- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Paramount, $29.99 for DVD, $39.99 for two-disc DVD, $39.99 for Blu-ray) — While critics wonder if their days are numbered as many of their colleagues are being laid off at cash-strapped newspapers, they might also ask how much influence they have left. “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” is one of the worst-reviewed movies of the year, garnering just 19 percent positive reviews on critical aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. It’s also — by far — the top-grossing movie of the year, having made over $400 million at the U.S. box office. (Second place “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” made nearly $100 million less.)

There’s no need to spell out the plot; you aren’t going to watching this sequel for the story. Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson and Megan Fox’s cleavage star in this special effects extravaganza based on the popular toys.

Extras on the two-disc DVD and Blu-ray include a commentary with director Michael Bay, deleted scenes with optional commentary, a music video for Linkin Park’s catchy theme “New Divide” and various making-of featurettes. The Blu-ray edition also lets you build your own Transformer.

Adoration (Sony, $28.96 for DVD, $39.95 for Blu-ray) — Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan is slowly but surely creating one of the genre’s most spellbinding bodies of work. “Adoration” is his latest, and one of his best. A Toronto high school student (Devon Bostick) tries to escape the ghosts of his past by reinventing them. Egged on by a conflicted and strangely aggressive teacher (Arsinee Khanjian), the student convinces his classmates — and, through the Internet, the larger world — that his father was a terrorist who put a bomb in his unknowing and pregnant fiancee’s luggage. What really happened to his dead parents isn’t the most interesting mystery to be solved in this deeply felt film — it’s how their troubled son will react to what he decides must have happened. “Adoration” appears at first glance to be a film about contemporary concerns about terrorism. Yet this thoughtful and breathtaking film is both more personal and much grander than that.


Extras include an interview with Mr. Egoyan, deleted scenes and making-of featurettes.

The L Word: Final Season (Paramount, $59.99) — Showtime only ordered eight episodes of the sixth and final season of the lesbian drama “The L Word.” It wasn’t enough to tie up all the loose ends. Most importantly, the mystery introduced in the season’s first episode: Who killed Jenny, the writer character played by Mia Kirshner? Fans of the series complained not just of the shortness of the season, but the fact that a series with such a devoted fanbase ended on a cliffhanger.

It’s Garry Shandling’s Show: The Complete Series (Shout! Factory, $159.99) — HBO might be better known now for groundbreaking series, such as “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” But Showtime first showed just what a pay cable channel could do with “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” which ran from 1986 to 1990. Of course, many people know who Mr. Shandling is not from this series, but his later, more successful HBO series: “The Larry Sanders Show,” which aired from 1992 to 1998.

Mr. Shandling, a stand-up comedian, didn’t just break the fourth wall in his eponymous series — he bludgeoned it with a sledgehammer. He played a version of himself, a comic who was a character in a sitcom, and invited the audience at home and in the studio in on the joke.

This 16-disc set includes all 72 episodes, as well as a collection of extras. There’s a three-part making-of documentary: “Getting There,” “Being There” and “Still There,” which appears on discs for the first three seasons of the show. The fourth season includes “Try to Remember,” an interview with Mr. Shandling and his co-creator, Alan Zweibel. Also included are interviews with other show luminaries, outtakes and commentaries on 18 episodes.

Cheri (Miramax, $29.99) — Director Stephen Frears, screenwriter Christopher Hampton and actress Michelle Pfeiffer are reunited here for the first time since 1988’s “Dangerous Liaisons.” “Cheri” wasn’t nearly as successful, though it has something of the same combination of delicious sensuality and bittersweet feeling. Based on the novels “Cheri” and “La fin de Cheri” by Colette — whose life would come to imitate her art — the film stars Miss Pfeiffer as an aging courtesan who takes on the romantic education of a colleague’s son (Rupert Friend) and then promptly falls in love with him. Belle Epoque Paris is gloriously brought to life here, but so is the idea that those who live as if there’s no tomorrow will not be prepared for it once it arrives.

Extras include deleted scenes and a making-of featurette.