April 6, 2010

Party Down: Season One

Also this week: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Yes Men Fix the World, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Art & Copy

Highlight of the Week

Party Down: Season One
 (Starz/Anchor Bay) The small screen felt a little bit smaller after Rob Thomas’ (a.k.a. Not the Matchbox Twenty Guy’s) sublimely sleuthy Veronica Mars received the premature axe in 2007. Yet all was nearly forgiven when his comedy creation Party Down premiered last April. Thomas brought in strong allies such as co-creator Paul Rudd, actors Martin Starr and Jane Lynch, and director Fred Savage (!). What’s more, the series reintroduced VM faves Ken Marino and Ryan Hansen and made space for a nifty Kristen Bell cameo. This whip-smart, at times wickedly dark party is worth attending thanks to its fresh episode structure (each instalment occurs at a different event being catered by the Party Down posse) and an endearing band of outsiders led by Marino, who for my money was 2009’s breakthrough comic actor. Late guests are advised to scoop this up before season two premieres on April 23. Extras: a couple of commentaries, two too-short featurettes, decent outtakes and a worthwhile gag reel.

Also Available
The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy (Alliance) Until today, the second-most adored film series (the other rhymes with Star Wars) yet to be high-def’d was last decade’s très-dense trio of literary adaptations directed by formerly small-potatoes genre maverick Peter Jackson. (On that note, go on and spin Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles or Dead Alive for antithetically grungy thrills.) With this release, home-theatre enthusiasts still don’t get the extended treatment previously offered on standard-def. Rumours suggest that P.J. is prepping a sexier collection with newfangled whathaveyous and whatnots. This current set will have to tide fans over until The Hobbit hits screens, which I’m guessing will be around the same time those über editions hit shelves. Extras are recycled from the two-disc theatrical editions.

The Yes Men Fix the World (E1) Six years after their debut feature, high-concept muckrakers The Yes Men still do a damn fine job at infiltrating corporate speech events and nationally broadcast interviews by masquerading as representatives for the shameless organizations they abhor. This new batch of hoaxes reaches its peak when our heroes cause a two billion dollar stock plunge for a lucrative chemical company. Take note, Michael Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Extras: over an hour of additional pranks and deleted scenes, more.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
 (First Look) Werner Herzog’s in-name-only response to Abel Ferrara’s gritty “non-comedy” about a drug-addled police detective is undisciplined and depraved and hilarious in all the right ways. Together, Herzog and Nic Cage work wonders by injecting inspired insanity into the film’s less offbeat TV-movie/direct-to-video crime drama narrative. If the film confirms anything, it is that Herzog can get away with anything, and Cage is still a hugely compelling presence when placed in the right swampy habitat. Even when it misses, Bad(der) Lieutenant doesn’t bore for even a nanosecond. Extras: nice half-hour making-of, photo gallery.

Art & Copy (Mongrel) The mad men and women behind some of the slickest ads since the early ’60s are interviewed in Doug Pray’s equally crisp doc that goes down like a chirpy infomercial. There isn’t much meat in this roast, but the subjects are nevertheless charismatic, if a mite haughty. What’s more, the retro ads are a trip to revisit, and we do learn the mysterious origins behind some of the most ubiquitous slogans like “Just Do It” and “Got Milk?” Alas, the genesis of Crystal Pepsi’s “You’ve never seen a taste like this” remains unknown. Extra: additional footage worth your 16 minutes.