STORE

Search for:
 

STORE ARCHIVES

 

Home Video and DVD Releases
March 2002

by Eddie Cockrell,  29 March 2002

Nitrate Online explores a sampling of the most noteworthy, provocative and satisfying video and/or DVD releases for the month of March 2002 (give or take a few weeks). Titles are followed by original country and year of release, as well as release date (if known). All reviewed DVDís are Region 1 unless otherwise indicated. Street dates change constantly and often differ from format to format, so check with your favorite click or brick supplier for up-to-date information.


A.I.: Artificial Intelligence

USA, 2001, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

In which the odyssey of David (Haley Joel Osment) a cute child "mecha," or mechanical being, abandoned by his parents and befriended by the swaggering, uh, love mecha Gigolo Joe (Jude Law) is stretched from what might have been a ruthlessly clear-eyed saga of artificial emotion by original director Stanley Kubrick into a manipulative, dazzling and ultimately empty saga about love or endurance or something by Steven Spielberg. The DreamWorks two-disc DVD is everything youíd want in a collectorís set, with a second disc crammed entirely with behind-the-scenes featurettes highlighting various phases of the production (set design, acting approaches and the like). Yet the more cast and crew speak in hushed tones of the filmís directorial vision the more distancing the effect is. Stately in its craftsmanship but off-putting in its length and suffocatingly heavy-handedness, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence is Spielbergís most conflicted film to date, and by a long shot.


Bread and Tulips
Pane e Tulipani

Italy, 2000, Released 3.26.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Shirley Valentine goes to Venice in this sparkling, madcap Italian farce. While fishing around for some lost jewelry in a rest stop toilet while on holiday with her family, Pescara housewife Rosalba (Licia Maglietta) is left behind by the tour bus. This prompts a hitchhiking trip to Venice -- which sheís never seen -- and an extended break from her comically distressed husband and two sons that becomes a warm and funny search for self. Her new acquaintances include a mysterious Icelandic waiter who speaks flowery Italian, an overweight plumber-turned-private detective, a holistic beautician -- and a series of realistic dreams that may or may not point her in the right direction. Working from a nuanced and calibrated script, director Silvio Soldani has created a benevolently wacky world of self-discovery and circumstance, and drawn from former art-film mainstay Bruno Ganz one of his most whimsically appealing performances in years. "Guess where I am?" Rosalba says breathlessly at one point, and the obvious answer is on her way to a better and more peaceful place.


Donnie Darko

USA, 2001, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

One way to look at the bounty of movies released in 2001 is that it was such a good year for adventurous, risk-taking independents that among the very best of them got lost in the shuffle. Certainly thatís the case with the spooky and intermittently terrifying Donnie Darko, the noteworthy debut of talented writer-director Richard Kelly. In 1988 Virginia, the title character (played to creepy perfection by Jake Gyllenhaal) is haunted by bizarre hallucinations while dealing with his semi-functional family and the usual complement of flaky friends and nemeses. The special effects are unexpectedly elaborate for such a fiercely independent work, and feature such startling images as the engine of a jetliner crashing through the roof of a suburban house and a six-foot rabbit with what looks like a bugís mask that only our hero can see (itís Harvey gone amuck). Itís oddball worldview massaged by a superb pop-Goth score and just-right stunt casting (co-producer Drew Barrymore, Patrick Swayze and Noah Wyle pop up in supporting roles), Donnie Darko is among the yearís most audacious, confident movies. The Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD is a bounty for the fan, supplementing the feature with numerous extended and/or deleted scenes, commentary tracks from Kelly and a gaggle of giggly actors, some of Swayzeís infomercials and that terrific music video for the acoustic version of "Mad World."


George Washington

USA, 2000, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In rural North Carolina, five black and white kids in their early teens interact with each other over the course of a summer, learning the necessary adolescent lessons of life, love, poverty and death. As beautiful, perceptive and confounding as the best arthouse movie can -- and should -- be, 25-year-old David Gordon Greenís poetic, widescreen, visually lush American independent film George Washington is a thrilling directorial debut and one of the few contemporary titles to be given the Criterion Collection treatment of late (see In the Mood for Love, below). The set includes a six-page fold-out booklet with an insightful essay from critic Armond White and a directorís statement from Green; a commentary track featuring the director, cinematographer Tim Orr and actor Paul Schneider; a deleted scene; a pair of Greenís early student short films and actor Clu Gulagerís 1969 short A Day with the Boys (which heavily influenced George Washington); Charlie Roseís TV interview with Green; and a September 15, 2001 cast reunion in North Carolina during which Green interviews his young stars about the experience of making the movie.


Heist

USA, 2001, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

"Everyone needs money. Thatís why they call it money." From the daring daylight jewel robbery that opens writer-director David Mametís Heist to the multilayered double-crosses that conclude it, this is one tough, terse, satisfying caper movie. "Burnt" by inadvertently showing up on a surveillance camera during a job, Joe Moore (Gene Hackman) decides to get out of the thieving business with wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon) and sail south from Boston to warmer climes. Described admiringly by confederate Pincus (Mamet regular Ricky Jay) as "so cool that when he goes to sleep sheep count him," Joe nevertheless becomes involved in a battle of wills and wits with local boss Bergman (Danny DeVito), and can only extricate himself with the help of trusted cohort Bobby Blane (Delroy Lindo). With Montreal standing in nicely for Boston and everybody into the spirit of the con (though Hackmanís delivery seems hesitant, a testament to Mametís precise phrasing), Heist is smart and satisfying. Though the Warner Home Video DVD has no extras save a trailer and biographies of the cast and crew, the letterboxed image is sharp and Theodore Shapiroís appropriately muscular score is one of the yearís best.


In the Mood for Love
Huayung nianhua

Hong Kong/France, 2000, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In 1962 Hong Kong, Mr. Chow (Leung Chiu-Wai, aka Tony Leung) and Mrs. Chan (Maggie Cheung), upon discovering their respective spouses are having an affair with each other, drift together but largely ignore their growing love. A vague sequel to Days of the Being Wild, director Wong Kar-Waiís 1990 sophomore effort and the movie that put him on the international map (he also directed the better-known Chungking Express), In the Mood for Love is a masterpiece of romantic longing and hallucinatory repression. Release number 147 in the distinguished Criterion Collection is special for a number of reasons. First, the imprint hardly ever handles contemporary films (see George Washington, above). Second, the extras on this two-disc set give new meaning to the word "lavish": in addition to a 48-page booklet (!!!) featuring the short story that inspired the film, the package features four deleted scenes (three with director commentary), a Wong Kar-Wai short film about past Chinese film stars and his documentary on this production, the Toronto festival press conference featuring all the principals, and much more. A new benchmark for foreign film presentation on DVD, In the Mood for Love is an essential addition to the serious DVD collection.


K-PAX

USA, 2001, Released 3.26.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

A man calling himself Prot (Kevin Spacey) announces that heís from the title planet ("but donít worry, Iím not going to leap out of your chest"), much to the consternation of psychiatrist Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges). While the ambiguous nature of the proceedings give K-PAX a feel of mischievous mystery, this gambitís been done before: itís out of print and hard to find, but grabbing a used copy of Eliseo Subielaís 1986 Argentine film Man Facing Southeast will be a real eye-opener. Neither K-PAX screenwriter Charles Leavitt nor source novelist Gene Brewer admits to being inspired (or even influenced) by the earlier work, though it strains credibility to imagine the entire thingís a coincidence. Universalís DVD edition includes a commentary track from director Iain Softley, a production featurette laced with interviews, an alternate ending and deleted scenes.


The One
Special Edition

USA, 2001, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

Essaying no less than three roles in this SFX-filled futuristic actioner, Jet Li stars primarily as nice-guy Los Angeles sheriff Gabe, who is hunted by the superhumanly strong and murderous Yulaw (also played by Jet Li). See, as the prologue intones, there are 124 separate universes (Bush is president in one, Gore in another), and Yulaw, in a quest to become God-like, is killing off his parallel selves one by one. Got that? In truth, The One is a terrific rental for those times when youíre looking for just the right cross between The Terminator and The Matrix. The One was cooked up by former "X-Files" and "Millennium" writer-producer-directors James Wong (the helmer of record here) and Glen Morgan, who have co-written a script peppered with intriguing made-up buzzwords and phrases like "multiverse" and "illegal quantum tunneling" yet cumulatively nonsensical enough to provide the succession of clichťd but peppy fight scenes necessary for that couch potato action fix. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainmentís classy DVD package includes an informative four-page brochure, the option of fullframe or widescreen versions, production featurettes and commentary from Wong and select crew members.


Sexy Beast

UK, 2000, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

While in a lazy, pampered Spanish retirement, former gangster Gary "Gal" Dove (Ray Winstone) is rudely pulled back to England for one last job by vicious, raging psychopath Don Logan (Ben Kingsley, Oscar nominated). Director Jonathan Glazer has called his approach to this provocative material "neon noir," and his spacy, non-linear approach to pace and rhythm (note the opening sequence, cut and scored to The Stranglersí 1977 ode to suntanning, "Peaches") creates a palpable sense of unpredictability that meshes nicely with the erratic tempers of the ruthless characters on display. Kingsley affects what might be called a Shakespearean Cockney accent in his completely mad reading of the demonic, hair-trigger Logan, giving one of the yearís most memorable and fearful performances. The CBS/Fox Home Video DVD edition includes commentary from Kingsley and veteran producer Jeremy Thomas, as well as a production featurette and the usual scattering of trailers and TV spots.


Training Day

USA, 2001, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

Should Denzel Washington actually wrest the Best Actor Oscar from favorite Russell Crowe, it wonít be for the overall quality of director Antoine Fuquaís Training Day. Rather, Academy voters have always had a soft spot for actors and actresses who play physically afflicted and/or against type, and you canít get much further against type in the canon of nice-guy Washington than overtly corrupt Los Angeles police detective Alonzo Harris. See, itís the first day on the job for idealistic new rookie partner Jake (Ethan Hawke), so Harris shows him the ropesÖ While thereís an undeniable thrill to watching Washington play a remorseless bad-ass, the movie around him isnít much to, uh, crow about, a pedestrian genre piece elevated by its central performance. The Warner DVD includes Fuquaís commentary track, an alternate ending, bonus footage, a behind-the-scenes documentary and two soundtrack music videos.


Beyond the A List


Boxcar Bertha

USA, 1972, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In Depression-era America, the title character (Barbara Hershey) rides the rails with a motley collection of fellow travelers, including Big Bill Shelly (David Carradine), hustler Barry Primus and hobo Bernie Casey (who later played the patient teacher in Bill and Tedís Excellent Adventure). Martin Scorseseís first mainstream feature was made for the late Samuel Z. Arkoffís American International Pictures, which also gave early breaks to the likes of Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich and a raft of other talents now firmly ensconced in the movie business. And while the budget is painfully low and much of it is remarkably naÔve, there is in Boxcar Bertha a nascient auteurism apparent, a promise just out of reach that would later explode on the scene with the vivid Mean Streets. The MGM Home Entertainment DVD edition of the film (amusingly presented under the banner "AVANT-GARDE CINEMA") has no extras save a vintage theatrical trailer, although the print quality is surprisingly good.


Mr. Sardonicus

USA, 1961, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Homicidal

USA, 1961, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Strait-Jacket

USA, 1963, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

One of the great showmen in the history of horror films, cigar-chomping producer-director William Castle surfed the available zeitgeist of the day (thatís why they were called exploitation films) and was known for such legendary theatrical gimmicks as wiring selected cinema seats for mild jolts of electricity during the immortal Vincent Price vehicle The Tingler. This trio of cheerfully cheesy releases from Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, available separately, display the method to his madness. Castle offered audiences a chance to vote on the fate of the reclusive title character in Mr. Sardonicus via a "punishment poll"; according to legend, however, only one ending was filmed. A cheerful ripoff of Hitchcockís then-new Psycho, Homicidal is introduced by Castle himself and offers patrons a "fright break" during which they could leave if the so-so story freaked them out. Generally considered to be the best of the so-called "Baby Jane" cycle of mid-1960s gothic horror vehicles for aging distaff Hollywood stars, Strait-Jacket (with a script by Psycho scribe Robert Bloch) stars Joan Crawford as an ax murderer whose release from the rubber room after two decades begins another round of mysterious deaths. Each disc is accompanied by newly-produced production featurettes (the one on Homicidal is called "Psychette"), and fans of Crawford will jump at the chance to see her costume and make-up tests. The remastering jobs on each film are gratifyingly good, with Mr. Sardonicus and Strait-Jacket offered in their original widescreen presentations (for some reason, Homicidal has been modified to fullframe).


New Fist of Fury
Xin-ching-wu men

USA, 1976, Released 9.25.01
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

To Kill with Intrigue
Jian hua yan yu jiang nan

USA, 1977, Released 9.25.01
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin
She hao ba bu

USA, 1978, Released 9.25.01
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Now that heís a commercially viable force in American entertainment, the extensive filmography of the one and only Jackie Chan is being cleaned up and trotted out for discovery by a new generation of moviegoers. Most of his recent titles get the dubbed theatrical treatment, while others, like this trio of early successes for the martial arts star, are going straight to home video in new editions that preserve their original aspect ratios. In New Fist of Fury (a loose sequel to the 1972 Bruce Lee film Fist of Fury), Chanís Ching Wu kung fu school is taken over during Japanís occupation of Taiwan, and a festy young woman helps him win it back. Wearing a more elaborate wig and makeup than his usual thick bowl cut, Chan plays young master Cao Le in the costumer To Kill with Intrigue, and he spends most of the movie trying to reclaim the pregnant girlfriend heís chased away to spare her life. Snake & Crane Arts of Shaolin features credited "Jacky" Chan in the more sinister role of suspected murderer Hsu Yiu Fong, and is prized by some fans for being a far cry from the starís affable persona. Long-time Chan collaborator Lo Wei directed New Fist of Fury and To Kill with Intrigue, while Chi-Hwa Chen directed Snake & Crane. All three films have been cleaned up admirably by Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, and are presented in widescreen transfers with tinted electronic English subtitles. Extras are limited to language selection and trailers. These are very different than Chanís newer and more sleekly tooled efforts, but offer a fascinating look at an immensely talented performer feeling his way towards an onscreen persona. Coming April 2 from CTSHE is the great Jackie vehicle Drunken Master.


Conspiracy

USA, 2001, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

On January 20, 1942, fifteen midlevel managers of Adolf Hitlerís Nazi war machine met for a conference in a Berlin suburb called Wannsee. Lasting less than ninety minutes, organized by SS Major Adolf Eichmann and presided over by security chief Reinhard Heydrich, the meeting had as its only subject the organization of the Nazi death camps that would eventually murder over six million Jews. Subject matter aside, veteran director Frank Piersonís glossy HBO production of Conspiracy is a sharp and capable affair, with performances of ruthless efficiency from Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Eichmann. Two very brief featurettes with interviews and set footage round out the DVD. Those interested in this ghastly subject may also want to track down director Heinz Schirkís crisp 1984 German drama The Wannsee Conference (Wannseekonferenz); currently available on VHS only (there may also be some laserdisc copies floating around), itís a realtime "performance" of the actual meeting itself--sans the background material employed in Conspiracy--that nevertheless also packs quite a punch.


Adelheid

Czechoslovakia, 1964, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Lemonade Joe
Limonadovy Joe aneb konska opera

Czechoslovakia, 1964, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Daises
Sedmikrasky

Czechoslovakia, 1966, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Capricious Summer
Capricious Summer

Czechoslovakia, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

The Joke
Zert

Czechoslovakia, 1968, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

This new sampling of films from the 1960s golden age of the Czechoslovak film industry offered by Facets Video is a gold mine of diverse productions that further enrich the luster of that magic period (often called the Czech Film Miracle or the Czech New Wave). The earliest example, director Frantisek Vlacilís Adelheid (VHS only), is a rarely seen dramatic gem about a soldier returning from World War II and his struggle to adjust to life and love. The Czechoslovak film industry turned out numerous genre spoofs during this period, one of the best of which is the bouncy and surreal Lemonade Joe (VHS only); opening in the midst of a massive bar brawl, this action-packed, bizarrely-tinted comedy never lets up and is recommended to the uninitiated. Daisies (DVD and VHS) is an early stylistic workout and feminist farce from legendary director Vera Chytilova that puts to rest any notion of the industry at that time as repressive (that would come two or three years later). Among the handful of landmark films of the period, Jiri Menzelís Capricious Summer (VHS only)--his follow-up to the Oscar-winning Closely Watched Trains--stars the director as a circus performer whose arrival with a beautiful assistant disrupts the resort vacation of three friends. Based on a novel by the great Milan Kundera ("The Unbearable Lightness of Being"), The Joke (DVD and VHS) was directed by Jaromil Jires and tells of a wry academic during the Stalinist 1950s whoís sentenced to six years in prison for writing a politically indiscreet postcard. All transfers are decent, and each title is available individually by visiting facets.org, which promises additional Czechoslovak films over the next year or two.


The Evil Dead
The Book of the Dead

USA, 1982, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

When a clean-cut group of young people disturb a dark and mysterious force while vacationing in the Tennessee backwoods (!!!), all hell breaks loose. Raw yet pivotal, Sam (Spider-Man) Raimiís directorial debut retains much of its visceral punch today, due in large part to the particularly imaginative gore effects. While there have been many different incarnations of the film on various home media formats over the years, hard-core fans of the movie (as well as collectors of H.P. Lovecraft material and unique memorabilia in general) will want to add Anchor Bayís latest pressing to their collection. The cover itself is a molded latex approximation of the evil book from the film (complete with an ear floating on the back), and it does feel remarkably like dry human skin. Inside, thereís a booklet with many of the same drawings from the Necronomicon featured in what passes for the plot. Oh yes, thereís a DVD too, featuring a cleaned up and letterboxed version of the film; separate commentary tracks from witty star Bruce Campbell and the pairing of Raimi and producer Robert Tappert; behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes; Campbellís new 26-minute documentary Fanalysis; a featurette on the Evil Dead phenomenon and a smattering of trailers, promos, talent bios and a stills gallery.


Himalaya

France/Switzerland/UK, 1999, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In a remote Himalayan village, the death of the chief has a ripple effect that spreads to their very livelihood. Under the title Caravan, Himalaya was filmed over seven months in the spectacular Dolpo region of Nepal and surfaced as one of the final five in the 2000 Foreign Film Oscar sweepstakes. Kino on Videoís DVD edition of the film features a commentary track from director Eric Valli, a 26-minute production featurette, an electronic presskit, and a trailer. The film is presented in Tibetan with clear English subtitles.


Juliet of the Spirits
Giulietta degli spiriti

Italy/France, 1965, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Neglected by her husband, Juliet (Giullietta Masina) flirts with temptation via a series of spectacular encounters with mediums, gurus and all manner of pretty people. Federico Felliniís first color feature remains among his most vibrant, catching the eccentric Italian master during the pivotal years between his more fantasy-tinged social commentaries and the outright surrealistic carnival sideshows that marked his later years. Made at about the time he was receiving the Best Foreign Film Academy Award for 8 Ĺ, Juliet of the Spirits has large dollops of thinly-veiled autobiography for those in the know; for those who arenít, a sure signpost is that Masina was Felliniís wife, and this was the first film theyíd made together in seven years. The Criterion Collectionís stunning transfer is supplemented by Paris-based critic John Baxterís perceptive essay on an eight-page fold-out brochure, a 19-minute interview clip with Fellini and questioner Ian Dallas and a theatrical trailer.

 


Conspiracy

USA, 2001, Released 3.12.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

On January 20, 1942, 15 midlevel managers of Adolf Hitlerís Nazi war machine met for a conference in a Berlin suburb called Wannsee. Lasting less than 90 minutes, organized by SS Major Adolf Eichmann and presided over by security chief Reinhard Heydrich, the meeting had as its only subject the organization of the Nazi death camps that would eventually murder over six million Jews. Subject matter aside, veteran director Frank Piersonís glossy HBO production of Conspiracy is a sharp and capable affair, with performances of ruthless efficiency from Kenneth Branagh as Heydrich and Stanley Tucci as Eichmann. Two very brief featurettes with interviews and set footage round out the DVD. Those interested in this ghastly subject may also want to track down director Heinz Schirkís crisp 1984 German drama The Wannsee Conference (Wannseekonferenz); currently available on VHS only (there may also be some laserdisc copies floating around), itís a realtime "performance" of the actual meeting itself--sans the background material employed in Conspiracy--that nevertheless also packs quite a punch.

 


Samurai Jack
The Premiere Movie

USA, 2001, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In a series of bizarre yet unknown times and places, a trained warrior dubbed "Jack" by the locals does battle with the shape-shifting Aku--his nemesis from the distant pastÖ "Iíve never seen a cartoon that has enough action to satisfy me," says thirty-one-year-old creator Genndy Tartakovsky in the 10-minute production featurette "Behind the Sword," just one of the bonus features on the Warners DVD showcasing this Cartoon Network hitís 90-minute debut episode (an unseen 22-minute episode and evolutionary production sketches are the other major extras). Having cut his teeth by creating the show "Dexterís Laboratory" and working for a time on "Powerpuff Girls," Tartakovsky decided to leave comedy behind in favor of the nearly silent action landscapes of "Jack," from which he drew heavily on Akira Kurosawaís movies for inspiration (The Criterion Collectionís new DVD pressing of Rashomon will be reviewed in next monthís column). Jack is voiced by comedian/actor Phil LaMarr, with character vet Mako handling Aku (which means "evil" in Japanese). The show takes a minimalist approach to its animation, with bright colors vying for attention with the almost constant motion (mission accomplished for Tartakovsky). With its stoic hero and extraordinarily imaginative backgrounds, Samurai Jack is easily as engaging for adults as it is for kids.


Say Anything ...

USA, 1989, Released 3.5.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In late 1980s Seattle, sweet slacker Lloyd (John Cusack) falls hard for high school beauty Diane (Ione Skye) but must also deal with her possessive single father (John Mahoney) and his shady business dealings. Incredibly, Cameron Croweís directorial debut looks and feels just as authentic as it did 13 years ago, if not more so. The secret seems to lie in what appears to be the essentially sweet nature of the director; even his most conflicted characters have only moments of weakness or anger, imbuing this parallel universe with something like a serene grace. The terrific Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment special edition DVD includes a laid-back and informative commentary track featuring Crowe, Cusack and Skye, as well as a valuable production featurette. Alone among contemporary directors in his ability to shape cohesive narratives from miles of shot footage (a talent of which he was leached in the truncated theatrical version of Almost Famous), Croweís approach to the filmmaking process is explored via a generous helping of extended and cut scenes, which offer a tantalizing glimpse of the way in which his movies are constructed. Recommended.


Strictly Ballroom

Australia, 1992, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

Against the backdrop of the insular, cutthroat world of Australian competitive ballroom dancing, the rebellious and determined Scott (Paul Mercurio), along with about-to-bloom wallflower Fran (Tara Morice) take the entrenched establishment by storm at the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Amateur Championships. This directorial debut by Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) was a festival and art-house hit when it first came out a decade ago; time and the perspective of his two subsequent films (William Shakespeareís Romeo + Juliet was the other) have been good to its supercharged yet mannered style. The Miramax DVD, which is of course designed to look like the Moulin Rouge DVD package, features an audio commentary track with Luhrmann and to of his crew as well as producer-director Maria Stratfordís deadpan, 30-minute 1986 Samba to Slow Fox, the documentary that inspired the directorís Spinal Tap-ish, is-it-or-isnít-it-real? approach.


Box Set Corner:

An occasional exploration of video and DVDís higher end


Oz
The Complete First Season

USA, 1997, Released 3.19.02
review by Eddie Cockrell

FULL REVIEW

BUY VIDEO

In the bowels of the Oswald Maximum Security Prison--"Oz," to the regulars--an experimental unit dubbed "Em," for "Emerald City," houses a motley and disparate collection of prisoners. Though it lives in the shadow of the more high-profile Home Box Office series "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," "Oz" can be just as addictive, a satisfyingly complex and startlingly raw, mostly-male soap opera about depravity, deceit and survival. Since its debut in 1997 "Oz" has also been something of a proving ground for many of the best and brightest actors on TV: past and/or current cast members include such fine and immediately recognizable talent (many of whom went on to star in various "Law and Order" spinoffs) as Ernie Hudson, Christopher Meloni, Edie Falco, Terry Kinney, Rita Moreno, Luis Guzman, Harold Perrineau, Kathryn Erbe, Tony Musante, Dean Winters, Lee Tergesen, J.K. Simmons, George Morfogen, Eamonn Walker, Jon Seda and B.D. Wong. These season-by-season DVD boxed sets are a godsend for those without enough hours in the day to watch series realtime, and as theyíve done with the two "Sopranos" sets HBO has focused on sturdy packaging and stylish design. Thereís no separate booklet with the 3-disc box, but the series titles and key crew are listed on an inside flap, and extras beyond the eight episodes that comprise season one include a pair of audio commentaries by vet series creator Tom Fontana ("St. Elsewhere," "Homicide: Life on the Street") and Tergesen; deleted scenes with Fontanaís remarks; a featurette, and the "Behind the Walls" music video. Each episode is fullframe.


Don't have a DVD player? 
Click on the button below to buy one:

Buy DVD Player from Amazon.COM
Buy at Amazon.com


Didn't find what you are looking for? Look in the back issues of the store or in the extensive catalog of Amazon.COM by entering your search in the text box below:

Search: Enter keywords...

Amazon.com logo

 

 

 

 


www.nitrateonline.com  Copyright © 1996-2005 by Nitrate Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.