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Striptease And Zhang Ziyi (DVD Reviews 4/22)

by Peter Sobczynski

Because of time commitments, there will be no extended review this week. Next week, things will be back to normal. Please try to contain your devastation.


BIRTH (New Line Home Video. $27.95): One of the silliest film premises ever concocted–a young widow on the verge of remarrying is suddenly wooed by a ten-year-old child who claims to be the reincarnation of her late husband–is almost redeemed by a strong lead performance by Nicole Kidman. I said almost–the rest of the film too confused and scattershot to ever decide on what kind of story it wants to tell–but if you ever want to see a prime example of a performer triumphing over her material, this is a good place to start.

CARMEN ELECTRA’S ADVANCED AEROBIC STRIPTEASE (Paramount Home Video. $16.99): With the possible exception of “Spring Break Shark Attack,” this could well be the best title of the year.

DYNASTY: SEASON ONE (Fox Home Video. $39.98): Then again, with three discs of Pamela Sue Martin at her prime, who needs advanced aerobic striptease anyway?

THE ERROL FLYNN COLLECTION (Warner Home Video. $59.92): In their latest bid to drain the wallets of film fans with a highly anticipated and thoughtfully compiled box set, Warner pays tribute to the legendary Flynn with a collection of five of his most popular titles (“Captain Blood,” “The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex,” “The Sea Hawk,” “They Died With Their Boots On” and “Dodge City”), along with a sixth disc featuring a retrospective documentary chronicling his entire career.

HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS (Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video. $29.95): Easily the best-looking film of 2004, Zhang Yimou returned to the martial-arts genre--following the worldwide hit “Hero”--with this epic that matched the earlier film in its visual splendor (including the ravishing Ziyi Zhang) but added an emotional core that made it a far more satisfying experience.

L’IL ABNER (Paramount Home Video. $14.99): Admittedly, I have never seen this musical adaptation of Al Capp’s famous comic strip and I suspect that a lot of the Cold War-era humor that was added dates the film badly today. However, I find it impossible to resist any film combining the talents of Stubby Kaye and Julie Newmar and even throws in a Jerry Lewis cameo for good measure.

MEET THE FOCKERS (Universal Home Video. $29.95): As pointless cash-in sequels to films that didn’t exactly require a follow-up go, this one wasn’t too bad–mostly because of the funny contributions from Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as the aforementioned Fockers.

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000: VOLUME 7 (Rhino Home Video. $59.95): “Saaaannnnnnndddddddssssssttttooooorrrrrrmmmmmmmm!” That right, Misties, this latest collection, compiling four episodes of the greatest television show ever produced, features the episode in which Joel, Crow and Tom Servo riff on the indescribable “Hercules versus the Moon Men” and its extended sandstorm sequence. The set also includes another Hercules film (“Hercules Unchained”), some Japanese sci-fi silliness (“Prince of Space”) and the infamous monster mash “The Killer Shrews,” along with three short subjects. To quote the creepy short-pants-wearing boy in “Prince of Space,” you will “like it very much!”

PRIMER (New Line Home Video. $27.95): Shane Carruth’s bewildering sci-fi head-scratcher, in which two friends tinkering with an invention in a garage make a shocking discovery about its potential and ponder what to do about, is one of those movies where repeat viewing is not only recommended, it is almost required. For those still confused, Carruth also provides an audio commentary to help explain what is going on.

XXX-UNCENSORED UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT (Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video): You know, even if the eight additional minutes added to this re-release of the 2002 action spectacle consisted entirely of co-star Asia Argento showing off her tattoos (which she doesn’t, by the way), it still probably wouldn’t induce me to sit through this again. Pretty much a reissue of the earlier DVD, the only significant additions here are a ticket voucher for the upcoming sequel “XXX: State of the Union” and a specially-made short explaining why Vin Diesel isn’t in said sequel. Presumably, it doesn’t include a bald egomaniac in a man-fur telling his agents “Frankly, I see myself doing more films where I get attacked by a duck.”

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originally posted: 04/22/05 10:18:41
last updated: 04/22/05 10:20:44
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