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Coachella

Epitaph/WEA
Movie B-
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

While no film could capture the Coachella experience, a two-day festival of many bands in Indio, Calif., this one makes a valiant try. Combining interviews with venue footage and concert performances, the movie samples seven years of great music in a truly wonderful place.

The festival began in October 1999. It was a one-day festival in April 2000, but has been two days ever since. Some of the greater bands from the festivals offer up songs during this documentary, including Radiohead, The Flaming Lips and Arcade Fire. I saw the Arcade Fire performance live, and while watching it on film is fun, it doesn't do the performance justice.

Other highlights include the freakish Iggy Pop performing "I Wanna Be Your Dog," a Pixies reunion and Björk. I'm sure getting the rights to some of these bands must be tough, but it would've been cool to see Nine Inch Nails or Beck singing rather than just talking (he was in the first year of the festival, so maybe the filming was subpar). I would gladly trade Oasis for Nine Inch Nails.

Special Features: A two-disc set that probably could've made it onto one. The second disc has some bland interviews with the likes of Rilo Kiley and Tenacious D.


Baby Doll

Warner Home Video
Movie A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

This one is a masterpiece. Karl Malden plays Archie, an alcoholic cotton-gin owner with a child bride named Baby Doll (Carroll Baker) that he plans to deflower on her 20th birthday. He has money troubles and loses his furniture the day before her birthday. Archie must concoct a scheme to get his cotton gin running again, get his furniture back and have his fateful moment with Baby Doll.

The film stirred up a lot of trouble in 1956, and it's easy to see why. The Legion of Decency, an extension of the Roman Catholic Church, deemed it a sin to see the film, resulting in the picture being pulled from its release. It features some pretty provocative scenes for the '50s, including one on a swing between Baker and Eli Wallach (making his feature film debut) that raises the eyebrows.

Malden is balls-out fantastic in this movie. Mad with lust for Baby Doll, swigging hooch and committing multiple crimes, Malden could be doing his best work. Wallach is equally good as a competing businessman with a grudge to settle. Baker, who got an Oscar nomination for her work, scorches the screen. The film's poster, featuring Baker sleeping in a crib and sucking her thumb, probably had the church condemning the movie before seeing it.

The film is available for the first time on DVD as part of the Tennessee Williams Collection.

Special Features: A surprising documentary that gets the participation of Malden, Baker and Wallach. The three discuss how they didn't know they were making a controversial film, with Wallach calling it his favorite film ever (and he was in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly).


The Passenger

Sony Pictures
Movie C+
Special Features C+
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

Some folks tout this as a masterpiece, and there is much to admire in it. Jack Nicholson stars as a journalist in Africa who finds a short-time acquaintance dead, steals his passport and takes his identity. He runs away from his prior life to assume the dead man's duties, actually carrying out a few of his appointments, visiting his home, etc.

I love the premise of this movie, and I respect the movement toward art film that director Michelangelo Antonioni was clearly a pioneer of in 1975. Still, the film drags. There are moments of sheer beauty, and a couple of shots (especially one of the last ones) that are remarkable. Still, the film drags.

It got a little mini-release in theaters last year (Nicholson is a big champion of the film), and perhaps the experience would work better on a big screen. I like the message of the film, as well as the artistic vision. Still, the film drags.

Special Features: I love Nicholson, but his audio commentary here is a bit stale. It's more like a narration ("The boy throws a rock while the car drives by").


The Producers

Universal Home Video
Movie C+
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 5.5 (out of 10)

First, it was a Mel Brooks movie (and a great one at that), then it was a play inspired by a Mel Brooks movie, and then, finally, a Mel Brooks movie of a play inspired by a Mel Brooks movie. For those of us who couldn't make it to Broadway to see Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, this film will have to suffice. That's a bummer, because it's not very good, and Uma Thurman steals the movie.

Special Features: It might've been a treat if Lane and Broderick offered a commentary, but, alas, they don't. Some deleted scenes and outtakes, and a commentary from the director.

More by Bob Grimm

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