`Hotel Rwanda' DVD has a wrenching documentary

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On Screen DVD/Video

April 21, 2005|By Susan King | Susan King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

Hotel Rwanda put a face on the horrors of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 by chronicling the mass slaughter of Tutsis by tribal Hutus through the heroism of Paul Rusesabagina, and the extras on the digital edition of Terry George's Oscar-nominated drama are gut-wrenching (MGM, $27).

A hotel manager at an upper-class establishment in the Rwandan capital of Kigali, Rusesabagina saved about 1,200 "guests" -- Tutsi refugees who found a sanctuary at the hotel. Don Cheadle received an Oscar nomination for his performance as Rusesabagina, as did Sophie Okonedo as his wife, Tatiana. George and Keir Pearson also picked up an Academy Award nomination for their screenplay.

The real Rusesabagina, who now lives with his family in England, is front and center in the DVD extras. It is his passion, quiet strength and fortitude that make the special features so moving.

In the Return to Rwanda documentary, he and his family go back to the country after nearly a decade in exile and visit the hotel and meet old friends. He also tours areas of the genocide, interviews two survivors of one of the most gruesome slaughters and visits a museum on one site that includes rooms with bones of the victims.

Rounding out the disc is a making-of documentary, commentary with George and Rusesabagina, and select scene commentary with Cheadle and composer-musician Wyclef Jean.

Also new

Bad Education (Sony, $27): Writer-director Pedro Almodovar's controversial drama about desire, revenge, murder and sexual abuse by a Catholic priest is being released on DVD in both its NC-17 theatrical version and an edited R-rated version. Gael Garcia Bernal and Fele Martinez star. The digital edition features some deleted scenes, footage from the premiere at the Cinerama Dome last year, a making-of documentary short and compelling commentary from Almodovar in Spanish with English subtitles.

The Woodsman (Sony, $27): Kevin Bacon received some of the best notices of his career for his performance in this unsettling drama as a convicted pedophile who tries to resume his life after 12 years in prison. Bacon's real-life spouse, Kyra Sedgwick, plays his girlfriend. The digital edition features deleted scenes, an interview with producer Lee Daniels and serviceable commentary with co-writer and director Nicole Kassell, who made her feature debut with this low-budget indie.

Suspect Zero (Paramount, $30): E. Elias Merhige, director of the indie hit Shadow of the Vampire, helmed this unusual thriller starring Ben Kingsley as a former FBI agent trained in a secret government program that allows him to telepathically get into a killer's mind, and Aaron Eckhart as a troubled FBI agent.

The digital edition includes a four-part featurette, What We See When We Close Our Eyes, which examines actual government programs involving "remote viewing"; an alternate ending and commentary with the director.

Ocean's Twelve (Warner, $28): The disappointing sequel to Ocean's Eleven arrives on DVD with just the trailer.

Criminal (Warner, $28): Scrappy caper film starring John C. Reilly and Diego Luna.

The Bob Newhart Show (Fox, $30): Happily, this 1972-1978 series holds up just fine thanks to the snappy writing and marvelous cast: Newhart, Suzanne Pleshette, Peter Bonerz, Bill Daily and Marcia Wallace. There are no extras.

Coming Tuesday

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Blade: Trinity, The Assassination of Richard Nixon, Undertow, Darkness and Emile

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