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Swindled Art 

Wednesday, Jan 18 2006
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Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

(Magnolia)

The best two hours you'll ever spend learning about accounting, Enron is one part civics lesson, one part Greek tragedy, and one part political cartoon. Director Alex Gibney makes no pretense of objectivity; he wants you to hiss and boo at Ken Lay and the other Snidely Whiplashes as they tie the California economy to the railroad tracks. His film is made with workmanlike zeal and without the ham fists of Michael Moore; here, the story itself is flashy enough. Deleted scenes galore are just the beginning of the extras, which take you deeper into the story via interviews with key reporters, Enron cartoons -- even the Fortune magazine articles that first lit the blaze. One disappointment is the Where Are They Now? feature. For one thing, not much has happened since the film was concluded; for another, you really don't wanna know. -- Jordan Harper

The Old Grey Whistle Test Vol. 2 (BBC Video)

This 30-track compilation from the old BBC music show is a schizophrenic beast, beginning with the likes of Loggins & Messina and winding up with the Style Council and the Pogues. Which isn't to say it's not enjoyable -- who doesn't like looking at Bryan Ferry and Brian Eno, slathered in spangles, performing "Ladytron" or Pete Townshend and Keith Moon faking their way through "Relay"? It's just that it's also nausea-inducing; you can't take it all in one sitting, and you'll be tempted to fast-forward through some cuts. But it's the small, forgotten wonders rescued from obscurity that make it worthwhile, chief among them the early punk of the Adverts, Siouxsie & the Banshees, and the Undertones, who stick out among the softer touches like safety pins in a silk pillow. -- Robert Wilonsky

Two for the Money (Universal)

Matthew McConaughey has gotten a lot of star mileage for a guy who hasn't made a good movie since 1993's Dazed and Confused. He continues his losing streak with this dead-dull sports gambling movie, in which he plows through the old "Golden Boy makes good, goes bad, and learns a little something about life" routine. You'd think that the world of sports touts -- who pick winners for schlub gamblers -- would turn up some interesting details. But instead we get clothes-shopping montages and co-star Al Pacino hoo-ha-ing ceaselessly. Like the film itself, the extras here try to make sports touting look glamorous while at the same time acknowledging that these guys sell bullshit to desperate addicts. In an interview with Brandon Lane, the man who "inspired" the film, he talks about what a terrible scam the industry is. And then he admits he's back in it. Yes, you will feel cheated. -- Harper

Mr. Show: The Complete Collection (HBO)

Till now, it cost some $100 to own all four seasons of Mr. Show, HBO's frantic what-the-fuck sketch-comedy show put on by David Cross and Bob Odenkirk from 1995 till '98. This bargain box cuts the price in half, but suffice it to say it's a deal at any price: Not only do you get hours and hours of the show itself (which also featured bit players Sarah Silverman and Jack Black), but also the estimable extras, including Bob's nudie appearance for Comic Relief in 1998. Mr. Show played like Monty Python raised on grunge rock and weed and Broadway musicals, and it holds up a decade later like a Frank Lloyd Wright house. As they say down at Mr. Tickles' Fun-Time Abortion Clinic, it'll bring out the kid in ya! -- Wilonsky

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