Reno 911! Reno's Most Wanted
(Comedy Central/Paramount, 2003-05) D: Ben Garant, w/ Thomas Lennon, Kerri Kenney. Rating:NNNN
With the Reno 911! movie in theatres, here's an eight-episode best-of collection from the Comedy Central series about a group of marginally competent members of the Reno sheriff's department who inexplicably have a documentary crew following them all the time.
What began as a quick-and-dirty parody of Cops! has evolved into one of the prime comic treasures of American television, anchored by series co-creator Thomas Lennon's Lt. Dangle, with his short shorts that allow him to move "like a cheetah" and his movie-issue reflective shades.
This is a very well-chosen collection. All the episodes are prizes of an occasionally uneven show; special praise for the great two-part episode Homeland Security, and the great Paul Reubens guest spot in Rick From Citizens' Patrole.
Extras Best Of Reno 911! The Deputies' Favorite Calls, live performance from the Cable ACE Awards of Don't Steal Cable.
(Maple, 2005) D: Terry Gilliam, w/ Jodelle Ferland, Janet McTeer, Jeff Bridges. Rating: NNN
Tideland is a small, personal film made exactly as Terry Gilliam wanted it made, and it's remarkably awful, a self-absorbed Alice In Wonderland fantasy that brings all of Gilliam's worst tendencies right to the forefront.
Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) loses her junkie rock-world parents and finds herself alone in a house in the country with her imaginary friends and really weird neighbours. Jeff Bridges plays her father as a rotting corpse. Literally.
And, according to Gilliam in the commentary, that's actually Bridges playing the corpse, not a dummy, which is pretty cool.
The DVD is at least worth a rent, because Gilliam gives great making-of material to documentarians and his commentaries are invariably entertaining and informative, here mixed with a load of bitterness over the way his film was treated by various festivals and critics.
Note to Gilliam: live by critical response, as you did when the L.A. Film Critics helped save Brazil from studio abuse and, occasionally, you will die by critical response.
Extras Director/screenwriter commentary, Getting Gilliam documentary by Canadian director Vincenzo Natali with optional commentary featuring Natali and Gilliam, short making-of featurette, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer.
A Good Year
(20th Century Fox, 2006) D: Ridley Scott, w/ Russell Crowe, Albert Finney. Rating: NNN
Based on one of peter mayle's "I live in Provence and you don't" books, A Good Year is high-grade yuppie travel porn. Like Hannibal, its existence is almost justified by the fact that a great director has been turned loose in a fabulous location, Florence in Hannibal's case, the Cezanne landscapes of Provence in A Good Year.
Russell Crowe plays an English financial shark who unexpectedly finds himself in possession of a fabulous estate and vineyards when his uncle (Albert Finney) dies.
Crowe is at his most charming, but it's hard to muster a lot of interest in a guy whose big dramatic choice is "Do I want to go back to London and make millions and millions of pounds or should I stay here on my French estate and chase the local hotties?"
There's a nice transfer on the DVD, but Fox has decided to do one of those irritating director's commentaries that occasionally breaks into the film with behind-the-scenes footage, and I can't find any way to turn that off.
Extras Postcards From Provence director's commentary with visual add-ins, making-of featurette, theatrical trailer. English and French audio. English, French and Spanish subtitles.
The Robert Altman Collection
(1989-2006, Alliance Atlantis) including The Player, Short Cuts, Ready To Wear, Kansas City, Cookie's Fortune, Dr. T And The Women, Gosford Park and A Prairie Home Companion. Rating: NNNN
Any big, randomly gathered Altman collection is going to be as uneven as hell, and this nearly complete gathering of the last 15 years of Altman's career is no exception.
By the way, these are not new editions, but a gathering of Alliance Atlantis's already available titles. The New Line Platinum Edition of The Player is still in the old "snapper" case, for example.
If you have no late Altman, then this is a bargain (though the Criterion Short Cuts is far superior to the edition included here), but if you want to pick and choose, these are all available singly, and, let's be honest, no one really needs Ready To Wear.
On the other hand, Dr. T And The Women and Cookie's Fortune are underrated charmers.
Aside from The Player and Gosford Park, which are both elaborate special editions, these DVDs are light on extras, and if you like Altman you'll want to avoid his solo commentary tracks. He's not quite as dull as John Carpenter, but it's a very close call. Do check out screenwriter Julian Fellowes's excellent Gosford Park commentary, though.
Extras Filmmaker commentaries on A Prairie Home Companion, The Player, Gosford Park, Cookie's Fortune, Kansas City, Dr. T And The Women; making-of featurettes with The Player, Gosford Park, A Prairie Home Companion; theatrical trailers.
Coming Tuesday, March 6
Borat: Cultural Learnings Of America For Make Benefit Glorious Nation Of Kazakhstan
(20th Century Fox, 2006)
What's funnier, that the inhabitants of the small Romanian town where Sacha Baron Cohen and company filmed Borat's hometown are suing him, or that the town's name translates into English as Mud?
Winner of the Genie for best documentary and the Toronto Film Critics' Awards for best Canadian film and documentary arrives on DVD.
(Anchor Bay, 1978)
Anchor Bay's bumpf describes this loopy horror film as a surreal classic, which means they've decided that the filmmakers meant for it to be incoherent.
The Ultimate Samuel L. Jackson Collection
Coach Carter, Rules Of Engagement and Shaft? Does Paramount think it's fooling anybody with that title?