2015; $12.99-26.99; PG-13
As of late, Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in just about anything which allows him to ham up the screen (“Kingsman: The Secret Service”, anyone?), but this may be his grandest ego-goose yet. He’s the President of the U.S., safely ensconced in Air Force One until terrorists shoot it down. Crashing in the frozen wilds of Finland, his only hope to escape the relentless assassins is the movie’s real star, Onni Tommila, a 13-year old boy undergoing a rite of passage: 24 hours alone in the sub-zero woods, armed only with a bow and arrow. He’s the best part of the film, which otherwise is about as stupid as “Snakes On A Plane.” Yeah, we liked it.
WHERE HOPE GROWS
2015; $12.68; PG-13
Filmed in and around Louisville — you’ll recognize both Slugger Field and the Renaissance Fun Park in Middletown — and starring local-lad David DeSanctis, this Christian-themed drama is geared to melt hearts and promote awareness of those affected by Downs Syndrome. DeSanctis, who was born with the condition, is a marvel as the lowly grocery worker who inspires fallen pro-baller (Kristoffer “Backstrom” Polaha) to restart his life after losing everything to home-plate panic attacks. Watch for bits by Danica “The Wonder Years” McKellar, Brooke “Melrose Place” Burns, Kerr “Life Unexpected” Smith, and cute-as-hell McKaley “Hart of Dixie” Miller.
OTHER DVDs OF INTEREST
2014; $12.96-17.99; R
A brilliant, Oscar-winning art-imitates-life — then becomes life! — documentary from Laura Poitras. Who? She’s the filmmaker who was assembling data on abuses of power after 9/11 when she received an email from someone with seemingly impossible access to NSA data. That person turned out to be Edward Snowden. After meeting with him in Hong Kong, the ensuing release of documents has shaken the world’s secret political and espionage communities to their core. This is the film of that meeting and others which followed, along with the ensuing explosion of globe-spanning righteous paranoia and debate. A powerful, most-own doc that deserves to sit alongside the U.S. Constitution in museums everywhere.
EASY MONEY/MEN AT WORK
Wow, who thought up this pairing? The first was Rodney Dangerfield’s followup to “Caddyshack” in which he’s a degenerate slob who must get his act together to inherit his wealthy mother-in-law’s estate. Many Rod-boys consider this to be his finest hour, with Joe Pesci, Tom Noonan, Jeffrey Jones and Jennifer Jason Leigh along for the ride. The other pairs brothers Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estevez as insanely stupid garbagemen who mistakenly believe they have killed a man they find in the morning trash. To deflect suspicion they attempt to incriminate a cast of crazies including Leslie “NCIS” Hope, Keith “Community” David and Dean “How to Get Away with Murder” Cameron. Both are too bad not to love.
ELEMENTARY: SEASON THREE
2015; $43.15; UR
Jonny Lee Miller, who started his career as a child on “Doctor Who,” plays present-day Sherlock Holmes, with Lucy Liu as his Watson in this series which started off kinda stiff, but has really come into its own in this third season. And while it is clearly a ‘Mericanized rip-off of Britain’s “Sherlock” (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman), we like Miller’s Asperger-ish take on The Great Detective, which often reminds us of Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory,” making him far more accessible and sympathetic. This season he’s saddled with a new apprentice played by Limey lovely Ophelia Lovibond. Addictive.
GENE AUTRY: COLLECTION ELEVEN
Singin’ Cowboy extraordinaire — writer of “Frosty The Snowman” and “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer,” and the only entertainer with the maximum-allowed five stars on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame — Autry stars in a set of perfect 1936-7 flicks from the peak of his cinematic popularity. Includes his signature, “The Signing Cowboy,” plus “Guns And Guitars,” “Roundup Time in Texas,” and “Springtime In The Rockies,” all co-starring sidekick Frog Millhouse (after whom Bart Simpon’s sidekick is named … really!), plus lots of bonus goodies. Simply terrific.
VAMPIRE HUNTER D
1985; $17.99-29.99; UR
Mark your calendar! Arguably the greatest anime series in history — sparking a tsunami of Japanese animation that continues to this day — it finally gets a pristine Blu-Ray upgrade! Set 10,000 years from now, long after we humans have lost a war with supernatural creatures, a young girl is “kissed” by the scion of a powerful vampire family. The Count decides he wants to make her his unholy bride — which seriously upsets his racist family — and she knows that the only way to prevent her un-death is to find a legendary vampire hunter who can destroy the blood-sucking fiend. The “racism” angle alone is worth the price of admission, but with beautiful, fluid artwork, touching characters, and constant surprises, this thing deserves its reputation. A must-own.
*** More Recommended Videos for our On-Line Readers, Only!
DON MATTEO: SETS 11 AND 12
2009; $39.95 ea.; UR
If our mail is any measure, this series is the single most popular subtitled import we scribble about; a comedy/drama/mystery series from Italy starring Terrence “Trinity” Hill as the titular average, everyday, crime-solving Catholic priest. These sets are from Seasons 6 and 7, featuring a Who’s Who of European guest stars, but the real talent lies in the breathtakingly simple yet adventurous scripts, sparked by Hill’s uncanny charisma, his relationship with police Capt Giulio Tommasi (veteran character actor Simone Montedoro), and the ancient and beautiful cities of Italy. Just lay back and let the magic happen …
2013; 24.95; UR
This immersive, if poorly-titled, 6-chapter crime drama set in Aukland (New Zealand for the geographically challenged), is inspired by real events as it follows a well-worn – and not always likeable – police detective played by NZ’s Oscar Kightley, an actor best known for his comic work and cartoon voiceovers. If this sounds kinda like Rainn Wilson’s “Backstrom”, well, it is, if infinitely darker and with a weird documentary vibe that keeps you worried what horrible thing is going to happen next. Black, different, and proud of it, with fellow NZ’er Sam Neill.
2015; 22.99-29.99; UR
Renowned octogenarian doc-maker Albert Maysles (“Gimme Shelter”, “When We Were Kings (Muhammed Ali)”, “Monterey Pop”) introduces us to 93-year-old Iris Apfel, arguably the greatest single influence on fashion and style in America. But this isn’t just another fawning bio-doc, this is a treatise on how to live your life to its fullest, with a love of family and a strong work-ethic yielding an almost orgasmic greeting to each new day. Don’t just seize the day … ravish it! We dare you not to be inspired.
KAMIGAMI NO ASOBI
2014; $34.99-59.99; UR
Originally a visual novel for the Playstation Portable, players took the role of a teen girl who had her choice of chiseled, hunky young men to romance. This anime series drops that heroine into her own mystical world, created by the god Zeus, where she must teach her classmates – many of whom are sword-wielding demigods – about human love; the goal being to bring the Gods and man closer together. High concept? You betcha! And while the cast of demigods from various cultures and beliefs keeps the intelligence level high, this is ultimately about the choices that teens must make in order to take over our fractured world. Great artwork with style, grace, and a natural humor make this a winner.
1990; $17.99-24.99; UR
A pair of Italian-made 1990 horro-crapfests starring former soaper Gene Lebrock. The first is a ripoff of the Jeff Goldblum version of “The Fly”, with a flash of nice boobs, some shockingly good prosthetic effects, and an extended close-up where a scientist injects serum into his eyeball. The other, aka “House 5”, “Horror House 2” and occasionally “Evil Dead 5”, is an “Exorcist” inspired tale of a minister and his wife (Barbara Bingham from “Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan”, arguably the best-titled of all the Jason movies) who move into a haunted house and uncover a “Bible Of Evil.” Ain’t it always in the last place you look?
NCIS: LOS ANGELES: THE SIXTH SEASON
2014; $39.65; UR
Frankly, we’d come to think of show creator Donald Bellisario’s recent TV efforts as “Granny Porn”: silver-haired lead actors and a stream of aging guest stars argue wisely, then shuffle into the obligatory action finales after the youngsters have done all the work. But NCIS:LA is an NCIS for the rest of us, set in SoCal where there’s so much crime that the police need military protection. This season continues the two-parter from Season 5, with Chris O’Donnell and LL Cool J trapped in a submarine rigged to ram an aircraft carrier in San Diego harbor. With one of the best casts on TV, including ham-breasted hottie Daniela Ruah.
NCIS: NEW ORLEANS: SEASON 1
CBS’ latest addition to the “NCIS” canon is an admittedly lightweight affair that takes advantage of the charm and mystery of New Orleans to great effect. Scott “Star Trek: Voyager” Bakula, Lucas Black, and perky Zoe McLellan (both “NCIS”) lead a cast of surprising regulars including CCH Pounder (“Millenium”), Daryl “Chill” Mitchell from “Brothers”, and Steven “Helix” Weber, through all the usual NCIS run-and-talk cop nonsense. Of special notice: Rob Kerkovich from “Cloverfield” who brings “quirky” to an all new level for broadcast TV. Steamy fun.
NCIS: SEASON 12
You can’t argue with success, and this “oldster-porn” series continues to rack up strong viewer-numbers thanks to an ever-evolving cast, imaginative scripts, and the endless parade of guest-stars – an inordinate number of which seem to die after several visits. This season starts off strong over the skies of Russia when Mark Harmon and Sean Murray’s helicopter is shot down in a plot involving a computer virus hidden in a man’s dead body. The team must hot-foot it to the Finnish border before the Russian army can find them. Complete nonsense, but entertaining.
ROSAMUNDE PILCHER’S SHADES OF LOVE
Bill here. The Raker clan hails from the bonnie hills and glens of Scotland, so I’m always drawn to stories of that haunted land. This BBC series plays out as a Porridge Wog take on “Downton Abbey”, with Charles Dance as Edmund Aird, scion of an attractive assemblage of spoiled gentry who can’t keep it in their kilts (well, trousers actually). It is unfortunate that the producers decided to dub so much of their beautiful brogue into base King’s English, but the near-heavenly physical beauty of that blessed realm – and particularly some of its more nubile scarlet-tressed flowers – more than makes up for it.
THE GOOD WIFE: SEASON 6
2015; $39.67; UR
While the high-pressure world of lawyers – scum-sucking asses one and all – isn’t what we’d normally call entertaining, Julianna Margulies and a crack cast make it an immersive experience among those sneaky, feces-slinging subhumans. Sorta like the Louisville Zoo’s Gorilla Forest but with better cleavage. In this season, her butthole Governor-husband (Chris Noth) reacts to the news that she’s going to run for Attorney General, while hunky partner Cary (Matt Czuchry) gets caught with a kilo of heroin. Whoopsee! We take that back, we’d rather do the apes …
THE LAST DRAGON
1985; $17.71-19.99; PG-13
In 1985 the incomparable Berry Gordy, head of Motown Records, assembled all his then-new music-video talent and put them to work creating this notorious 109-minute music/gansgta/martial-arts masterpiece. Taimak and Vanity prove that Love means never having to say “You gotta last name?” in an cracked and wildly stylish Romeo and Juliet tale featuring Julius Carry as “Sho’nuff, the Shogun of Harlem”, along with Chris “The San Pedro Beach Bums” Murney and Faith “Drop Dead Diva” Prince. Staggeringly silly; but show us a man who can turn off the set while Vanity is a-struttin’ in black leather britches. Yow! Finally available on Blu-Ray.
2015; $12.99-24.99; R
Have we mentioned lately how much we despise Nicolas Cage? No? Well, here’s a perfect example. No-talent Nicky is a supposedly upright and idealistic politician in New Orleans shortly after the BP oil spill. At first he’s a pasty-faced nebbish married to stunning Connie Nielson, selflessly helping the community rebuild, but by the end he’s just another corrupt bastard, wallowing in sex, cash and illegal favors. He’s completely unbelievable, of course – and yet, because he was in “The Godfather” and his real last name is Coppola, viewers will proclaim his performance a freakin’ masterpiece! Still: a good little flick thanks entirely to co-stars Sarah Paulson and Peter Fonda.
THE WALKING DEAD: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON
2015; $34.99-38.99; UR
Really? You need a review? Okay, for those living waaay off the grid: This season starts with Carol and Tyreese (Melissa McBride and Chad Coleman) storming cannibal-infested Terminus in hopes of rescuing Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the rest of the group. As usual, it doesn’t go all that well, but well enough that they can continue their search for Beth (doe-eyed Emily Kinney). From there the action expands to include Atlanta, Washington DC, and Alexandria, VA, where the season ends in arguably the finest episode of the entire series. Our highest recommendation.
A more complete listing and free vids at videotapeworm.Com.