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Twin Peaks: The Second Season

Paramount Home Video
Show A
Special Features C-
DVD Geek Factor 7.5 (out of 10)

It's taken a long time for the second season of this legendary show to get its DVD due. Since the release of Twin Peaks: Season 1 on DVD, distribution rights changed over, and delay after delay occurred. Finally, you can ditch your shitty VHS tapes and watch the show in its original, vibrant glory.

Some say the show lost its way after the revelation of the killer of Laura Palmer, but I say nuts to that. The second season contained some of the show's very best moments, and four episodes directed by series co-creator David Lynch. I can say with much confidence that the way this series concluded remains one of the best endings in television history. It's right up there with Bob Newhart waking up in his old TV series realizing his latest TV series was just a dream.

Special Features: The supplements on the Season 1 DVD were rather good, and these fall short. There are some interviews with cast members, and that's pretty much it. No commentaries.

Rocky Balboa

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

I remember everyone scoffing at the notion of a sixth Rocky movie. I recall the laughter in theaters when the preview played, and some viewers realized for the first time that this film was actually happening.

Sylvester Stallone had been bummed out in recent years. He hadn't been in a legitimate hit for more than a decade, and he was pissed about how his iconic character went out with a whimper. The depressing Rocky V ended with a street fight rather than a ring match, and Rocky Balboa was suffering from brain damage.

With this film, Stallone would like us to pretend that Rocky V didn't really happen, much like Superman Returns asked you to disregard III and IV in that franchise. You could actually watch the first Rocky, and this film directly after it, and get the best parts of the story.

Inspired by George Foreman's successful return to the ring, the film picks up a few years after the death of Rocky's wife, Adrian. Rocky spends most of his time at his restaurant or sitting at his wife's grave. He tells a lot of boxing stories and reluctantly poses for pictures when people interrupt conversations with his son. Paulie (Burt Young) is still crotchety, still working at the meat plant and chastising Rocky for living in the past.

A computer-generated fight on ESPN between Rocky and current fighter Mason Dixon (Antonio Tarver) predicts that Rocky would kick his ass. Of course, promoters start sniffing around his restaurant and, before you know it, Balboa is in those grimy gray sweats again, running up those steps to "Gonna Fly Now."

Sure, it's a little hokey, but I don't care. Stallone is in great shape, looking better than most professional athletes 20 years younger than he is. The final fight scene is the real deal, with Stallone and his co-star actually trading blows.

Hurray! This movie did OK at the theaters, and now we're getting John Rambo next year. Stallone rules!

Special Features: Great stuff. Stallone gives a full commentary, and that's always a good time. There's also lots of behind-the-scenes footage, including Stallone and Tarver practicing the art of hitting each other in the face. Deleted scenes reveal that Paulie was originally scripted as Rocky's roommate, something Stallone jettisoned in the editing room.

Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

Paramount Home Video
Movie A-
Special Features B+
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

When more than 900 people died in Guyana, I was 10. While I was quite familiar with death, the notion of that many people dying because somebody told them to drink poison was a bit alien to me--and most of the world. When Jonestown was first reported, it was depicted as a mass suicide. Subsequent investigations have shown, as does this movie, that many people died unwillingly.

The film covers the origins of the Peoples Temple, and the mental descent of the Rev. Jim Jones. In the 30 years since the tragedy, I had forgotten that a dead cameraman's video kept rolling as gunmen murdered Congressman Leo Ryan on an airstrip as he tried to escape Jonestown. I forgot that NBC cameras were in Jonestown the night before the massacre, taping a seemingly happy celebration. I had also forgotten that final, frightening interview with Jones, where it was clear that paranoia had taken over his mindset. Most chilling: Jones showing reporters his stockpile of Flavor-Aid (which would later be mixed with poison) inside a trunk.

Filmmakers have gathered amazing archival footage, including the rough audio of Jones leading his congregation to death. The film features many survivors and former Temple members speaking of the experience. The word "cult" took on a much darker meaning after this happened.

Special Features: After watching the movie, I wanted to know how certain people escaped, and what happened in the aftermath. This is all covered in the deleted scenes, which are just as disturbing as the film. There's a segment on the Peoples Temple chimpanzee (shot to death during the massacre) and an interview with the director.

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