- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2004

DVD Pick of the Week

Drawing from Barry Gifford’s source novel, director/screenwriter David Lynch stirs another heady cauldron of obsessive love, familial betrayals and kinky power games in his haunting 1990 road noir Wild at Heart: Special Edition ($19.98), new this week from MGM Home Entertainment.

Nicolas Cage shines as self-styled Elvis manque Sailor, while Laura Dern delivers an impressive “Blue Velvet”-level performance as his loyal squeeze Lula. The two play fugitive lovers who encounter no end of obstacles and offbeat adventures as they follow the yellow brick road through a modern American hell-scape.

In this intense actors’ showcase, Willem Dafoe likewise turns in powerful work as the supremely sleazy Bobby Peru, performing one of the scariest seduction pitches in cinema history. Diane Ladd (Miss Dern’s real-life mom) steals her scenes as Lula’s aggressively mad mater, while there are welcome cameos by “Blue Velvet” alum Isabella Rossellini, the late Jack (“Eraserhead”) Nance, and future “Twin Peaks” icon Sheryl Lee as the Good Witch of the North, of “The Wizard of Oz” fame (a flick that provides “Wild at Heart’ with its apt central metaphor).

Mr. Lynch admirably refuses to tamper with finished products, so you won’t find any deleted scenes or outtakes, nor will you hear a director’s commentary.

The amiable, shock-haired celluloid iconoclast does partake freely in the DVD’s fascinating behind-the-scenes featurettes, though, and these furnish more insights than most of their ilk, presenting a vivid sense of the maverick auteur’s at once cheerfully controlling and generously collaborative approach to filmmaking.

The disc also includes an original 1990 making-of mini-documentary, a “David Lynch on the DVD Process” segment, four TV spots and the original theatrical trailer.

Tele-Video

TV box sets continue to crowd video store shelves. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment proffers a pair of popular mystery series: the Kiefer Sutherland vehicle 24: Season Three ($69.98) arrives in a seven-disc set containing all 24 third-season episodes plus select cast and crew commentary, over 40 deleted scenes and a full disc of exclusive extras. Meanwhile, Tru Calling: The Complete First Season ($59.98), starring Eliza Dushku, makes its digital debut in a six-disc set with 20 episodes, select commentary, featurettes and more. The same label also issues the three-disc, 25-episode MASH: Season Seven Collector’s Edition ($39.98).

• Paramount Home Entertainment likewise mines a mirthful vein with Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again ($19.99), spotlighting the down-home comedy stylings of Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy. Universal Studios Home Entertainment goes the cult/sitcom route with Northern Exposure: The Complete Second Season ($59.98), a double-disc affair stuffed with new bonus features.

• HBO Video contributes the surreal, Depression era-set series Carnivale: The Complete First Season ($99.98), with Adrienne Barbeau heading a skilled ensemble cast, in a six-disc set complete with three creators’ commentaries and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The ‘A’ List

Two box-office blockbusters barrel into stores this week. Matt Damon returns as amnesic assassin Jason Bourne in the taut, twisty Robert Ludlum-based action sequel The Bourne Supremacy (Universal, $29.98), armed with deleted scenes and a slew of featurettes. Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller square off in the faux-sports farce Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98); the stars also join writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber for a full-length audio commentary.

• On the indie front, HBO Video introduces the strong, complex drug-smuggling drama Maria Full of Grace ($27.95), while MGM Home Entertainment issues a brace of fresh titles: the 1950s-set Swedish comedy import Kitchen Stories and the behind-the-scenes theater documentary This So-Called Disaster ($29.98 each), starring Sean Penn, Woody Harrelson and Sam Shepard.

Collectors’ Corner

Got “Matrix”? If not, Warner Home Video invites you to gorge beyond gluttony with its 10-disc “Ultimate Matrix Collection” ($79.92), assembling all three of the Wachowski Brothers’ mega-influential science-fiction films along with over 35 -count ‘em - 35 hours of bonus material covering every aspect of the “Matrix” universe.

Universal changes the mood with its double-disc “Adam Sandler Collection” ($29.98), yoking “Billy Madison” and “Happy Gilmore,” with director’s commentary, deleted scenes and outtakes.

The same label’s “Soul Showcase” line debuts a trio of 1970s “blaxploitation” faves: Fred (The Hammer) Williamson in “That Man Bolt,” Kiel Martin in “Trick Baby” and Roscoe Orman in “Willie Dynamite” - priced at $14.98 each.

Phan Mail

Dear Phantom: Saw a great 1940s film on cable, “Fallen Angel.” Is it on DVD?

- Bob Wells, via e-mail

Unfortunately, that 1945 Otto Preminger noir has yet to join the home video ranks.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002, or e-mail us at phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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