- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 22, 2001

Over the past decade, New Zealand director Peter Jackson has gone from wild indie gore spoofs ("Bad Taste," "Dead Alive") to outrageous puppet parody ("Meet the Feebles") to big-budget Hollywood genre films ("The Frighteners" and the much-anticipated "Lord of the Rings"). All but hidden in his native ouevre at least until now is the delightful 1997 movie mockumentary Forgotten Silver, newly issued by First Run Features in an entertaining, extras-laden DVD edition ($29.95). It's our …

Video pick of the week
With co-writer/director Costa Botes, Mr. Jackson painstakingly recreates the tormented career of thoroughly fictitious New Zealand film pioneer Colin McKenzie, whose breakthrough works are belatedly discovered in rotting film cans buried in a rural shed. Using actual historical stills and film footage mixed with new, deliberately grainy black-and-white fiction sequences, "Forgotten Silver" purports to chronicle how the elusive McKenzie invented sound and color film way back in the early 1900s and even went on to shoot the world's first feature film.
Mr. Jackson and Mr. Botes' technically elaborate, good-natured put-on next proceeds to chart the tortuous progress (over 20 years in the making!) of McKenzie's long-lost biblical epic "Salome." Further adding to the deadpan fun, Mr. Jackson and Mr. Botes recruit such real-life film personalities as critic Leonard Maltin, Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein and actor Sam Neill to sing the imaginary McKenzie's artistic praises.
First Run's DVD includes enlightening audio commentary by co-creator Mr. Botes, interviews with Mr. Botes and Mr. Jackson, deleted scenes, FX tests and more. A gold mine for movie buffs, "Forgotten Silver" also offers plenty of honest laughs for comedy lovers of all stripes.

The 'A' list
Comedies likewise dominate the industry's upcoming A list releases, led by the gross-out youth-pic sequel American Pie 2, available in early January via Universal in separate R (theatrical version) and Unrated editions.
Columbia/TriStar counters with the inside-Tinseltown satire America's Sweethearts, starring Julia Roberts, Billy Crystal, John Cusack and Catherine Zeta-Jones, along with Vivica A. Fox and Morris Chestnut in the battle-of-the-sexes romp Two Can Play That Game.
In the indie arena, Winstar Entertainment readies Jahar ("The White Balloon") Panahi's critically acclaimed The Circle, a quietly devastating indictment of the plight of women in modern Iran, plus the psychological thriller Kill By Inches, about an unhinged young New York City tailor who fails to measure up. All of the above will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.
Collectors' corner
In new sell-through developments, MGM beefs up its DVD roster this month with two sets of reissues. From the label's Classics Collection come Alan Rudolph's 1984 ensemble comedy-drama Choose Me, starring Genevieve Bujold, Keith Carradine and Rae Dawn Chong, the 1988 drama Dominick and Eugene, with Tom Hulce, Ray Liotta and Jamie Lee Curtis, and Bill Forsyth's 1981 Scottish coming-of-age comedy Gregory's Girl ($19.98 each).
For genre fans, MGM's Midnite Movies Collection offers Joan Collins and Robert Lansing in Bert I. Gordon's buggin' 1977 insect-fear fest Empire of the Ants, the spacey 1985 spoof Morons From Outer Space, Pat Wayne and Doug McClure in the 1977 Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation The People That Time Forgot, and Michael Laughlin's 1983 cult fave Strange Invaders, with Nancy Allen and Paul LeMat ($14.95 each).

Good news for Peaks Freaks: Artisan Home Entertainment plans an early December launch for David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks: The First Season Special Edition. The four-disc DVD set ($59.95) includes episodes 1-7, plus a wealth of bonus materials, including in-depth cast and crew interviews.

Phan mail
Dear Phantom:
Some years ago, at the tail end of William Holden's career, he did a TV miniseries, which I think was called "The Blue Knight," about a veteran and very tired cop about to retire from the force. I recall that the miniseries was five or six hours long and that a shortened feature version of the series was later released, but I cannot remember ever seeing any release of the full-length version of this very excellent production. Was it ever released or does it continue to languish forgotten in some network's vault?
Bob Buenzle, via e-mail
Afraid the answer to your last question is (b). The 1975 feature version of the 1973 "Blue Knight" miniseries, with George Kennedy replacing Holden as weary cop "Bumper" Morgan, was briefly available on VHS but is currently out of circulation. The original would certainly seem ripe for a DVD revival.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: [email protected] And check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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