- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

When it comes to post-apocalyptic cannibal comedies, few rate higher than Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro’s tasty 1991 dark romp Delicatessen, now available in a new special edition via Miramax Home Entertainment ($29.99). It’s our…

DVD pick of the week

Sort of a Jacques Tati meets “Eraserhead” by way of Terry Gilliam (who, in fact, “presents” the film), “Delicatessen” sees ex-clown Dominique Pinon unwisely sign on as a handyman at the title site, a more-than-suspicious butcher shop/apartment house overseen by gruff proprietor Jean-Claude Dreyfus. (“I’m a butcher,” he informs our unwary applicant, “but I don’t mince words.”)

Mr. Pinon eventually discovers that transients at Jean-Claude’s establishment ultimately end up, figuratively and literally, in the soup.

The humor, ranging from traditional sight gags to the downright deranged, is brought to life by an excellent comic cast, from the menacing Mr. Dreyfus, to Marie Laure Dougnac as his myopic daughter, to the rubber-faced Mr. Pinon.

From its opening trash-can tableau to its lyrical rooftop aubade at film’s end, “Delicatessen” arrives as an uncompromisingly quirky black comedy that offers a spicy alternative to bland Hollywood fare.

Bonus features include a fun audio commentary by co-director (and future “Amelie” auteur) Jeunet, the featurettes “Fine Cooked Meats” and “The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet,” the original theatrical trailer, and English subtitles.

Tele-video

Shout! Factory virtually corners the week’s TV comedy market with a pair of new sets — the animated series Home Movies: Season Four (three-disc, $34.98), arriving with multiple cast and crew commentaries, a featurette and more; and the 1960s Marlo Thomas showcase That Girl: Season One (five-disc, $39.98), including audio commentaries by Miss Thomas and creator Bill Persky, interviews, a featurette and more.

Anchor Bay Entertainment likewise looks for laughs via the dysfunctional-family farce Grounded for Life: Season 2 (three-disc, $29.98), accompanied by featurettes and cast interviews.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment returns to pioneer days in the Pacific Northwest with the 26-episode Here Come the Brides: The Complete First Season (six-disc, $49.95), starring Bobby Sherman, David Soul and Joan Blondell. Barbara Stanwyck and brood seek to tame 1870s California in 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment’s 30-episode The Big Valley: Season One (five-disc, $39.98).

In a more contemporary vein, the latter label also issues the classic 1980s cop show Hill Street Blues: Season Two (three-disc, $39.98), containing all 18 Season Two episodes, select audio commentary, four featurettes and a gag reel.

The ‘A’ list

Comedies top the list of recent theatrical films making their digital debuts this week. Universal Studios Home Entertainment leads the way with the screen adaptation of a stage musical based on a movie, The Producers ($29.98), with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick reprising their Broadway roles, joined by Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell. Extras include audio commentary by director Susan Strohman, a featurette, deleted scenes and outtakes.

Universal also bows the romantic comedy Something New ($29.98), starring Sanaa Lathan and Blair Underwood, while Genius Products proffers the 3-D computer-animated comedy adventure Doogal ($28.95), voiced by an all-star cast headed by Chevy Chase and Jon Stewart. 20th Century Fox unleashes Johnny Knoxville in the sports romp The Ringer ($28.98).

Sony Pictures goes the suspense route with the remake When a Stranger Calls ($28.95) and introduces the James Ivory art-house title The White Countess ($26.96), with Ralph Fiennes and Natasha Richardson.

Limited-release newcomers include the animal adventure “Duma,” set in South Africa (Warner Home Video, $29.98) and the thriller False Prophets (Visual Entertainment, $19.99).

Collectors’ corner

BBC Video honors the 150th birthday of a legendary playwright in the six-disc The George Bernard Shaw Collection ($59.98). The set assembles British screen adaptations of Arms and the Man, The Devil’s Disciple, Heartbreak House, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Pygmalion and The Millionairess, along with four bonus televised Shaw plays. The titles are also available individually ($14.98 each).

The same label imports extras-enhanced editions of the six-part series The Six Wives of Henry VIII (four-disc, $69.98) and “Monarch of the Glen: Series Four,” set in Scotland (three-disc, $59.98).

A fictional American cult hero returns in 20th Century Fox’s double-disc Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever! ($26.98), complete with a new documentary and a slew of other bonus features.

Foreign fare

Kino Video focuses on the dark visions of German auteur Michael Haneke, late of “Cache,”no boldur earlier films — The Seventh Continent (1989), Benny’s Video (1992), 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994) and Funny Games (1997). Extras include new interviews with the director, plus original trailers.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Is the cult movie Eraserhead on DVD?

Roy Chandler, via e-mailDavid Lynch’s 1977 classic was released on disc this past winter by Subversive Cinema ($29.95, subversive cinema.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 phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.


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