Nothing Compares

Sinead O'Connor goes out with a bang.

Sinead O'Connor Live: The Value Of Ignorance + The Year Of The Horse

Shows: A
Special Features: N/A
Geek Factor: 6

On her incredible 1987 debut album, The Lion and the Cobra, a bald, angry and oh-so-beautiful Sinead O'Connor screamed, "They give me five years ... five years!" during her song "Jerusalem" (performed in both concerts contained on this DVD). That turned out to be quite the prophetic lyric. It was in 1992, five years after her first album's release, and with her glowing after the huge success of 1990's I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got, that Sinead tore up a picture of the pope on Saturday Night Live. That started a string of bad publicity that damaged her career and drove one of the world's premier musical artists into periodic seclusion. This DVD captures two incredible concert moments, one in 1988 before she broke big, and the other in 1990 that proves she is one of music's most dynamic performers. The '88 show crops O'Connor's head for 90 percent of the performance, and this is actually a good thing. Seeing the veins bulge on her shorn skull as she throws her voice into that incredible upper register is a trip. The 1990 show captures her riding high on the wave of her Prince cover, "Nothing Compares 2 U," a seemingly happy performer with a big band and lighting budget. I saw one of the shows on this tour (Jones Beach, New York) and can report that the disc does an excellent job of displaying the energy that many stunned audiences were able to absorb. O'Connor declared her retirement from the music business last year, and given all the garbage the media put her through for one silly act, her quitting is no surprise. In her 1987 song "Troy" (also strikingly performed at both concerts) she sang, "I will rise, and I will return ... the phoenix from the flame." Hopefully, these too will be prophetic words from a groundbreaking artist.

SPECIAL FEATURES: No perks on this disc--just a lot of mind-blowing singing.

Cabin Fever

Lions Gate
Movie: B+
Special Features: B
Geek Factor: 8.5

Writer-director Eli Roth set out to make a disgusting tribute to movies like Evil Dead and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. He succeeded. College kids vacationing in a secluded cabin are infected with a flesh-eating virus, and they don't deal with health difficulties in the most graceful fashion. Containing such sick moments as a finger sex session gone horribly bad, and a leg-shaving sequence that winds up removing much more than hair, it's one of the better gross-out films in the horror genre. It's also very funny, with offbeat characters like a deadbeat "party" policeman, and Roth himself as an ill-fated pothead. A great first effort by Roth, this film isn't for everybody. But if movies like Re-Animator, Dead Alive and Dawn of the Dead occupy your DVD shelf, this one is a must.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Having five audio commentaries on your disc might be perceived as over indulgent, but each track offers fun insights into the blood-drenched shoot. Director, guys in the film, girls in the film, filmmakers, and film star Rider Strong (who gets his own track because he "talked too damn much") talk about what it's like to have dried red Karo syrup stuck in your hair and ears. A great behind-the-scenes documentary, some strange Rotten Fruit claymation shorts, and an ass-kicking kid doing martial arts to the tune "Gay Bar" (a must-see) make the disc a horror geek's paradise.


Columbia TriStar
Movie: A-
Special Features: B
Geek Factor: 6.5

Critics and audiences went nuts for Johnny Depp's admittedly fun performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean, but his best work in 2003 is actually on display in this solid entertainment from writer, director, editor, cinematographer, and just about everything-else-you-can-do-on-a-movie guy Robert Rodriguez. Depp shot his turn as a sarcastic CIA agent involved in some shady deals south of the border in eight days, and he's on the mark and hilarious with every line delivery. This, the third of the El Mariachi movies, is Rodriguez's finest film and an amazing feat considering its budget and lightning-fast shoot schedule. Antonio Banderas returns as the gun-slinging musician, this time out to avenge the death of his wife and daughter.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Robert Rodriguez is insane, and his 10 Minute Film School and 10 Minute Cooking School are proof of this. The auteur whips the viewer through various tips on how to make a rubber gun look like it's shooting real bullets, and how to make the slow, roasted-pork dish that Johnny Depp kills for in the film. Rodriguez is also one of the kings of DVD commentaries, and his revealing examination of the film is worth your time. Interesting trivia revealed by commentary: Rodriguez initially wanted George Clooney for Depp's part.