- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007

While still working within the espionage genre, Matt Damon strays a fair distance from his Jason Bourne character in Robert De Niro’s sober epic The Good Shepherd ($29.98), new this week via Universal Studios Home Entertainment. It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Mr. Damon lends credibility to his role as Edward Wilson — part poet, part patriot, part cipher — a young Ivy League grad who, in 1941, is recruited to serve in the wartime OSS, an agency that ultimately morphs into the CIA.

As the film unfolds, the fates of Wilson, his family and the agency become intertwined as he descends deeper into a world of secrets and betrayals.

More drama than thriller, “The Good Shepherd” boasts the pacing and texture of a solid novel, courtesy of an intricate original script by Eric Roth, late of “Ali” and “Munich.” In just his second directing assignment, Mr. De Niro (who also cameos as an aging general) brings the same basic virtues he earlier applied to his 1993 coming-of-age film “A Bronx Tale,” a loyalty to story and performances with a minimum of extraneous flash.

Mr. Damon, meanwhile, receives able support from such screen veterans as William Hurt, Alec Baldwin and Timothy Hutton; Angelina Jolie rings true as Wilson’s ultimately estranged spouse, Clover.

Our only complaint is the disc’s lack of extras beyond a few deleted scenes. “The Good Shepherd” would seem to provide a great opportunity for bonus material, both cinematic behind-the-scenes glimpses and historical perspectives on the events and periods covered in the film.

Still, at 168 minutes, “The Good Shepherd” supplies a full evening of gripping home viewing.


In new TV-on-DVD developments, four diverse comedy series appear this week: Anchor Bay Home Entertainment continues the working-class adventures of Roseanne: Season 7 (four-disc, $39.98). HBO Video contributes Entourage: Season Three, Part 1 (three-disc, $39.98), with three commentaries. Paramount Home Entertainment has the Carlos Mencia stand-up/sketch showcase Mind of Mencia: Uncensored Season 2 (two-disc, $26.99), and Warner Home Video introduces the surreal Tom Goes to the Mayor: The Complete Series (three-disc, $34.98).

Speaking of surreal, Paramount services David Lynch lovers with Twin Peaks: The Second Season (six-disc, $61.99), arriving with behind-the-scenes segments and bonus interviews, while Lionsgate Home Entertainment premieres the twisty sci-fi series The Lost Room (two-disc, $19.98).

Universal Studios Home Entertainment concentrates on crime and justice in Law & Order: The Fifth Year (five-disc, $59.98), while Walt Disney Home Entertainment appeals to the younger set with the TV movie Jump In! ($26.99).

Collectors’ corner

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment issues new special editions of a quartet of ‘60s and ‘70s films: Roy Scheider in 1979’s All That Jazz, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in 1967’s irreverent Bedazzled, Malcolm McDowell in Richard Lester’s 1975 period adventure Royal Flash, and Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould in the 1974 espionage romp SPYS. The discs, complete with commentaries, featurettes and more, are tagged at $19.98 each.

Godzilla roars anew in two fresh discs from Classic Media ($19.98 each) — 1955’s Godzilla Raids Again and 1964’s Mothra vs. Godzilla. Each disc contains both the original Japanese and retitled, re-edited American versions, along with film expert commentaries, poster slide shows and trailers.

On a musical note, two very different divas surface on DVD — Joan Sutherland: The Reluctant Prima Donna (Kultur Video, $19.99) profiles the acclaimed opera star, and Siouxsie: Dreamshow (Rhino Video, $19.98) captures the British punkette icon in a live 2004 concert.

The ‘A’ list

Three diverse recent theatrical releases debut this week in extras-enhanced editions. Dimension Home Video celebrates Glen Morgan’s horror remake Black Christmas: Unrated ($29.95), Paramount Home Entertainment introduces the animated adventure Charlotte’s Web ($29.99), and Ed Harris stars in Agnieszka Holland’s Copying Beethoven (MGM, $27.98).

Elsewhere, Sony Pictures imports Pedro Almovodar’s Spanish film Volver ($28.95), starring Penelope Cruz and Carmen Maura, while Lionsgate delivers the controversial Death of a President ($27.98) and New Visions bows the offbeat seriocomic indie Hard Scrambled, starring Kurtwood Smith, in a double-disc edition ($24.96) with numerous extras.

Digital diamonds

To help usher in the 2007 Major League Baseball season, Kino Video assembles the rare collection Baseball Films of the Silent Era (1899-1926) (two-disc, $29.95), highlighted by the 1920 Babe Ruth feature Headin’ Home. Sony Pictures contributes a vintage diamond twin bill ($19.94) — 1950’s Kill the Umpire and 1961’s Safe at Home, the latter with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris — along with the double-disc The Natural: Director’s Cut, backed by a dugout full of featurettes.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Any chance of finding the campy ‘50s B movie She Demons on DVD?

Edward Scott, via e-mail

That fun 1959 cheese fest is available ($9.99) via Image Entertainment from Amazon.com and other online sources.

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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