Dvd Check

DVD CHECK

April 06, 2006|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

King Kong

[Universal] $40

Even before his The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept the Academy Awards two years ago, director Peter Jackson had announced his next project, a remake of the 1933 classic King Kong.

Although critics were divided on King Kong, which is an enjoyable two-disc set, there's a lot to admire about the film, especially the touching relationship between the romantic simian (Andy Serkis) and the young actress Ann (Naomi Watts). The film, which grossed more than $500 million internationally, also stars Jack Black and Adrien Brody. King Kong picked up three Oscars earlier this month - for sound, sound editing and visual effects.

Jackson doesn't supply a commentary track for the epic, but he is front and center on the "Post-Production Diaries" on the second disc. These filmed "diaries" originally appeared on www.KongIsKing.net and offer a week-by-week look at every aspect of post-production, from editing, special effects, music and sound effects. Rounding out the second disc is a historical look at New York in 1933 and the building of the Empire State Building, and a fun faux documentary on Skull Island.

The Children Are Watching Us

[Criterion] $30

The first masterpiece from Italian director Vittorio De Sica was filmed in the summer of 1942 and not released in Italy until 1944 because of the war. Children is a beautifully rendered drama about a 4-year-old boy (Luciano De Ambrosis) whose mother runs off with her lover, leaving him in the custody of his ineffectual father. The film marked the first collaboration between De Sica and his longtime screenwriter Cesare Zavattini. The digital edition features recent interviews with De Ambrosis and De Sica scholar Callisto Cosulich.

Memoirs of a Geisha

[Sony] $29

Rob Marshall's adaptation of Arthur Golden's best-selling novel met with tepid critical and commercial reaction, but this romantic tale of a young woman (Ziyi Zhang) who rises in pre-World War II Japan from her poor fishing village roots to become one of the top geishas in Japan is visually impressive. The well-produced two-disc set includes informative commentary from Marshall and co-producer-choreographer John DeLuca, as well as commentary from production designer John Myhre, costume designer Colleen Atwood and editor Pietro Scalia. Production featurettes cover such topics as geisha boot camp, the history of the Sumo, the music for the film and how the village of old Kyoto was re-created in a pasture in Southern California.

Robot Chicken

Vol. 1

[Warner] $30

Though the majority of the series on Cartoon Network are for the kiddies, the cable channel also has programs for adult audiences, including this wild, ribald stop-motion animated satire of TV, movies, music and celebrities.

The show was created by actor Seth Green and Matthew Senreich. The disc includes audio commentaries, animation meetings, behind-the-scenes features and deleted scenes.

Doctor Who

The Beginning Collection

[BBC Warner] $50

With the latest incarnation of the British series about an eccentric, irascible time-traveling doctor currently airing on the Sci Fi Channel, BBC Warner has dusted off the first three adventures in the serial that aired in 1963 and 1964.

Veteran British character actor William Hartnell plays the doctor in these charmingly nostalgic black-and-white episodes. The two-disc set also features audio commentary, a photo gallery, the rarely seen original pilot and comedy sketches.

Knots Landing

The Complete First Season

[Sony] $40

The deliciously soapy spinoff of Dallas had an amazing run on CBS from 1979 through 1993. The series, which saw several cast members come and go over the run, revolved around five families living on a cul-de-sac in California, including Gary Ewing (Ted Shackleford) and his wife, Valene (Joan Van Ark). The DVD includes all 13 episodes of the premiere season, affectionate commentary with Shackleford and Van Ark and an interview with the two stars.

Stay

[Fox] $29

Marc Forster, who directed Halle Berry to an Oscar in Monster's Ball and Johnny Depp to a nomination for Finding Neverland, helmed this psychological thriller starring Ewan McGregor, Ryan Gosling and Naomi Watts. Extras include an eerie featurette on people who have had near-death experiences.

Coming Tuesday

Fun With Dick and Jane, The Greatest Game Ever Played, An Unfinished Life, Wolf Creek and Ellie Parker

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