New: Cool Docs, Harmonious Dorks, and an Art Collective
A handful of terrific documentaries make their way to DVD this month, most notably Richard Press’ acclaimed Bill Cunningham New York (Zeitgest Films; now available), a portrait of the New York photographer who chronicles everything from eccentric street fashion to the schmanciest Manhattan affairs. Cunningham has a keen eye for style, matched by the director’s skill at storytelling.
Another tastemaker is chronicled in Vidal Sassoon: The Movie (Phase 4 Films; now available), which examines the bold stylist who completely changed the look of women’s hairstyles and whose impact on the culture deserves the evaluation it gets in this fascinating doc. (Where would Rosemary’s Baby have been without Mia Farrow’s legendary Sassoon bob?)
A delightful doc that may have escaped your notice in theaters, but which definitely merits a look, is Make Believe: The Battle to Become the World’s Best Teen Magician (Firefly Films/Level 22; available September 20), and if the word “magician” made you flinch, trust me, you’ll be won over by these kids and their drive (some might say obsession) to become the best at legerdemain. It’s from the folks behind The King of Kong, if that helps.
Two new performance-based films are out as well: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop (Magnolia Home Entertainment; now available) follows the ginger comic and all of Team Coco as they tour the country on the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television” tour, while Forever Plaid: The Movie (Flatiron Film Company; available September 20) brings the long-running doo-wop musical hit to your home theater.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the guiding force behind HitRECord Reollection: Volume 1, a DVD/CD/book featuring short films, music, and poems from his online art collective hitRECord. Some of this comes off as a bit precious, but it’s an ambitious project that’s bound to have something in it for all tastes. (Some of the higher-profile collaborators include Sean Lennon and Brick director Rian Johnson.)
There are also some great new foreign films on DVD, whether you like them arty (Le Quattro Volte, now available from Kino-Lorber) or old-fashioned and sentimental (Bride Flight, available September 20 from Music Box Films). And while it’s neither foreign nor obscure, let me be the millionth person to mention that the hilarious Bridesmaids comes out September 20 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
Classic: All’s Welles That Ends Well
I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating in the slightest when I say that Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (Warner Home Video; now available) remains, after 70 years, the greatest movie ever made. And this anniversary collection does right by the classic, featuring not just the epic film’s Blu-Ray debut but also the Oscar-nominated doc The Battle over Citizen Kane, as well as the HBO movie RKO 281, along with commentaries, interviews, reproductions of studio memos and publicity materials, and much more.
Just in time for the remake comes the Blu-Ray of Sam Peckinpah’s controversial Straw Dogs (MGM/Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment) on its 40th anniversary, and while Trainspotting (Lionsgate; now available) is still a mere 15 years old, seeing Ewan McGregor’s boyish face on the cover made me feel just a little bit older.
Other classic titles include Bad Dreams (packaged with Visiting Hours in a double-feature DVD from Shout Factory; now available), director Andrew Fleming’s creepy cult fave, the exceptionally bizarre drug drama Blue Sunshine (Flatiron Film Company; available September 20), and from 20th Century Fox and MGM Home Entertainment’s movies-on-demand roster, Hickey & Boggs (Bill Cosby and Robert Culp team up with a script by young Walter Hill) and August (Anthony Hopkins directs, stars in, and even scores an adaptation of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, transplanted to Wales).
TV: Get Happy
One of my favorite new shows of recent years is ABC’s Happy Endings — and since it kind of snuck onto TV towards the end of last season, I was thrilled to hear that it would be returning this fall. If you haven’t already availed yourself to this smart and laugh-out-loud funny show, featuring an extraordinary comic ensemble, then run, do not walk, to pick up Happy Endings: The Complete First Season (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment; available September 20). The hipster-mocking episode, which ends with a Dawn of the Dead parody, will be enough to get you hooked.
If you like your sitcoms a little more vintage, Mill Creek Entertainment has released the first and second seasons (both now available) of Roseanne, a show as ground-breaking as All in the Family when it came to pushing the envelope of small-screen humor. These new collections feature interviews with John Goodman and other behind-the-scenes goodies.
Warner Archive digs up two made-for-TV chillers: the campy The Phantom of Hollywood, set at a past-its-prime movie lot and shot at the MGM studio during that legendary facility’s waning days, with Peter Lawford and Jackie Coogan, as well as Sweet Hostage, part of the “Martin Sheen has a creepy relationship with a young woman” trilogy, alongside Badlands and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane. (Sheen’s titular victim is none other than Linda Blair.)
And as the new fall season gets rolling, get caught up with your favorite shows’ most recent stuff with Glee: The Complete Second Season and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The Complete Season 6 (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment; both now available).