Lucky Louie: The Complete First SeasonHBO
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)
This was a groundbreaking show, where a typical sitcom was put on before a live studio audience on a weekly basis. The big difference between this and a show like Seinfeld is that it was positively filthy. It was funny, well-written, well-acted and, of course, canceled after one season.
Louis C.K., one of the funniest and most profane standup comedians to ever walk the planet, plays a grouchy muffler repairman with an even grouchier and equally profane wife. The 12 episodes that aired on HBO varied in quality, but they were always adventurous. I never looked into public reaction to the show; I just watched it on Sunday nights and laughed, assuming many were laughing along with me. It turns out the program was unpopular, and I guess I was in the minority.
If your sense of humor goes against the grain, check this show out. Once the initial shock of sitcom characters saying "fuck" every 30 seconds passes, you might actually find it hilarious. Too bad if you do, because it's gone.
Special Features: C.K. and other cast members offer up some commentaries. A behind-the-scenes look at a week on the show is fun for fans. The best of the special features would be an unaired 13th episode of the show, featuring C.K. as a pizza-man clown, moonlighting on the side, because it makes money for his daughter's ballet lessons, and his wife blows him for doing it. Like I said, it's a profane show. Not for everybody.
Eddie Murphy: DeliriousEntertainment Studio
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 6.5 (out of 10)
It is surprising that it took so long for this to make it to DVD. When Eddie Murphy first did this standup routine, it was a sensation. Everybody was running around quoting his bits, and nobody seemed to take notice of how politically incorrect the man was.
The routine has been branded homophobic since its release 24 years ago, and it's pretty hard to argue against that. AIDS was still new to the relatively uninformed public, and Murphy's jokes about gay men giving the disease to their gal pals simply by kissing them on the lips didn't really stir up any controversy at the time. If somebody tried to do a routine like that today, they'd probably be shot on sight.
Also a bit ugly would be the routine where Mr. T gets fucked up the ass, as does Ralph Kramden of The Honeymooners (buddy Norton being his partner). Seeing it today might still generate some laughter, but it's uncomfortable laughter.
Putting the controversy aside, this contains some moments that clearly cemented Murphy's place as one of the best comedians of his generation. It's the less profane material that remains the most memorable, including the classic "ice cream" bit and his rendition of a typical family barbecue at his household. ("Now that's a fire! He'll be all right ... just roll Charlie around!") Murphy's fictitious depiction of his drunken father picking fights with relatives at a cookout is eternally funny.
Murphy followed this up with Raw, a concert film that took his raunchiness to new levels, and perhaps went a bit too far. Still, his first comedy album and portions of this performance are some of the most polished and hilarious standup from the '80s.
Special Features: An interview with Byron Allen, which seems routine at first, turns into the closest thing we've gotten to standup comedy from Murphy in 20 years. Murphy discusses his decision to walk away from standup comedy in favor of movies, and he doesn't rule out the idea of someday doing it again. I'm thinking a nice set covering the 20 years that have passed since he left the stage would be controversial, yet undeniably funny.
Marie AntoinetteSony Pictures
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
I really liked this movie. It got booed at the Cannes Film Festival, and it somehow failed to get an Oscar nomination for art direction, two travesties associated with the film. Director Sofia Coppola is proving herself a mighty force when it comes to films containing lush visuals and awesome soundtracks. Her decision to use pop and rock music for this period-piece film is a priceless one, and I don't care how many historians hemmed and hawed. Coppola is a maverick, and this continues her streak of impressive films.
Kirsten Dunst is perfection as the title character, a young woman thrust into an amazing situation, and eventually executed for treason. Jason Schwartzman is equally good as Louis XIV, her sexually dysfunctional husband.
The costuming, makeup and art direction are all first-rate, last year's best. Coppola knows how to make a beautiful movie. This establishes her as one of the best filmmakers practicing the craft today.
Special Features: A couple of justifiably deleted scenes didn't really need to be seen, but The Making of Marie Antoinette is good stuff. Many of the folks involved with the production, including daddy Francis, chime in on the picture. It's fun to see that one of the characters was actually modeled after Adam Ant.