- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Danish auteurs Thomas Vinterberg (director) and Lars von Trier (screenwriter) score a bull’s-eye with their 2005 fable Dear Wendy, new from Wellspring Media ($24.98). It’s our …

DVD pick of the wdeek

Sort of a “Fight Club” with guns, “Dear Wendy” sets its celluloid sights on both firearms fetishism and action-movie tropes. In a small rural American town, presumably in the 1970s, young loner Dick (Jamie Bell) develops a fondness for an antique handgun he dubs “Wendy” and addresses as such in a running diary (hence the film’s title).

Soon, Dick unites several other disenchanted youths to form a secret group called the Dandies, complete with their own lingo, codes, rituals and, most important, customized guns.

The Dandies’ first and foremost rule is to never let their weapons “talk” in public — guns are for target practice and private worship only. Not unexpectedly, circumstances eventually force the Dandies to consider breaking that rule in order to uphold a promise made to another of the town’s mistreated citizens.

While stylized, “Dear Wendy” eschews the ultra-minimalist approach of Mr. von Trier’s controversial “Dogville” and succeeds in balancing offbeat drama with utterly deadpan satire. A largely little-known cast (with the exception of dependable vet Bill Pullman as the local sheriff) likewise maintains a consistent tone that prevents the film from tipping over into broad black comedy.

Wellspring’s DVD includes fascinating filmmaker interviews, an audio commentary with director Vinterberg and cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle, and an informative behind-the-scenes featurette.

In an era when cinematic originality seems at a premium, “Dear Wendy” delivers a tale that dares to be different.

Tele-video

In fresh TV-on-DVD developments, Universal Studios Home Entertainment emphasizes vintage adventure via a trio of series: The A Team: The Complete Fourth Season, Knight Rider: The Complete Fourth Season and Magnum, P.I.: The Complete Fourth Season (three-disc, $49.98 each).

Warner Home Video looks for laughs with Full House: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $29.98) and the bonus-packed sketch-comedy collection Robot Chicken: Season One (two-disc, $29.98).

Anchor Bay Entertainment goes the sci-fi route with Tripping the Rift: Season 2 (two-disc, $29.98), and Paramount Home Entertainment unleashes Garbage Pail Kids: The Complete Series (two-disc, $26.99).

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment revisits Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek and the gang in Dawson’s Creek: The Complete Sixth Season (four-disc, $49.95), assembling all 23 final season episodes, plus an exclusive scrapbook and select commentary by creators Kevin Williamson and Paul Stupin.

Collectors’ corner

Three Hollywood legends receive their digital due in a troika of new double-disc Glamour Collection sets from Universal Studios, each set tagged at $26.98:

• Sultry Marlene Dietrich holds forth in five films: Morocco, Blonde Venus, The Devil Is a Woman, The Flame of New Orleans and Golden Earrings.

• Carole Lombard works her movie magic in six titles: Man of the World, We’re Not Dressing, Hands Across the Table, Love Before Breakfast, The Princess Comes Across and True Confession.

• The inimitable Mae West cuts up in a comic quintet: Night After Night, I’m No Angel, Goin’ to Town, Go West Young Man and My Little Chickadee.

More for collectors

Sony Pictures time-travels to the ‘70s via the Donna Summer disco celebration Thank God It’s Friday ($14.99), while 20th Century Fox returns to the dawn of the ‘80s for the office comedy 9 to 5 ($19.98), with commentary by stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dolly Parton, deleted scenes, a featurette and more.

The ‘A’ list

A pair of high-profile recent theatrical releases arrive this week: Ang Lee’s acclaimed drama Brokeback Mountain (Universal Studios, $29.98), starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, moseys in with bonus interviews and featurettes, while the C.S. Lewis fantasy adaptation The Chronicles of Narnia — the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe surfaces in both double- and single-disc editions ($34.99, $29.99, respectively) with multiple commentaries and featurettes.

Elsewhere, Richard Gere plays a devoted dad in the drama Bee Season ($27.98) and Cuba Gooding Jr. undergoes a rad image change as a corrupt cop in the gritty L.A.-set thriller Dirty (Sony Pictures, $24.96).

Digital diamonds

With the 2006 season in full swing, baseball buffs can relive golden memories via two extensive new collections from A&E; Home Video. The seven-disc The Chicago White Sox 2005 World Series Collector’s Edition ($69.95) and the nine-disc The New York Mets 1986 World Series Collector’s Edition ($89.95) include not only series games but pivotal league championship matches, along with bonus material galore.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Do you know when the TV series “Chicago Hope” will be out on DVD?

Lynn McDonald, Alexandria

No word as yet, but it would seem a natural for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

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 [email protected]aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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