- The Washington Times - Friday, April 25, 2008

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Miramax, $29.99) — There was hardly a more inspirational film released last year than “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” (“Le scaphandre et le papillon”). American painter Julian Schnabel reportedly learned French to make this touching and strikingly original film, which is based on the memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby. Mr. Bauby, then the editor of French Elle, suffered a stroke in his 40s that left him almost completely paralyzed — the only part of his body he can move is his left eye. Communicating by blinking his left eyelid, he tells his disappointed therapist he wants to die. Soon, though, shaking off self-pity and inspiring first his medical help, then his friends and family and finally the world, he dictates a lyrical book about how imagination and memory, not the physical self, are what make us truly human.

Nominated for four Oscars, the French film stars Mathieu Amalric (who plays a villain in the upcoming James Bond film “Quantum of Solace”) as Mr. Bauby, who died just days after his book was published. Much of this visually exciting film is shown from his limited perspective. French-Canadian actress Marie-Josee Croze plays his dedicated therapist, while Emmanuelle Seigner is moving as the estranged mother of his children, who must act as messenger between her ex and his mistress.

Extras include a commentary and a Charlie Rose interview with the director as well as making-of featurettes. You can watch the film in its original French with subtitles or an English dub — but why would you want to?

Cloverfield (Paramount, $29.99) — Monster movies might have been made for viewing on the big screen, but “Cloverfield” is different. Its story is told in documentary style as a camcorder-wielding partygoer captures the terror when a Godzilla-like monster makes his destructive way through New York City streets. This experimental horror flick from the mind of producer J.J. Abrams (“Lost” and “Alias”) is the third-highest-grossing film of the year so far domestically. Extras include making-of featurettes, deleted scenes and alternate endings, and a commentary by director Matt Reeves.

Kelly Jane Torrance

The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume 3, The Years of Change (Paramount, $129.99)— Just in time for the upcoming theatrical release “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” the final nine episodes culled from the famed archaeologist’s 1990s television show (“The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles”) are available in a 10-disc DVD set.

The Emmy Award-winning effort from George Lucas highlighted the hero’s early exploits as he traveled through the first part of the 20th century. Each 90-minute show finds Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr. meeting legendary figures such as Ernest Hemingway and Al Capone while giving viewers a bit of an education.

The first nine DVDs contain the episodes and also include a selection of documentaries covering the real history woven into Indy’s adventures. However, inquisitive fans will most appreciate the set’s 10th disc. It offers a pair of multimedia activities accessible on a PC.

First, a fantastic Interactive Timeline immerses students in an encyclopedia covering Indy’s journeys from 1899 to 1925. Real people, places and events are explored via media-rich navigational menus. Video clips, photographs and text supplement all the entries.

Next, the game Hunting for Treasure places a player in 1916 as he takes part in the episode “Treasure of the Peacock’s Eye.” The story is now presented in an interactive comic-book-style setting. The action mixes plenty of mouse-clicking, a few gun battles, resource management and even a history trivia quiz along with video footage from the show.

Joseph Szadkowski

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