Kenneth Anger's Candy-Colored Absinthe Freakout.

Plus Ricky Gervais, Peruvian marching powder, and other new releases.

Cocaine Cowboys

Magnolia, $26.98

Slam! Bang! Pow! Snort! This tawdry and giddy documentary tells the story of Miami's transformation from a place where old people go to die to a place with so much drug money that the Mercedes dealers were constantly out of stock and the hit men would rather throw a gun away than reload it. It tells as much as it can, anyway, through the eyes of two American coke runners and one cartel goon; the full story of 1980s Miami would require an epic novel or HBO miniseries. Made up of interviews, stock footage, crime-scene photos, and grainy re-enactments, Cowboys is as wired as its subjects. From the lawyers to the cops who toiled through the cocaine wars, everyone seems just a little too pleased to be part of something so thoroughly fucked up. JORDAN HARPER

Extras: The Complete First Season

HBO, $29.98

There's no denying the obvious: Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's follow-up to The Office doesn't possess the potent sting of their first work. Set on studio backlots and movie locations, where Gervais' Andy and his best mate, Maggie (Ashley Jensen), beg for just one line while awaiting their turns at the catering table, Extras is more amiable than its predecessor—less irritaining, as it were, which feels like a comedown after the grating genius of their initial masterpiece. That said, Extras, filled with real movie stars making asses of themselves, is a joy to watch. But the real pleasures here come from the crack-up outtakes and the uproarious doc about trying to find the agent for Leo DiCaprio after Jude Law drops out. Gervais winds up having to use international directory assistance; never has a man looked more defeated. JORDAN HARPER

The Films of Kenneth Anger: Volume 1

Fantoma, $24.98

This is where Madison Avenue and MTV learned to fetishize pop, where the young Scorsese and John Waters got the go-ahead to blast their record collection as counterpoint to what's on-screen, where golden-age Hollywood glitz cruised the experimental waterfront looking for glory holes—in the films of American underground pioneer Kenneth Anger, a man who changed the movies in just nine short films over 25 years. Even if you can't run them without mentally adding the ratteta-tatteta of a rickety 16 mm projector, they look more psychedelically bewitching than ever on this spectacular five-film DVD, spanning from 1947's homoerotic fever dream Fireworks to 1954's candy-colored absinthe freakout Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome. Extras include somewhat sparse commentary by Anger and a Scorsese intro that honors a filmmaker whose work still seems "totemic, talismanic." Bring on Volume 2! JIM RIDLEY

The Last Kiss

DreamWorks, $29.99

Once more, this time without much feeling, Zach Braff narrates his way through a pre-midlife crisis—here, as a man approaching his 30s who's just discovered his girlfriend (Jacinda Barrett) is pregnant and that another woman (Rachel Bilson) has the hots for him. The Last Kiss, based on an Italian film by Gabriele Muccino, is bereft of the heartbreaking charm of Garden State and the daydreamy wackiness of Scrubs. It's monotone throughout, in need of the comic relief it denies itself and the catharsis it believes itself capable of. Even the gag reel's pretty much a yawn. Also included: a music video Braff directed (because, like, he discovered the Shins, ya know?), the filmmakers talking about fave scenes (skip, seriously), and commentaries with Braff and director Tony Goldwyn. Hey, at least they love the movie. ROBERT WILONSKY

Sherrybaby

Screen Media, $27.98

Maggie Gyllenhaal is delicious frosting on this half-baked cake. She plays the titular Sherry—a recently sprung addict trying to get her daughter back—with such skill and fearlessness that you might not even notice how everything else is a gloppy mess of tired ideas. Sherry cleans up and dirts down in that way we've seen junkies do before, while exuding the kind of unapologetic sexuality that ensures that your film will never get mainstream distribution—though it did get Gyllenhaal a Golden Globe nomination. She lays herself bare, often literally, and it's a shame that the movie can't back her up with a real plot or insights beyond "drugs are bad." JORDAN HARPER

Other Releases

Mark Wahlberg flexes his abs as a real-life pro football walk-on in Invincible. Former male model Channing Tatum (in the teen dance flick Step Up) could be the next to fill Wahlberg's BVDs. Briefly considered an Oscar contender (this after many recuts and delays), All the King's Men turned out to be anything but. For New Agers, there's The Celestine Prophecy, while younger scoffers will prefer Scary Movie 4 (feel free to hurl popcorn at the TV screen). Perhaps the year's best animated film, A Scanner Darkly shows director Richard Linklater continuing to expand his range. My Super Ex-Girlfriend isn't a reach for Uma Thurman or Luke Wilson, but it's ready-made for couch viewing. What will M. Night Shyamalan do after the debacle that was Lady in the Water? Perhaps commiserate on a park bench someplace with Neil LaBute, after the flop that was his remake of The Wicker Man. You can't go wrong with the Criterion two-pack of the comic samurai movies Yojimbo and Sanjuro, both starring Toshiro Mifune. The evangelical exposé Jesus Camp didn't impress us so much, but it just picked up an Oscar nom. Costner and Kutcher couldn't find another branch of service to smear by association, so The Guardian celebrates the U.S. Coast Guard. This Film Is Not Yet Rated makes great sport of ridiculing the MPAA film ratings system, with John Waters and others heaping scorn on the system. The Puffy Chair is an indie treat, Tony Jaa will wow action fans in The Protector, and Open Season is an animated baby-sitter best suited to undiscerning tots.

dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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