Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Demko's loaded DVD shelf

I know I'm far from alone in declaring the genius of "The Larry Sanders Show," but I'll go ahead and do it anyway.

Garry Shandling, before he lost at least some of his mind and retreated to his California mansion to meditate (seriously, apparently), created easily one of the funniest TV shows ever. He also pushed HBO toward its position as a leader in original series and, partly because he's also apparently a royal jerk, rarely gets the credit he deserves.

Though some day we'll surely get a box set of this great show-about-a-show, for now we'll have to settle for this week's definite DVD pick of the week, "Not Just The Best of The Larry Sanders Show."

In case you somehow missed out on the Larry Sanders wave, allow me to catch you up. Shandling plays the very neurotic host of a late-night talk show, and he's joined by the equally funny Jeffrey Tambor as sidekick Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley and Rip Torn in full bluster as the producer Artie. You also got, at various points in the show's seven-year run, great contributions from co-stars including Janeane Garofalo, Jeremy Piven, Scott Thompson and others.

But what, for me at least, really makes this the pick of the week is one of the many supplements, a series of interviews in which Sanders, with his hand-held camera, tracked down many of the show's regulars and guest stars to apologize to them for how he treated them during the show's run. Among the stars he tracks down to make amends with are Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin, Sharon Stone, David Duchovny, Carol Burnett, Jon Stewart and Tom Petty. To read a great article in the New York Times about his singular obsession, click here.

Like everyone, I've become increasingly cynical about the release (or in the case of "The Lary Sanders Show," the lack of release) of DVDs, but this is one set for which I'll take the plunge.

The Last King of Scotland
Forest Whitaker was a very worthy Oscar winner for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in this flick, but it has many other things going in its favor. James McAvoy is great as the doctor who is willingly duped into supporting Amin's bloody reign, and the total effect is scarier than almost anything that's passed off as horror nowadays. For my full review way back when, click here.

Notes on a Scandal
Dame Helen Mirren was also an extremely worthy Oscar winner this year, but Dame Dench's performance in this perfectly trashy tale was enough to at least make me pause to think about it. She plays the public school teacher who sets her sights on co-worker Cate Blanchett with relish, and you won't be sure whether to pity or fear her, or more likely both. Again, for my full review, click here.

Live from Austin, Texas
The live-music series continues with a set from Guy Clark, a true Texas storyteller and running mate of the late Townes Van Zandt. Definitely at least well worth a rental.


Smokin' Aces
I have mad love for the movie "Narc," so I had high hopes for this mess of a movie from Joe Carnahan, but it's just a dud. I love my stylized violence as much as the next dude, but is just a little story that makes sense or one character to relate to too much to ask? To read what I had to say about it back then, click here.

So, there you have it. An inside look at easily one of my favorite TV shows, two great movies and a live shot of Guy Clark. Sounds like a solid week to me. Peace out.


kookiejar said...

Larry Sanders rocked! Garry Shandling has one of the greatest 'reaction' faces ever. While madness was ensuing all around him he would just for the quickest of moments give the camera this 'Well, what are you gonna do?' look. Hilarious.

Reel Fanatic said...

He did indeed, kookiejar .. I have the only full season of the Sanders Show on DVV already, and I still enjoy watching it from time to time .. I sure wish they'd release the complete series, but this "Not So Best Of" seems to be all we're gonna get for now

Marina said...

Oh man. It's your dog of the week and I know I'll regret it later but I'm going to be renting "Smokin' Aces" at some point. I have to see what everyone is talking about.

Reel Fanatic said...

You may like it, Marina, and I wouldn't ever hold it against you ... I know a lot of people who did, but it just wasn't my thing

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