- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 2, 2006

An intense suspense drama, Red Dust, details the intertwined fates of three disparate characters caught up in post-apartheid South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation process. Tom Hooper’s limited release arrives on disc courtesy of HBO Video ($26.98). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Hilary Swank plays ex-pat human rights lawyer Sarah Barcant, who returns to her South African homeland to represent former political prisoner Alex Mpondo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), whose confessed torturer, Dirk Hendricks (Jamie Bartlett), is seeking amnesty in exchange for his admission of guilt. During the hearings, Alex must also confront secrets he would sooner forget, while Hendricks is pressured by higher-ups to limit his candor.

Working from Troy Kennedy-Martin’s script drawn from Gillian Slovo’s novel, director Hooper keeps the action tightly focused on the three principals while gradually unraveling the mystery of Alex’s friend Steve, who had “vanished” during the same prolonged interrogations.

While somber, “Red Dust” is ultimately optimistic in its belief that a shared public acknowledgment of past indignities can pave the way for a better future.

HBO’s disc surfaces sans significant extras — a brief background documentary on the actual Truth and Reconciliation hearings would have been welcome — but “Red Dust” more than stands on its own as a powerful story with lessons that might be applied to other regions of the world.

Tele-video

In new TV-on-DVD developments, A&E Home Video presents a bonanza for British cult-classic buffs with its 10-disc The Prisoner: The Complete Series: 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition ($139.95), starring Patrick McGoohan. The 17-episode set comes equipped with select audio commentary, rare vintage footage, a collector’s booklet and much more.

In other Anglophile news, BBC Video contributes All Creatures Great & Small: The Complete Series 6 Collection (four-disc, $79.98), herding 12 episodes plus cast profiles.

Paramount Home Entertainment continues the misadventures of cartoon couch potatoes Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection Vol. 3 (three-disc, $38.99), gathering 42 animated shorts, 15 music videos, featurettes and more.

The same label caters to Trekkers with Star Trek Klingon Fan Collective (four-disc, 42.99), assembling 11 Klingon-themed episodes from the original “Star Trek” and its spinoff series, along with copious bonus material.

HBO Video adds two new titles to the cathode comedy roster: Lisa Kudrow plays a fading star in the reality-TV sendup Comeback: The Complete Only Season, while Larry David portrays his own curmudgeonly self in Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Fifth Season (two-disc, $39.98 each), both armed with bonus interviews and more.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment revisits vintage sitcoms with the 1960s Shirley Booth showcase Hazel: The Complete First Season (four-disc, $39.95) and Jimmy Walker in the quintessential ‘70s series Good Times: The Complete Sixth Season (three-disc, $29.95).

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment ushers in two very different shows in bonus-bulging editions, the animated graphic-novel epic Broken Saints (four-disc, $49.98) and the reality-TV series set in the Playboy mansion, The Girls Next Door: Season One (three-disc, $29.98).

Collectors’ corner

Following in the stealthy footsteps of fellow sleuth Charlie Chan, Peter Lorre’s Mr. Moto receives his digital due in the four-disc The Mr. Moto Collection: Volume One (20th Century Fox, $59.98). The set lines up four Moto mysteries — Mysterious Mr. Moto, Mr. Moto Takes a Chance, Thank You, Mr. Moto and Think Fast, Mr. Moto — along with exclusive featurettes, including “The Mysterious Mr. Lorre.”

MGM Home Entertainment debuts double-disc collector’s editions of two comedy classics, Billy Wilder’s 1959 Some Like It Hot and Charles Crichton’s 1988 A Fish Called Wanda ($24.96 each), both packed with new commentaries, documentaries and more.

20th Century Fox adds an interactive component called “quantum mode” to its lavish new three-disc edition of the Marlee Matlin cult film What the Bleep!? Down the Rabbit Hole ($26.98), along with the original theatrical film version.

The ‘A’ list

Warner Home Video leads off a light week for recent theatrical releases with an extras-enhanced two-disc special edition of the fantasy thriller V for Vendetta ($34.98), written by the Wachowski Brothers of “The Matrix” fame, and starring Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving.

In family-friendly fare, Walt Disney Home Entertainment offers the remake The Shaggy Dog ($29.99), while MGM debuts the 1994 “Christmas Story” sequel My Summer Story ($19.94) and Sony Pictures ushers in the Emmy-nominated miniseries Alice in Wonderland ($14.94).

Video verite

Two new DVDs look back at World War II — WGBH Boston Video’s double-disc biography MacArthur ($29.95) and BBC Video’s Hiroshima ($19.98), a blend of archival footage and dramatic reconstructions — while PBS Home Video explores a contemporary threat in The al Qaeda Files (two-disc, $34.99).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am looking for Creation of the Humanoids.

Vernon, via e-mail

That 1962 cult gem is now available via Dark Sky Films (darkskyfilms.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 [email protected] aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscope mag.com.

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