|New DVDs June 19, 2000|
|Home Theater News DVD Hardware-Software News|
|Written by Abbie Bernstein|
|Monday, 19 June 2000|
ANNA AND THE KING (Fox Video), directed by Andy Tennant, is the 1999 latest screen version of the true-life adventures of Anna Leonowens in the 1860s court of the King of Siam. Jodie Foster is Anna here and Chow-Yun Fat is a most charismatic King. The film is gorgeous to look at but can't quite seem to make up its mind whether it wants to be a plausible tale of people who affect each other in incremental ways or a more conventional movie romance. The political subplot yields at least one excellent explosion for viewers of a mind to check out how the film impacts home audio equipment.
CLIFFHANGER (Columbia/TriStar), directed by Renny Harlin, is a 1993 action thriller that shows off star Sylvester Stallone to good effect as a disillusioned mountain rescue man who tries to rise to the occasion when a plane goes down -- only to find that the survivors aren't especially nice folks. The special edition features a "making of" short, deleted scenes, explorations of two effects sequences, an audio commentary track with Harlin and Stallone and another commentary track from key behind-the-scenes personnel. John Lithgow and Janine Turner also star.
DEUCE BIGALOW, MALE GIGOLO (Buena Vista/Touchstone), directed by Mike Mitchell, stars co-screenwriter Rob Schneider as the title character, a nebbish who takes an unlikely route to selling himself to lusty ladies in this 1999 comedy.
FIGHT CLUB (Fox Video), directed by David Fincher, is an intermittently exciting but deeply flawed black comedy/fantasy that wants to explore the nature of violence but pulls its punches thematically (though it sure doesn't hold them back in the literal sense). The two-disk special edition DVD is loaded with extras: four separate audio commentary tracks (Fincher by himself; a talk with Fincher and stars Edward Norton, Brad Pitt and Helena Bonham Carter; novelist Chuck Palahniuk and screenwriter Jim Uhls; key crew members), nine effects sequences with commentary from the special effects artists; deleted scenes; alternate takes. There are also the usual goodies, like the the trailer and, of course, the movie is widescreen.
GUN SHY (Buena Vista/Touchstone) was released theatrically earlier this year and unjustly disappeared without a ripple. The dark-humored yet quirkily sunny comedy from director/writer Eric Blakeney stars Liam Neeson as an undercover Federal agent who is in therapy in order to stay on the job, even though he's become so scared he can barely function. Oliver Platt, Sandra Bullock and Mitch Pileggi (of 'The X-Files') co-star.
INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE (Warner Home Video), directed by Neil Jordan in 1994 from Anne Rice's best-seller, is a powerfully dreamlike dark fantasy that, as much as is possible, gets us into the amoral but wistful mind of the title character. Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Kirstin Dunst and Antonio Banderas star. The DVD features an audio commentary track from the articulate Jordan and interviews with Jordan, Rice, Pitt, Cruise, Banderas and Dunst.
LA CUCARACHA (Paramount Home Video) is a 1998 thriller set in Mexico, directed by Jack Perez and starring Eric Roberts, as the new man in town, and Joaquim de Almeida.
LIBERTY HEIGHTS (Columbia/TriStar), from director/writer Barry Levinson, is a dense, affecting tale of a Jewish family in late '50s Baltimore coping with anti-Semitism, integration and the threats, legal and otherwise, to Dad's burlesque and gambling enterprises. Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth, Adrien Brody and Ben Foster star in the 1999 film.
SHAFT (Warner Home Video), the 1971 original directed by Gordon Parks and starring Richard Roundtree as the iconically cool private eye, is now available in a widescreen version, featuring a "making of" documentary.
SWEET AND LOWDOWN is director/writer Woody Allen's 1999 character study of an irresponsible but musically brilliant jazz guitarist on the road in the '30s. Stars Sean Penn and Samantha Morton were both Oscar-nominated for their work here.
TOPSY-TURVY from director/writer Mike Leigh, is a you-are-there drama about a year in the 19th-century life of William Schwenk Gilbert (Leigh regular Jim Broadbent) and Arthur Sullivan (Allan Corduner), during their creation of "The Mikado." The 1999 film was nominated for a number of Oscars, winning for Costume and Makeup. If Gilbert and Sullivan is a musical genre you like, the renditions of the songs are also top-notch.