The Science of Sleep and Other New Releases

The Amazing Screw-On Head

Lionsgate, $14.98

At 22 minutes, it's hard to rationalize a good reason to purchase this animated goof-out from Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy—well, except that it's genius. A bit of Pythonesque lunacy, based on a Mignola comic and retaining his crudely beautiful artwork, it stars Paul Giamatti (no, seriously) as the voice of the title character, a sort of spy-catching Iron Pipsqueak in the employ of Abraham Lincoln. The Prez calls upon Screw-On Head to save America ("by which I mean, the world") from the evil Emperor Zombie (David Hyde Pierce), Screw-On Head's former manservant, who stole from him the Love of His Life, Patience (Molly Shannon), now a member of the living dead. In other words, it's deadpan nonsense—a love triangle starring a zombie, a robot, and a vampire, featuring an Honest Abe who says things like, "We're dealing with undead perversions of the only woman you ever loved." Like I said, genius. JORDAN HARPER

Eddie Murphy: Delirious

Starz, $19.98

Eddie Murphy, now trapped between possible Oscar win and equally likely Norbit forfeit, was never better than he was in this 1983 stand-up special—and never worse, if you find yourself choking on the "faggot" jokes and AIDS gags that, then and especially now, revealed a young man's ignorance and arrogance. Delirious, sadly, isn't as brilliant as you might have recalled; the Mr. T anal sex routine and James Brown and Stevie Wonder impressions are too worn out to hold up. (Though there is no denying that the red-leather getup, which he sweats and swears through, remains a thing of beauty.) Don't be fooled by the promise of bonus material either; there are but two outtakes, both pointless (though perhaps revealing) rants at the audience. ROBERT WILONSKY

The Science of Sleep

Warner Bros., $27.98

Feature films are to video directors what sitcoms are to stand-up comedians, and for every David Fincher and Seinfeld, there are dozens of artists who should have stayed in the field they know best. Michel Gondry, who made his name directing fantastic videos for the White Stripes, Foo Fighters, and Björk, is not a bad feature director, but his movies feel as though you could take all the cool parts, dub a little music over the words, and not lose anything. The Science of Sleep, about a young man whose real life and dream life merge, is no different. In the dreamier scenes, gorgeous stop-motion animation and knit animals and general weirdness abound. But Gondry's visual genius makes his movies feel deeper than they are. There's nothing wrong with eye candy, but it's a shame when it masquerades as something else. JORDAN HARPER

The Silence of the Lambs: Collector's Edition

MGM, $26.98

Hannibal Rising is very likely to be very bad (see film calendar for late review), following as it does the very bad Hannibal and lacking Anthony Hopkins. But this special edition of the original Lecter flick—surfacing now as a blatant tie-in to the new movie—is certainly worthy of one of the all-time-best thrillers. It piles doc on top of doc, covering everything from the writing of the original novel to the collaboration of director Jonathan Demme and Jodie Foster. There are also 22 deleted scenes, outtakes, photo galleries—the second disc is so crowded that it's hard not to notice how bare the first one is, lacking even a single commentary track. Maybe they're saving them for the next Hannibal movie, which makes them more optimistic than me. JORDAN HARPER

Other Releases

What do these TV packages have in common? Bea Arthur figures in The Golden Girls (season seven) and All in the Family (six). (Don't worry, Maude fans, your day will come soon.) More stylish than it is deep, the black-and-white existential thriller 13 Tzamati makes a blood sport of Russian roulette. Almost certainly headed for Oscar lovin', Martin Scorsese's The Departed is hardly a career best for him (more like an in-flight paperback); two discs of extras lack a commentary from him or Leo, but Criterion can always do that later. And from Criterion, De Sica's The Bicycle Thief is now called Bicycle Thieves (for those who prefer perfect Italian translations) and loaded with extras on a pair of discs. From the same company, Paul Robeson receives his due with eight films on four discs, including The Emperor Jones. We type it because we can: The documentary Fuck is hardly shocking for its content, but may appeal to fans of Janeane Garofolo,Bill Maher, Kevin Smith, and Hunter S. Thompson. Gandhi gets dusted off with 90 minutes of extras. As the Iraq war drags on, it's worth considering the price of Vietnam-era dissent in The U.S. vs. John Lennon. (Can you imagine Justin Timberlake risking jail as a peacenik?) The whole damn scenic country of Mongolia stars in The Cave of the Yellow Dog. Tony Richardson's 1962 The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is an excellent example of English kitchen-sink cinema, starring Tom Courtenay. Other Brit reissues from Warner Bros. include Performance (with Mick Jagger) and Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy. From Zhang Yimou, Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles kind of coasts on his laurels, but it has its moments. Pick of the week, even if Ryan Gosling has no chance against Forest Whitaker at the Oscars: Half Nelson, which also features excellent (not nominated) performances from Shareeka Epps and Anthony Mackie.

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