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DVD Reviews for 9/26: Run For The Hills--They Made "Sex And The City" Longer!
by Peter Sobczynski

Alas, I have decided to suspend this week’s main review in order to rush back and try to hammer out a deal that would allow be to become Natalie Portman’s new boyfriend--essentially, I have to take a quiz in order to prove that I saw all of “Closer” and not just certain scenes on the DVD. Oh well, there are still plenty of new titles this week to choose from and if you come back this weekend, you will see something special regarding the list’s most inexplicable omission. Trust me, it will be a column that you can’t refuse.


101 DALMATIONS/102 DALMATIONS/101 DALMATIONS 2: PATCH’S LONDON ADVENTURE (Buena Vista Home Entertainment. $29.95 each): No doubt to tie in with the upcoming extended ethnic joke that is “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” Disney has re-released the various off-shoots of their 1961 animated classics. The live-action “101 Dalmatians” and “102 Dalmatians” still aren’t very good--the former basically takes the original and twists it into yet another “Home Alone” knockoff (no doubt the result of the presence of screenwriter John Hughes) and the latter is just a retread of the former--but there are some pleasures to be had from Glenn Close’s cheerfully over-the-top performance as Cruella De Ville. As for the animated “Patch’s London Adventure,” it is slightly better than most of the generally useless direct-to-video sequels that Disney slapped together to exploit their best-loved titles but you and your kids would be much better served by just watching the original again.

BREATHING ROOM (Starz/Anchor Bay Home Entertainment. $19.97): Stop me if you’ve heard this one before--a group of strangers wake up in a room with a corpse and discover that they are all a part of a strange game in which there are gruesome prices to pay for breaking the rules or failing to solve the various puzzles that come up along the way. Unless you just can’t wait for “Saw V” to drop next month, I can’t see any real reason for sitting through this low-rent rip-off.

DECEPTION (Fox Home Entertainment. $27.98): How could an erotic murder mystery set within the world of an exclusive Wall Street sex club catering to the beautiful and powerful and featuring the likes of Hugh Jackman, Ewan McGregor, Michelle Williams, Natasha Henstridge and the always-dazzling Charlotte Rampling possibly sit on a shelf for months before quickly dribbling in and out of theaters earlier this spring with such haste that even the local studio reps weren’t sure what was going on with it? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that it is colossally boring, achingly predictable (unless you are a complete dullard, you will easily anticipate all of its “shocking” twists and turns) and woefully unsexy to boot. Imagine a Shannon Tweed Skinemax movie from the early 1990’s, minus the lucid plot, and you have this cold shower of a film in a nutshell.

THE FOOT FIST WAY (Paramount Home Video. $19.99): Although Danny McBride scored a lot of laughs this past summer with his hilarious supporting turns in “Pineapple Express” and “Tropic Thunder,” he completely struck out when he took center stage for this painfully unfunny comedy about a small-town Tae Kwon Do teacher with an overly inflated sense of his talent and self-worth. Imagine a cross between “Napoleon Dynamite” (presuming that you hated that film as much as I did) and a lesser Will Ferrell vehicle and you have this mirth-free mess in a nutshell. However, if you are deluded enough to actually want to check this out for yourself, be aware that it is currently only available at Best Buy as part of an exclusive arrangement.

FRIDAY THE 13th: THE SERIES--SEASON ONE (CBS DVD. $54.99): Sure, you can scoff at this release of the first season of the largely forgettable late-1980’s syndicated television horror series about a pair of cousins trying to track down the haunted merchandise that their late uncle sold to unknowing customers following an unwise deal with the devil, if only because the show has absolutely nothing to do with the long-running series of slasher films that gave it its name. However, those auteurists out there with a special fascination to our neighbors to the north may find this six-disc set to be an unexpected delight. The premiere episode, “The Inheritance,” features a performance from a very young Sarah Polley, “Cupid’s Quiver” was directed by the then-unknown Atom Egoyan and “Faith Healer” had no less a master than David Cronenberg calling the shots.

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 2: DELUXE DANCE EDITION (Buena Vista Home Entertainment. $34.99): Although most fans of this reasonably entertaining sequel to the freakishly popular “High School Musical” no doubt already own the previous DVD release, this two-disc reissue (timed, of course, to promote the upcoming “High School Musical 3”) includes enough new bonus features to ensure that they will buying it again, including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, a music video of “All For One,” an “Interactive Dance-Along” and, most importantly, a sneak preview of “High School Musical 3” and a free ticket to see it when it opens in theaters next month.

KEN RUSSELL AT THE BBC (BBC American. $59.98): Before making a name for himself as one of the most controversial filmmakers of the 1970’s with such jaw-droppers as “The Devils,” “Tommy,” “Lisztomania” and “Altered States,” the always-intriguing Ken Russell got his start directing a series of films for the BBC dealing with the lives and works of famous artists (a common theme throughout his career) and this three-disc set brings together six of them, dealing with the likes of composers Edward Elgar, Claude Debussy and Frederick Delius, painter Henri Rousseau, dancer Isadora Duncan and writer Dane Gabriel Rossetti, along with a new interview with the director and vintage behind-the-scenes footage showing him at work.

L.A. CONFIDENTIAL (Warner Home Video. $20.97): Generally regarded as one of the films to really help launch the DVD format when it was originally released a decade ago, Curtis Hanson’s brilliant 1997 adaptation of James Ellroy’s best-selling novel of crime and corruption in L.A. during the 1950’s finally goes the double-dip route with a special two-disc edition jam-packed with new features, including a commentary track featuring critic Andrew Sarris and most of the film’s key personnel (including Ellroy, co-stars Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kevin Spacey, David Strathairn and Kim Basinger, screenwriter Brian Helgeland and cinematographer Dante Spinotti, though director Curtis Hanson does not make an appearance), numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes and even the pilot episode for a proposed TV spin-off featuring Kiefer Sutherland in the Kevin Spacey part. If that weren’t enough, the set even includes a CD containing six period songs heard on the soundtrack as well.

LEATHERHEADS (Universal Home Entertainment. $29.98): Although it hardly scored with audiences when it appeared in theaters last spring, I kind of enjoyed George Clooney’s amiably silly knockabout farce that took place during the formative years of professional football and centered on a romantic triangle involving an aging vet (Clooney) trying to keep his team together, a rookie sensation/war hero (John Krazinski) with a big secret and an ambitious reporter (Renee Zellweger) who turns up to expose that secret and winds up falling for both of them. If you didn’t see it in theaters, you might want to give it a shot now because I suspect that this is one of those modest comedies whose cheerfully unpretentious nature may actually play a whole lot better in the intimacy of your living room than it did in theaters.

MARTINI MOVIES (Sony Home Entertainment. $19.95 each): Although the five movies featured in this first wave of titles for what may be an ongoing series of new-to-DVD releases from the holding of Sony Home Entertainment, fans who have been waiting ages for them to appear will no doubt be too delighted with finally having copies of them to care too much about the odd juxtaposition of titles. “$” (1971) is a caper film in which hooker Goldie Hawn and con man Warren Beatty team up to rob a bank in Hamburg of the safety deposit boxes belonging to a gangster, a corrupt army sergeant and a German drug dealer and are forced to go on the run when they are inevitably double-crossed. “Affair in Trinidad” (1952) reunited “Gilda” stars Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford in a tale about a dancer who agrees to put her seductive charms to work for the police in order to gain information about a suspected spy ring. “The Anderson Tapes” (1971) is a caper film from Sidney Lumet in which Sean Connery plays a recently paroled safecracker who, with the aid of a couple of assistants (including Christopher Walken in one of his earliest roles), plots an elaborate robbery in the apartment building where his girlfriend (Dyan Cannon) lives. “The Garment Jungle” (1957) finds Kerwin Matthews as an innocent dope who discovers that his father’s dress business is controlled by gangsters and joins a group of rebellious union leaders in order to free dear old dad from the grips of the Mob. Finally, “The New Centurions” (1972) is a cop drama in which wet-behind-the-ears rookie Stacy Keach and crusty veteran George C. Scott team up to clean up the most dangerous streets of L.A.

MOTHER OF TEARS (Genius Products. $19.98):In what is easily the best horror film of the year to date, legendary Italian filmmaker Dario Argento finally completed his infamous “Three Mothers” trilogy (whose previous installments included “Suspiria” and “Inferno”) after a nearly three decade gap with this wild and wooly tale of an American art restoration student (the always-fascinating Asia Argento) who inadvertently awakes a long-slumbering witch who uses her power to instigate an orgy of violence and destruction that threatens to destroy the world for good. Filled with bizarre killings (the opening murder of Argento’s colleague is definitely one for the books), gallons of blood, plenty of nudity, ghostly apparitions, demented plot twists, goofy dialogue, references to virtually every title in Argento’s filmography and a brief appearance by the inimitable Udo Kier, this is the return to form that fans of Argento have been waiting to see for a long time, though those unfamiliar with his work should also respond to the sheer audaciousness of the material as well. The disc also contains a making-of documentary featuring plenty of juicy behind-the-scenes footage, an interview with Argento and both the U.S. and Italian trailers for the film. For fans of gory horror films, this title is a must.

PATHOLOGY (MGM Home Entertainment. $27.98): In what is easily the dumbest horror film of the year to date, a brilliant med student (Milo Ventmiglia) becomes embroiled with a group of attractive-but-psychotic fellow students who pass the time by killing people in the most bizarre ways possible and challenging the others to figure out how they did it. It sounds like the premise for a cheerfully over-the-top gore classic (especially when you consider the fact that it comes form the same people behind the similarly outrageous “Crank”) but this effort is so dull and devoid of anything remotely resembling tension that you’ll begin to think that this is the medical “thriller” that should have been called “Coma.” And to shoot down the only possible reason why some of you might still want to check this one out--yes, Alyssa Milano is in the movie but no, she doesn’t take off anything other than her remaining shreds of dignity.

RUN FATBOY RUN (New Line Home Entertainment. $27.98): No, this is not the eye-opening documentary about my attempt to flee from readers angry about the “Sex and the City” headline. Instead, it is a fairly unsuccessful comedy in which a selfish and decidedly out-of-shape loser (Simon Pegg) impulsively decides to enter a marathon in an attempt to win back the ex-girlfriend (Thandie Newton) that he abandoned at the altar a few years earlier while pregnant with his child. There are a couple of funny moments here and there, mostly courtesy of Pegg, but for the most part, it is an entirely forgettable rom-com that will satisfy neither fans of the genre nor the cult that Pegg has amassed thanks to “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”

SAMANTHA WHO?--THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (ABC Studios. $29.99): Although cursed with one of the sillier premises for a sitcom in recent memory (a woman wakes up from a coma with absolutely no memory of her previous life, discovers that she was a monstrous bitch to everyone and sets about trying to reinvent herself as a better person), this actually turned out to be one of the happier surprises of last year’s wave of new TV shows, largely thanks to the wonderfully funny lead performance from the always-reliable Christina Applegate. Other TV show sets debuting this week include “Boston Legal: Season Four (Fox Home Entertainment. $59.98), “Brothers and Sisters: The Complete Second Season (ABC Studios. $59.99), “Cashmere Mafia--The Complete Series” (Sony Home Entertainment. $29.95), "CSI:NY--The Fourth Season” (CBS DVD. $79.99), “iCarly: Season 1, Volume 1” (Nickelodeon Home Entertainment. $26.98), “This American Life--Season 1 (CBS DVD. $19.99) and “Two and a Half Men--The Complete Fourth Season” (Warner Home Video. $44.98).

SAVAGE STREETS (BCI/Eclipse. $19.98): In this extra-sleazy exploitation flick from 1985, Linda Blair plays a high-school girl who pulls a prank on a street gang that has horrifying repercussions when the evil gang leader and his men gang-rape her deaf-mute sister (Linnea Quigley) and to right this wrong, she slips on a skin-tight leather outfit, loads up her ever-present crossbow and goes gunning after the lot of them. Trashy as all get out--this is the kind of film that makes you want to take a long, hot shower after watching it--but as these things go, it certainly beats “The Brave One” any day of the week.
If you watch this and are still in the mood for grind house trash afterwards, you might also want to take a look at “Final Exam” (BCI/Eclipse. $19.95), a slasher movie made during the early-80’s apex for the genre in which a group of college students play a prank towards the end of the semester by staging a prank terrorist attack and then find themselves being picked off one by one by a mysterious killer with no sense of humor.

SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK: THE ELECTION COLLECTION (Buena Vista Home Entertainment. $19.95): This compilation brings together 15 segments of the eternally popular animated educational series that explain the history and mechanics of the American political process through toe-tapping tunes that are both informative and incredibly catchy. The great thing about this is that all you have to do is watch this disc only once and you will already be more informed than certain vice-presidential candidates that I could mention.

SEX AND THE CITY (New Line Home Entertainment. $34.98): In news that will no doubt send shivers down the spines of every male reading this column, the atrocious big-screen translation of the popular HBO show--I assume that I don’t have to fill in the particulars--that even its biggest fans felt was a little long-winded at 145 minutes is arriving on video in a special extended cut running an additional six minutes. Gee, I hope this additional footage helps to flesh out either the wacky and vaguely racist subplot in which Kristin Davis is stricken with turistas in Mexico and winds up crapping herself or the heart-rending and vaguely racist subplot involving Jennifer Hudson’s appearance as an assistant to Sarah Jessica Parker’s character (which is weird since she never actually seems to do any work) who essentially turns into the Prada Bagger Vance.

VIPERS (Genius Products. $14.95): Tara Reid does battle with a bunch of CGI snakes in a film that had its premiere as a Sci-Fi Channel exclusive. Yes, I am just as excited as you are.

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originally posted: 09/26/08 01:44:56
last updated: 09/26/08 04:59:57
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