and then split up in the worst way imaginable — that’s when he discovers she’s a pissed-off Superwoman out to kick his ass!STEP UP2006; DVD $29.95, PG-13The latest “down and out kid from the wrong side of the tracks who finds redemption in music/song/dance,” this one starring Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan (who we never heard of, either) and set in Maryland. We’ve seen worse.THE BEAUTY ACADEMY OF KABUL2006; DVD $26.95, URThe most amazing documentary about hairstylists we could imagine. A gaggle of Western scissorhands brave bombs, bullets and mad mullahs to open a beauty school in post-invasion Afghanistan, hoping to bring “culture” to the burka-clad masses of Kabul using blow-dryers, rouge and lipstick — all of which carried the death sentence just weeks earlier.THE ILLUSTRATED MAN1969; DVD $19.95, PGRe-issue of an amazing — and ahead of its time — outing based on the short stories of Ray Bradbury. Rod Steiger, covered in ghoulish tattoos, befriends a drifter who sees the ink come alive with tales of death, madness and doom. With all the requisite DVD goodies and Claire Bloom as the mystical creator of Steiger’s torment. Enjoy.THE WICKER MAN2006; DVD $19.95-$28.95, UR/RJust plain awful remake of the legendary 1973 Scottish occult thriller about a police officer (in this case, Nicolas Cage, whose acting chops suggest a promising career in restaurant work) searching for a missing child on a remote island of pagans. No need to waste your money on this piece of crap when you can still get the Edward Woodward/Christopher Lee original at any good vidstore.ZOMBIE NATION2006; DVD $26.95, RThis unapologetically low-budget/high-entertainment mishmash of horror movie clichés is just plain Gangs o’ Fun. A psycho-cop (or is that redundant?) kills hapless women until he runs afoul of a 17-year-old Voodoo-chick who sends his dead victims back after him in a slam-bang gore-fest finale. Great stuff.OTHER DVDS OF INTEREST

  • DRIVING FORCE: THE COMPLETE SEASON 1

2006; DVD $29.95, UR

  • ER: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON

1994; DVD $49.95, UR

  • MARRIED WITH CHILDREN: THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON

1992; DVD $39.95, UR

  • THE CELESTINE PROPHECY

2006; DVD $24.95, PG

  • THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE NINTH SEASON

1989; DVD $49.95, URA more complete listing and free vids at www.VideoTapeWorm.com!