- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One of the strongest literary documentaries we’ve seen in a long spell, Bukowski: Born into This ($26.98) roars into vidstores this week via Magnolia Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Mixing archival photos with talking-head tributes from such celebrity admirers as Tom Waits, Bono, Taylor Hackford and Harry Dean Stanton, director John Dullaghan assembles a compelling, comprehensive portrait of prolific writer and raucous lifelong rebel Charles Bukowski. But the film really comes alive when the poet and novelist speaks for himself, relating anecdotes directly to the camera with unforced storytelling brilliance.

Mr. Dullaghan doesn’t hide the author’s emotional warts, but neither did Mr. Bukowski in his often wrenchingly candid writing, which dealt with everything from his abusive childhood in the 1920s and ‘30s, his deadening post office job, decades of professional disappointment, excessive drinking and frequently explosive relationships with women.

Fortunately, success, critical and financial, finally caught up with Mr. Bukowski in late middle age, encouraging him to mellow, at least a bit, in the years prior to his death in 1994.

“Bukowski: Born into This,” released in 2004, so vividly captures the life of a hugely talented writer and a deeply flawed man that even the uninitiated will want to check out his books, which fully retain their power and popularity. Extras include a director’s commentary, behind-the-scenes featurette, bonus Bukowski footage and more.

Magnolia also issues a fictional but equally devastating character study with Lodge Kerrigan’s Keane. While not quite as harrowing as the same auteur’s earlier “Clean, Shaven” (1993), “Keane” emerges an unflinching portrayal of an individual, powerfully acted by Damian Lewis, battling serious mental instability while searching for human connection.

Tele-video

In new TV-on-DVD developments, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has a literal “Field” day reviving a pair of 1960s series showcasing Sally Field — the 32-episode Gidget: The Complete Series and the 30-episode The Flying Nun: The Complete First Season, both equipped with new star interviews — while also focusing on Elizabeth Montgomery in the same decade’s Bewitched: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $39.95 each).

Sony also spotlights two newer shows: Huff: The Complete First Season (four-disc, $39.95), supplemented by select audio commentaries and featurettes, and the Western series The Young Riders: The Complete First Season (five-disc, $59.95).

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment likewise celebrates series old and new with the 1980s basketball-themed The White Shadow: The Complete Second Season and the contemporary Iraq War-set Over There (four-disc, $39.98 each), both armed with audio commentaries and featurettes.

Paramount Home Entertainment supplies subversive fun galore via South Park: The Complete Seventh Season (three-disc, $49.99), with 15 animated episodes and candid mini-commentaries by creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, while Warner Home Video mixes dark mirth with bloody mayhem in Tales From the Crypt: The Complete Third Season (three-disc, $39.98).

Anchor Bay Entertainment weighs in with Roseanne Barr and John Goodman in Roseanne: The Complete Third Season (four-disc, $39.98) and the Johnny Depp showcase 21 Jump Street: The Complete Fifth Season (three-disc, $34.98), both with bonus material.

Collectors’ corner

Preparing for the Easter season, 20th Century Fox resurrects several biblical spectaculars, including Gregory Peck and Susan Hayward in 1951’s David and Bathsheba and Stuart Whitman and Tom Tryon in The Story of Ruth ($14.98 each).

Paramount pulls out all the stops for its double-disc The Ten Commandments: 50th Anniversary Edition ($24.99), stocked with commentaries, a six-part documentary and trailers, plus the complete 1923 silent version.

The latter label also offers a bonus-laden Special Collector’s Edition of the World War II classic Stalag 17 ($19.99), starring William Holden.

“Ali G” devotees, meanwhile, will want to check out Sacha Baron Cohen in the 2000 British “lads” comedy The Jolly Boys Last Stand, new from Spirit Level Films ($19.95).

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical releases bowing on DVD this week, two extras-enriched family-friendly films surface — the animated feature Chicken Little (Walt Disney Home Entertainment, $29.99) and the horse-racing tale Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (DreamWorks Home Entertainment, $19.95), starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning.

Elsewhere, Miramax Home Entertainment debuts the thriller Derailed: Unrated Edition ($28.98), headlining Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston, while Warner Home Video issues the best-seller adaptation Everything Is Illuminated ($27.98).

Sony Pictures presents an Oscar-winning Philip Seymour Hoffman as Capote ($28.95), with filmmaker commentaries and more, and Noah Baumbach’s drama The Squid and the Whale ($26.96).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: I am looking for the movie “The Bandit Queen,” 1950, with Barbara Britton. Do you know if it is out on tape or DVD?

Johnnie Evans, via e-mail

That offbeat Western, produced by the defunct Lippert Pictures, has yet to land an official homevideo release.

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.video scopemag.com.

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