The McCartney YearsRhino
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)
This set is a lot of fun. It gathers Paul McCartney's many music videos into two entertaining discs, while assembling some decent live stuff for a third. Watching these videos again sparked new appreciation for some of the music--and renewed hatred for other tunes. No doubt: McCartney (and his Beatles and Wings mates) were mavericks in the video medium.
I was surprised by the amount of videos I'd never seen. "Band on the Run" is a great animated pic devoted to Beatles nostalgia. I'd always seen it as a testament to McCartney's band at the time, Wings, but the film points out that it was about the Beatles phenomena. (Cool!) Watching "Tug of War," which featured Paul's late wife, Linda, is a touching experience now, but it irked me when it first came out. I called "Off the Ground" and "Hope of Deliverance" total crap upon their initial release, but I sort of liked the tunes and their happy words this time around. I also dug the video of Paul flying around San Francisco in "Ground."
Then, of course, there are classics like "Coming Up," in which Paul played everybody in the video band (except for a couple played by Linda). Best touch: Paul playing himself as a mop-topped, suit-wearing McCartney. It's even fun to see him running around with Michael Jackson in "Say Say Say," although it's totally disgusting that the girl Mike makes goo-goo eyes at in the video is actually his sister LaToya.
Disc three includes great live work from McCartney's Rockshow live film from the '70s. There are also segments from Unplugged and his appearances at the Glastonbury concert and Live Aid.
Special Features: There are plenty of commentaries from Sir Paul. (How cool is that?) He reveals a lot of stuff I never knew. For instance, Stevie Wonder and he were never in the same studio for the shoot of "Ebony and Ivory." For the video "Press to Play," Paul ran around on trains in total improvisational fashion. If you like Paul, and you should, this set is a must-have and a nice companion piece to the recent release of The Beatles' Help.
Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First SeasonHBO
Special Features F
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)
Fans of Tenacious D and Mr. Show must take note of this constantly bizarre and hilarious show about a New Zealand musical duo's adventures in America. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie endure low paychecks, girl problems and the funniest band manager in the history of television on their quest for folk-duo stardom. But don't let the fact that they are a folk duo fool you. Their musical range is vast, as proven by the many varying music videos in the season's 12 episodes.
The show is super strange, and takes a while to get used to. I watched a couple of episodes giggling a bit. Then I had a good, hard laugh, and I've laughed hard at them ever since. Manager Murray (the staggeringly hilarious Rhys Darby) started off as a funny, small presence, but his role got bigger with ensuing episodes.
The best episode would be "Girlfriends," during which the show suddenly veers off into French cinema. This happens because the boys pick up girls in a croissant shop. Like I said ... it's a strange show.
Special Features: You get nothing!
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's ApocalypseParamount
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)
Eleanor Coppola's documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now is almost better than the movie itself. Listening to and seeing husband Francis' constant freakouts on the set provide ample background for why the movie is so whacked. A heart attack for star Martin Sheen, a fired Harvey Keitel, an obese Marlon Brando and helicopters that kept leaving to fight a real war were just some of the tribulations he faced.
The footage of Brando stopping a monologue because he swallowed a bug is priceless.
Special Features: Eleanor provides another documentary about Francis, and this time it's a video called Coda: Thirty Years Later, about the making of Coppola's latest, Youth Without Youth. It's not as cool as the making of Apocalypse Now, but still quite intriguing.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate EditionSony
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 9 (out of 10)
Yes, this is the umpteenth release of Steven Spielberg's classic UFO movie, but this is the first to have all three versions (theatrical, special edition and final cut) in one set. The differences in the versions are substantial--I remain a fan of the theatrical cut--and for a collector, this is pretty cool. If you have a prior DVD, but you are a die-hard Spielberg fan, this is worth your while. It's also out on Blu-Ray.
Special Features: Plenty of carry-over docs, and a new interview with Spielberg. There's also a helpful poster that charts out the differences in the three cuts.