Pfeiffer, Griffith light up two De Palma films

CRITICS' PICKS : NEW DVDS

Critics' picks: New DVDs

October 01, 2006|By MICHAEL SRAGOW

SCARFACE Platinum Edition -- Universal / 29.98

BODY DOUBLE Special Edition --Sony / 19.98

Tuesday's most heavily promoted DVD reissue is Brian De Palma's 1983 Scarface (Universal), which already received a special edition three years ago. That one came with extras such as a documentary about the movie's influence on hip-hop personalities who view Al Pacino's Cuban refugee and Miami drug lord Tony Montana as a street hero. This "platinum edition" contains all the old features and three new ones targeted at the same audience. A making-of documentary, Scarface: The World Is Yours, takes you behind the scenes of the Scarface video game. A "Scarface scorecard" enables you to tally each time a certain expletive is uttered or an actual bullet is fired. And a featurette called The World of Tony Montana contains various DEA veterans depicting Montana as a cautionary tale while editors from Maxim and XXL magazines hail him as the first movie "drug superhero." But the salient addition (as the ads say) is "BIGGER GUNS" and "BIGGER EXPLOSIONS" because of digital re-mastering. The funniest extra remains a comparison of selected movie scenes featuring the notoriously profane characters and their bowdlerized network-TV counterparts. Sample euphemism: "Where'd you get that beauty scar, tough guy - eating pineapple?"

Movie lovers should watch this lesser De Palma effort for the great Michelle Pfeiffer as an icy moll; she does an amazing amount of acting with her pert nose and svelte shoulder blades. She's Tony's WASP queen from Planet X, and her performance now seems like the wittiest element of the movie. Similarly, another minor De Palma, Body Double (1984), comes to life when Melanie Griffith appears as porn star Holly Body. The plot is woefully derivative: A struggling L.A. actor (Craig Wasson) gets hooked on peeping through a telescope at a voluptuous neighbor; homicide ensues. But De Palma works funky riffs on Hitchcock's Rear Window. And the pert, shapely, clear-eyed Griffith gives the film a spluttering vitality. She creates an all-instinct character who hangs onto her glittering individuality despite debauched circumstances. Though she won wide acclaim for Mike Nichols' sappy 1988 Cinderella story, Working Girl, Body Double and Jonathan Demme's 1986 Something Wild remain her career high points.

ALSO ANTICIPATED

LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS (unrated director's cut) --Universal / $19.98

Guy Ritchie, Madonna's director husband, carved out a name for himself with this uproarious 1998 gangster comedy set in London's East End, involving a rigged card game, a hydroponic marijuana factory and a pair of antique rifles.

Ritchie's not-so-goodfellas include Eddie the card sharp (Nick Moran), Soap the chef (Dexter Fletcher), Tom the hustler of stolen goods (Jason Flemyng) and, best of all, Bacon the small-time scam artist: Jason Statham, The Transporter himself, in his breakout role.

In its own tricky, frivolous way, the movie demonstrates just how confused overgrown "lads" can get because they haven't settled on an understanding of themselves.

michael.sragow@baltsun.com

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