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Man in Black: Johnny Cash Live in Denmark 1971

Country Music Video
Film A
Special Features None
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

Taped in 1971, this is a remarkably good show for the Man in Black, one where he is in full force and overjoyed on the stage. Throughout the show, Cash is joined by the likes of his wife, June Carter, and her world-famous family; the Statler Brothers; and Carl Perkins performing his "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Matchbox" (with Cash clapping and strumming his guitar in the audience).

The revue is performed in a place where English isn't spoken, so some of the audience reactions are pretty hilarious. A lot of youngsters are in the audience, and they look like they are enduring a long session of church. In fact, the revue, which mixes country music, blues and rockabilly, also includes gospel music, with stunning renditions of "Rock of Ages" and "Children, Go Where I Send Thee." Cash reads a brief statement in Swedish, and members of the audience seem to appreciate it.

Highlights include "A Boy Named Sue," with Cash delivering the ultra-violent story song with a radiant smile on his face. Kris Kristofferson's "Me and Bobby McGee" gets the Cash treatment, a much more laid-back version than the one delivered by Janis Joplin. Overall, this is a great showcase for one of the best showmen to ever walk the Earth.

Special Features: You get nothing!

Ren and Stimpy: The Lost Episodes

Paramount Home Video
Show B
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 6.75 (out of 10)

Many years after his unceremonious departure from the cartoon, John Kricfalusi returned to the franchise he created for TNN/Spike TV. Without the confines of Nickelodeon, Kricfalusi took the fat cat and nasty dog to much racier territory. They went from slightly gross cartoon characters to full-on raunchy, R-rated humor. There's even an episode where Stimpy is a woman, pregnant with Ren's baby. The resultant child is about as disgusting as a cartoon can get.

Seeing the change in tone is a bit shocking at first, even revolting. But the chance to see Ren and Stimpy under the guidance of Kricfalusi again is awesome. When John K. left the original series, Ren and Stimpy continued in a rushed fashion, and the classic animation look of the original cartoons like "Space Madness" was lost. This new group of shorts doesn't necessarily return Ren and Stimpy to their glory days, but the quality is much improved.

How much did the tone change? Well, the nonsensical "The Altruists" (easily the strangest cartoon ever created) starts with Ren torturing Stimpy, culminating with his sticking his hand up Stimpy's ass (later in the cartoon, Stimpy will get shot with a nail gun in the ass, and have his ass crack violated by sandpaper). The duo then help a woman living in a hole (who has a son with no head) get money, food and a new house. Their efforts lead them to a sexual confrontation with an angry duck (Stimpy lays eggs during their rendezvous, birthing a variety of half-cat, half-duck creatures).

Upon their return to the woman, Old Man Winter breathes on the woman's breasts, causing her nipples to perk up and Ren to pose the obvious question, "Hey lady, what's wrong with your tits?" The episode ends with Ren strapping on a saw and cutting a piece of wood on Stimpy's back in a deliberate sexual fashion, culminating with a Stimpy orgasm. To sum up: DON'T LET YOUR KIDS WATCH THIS DVD!

The return of Ren and Stimpy was short-lived, but I imagine John K. will take another crack at it in the future. Perhaps a full-length feature might happen someday. Some of the shorts on this DVD are more than 40 minutes long, so they are halfway there. Hopefully, John. K will find a nice middle ground for the characters, because the gross-out factor is a bit much with Lost Episodes.

Special Features: Some great intros by John K., who seems to have good fun reminiscing on the origins for each cartoon. He explains how "Altruists" is a full-on tribute to the Three Stooges, and elaborates on his fears over being censored for showing actual nudity in "Naked Beach Frenzy." Animation fans will revel in John K.'s discussing his experiences with Ralph Bakshi and their tribulations trying to get strange cartoons like The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse produced. Speaking of which, where's the DVD for that one?

The Libertine

Movie D+
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 3 (out of 10)

Johnny Depp is always good, but this period piece isn't worthy of his talents. It's a drab-looking, dull movie. Depp plays Rochester, a philandering poet who partied until he died. Even with the presence of Depp, the story never amounts to anything all that interesting. John Malkovich plays King Charles II, and good luck getting past his prosthetic nose. The fake honker they gave him distracts from all aspects of his performance.

The excellent Samantha Morton also co-stars. There's lots of talent with nowhere to go.

Special Features: There's a commentary by director Laurence Dunmore, a short featurette on the making of the movie and some deleted scenes.

More by Bob Grimm


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