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Saturday Night Live: The Best of Alec Baldwin

MCA Home Video
Show A
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

Alec Baldwin is one of those rare Saturday Night Live hosts who always towers above the writing. It's no secret that the writing has suffered in recent years, yet Baldwin continues to shine when he hosts. His recent appearance, where he spoofed his own scene in Glengarry Glen Ross and revisited his hilarious impersonation of Tony Bennett, will easily be one of this season's highlights.

Purchasing this DVD is worth it, if only for Baldwin's spot-on impersonation of Robert De Niro during Jim Breuer's funny The Joe Pesci Show skit. References to Goodfellas abound, including De Niro congratulating Spider (played by Will Ferrell) for sassing Pesci. The skit ends with Baldwin punching the camera and shouting in a manner that sounds uncannily like De Niro ("Turn it off! Turn it off!"). It's one of the best celebrity impressions I've ever seen.

The collection of skits is pretty impressive. "Canteen Boy," where Adam Sandler's canteen-wearing Boy Scout is propositioned by his scout master, played by an unbelievably shameless Baldwin, is a classic. "The Tony Bennett Show," where Baldwin croons "I Like Things That Are Great" and proceeds to speak candidly about Liza Minelli's gay husband, scores more laughs than an entire average episode of SNL from the last three years.

Baldwin stands alongside Steve Martin, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken and Jack Black as the all-time-great hosts of the show. It doesn't matter who the head writer is at the time of his visits: Laughs are pretty much guaranteed.

Special Features: Baldwin graciously offers up a commentary for the entire program of sketches, and, not surprisingly, it's very funny. His candid comments about the changes in his appearance, including a frightening stage when he wore the same suit size as Horatio Sanz, are as fun as commentary tracks can get. A couple of deleted sketches are included.

Repo Man: Collector's Edition

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

Good god, how many times is this cult classic going to be re-released on DVD?

I feel as if I'm repeating myself, but here I go. Emilio Estevez plays Otto, a punk kid in Los Angeles who is fired from his supermarket stock-boy job and immediately pulled into the life of repossessing cars by Bud (Harry Dean Stanton). The two go about pursuing a Chevy Malibu with a big bounty on its fender, unaware that aliens are in the trunk. Many jokes about the punk life, generic-food labels and the plight of the homeless ensue.

The film gets funnier each time I see it (Otto's "Fuck that!" reply to his girl's question about their relationship during the final scene is an all-time classic funny moment). Estevez was never better in a movie, and Stanton was in fine, bizarre form. Director Alex Cox followed this one up with Sid and Nancy, probably his best film, and then started a fast decline. It's no surprise that he hasn't been able to find recent success, because they don't make movies with his particular brand of insanity anymore.

Special Features: You might think that there's just nothing more to unearth regarding this movie, but you would be wrong. The disc brings back a terrific commentary that includes Cox and executive producer Michael Nesmith. Even if you don't like the whole commentary-track phenomenon, this one is worth listening to.

In one of the most bizarre special features you will ever see, Cox interviews Sam Cohen, the inventor of the neutron bomb, and screens a bunch of deleted scenes for him. The man driving the alien car in the film is actually supposed to be Cohen, so Cox thought it would be a good idea to do a sit-down with him. The results are quite surreal.

"The Missing Scenes" unearths a bunch of deleted stuff that some might recognize from the television cut of the film. Censors removed so much from the original film for TV that the running time was less than an hour, so Cox's deleted footage helped to pad the running time. Some of the scenes are very funny, including one where Otto's parents are covered with cobwebs while watching television.

Harry Dean Stanton gives a strange interview where he rhapsodizes on predestination; it's reason enough to own the DVD. Yes, there have been many releases of this one to the format, but this certainly qualifies as a must-have.

Broken Flowers

Focus Features
Movie A-
Special Features D
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

Another great performance from Bill Murray. When Don Johnston (Murray) gets an anonymous letter in the mail claiming he has a long-lost son, he goes on a cross-country journey, visiting past girlfriends in search of the mother. His tour includes characters played by Jessica Lange, Sharon Stone and Tilda Swinton, all of them in top form. This is one of director Jim Jarmusch's better films, and just another great chapter in Murray's career.

Special Features: Some pretty worthless features that don't do the film justice. An outtake reel and an extended scene are of little interest.

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