Dvd Check


March 23, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

Good Night, and Good Luck

[Warner] $29

George Clooney infuses his audio commentary on Good Night, and Good Luck with the same self-deprecating humor and commitment to his craft he demonstrated earlier this month at the Academy Awards when he received a supporting actor Oscar for Syriana.

It's not hard to enjoy a track - in his commentary Clooney is joined by Grant Heslov, his longtime friend who is co-writer and producer of Good Night - that discusses not only Sen. Joseph McCarthy but also Joanie Loves Chachi.

Good Night, and Good Luck, which received six Oscar nominations including best film, director, original screenplay and actor (David Strathairn), re-creates the very public conflict in the early 1950s between McCarthy and CBS journalist Edward R. Murrow.

There's also a behind-the-scenes featurette with some of the people depicted in the film - unfortunately none are identified.

A History of Violence

[New Line] $29

Veteran director David Cronenberg is at the top of his craft in A History of Violence, which received Oscar nominations for adapted screenplay and for William Hurt as supporting actor.

Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, Violence revolves around a mild-mannered family man (Viggo Mortensen) who operates a cafe in a small Indiana town. His life is turned upside down when he kills two savage criminals who want to rob his diner. Maria Bello plays his wife; Ed Harris is a terrifying thug; and Hurt is an outrageous gangster kingpin.

Extras are uniformly terrific and include the hour-long "Acts of Violence," which offers a compelling glimpse into Cronenberg's working style; a deleted fantasy scene; both versions of a bloody sequence that was more graphic in the international theatrical release; a diary of Cronenberg screening the film at the Cannes Film Festival; and sharp commentary from the director.

The Agatha Christie Miss Marple Collection

[Warner] $50

In the early 1960s, the career of British character actress Margaret Rutherford, then in her 70s, flourished on the big screen. Not only did she win a supporting actress Oscar for 1963's The V.I.P.s, but she also starred as Christie's amateur sleuth Miss Jane Marple in four delightful mysteries: Murder She Said (1961), in which she witnesses a murder on a passing train (Joan Hickson, who played Miss Marple years later on TV, appears as a housekeeper); Murder at the Gallop (1963), in which she doubts a wealthy old man died of a heart attack; Murder Most Foul (1964), in which she's the sole juror who believes the accused is innocent of murder; and Murder Ahoy! also from 1964, which finds the sleuth discovering who poisoned a man's snuff box.

Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered

[New Video] $20

Decent documentary about the infamous porn flick of the late 1970s. Extras include a seamy 40-minute British documentary "Diary of a Porn Virgin," about two women who decide to become adult film stars.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio

[DreamWorks] $30

Drama adapted and directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Jane Anderson (Normal) and based on the memoir by Terry Ryan about her mother (played by Julianne Moore), who helped raise her 10 children in the 1950s and early '60s by winning jingle contests. Woody Harrelson plays the alcoholic husband. The digital edition features two lovely commentaries: one with Anderson and the other with Moore.

Sleeper Cell

[Showtime] $35

This Golden Globe-nominated 10-hour miniseries that premiered in 2005 on Showtime focuses on a black FBI agent (Michael Ealy), a practicing Muslim who goes deep undercover in Los Angeles to infiltrate a terrorist group. The three-disc DVD set includes informative commentary on the pilot episode with creators and executive producers Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, deleted scenes, a slick behind-the-scenes featurette and a production diary of the show's two-hour finale.

I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete First Season

[Sony] $40

Sidney Sheldon was the creator of this goofy 1965-70 NBC comedy starring Larry Hagman as a handsome astronaut who finds a bottle on the beach after an aborted mission. When he opens the bottle, a 2,000-year-old genie (Barbara Eden) named Jeannie pops out and declares him her master. Bill Daily also starred as Hagman's girl-crazy friend. The DVD set is offered in the original black-and-white and a colorized version. The disc includes a retrospective and nostalgic commentary with the three stars.

Coming Tuesday

King Kong, Memoirs of a Geisha, Get Rich or Die Tryin'

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