DVDs In Brief: August 5, 2009

DVDs In Brief: August 5, 2009

Be careful what you wish for: When the first season of Flight Of The Conchords—a quirky HBO series about “the fourth most popular digi-folk parodists in New Zealand”—became a cult success, fans were eager for a second. But that presented a couple of serious dilemmas: Would the thin premise of the Conchords trying to make a go of it be enough to sustain another season? And how would Bret and Jemaine, having exhausted their entire catalog of songs in 12 episodes, be able to produce another couple dozen songs from scratch? Considering these problems, Flight Of The Conchords: The Complete Second Season (HBO) succeeds beyond any reasonable expectations, though it runs out of gas in the end…

With his mesmerizing turn as a self-destructive, omnisexual rogue, Peter Sarsgaard comes out of The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh (Peace Arch) looking good, but the same can’t be said of everyone else involved in this botched adaptation of Michael Chabon’s debut novel. Granted, Chabon’s complicated story of drugs, crime, and casual bisexuality doesn’t naturally lend itself to a big-screen adaptation, but Dodgeball director Rawson Marshall Thurber leaves viewers as stranded as his college-grad hero…

Before the Twin Towers fell in 2001, the year also experienced the collapse of the culture-wide hallucination that was the dot-com bubble, and the moment when countless dot-com millionaires on paper became real-life paupers. August (Summit) attempts to tackle this fascinating subject through the story of a cocky online entrepreneur (Josh Hartnett) desperately trying to find his footing, but it’s a dull portrait of post-millennial angst run amok… 

Kevin Rafferty’s documentary Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (Kino) touches on the charged atmosphere surrounding the Harvard and Yale campuses in ’68, and drops some big names: Al Gore (roommate of Tommy Lee Jones, who played guard for the Harvard team), George W. Bush (roommate of one of the Yale players), Meryl Streep (girlfriend of one of the Yale players), and Garry Trudeau. But there aren’t many file photos or archival shots to flesh out the larger world around this one game, and no narrator to streamline the story.