- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

Viewers in search of a “Sopranos” fix may want to check out Brooklyn Rules, a kinetic coming-of-age/crime story combo new from City Lights Home Entertainment ($29.98). It’s our …

DVD pick of the week

Scripted by longtime “The Sopranos” writer Terence Winter, the film follows three lifelong friends as they struggle with adulthood in the title borough circa 1985.

While rotund bud Bobby (Jerry Ferrara) considers a post office career and vain compadre Carmine (Scott Caan) hangs with local Mafiosi led by neighborhood boss Caesar (Alec Baldwin), main character Michael (Freddie Prinze Jr.) walks a finer line, with one foot firmly rooted in his old neighborhood and the other pointed toward the mainstream via pre-law studies at Columbia University.

Scenarist Winter and director Michael Corrente tangle with their fair share of cliches, recalling such earlier films as Martin Scorsese’s 1973 “Mean Streets” and Robert De Niro’s 1993 “A Bronx Tale,” but manage to imbue their effort with enough specificity, rough charm and heart to carve out their own compelling niche.

Especially deft is the manner in which the Mafia’s toxic presence gradually but inexorably emerges from the background to more directly influence our protagonists’ fates.

Actors Prinze Jr. and Caan look a tad too old for their roles but otherwise inhabit them with sufficient confidence, while the filmmakers recreate their chosen period and place with evocative precision. Extras include a commentary with Mr. Winter and Mr. Corrente and bonus cast interviews.

Collectors’ corner

In vintage DVD news, with Halloween around the corner, it must be time for Vincent Price. MGM Home Entertainment honors that venerable horror-movie icon, bundling seven fright films in its Vincent Price Collection(five-disc, $39.98).

The roster includes 1971’s The Abominable Dr. Phibes and the 1972 sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again, the anthologies Tales of Terror (1962) and Twice-Told Tales (1963), the Grand Guignol show-biz satires Madhouse (1974) and Theater of Blood (1973)and director Michael Reeves’ chilling period piece Witchfinder General (1968), earlierout on VHS as “The Conqueror Worm.”

Extras include the bonus featurettes “Vincent Price: Renaissance Man,”The Art of Fear”and “Working with Vincent Price.”

The same actor surfaces in 20th Century Fox’s The Fly Collection (four-disc, $39.99), co-starring in the brilliant original The Fly (1958) and suitably scary 1959 sequel The Return of the Fly. The set likewise contains the oddball but atmospheric 1965 follow-up The Curse of the Fly, along with a Vincent Price “Biography” interview, featurette, image galleries and more.

More for collectors

Koch Lorber unearths a reel rarity with the five-film The Sissi Collection (five-disc, $79.98), assembling three lavish backdate Austrian films starring Romy Schneider as Princess Elisabeth of Bavaria (aka “Sissi”) — Sissi, Sissi: The Young Empress, Sissi: The Fateful Years of an Empress — along with Forever My Love and Victoria in Dover (with Miss Schneider cast as Britain’s Princess Victoria).

Also out are fresh special editions of the Audrey Hepburn/Fred Astaire classic Funny Face (Paramount, $14.99), James Caan and Kathy Bates in the tense Stephen King thriller Misery (MGM, $19.98) and Walt Disney’s animated perennial The Jungle Book (two-disc, $29.99).

Tele-video

Paramount Home Entertainment dominates the week’s TV-on-DVD slate with a slew of diverse releases. In an earnest vein the label offers bonus-packed sets of the FBI-focused Criminal Minds: The Second Season (six-disc, $64.99) and the doomsday drama Jericho: The First Season (six-disc, $54.99), plus, under its PBS Home Video banner, Ken Burns’ extensive World War II series The War (six-disc, $129.99), complete with filmmakers’ commentary, deleted scenes, featurettes and more.

On a lighter note, Paramount issues the reality show I Love New York (three-disc, $39.99) and The Sarah Silverman Program: Season One ($19.99).

20th Century Fox bows two series, How I Met Your Mother: Season 2 (three-disc, $39.98) and Shark: Season One (six-disc, $59.98), with James Wood as an ace attorney, while WGBH Boston Video unveils the British title The Inspector Lynley Mysteries 5 (four-disc, $39.95), with four new feature-length installments.

The ‘A’ list

Among recent theatrical films making their DVD debuts, 20th Century Fox releases Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer ($29.99), while Dimension Home Entertainment hosts the effective Stephen King-based chiller 1408 ($32.95), starring John Cusack, in a deluxe double-disc edition boasting commentaries, featurettes and more.

Genius Entertainment introduces the terrorist-themed thriller Day Night Day Night ($19.95), Universal Studios bows the drama Evening ($29.98), Sony Pictures presents the Australian import Jindabyne ($24.96), with Laura Linney and Gabriel Byrne, and City Lights has the Israeli-set Torn Apart ($26.98).

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Are there any DVDs or VHSs for the very first season of the “SCTV” series, when it was still a half-hour show?

— John Lockwood, Washington

SCTV: Best of the Early Years (four-disc, $39.99) has 15 half-hour episodes from the series’ 1978-1980 run but, unfortunately, none from that pioneering show’s first season.

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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