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Dr. Strangelove: 40th Anniversary Special Edition

Columbia Tri Star
Movie A+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

I recently showed this film to a bunch of college students and waited until after the screening to reveal that Peter Sellers actually played three roles in the film. The fact that nearly half the class was shocked and had no clue is a testament to how great Sellers is in this movie. Director Stanley Kubrick made a movie that will always--and I mean always--be relevant. When General Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) sets World War III in motion to prevent communists from depleting his precious bodily fluids, it's amazing how funny the end of the world can be. Sellers is completely submerged in the roles of a British officer, the president of the United States and the wheelchair-bound Dr. Strangelove, who must continually fight the urge to raise his arm in the name of Hitler. It's amazing that this movie is 40 years old; nothing about its humor is dated. When Slim Pickens rides that bomb to his death near the film's end, Kubrick managed to put what just might stand as the best single shot of dark comedy ever to screen. Not to be ignored is George C. Scott as General Turgidson, a crazed character who stands as the screen legend's best work.

Special Features: No Fighting in the War Room is an excellent documentary on the film's making and significance, and Best Sellers is a nice remembrance of the late actor. Robert McNamara sits down for an interview, and old promo footage reveals Sellers and Scott performing a rather strange marketing task.


Ween: Live in Chicago

Sanctuary Records
Show B+
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 9--if you're a Ween fan! (out of 10)

A few years back, I bought a couple of tix for a Ween concert at the Fillmore in San Francisco. Like a major dick, I decided to park my car at a BART (the Bay Area's public transportation train thing) station in a far-away suburb, not realizing that the damn thing stopped running at midnight. I was forced to leave an excellent show at its midway point due to car paranoia, and to this day, I remain supremely pissed. However, Ween's first live DVD, taken from a November 2003 performance in Chicago, is a nice consolation prize. While some might generally regard the band as a bit "jokey," they are actually comprised of great musicians, and their live sound denotes a serious rock band. Yes, one of their better known songs is Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down, featuring a young child pleading with its mother for help and mercy during a doctor's examination, but I assure you, it sounds great live. Music spanning their entire career (including their recent release, Quebec) is featured.

Special Features: Included with the DVD is a live CD so that one may take the pleasure of the show into their car, and I consider this a damned nice special feature. A video and some alternate concert cuts are included on the DVD.


Ali G Indahouse

Universal Studios
Movie C+
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

While HBO's version of the Ali G Show is a constant freaking riot, the character's first foray into feature films is a bit of a misfire. While it's not all bad and features a few truly funny moments, seeing Ali G (Sacha Baron Cohen) immersed in such an odd story (Ali G, a gangsta wannabe, becomes a sideman to Britain's prime minister) is a bit unsettling. There's plenty of toilet humor (including the revelation that the queen has a Brazilian) and not all of it is up to Cohen's usually high standard. Sadly, Borat (also played by Cohen) only makes a brief appearance, albeit a funny one. While the film leaves much to be desired, Ali G fans will find enough to make it worth their while. Others will feel mighty alienated.

Special Features: Plenty of deleted scenes and outtakes. Cohen delivers an in-character commentary that's better than the movie.


Helter Skelter

Warner Brothers
Movie D+
Special Features D-
DVD Geek Factor 1.75 (out of 10)

A remake of the '70s miniseries based on Charles Manson and his followers, this one is often laughingly bad. Jeremy Davies delivers a performance that would work fine as a parody of Manson in a comedy show skit, but it's hard to take his herky-jerky work seriously. The dialogue is horribly written, offering no real insight into what makes this bastard and his sick cronies tick. The recreation of the Tate-LaBianca murders is a bit chilling, but a couple of scary murder scenes do not a movie make.

Special Features: Director John Gray provides commentary that can easily be avoided. Footage of Davies rehearsing his Manson character is perhaps a bit more entertaining than the film.

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