Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Television just doesn't get any more unnerving than Wonder Showzen. The John Lee- and Vernon Chatman-created program is part educational-kiddie-programming parody, part confrontational performance art. Wonder Showzen: Season Two (Paramount/MTV) veers ever closer to the latter, particularly in its final three episodes, which seem determined to destroy not just the show, but television itself…

Newly reissued on DVD, the documentary Sam Kinison: Why Did We Laugh? (S'More) now includes bonus stand-up footage and audio excerpts from the bellowing comedian's days as a traveling evangelist. Combined with the documentary, which is packed with Kinison's best-known stand-up material, plus colleagues' reminiscences, the DVD captures the full scope of his electrifying saint-to-sinner story…

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Frequent Krzysztof Kieslowski leading man Jerzy Stuhr directs and stars in the 2000 film The Big Animal (Milestone), the fable-like story of a man who adopts a camel, only to meet with the resentment of his neighbors and his small-town government, who don't understand why anyone would do such a thing. It's a short, bittersweet film about conformity, grounded in its Iron Curtain-roots but with timeless resonance.

In Michael Cuesta's 12 And Holding (IFC), sullen suburban kids grapple with adolescent angst and abandonment issues after local bullies accidentally kill one of their friends. Cuesta shows his usual strong feel for suburbia, precisely capturing the melancholy mood of a middle-school gym class on a gray autumn day. But the movie's drama feels factory-cut and shrink-wrapped, with each of the kids' stories following predictably twisty paths to ironically hopeful conclusions.

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