- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gael Garcia Bernal, late of Walter Salles’ “The Motorcycle Diaries” and currently on the big screen in “The Science of Sleep,” gives a quietly chilling performance in director/co-writer James Marsh’s disturbing dramatic thriller The King, new this week from ThinkFilm ($27.98). It’s our … .

DVD pick of the week

Mr. Bernal plays Elvis, a young man who, upon completing a Navy hitch, heads for Corpus Christi, Texas, in search of his errant biological father, David Sandow (William Hurt), now a respected reverend with a thriving ministry. Less than thrilled by his son’s sudden appearance, David strongly advises the youth, born of a union with a Hispanic prostitute, to keep his distance from his new life and family.

The spurned Elvis wastes little time in secretly seducing David’s teenage daughter Malerie (Pell James), who’s naturally unaware of their blood connection, as part of his elaborate revenge plan. To reveal more would risk ruining the many dark surprises director/co-writer Marsh has in store.

One of “The King” ‘s greatest strengths lies in its naturalistic, nearly verite feel, as auteur Marsh contrasts Elvis’ outsider life as a motel-dwelling pizza-delivery worker with the Sandow family’s comfortable existence. Within his thriller context, Mr. Marsh manages to paint a vivid picture, packed with telling details, of American heartland culture.

In addition to Mr. Bernal, William Hurt turns in strong work as the hypocritical preacher, while Miss James, as his impressionable daughter, and Paul Dano, as his pious, Christian-rocker son, likewise ring true.

“The King,” whose title refers both to Elvis and his reluctant dad, rates as a must-see DVD. Extras include filmmakers’ audio commentary, a deleted scene, rehearsal footage and the original theatrical trailer.

Tele-video

In the latest TV-on-DVD developments, Paramount Home Entertainment contributes a trio of offbeat affairs in extras-enhanced editions, The Andy Milonakis Show: The Complete Second Season, Wonder Showzen: Season Two (two-disc, $26.99 each) and the Chris Rock flashback series Everybody Hates Chris: First Season (four-disc, $45.99), while Buena Vista Home Entertainment delivers a bonus-packed Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season (three-disc, $39.99), with guest stars Molly Shannon and Matthew Perry.

HBO Video spotlights a brace of veteran stand-ups in the comedy concerts Cedric the Entertainer: Taking You Higher and Lewis Black: Red, White & Screwed ($19.98 each), while Magnolia Home Entertainment releases the Japanese-inspired stunt comedy series MXC: Most Extreme Elimination Challenge: Season One (two-disc, $34.98).

Warner Home Video covers the animated comedy front with the Cartoon Network series Ed, Edd ‘n’ Eddy: The Complete First Season (two-disc, $19.98) and Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law: Volume 2 (two-disc, $29.98).

Elsewhere, Universal Studios puts the accent on action with The A-Team: Season Five (three-disc, $49.98) and Simon & Simon: Season One (four-disc, $39.98). Paramount presents the bonus-packed crime-fighting series Numb3rs: The Complete Second Season (six-disc, $61.99) and Palm Pictures imports the Brazilian City of Men: The Complete Series (three-disc, $32.98).The ‘A’ list

Four comedy features arrive fresh from their recent theatrical runs, all brimming with extras: John Malkovich portrays a painter/academic in the Terry Zwigoff satire Art School Confidential, Christopher Walken enables Adam Sandler to manipulate time in Click (both Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95 each), the planet’s most famous famished cartoon cat returns in Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties (20th Century Fox, $29.98) and an all-star ensemble cast holds sway in Robert Altman’s elaborate Garrison Keillor homage A Prairie Home Companion (New Line Home Entertainment, $27.95).

In new crime capers, Chazz Palminteri costars in the Miami-set Push (Allumination Filmworks, $29.98), while Tyrese Gibson plays an embattled ex-con in the urban action film Waist Deep (Universal, $29.98).

Two direct-to-DVD sequels seek to recreate the buzz of the originals, the time-travel-themed The Butterfly Effect 2 (New Line, $19.97) and the terpsichorean teen drama Save the Last Dance 2 (Paramount, $29.99).

Collectors’ corner

Several vintage comedies resurface in new packages, leading with Sony Pictures’ Monty Python & the Holy Grail ($29.95) and The Three Stooges on the Run ($24.95), the latter collecting a quartet of classic Stooges shorts with colorized and black-and-white options. Dimension Home Video unleashes Bad Santa: Director’s Cut ($19.99), outfitting Terry Zwigoff’s irreverent Billy Bob Thornton farce with a new audio commentary, a featurette, outtakes and more.

Aiming for a younger crowd, Walt Disney Home Entertainment assembles an extras-enhanced double-disc special edition of the animated fantasy The Little Mermaid ($29.99), while Anchor Bay Entertainment presents a pair of animated Kay Thompson adaptations, Me, Eloise and Eloise: Little Miss Christmas ($14.98 each).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Where might I find the original 1950s “Davy Crockett” TV series?

— Kevin Helms, via e-mail

The double-disc Walt Disney Treasures: The Complete Davy Crockett Televised Series is currently out of active circulation but rare sets remain available via Amazon.com.

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