Well, it's getting near Christmas, and you know what that means: Yes, it's time for me to comment on some of the interesting or alarming video product that has crossed my desk recently (and thus continue to justify the largesse the purveyors of said video product still unaccountably shower on me.)
This first batch is all pop culture stuff; Monday's installment will be tonier and perhaps more to the tastes of cineastes. Hey -- you know who you are.
Obviously, if you're so moved, they can all be ordered over at Amazon.
1. Charlie is My Darling (Abkco)
A gloriously restored version of Peter Whitehead's long out of print and rarely seen 1965 documentary on the Rolling Stones on tour in Ireland, which now takes its rightful place as the second best pop documentary of that miraculous year (the first, of course, is Don't Look Back.) The pricier deluxe set version of this includes a CD of astonishing live Stones tracks from their English tour around the same time; if you're really nice to me, I'll direct you to a download link where you can get it gratis.
2. The Kent Chronicles (Acorn)
Surprisingly entertaining collection (in a better transfer than you might expect, given the material's vintage and provenance) of the three made for TV movies based on the wonderfully pulpy Revolutionary War era novels by John Jakes, with a great cast of (mostly) 70s small screen stars including Ritchie Cunningham's dad. Five words: William. Shatner. As. Paul. Revere. Act now.
3. The Incredible Mel Brooks (Shout! Factory)
The Motherlode. Seriously. A six DVD box set collecting just about everything of any note Brooks ever did on television, including the How to Be a Jewish Son episode of the David Susskind show, his recent HBO special with Dick Cavett, his MTV music video for "The Hitler Rap," vintage appearances with Johnny Carson, pertinent episodes of Get Smart and (yay!) When Things Were Rotten, and of course the original 2000 Year Old Man cartoon. I should also add that Mel's impression of George Arliss -- which can be beheld in the bonus material with the HBO show -- made me laugh so hard I actually damaged a rib. If you buy nothing else this year -- food, clothing, whatever -- make sure you buy this.
4. The Ernie Kovacs Collection, Volume 2 (Shout! Factory)
A three disc follow-up to Shout! Factory's glorious 2011 Kovacs box set. Most of this stuff -- which derives from a mix of kinescopes and videotape, all of which looks surprisingly good -- hasn't been seen for more than 50 years, and almost all of it is drop dead funny. If you've never seen Kovacs, let's just say that he's one of the only genuine geniuses to have ever emerged from network TV, and that he's been ripped off by everybody who ever had a comedy show on the tube more times than you've had hot meals. Essential stuff.
5. Rock of Ages (New Line)
Tom Cruise in a (mostly) all-singing version of The Mötley Crüe Story. The only appropriate word for this one would seem to be mishegass, but to give the thing its due, it does have a certain jaw-dropping audacity, in the sense that you can't quite believe what you're seeing. The combo-pack above offers both the DVD and a Blu-ray version; "bonuses" include the likes of Pat Benatar reliving her 80s glory days. If any of your relatives are Homer Simpson-esque, this might be just the thing for their Christmas stocking.