- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Negotiating a dark terrain similar to his earlier cult chiller, “Session 9,” director Brad Anderson fashions a satisfyingly sinister journey in his 2004 effort The Machinist, new this week from Paramount Home Entertainment ($29.99). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

The film casts a disturbingly emaciated Christian Bale (who, in a reverse Robert De Niro “Raging Bull” move, shed some 50 pounds for the part) as haunted machine operator Trevor Reznik, whom we first meet dumping a rug-covered body into a river.

We then flash-forward to follow an increasingly paranoid Trevor through his dead-end daily rounds: at work — where he inadvertently costs co-worker Miller (an excellent Michael Ironside) an arm — at home, shambling about his shabby digs, and at an anonymous airport coffee shop.

It’s at the last-mentioned locale that a potential ray of sunshine penetrates Trevor’s pervasive gloom, in the form of friendly waitress Maria (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon). But a serious catch may await.

Auteur Anderson excels at creating an all-encompassing atmosphere of creeping dread, best exemplified here by a truly unsettling amusement park spook ride called “Route 666,” while his actors emote with flawless precision, particularly the versatile Mr. Bale and Jennifer Jason Leigh as Trevor’s part-time hooker squeeze.

Mr. Anderson and scripter Scott Kosar may tip their narrative hand a tad too early in the game to sustain maximum suspense, but “The Machinist” generates enough palpable unease to recommend to fans of imaginative nightmare cinema.

Extras include a director’s audio commentary, a featurette, eight deleted scenes and a theatrical trailer.


Paramount Home Entertainment heads the week’s TV-on-DVD roster with a trio of new boxed sets: Kelsey Grammer and friends return in the four-disc, 24-episode Frasier: The Complete Fifth Season, while Richard Dean Anderson assumes the eponymous adventurer role in the six-disc, 22-episode MacGyver: The Complete Second Season. In a more contemporary vein, modern marriage goes under the digital microscope in the triple-disc Newlyweds Nick & Jessica: Complete Seasons 2 & 3. The sets are tagged at $38.99 each.

A&E Home Video offers an even more eclectic cathode mix, leading with the long-lost 1970s British cult sci-fi series The Tomorrow People ($79.95), arriving in a four-disc, 26-episode set with select cast commentary, featurette and biographies.

The label also offers the History Channel collection The Presidents: The Lives and Legacies of the 43 Leaders of the United States (three-disc, $49.95) and, radically switching gears, the animated superhero send-up Danger Mouse: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 (two-disc, $29.95).

Universal Home Entertainment focuses on vintage crime fighters with the double-disc Dragnet 1967: Season 1, starring Jack Webb as intrepid lawman Joe Friday in all 17 premiere season episodes, and the three-disc, 16-episode Quincy, M.E.: Seasons 1 & 2 ($39.98 each), with Jack Klugman as the tireless titular medical examiner.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment serves a sci-fi smorgasbord with The X Files’ Abduction (four-disc, $39.98), assembling 15 alien-oriented episodes culled from the first three seasons, along with select audio commentary and a Chris Carter featurette.

MPI Home Video keeps goth fans busy with its Dark Shadows DVD Collection 18 (four-disc, $59.98), compiling 40 episodes plus exclusive new cast interviews.

The ‘A‘ list

Two recent theatrical comedies make their digital debuts this week. “Pulp Fiction” alums John Travolta and Uma Thurman reunite in the “Get Shorty” sequel Be Cool (MGM Home Entertainment, $27.98), an extras-juiced edition containing featurettes, deleted scenes, a gag reel and a music video by co-star The Rock.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment introduces the teen action comedy D.E.B.S. ($24.96) in a bonus-packed disc with director’s and cast commentaries, deleted and extended scenes, and more.

Elsewhere, Lions Gate Home Entertainment issues the Kevin Spacey bio of Bobby Darin, Beyond the Sea ($27.98), in a bonus-laden edition, while Universal unleashes an extended version of the killer-doll romp Seed of Chucky ($29.98) in an extras-enhanced disc.

Collectors’ corner

Paramount Home Entertainment goes west with 1954’s Far Horizons, starring Fred MacMurray and Charlton Heston as famed explorers Lewis and Clark (and Donna Reed as an unlikely Indian maiden), and George Cukor’s entertainingly offbeat 1960 show-biz Western Heller in Pink Tights ($14.99 each), with Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn as itinerant entertainers.

The same label looks skyward with 1998’s Star Trek Insurrection: Special Collector’s Edition ($19.99), a double-disc affair equipped with behind-the-scenes featurettes galore.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I have had no luck finding a movie called Rad, about a group of kids that rides BMX bikes. Is this movie available anywhere?

Jacques, via e-mail—

While the VHS is long out of circulation, you may try scoring a mail-order rental copy via Video Library (vlibrary.com).

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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