- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Few recent films boast more bang (and sheer celluloid) for your digital buck than the decades-spanning 2003 drama The Best of Youth, new from Miramax Home Entertainment ($29.99). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Originally aired as an Italian TV miniseries before landing select theatrical runs both here and abroad, director Marco Tullio Giordana’s 368-minute epic presents an intimate look at a middle-class family embroiled in tumultuous times.

The film focuses chiefly on the initially close-knit Carati brothers, questing Nicola (Luigi Lo Cascio) and increasingly enigmatic Matteo (Alessio Boni). Their paths divide in 1966 when recent college grad Nicola heads north for a Norway excursion, while dropout Matteo suddenly opts to join the military.

As our story progresses, the siblings’ lives are greatly affected by the events of the day, from Red Brigade terrorism in Turin to Mafia assassinations in Sicily, which Matteo, now a police detective, investigates. Ultimately, the drama covers nearly 40 years, charting the romances, career moves and tragedies that mark the brothers’ lives as well as those of their families and friends.

Benefiting from a flawless cast (Adriana Asti particularly stands out as the brothers’ trouble-plagued but stoic mother) and often striking locations, “The Best of Youth” hits nary a dry spell in the course of its long journey. While Miramax’s disc arrives sans extras, few who get caught up in these compelling characters’ interconnected lives will find much cause for complaint.


Vintage sitcoms continue to crowd the TV-on-DVD shelves. This week, Warner Home Video contributes the Will Smith showcase The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: The Complete Third Season and Living Single: The Complete First Season (three-disc, $29.98 each).

Paramount Home Entertainment returns to Mayberry with Andy, Barney and the gang in The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Fifth Season (five-disc, $38.99), and Buena Vista Home Entertainment extends the adventures of The Golden Girls (three-disc, $39.99).

Elsewhere, Shout! Factory follows its fascinating $29.98 double-disc The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder: Punk & New Wave (Mr. Snyder takes on Johnny Rotten) with The Best of the Electric Company (four-disc, $49.98), the groundbreaking ‘70s children’s show, featuring such guest stars as Bill Cosby and Rita Moreno, arriving with cast interviews, outtakes and more.

In the drama department, Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey and Sandra Oh star in the hospital series Grey’s Anatomy: Season One (two-disc, $29.99), with bonus material ranging from commentaries to featurettes, while 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment focuses on science-fiction with The Pretender: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $39.98)

Collectors’ corner: Joy of sets

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ jungle hero swings again in The Tarzan Collection (Warner Home Video, four-disc, $59.99), assembling all six films starring Johnny Weissmuller as the eponymous tree-dweller and Maureen O’Sullivan as Jane — Tarzan the Ape Man, Tarzan and His Mate, Tarzan Escapes, Tarzan Finds a Son! Tarzan’s Secret Treasure and Tarzan’s New York Adventure — plus a feature-length documentary, vintage shorts and trailers.

Mystery fans will want to check out Max Allan Collins’ Black Box: Shades of Neo-Noir (Neo Noir Entertainment, $34.98). The three-disc set gathers the indie films by the writer of “Road to Perdition”: Mommy, Mommy 2 (both starring former “Bad Seed” Patty McCormack) and Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, plus many extras, including the excellent documentary “Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane” (and yes, that’s the correct title).

Zeitgeist Video debuts The Essential Egoyan (three-disc, $79.95), collecting four early Atom Egoyan features — Next of Kin (1984), Family Viewing (1987), Speaking Parts (1989) and Calendar (1993), along with three bonus shorts.

The ‘A’ list

In drama developments, Rodrigo Garcia directs an all-star ensemble cast, including Glenn Close, Dakota Fanning and Sissy Spacek, in the nine-part Nine Lives (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $26.96).

“Shakespeare in Love” director John Madden offers the father-daughter character study Proof (Miramax Home Entertainment, $29.99), starring Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, with both discs incorporating copious extras.

Two thrillers likewise surface this week: the bonus-laden scare sequel Saw II (Lions Gate Home Entertainment, $29.98) and the British suspenser House of 9 (Visual Entertainment, $19.99), with Dennis Hopper.

Fantasy holds sway in a pair of extras-laced Sony releases, the visually sumptuous MirrorMask ($26.96) and the “Jumanji” follow-up Zathura ($28.95).

Video verite

PBS Home Video presents probing portraits of three former presidents in a trio of new American Experience documentaries: LBJ, TR: The Story of Teddy Roosevelt and Truman ($24.99 each).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Where can I find a copy of the 1954 William Castle Western “Jesse James vs. the Daltons”?

— Name withheld, via e-mail

While that oater has aired on cable-TV’s Westerns Channel, it has yet to join the home video corral.

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] Check out our Web site at www.videoscope mag.com.

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