The "Three Times a Sequel" Discs of the Week:
Steven Soderbergh's third hip-slick casino heist romp delivers another
complex caper with an "old Hollywood" feel. Handsome high-rolling
rogues George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt learn that revenge is a
dish best served with a few aces (plus electronic security
gee-wizardry) up your well-creased sleeve. All with Al Pacino as the
bad guy, Elliott Gould in a coma, and Ellen Barkin, Eddie Izzard,
Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner and
Vincent Cassel on board. The first one is still the best, but this one
-- even though its plot details are as preposterous as a Wile E. Coyote
scheme -- is better than the second. It's another good-looking spin of
a now-familiar wheel, pleasantly backed once again by David Holmes'
snappy Rat Pack-evoking score.
Ocean's Thirteen is now available individually or packaged
with its two predecessors in an "Ocean's" three-pack set. You can
choose from multiple editions: widescreen, full-screen, combo DVD/HD
DVD, and Blu-ray. The extras bring us additional scenes, a Jerry
Weintraub tour of the casino and a documentary on Las Vegas.
the Third (Paramount Home Video/Dreamworks)
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The jolly green corporate icon is back, this time going all "meta"
(rather tiresomely) with King Arthur and his knights. Eddie Murphy
plays an ass. Again. Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz return too, of course,
dragging Antonio Banderas, Rupert Everett, Justin Timberlake, Julie
Andrews, John Cleese and Eric Idle through the plodding and witless
plot that will likely try the patience of even the tots hugging their
Extras: cast audio commentary, three additional scenes, "Donkey
Dance" with Donkey giving step-by-step instructions, "Shrek's Guide to
Parenthood," music videos, four trailers, interactive games, four
DVD-ROM features and more. Audio options include Dolby Digital 5.1 and
2.0 Surround, with language options that include (pretty cool) Arabic.
Available in widescreen, full-screen and HD DVD editions.
The "Bio Pick" Disc of the Week:
Grace (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)
Director Michael Apted's inspiring and still-relevant 2006 film about
the campaign against the slave trade in 19th-century Britain, led by
social reformer William Wilberforce (Ioan Gruffudd), who was
responsible for steering anti-slave trade legislation through the
British parliament. The title comes from the hymn "Amazing Grace," and
the film also recounts former slave ship captain John Newton (Albert
Finney) writing the hymn. With Rufus Sewell, Youssou N'Dour, Romola
Garai and Michael Gambon. It's a bit slow-moving, but it's a class act.
And it's a reminder of days when politicians actually strove to achieve
good, noble and politically dangerous things for people who didn't even
vote for them.
DVD extras include commentary from Apted and Gruffudd, "behind the
scenes" and "making of" featurettes, and a music video.
The "I [heart] Criterion" Disc of the Week:
Berlin Alexanderplatz (The Criterion Collection)
Rainer Werner Fassbinder's wildly controversial fifteen-hour-plus
television mini-series, originally broadcast in 1980 and based on
Alfred Doblin's great modernist novel, is the crowning achievement of a
prolific director who, at age thirty-four, had already made forty
films. Fassbinder's immersive epic, restored in 2006 and now available
on DVD in the U.S. for the first time, follows the hulking, childlike
ex-convict Franz Biberkopf (Gunter Lamprecht) as he attempts to "become
an honest soul" amid the corrosive urban landscape of Weimar-era
Germany. With equal parts cynicism and humanity, Fassbinder details a
mammoth portrait of a common man struggling to survive in a viciously
Criterion's seven-disc set includes a new high-definition digital
transfer from the 2006 restoration by the Fassbinder Foundation and
Bavaria Media, supervised and approved by director of photography Xaver
Schwarzenberger. It's in German with a new and improved English
As usual, Criterion loads the basket with first-rate bonus material
-- two new documentaries by Fassbinder Foundation president Juliane
Lorenz; one featuring interviews with the cast and crew; the other on
the restoration (totaling 97 minutes); Hans-Dieter Hartl's 1980
documentary Notes on the Making of "Berlin Alexanderplatz";
Phil Jutzi's 1931 film of the same story from a screenplay co-written
by Doblin himself; and a new video interview with Peter Jelavich,
author of Berlin Alexanderplatz: Radio, Film, and the Death of
Weimar Culture. The DVD case comes with a 72-page booklet
containing stills, Fassbinder's impressions of the original novel, an
appreciation by filmmaker Tom Tykwer, a Q&A with cinematographer
Xaver Schwarzenberger, and more.
about more new DVDs.