I love this show! Every few years, somebody reinvents the Western. Last year, HBO remade it as a place where everybody curses like sailors, and I'm not talking about the occasional F-Bomb shocker. The folks of lawless Deadwood curse at a rate of one or two profanities per sentence. Timothy Olyphant (so good in The Girl Next Door) stars as a former marshal who moves to the mining town of the show's title to open a hardware store, go to the saloon and curse up a storm. In addition to turning profanity into downright art, the show looks great, and is often very funny. I'm thinking the Black Hills were a frightening place to be in 1876.
Deadwood is one of entertainment history's better attempts at showing the lawlessness and general anarchy of the Old West. Keith Carradine has some of the greatest fun of his career as a foul-mouthed Wild Bill Hickok, and Ian McShane (Judas in Jesus of Nazareth) as Al Swearengen (yes, it's appropriate that "swear" is in his last name, which is pronounced Swear-Engine) is a saloon-owning sleaze ball. McShane recently won a Golden Globe for his potty mouth, and the man deserves it. From the first episode, it's clear that this show isn't playing around. An opening sequence in which Olyphant "assists" a prisoner during a hanging is pretty nasty stuff, and the sort of attention-getter that will have viewers hanging in for the long haul. All kidding aside, this is one of the best quality shows on television, even if it does curse enough to make Quentin Tarantino blush.
Special Features: Writer/creator David Milch offers up some intriguing commentary on the first episode, with cast members chiming in on select episodes. There's a decent behind-the-scenes look at the show, as well as a historical featurette that focuses on Wild Bill Hickok. There's also a documentary that attempts to explain why the characters of Deadwood use all those dirty words.
And this week's "Hey, didn't a DVD for that film just come out last year?" award goes to ... Monster! The initial DVD release for this one seemed very much the rush job, but now Columbia TriStar has coughed up the dough for a "special edition." Charlize Theron, of course, won the Oscar for her portrayal of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, an award she most certainly deserved. In all the ballyhoo, Christina Ricci's remarkable work as Wuornos' love interest went underappreciated, so let it be seen that her work is as powerful as Theron's. I still marvel at how Theron transformed herself for this picture--we're talking an accomplishment of DeNiro-ian proportions. The first shot of Theron under that bridge stands as one of the greater movie shocks of the last few years. She looked awful!
Special Features: Yippee ... Theron sits down with writer/director Patty Jenkins for a commentary. It's great to hear her observations on the role. This is a two-disc set that features a scary make-up session with Theron (things get weird when she puts those teeth in), deleted and extended scenes. Nothing truly mind-blowing, but a so-so treatment for the film.
Here's an example of a good idea and a lot of hard work not amounting to much. Writer-director Kerry Conran obviously worked his butt off making this thing, for which real actors performed in front of blue screens and a strange, retro world was stuck in afterward. The effect is pretty and amusing for about 10 minutes, but it is quickly evident that the story is going nowhere, and the film is a trick pony. The look of the picture gets a little tedious at about the halfway point, rendering the whole experience rather dull. Gwyneth Paltrow does retro well, looking the part even though the words fueling her character lack charisma. Jude "I'm In Every God Damned Movie Ever Made" Law piled this one into last year's work, and it wound up being just another decent effort in a mediocre movie. In the end, while the visuals aren't all that impressive, the bland story is the main reason why this doesn't work--it's a six-minute idea stretched out for feature-film length. I doubt we'll be seeing a film much like this anytime soon, because it stiffed at the box office.
Special Features: Fans of the film will be pleased (Roger Ebert will be in heaven!), because this two-disc set is a respectable collection of background on the film. Since I thought the picture was basically a dud, extensive documentaries on the making of it failed to move me. However, I must acknowledge that this set is a decent effort, including commentaries that provide plenty of info for the super computer-animation geek.