- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2002

One of the all-time faves of yours truly, director Tony Scott's bracingly original 1993 True Romance, written by Quentin Tarantino, shapes up as the ultimate film-nerd fantasy. It's our
Video pick of the week

"True Romance," available next week in a two-disc "special edition" DVD via Warner Home Video ($26.99), stars Christian Slater as a Detroit movie buff. He turns vigilante hero by killing pimp Gary Oldman for the love of cheerfully ditsy part-time prostitute Patricia Arquette.
After lighting out for Tinseltown in a vintage purple Caddy convertible with a cache of stolen cocaine, the two soon find themselves embroiled in an elaborate criminal web involving ruthless Mafiosi, bust-happy cops and sleazy Hollywood producers (pardon our redundancy).
Writer Tarantino's determinedly outrageous yet unexpectedly upbeat and soulful scenario includes bows to Japanese martial-arts champ Sonny Chiba and Hong Kong action ace John Woo (before his move to Hollywood). Normally mainstream-associated director Scott ("Top Gun," "Crimson Tide") draws great quirky performances from Mr. Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Bronson Pichot and Brad Pitt, the last as a perpetually stoned, virtually immobile human sofa growth.
Warner's double-disc DVD does admirably thorough justice to this vibrant road odyssey. Mr. Tarantino's commentary offers a fascinating, if occasionally digressive, glimpse into the creative process, while Mr. Scott, on a separate track, details his directorial chores and choices with equally enlightening clarity. Actors Slater and Arquette share another disc 1 track, while disc 2 serves up deleted and extended scenes, an alternate ending, selective commentaries with Mr. Hopper, Mr. Pitt, thesps Michael Rapaport and Val Kilmer (as the spirit of Elvis), and much more.
All too often such an abundance of extras translates into so much self-promotional audiovisual overkill, but "True Romance" rates as a rare and utterly hypnotic exception, offering a (very) long night's worth of viewing fun and, for budding auteurs, an excellent insider's crash course on the ins and outs of filmmaking.
Warner keeps the DVD goodies coming with equally elaborate double-disc special editions of 'Amadeus': Director's Cut (with commentary by director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer), One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (more Forman commentary, joined by producer Michael Douglas) and 'Unforgiven' 10th Anniversary Edition (packed with behind-the-scenes extras), all likewise priced at $26.99 each.

The 'A' list
Among recent theatrical releases heading for home-video shelves next month, an angry Jennifer Lopez refuses to take it anymore in Enough (Columbia/TriStar). Sleepless detective Al Pacino squares off against Robin Williams, in a rare villainous role, in Insomnia (Warner), Christopher ("Memento") Nolan's American remake of Erik Skjoldbjaerg's 1997 Norwegian thriller. Nicolas Cage and Adam Beach headline in action ace John Woo's fact-based World War II combat drama Windtalkers (MGM Entertainment), centering on the role American-Indian code specialists played in aiding the Allies' cause. All three titles will be priced for rental VHS and also available on DVD.

Halloween watch

In seasonal scare-movie news, main courses on ever-prolific Anchor Bay Entertainment's overflowing Halloween plate include the label's excellent two-disc DVD edition of Kathryn Bigelow's 1987 vampire opus Near Dark ($29.98), replete with Bigelow commentary, an all-new documentary with actors Bill Paxton and Lance Henriksen, and more, and the 4-DVD 'Sleepaway Camp' Survival Kit ($39.98), containing all three "Sleepaway Camp" romps; parts 2 and 3 star Pamela Springsteen, sister of Bruce.
Other fresh terror titles include the Euro imports Curse of the Devil, Frankenstein 90, Hitch-Hike, Nightmare City and Werewolf Shadow ($19.98 each). To see the full menu, click on www.anchorbayentertainment.com.

Macro Cosmos
In tele-video developments, next week Cosmos Studios and Koch Vision release 'Cosmos': The Collectors Edition, with all 13 hours of the popular original Carl Sagan science-fact series, available as a 13-part seven-disc DVD ($129.95) or seven-tape VHS boxed set ($119.98), along with the double-CD set The Music of the Cosmos. The international hit arrives with seven different language subtitles.

Phan mail
Dear Phantom: Hope you can help us. The other week we rented the DVD Mexico City (made in 2000?) from Blockbuster. It's an exciting film and we wanted to buy a copy. Blockbuster doesn't have it for sale. When we tried the stores, we were told it is not for sale and can't be ordered. Any suggestions? Thank you.
Eve, via e-mail
Critic's Choice Video (www.ccvideo.com) has the 2000 thriller "Mexico City" DVD (Dimension Home Entertainment) at the discount price of $23.96.

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], plus check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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