Not Just the Best
of the Larry Sanders Show
The greatest boxed set ever -- not so much for the made-up irritainment as for the real thing, which this collection serves up by the ton. There are 23 brilliant episodes of the HBO show here, but they pale in comparison to the eight hours of teeth-gnashing and self-loathing that fill in the blanks, as Garry Shandling gets former guests and colleagues to lay him on the therapist's couch. Key Moment No. 1: Writer-producer Judd Apatow tells Shandling he still wants to punch him over a joke excised more than a decade ago. Key Moment No. 2: Jeffrey Tambor and Rip Torn join Shandling for the kind of intimate conversation Tambor says they never once had during the show's run. Key Moment No. 3: Shandling asks Jon Stewart how he made the "right" decisions, when it's clear Shandling thinks he made the wrong ones. Key Moment No. 4: Everything else. -- Robert Wilonsky
With its bullet-riddled plot and smirkin' aces cast (Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Alicia Keys, Andy Garcia, and Jeremy Piven as the small-time thug they're all looking to off), Joe Carnahan's movie plays like an oily, time-killing, made-for-Showtime version of Ocean's Eleven, sans the class or cleverness. Piven, ratcheting up his Entourage shtick with week-old stubble and a Vegas suite full of hookers, doesn't even seem to be having fun. Only Jason Bateman, in a few seconds of screen time, gets the joke -- which is to say, only he finds it buried beneath the skank and stank. As for the extras: The alternate ending's ridiculous, the deleted scenes are superfluous, and Ben Affleck can't shoot pool for shit. -- Wilonsky
The Last King of Scotland
Long one of Hollywood's finest actors, Forest Whitaker has been held back by one simple, ugly fact: There just ain't that many juicy roles for a huge black man with a funny eye who wants to play more than gangstas. Given a crack at Uganda's charismatic, lunatic despot Idi Amin, Whitaker sinks his teeth into the role the way Amin chomped on long pig. He's perhaps the best screen villain since Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed Bill the Butcher in Gangs of New York, and this film suffers that one's central flaw: Every scene without the bad guy falls flat in comparison. But don't blame James McAvoy, who plays the Scottish doctor drawn into Amin's inner circle. Any movie, after all, should be about its most interesting character. -- Jordan Harper
For this one-of-a-kind World War II drama -- a cult favorite made in 1975, but unreleased theatrically here till last year -- director Stuart Cooper spent three years combing Britain's Imperial War Museum for archival footage, then used it to tell the fictional story of a single British soldier's fateful path to the D-Day landing at Normandy in 1944. With genius cinematographer John Alcott (Stanley Kubrick's frequent collaborator), Cooper shifts effortlessly from the close-up on one cog in this vast machine to history's telescopic view. Black-and-white dramatization merges with chilling clips of the war being waged: Much of the footage -- of bomber shadows rippling across rooftops, of a massive rocket-powered wheel hissing and lumbering through the surf toward shore -- rivals war poetry in its horrific grandeur. Excellent extras include a commentary by Cooper and star Brian Stirner, and Cooper's striking short film "A Test of Violence." -- Jim Ridley
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