JERRY Lee Lewis was born in September 1935. That means when he performed this remarkable concert in New York in 2006, released last year as a CD and this year as a concert spectacle on DVD, he was 71. Now, septaugenarian country- blues- jazz rockers are not everyone’s cup of Horlicks, and there is a chance that the young ones will already have skipped to the next DVD review. But for anyone interested in the origins of rock n’ roll, here’s a chance to see one of the pillars of modern music (‘‘ I’d put him on Mt Rushmore,’’ says Kid Rock) in action. Viewers needn’t be worried about Zimmer frames and walking sticks. Lewis is certainly not the goanna thumper he used to be, and you can forget about the instrument being played upside down and the like. But, incredibly, most of the voice is still there. The old falsetto takes a few songs to loosen up and sounds a bit like a lame wolf before it does, but not only has the old guy still got it, he’s helped along by the cream of the music industry in bringing it home to you. Nearly all of the 26 tracks here are duets with the likes of Tom Jones ( Green Green Grass of Home), Norah Jones ( Your Cheatin’ Heart ), Chris Isaak ( Somewhere Over the Rainbow ), John Fogerty, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson. A great show, with cleverly timed background material, interviews with the star and all of his duet partners. No sympathy required.
Jerry Lee Lewis Live: Last Man Standing ( E)
Shock ( feature runs 94 minutes) $ 25.95
Ian Cuthbertson EXTRAS: Featurettes; extra performances
Pan’s Labyrinth ( MA15+)
Hopscotch ( feature runs 112 minutes) $ 39.95 MEXICAN writer- director Guillermo del Toro ( Cronos , Hellboy ) has created an exceptional film that slips easily between drama, fantasy and fright. The multi- awardwinning Pan’s Labyrinth draws on many elements of traditional fairytales: the innocent child, the harsh step- parent, loss of a loving mother, magic potions, fairies and the pursuit of true happiness. Del Toro’s is a sometimes cruel, sometimes beautiful world, awash with amazing imagery and haunting music. The film deserved its three Oscars: for art direction, cinematography and make- up. The drama is set in a remote region of Spain at the tail end of the Civil War, as ragtag soldiers fight Franco’s fascist army. A sweet little girl, Ofelia ( a delightfully natural Ivana Baquero), travels to the mountains with her gentle mother, who has married the coldhearted Capitan Vidal ( Sergei Lopez). Ofelia is a dreamy child, the kind who runs into the woods after fairies and gets her best dress dirty exploring. She escapes the painful chaos around her by slipping into a complicated fantasy world, where she becomes a princess trying to return to her underground kingdom. Too often, real life intrudes on her quest as the war drags on, involving everyone in the household, including her friend Mercedes the housekeeper, played with fierce stoicism by Maribel Verdu ( Y tu Mama Tambien ). Del Toro’s underground creations — the friendly/ fearsome faun and the eyeless man guarding his feast — were born on the corner of sweet dreams and nightmare street.
Rosalie Higson EXTRAS: DVD of interviews and featurettes. THE dysfunctional family has become something of a mainstay on our small screens over the past decade, yet it seems you can always rely on reality to usurp the likes of The Simpsons or the cast of Arrested Development for sheer peculiarity. Augusten Burrough’s memoir Running with Scissors is remarkable not merely for the upbringing that is the subject of the book, but for the manner in which he melds every horrific incident with large doses of humour. In the film version by Ryan Murphy, Joseph Cross plays Augusten, a boy who dreams of becoming a star hairdresser ( sorry, cosmetologist), while coping with his father’s desertion and the instability that leads his mother to give him away to her psychiatrist. With a predilection for adopting his patients, Dr Finch ( Brian Cox) takes Augusten into the rundown, ramshackle abode he shares with his downtrodden, dog- food- eating wife, Agnes ( Jill Clayburgh), Bible- dipping daughter Hope ( Gwyneth Paltrow) and flirtatious, foul- mouthed Natalie ( Evan Rachel Wood), with whom Augusten forms a close bond. While the good doctor dishes out medication and plays matchmaker to his troubled clients, his at best unethical ways can be dangerous ( he leads Augusten into a suicide attempt as a tactic to avoid school). Some crucial episodes in the book are toned down or overlooked altogether. The cast is strong, but it’s really only Clayburgh and Wood who capture the spirit, humour and heart of the book.
Sharon Fowler EXTRAS: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs
Running With Scissors
( MA) Sony Pictures ( feature runs 117 minutes) $ 39.95