Steve Carell’s First Stinker This Year. And More!

Crazy Love

Magnolia, $26.98

Burt Pugach has always been nuts for Linda Riss—so nuts that he almost killed her rather than lose her to another man. This documentary recounts Pugach's 50-year obsession, with more twists and turns than a month of telenovelas. It's a hell of a story, but to tell you any more than "love burns" would ruin the fun of watching it unfold. By the end, all of the major participants are loonballs, and everyone from Johnny Mathis to Carmine "the Snake" Persico has been dragged into the mess. If the aged participants weren't telling the story themselves—along with lots of newspaper clippings to back it up—your instinct would be to call bullshit. Extras include letters from Burt to Linda, for those who need more crazy in their lives. JORDAN HARPER

Evan Almighty

Universal, $29.98

The biblical inspiration is Noah, but after watching Steve Carell mug in vain through this godforsaken family comedy—a $175 million bomb that gave Universal a Jehovah-size smiting—you may be reminded more of Esau trading his birthright for a mess of pottage. In this who-asked-for-it sequel to Bruce Almighty, Carell is the sinner in the hands of a quirky God (Morgan Freeman, typecast), who commands him to build an ark and stock it with cute animals that spit and poop on cue. Director Tom Shadyac is hardly a guy you'd trust with a loaf and a fish: This reverse miracle worker makes Lauren Graham bland, Wanda Sykes irritating, and guest star Jon Stewart unfunny. But who am I to argue with the magic of fake bird crap? JIM RIDLEY

Mala Noche

Criterion, $29.95

Gus Van Sant's 1985 debut shares plenty o' traits with many another first feature: It's shot in dreamy black and white, on the mean (maybe just cranky) streets; it has an ending that fizzles and feels long at 75 minutes. But the talent of Van Sant, who went on to make such greats as Drugstore Cowboy and Elephant (as well as such pootie as his infamous Psycho remake), shines through in the way he makes a cruddy Portland neighborhood look gorgeous. The movie is also queer as a football bat, its plot centering on a store clerk's pursuit of a shaggy Mexican immigrant. But gayness as fact beats gayness as political or fashion statement. The best special feature is a documentary on the foul-mouthed nut Walt Curtis, the poet and author whose work inspired the film. JORDAN HARPER

Transformers

DreamWorks, $36.99

No doubt, Michael Bay's slam-bang action-figure commercial doesn't play nearly as well on TV, no matter how high or high-def your screen; this demands to be seen on a screen the size of a skyscraper and heard on speakers as large as jet engines. As such, the first half-hour plays flat, and the last half-hour's just hard to see—is that Optimus Prime's foot or Megatron's, goddammit? But those inconsequential quibbles aside, Transformers remains the only Bay movie worthy of his blockbuster rep: Funnier than it might have been (and for that, thank Shia LaBeouf) and leaner than it could have been (it never feels 143 minutes long), it also proved computers could generate characters that look genuinely three-dimensional. The two-disc special edition includes a whole disc of extras, most of which just spoil the fun. ROBERT WILONSKY

Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900–1934

National Film Preservation Foundation, $89.99

The title sounds like a textbook you'd never want to open; the boxed set itself is something you'll have a hard time turning off—four discs of priceless archival rarities that capture the dawn of cinema and the turn of the 20th century in haunting, hilarious, and ceaselessly fascinating detail. The third installment of the wondrous "Treasures From American Film Archives" series gathers fragments of long-forgotten safety films, one-reelers, propaganda, newsreels, and cartoons: Here you'll find a Mafia yarn from 1906, an animated Uncle Sam squishing union rats for Ford Motor Co., and the self-explanatory "How They Rob Men in Chicago." Perhaps best of all is Cecil B. DeMille's rip-roaring 1928 feature, The Godless Girl, an atheism exposé as only the maker of The Ten Commandments could do it. JIM RIDLEY

OTHER RELEASES

The important 1982 hip-hop documentary Wild Style is perfect for the Idolator.com fanboy community. Too soon for Christmas, but don't let that stop you: Warner Bros. has a Stanley Kubrick box set including 2001, A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, Full Metal Jacket, plus a documentary and extras—six titles on 10 discs for 80 bucks! The only drawback: Eyes Wide Shut. (Related: Check out Malcolm McDowell in O Lucky Man!, now finally on DVD.) From the foreign desk, Patrice Leconte's 1989 Monsieur Hire has a wonderful title performance from Michel Blanc. Kevin Costner plays a Portland serial killer in Mr. Brooks. HBO offers the final season of The Sopranos. Also from TV: every freaking episode of I Love Lucy on 34 discs for $200. You can't go wrong with Criterion's feature-packed two-disc edition of Godard's Breathless, and the same company has spiffed up Terrence Malick's already gorgeous Days of Heaven. Christmas just got that much closer.

 
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