Valley of the Dolls
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Fox)
Behold The Godfather and Godfather Part II of drag-queen cinema -- two movies that provide the gateway to a lifetime of wig addiction. The films couldn't be more different in temperament -- the 1967 original is mile-high Hollywood kitsch, while Russ Meyer's in-name-only 1970 follow-up visualizes the sex-drugs-psychedelia counterculture as only a bazoom-obsessed World War II vet could. Yet a merry spirit of cultural salvage and mainstream subversion enlivens these extravagant two-disc packages. Screenwriter Roger Ebert's yak track on Beyond lacks the zip of the giggly cast commentary, and the smarmy featurettes only underline the movie's strained facetiousness. But the original Dolls is a riot, a milestone of runny-mascara melodrama made even juicier by dishy insights from its stars. -- Jim Ridley
Valley of the Dolls
The World's Fastest Indian (Magnolia)
Roger Donaldson's movie about Burt Munro, the man who converted an ancient motorcycle into a record-shattering speed machine, was a real crowd-pleaser. My mom, who has no interest in bikes of any kind, was a teary-eyed, wide-grinnin' sucker for the thing, no doubt thanks to Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Munro as a cheerful crank with the need for speed. Doubtful she'd fall in love with the man seen in Donaldson's outta-print-till-now doc about Munro, 1971's Offerings to the God of Speed; he's more angular and cantankerous than Hopkins' version, no less affable but a touch more tangible, which only makes sense. The doc's a real find; having Munro hovering over the director's fictional retelling provides a rare opportunity to see how very alive the dead can be. -- Robert Wilonsky
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Neil Young: Heart of Gold (Paramount)
Bonuses are almost superfluous for a film like this; the original piece is so special that to surround it with extras only distracts attention from the reason we're here, which is to see Neil Young and band performing Prairie Wind in its entirety, followed by an abbreviated best-of set list. What could have been a drag (static camera, static performer) is an utter delight. The main attraction on the second disc should have been the making-of doc, tracking the band's rehearsals through opening night a week later; it's fly-on-the-wall stuff, except that director Jonathan Demme talks over the damned thing and drowns out Young's instructions, not to mention the rough-take performances. Also here: Young on Johnny Cash's 1971 TV show and other space fillers you'll never get to, since the concert on Disc One is forever Young. -- Wilonsky
Dave Chappelle's Block Party (Universal)
Dave Chappelle crammed a full celebrity life cycle into two years, going from unknown to superstar to freaked-out failure in less time than it takes to make a movie. Which explains why this concert film, put together in Brooklyn while Chappelle was perhaps the hippest man in America, is such a great party: It captures the comedian at his momentary peak. But don't come expecting Chappelle's sharp-tongued rantings; he has the good sense to stand back and let the musicians take the spotlight. From Kanye West to Erykah Badu, Chappelle crowds the stage with the type of nonthreatening black artists that make white people say, "I don't usually like rap, but..." The DVD's extended performances are great, and the making-of doc is fine -- but who wants to watch the making of a party? -- Jordan Harper