New DVD Releases: 'The Matador,' 'Doctor Who,' 'The Libertine' And More

Anime mastery, dead Rolling Stone round out week.

Every week takes a look at the most promising DVD releases, from recent big-screen hits to Hollywood classics to television shows finally getting their due.

"The Matador" (2005)

Joke all you want, but hit men and businessmen really do have a lot in common. In "The Matador," Pierce Brosnan plays Julian Noble, a globetrotting assassin on the verge of a breakdown, while Greg Kinnear plays Danny Wright, an American businessman who's been having a hard time himself: He and his wife (Hope Davis) are struggling with the death of their young son. Julian and Danny meet in Mexico City while on very different kinds of business, and they strike up an unlikely but ultimately believable — and even moving — friendship. Three great performances and a terrific soundtrack featuring cuts from the Jam, the Cramps and other notables make this a flick worth seeking out.

The Weinstein Company has included the following extras:

  • Director and cast commentary
  • Behind-the-scenes footage
  • Deleted scenes

"The Libertine" (2004)

In "The Libertine," Johnny Depp adds one more vivid portrayal to his eclectic résumé as he breathes filthy life into the Earl of Rochester, a willfully self-destructive 17th-century poet decaying before our eyes due to venereal disease. Few actors could remain seductive delivering monologues after losing several digits and a nose, yet somehow Depp pulls it off — you don't know whether to be disgusted by Rochester or fall in love with him. Evoking similar literature-meets-history-meets-sex flicks like "Quills" and "Dangerous Liaisons," the film was directed by first-timer Laurence Dunmore and co-stars John Malkovich, Samantha Morton and Rosamund Pike as the Earl's wife, long accustomed to looking the other way.

The Weinstein Company has included the following extras:

  • Deleted scenes
  • Making-of documentary
  • Director commentary

"Stoned" (2005)

Among the best-known premature deaths of rock stars — Morrison, Hendrix, Cobain, etc. — few are shrouded in more mystery than that of Brian Jones. By 1969, Jones, an original member of the Rolling Stones and one of the most influential and criminally forgotten musicians of the British Invasion, was effectively destroyed by drugs and drink. He shut himself away in his English estate with only his handyman, Frank Thorogood, to look out for him. When Jones was found drowned in his pool, many suspected Thorogood's involvement, but the ultimate cause of death (Homicide? Suicide? Accident?) has never been determined. "Stoned" brings to the screen one imagined version of what happened.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has included deleted scenes on this DVD.

"Doctor Who" The Complete First Series (2005)

Unless you were raised on PBS it's unlikely that, outside of some head-scratching references made by the comic-book guy on "The Simpsons," you'd be aware of "Doctor Who." The series was a BBC staple for a mind-boggling 26 years until its cancellation in 1989 left an army of fans irate. Thus the show's regeneration was greeted with geek-fueled fanfare on both sides of the pond. Die-hards might say that the charm of the old show stemmed from the meager budgets and the not-so-special effects, but the show's slick new look and feel is a welcome change. The convoluted, decades-in-the-making plot: The Doctor hails from the planet Gallifrey, where people record the development of civilizations across the universe, but he's been exiled for interfering in planets' histories (especially Earth's) and continues to travel through space and time, fighting the forces of evil.

In addition to all 13 episodes of the first season, BBC America/Warner Home Video have included the following extras in this five-disc set:

  • Commentary on all episodes by cast and crew
  • Interview with Christopher Eccleston on "BBC Breakfast"
  • "Destroying the Lair" featurette
  • "Making 'Doctor Who' With Russell T. Davies"
  • "Waking the Dead: Mark Gatiss Video Diary"
  • "Laying Ghosts" featurette
  • "Deconstructing Big Ben"
  • "On Set With Billie Piper"
  • "Mike Tucker's Mocks of Balloons"
  • "Designing 'Doctor Who' "
  • "The Adventures of Captain Jack" featurette
  • "Doctor Who Confidential"
  • "Backstage at Christmas"
  • Storyboard of opening trailer

"Samurai Champloo" The Complete Collection (2004-2005)

Anime fans were eagerly awaiting the release of renowned director Shinichiro Watanabe's "Samurai Champloo," and with good reason: Would he be able, they wondered, to top his landmark series, "Cowboy BeBop"? But "Champloo" — in which a young waitress saves two swordsmen from execution, and they repay the debt by joining her on a quest to find a mysterious samurai "who smells of sunflowers" — set itself apart immediately as a funny and violent period piece. In keeping with the masterful fusion of music and material in "BeBop," "Champloo" combines the loose, fluid nature of hip-hop with the martial-arts swordplay of Meiji-era Japan.

In addition to all 26 episodes of the series, Geneon Entertainment has also included the following extras in this seven-disc set:

  • "Battlecry" opening theme
  • Promo video
  • Conceptual art
  • Teaser trailer
  • Geneon previews

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