7/28/09 Edition
Late July Wrap-Up
CORALINE, New Sony Blu-Rays Reviewed

Weird, offbeat, creepy, lyrical and even downright disturbing, Henry Selick’s gorgeous stop-motion adaptation of Neil Giaman’s CORALINE (***½, 101 mins., 2009, PG; Universal) is just the tonic for viewers beaten down by a dearth of imagination at the multiplex.

“Coraline” is essentially a modern Grimm’s Fairy Tale, focusing on a young girl who moves into a new apartment along with her parents. While her folks are forever typing on their keyboards, and saying “no” to some of the young lady’s demands (such as buying a pair of gloves), Coraline explores her newfound surroundings, and finds a parallel universe through a small door that’s been sealed off in one of the rooms. It’s a bizarre dimension where their house and the land outside have been reproduced faithfully in some regards but strangely in others, including being populated by a pair of friendlier parents with sewn-in buttons for eyes! “Other Mom” and “Other Dad” beckon Coraline to come and stay, and at first you can’t blame her: fresh food cooks in the kitchen, toys and clothes which Coraline doesn’t have in the “real world” adorn her room, and even the neighbors in this dimension are more engaging, from the elderly former actresses who live downstairs, to the eccentric former circus performer who lives above Coraline. Unfortunately, what starts off as a dream turns into a nightmare after Coraline spends more time in the parallel world, and is asked by her “other” parents to sew buttons on her eyes, thereby “joining” them permanently.

With its spectacularly imaginative collection of characters, supernatural flights of fancy and a beautifully eclectic score by Bruno Coulais, “Coraline” is certainly a unique and compelling work -- not to mention unsettling, even for adults. Anyone expecting a benign, slightly eccentric fantasy like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” (which Selick directed for producer Tim Burton) may be shocked once the parallel world Coraline encounters turns into a freakish display of surreal images, from dogs that become vampire bats to ghostly children whose lives were claimed by our heroine’s “other” Mom. It’s certainly not suitable for younger children (and inexplicable to think this got away with the same rating “Nightmare” and “Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride” received), and may even freak out some adults as well.

That said, for older kids and viewers willing to take the ride, “Coraline” is filled with cinematic magic, from the vivid imagery and marvelous stop-motion animation through the articulation of the characters and corresponding vocal work provided by Dakota Fanning (as Coraline), Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman as both sets of parents, and especially Keith David as a wise feline who helps our young heroine through her nightmarish adventure. Selick has paced the movie perfectly, and not enough can be said about the strange and evocative score by Coulais, which incorporates children’s choir, full symphonic backing, female vocals, a bit of jazz and a lot of fresh musical ideas into what could’ve been just another run-of-the-mill, Elfman-esque fantasy score.

Universal’s Blu-Ray edition of “Coraline” sports a brilliant 1080p transfer and nicely textured DTS Master Audio soundtrack. The movie is presented in both 2-D and 3-D (at least in its initial BD pressing) with four pairs of glasses. As we’ve seen with the recent glut of 3-D movies on video, the old-fashioned 3-D process pales in comparison to what you see theatrically, and with “Coraline” I didn’t think it added much to the visuals at all -- indeed, with the colors being stripped through the old anaglyph process utilized here, you’re better left sticking to the “flat” transfer.

Extras include a series of discarded bits introduced by Selick, a fairly comprehensive Making Of documentary, commentary from Selick and Coulais, U-Control goodies and other BD-Live extras including an exclusive conversation with the director. Needless to say this package (which also includes a digital copy and standard DVD) comes highly recommended!

Also out from Universal this week is FAST AND FURIOUS (**½, 107 mins., 2009, PG-13), the surprise box-office smash from this past spring that reunited -- for the first time -- the principal cast (Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Michelle Rodriguez and Jordana Brewster) of the original “The Fast and the Furious.”

This formulaic but slickly-produced follow-up boasts a number of exciting set-pieces all crisply executed by director Justin Lin, who helmed the previous series entry “Tokyo Drift.” That film’s writer, Chris Morgan, also authored this screenplay, which would explain the serviceable plot and dialogue, which coasts along on the chemistry between the stars, but basically is just an excuse for the action scenes.

Universal’s Blu-Ray looks tremendous, as you would anticipate, in its 1080p transfer and boasts a throbbing DTS Master Audio soundtrack. Extras include all sorts of U-Control and BD Live goodies, plus Making Of featurettes and a prequel short film, “Los Bandoleros.”

New Blu-Ray Releases from Sony

Sony has reached into their back catalog for a series of terrific Blu-Ray catalog discs this month, offering their customary superb 1080p transfers, advanced soundtracks and -- quite surprisingly -- even some new supplements.

At the top of the list is A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT (***, 123 mins., 1992, PG; Sony), Robert Redford’s serene 1992 drama that debuts on Blu-Ray in a wonderful AVC-encoded transfer and Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, along with some much-needed brand new extras that make this the film’s first Special Edition release (in contrast to its last DVD edition, billed as a deluxe release, which featured no supplements at all!).

While there’s understandably no discussion of Elmer Bernstein’s rejected score, plenty of insight is on-hand in a retrospective featurette that recounts the production, from the creation of Norman MacLean’s semi-autobiographical novel through Redford’s involvement, the casting of leads Craig Sheffer and Brad Pitt, and the filming. New comments from Redford, Sheffer, cinematographer Philippe Rousselot, composer Mark Isham and screenwriter Richard Friedenberg are on-hand in the half-hour featurette, produced by New Wave Entertainment and presented here in full HD.

Another new featurette profiles the environmental restoration efforts of the Blackfoot River, while a “Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing” gives viewers a look at the ins and outs of the process. Finally, the Blu-Ray also offers an exclusive “looping video environment” of the Blackfoot River and its surroundings (beautifully presented in HD, with the option of listening to Isham’s music or just the ambient sounds), plus some 16 minutes of brief deleted scenes (mostly just character asides and scene extensions). Topping it off is a 32-page scrapbook (a carryover from the 2005 “Deluxe” DVD edition) that features cast bios and pictures from Redford’s film, along with interviews and remembrances of working on the picture.

Speaking of which, “A River Runs Through It” remains a leisurely, well-crafted tale based on MacLean’s book, with nice performances from Brad Pitt, Tom Skerritt, Emily Lloyd, and Craig Sheffer, here top-billed in what was the apex of his career. Mark Isham’s replacement score is also lovely and unobtrusive (Redford told Isham to make it “minimalist” in nature while retaining a Celtic-tinged flavor), and Philippe Rousselot’s shooting of the Montana backdrops beautiful to behold. Sony’s Blu-Ray edition does justice to the picture’s aesthetic qualities in a most satisfying package while adding all the extras that the film itself deserves. Recommended!       

John Badham’s BLUE THUNDER (***, 109 mins., 1983, R), meanwhile, has not weathered the years as well as his other, more popular thriller from the same year (“WarGames”).

The compromised Dan O’Bannon-Don Jakoby script -- heavily altered, according to O’Bannon, by studio suits in pre-production -- has its share of stock supporting characters and a cartoonish bad guy (Malcolm McDowell’s Colonel Cochrane, a studio-mandated creation), and a relatively basic plot about a Vietnam vet-turned L.A. cop (Roy Scheider) assigned to test out a top-secret, high-tech helicopter. Once Scheider’s Frank Murphy finds out about “The Government”’s true plan for Blue Thunder, war breaks out above Los Angeles with Murphy taking on Cochrane in a winner-take-all aerial battle.

“Blue Thunder” was a movie I loved as a kid (at least in its edited-for-television ABC broadcast, since I was understandably restricted from seeing the uncut version in third grade), with the exciting helicopter sequences carrying a strong visceral intensity. Looking back on the movie today, it’s still fun, albeit more effective from a nostalgic, early ‘80s genre perspective than the psychological character thriller angle that O’Bannon and Jakoby initially intended. Columbia wouldn’t produce their original script, settling instead for an entertaining, if forgettable, “popcorn movie” with expert widescreen cinematography by John A. Alonzo and a great score by Arthur B. Rubinstein.

Sony’s Blu-Ray release of “Blue Thunder” looks quite good: the AVC-encoded transfer doesn’t appear to be too heavily processed with noise reduction, looking crisp and just a little bit aged. The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is perfectly acceptable as well, though since it’s been sourced from a relatively primitive early ‘80s Dolby Stereo mix, there’s not a lot of work for your surrounds or subwoofer here.

Extras have been reprieved from the prior Special Edition DVD, including a 45-minute documentary, “Ride With The Angels: Making Blue Thunder,” sporting comments from Badham, Scheider, O’Bannon and others involved with the picture. This is a well-rounded and engaging look back at the movie’s production with copious test footage and behind-the-scenes F/X shots included for good measure. A look at the production of the helicopter, a vintage 1983 promo featurette, the original trailer, and a mostly engaging commentary track with Badham, editor Frank Morriss and motion control supervisor Hoyt Yeatman rounds out an excellent supplemental package.

Filmed in the wake of “E.T.,” STARMAN (***, 115 mins., 1984, PG; Sony) represents one of director John Carpenter’s most satisfying studio films, produced during a window in which the genre filmmaker was turning out big-budget horrors (“The Thing,” “Christine”) with the occasional step outside his comfort zone (“Big Trouble in Little China”).

This Michael Douglas production from scribes Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (“Stand By Me”) offers an interesting variation on the 1982 Spielberg classic, with an extraterrestrial (Jeff Bridges), his ship having been shot down over the skies of Wisconsin, assuming the cloned body of Karen Allen’s deceased husband. Allen ends up helping the “Starman” find his way to Arizona so he can get picked up by his mothership -- and even falls for him as he assumes more of her late husband’s attributes -- but time (he has only three days to get there) and a group of government agents stand in their way.

Bridges is just tremendous in “Starman,” offering a truly memorable, unique performance that deservedly earned an Oscar nomination. Allen is also terrific in one of her best roles, while Charles Martin Smith is solid as a not-completely-unsympathetic government agent. Carpenter’s trademark widescreen lensing and a fine Jack Nitzsche score make “Starman” one of the best sci-fi entries of the mid ‘80s, one which led to a short-lived, though fairly well-remembered, TV spin-off with “Airplane!”’s Robert Hays.

Sony’s Blu-Ray edition of the movie offers yet another satisfying 1080p transfer with Dolby TrueHD audio, both of which restore the film to its proper theatrical dimensions. Unfortunately, an opportunity was lost here to add new supplements, and it’s particularly disappointing when you consider Sony released a Special Edition of “Starman” on DVD overseas years ago -- offering commentary from Carpenter and Bridges, the trailer, a music video and vintage featurette. Why these extras, which have yet to be brought to these shores, weren’t included here is anybody’s guess, but interested fans of the movie can still track that disc down from your favorite Region 2 dealer.   

New extras are, however, on-tap in the Blu-Ray edition of ST. ELMO’S FIRE (**½, 108 mins., 1985, R; Sony), best known as one of the definitive “Brat Pack” films of the ‘80s.

Joel Schumacher's 1985 melodrama looks at the lives and loves of young twentysomethings just out of college, trying to make a go of it in the Georgetown area of Washington, D.C. Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Mare Winningham and Andie MacDowell were the familiar faces still fresh on the big screen back in '85, when “St. Elmo’s Fire” became a big hit at the box-office.

Schumacher’s script, written with Carl Kurlander, is a glossy, pretentious soap opera all the way, but in spite of having to populate mostly-unappealing characters, the cast makes it compelling, with an immediately recognizable David Foster score and vivid Panavision cinematography by Stephen H. Burum lending a strong assist. Anyone who lived through the '80s had to have come across this movie at some point, and it's a blast of nostalgia that has held up as well as most tenny-bopper vehicles of the day, even if the film proves unintentionally funny and glib at times.

Sony’s Blu-Ray release once again boasts a clean, crisp 1080p transfer with Dolby TrueHD audio, nicely enhancing the film’s visual appeal. In addition to a fine assortment of extras from the original DVD -- from an informative commentary track from the director, to the original featurette, theatrical trailer, and (yes!) music video of John Parr's immortal hit single "Man in Motion” -- the BD includes two brand-new extras: a number of deleted scenes and a recent conversation with Schumacher, looking back on the production.

Rob Lowe and Demi Moore reunited for the 1986 adaptation of David Mamet’s play “Sexual Perversity in Chicago,” retitled ABOUT LAST NIGHT... (***, 113 mins., 1986, R; Sony).

This adaptation by Tim Kazurinsky and Denise DeClue mostly retains the play’s theatrical origins, focusing on the relationship between Lowe and Moore’s characters, who meet for a one night stand and slowly realize what constitutes a genuine relationship is a lot harder to cultivate. Jim Belushi and Elizabeth Perkins add solid support to the leads in this box-office hit from the summer of ‘86, one which Sony has done a fine job bringing to Blu-Ray. Once again offering an excellent new 1080p transfer with Dolby TrueHD audio, the BD includes two brand-new extras: an enlightening 40-minute conversation with director Edward Zwick and Rob Lowe, examining the production and its reception, plus an original, vintage Making Of featurette.

Also New on Blu-Ray

THE TOWERING INFERNO Blu-Ray (***, 1974, 164 mins., PG; Fox): Fox has done BD owners proud with an excellent Blu-Ray edition of Irwin Allen’s disaster staple “The Towering Inferno,” incorporating all the tremendous supplements from its prior 2006 Special Edition DVD while offering viewers its customary AVC-encoded HD transfer and DTS Master Audio soundtrack.

Thanks to the massive box-office receipts and critical acclaim of 1972's “The Poseidon Adventure,” Fox and Warner Bros. gave Irwin Allen had a much more elaborate budget for its all-star follow-up: an adaptation of two different books (Richard Martin Stern’s “The Tower” and “The Glass Inferno” by Thomas N. Scortia and Frank M. Robinson) concerning a brand-new L.A. skyscraper that turns into a firetrap during its grand opening gala.

With big stars (Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, William Holden), numerous guest stars (Fred Astaire, Richard Chamberlain, O.J. Simpson, Jennifer Jones, Robert Vaughn, Robert Wagner), then-cutting edge F/X and stunts, a superb John Williams score, and a Stirling Silliphant script that straddles the line between camp and high drama throughout, “The Towering Inferno” offers loads of entertainment. In many ways the picture is closer to Allen’s later disasters (figuratively and literally) like “The Swarm” as opposed to “The Poseidon Adventure,” with a few unintended laughs and over-the-top performances making for a film that’s a movie lover’s delight -- even if it’s not quite an edge-of-your-seat blockbuster where you really care about who lives and who dies.

“The Towering Inferno” arrives on Blu-Ray in an AVC-encoded 1080p transfer that really looks terrific as catalog movies go: the colors, contrast and grain all seem just right, while DTS Master Audio sound magnifies the appeal of Williams’ thematically strong score.

Happily, all the extras from the 2006 DVD have been reprieved here: the plethora of goodies include a solid commentary from historian F.X. Feeney, plus scene-specific comments from present-day stunt and F/X coordinators Mike Vezina and Branko Racki; nine additional featurettes on the production; several vintage Making Of featurettes and a particularly fascinating NATO presentation reel, with Allen boasting about his upcoming projects (including “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” for a 1976 release date [it would later be produced at Warner Bros. several years later] and unproduced gems like “The Circus”); a 1977 interview with Allen; trailers; a handful of still galleries with publicity photos and promotional artwork; storyboards; and the AMC “Backstory” episode on “The Towering Inferno.”

Best of all are the 30 extended and/or deleted scenes from the film that were added to the NBC network broadcast airings. Unlike several ‘70s disaster movies where footage was shot for television to pad the running time (“Two Minute Warning” comes immediately to mind), these mostly-short extensions to various scenes and brief deleted outtakes were excised from the theatrical version, which still clocks in at a lengthy 164 minutes. The deleted scenes are presented in somewhat blurry full-screen from the best surviving elements (which weren’t in good enough condition to present the entire TV cut proper), with bookending footage from the theatrical version presented in black-and-white to set each outtake in context.

It’s an irresistible Blu-Ray package, so bring the popcorn, turn up the sound, and be prepared for a star-studded disaster spectacle that only Irwin Allen could produce.

THIS IS SPINAL TAP Blu-Ray (***, 83 mins., 1984, R; MGM/Fox): Rob Reiner, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer’s seminal “mockumentary” makes its way to Blu-Ray in a satisfying, features-packed Blu-Ray disc that reprises its last Special Edition DVD release. In addition to an AVC-encoded transfer that’s as good as this modestly-budgeted 1984 rock spoof could possibly be, the disc sports a DTS Master Audio soundtrack, over an hour of deleted scenes and outtakes, a commentary by Spinal Tap themselves, four “classic music videos,” and an exclusive bonus DVD with additional extras including a performance by the group at the 2007 Live Earth concert.

PRISON BREAK: THE FINAL BREAK Blu-Ray (89 mins., 2009; Fox): While most viewers thought this Fox series should’ve ended long ago, “Prison Break” finally comes to a close with the release of “The Final Break,” the show’s final episode (or is it?), this week on Blu-Ray and DVD. Fox’s Blu-Ray edition of “The Final Break” offers the show’s conclusion in a fine AVC-encoded transfer with DTS Master Audio sound. The 25gb single-layer BD disc also includes a few deleted scenes for fans.

RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN Blu-Ray (**½, 99 mins., 2009, PG; Disney): Disney re-do of their old ‘70s “Witch Mountain” youth sci-fi fantasies is forgettable, watchable fluff for kids.

Dwayne “The Man Who Was The Rock” Johnson toplines this tale of a pair of teen siblings (Annasophia Robb, Alexander Ludwig) who are actually aliens from another planet, being pursued by the government and another alien that’s not so hospitable. Carla Gugino, Ciaran Hinds, Tom Everett Scott and Christopher Marquette co-star in this remake of the original movies (with a couple of homages within), which were based on a novel by Alexander Key. Director Andy Fickman paces the film well and there’s action, effects and humor to spare, but ultimately it all amounts to little more than a modestly entertaining time-killer for younger viewers -- much like its predecessors.

Disney’s Blu-Ray package is a three-disc set containing deleted scenes, bloopers, a guide to built-in references to the original movies, plus a dynamic AVC encoded 1080p transfer and DTS HD audio. A standard DVD of the movie and a digital copy for portable media players rounds out the three-disc set.

SLING BLADE Blu-Ray (***, 135 mins., 1996, R; Buena Vista): Billy Bob Thornton's acclaimed, if not somewhat overrated, 1996 character study arrives on Blu-Ray this week in a package that basically reprieves its 2-disc special edition DVD package -- but with the movie presented in its original 135-minute theatrical version and not its extended Director’s Cut.

This well-acted 1996 feature length version of Thornton’s short "Some Call It a Sling Blade” boasts excellent performances across the board, from Thornton’s memorable (and oft-quoted) protagonist to supporting turns filled in by John Ritter (in one of his few dramatic roles), Robert Duvall, Dwight Yoakam and Lucas Black.

The Blu-Ray edition offers a solid 1080p transfer with DTS Master Audio sound (the mix, as expected, is fairly low-key), plus numerous extras: commentary with the star- filmmaker, the featurette "Mr. Thornton Goes to Hollywood" and a Bravo profile of Thornton; a roundtable discussion with Thornton, Yoakam, and producer David Bushnell; a conversation between Thornton and Duvall; an interview with Thornton and composer Daniel Lanois; a Robert Duvall interview; and several "On the Set" featurettes. It's a perfectly nice disc for the film’s admirers, but the absence of the "Sling Blade" short film is a regrettable omission in an otherwise recommended release.

THE WATERBOY Blu-Ray (**, 90 mins., 1998, PG-13; Buena Vista): Adam Sandler struck box-office gold twice in 1998, first with the engaging “Wedding Singer,” and next with the holiday release “The Waterboy.” This formulaic sports comedy -- with Sandler as an idiot waterboy who improbably becomes a football star -- isn’t one of his better offerings, yet it nevertheless became one of the comedian’s biggest hits, grossing over $160 million. In spite of its excellent, better-than-usual supporting cast (Kathy Bates, Fairuza Balk, Henry Winkler, Jerry Reed), this one is strictly for Sandler enthusiasts. Buena Vista’s Blu-Ray edition of “The Waterboy” sports yet another excellent, well-balanced AVC-encoded transfer with DTS Master Audio sound that’s a bit more potent than you might expect from the material.

THE CLASS Blu-Ray (***, 130 mins., 2008, PG-13; Sony): Fascinating, acclaimed French film from director Laurent Cantet won the Palme D’Or at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. This adaptation of Francois Begaudeau’s book, based on his experiences as a teacher in an inner-city Paris school, stars Begaudeau as Mr. Martin, a variant on himself, as he tries to work with -- and get through to -- a challenging group of students from mixed backgrounds. Some of them end up inspired, some of them not at all, but the result is a fascinating, docu-drama like chronicle of life in a Paris school, filled with authenticity (the students actually ARE students, and a great deal of the film was improvised) and enlightening sequences. Sony’s Blu-Ray disc of “The Class” serves up a grade-A HD transfer with English and Spanish subtitles, plus French and English Dolby TrueHD (3.0) soundtracks. Extras include a Making Of featurette, selected scene commentary, and Blu-Ray exclusive “Actors’ Workshop” and “Actors’ Self-Portraits” featurettes.

Also New & Upcoming

I LOVE YOU, MAN Blu-Ray and DVD (***, 104 mins., 2009, R; Paramount): Though not as uproariously funny as Paul Rudd’s other recent hit (“Role Models”), this highly amusing comedy once again reaffirms the low-key Rudd as one of the breakout comedy stars of recent years.

As a nice guy without a lot of close friends, Rudd is winning as he realizes he needs to cultivate some male buddies in time for his wedding to fiancee Rashida Jones. His discovery is Jason Segel, who befriends Rudd at a real estate open house for Lou Ferrigno (who pops up a couple of times!) and quickly ignites a “bromance” where the uninhibited Segel ends up taking things a little too far for our mostly mild-mannered hero.

Raunchy and a bit crass at times, John Hamburg’s movie (which he co-wrote with Larry Levin) has some big laughs but really gets by thanks to the performances of Rudd and Segel. The duo make a tremendous comedy team and Jones is the perfect counterpoint to their shenanigans in a mostly inspired farce that became a solid performer at the box-office last spring.

Paramount’s DVD offers a number of deleted and extended scenes, plus a gag reel, Making Of featurette, commentary from the stars and director, and the proverbial “more.” The 16:9 (1.85) transfer is top-notch, as is the 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, which offers Theodore Shapiro score and a number of vintage Rush tracks.

The Blu-Ray edition sports an appreciable upgrade in both transfer (VC-1 encoded 1080p HD) and sound (Dolby TrueHD), while sporting the same extras (commentary with Hamburg, Rudd and Segel; gag reel; deleted and extended scenes; Making Of), all in high-definition as well.

THE SOLOIST DVD (**, 116 mins., 2009, PG-13; Paramount): Well-intentioned but dreary “drama-edy” with Robert Downey, Jr. as an L.A. journalist who finds a gifted yet troubled, homeless street musician (Jamie Foxx) and tries to shed light on his plight. Joe Wright’s movie was bounced around the release schedule last year, and was at one point supposed to be slotted in for Oscar consideration; quite obviously, the studio knew “The Soloist” didn’t quite live up to its potential, as Dreamworks ultimately released the film to minor returns and mixed reviews this past spring. Downey and Foxx give it their all but Susannah Grant’s script seems awfully manipulative, even though the picture was based on a true story. Paramount’s DVD of “The Soloist” includes a fine 16:9 (1.85) transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, commentary, deleted scenes and Making Of material.                                    

LOOKIN’ TO GET OUT DVD (**½, 120 mins., 1982, R; Warner): A box-office flop upon initial release, director Hal Ashby’s “Lookin’ To Get Out” has been restored in a new extended version courtesy of Warner Home Video.

I had never previously seen this tale of two buddies (Jon Voight and Burt Young) who head to Vegas in the hopes of erasing Voight’s debt, mainly because the film did so poorly that it’s rarely been shown over the years. Therefore, I can’t comment on how changed this extended (and apparently much reworked) longer cut is. However, fans of the movie will want to give the picture a look, as this amiable vehicle for Voight -- which he also co-produced and wrote -- boasts memorable performances, a few laughs, and fine cinematography from Haskell Wexler.

Warner’s DVD boasts a nicely textured 16:9 (1.85) transfer with mono sound, a new interview with Voight and his co-writer Al Schwartz, and the original trailer, plus booklet notes from Voight which reinforce this version as being a true Ashby cut, presumably assembled before the studio took it away from him.

Quick Takes

BAD LIEUTENANT DVD (96 mins., 1992, NC-17; Lionsgate): Abel Ferrara’s raunchy vehicle for star Harvey Keitel gets a new Special Edition from Lionsgate, offering commentary from the director and cinematographer Ken Kelsch, plus a retrospective documentary with cast and crew interviews, a 16:9 (1.78) transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack.

BEACH KINGS DVD (97 mins, 2008, PG-13; Fox): Whether it’s the presence of cute Kristin Cavallari or the dramatic stylings of Jaleel White, this affable beach volleyball vehicle from MGM offers the most fun of its type since C. Thomas Howell and Peter Horton vollied for serve in “Side Out” back in the ‘90s. MGM’s DVD includes a sunny 16:9 (1.78) transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.

THE TIGGER MOVIE: 10th Anniversary Edition (77 mins., 1999, G; Disney): Popular Pooh animated feature from Disney follows our favorite Tigger as he sets off on an adventure to find others like him. A pleasant story and soundtrack make this an entertaining and satisfying children’s film which Disney has re-issued in a 10th Anniversary edition with a bonus digital copy for portable media players and two new-to-DVD episodes from the series “The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” (“King of the Beasties” and “Tigger’s Houseguest”). Other extras include a Kenny Loggins music video, DVD storybook and other goodies for kids, while the film itself is presented in a fine 16:9 (1.78) transfer with 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.    

JIM BRUER: LET’S CLEAR THE AIR (71 mins., 2009; Paramount): New stand-up special starring the often quite funny former SNL star finds the comedian tackling subjects from childhood to fatherhood. Paramount’s DVD includes a photo shoot, “fireside chat with Dad” and bonus footage.

JOCKEYS (269 mins., 2009; Discovery/Animal Planet): Interesting reality series for horse racing fans profiles a handful of jockeys over a 30-day racing season. Genius brings this Animal Planet show to DVD with bonus “minisode” featurettes on the supplemental side.

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