Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Demko's DVD shelf

I still can't understand why Alan Moore has so strenuously distanced himself from "V for Vendetta," the movie based on his fantastic graphic novel.

Moore certainly has reasons to be wary of Hollywood. He's been burned before (witness "The League of Extraordinary Gentleman"), but this time director James McTeigue and producers the Wachowskis got it just about right, in my humble opinion.

We all know the story by now, about the masked anarchist/terrorist V (Hugo Weaving), who takes on the tyrannical British government. Along the way, we get his sidekick Evey, who proves that even with a shaved head Natalie Portman can't help but just be adorable, and Stephen Rae as V's dogged pursuer.

It's available in single-disc or two-disc formats. If you opt for the single, you'll get: The featurette "Freedom! Forever!: Making V for Vendetta." The double supplements that with another featurette, "Designing the Near Future," a look at the artistic process of creating the frightening future world of V; "Remember, Remember: Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot," the history behind the story of Guy Fawkes; "England Prevails: V for Vendetta and the New Wave in Comics," the origins of the original V story is illuminated; Cat Power Montage - the Cat Power song played under images of the film, and one Easter egg, the Saturday Night Live skit featuring a rapping Natalie Portman.

What I most liked about this movie was that although Moore wrote it specifically about Thatcher's England, you can bring to the movie and take away from it whatever you want to. If you'd like to, read my full review here.

"Richard Pryor: Live in Concert"

I can't believe it's taken this long for Richard Pryor to get his due on DVD. Dave Chappelle took his style of humor to a new level and always paid his respect, and now the folks who make DVDs for HBO are finally paying attention.

This is Pryor's first stand-up comedy concert movie, and folks who have seen it assure me he's all over the map with this one, and often very hysterical. I myself haven't seen it, but I won't be able to see that after this weekend. Check it out.

"Chappelle's Show: The Lost Episodes"

This is a collection of the three episodes Comedy Central was able to cobble together from material left over after Dave's $50-million flameout. As such, it's uneven at best, and is most valuable as a case study of Dave's mental condition offering hints of just why he walked away. But it's not terribly funny, and definitely not up to the standard he set in the first two seasons.

If you spring for this one, you will get bonus unaired sketches; bonus performances by John Legend (boo, hiss) and Dead Prez (hurrah); commentary by co-stars Charlie Murphy and Donnell Rawlings, who co-hosted these episodes for Comedy Central; "The Fabulous Making of Chappelle's Show" featurette; deleted scenes and a blooper reel.

My recommendation: Save your money and rent "Dave Chappelle's Block Party" instead. That way you can see Dave actually having fun and being very, very funny as he presents some top-notch music.

"Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus"

Oddball extraordinaire Jim White leads this documentary journey through the creative spirit of the American South.

It tries a bit too hard to convince the world that the South is indeed a quirky place (as if we all didn't know), but you will meet some colorful characters along the way, plus appearances by the Handsome Family, Johnny Dowd, 16 Horsepower, David Johansen and novelist Harry Crews.

I saw this one at the Capitol Theatre here in downtown Macon, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Definitely worth a rental.

"Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock `n' Roll"

For someone who is apparently just a royal jerk, Chuck Berry certainly does command the respect of his peers, as this concert movie clearly proves. I've never been much of a fan of the all-star jam, but this one succeeds because it shows just how ornery Berry was even as his friends were trying to pay him tribute.

The one-night-only concert that Keith Richards put together for Berry's 60th birthday featured Berry with Eric Clapton, Etta James, Linda Rondstadt, Robert Cray and Julian Lennon, among others. The music is good, but the tensions, all caught on film by Taylor Hackford, are even better.

It's available this week in either a 2-disc or 4-disc set. The 2-disc set features 2 hours of supplements, including an introduction by Hackford, an hour-long making-of documentary and 54-minutes of rehearsal footage. The 4-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition adds more interviews with "Witnesses to History" of the golden age of rock and roll, Chuck Berry talking about his musical memories, and other bonus footage, adding up to 7 hours of extra supplements.

"Beavis & Butthead - The Mike Judge Collection, Vol. 3"

If you don't like Beavis & Butt-head, just move on. I do, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

Luckily, Mike Judge still does too, and he has compiled the B&B collections with care. This third volume features 42 "episodes that don't suck," according to Judge, including 24 not before available on DVD. Even better, you get the original, uncut version of the notorious "Frog Baseball" (which delivers exactly what the title promises), "Taint of Greatness: The Journey of Beavis and Butt-head" featurette, and, most importantly, 15 music videos inter-cut with commentary from our two philosopher kings, including Soundgarden, Alice Cooper and Sonic Youth.

To me, the videos were always definitely the funniest stuff. I can't remember which video it was, maybe Culture Club or something crazy like that. As clowns are dancing across the scene or some other madness, Butt-head sums it all up just right: "I've seen the future, and it sucks."

Take a look around at our world today and try to tell me he wasn't onto something.


Domassism said...

haha... beavis & butthead... violently funny cartoons for our MTV generation... too bad there aren't that many for sell where i live though... certainly not this brand new collection... haihz =(

Chris said...

Judge also has a glimpse into our future with IDIOCRACY coming September 1. I still haven't seen any trailers, but it sounds funny.

Reel Fanatic said...

I too am looking forward to that one, Chris, but I also haven't seen too much about it ... from what little I have seen, it should be crazy and fun!

asdf said...

V for Vendetta was a great DVD that came from a great graphic novel. After reading the novel, and watching the movie, like you I can't understand Moore's beef with this movie. I thought the translation from book to movie was great.

Unknown said...

V was fantastic. I can understand why Moore distanced himself from the production as well but it was a bad one to disassociate himself from.

As for B&B, for a long time, that was the best thing on tv. Honest! I even loved the movie!

Terence Towles Canote said...

I have to agree with you regards to Alan Moore distancing himself from the movie V For Vendetta. I realise that they made substantial changes from the graphic novel, but then it also seems to me that most of those changes were mostly for the better. That is, the graphic novel is a little bit dated--in most people's minds biological warfare is a closer threat than nuclear warfare now. But more importantly, it is simply a good movie. I would have thought he would have been proud to have his name associated with it (especially given the quality of some of the other movies based on his works).

Reel Fanatic said...

As you've all pointed out, he is clearly a fickle, but very talented, man .. I can't wait to see how he reacts to "Watchmen"!

Todd Jones said...

keef's drunken rambling about the time chuck berry punched him in the face and he didn't fall down makes hail hail rock 'n roll all worth it.

Reel Fanatic said...

That was indeed hilarious, Todd ... I read the memoirs of Chuck Leavell, a one-time member of the Allman Brothers and currently keyboardist for the Rolling Stones .. The whole thing, while entertaing, was fairly soft, giving almost everyone a pass on their bad behavior ... However, even nice-guy Chuck, who played in the "Hail! Hail!" concert, went out of his way to call Chuck Berry a royal asshole

Jeff Himself said...

V was well directed and well written script. the acting was spot on. I love the flick. Alan Moore is a bit reclusive i guess and yes the "league" did suck, but i enjoyed "from Hell"