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Elf on DVD

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Elf Will Ferrell and his ill-fitting elf costume provide an antidote to this year’s lousy holiday films. PG; $29.95.

The Office Special The grimly funny Christmas-party coda to the brilliant BBC series, starring Ricky Gervais. NR; $24.98.

The Hebrew Hammer This Jewsploitation Hanukkah film, starring Adam Goldberg as the “Superfly Mordechai,” should have been funnier, but director Jonathan Kesselman gets points for adding DVD commentary—by his mother. R; $19.99.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Seven DVD Collection The end of the world? NR; $59.98.

Frasier: The Complete Final Season The end of Kelsey Grammer? NR; $59.99.

The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete First Season The beginning of Ron Howard. NR; $38.99.

Fanny and Alexander A five-disc Criterion edition of Ingmar Bergman’s surprisingly upbeat late-career epic includes the U.S. theatrical version, the five-hour television version, documentaries, and more. R; $59.95.

De-Lovely Kevin Kline is delightful in this decent Cole Porter biopic, while his co-star Ashley Judd is just deficient. PG-13; $26.98.

The Chronicles of Riddick As ridiculous as Vin Diesel’s name. PG-13; $29.98.

Short Cuts An elaborate new two-disc edition of Robert Altman’s 1993 classic includes a copy of the book that inspired it: Raymond Carver’s short stories. R; $39.95.

Pee-Wee’s Playhouse #1 and #2 Because context is everything. NR; $49.99 each.

Our Pick
If you’re one of those depressed Democrats fleeing to Canada, you should get to know the curious films of Winnipeg’s Guy Maddin. The Saddest Music in the World is classic Maddin, only more so: a Depression-era composition about a legless beer baroness (Isabella Rossellini) who holds a worldwide competition to determine which country has the most mournful tunes. The strange and murky tale allows Maddin to indulge his anachronistic magpie sensibility—and to create a plum role for fellow Canadian Mark McKinney (formerly of Kids in the Hall, the second season of which debuts on DVD this week). Selling out his countrymen to lead shameless team U.S.A., McKinney conducts a gotta-get-a-gimmick musical revue of Americana misery: from slave songs to hymns inspired by the San Francisco earthquake, the Lusitania disaster, and “the Alaskan kayak tragedy of 1898.” He nails the role’s mid-century machismo—so much so that Dems, instead of moving north, might want to beg McKinney to move south instead. R; $29.98.
Extras: making-of features, and Maddin’s slight short-films A Trip to the Orphanage, Sissy Boy Slap Party, and Sombra Dolorosa.


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