South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season
Coolest extra: Mini audio commentary by Trey Parker and Matt Stone on all episodes (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Unless you’re an obsessive South Park fan who owns all previous thirteen volumes, this three-disc set of the hit Comedy Central cartoon’s fourteenth season probably doesn’t seem like a sound investment. But we’re inclined to disagree; somehow, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone keep finding ways to lampoon pop culture without turning their satire stale, and this season, which ran from March 2010 through November, has a few doozies.
The season’s funniest episode is also its meanest: “It’s A Jersey Thing”, about an infestation of Jersey Shore and Real Housewives Of New Jersey types in South Park, is writer-director Parker’s finest half-hour of 2010. Snooki in particular gets abused, with her South Park character resembling a fat and horny rodent, raping Kyle, and turning him into a guido douchebag. We’re still in shock that Snooki didn’t sue Comedy Central over the episode’s vicious, though hilarious, character defamation. She probably feared their in-show rebuttal.
Other victims in South Park’s fourteenth season include Christopher Nolan’s Inception (“Insheeption”), the Kardashians (who are all mowed down by a shotgun in “The Tale Of Scrotie McBoogerballs”), Facebook users (“You Have 0 Friends”), and Tiger Woods (“Sexual Healing”). Even after fourteen years on air, South Park remains television’s sharpest and coldest ridiculer of popular society. The proof is spread throughout this DVD set.
Buy it now: South Park: The Complete Fourteenth Season
Moguls & Movie Stars: A History Of Hollywood
Coolest extra: Over an hour’s worth of additional interviews (DVD)
Complex says: If you’re like us, historical figures such as Cecil B. Demille and Carl Laemmle hold as much weight, if not more, as any name highlighted in your old high school history textbooks. To those who have no clue who the hell we’re talking about, we just revealed our nerdy film buff tendencies more than any Akira Kurosawa-praising list could ever manage.
Those folks should also steer clear of Moguls & Movie Stars, the seven-part documentary series that aired on TCM last November. An exhaustive and fascinating look at Hollywood’s formation, it’s Ken Burns’ Civil War for cinephiles. Moguls & Movie Stars spans from the early 1900s all the way through the early ’70s, shedding light on D.W. Griffith, Jack Nicholson, and everyone of importance in between.
The emphasis is on Hollywood’s silent era, with the first three parts dedicated to events and advancements that took place before 1920; thanks to Moguls & Movie Stars, you can now impress your girlfriend’s parents with newfound knowledge of Charlie Chaplin, Fatty Arbuckle, and the Kinetoscope. That’s far more impressive than non-sequiturs about Ron Burgundy or how many screams there are in the Scream movies (the answer is 212, by the way—no wonder we’re still single).
Buy it now: Moguls & Movie Stars: A History Of Hollywood
Stan Lee’s Superhuman: Season One
Coolest extra: Fifteen minutes of bonus footage (DVD)
Complex says: You didn’t even know that Marvel Comics maestro Stan Lee had his own reality series last year? Don’t feel bad—hardly anyone outside of the History Channel’s main offices did, either. And that’s a shame, because Stan Lee’s Superhumans is far better and more compelling than any unscripted junk airing on VH1 or MTV.
Along with contortionist Daniel Browning Smith, superhero creator extraordinaire Lee travels around the globe to profile everyday Joe’s and Jane’s who possess abnormal abilities. There’s an Indian dude who can endure 30 times more electricity than you or I; another Indian man who scales walls with a Spider-Man-like quickness; a moron who voluntarily gets bitten by venomous snakes in the name of medical research; and a California doctor who summons swarms of bees and holds them under his control.
So, yeah, it’s basically a freakshow, but one with less voyeuristic appeal than your garden variety circus walk-through. The weirdos selected by Lee for Superhumans are genuinely fascinating, a testament to the show’s successful execution and wisely chosen subjects. It doesn’t seem like there’ll be a second season for Stan Lee’s Superhumans, so consider this your one chance to meet people like Boston native John Ferraro, who takes sledgehammer blows off his skull as if feathers were landing on his dome. Makes those Jackass guys look like a bunch of nancy-boys
Buy it now: Stan Lee’s Superhumans: Season One
Blow Out: Criterion Collection
Coolest extra: New hour-long interview with writer-director Brian De Palma (DVD/Blu-ray)
Complex says: Way back in 1981, John Travolta was one of Hollywood’s biggest heartthrobs. The in-demand actor was able to make women swoon with the dance moves shown in hit movies like Saturday Night Fever and Grease and pretty boy charm seen in Urban Cowboy. Travolta was no Streisand, though, and he wasn’t about to let audiences think otherwise. As if on cue, Blow Out, his first post-Urban Cowboy flick, shattered any such perceptions.
Written and directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface, The Untouchables), Blow Out is a dark trip into Hitchcockian suspense. Travolta plays a sound technician who inadvertently captures evidence of a political assassination while working on screams for a rinky-dink horror movie. Before long, the high-ranking conspirators behind the murder close in on Johnny Boy, as De Palma wonderfully exploits every side eye and miscue to generate a bulk of paranoia. At times, Blow Out is scarier than the director’s categorical horror movies (Carrie, The Fury).
The good folks at Criterion have unexpectedly, yet oh so generously, revitalized this nifty thriller with an all-new digital restoration, a fresh hour-long sitdown with De Palma, and a collection of on-set photos. The disc’s main attraction is undoubtedly the movie itself, though; Blow Out holds up as one of Travolta’s all-time best performances, and is worth a look for that alone. Revisit this disc any time Hairspray (his cross-dressing flick) or Old Dogs (his most recent piece-of-shit flick) airs on cable.