THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS:
12 YEARS A SLAVE
2013; $24.98; R
If you’re not already intimately familiar with this immersive and devastating film achievement … well, what can we say? The film follows the true tale of Solomon Northup, an educated citizen living in pre-Civil War New York, kidnapped and sold to Southern farm owners Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Fassbender. The fact that he is black really shouldn’t have to enter into it, should it? Chiwetel “Serenity” Ejiofor is simply amazing in the lead, supported by Paul Dano, Lupita Nyong’o, Paul Giamatti and Alfre Woodard, with Brad Pitt in an extended cameo as the abolitionist who triggers his freedom. Just buy it.
THE HUNGER GAMES: CATCHING FIRE
2013; $22.98-$39.98; PG-13
Local lass Jennifer Lawrence continues to grow and impress in part two of author Suzanne Collins’ dystopian series. Thrust from crushing poverty and starvation to the pinnacle of Panem culture via a sadistic execution-cum-reality-show in which children hunt and kill other children for the entertainment of the elite (and punishment for a generations-old uprising), she now enjoys a certain amount of privilege. But it’s all a lie — including her supposed romance with Josh Hutcherson — and her bravery is spawning acts of revolution across the country. Simply excellent.
COLD COMES THE NIGHT
2014; $24.98; R
This amazing bit of crime nonsense finds Bryan Cranston as a nearly blind Russian criminal seeking his stolen money from dirty cop Logan Marshall-Green (“Prometheus”) at the lost Canadian motel of icy Alice Eve and her poor 9-year-old daughter, Ursula Parker (TV’s “Louie”). Cranston takes Eve and Parker hostage, forcing her to chase down the cop, leading to a series of double- and triple-crosses. Will Eve save her daughter, or is she more interested in the money? Not a great movie by any means, but entertaining as hell.
CRIMES OF PASSION COMPLETE
2014; $39.95; UR
Tuva Novotny is Puck, the beautiful, intelligent and crafty young mystery-solver at the heart of these sexy Swedish whodunits based on the works of Darmar Lang. She always seems to be stumbling into mysteries, usually with the help/hindrance of her hubby, Einar (Linus Wahlgren), and their friend and police superintendent Ola Rapace (former spouse of Noomi Rapace). Described by some as “Mad Men” meets “The Killing,” these are six of the most literate, intelligent, stylish, steamy and entertaining tales around. Recommended.
2013; $22.46; UR
German cinema produces surprisingly powerful and intelligent movies these days. Case in point: this tale of a mature husband/cop and father-to-be who finds himself developing romantic feelings toward his jogging partner. His male jogging partner. But the movie is less about homosexuality than it is the battle between societal expectations and inner happiness. An exceptional adult drama, well worth your time.
2013; $18.98-$29.98; PG-13
This female-empowerment juggernaut features a host of big-name voiceovers from Meryl Streep to Cate Blanchett to Selena Gomez, all exploring the many ways little girls are institutionally mistreated, abused and exploited around the world — and their infinite potential to save us all. Facing arranged marriages, slavery, poverty, brutality, ignorance and disease, only one thing can bring about change: education. Each of these nine tales is the work of one girl paired with a writer from her own culture, making it an intimately personal journey.
LEGIT: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
2014; $29.98; UR
This under-the-radar FX comedy hit stars potty-mouthed Australian Jim Jefferies as a would-be stand-up comic in L.A. who faces cruel life with a pair of loser friends, including Dan Bakkedahl (“The Daily Show”). No matter what he tries to do, no matter how noble his aims, it always turns to crap. Man, can we relate! With D.J. Quals (“Supernatural”) as Bakkedahl’s wheelchair-bound brother and frequent physical gag. May not be PC, but it is damn funny.
LOST IN THAILAND
2013; $27.98; UR
A pair of rival managers at a big Chinese corporation can become wealthy for life by securing control over their major stockholder’s shares. Problem is, that guy is currently relaxing at a spa in Thailand, setting in motion a race to cousin-up to him and win his cooperation. Along they way, one of the men meets a fellow traveler with an odd bucket list of crazy-ass things to do in Thailand, constantly screwing up the managers’ plans. A major box-office hit in China with the usual overacting, camera-mugging, painful stunts and drunken debauchery.
MR. & MRS. MURDER, SERIES 1
2013; $34.98; UR
The names Shaun Micallef and Kat Stewart may not ring many bells with American TV audiences, but both are major stars in their native Australia, the setting for this flirty, clever, funny series about husband and wife crime-scene cleaners who are forever stumbling into clues that the police miss. Sweet and charming, bloody and gross; a sexy, action-packed screwball series that reminds us of the adventures of Nick and Nora Charles (look it up). Addictive; our highest recommendation.
2013; $24.98; R
This unnecessary remake of the 2003 Korean hit is redeemed by casting Josh Brolin in the lead, with a supporting cast that includes Elizabeth Olsen, Sharlto Copley and Samuel L. Jackson. Brolin is an everyman, suddenly kidnapped then held in solitary confinement for 20 long years — then just as suddenly released. Or is he? Layer upon layer of conspiracy, loss, mystery and pain drive him forward to discover the truth. Director Spike Lee uses the strong “R” rating to let us experience Brolin’s anger in graphic brutality. Check it out.
2013; $24.98; UR
What a wonderful piece of crap! Five pretty college grads go to a cabin in the woods … hmm, that sounds vaguely familiar, but that’s just the point in this unabashed ode to low-rent, early ’80s grindhouse horrors. We particularly enjoyed Hannah Landberg’s turn as the slutty girl in tight cutoffs, and keep your eyes open for the crazed scientist/doctor behind the whole thing. Lots of blood.
A more complete listing and free vids at videotapeworm.com.