Grind It Out With Pam
Comedy Central Roast of Pamela Anderson: Uncensored! (Paramount)
This sucker's vulgar -- duh -- but not shocking in the least bit; Sarah Silverman swears, and Courtney Love drinks and smokes . . . who knew? That said, this roast ranks among the meanest ever televised; why Bea Arthur shows up every year to have Jeff Ross take a dump on her remains one of the great mysteries. The show never recovers from Ross' right hook to the left breast; even Silverman's material feels tepid, as she goes after boyfriend and MC Jimmy Kimmel's dick (yawn) and rewinds that hoary Tommy Lee-Pam Anderson video like everyone else. Love tries to hijack the show every three seconds, though she's still the only reason to watch the bonus materials, in which she comes up during rehearsal with this: "Pam, I think you're really deep, because I've seen Tommy's cock." Maybe she oughta be a songwriter. -- Robert Wilonsky
Saw II (Lions Gate)
Saw was a sub-par Seven rip-off, made watchable by an ingenious first act and some inventive deathtraps from Jigsaw, the serial killer with too much spare time. The sequel has amped up the gore, the traps, and the stupidity to create a fun, gruesome flick that works as long as you don't dedicate a single brain cell to thinking about the gaping plot holes. So pop some popcorn, sniff some glue, and enjoy the talentless Donnie Wahlberg playing a cop on the hunt for the phlegm-throated Jigsaw. Like a Marilyn Manson video, it's a little too artful to be frightening, but it sure is fun. The special features are useless, aside from the in-depth docs on each of the Rube Goldberg-on-Satan traps. -- Jordan Harper
Fade to Red: Tori Amos Video Collection (Rhino)
You probably made up your mind about Tori Amos a long time ago; her nakedly emotional songwriting caused intense devotion and outsized hatred during her heyday. But this 19-song set makes it difficult to get that worked up either way. Amos' damaged but sexy femininity seems oddly dated in these days of big-booty empowerment. Her songwriting is strong, but inarguably fades as the years pass, from the great "Crucify" to the bland "A Sorta Fairytale." But that song accounts for the only truly remarkable video here: Amos and Adrien Brody as heads attached to a leg and an arm, hopping through a city. Devout fans will be in bliss to learn that Amos gives audio commentary for each video. -- J.H.
For fantasy to truly work, there has to be a human core underneath the fantastic outer shell. It's what separates The Lord of the Rings from beautiful failures like Mirrormask, a film as hollow as the puppets that populate it. There's no shortage of eye candy, as one would expect of a collaboration between the Jim Henson Company and comic legends Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean; the digital sets and puppets look like a McKean painting come to life. But from almost the first frame, you'll feel yourself not caring. The docs and interviews give some insight into the tremendous effort involved, but the best special feature would be the one you have to make yourself: This thing needs an album to be paired with, à la The Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon. One vote goes to the Flaming Lips' Soft Bulletin. -- J.H.
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