Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis, Paul Williams Still Alive, The Seven-Per-Cent-Solution 


click to enlarge Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis

Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis (NR)

Anchor Bay Home Entertainment

This Encore Original documentary about famed funnyman Jerry Lewis does a decent job of highlighting the legend's incredible successes, and with good reason: Lewis was an executive producer. This type of closeness to the subject leaves out a lot of drama the man has had, from bankruptcies to scandals, as well as his failures, including the never-released concentration-camp dramedy The Day the Clown Cried. But Method does do a great job of giving an overview of the innovations in comedy that Lewis has made, with many clips from routines and films filling out the running time. It provides a closer examination of his work, encouraging worthwhile revisits to his 1960s flicks like The Bellboy and Cinderfella. It does work to show what a genius he truly is, and not just among the discerning French, whose love for him is also explored here. — Louis Fowler

click to enlarge Paul Williams Still Alive

Paul Williams Still Alive (PG-13)


This strangely voyeuristic, semi-authorized, semi-tolerated look into the mundane present-day life of songwriter and perennial '70s talk-show personality Paul Williams has a credible, if thin, case to make: that Williams should be held in the same regard as other songwriters of his time like Paul Simon, yet the film doesn't quite know how to make it. Marginal writer-director Stephen Kessler is too obsessed with the agitation his omnipresent camera creates in Williams and his family. The way the filmmaker melds YouTube clips, old VHS tapes, home movies and licensed material is resourceful and new, as if he conjures Williams' rise-and-fall narrative out of thin air. But Kessler's fieldwork needs fine-tuning. You can't lead an uncooperative has-been to the semi-ironic waters of renewed interest, but why not put his music in a modern context? Anything but the vast amounts of dead air would be welcome. — Justin Strout

click to enlarge The Seven-Per-Cent Solution

The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (PG) (Blu-ray)

Shout! Factory

Sherlock Holmes is a character who truly comes alive when allowed to deviate from the established Doyle canon. Look at recent reimaginings from the likes of Guy Ritchie, with his Robert Downey Jr. action-hero variation, and the current BBC hit that takes the crime-solving to modern-day surroundings. One of the first re-examinations of the Victorian hero was 1976's ingenious mash-up The Seven-Per-Cent Solution. Written and directed by Nicholas Meyer, it finds a cocaine-infested Sherlock (Nicol Williamson) locked in a room and slowly dying from his addictions. His famed partner Watson (Robert Duvall), desperate to help, takes Holmes to Vienna to seek treatment from Sigmund Freud (Alan Arkin). As Freud tries to cure Holmes, a mystery is afoot that the three must use all their skills to solve. Boasting an all-star cast and brilliant plot, it's pure elementary that Solution is one of the best Holmes stories ever told. — Louis Fowler


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