- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Matt Dillon turns in Oscar-worthy work as legendary skid row poet laureate Charles Bukowski’s alter ego Hank Chinaski in the picaresque urban drama Factotum, new from Genius Entertainment ($24.95). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

While Mickey Rourke and Ben Gazzara performed admirably in earlier Bukowski adaptations — Barbet Schroeder’s 1987 “Barfly” and Marco Ferreri’s 1981 “Tales of Ordinary Madness,” respectively — actor Dillon, with his long face and shambling gait, seems to be physically transformed into the hard-drinking, low-living Hank.

Norwegian auteur Bent Hamer, late of “Kitchen Stories,” likewise exhibits a strong feel for the material, visually translating the rhythm of the late writer’s prose as Hank drifts from job to job, bar to bar and woman to woman in a hazy continuum, all the while producing the stories and novels that would eventually earn him belated celebrity.

As two of the hard-luck ladies in Hank’s life, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei more than hold their own, as do the ensemble players who portray his various cronies and (usually frustrated) employers. Minnesota locations and studio interiors seamlessly substitute for Mr. Bukowski’s downscale L.A. environs.

A fascinating featurette chronicles both the making of the low-budget “Factotum” and director Hamer’s earlier European films. Meantime, Mr. Schroeder’s comprehensive, interview-driven 1985 documentary The Bukowski Tapes, released last August by Barrel Entertainment in a deluxe double-disc edition ($24.95), provides an ideal companion piece to the fictionalized “Factotum” for an entire enlightening evening of Charles Bukowski lore.


Britannia rules the week’s TV-on-DVD airwaves. BBC Video continues two popular British shows, the World War II comedy ‘Allo ‘Allo!: The Complete Series Six (two-disc, $34.98) and the long-running time-tripping sci-fi adventure Dr. Who: The Complete Second Series (six-disc, $99.98), the latter arriving with cast and crew commentaries for each of the assembled 15 episodes.

Koch Vision introduces a pair of U.K. crime series, Finbar Lynch and Orla Bradin in Proof: The First Season and Jim Broadbent and Jane Horrocks in The Street: The Complete First Season. The double-disc sets are tagged at $29.98 each.

In the domestic musical arena, Shout! Factory resurrects the folksinging, acoustic guitar-slinging days of yore with The Best of Hootenanny (three-disc, $44.98), showcasing 80 some performances by the likes of Johnny Cash, Judy Collins and Trini Lopez, plus stand-up comedy by Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and others. Buena Vista Home Entertainment strikes a more contemporary musical note with the country-themed series That’s So Suite Life of Hannah Montana ($19.99).

Elsewhere, Kevin James returns for more comic misadventures as The King of Queens: 7th Season (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, three-disc, $39.95), co-starring Jerry Stiller as his eccentric father-in-law.

Collectors’ corner

Paramount Home Entertainment gets an early jump on Valentine’s Day with its Girls Night In Collection (five-disc, $49.99), wrangling a quintet of recent romantic comedies — Forces of Nature (1999), How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003), Just Like Heaven (2005), What Women Want (2000), featuring an unusually mellow Mel Gibson, and Win a Date with Tad Hamilton (2004).

VCI Entertainment unearths a rare gem for camp lovers, the wacky, politically incorrect, gleefully over-the-top 1935 12-chapter serial The Lost City, a jungle-set study in pulp surrealism featuring mad scientists, giant natives, distressed damsels and even precocious laser-beam duels. The label also issues the less delirious but still fun (and similar-sounding) 13-chapter 1946 cliffhanger Lost City of the Jungle ($19.99 each), starring Russell Hayden and Lionel Atwill.

For animation buffs, Paramount Home Entertainment presents The Animation Show Volumes 1 & 2 (two-disc, $26.99), assembling some 30 animated films from around the globe, selected by Don Hertzfeldt and “King of the Hill” creator Mike Judge.

Foreign fare

In the import arena, Genius Products Inc. goes the gala route both with martial-arts star Tony Jaa’s latest, The Protector (two-disc, $29.95), offering both the U.S. theatrical and uncut international versions, along with commentary, featurettes and more, and Tsui Hark’s lavish period adventure Seven Swords (two-disc, $24.95), likewise accompanied by a raft of extras, from interviews to deleted and extended scenes.

First Run Features restores two vintage German dramas dealing with the Nazi era, 1949’s Rotation and 1950’s Council of the Gods ($24.95 each), both complemented by interviews and newsreels, while Kino Video introduces Andrei Konchalovsky’s powerful 260-minute 1979 Russian epic Siberiade (two-disc, $29.95).

Tartan Video adds two new titles to its expanding roster, the Singapore character study Perth and the French fright film Sheitan ($22.95 each), starring Vincent Cassel.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Looking for a film I saw part of on cable TV, Fists in the Pocket. Is it on DVD?

G. Hoffman, via e-mail

Marco Bellocchio’s 1968 Italian drama is now available from Criterion Collection ($29.95) via Amazon.com and other sources.

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