I'm still kicking myself for passing up an opportunity to see David Bowie during his 2003-2004 "Reality" tour. I had tickets secured online and simply needed to click on purchase, but passed when the realization of a long drive hit me. As this disc reveals, I should've taken that drive, because Bowie offered up a straight-ahead rock show that was probably unparalleled in 2003. (This concert was filmed in Dublin, Ireland on a night in November of that year.) Bowie offered up a generous serving of the classics, the obscure and the new, all of the songs powered by a youthful energy that was seemingly impossible for somebody who was 56 years old at the time. Especially good is a version of Under Pressure in which bassist/vocalist Gail Ann Dorsey takes over for the late Freddie Mercury in inspiring fashion. Shockingly, Bowie had to cancel the remainder of his tour last June when it was discovered that the svelte rocker had an acutely blocked artery and had to get angioplasty. Despite this stumbling block, Bowie has pledged to tour again, and after viewing this energetic program, I will take a long drive in his name the next time his band comes around. As for this DVD presentation, I do have one major gripe: The editing of this piece is unnecessarily erratic. Bowie is an energetic and powerful performer, yet the director often distracts with constant artsy-fartsy cutaways and effects that take away from the experience. Still, Bowie's exuberance and fine voice make this worth seeing.
When I wrote my initial review of the first SCTV episode collection, I was not aware that the next volume was only four months away. This one picks up where Volume One left off, featuring such great SCTV moments as "Perry Como Still Alive" and The Godfather episode. One of my all-time favorite episodes--in which the Russians invade SCTV airspace with their own programming--is still a hoot. I was always particularly fond of the Russian mini-cam, so small that it required something in the neighborhood of five crewmen to lug it around. That this DVD is here so quickly is great news. The next volume, on which Martin Short joins the cast, is due in February, which makes me wish I could skip the holidays.
Special Features: Another strong collection of extras, including The Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, a behind-the-scenes look at the intentionally worst dancing troupe of all time. A collection of writers talking about their craft is interesting to those who care about that sort of thing. (I do!)
Based on the entertaining book by Peter Biskind, this BBC documentary is an engaging look at how maverick directors overtook the Hollywood studio system in the '60s and changed moviemaking forever. The likes of Dennis Hopper, Richard Dreyfuss and Ellen Burstyn sit down for interviews and describe how directors such as Hopper, Coppola, Scorsese and Spielberg gained supreme power in the moviemaking business and brought about a style that was decidedly more European in approach. The Age of the Director, which basically ended with the emergence of the summer blockbuster after Jaws and Star Wars, is described as a time during which studios gave directors far more autonomy than they had before Easy Rider (1969) and after Raging Bull (1980). Just about every interview in this film is fascinating, with most of them including stories of massive drug-taking and abuse of power. Kenneth Bowser's film backs up the argument that the '70s marked the most adventurous and productive period in American movie history.
Special Features: A disc of extra interviews, all of them intriguing. Highlight: It is revealed that Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward once bolted a party because people were smoking pot. Margot Kidder goes through a laundry list of drug takers and avoiders. Film enthusiasts will lose their minds watching this stuff.