Reno 911! The Complete Second Season Uncensored!Paramount Home Video
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)
For comedy at its most brutal, there's Reno 911!: The Complete Second Season Uncensored! (Paramount). While the show is meant as broad satire of law enforcement in medium-sized-city U.S.A., the emphasis on trailer trash and racism makes it feel indisputably Reno.
For the uninitiated, a great place to start would be Episode 9: More FBI Help, where Michael Ian Black (formerly of comedy troupe The State, as our other 911 cast members) plays Chris, a perverted cancer patient who gets a special ride in a patrol car. Apart from being a great showcase for the hysterically disturbing Black, the episode's lampooning of the FBI works as a nasty spoof of law on both local and federal levels.
It's clear that the cast and producers were ready for more risk-taking with their second season. The show doesn't steer away from controversy and is often quite nasty. It's also consistently funny, and with David Chappelle taking a breather, probably the funniest show currently on American television.
The third season of Reno 911! recently debuted on Comedy Central. The scandalously funny humiliation of the Biggest Little City in the World continues every Tuesday at 10 p.m.
Special Features: The DVD is uncensored, which makes way for plenty of verbal profanity (although the blurs covering naked body parts remain, thankfully, in place). The Drug Arrest Prevention Seminar, a live show at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, makes for the DVD's best special feature, especially when the seminar rules are presented (Rule No. 1: No grab-ass and no raping during the presentation).
Casino: 10th Anniversary EditionUniversal Studios Home Video
Special Features C
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)
In a behind-the-scenes documentary on the DVD, Scorsese explains that he saw Casino as a sequel of sorts to his Goodfellas. It's more like a shabby copy, utilizing that film's first-person narration approach, the reliance on classic rock to show the passage of time, and the same principle actors in Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci.
Pesci is given a virtually identical role to that of Tommy in Goodfellas, the part that won him what will most assuredly be his sole Oscar. The only things distinguishing Casino's Nicky Santoro from Tommy are constant toothpick chomping (which means he's a real tough guy) and a hairpiece featuring one of those Bonnie Raitt grey streaks.
This is a movie where we are to believe that Pesci is cool enough to get blown by Sharon Stone. On the subject of Stone, we're supposed to believe she's an acting powerhouse, which is just not true despite the Oscar nomination. Her drunken temper tantrums and crying scenes mark some of the very worst acting by a high-profile actress since, well, Sharon Stone in Sliver.
A Scorsese movie usually means great casting, but this one boasts a laughable roster. Casino has Dick Smothers, Don Rickles, Alan King and Kevin Pollak all in substantial roles. This was meant as some sort of "Vegas" stunt that was supposed to give the film more authenticity. Instead, casting a bunch of grizzled nightclub performers makes Casino feel like a very expensive B-movie (B-movie maven Joe Bob Briggs shows up in a supporting role, further fueling the vibe).
Casino feels like a parody of Scorsese movies where all of the director's trademarks are utilized, exaggerated and literally beaten to bloody death with an aluminum baseball bat.
As goofy as the movie can get, it's still a Scorsese piece, and isn't terrible by any means. It just has the feeling of a great director revisiting past triumphs and recycling what he thinks worked. In the case of Casino, while it often looks great, it's a bit of a misfire.
Special Features: This is a two-sided disc with one side containing the movie, and the other offering the supplements. To read the package, one would think the documentaries contained here would focus on the true stories that inspired Casino. In reality, the docs are pretty short, and while they might mention who Pesci's character was based upon, they don't go much further. Surprisingly, Scorsese does not offer a commentary.
Paul McCartney in Red SquareA&E
Special Features C
DVD GEEK FACTOR 4.5 (out of 10)
Yes, it's very cool that McCartney went to Russia and treated many of its residents to a smorgasbord of his Beatles and Wings hits. That doesn't stop this concert film from being an absolutely maddening experience. Director Mark Haefeli goes crazy in the editing room, not allowing for a shot to stay still as if we are actually experiencing the concert. Constant insertions of crowd and venue overlooks, with sweeping cameras and screaming fans, diminish the experience of simply seeing McCartney perform.
Special Features: The disc also features excerpts from a concert McCartney did in St. Petersburg. The excerpts are of songs not performed in Red Square, so fans get quite a lot of Sir Paul's best tracks on one disc. Too bad the sound quality sucks and the visual presentation is a headache-inducer.