October's DVD Reviews, Part I
From Netflix to my eyes out my fingertips and through this series of tubes some people call the Internets, here are more dvd reviews...

Robert Anton Wilson: Maybe Logic, 2003
You've probably never heard of the guy, but he's a hilarious philosopher (of sorts).  Unfortunately, he's in his twilight years suffering with post-polio syndrome, so he isn't at his most cinematic at this stage.  Hollywood missed out on a great performer, but this is still a good introduction to the man and his entertaining and mind-enhancing ideas.

The Celluloid Closet, 1995
Excellent documentary on the portrayal of homosexuality in cinema.  Of particular interest is how subversive filmmakers were at getting veiled references and the like onto the screen.  I'm a big documentary watcher, and this one is outstanding (if a bit dated by thankfully changing times).

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5: Disc 2, 2004
Still the BEST SHOW ON TV.  No, I'm not fucking with you.  I swear, this show is like heroine.  Dani asks me when the next series of discs are going to come out like she's a three year-old jonesing for Christmas.

Chapelle Show, Season 2, Disc 1
Okay, I finally get the "I'm Rick James, bitch" reference.  (It has a completely different meaning with the comma, by the way, you stupid bitches.)  Maybe it's because I remember Eddie Murphy from when he was funny.  I just didn't see anything new and original here.

King Kong, 2005
Sure, it had it's excesses, but it was still pretty good.  It helps if you watch it in FF (which I always do) since every scene in this movie is to a regular movie what King Kong is to Clyde from Every Which Way But Loose.

Lost: Season 1: Discs 5&6, 2004
I forgot to include previous discs of this show on earlier lists since I've been getting these from the library.  It's amazing the way you can get sucked in with as old a plot device as a cliffhanger, but it works every time.  I also like the escaped convict chick who wears jeans in every other episode.

Crash, 1996
I LOVED THIS MOVIE.  Yes, I'm a huge fan of most things Cronnenberg has made, but never got around to this one until now.  Very cool movie, although some will probably be disturbed by it.  Which is probably the crowd who should go see it.  (Incidentally, this is not to be confused with last year's "Best Picture" with the same title... also pretty good, but I like this one better.  No, it's not a remake.)

Desperate Housewives: Season 1: Discs 5&6, 2004
Again, these are from the library, not Netflix.  I guess this series is sort of a "Twin Peaks lite."  It's a David Lynch production in the mold of Blue Velvet only without the Lynch-isms.  That's unfortunate because it ends up coming off as a campy version of "thirtysomething" (which actually was a great show, btw).  Still, it's addictive the way any relationship is where you always get a bite but never the whole pie.

Battlestar Galactica: Season 2.5: Disc 3, 2004
This is STILL the BEST SHOW ON TV.  No, I'm still not kidding you.  This was the season finale.  Now I feel like I'm going into detox after a really huge bender.  How much longer before they put Season 3 out?!

Bireli LaGrene & Friends: Live Jazz a Vienne, 2004
You like Django Reinhardt?  This was a great (really long!) concert of the best gypsy jazz players around (in France anyway).  Terrific performances for those who like the stuff.  And if you have no idea what I'm talking about, then it's a great introduction (or check out a few tracks on Django's myspace profile; he's on my friends list).

Alias: Season 2: Disc 3, 2002
Obviously the writers are manipulating me, but I still love being lied to and then finding out the "truth" (however mercurial) in episode after episode.  Did I mention the crush I have on Jennifer Garner?  (She's still the best thing Ben Affleck has been in.)

Doctor Who: Season 1: Disc 1, 2005
I grew up watching the original series from the John Pertwee doctor through the Tom Baker years and up to the Peter Davidson incarnation.  The writing hasn't improved considerably in this updated series, but that's probably a good thing since the campiness was part of its charm.  As far as special effects have advanced, these still look appropriately cheap by today's standards, so it feels like home to me.

The Beach, 2000
This was the first move Leonardo DiCaprio made after Titanic.  It's directed by the guy who did Trainspotting.  It isn't a great movie by any stretch, but it was interesting when it tried to be experimental, even if it wasn't artistically successful in any measureable way.

The Crossing Guard, 1995
Sean Penn directed this sorry movie that beats you over the head with a point so obvious you could literally get it from the plot synopsis.  If it takes you two hours to read one of those, then this movie is for you.

Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema, 2006
This is kind of the unofficial sequel to The Celluloid Closet, although the emphasis is on indie movies from the decade after that documentary.  Nothing groundbreaking here, but that's a positive.  Honestly, if you're shocked by movies about gay people in 2006, then you probably ought to get out more.

Alias: Season 2: Disc 4, 2002
Seeing Jennifer Garner in the lingerie was nice as always.

UFO: Vol. 1, 1970
This was the first disc of a short-lived sci-fi show on network tv.  They could barely afford any of the special effects, so it's an unintentional comedy by the guy who produced the Thunderbirds series with those cool model vehicles and those creepy-looking marionettes.  The vehicles are still around, but the live actors actually seem more wooden than the puppets, remarkably enough.

Basquiat, 1996
Bio pic about the artist no one really ever heard of before he was the subject of a bio pic.  It's actually a pretty good movie, although it's kind of free form (Think Cassavetes with producers strong-arming him to be commercial enough to recoup their cash).

The Sopranos: Season 4: Disc 4, 2002
I still have no idea why I watch this show, but I feel like I'm missing out on something if I don't.

Dogtown and Z-Boys, 2002
Documentary about the original skate kids depicted in Lords of Dogtown (which sounds more like a period art film).  It isn't bad, but for all the original footage, there didn't seem to be enough material to flesh things out into a compelling story.

PICK OF THE (first half of the) MONTH:
Crash.  Definitely.  (Also, you need to start watching Battlestar Galactica so you can tell me how right I am.)

October's DVD Reviews, Part II
Since I started including the movies I checked out from the library, this list got a bit longer...

Transamerica, 2005
I doubt anyone still believes the Academy has any credibility when Reece's Silverspoon can win playing herself in the role of a redneck Jesus freak with a husband known for his infidelity... while Felicity Huffman gets passed over for one of the best performances in any film in the last decade.  The movie isn't pushy or try to make any profound statements.  The issues aren't the primary focus at all.  Overall the film isn't spectacular, but it is very engaging and I happened to love it.  Dani seconds this review.

Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, 2002
This was just an excuse to get my parking validated at the checkout desk of the library, but it turned out to be better than expected.  It was completely predictable, of course, but the pace was fairly quick and the jokes weren't always as obvious as they could have been.

King Kong, 1933
After watching the remake last month, I went back to see the original which I hadn't viewed in a few years.  This really is a fantastic movie in terms of its effects, although I don't know that most viewers are willing to sit through it for that alone.  However, there are good extras including a documentary on Peter Jackson's attempt to recreate lost footage from the original, which is almost as fascinating as seeing that Peter Jackson lost 70 lbs and got Lasik.

Equilibrium, 2002
In spite of the fact that this is HIGHLY derivative of 1984, Farenheit 451, and The Matrix, it turns out to be a pretty good movie.  I went into it merely watching it for a piece I'm doing on sci-fi conceptions of the future, but it developed enough substance that I got into it.

Hitch, 2004
This was cute, if not terribily original.  Will Smith is honestly a good (if underrated) actor, but I still would rather see him fight aliens and act like a smartass most days.

Putney Swope, 1969
This is the funniest comedy you never heard of.  It's brilliant satire and a profound allegory.  The first ten minutes alone will hook you.  When I was in college they used to show this on the Sundance channel all the time.  Somebody there must have loved it as much as it deserved because it appeared on the schedule at least a couple times a month for two years or more.  It finally came out on dvd just this year.

Doctor Who: Season 1: Disc 2, 2005
They brought the Daleks back in this one!  Pretty good stuff.  Silly, but then again, that's what this show is.

Hellraiser, 1987
I mostly rented this because some extras have been added (i.e., a commentary track and a mini-documentary with interviews of Clive Barker and others involved).  After I watched it through once with the commentary, I went back and watched it again.  It's actually a pretty good movie!  I would so love to be Pinhead for Halloween were it not for the fact that Dani vetoes this costume every year the way I veto her Raggedy Ann and Andy idea.

Monk: Season 4: Disc 4, 2005
Natalie has no personality, but she's still pretty cute.  Especially in jeans.

Doctor Who: Season 1: Disc 3, 2005
I didn't mean to jam another one of these discs into the queue so soon, but the show is still fresh to me.  Also, even though the show is never especially clever, I think I realize why I like it.  No, not just because Billie Piper is cut and always wears jeans.  It's because Dr. Who is an ENTP on the Myers-Briggs, and I would probably be a lot like him if I had a time machine instead of a nose job.

Alias: Season 2: Disc 5, 2002
This series is starting to morph a little.  I wondered how they were going to keep it fresh for the entire run without changing the premise.  Well, they started to do just that.  (No, Jennifer Garner didn't get implants!  I wouldn't be watching it anymore if she did.)

Elvira's Haunted Hills, 2002
She's the queen of camp, and this if a perfect vehicle for her.  The idea is to skewer the old Hammer horror films the way Mel Brooks did to westerns with Blazing Saddles.  They do a pretty good job, but like I said, it is incredibly campy.  Richard O'Brien also stars, which is a nice treat, especially considering I dressed up for him (albeit nearly thirty years younger back when he was playing Riff Raff) for Halloween.

Ultraviolet, 2006
Damn, Milla Jovovitch is hot.  Unfortunately, the movie is completely vacuous.  You know how movies about movies will show a generic-looking action scene as a send-up of those types of scenes?  Well, that's what this entire movie consisted of.  Apparently it was trimmed down by the studio from a more intelligent cut by the director (the guy who did Equillibrium), but the library didn't have that version.  Skip this edit and possibly check out the other if you're curious.

PICK OF THE (second half of the) MONTH: Putney Swope falls just short of greatness, but has so many other redeeming qualities that it is worth the trouble to seek out.    Transamerica is pretty damned good, too, just on the acting alone.

Copyright 2006 Ale[x]plorer.
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