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Funny Games

Warner Independent Pictures
Movie A-
Special Features NUTHIN'!
DVD Geek Factor 6 (should've had some extras!) (out of 10)

When this was in theaters, I wrote that you would only want to watch this movie once. Well, I've watched it twice, and I can tell you: That was good advice. The movie is still very good, but it's certainly not something you'll want to put yourself through again after your initial viewing.

Michael Pitt is very good as a smooth-talking, all-too-calm psycho who drops in on a family vacationing for what will be the last time. Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are heartbreaking as a couple who have the misfortune of letting this guy and his friend (Brady Corbet) into their house. Writer-director Michael Haneke, remaking his own film, has a sinister wit, playing games with the audience and allowing Pitt to address the camera from time to time.

Watts, one of the best actresses going, lets it all out for this one. After seeing her in this, I would like for her to make a nice romantic comedy. I want to see her laughing and smiling again. Damn, this movie is hard to watch.

Special Features: No special features. My guess is that despite the quality of the film, nobody really wanted to reminisce about this one. Reminiscing would probably cause night sweats.

Dirty Harry (Blu-Ray)

Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

Clint Eastwood went from TV and spaghetti Westerns to the big time with this one, a tale of an angry, bitter cop that you just can't help rooting for. Dirty Harry Callahan has never looked better, thanks to the wonders of Blu-Ray. Yes, I'm trumpeting the wonders of Blu-Ray again. It's like really, really cool.

The first of the Dirty Harry films had the man with the big gun battling a San Francisco serial killer who has more than a coincidental resemblance to the Zodiac Killer. (He's called the Scorpio Killer.) As played by Andrew Robinson in an especially skin-crawling performance, the murderer often snipes people from rooftops, not unlike the Kent State shooter the year before the movie came out.

What can you really say? It's a classic of sensationalistic cinema, and I love it. You can buy it on its own or in a box set with the other four Dirty Harry films, which got progressively worse.

Special Features: A commentary by Eastwood historian Richard Schickel. There are also some documentaries, old and new, including the recent The Long Shadow of Dirty Harry, featuring a new interview with Eastwood. It all comes in a nifty hardcover book.

Radiohead: The Best Of

Video Grades vary, but mostly A
Special Features Nada
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

Let's face it: Nobody really gives a crap about music videos anymore. There was a day when bands used to put a lot of thought into their video endeavors, using their songs as a springboard for clever short films that turned singing stars into visual mavericks. The best examples of this would be the Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel: A release of a music video from them was always an event. Now, music videos are usually just artists staring into the camera and lip-synching.

With this release, I'm reminded that Radiohead, while arguably the best band recording music today, are also, by far, the best when it comes to the forgotten art of the music video. Just one glimpse of their creepy fairy-tale video for "There There," where lead singer Thom Yorke spies kitten weddings and smoking squirrels in a dark forest, is enough to confirm that they are true video artists. (God, I love the face Yorke makes before getting chased by crows.)

This disc, a last opportunity for EMI to cash in on the band after they left the label, compiles most of their videos pre-In Rainbows, their latest album. There's "Knives Out," where Yorke finds himself playing an updated version of the board game Operation, and "Karma Police," where a man running from a car turns the tables on his attacker, who just happens to be Yorke, riding in the car's backseat.

With a career retrospective like this, it's fun to watch the progression of the band's look. Yorke was a smooth-faced blond for the "Creep" clip, but becomes a rather cool-looking, jagged fellow in the band's later years. It's also fun to witness production values going up. Their first videos look like they were filmed for $50, while the later ones clearly have some dough behind them.

Other cuts are very much worth watching, like "Go to Sleep," featuring a choppy, CGI Yorke, and "Pop Is Dead," with Yorke as a corpse being led to the grave in his coffin. There's also "Stop Whispering," with Yorke sporting a platinum mullet, and "Fake Plastic Trees," a decent shopping-mart-based video that Beavis and Butt-head butchered on their show. There's just something so cool about Yorke singing in slow motion whilst riding a shopping cart.

Special Features: The band didn't participate, so no features for you!