It’s a rather eclectic collection of new releases I’ve gathered together for you this week, as King Kong, 50 Cent and some French schoolchildren mix it up. If this group got into a fight, I’m thinking three words: Pay Per View. In this corner are some of the notable releases for March 28:
“Au Revoir Les Enfants: Criterion Collection” (PG) - French writer-director Louis Malle uses some events from his own childhood to frame the story of a 12-year-old French boy who befriends a new classmate at a Catholic boarding school in World War II-era France. Yeah, this is a foreign flick with subtitles, but don’t let that stop you from experiencing this wonderfully shot and performed film.
Extras: Essays by film critic Phillip Kemp and historian Francis J. Murphy (yeah, I’ve never heard of them either), and more.
“Get Rich or Die Tryin’” (R) - Certainly an odd combination on paper, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and director Jim Sheridan teamed up for last fall’s drama based on parts of Jackson’s life. In “Get Rich,” Jackson is an inner city drug dealer who sees a way out of the life by becoming a rap star. Likely hoping to capitalize on the success that Enimen’s similarly themed film debut had, 50 Cent’s movie wasn’t nearly as successful with critics or audiences.
Extras: A making of featurette and that’s about it. What, no videos?!
“King Kong: Special Edition” (PG-13) - Coming off the gigantic success of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the success of director Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” almost seems to pale in comparison. But with a large worldwide box office haul and three Oscars, the big ape didn’t do too shabby. Just don’t go expecting a sequel. Although seeing Jackson attempt to remake “Son of Kong” would be quite amusing.
Extras: Numerous featurettes on the two-disc release, including some on the recreation of 1930s New York, as well as Skull Island. Plus, Jackson’s extensive post-production diaries make up almost three hours of footage.
“Knots Landing: Season 1” - Billed as the second longest running TV drama in history, this glorified nighttime soap opera makes its debut on DVD. Following the lives of five suburban families in southern California, this release features all 13 of the first season’s episodes and more back stabbing and scheming than you can shake a stick at. Not that doing so would be recommended in the presence of star Joan Van Ark in the first place.
Extras: Interviews with Van Ark and co-star Ted Shackleford, cast commentary on a couple of episodes.
“Memoirs of a Geisha” (PG-13) - Winner of three Academy Awards, “Memoirs,” an adaptation of a best-selling book by Arthur Golden, seemed to be generally liked, but hardly loved by critics or audiences upon its release last December. Having a Chinese cast of Ziyi Zhang, Michelle Yeoh and Gong Li, among others in the lead roles, was a sticking point with some. The film is labeled as an historical and romantic epic, but it looks like there could be some awesome geisha catfights. A kick from one of those wooden shoes would hurt, I tell ya.
Extras: Commentary from director Rob Marshall and John DeLuca, commentary from several on the production crew, tons and tons of featurettes on just about every aspect of the production, including geisha bootcamp and a history of sumo wrestling (cool!).
“Quantum Leap: Season 4” - Scientist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) keeps “leaping” around, getting transported into the lives of various people, trying to make their lives not suck so much. His only help, if you can call it that, comes from Al, a holographic image played by Dean Stockwell. Originally aired on NBC, this was one of the better shows from the 1980s, helped in no small part from the likable performances from Bakula and Stockwell.
Extras: The Great ‘80s Flashback (whatever that is), and the truly novel idea of a bonus episode of “Quantum Leap.”
“Stay” (R) - Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling star in what is billed as a horror movie (?!) about a psychologist (McGregor) who attempts to stop a deeply troubled patient (Gosling) from killing himself. In doing so, he becomes wrapped up in trying to unlock the screwed up psyche of the patient. (Good luck trying to get that guy to pay his medical bill.) This film did the exact opposite of its title upon hitting theaters last year. (Umm, that is, it left – and quickly.)
Extras: Commentary from director Marc Forster, Gosling and various crew members, featurettes.