- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 1, 2005

If you’re in the mood for a twisty pulp thriller with an A-level cast, you need look no further than the swiftly paced Control, new from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment ($24.96). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

“Goodfellas” grad Ray Liotta is in fine intense form as Lee Ray, a convicted killer who avoids execution by reluctantly volunteering to ingest “Anagress,” an experimental anti-aggression drug brewed by compassionate scientist Dr. Copeland (Willem Dafoe).

After strutting his psycho stuff in a few violent flashbacks and early escape attempts, Lee Ray surprises even himself by experiencing a gradual mellowing process that leads to his supervised release, a job at a car wash and a budding romance with co-worker Teresa (Michelle Rodriguez).

Director Tim Hunter (of “River’s Edge” fame) and screenwriters Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer refreshingly avoid the expected here; rather than revert to sociopathic form, Lee Ray continues on a redemptive course. But now it’s his turn to be the victim as enemies from his past come gunning for him, while Dr. Copeland’s sinister government sponsors, led by Stephen Rea, seek to terminate the program — and Lee Ray.

“Control” shapes up as a sturdy actioner with a bonus injection of heart and soul. An entertaining behind-the-scenes featurette lensed on location in Bulgaria (subbing for the American Midwest), featuring cast and filmmaker interviews, completes Sony’s sparse but entertaining disc.

Collector’s corner

Those in the market for more mainstream fare of fairly recent vintage can’t go wrong with three new double-disc sets. An ever-versatile Gene Hackman showcases his comic skills as a schlock-movie mogul in Get Shorty: Collector’s Edition, Barry Sonnenfeld’s breezy 1995 adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel, co-starring John Travolta as film-smitten mobster Chili Palmer, along with Rene Russo and Danny DeVito.

Mr. Hackman’s dramatic talents receive an equally thorough workout as a determined high-school basketball coach in David Anspaugh’s excellent sports drama Hoosiers, featuring Dennis Hopper. Both sets, from MGM Home Entertainment ($29.98 each), come equipped with filmmaker audio commentaries, multiple featurettes, deleted scenes and more.

Two other top actors, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, go toe-to-toe, as an obsessive cop and master thief, respectively, in the edgy, adrenalizing 1996 caper Heat ($26.98). Warner Home Video’s deluxe double-disc set includes an audio commentary by writer/director Michael Mann, five new “making-of” documentaries, 11 additional scenes and three theatrical trailers.

Kino Video (kino.com), meanwhile, journeys back to the dawn of cinema with its comprehensive Edison — The Invention of the Movies collection ($99.95). The four-disc set encompasses no fewer than 140 Edison Co. films spanning nearly three decades, plus more than two hours of interviews with film historians.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, Comedy Central’s irreverent animated Colorado kids return in Paramount Home Entertainment’s triple-disc South Park — The Complete Fifth Season ($49.99), containing all 14 episodes from Season 5, including such classics as “Cartmanland” and “Towelie,” along with mini-commentaries by series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

The same label takes a more wholesome tack with the extras-enriched The Brady Bunch — The Complete First Season (two-disc, $38.99).

Elsewhere, Lynda Carter dons the star-spangled spandex in Wonder Woman — The Complete Second Season (Warner Home Video, $39.98), a four-disc affair containing all 21 episodes, plus feature-length season premiere and a bonus documentary.

The space family Robinson takes flight in Irwin Allen’s Lost in Space — Season Three, Volume One ($39.98), a four-disc set featuring 15 cosmic episodes along with the retro bonus “Lost in Space Memories.”

The ‘A’ list

Recent theatrical releases making their digital debuts include the scare prequel Exorcist: The Beginning (Warner Home Video, $27.95), with Stellan Skarsgard assuming Max von Sydow’s original Father Merrin role, complete with commentary by director Renny Harlin, a behind-the-scenes featurette and trailer.

The adventure remake Flight of the Phoenix (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.98) and the animated The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie(Paramount Home Entertainment, $29.95) likewise arrive in bonus-laden editions.

Family fare

Koch Vision releases Shelley Duvall’s Tall Tales & Legends series, leading with “Darlin’ Clementine,” starring Miss Duvall herself as the eponymous Old West mining-camp maiden, co-starring Ed Asner; and “John Henry,” with Danny Glover as the legendary steel-driving man. The discs are tagged at $14.98 each.

Walt Disney Home Entertainment lavishes lots of tender, loving care on one of its most enduring creations with the digitally remastered Bambi: 2-Disc Special Edition ($29.95), replete with a forest full of extras.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: The Weird World of LSD: I have been trying to find it for a long time.

Christine Puccia, via e-mail

Something Weird Video (somethingweird.com) carries that choice 1967 camp classic.

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