- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Prolific French auteur Patrice Leconte, late of such inventive gems as “Monsieur Hire,” “Ridicule” and “The Widow of St. Pierre,” tops even that impressive output with his latest character-driven winner, Man on the Train, new from Paramount DVD ($29.99). It’s our…

Video pick of the week

Veteran actor Jean Rochefort and music idol Johnny Hallyday (“the French Elvis”) star as Manesquier, an elderly, fastidious former teacher, and Milan, a mysterious middle-aged drifter, two strangers who share a few days in a somnolent French hamlet. The lonely Manesquier opens his house to the laconic Milan, who’s secretly there to case an upcoming bank heist. An unexpected bond forms between the two, both of whom take time to reflect on lives of thwarted ambitions and unrealized dreams.

While that synopsis would seem to signal a starkly meditative movie, “Man on the Train” is anything but. Beyond its generous dollops of wry wit and dead-on dialogue, “Man” ultimately takes an intriguing “Twilight Zone”-style twist as the men begin imitating each other, unaware that their escalating connection may well be a matter of literal life and death.

Both the gently self-mocking Mr. Rochefort and the moody Mr. Hallyday supply pure pleasure as they burrow deep into the souls of their indelible roles. Supporting actors, including “Eyes Without a Face” alum Edith Scob as Manesquier’s sister, prove equally up to the task.

While Paramount’s DVD arrives sans frills beyond a beautiful widescreen transfer, “Man on the Train” arrives as a haunting journey worthy of repeat viewings.

Collectors’ corner

MGM Home Entertainment retrieves two very different fan faves from the vaults this week: John Schlesinger’s multi-Oscar-winning Darling, starring Julie Christie, Dirk Bogarde and Laurence Harvey, takes an acerbic look at the high-fashion world, circa 1965. Director William (“The French Connection”) Friedkin’s 1985 action noir To Live and Die in L.A. ($19.98 each), pitting maverick federal agent William L. Petersen against ruthless killer Willem Dafoe, surfaces in a special edition replete with a Friedkin audio commentary, featurettes, deleted scene, alternate ending and more.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s exercise in digital overkill, “Alien Quadrilogy” ($99.95), is certain to separate the fans from the fanatics. The new six-DVD set contains all four “Alien” films — Ridley Scott’s visceral 1979 original Alien; James Cameron’s epic 1986 sequel, Aliens; David Fincher’s largely maligned 1992 Alien 3; and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s surreal 1997 Alien Resurrection — along with 45 (count ‘em, 45) hours of bonus features. The latter range from commentaries to interviews to behind-the-scenes documentaries covering virtually every phase of production.


To the ever-burgeoning arena of TV box sets on DVD, add Alias: The Complete Second Season ($69.99 for the six-DVD set), detailing the further danger-fraught adventures of double agent Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner), out this week via Buena Vista Home Entertainment. The set contains all 22 episodes, along with cast and crew audio commentaries, deleted scenes, “making-of” documentaries, blooper reel and DVD-ROM content.

Columbia/TriStar Home Entertainment contributes both The King of Queens: 1st Season ($39.95), collecting a total of 27 episodes, behind-the-scenes featurettes, audio commentary and more, plus the complete seven-episode series My Big Fat Greek Life ($24.95).

Anchor Bay Entertainment goes the old-school route with Michael (“Miami Vice”) Mann’s influential 1980s police series Crime Story: Season One ($59.98), assembling all 20 debut season episodes, plus bonus pilot episode.

Downhome DVD

Country music lovers will want to check out three fresh 1982 TV releases from the concert specialists at Eagle Vision Entertainment. Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn, Jerry Lee Lewis and other C&W luminaries join the titular singer in Conway Twitty on the Mississippi, while the Charlie Daniels Band and Roger Miller are among those tuning up with guitar great Chet Atkins in A Tribute to Chet Atkins. Hank Williams Jr., Kris Kristofferson and Brenda Lee chime in on Hank Williams: The Man and His Music. The DVDs, available now, are tagged at $14.98 each.

The ‘A’ list

Corsair Johnny Depp and crew swashbuckle their way into area vidstores this week in Walt Disney Home Entertainment’s Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (29.99). Among the treasures aboard the double-disc set are audio commentary with Mr. Depp, co-star Keira Knightley and the filmmakers, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes segments and much more.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is the 1973 cult vampire film Lemora on DVD yet?

Richard Burke, via e-mail

“Lemora” is due in an upcoming deluxe DVD edition via Synapse Films (synapse-films.com).

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] Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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