Wholphin No. 2
Watching Donald Trump talk about Citizen Kane—he forlornly notes how wealth can't help but alienate the rich—is a uniquely surreal experience. At least, it is until one realizes it's hardly the most surreal thing on McSweeney's latest DVD collection, Wholphin No. 2. Also crammed on this disc: an unaired TV pilot, video of people crying, a not-very-good original film by Steven Soderbergh, and a hypnotic video of some squid thing as it languidly twirls and pulses underwater.
The first Wholphin was a mixed bag, with highlights that featured work from Spike Jonze and Miranda July. But No. 2 is a far stronger production. The Pity Card, the aforementioned unaired pilot, is directed by Mr. Show's Bob Odenkirk and is one of the funniest things I've seen in a while; featuring comedian Zach Galifianakis and beginning with a blind date at a Holocaust museum, it's creepy and clever and weirdly sweet, and if it were a real TV show, I'd watch it every single week. The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, by Anthony Lucas, is visually stunning, with a look comprised of 3-D CG, 2-D cutouts, and Victorian machinery, all harnessed to tell a woeful adventure story, while the damning Home, James, and Don't Spare the Horses carefully maneuvers the art scene and America's class structure. There's more, too: a Japanese version of Bewitched as subtitled by Daniel Handler/Lemony Snicket and various writers for The Daily Show; an instructional video on how to catch a monkey-faced eel; and the witty American Storage, which follows on a young man's adventures in a storage facility. Also: Andy Richter, falling off a ladder.
But for all Wholphin's esoteric and goofy fun, it comes with another DVD, one that features part one of the British doc The Power of Nightmares, which draws damning comparisons between American neoconservatives and Islamic fundamentalists. It's a stunning piece of film, and a reminder that Wholphin—which is quickly finding its footing as a very impressive DVD magazine—can combine the trivial and the meaningful like few else can.