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“Fillmore: The Last Days” – After more than a decade of being the venue of San Francisco, The Fillmore hosted its final concert on July 4th, 1971. But unlike a normal concert, this farewell played out over the span of five days and included some of the biggest names in the music business including the Grateful Dead, Santana and Jefferson Airplane, among others. This documentary, originally released in 1972, depicts the events of those final Fillmore days including footage of the fans, the acts, and the man responsible for the entire event: legendary rock impresario and Fillmore owner Bill Graham. The quality of the film is pretty good, especially considering that it’s nearly 40 years old, but the sound isn’t the best. Still, the DVD is a nice glimpse at the last breaths of the late-sixties psychedelic music scene of San Francisco.

“Fast Company” – A Cronenberg classic that was mostly unknown in the States is now on Blu-ray for all to enjoy. A quick-paced story about fast money, fast women and fast cars, “Fast Company” is kind of like if “The Fast and the Furious” had a freaky mutant baby with “Talladega Nights.” Personally, it’s not my favorite Cronenberg film (it’s a far cry from “The Fly”), but I’m glad I finally got to see it, especially in all its high-definition clarity.

“Living Colour: New Morning, The Paris Concert” – I first started listening to Living Colour in the seventh grade; that was 1988. For some reason, it took me almost fifteen years to finally see them perform live and, even though it took a long time to catch them, I’m glad I finally did. This disc captures a two-hour performance of Corey, Vernon, Doug and Will still rocking shit in 2007 in Paris at the New Morning. All the classic tracks are here (including my favorite, “Love Rears Its Ugly Head”) as are a few of their newer hits. And the whole thing was filmed in HD so, for those of you who own sweet-ass HDTVs, you’re in luck. Yeah, Living Colour may very well be reaching the 30-year mark of their career (they formed in 1983), but they can still put on a great show; this DVD captures exactly that.

“I’m Rick James: The Definitive DVD” – Long before Rick James was a punchline on “Chappelle’s Show” he was rocking the funk out of life! Yes! With over two hours of material, “I’m Rick James” collects live performances, interviews and promotional videos filmed at the peak of his career. Sure, the peak of his career eventually came back to bite him in the ass, but James could rock both spandex and Jheri curl better than anyone else back then! Of course, some of the performances are laughable looking back on them (especially the terrible music video for “Glow”, a track that is almost void of lyrics and shows James doing a horrible impersonation of a moonwalking Prince), but in his prime there was no one punkier or funkier.

“Crude Impact” – Looking to have the shit scared out of you? Watch this documentary about the impact of oil consumption on the Earth. This movie will inevitably get the “An Inconvenient Truth” comparison, and I guess that’s fine; but unlike that film, “Crude Impact” focuses more on the damage already done than what lies at the end of the terrifying path we’ve been taking over the past century. The toll that oil drilling and consumption has already taken on both the world and its inhabitants is truly mind-blowing; so much, in fact, that parts of the movie almost left me thinking, “Well, we’re fucked, so that’s that.” But the importance of the documentary lies more in its depiction of how much of what we use in our daily life is either made from oil, or uses oil to get into our home. The film is admittedly not a feel-good hit and you will not walk away from it feeling better about the world. But you will walk away from it thinking about it, and isn’t that the point?

“Harlan Ellison: Dreams with Sharp Teeth” – The dark mind of Harlan Ellison has spawned everything from episodes of “Star Trek” to full-length novels, and this documentary looks at the man, the brain and the sometimes contentious mouth behind that work. Directed by Erik Nelson, the film goes past the expected “genius writer” angle and instead tries to go deeper into why Ellison’s writing works on such a broad scale. Featuring interviews with some of Ellison’s closest friends and fans, from Robin Williams to Ron Moore to Neil Gaiman, the film shows how his work has gone on to influence other creative people working in the worlds of both entertainment and literature. The best part is Ellison himself, who comes across as having no care in the world about anything, swearing like a sailor and not apologizing for any of it. My hero! There are a few extras included on the disc, but the best is a 50-minute feature called “Pizza with Mr. Ellison and Mr. Gaiman,” which is exactly what you think it is.

“Crips and Bloods: Made in America” – Stacy Peralta may very well be one of the original Z-Boys, but if he keeps making films like this he’s going to be remembered as one of the most exceptional documentary filmmakers of his time. Switching from skateboards and surfboards to the Crips and Bloods, Peralta hands us the history of the Los Angeles gang scene and its effects on the very psyche of those living within its boundaries. Narrated by Forest Whitaker, “Made in America” starts at the birth of the Los Angeles street gang mentality, back in the fifties when African American children were denied access to other neighborhood organizations like the Boy Scouts of America, and takes us through the Watts riots of the sixties, the Rodney King riots of the nineties, and to the scary current status of gangland in South Central today. Featuring interviews with members of both the blue and the red, this film answers the questions of why kids join gangs in the first place, and what can be done to show them that there is an alternative.

“Scholastic’s Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Fairytales, Magic… and more!” – If you’re a princess, you’re going to want to own this set of children’s stories! Or if you happen to be the parent of a little princess. Of course, I’m neither the parent of one, or one myself, so that makes this review kind of creepy. Still, the folks at Scholastic have released this four-disc set full of stories that I’m sure all kids will like, but it’s definitely geared more toward younger girls. The first disc features some classic fairy tales as turned on their head by author James Marshall: “The Three Little Pigs,” “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” and “Hansel and Gretel” are collected, among others. The second disc features six Hans Christian Andersen tales including “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Disc three is titled “Rapunzel,” which is a fine story on its own, but not as fine as my two favorites from the disc: “The Talking Eggs” and “Princess Furball.” But my favorite disc in the set is the fourth disc which features the bizarre tale of Strega Nona, an elderly woman who helps her fellow villagers with everything from their aches and pains to their love lives. Another fun story from this disc is “Teeny-Tiny and the Witch-Woman.” So whether you’re a little princess yourself (it’s okay, you can admit it) or you happen to know one, pick this up. If you like loud machines and huge monsters, however, see below.

“Scholastic’s Treasury of 25 Storybook Classics: Dinosaurs, Trucks, Monsters… and more!” – Now, if fairytales and prinesses aren’t your thing, and you find yourself being more interested in things like man-eating sharks and noisy steam shovels, this four-disc set might be more up your alley. The first disc is devoted entirely to dinosaurs! From this set we learn about their bones, how they say goodnight, and how they eat their food. All things every kid should know, right? The second disc features stories about kids! How appropriate! Stand-out stories are “What’s Under My Bed?” and, my favorite, “The Island of the Skog.” The third disc gives us two stories, “The Mouse and the Motorcycle” and “Wee Gillis,” both of which are fairly entertaining, but neither of them are as good as the fourth disc’s main story, “I Stink!” a story about a smelly and loudmouthed garbage truck! Is it any surprise that this would be my favorite story of the batch? “Trashy Town” and “Arnie the Doughnut” are also fun tales included on the six-story disc. So if you (or your offspring) love noisy machines and big creatures (or vice versa for that matter), this is the set to get. If you’re more of a fairytale/princess type, however, see above.

“Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” – I was never a fan of Joss Whedon until Dr. Horrible came along. I never got the infatuation with his work, but have no shame in admitting now that the “Sing-Along Blog” is nothing short of brilliant. Not only that, but the DVD release of the Internet sensation and the bonus material that comes with it is just as good. For those of you who don’t know, let me give you a quick plot breakdown: Billy, also known as Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris), is a supervillain with two things on his mind: world domination and winning the love of Penny (Felicia Day), the woman he sees frequently at the laundromat. Of course, Billy’s archnemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), constantly gets in the way of both goals. And all of this is set to music. Genius. But what’s even more genius are the disc’s special features. Like the film itself, the commentary is also sung to music which you’d think would become jumbled or confusing, but it works remarkably well, telling us the story behind the story… all in verse. Also included are behind-the-scenes featurettes, blooper reels and a few hilarious interviews with members of the Evil League of Evil. In all, just a very smart idea with a flawless execution. I guess that finally makes me a Joss Whedon fan, huh?

“Vanilla Fudge: When Two Worlds Collide” – I remember listening to Vanilla Fudge as a kid, so I thought this DVD of one of their live shows might (at the very least) spark some nostalgia in me. Sadly, it didn’t even do that. Maybe it’s because only two original members remain (Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice), or maybe it’s because watching a bunch of sixty-something retirees jam together will never sound the same as it did coming out of my dad’s old stereo. I guess for my parents’ generation this might be one to pick up, but you can probably pass on it if you were born after 1970.

-Shady

Old Poop!