- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Blues buffs receive a digital musical bonanza via the excellent documentary “Antone’s: Home of the Blues,” new from Koch Vision ($19.98). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Director Dan Karlok’s loving tribute traces the story of Austin, Texas-based bass player and consummate blues fanatic Clifford Antone, who — though young, untried and strapped for cash — succeeded in 1975 in opening the titular music club, one that quickly became both a local legend and a haven for blues greats across America.

Integrating choice club clips, both vintage and recent, with contemporary interviews, filmmaker Karlok weaves an authentic tapestry of the form’s sounds, styles, edge and soul.

Blues honchos from Buddy Guy to B.B. King colorfully recall their experiences at Antone’s, while performance footage includes top work by Mr. Guy, erstwhile Howlin’ Wolf sideman Hubert Sumlin, Fabulous Thunderbirds harmonica ace Kim Wilson and the late, great guitar virtuoso Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Though Clifford Antone’s intensive 24/7 efforts kept the club alive, especially during its shaky early days, the film portrays him as a humble enthusiast who maintained a low profile even while living his seemingly impossible dream of hosting, hanging and playing with bluesdom’s elite.

In a sadly ironic note, Mr. Antone died on May 23, just two weeks before the disc’s release. He was 56.

Extras include additional interviews with Mr. King, Mr. Guy and nonagenarian pianist Pinetop Perkins; the original theatrical trailer; and a collectible booklet. When it comes to blues movies, “Antone’s: Home of the Blues” rates right up there with “Lightning in a Bottle” and “The Howlin’ Wolf Story: The Secret History of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Tele-video

Paramount Home Entertainment leads a busy TV-on-DVD week with a varied array of vintage sets. In the comedy arena, the label offers the animated Beavis and Butt-head: The Mike Judge Collection Volume 2 (three-disc, $39.99), gathering 40 B&B cartoons along with copious bonus material, as well as the live-action Cheers: The Complete Eighth Season and Frasier: The Complete Eighth Season (four-disc, $38.99 each).

Paramount emphasizes action with MacGyver: The Complete Sixth Season (six-disc, $38.99), NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service: The Complete First Season (six-disc, $68.99) and the Chuck Norris showcase Walker, Texas Ranger (seven-disc, $54.99), while suspense holds sway in Medium: The Complete First Season (five-disc, $62.99), starring Patricia Arquette and arriving with cast and crew commentaries, featurettes and deleted scenes.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment puts the accent on laughs with extras-enriched editions of Arrested Development: Season 3 (two-disc, $29.98) and Dharma & Greg: Season One (three-disc, $39.98).

Universal Studios Home Entertainment contributes Coach: The First Season (two-disc, $34.98) and The Rockford Files: Season Two (three-disc, $39.98), while Lions Gate issues Dead Zone: The Complete Fourth Season (three-disc, $34.98).

The ‘A’ list

Warner Home Video stresses gritty action via a trio of recent theatrical releases: Cop Bruce Willis escorts petty criminal Mos Def through a deadly gantlet, in 16 Blocks ($28.98), equipped with filmmakers’ commentary and an alternate ending; Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer star in Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang; and Elijah Wood finds trouble and the seamy side of British soccer in The Green Street Hooligans ($27.98 each).

Elsewhere, Steve Martin stars as bumbling Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95), Anthony Hopkins plays an aging but determined motorcycle racer in the bonus-enriched The World’s Fastest Indian (Magnolia Home Entertainment, $26.98), and Paramount introduces Jonathan Demme’s musical documentary Neil Young: Heart of Gold in a gala double-disc edition ($29.99) with six featurettes and more.

20th Century Fox proffers the teen comedy Aquamarine, starring Emma Roberts, and the fact-based adventure End of the Spear ($29.99 each), set in the Amazon jungle.

Collectors’ corner

Three choice camp classics join the digital ranks in spanking new deluxe editions. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment goes the double-disc route with both Russ Meyer’s deliriously over-the-top 1970 show-biz exploitation send-up Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (co-scripted by Roger Ebert, no less) and its in-name-only progenitor, Mark Robson’s sudsy 1967 Jacqueline Susann adaptation Valley of the Dolls ($26.98 each), both crammed with bonus material ranging from commentaries to featurettes.

Not to be outdone, Paramount issues Faye Dunaway as a scary Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest: Hollywood Royalty Edition ($14.99), complete with featurettes, photo gallery and, its neatest touch, an audio commentary by major fan John Waters.

Animated antics

Two beloved cartoon icons enliven vidstore shelves: Walt Disney’s Dumbo: Big Top Edition ($29.99) includes interactive extras, featurettes and more, while Paramount’s two-disc This Is America, Charlie Brown ($19.99) packages eight “Peanuts” adventures.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is the John Cleese movie “The Clock” anywhere around?

— M. Cacci, via e-mail

Sounds like the 1986 John Cleese vehicle Clockwise, available ($14.98) via anchorbayentertainment.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.videoscopemag.com.

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