THIS WEEK’S TWIN PEEKS
A LITTLE CHAOS
2014; $19.98; R
“Corset” Kate Winslet (“Titanic”) plays another strong, independent woman in this period piece inspired by real events. She’s the willful and talented landscape designer hired to poesy-up King Louis XIV’s (Alan Rickman, who directs) shiny new palace at Versailles in an era when woman had children, not careers or professions. As a result she must battle everyone for respect, especially the King’s royal landscape artist, Andre Le Notre (French/Belgian heartthrob Matthias Schoenaerts, soon to star in the “Lewis and Clark” miniseries). Froggy romance ensues.
2014; $17.98; R
Since starring in Tim Burton’s 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” (sequel due in 2016), Mia Wasikowska has spent much of her time doing musty lit-classics like this oft-told tale from Gustave Flaubert. She’s the titular Mlle who escapes her daddy’s wretched pig farm by marrying a boring doctor (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), then striking out on a series of indiscreet romances and scandalous affairs, all photographed for your enjoyment. Watch for both Paul Giamatti and Rhys Ifans who, unlike Ms. W., don’t take their clothes off.
OTHER DVDs OF INTEREST
ANTARCTIC EDGE: 70 DEGRESS SOUTH
2015; $24.98; UR
A doc on the real-world crisis that may doom the human race, if not in your lifetime then certainly in your children’s lifetime. Scientists determined in 2014 that the melting of the West Antarctic ice sheet had reached a tipping point: it is now just a matter of time before much of the world’s dry land will be under water. Here we follow a team of researchers into the frozen heart of our planet in a last-ditch effort to determine just how far this will go and how fast this will happen. Isn’t it interesting that this actual extinction event makes you yawn, but if it was some SyFy Channel crap-fest, you’d watch it twice? So much for human “intelligence.”
I DREAM OF WIRES
2014; $17.98; UR
As former musicians (please give generously) who picked our licks in the heady days of early electronica, we loved this look at the arc of the modular synthesizer. Unlike most of today’s synths, which are keyboard-driven and pre-programmed with every sound the manufacturer thinks you want, “mods” had patch cords to transform sound into a personal expression of the player’s imagination — using any instrument as it’s source. Now in something of a renaissance, the mod is once again driving music forward. Pure joy, with insights by Trent Reznor, Morton Subotnick, John Foxx, James Holden and many others.
2014; $24.98; UR
A fascinating mystery-thriller from Russia about a gay couple who witness a hate-crime. Each reacts differently, with one wanting to report what he saw while the other is more cautious — and fearful — about contacting the notoriously unsympathetic police. With modern Russian culture serving as a character in it’s own right, this journey into the universal fear of authority and the unpredictable loyalty of self-preserving friends and family is a real eye-opener. Dark and very disturbing, but really pays off.
THE WILD WEST WITH RAY MEARS
2014; $24.98-39.98; UR
Mears is an avuncular and wildly popular British naturalist who travels the globe showing us how to survive — and thrive — all alone in hostile, primitive places. This time he roams the American West in something of a love-letter to the men and women who set out by foot, canoe or covered wagon in search of a new home, adventure, and/or fortune. It was a daring, often deadly journey, which he demonstrates along the same routes and using the same skills the originals used, colorfully relating all the rich history and fascinating characters who went before him. Absolutely riveting TV, far beyond any of that staged Discovery Channel crap.
TOOLBOX MURDERS 2
2013; $9.98-14.98; UR
Better known as “Coffin Baby,” this extremely gruesome, low-rent horror comes courtesy of special effects makeup artist/writer/director Dean C. Jones, who has been making us all barf on cinema walls since the mid 80’s. An unrepentant gore-thriller revolving around capture, torture, murder and death, it is infamous for its terrible dialog, unfathomable plot and wretched acting. So why are we mentioning it? Because it stars Bruce Dern, former soaper Brian Krause, gorgeous scream-queen Chauntal Lewis and a number of Hollywood’s lesser lights, many hidden under fake names! Truly wretched, as the movie-gods intended, now on Blu-Ray.
WYRMWOOD: ROAD OF THE DEAD
2014; $9.98-17.98; UR
Imagine Mad Max from “The Road Warrior” battling endless hordes of hyperactive motorized brain-munching zombies and you’d have the gist of this unrepentant Aussie splatterfest. All that clever mechanic Barry (Jay Gallagher) can do after seeing his wife and child become zombie-chow is protect what’s left of his family: his little sister (stunning Bianca Bradey) — who summarily gets kidnapped by a crazy disco-dancing doctor and his army of gas-masked goons. The good news is: This is just as stupid, gory, loud and entertaining as it sounds. Sort of like NASCAR, only quieter and without all the commercials. We’ll drink to that!
*** More Recommended Videos for our On-Line Readers, Only!
2014; $20.98; UR
Not to be confused with that recent Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson big-budget disaster flick, this rip-off finds Cameron “Entourage” Richardson and Henry Ian “The 100” Cusick trying to save LA (or at least a dozen of its actors in brief cameo) when everything goes to hell after the San Andreas fault succumbs to fracking. Watch for dark-eyed hottie Chasty “The Girl’s Guide to Depravity” Ballesteros, plus Jeffrey Jones, slumming, and the criminally underused Heather “Fairy Tales” Sossaman as fondue tidbits.
2015; $14.98; UR
The always-welcome Sean “Game of Thrones” Bean leads this dark drama as a newly-released ex-con, reluctantly moving in with sister Kate Walsh, and eventually becoming something of a surrogate father to her young son. Desperate to restart his life he falls hard for Eva Longoria (stand in line, dude) and all seems peachy until a tragedy sends them all swirling down the Dank Drain Of Despair. Frankly, this isn’t terrific, but with that cast, plus cameos by Shane “RoboCop 3” Black, Tom Arnold, Peter Mackenzie, and enticing songstress/model/Playboy Playmate Willa “Friday the 13th (2009)” Ford, there’s something here for everyone.
BLACK & WHITE: THE DAWN OF ASSAULT
2012; $14.98-19.98; UR
“Black & White” is a very popular action-cop TV show in Taiwan, so popular that the producers created this 2½ hour-plus prequel to pack theaters and export that fever to America. A veteran police officer and a gangster (Mark Chao and Ken Lin) join forces to save both the cop’s lover and their Harbor City home from a seemingly unstoppable foe, and they have only 36 hours to do so. Fem-fighter Huang “Journey to the West” Bo, and soft and lovely Angelababy (“Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon”) provide ass-kicking eye-candy.
2013; $13.98-24.98; PG-13
Alex and Graham Miller play identical twins Andy and Pete Goodwynn, wholesome and pure Christians on the glory-glory path to shining, successful lives steeped in love and faith. Then the town’s bad-old rich family, led by Ray Wise, tears that dream apart, sending the men into a dark spiral of despair and vengeance. Yes, it’s just as lame and preachy as it sounds; this week’s sappy Christian movie where everyone learns a Bible lesson by the end. Worth watching if only for lovely soaper Mackenzie Mauzy, who played Rapunzel in “Into The Woods.”
EVERY SECRET THING
2014; $7.98; R
This high-concept/high-pedigree potboiler is a hoot, packing a score of stars and cameos doing characters way out of their comfort zone. Elizabeth Banks plays a cop haunted by her failure in an old child-abduction/murder case. Then, shortly after the two convicted culprits – Dakota Fanning and Danielle “Glee” Macdonald – get out of prison, another child goes missing. That’s when Banks and her partner, Nate “Red Tails” Parker, question mom Diane Lane and begin to suspect the girls were innocent all along, and that something infinitely more sinister is afoot. Costars rapper Common and Renée Elise “The Good Wife” Goldsberry.
INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE
2014; $17.98; R
This is one dumb, dumb film. James “‘Cyclops’ from ‘X-Men”’ Marsden and Adam “‘Slipknot’ in the upcoming ‘Suicide Squad”’ play a pair of estranged brothers who reunite and attempt to forge a bond by taking a two-day stroll across the treacherous Alaskan wilderness. You know, like ya’ do … And just like always they run across one seriously PO’ed grizzly bear (Bart The Bear from “Game of Thrones”, “We Bought a Zoo”, “Into the Wild”, and TV’s “Scrubs” – could we make this up?) who proceeds to make their lives un-bear-able (sorry). With the always welcome Piper Perabo, plus Kelly “Argo” Curran as a hooker, Billy Bob Thornton, Thomas Jane, and Scott Glenn.
LAKE PLACID VS. ANACONDA
2015; $13.98; UR
While the original “Lake Placid” was one of Fox Studio’s crocodilian highlights of 1999, due largely to a great comic cast and Stan Winston’s terrific sfx work, they’ve since sold the rights to SyFy, who bring us this CGI-based 5th in the series, paired with the child of Jon Voight’s big-snake howler, “Anaconda.” And while this CGI turkey can’t compare with it’s progenitors, it is still fun watching low-rent horror stars like Corin Nemec, Yancy Butler and Robert “Freddy” England shepherd newcomers Skye “The Pillars of the Earth” Lourie and Stephen “Hollyoaks” Billington into the belly of the beast. Or, in this case, two beasts We love crap like this.
MURDOCH MYSTERIES: SEASON 8
2014; $34.98-59.98; UR
Yet again we must insist: Limey detective shows are simply the best. Aren’t you people listening?! Yannick Bisson returns as Det. Murdoch, that bright, energetic enlightened man of the 1890s, who PO’s the primitive peacekeepers and inspectors of his day by solving crimes using his brains instead of his fists. By this season, Murdoch’s cadre of budding criminologists has grown to the point that many get their own episodes, though he’s always deep in the mix, along with Dr. Julia (the wonderful Helene Joy). And as a special treat, the two of them finally get hitched in a special 100th episode! It is embarrassing how much fun this is.
2015; $24.98; UR
Aka, “Beira-Mar”, this drama might be dubbed Gay Light, as two young men, former childhood friends, come together in Brazil when one returns on family business. The first is openly Gay, and the other, while straight, admits to being attracted to his friend. Alone together in a secluded beach cottage, the two explore these feelings and old memories in awkward, halting ways, told through intimate, handheld camera moves and long silences. Certainly one of the most honest and absorbing movies of its kind in recent memory. In Portuguese with subtitles.
SGT. BILKO: THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW: SEASON 3
1958; $24.98-34.98; UR
While the very definition of classic TV comedy, it ran only 4 seasons, yet remains one of the funniest and most influential shows ever put on the tube, winning three consecutive Emmys in the process. Phil Silvers is the con-man leader of a dedicated squad of Goombas, saps, and partners-in-crime, always ready to take on whatever get-rich-quick scheme he dreams up. The highlight of this season is the Valentine’s episode, where Bilko forgets to send his girlfriend (veteran TV actress Elisabeth Fraser) a card. Rugh roh! She quits the Army and returns home, with Bilko scheming and conniving to get her back every step of the way. TV’s finest (half) hour.
SNOW GIRL AND THE DARK CRYSTAL
2015; $14.98; UR
A very welcome big-budget telling of a Zhong Kui tale – something of a Chinese Robin Hood with mysterious ooo-weee-oo powers – starring Kun Chen as the hero and adorable Li Bing Bing as the shining, mystical Snow Girl, his forbidden damsel in distress. A lot has been made of the use of digital effects, with one reviewer calling it “one-third video game”, but we didn’t find any of it distracting, particularly the beautiful falling CGI snow. A rollicking romp through Chinese Heaven and Hell, all for a love that can never be.
SPACE BROTHERS: COLLECTION 4
2012; $34.98-59.98; UR
This popular, long-running anime series is a singular delight, focusing as it does on the relationship between two brothers and the effect of a childhood pact: Together they would become astronauts and explore the Universe. And while sometimes classified as a comedy, the drama can be heavy, as in this season when one is stranded on the moon with a badly injured companion, while the other helps a scientific team keep the two alive on their meager resources while planning a rescue — and simultaneously undergoing his own deadly survival-training! A truly exciting and brilliantly written series that satisfies.
THE DEAD LANDS
2014; $25.98-29.98; R
Wow! This New Zealand action-drama is a movie-lovers dream! The teenage son of a Maori chief finds his entire tribe slaughtered, setting him on a path of vengeance unlike anything imagined in Western culture. With killers close behind and the soul of his loved ones at stake, he journeys through the forbidden Dead Lands to find a fabled mystical warrior to aid him. With “Conan”-esque imagery, muddy/bloody battles, savage weapons, amazingly athletic warriors of both sexes, and a mythology that’s both foreign and intimately natural, this thing RAWKS!
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