Dvd Check


March 30, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES


[Sony] $29

Philip Seymour Hoffman won every major acting award, including the Oscar, for his warts-and-all performance as author Truman Capote in Capote. But he candidly admits on the DVD audio track that it wasn't easy.

It's rare that an actor is so forthcoming about his insecurities -- and his frankness lifts his commentary with director Bennett Miller above the norm. Hoffman points out scenes, in which he appears flawless, where he says that he was struggling to find his inner Capote. The actor generally doesn't like improvisation, but he said he found the scenes in which he was able to improvise helped him get into Capote's skin.

Besides the Hoffman/Miller commentary, there is a duller track with Miller and cinematographer Adam Kimmel and several inspired mini-documentaries, especially a retrospective on Capote that features interviews with his biographer, Gerald Clarke.

The Squid and the Whale

[Sony] $27

Despite receiving Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award nominations for his unwavering portrayal of a pompous college professor with writer's block in Noah Baumbach's The Squid and the Whale, Jeff Daniels failed to be nominated for an Oscar. Baumbach, however, did receive an Academy Award nomination -- as well as several critics' groups awards -- for his semiautobiographical screenplay. Daniels and Laura Linney play a married couple whose decision to divorce devastates their two teenage sons (Jesse Eisenberg, Owen Kline). Extras include a passable behind-the-scenes featurette and an untraditional commentary track with Baumbach in which he discusses actors over a slide show of stills.

Chicken Little

[Disney] $30

Despite unenthusiastic reviews, this Disney animated comedy raked in about $135 million at the box office last fall. The digital edition features a pedestrian "making of" documentary and an interactive game for the kiddies. The highlight is the three deleted alternate openings -- including one in which Chicken Little is female.

Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

[Dreamworks] $30

Kurt Russell, who started as a child actor in the 1960s, stars with Dakota Fanning in this sentimental drama about a young girl who, with the help of her trainer father, nurses an injured racing horse back to competition. The digital edition includes decent production featurettes and disarming commentary with first-time director John Gatins.


[Weinstein Co.] $30

Clive Owen plays a married man whose one-night stand with a married woman (Jennifer Aniston) leads to blackmail and murder. The DVD, which features the unrated version, includes a behind-the-scenes documentary and some decent deleted scenes.

Gidget -- The Complete Series

[Sony] $40

Considering that this 1965-66 ABC sitcom, based on the popular book and movies about a perky California teenager (Sally Field), lasted only one season, it had a tremendous afterlife in syndication. The main reason for the show's "legs" is the undeniable chemistry between the bubbly Field, who was an unknown 18-year-old, and Don Porter, who played Gidget's widowed college professor father. The DVD set includes all 32 episodes, plus a retrospective interview with Field.

The Flying Nun: The Complete First Season

[Sony] $29

In her frank interview on the DVD of the 1967-68 season of this ABC sitcom, Field discusses how unhappy she was and how she initially fought having to do the series about a 90-pound nun named Sister Bertrille who discovers she can fly. Field says she finally agreed to take the series because her stepfather, stuntman-actor Jock Mahoney, told her if she turned down The Flying Nun, she might never work again.

Huff: The Complete First Season

[Showtime] $40

The first 13 episodes of Showtime's critically lauded series feature Hank Azaria as a successful shrink and family man whose life is turned upside down when a 15-year-old patient commits suicide in his office. Emmy winner Blythe Danner plays his acerbic, boozy mother and Oliver Platt his hedonistic attorney and friend. Extras include several featurettes and sturdy audio commentary on the pilot and other episodes with creator/executive producer Bob Lowry and executive producer Scott Winant.

Coming Tuesday

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Bee Season, Little Manhattan and Ushpizin

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