Tuesday, May 30, 2006

DVD Releases - May 30

Some of this past spring’s movies start to make their way to DVD this week, combined with some special editions of a pair of films that I can guarantee you’ll never see together as a double feature. So here are some of the notables for May 30:

“Date Movie” (Unrated) - From some of the same people behind the “Scary Movie” franchise is this ugly stepsister of a film, featuring a lot of scatological humor and nonstop parodies of other, better movies. As if it matters, Alyson Hannigan, Adam Campbell, Eddie Griffin and Fred Willard are among the cast.
Extras: Deleted/extended/alternate scenes, audio commentaries with the cast and crew, several featurettes, screensavers, an optional laugh track, and more.
Official Web site

“Dukes of Hazzard: Season 6” - After a near disastrous fifth season that saw the show’s stars hold out and be replaced, only to return by season’s end, the sixth season has Tom Wopat and John Schneider firmly back in place. Lucky you, as now all 22 episodes of the season have been preserved on DVD for posterity.
Extras: History and design featurette on the General Lee, as well as a tour of the real Hazzard County with Ben “Cooter” Jones and Sonny “Enos” Shroyer. Does life get any better than this?!
Official Web site

“Freedomland” (R) - Despite material in the form of a novel by acclaimed writer Richard Price (who also adapted the screenplay), and a strong cast, led by Samuel L. Jackson and Julianne Moore, “Freedomland” largely sunk at the box office. There’s some interesting ideas at work here, dealing with racial issues brought about after a white mother (Moore) claims her son was kidnapped by a black man in the projects. Perhaps a second life for the film can be found on DVD.
Extras: The big nada.
Official Web site

“Numb3rs: Season 1” - This surprise hit for CBS with the annoying spelling of its title (using the number 3 as an E – give me a break) has all 13 episodes of its first season out on four discs. The series focuses on FBI Special Agent Don Eppes (Rob Morrow) who utilizes the help of his brother (David Krumholtz), a math genius, to help crack cases. For those wondering what use math has for your everyday life, here you go.
Extras: Commentary from cast and crew on multiple episodes, audition reels, blooper reels and more.
Official Web site

“Platoon: 20th Anniversary Collector’s Edition” (R) - In what would be the first of his three movies dealing with the Vietnam War, writer-director Oliver Stone delivers a brutal, but undeniably powerful depiction of the struggle of a young infantryman (Charlie Sheen) in 1960s Vietnam. The great cast includes Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, John C. McGinley, Forest Whitaker and Kevin Dillon, among others.
Extras: Commentary with Stone and military advisor Dale Dye, deleted scenes with optional commentary from Stone, and multiple featurettes.
Official Web site

“Smokey and the Bandit: Special Edition” (PG) - How have we survived so long without a special edition of this “classic” film? Well, good buddy, your dreams have come true as the Bandit (Burt Reynolds) is here, ready to deliver 400 cases of beer from Texarkana to Atlanta in under 28 hours, avoiding Smokey (Jackie Gleason) along the way. Many, many, many car chases ensue.
Extras: Making of featurette and a “Smokey and the Bandit” CB tutorial (that’s no joke).
No official Web site

Friday, May 26, 2006

Movie Review: "Shopgirl"

Starring Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras
Directed by Anand Tucker

Official Web site

Making the most out of a standout performance from star Claire Danes, “Shopgirl” manages to throw some variations into the oft-dramatized love triangle situation, while largely avoiding the pitfalls of dumbing down characters for mass consumption.

Some of that credit clearly has to go back to the source material, the 2000 novella of the same name by Steve Martin. Adapting it for the big screen, Martin (who also co-stars) centers the story around Mirabelle (Danes), a California transplant by way of Vermont, looking for love and a true sense of direction in her life. She works in a Saks Fifth Avenue store as a clerk in the glove department (which, as the movie depicts, certainly doesn’t seem to be a high demand item), but also dabbles in art in her spare time. That spare time is largely spent alone in her apartment as she seems to be waiting for the next chapter of her life to begin.

Meeting Jeremy (Jason Schwartzman) late one night in a neighborhood laundromat certainly doesn’t inspire romantic confidence. And Jeremy is the very definition of a slob bachelor, with trash and clothes strewn all over his apartment. He even has to clear some space in his car from garbage before Mirabelle can sit down. Thus begins their awkward courtship that consists of Jeremy taking about fonts (he claims to be a font designer) while Mirabelle looks at him with a mix of fascination and resignation.

Then one day at the glove counter, she meets Ray Porter (Martin), a dot-com millionaire who promptly buys some gloves, then sends them to Mirabelle, along with a dinner invitation. Intrigued, she accepts and begins seeing Ray on a regular basis. Stating from the beginning that he’s not looking for a serious relationship, Mirabelle is attracted to Ray’s charm as well as the attention and gifts he bestows on her – a marked difference from any previous relationship she’s been in. The fact that there is a significant age difference between the two is discussed, but isn’t dwelled on.

The development of Mirabelle and Ray’s relationship is handled well, in what could have been a kind of creepy situation in less skilled hands. Through their eyes, the difference in expectations and desires in the relationship shifts as time goes on. Ray believes the two are on the same page in this area, while a part of Mirabelle hopes – even against her better judgment – that his defenses will be worn down with time. As the most clearly defined character in the movie, Danes gives an emotionally rich performance that helps bring a greater depth to scenes.

Spending much of the second half of the movie away from the central action, Schwartzman still is able to bring a likable geekiness to Jeremy, even if some of his quirks are a bit much to believe. Sensing his need to mature, Jeremy agrees to accompany a rock band on a road tour, hoping it will make him a better person.

Director Anand Tucker shows a strong visual style with the material, including a shot that begins over Mirabelle’s bed, ascends through her apartment skylight and into the star-filled sky as it gets lost among the other flickering lights. Less successful is the music score from Barrington Pheloung, which practically overwhelms some scenes with its loud string instruments, when quiet and subtle melodies would seem to work much better.

To some degree, the general scope of the film seems almost too small for movie theaters. This is one that will probably play better on people’s TV screens, documenting the intimacy of these characters trying to find love. Doing so without getting hurt along the way is something that even a fictional movie like this knows is tough, if not impossible.
Grade: B
(Rated R for sexual content and brief language.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

DVD Releases - May 23

After a relatively quiet week of releases last week, there’s a lot of options hitting the market this week. Whether it’s more seasons of TV shows or special editions of classic movies, there’s a good variety of DVDs coming out May 23. Here’s a glimpse at the lineup:

“Boston Legal: Season 1” - Creator David E. Kelley’s first season of his legal comedy-drama gets its release. A spinoff from the hit ABC show “The Practice,” it stars James Spader and William Shatner as a pair of attorneys with their own spin on ethics. Spader and Shatner have both earned Emmys for their work, and Candice Bergen joined the cast late in the season. So why I am I not watching this?
Extras: A pair of featurettes and deleted scenes from the pilot episode.
Official Web site

“Cheaper By the Dozen 2” (PG) - In a sequel to the serviceable, yet forgettable 2003 film, Steve Martin and Bonnie Hunt return with a whole bunch of children that you’ll be glad aren’t yours. Eugene Levy is on board this go around, and you can practically hear the ka-ching of the cash register as Martin and Levy collect their money for this one.
Extras: Commentary by director Adam Shankman and several featurettes.
Official Web site

“Deadwood: Season 2” - Cover your kids’ eyes and ears! Those foul-mouthed, violent residents of Deadwood are back for the second season of the critically-acclaimed HBO drama from creator David Milch (“NYPD Blue”). The power struggle continues for the troubled town in 19th century South Dakota for this 12-episode season.
Extras: Commentary from cast and crew on multiple episodes, making-of season finale, a Deadwood 1877 featurette, and a photo gallery.
Official Web site

“Dirty Dozen: Special Edition” (NR) - Lee Marvin and his motley crew get a two-disc special edition treatment, as the action-packed WWII thriller is released. I’ll save you from the story rundown, but you just know there will come a day when Hollywood will unnecessarily remake this script.
Extras: Commentary from no fewer than eight people, including stars Jim Brown, Trini Lopez and original novelist E.M. Nathanson; an introduction from star Ernest Borgnine; the 1985 made-for-TV sequel, “The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission”; a pair of new documentaries; and more.
No official Web site

“High School Musical: Encore Edition” (PG) - It was a big hit when it premiered on the Disney Channel, the soundtrack is still selling in big numbers, and now the music-packed film makes its debut on DVD. An athlete and a smart beauty both secretly audition for the leads in the high school musical and much singing and dancing ensues. Pretty much like the name indicates.
Extras: A pair of featurettes and music videos.
Official Web site

“Kingdom of Heaven: Director’s Cut” (R) - Normally, I don’t give a whole lot of credence to director’s cuts, but I’m willing to cut director Ridley Scott a little slack. After all, it worked when he presented his director’s cut of “Blade Runner.” So we’ll see how he reworks his Crusades-era action picture, a box-office disappointment from last summer.
Extras: A ton, and I mean a ton! It’s four discs worth, people! I can’t even cover all of it, but suffice it to say there’s commentary that stretches over two discs, a six-part documentary that basically covers all aspects of the film, and multiple featurettes.
Official Web site

“M*A*S*H*: Season 10” - The acclaimed series nears its conclusion with the second to last season, but the awards kept on piling up, with stars Alan Alda and Loretta Swit among those honored for this season’s work.
Extras: Prognosis: Negative.
No official Web site

“Patton: Special Edition” (PG) - Multiple Oscars, including best picture, went to this classic 1972 film about the legendary U.S. Gen. George S. Patton. George C. Scott will forever most be associated with this role, for which he also won an Academy Award.
Extras: Introduction and commentary by screenwriter Francis Ford Coppola, several new documentaries, including one on the making of the movie.
No official Web site

“Transamerica” (R) - Thanks in large part to the acclaimed lead performance from Felicity Huffman (who was Oscar-nominated), this low-budget comedy-drama about a transsexual on the verge of gender-reassignment surgery got a fair amount of notice at awards time. Bree (Huffman) learns she has a son and ends up taking a road trip with him, change both of their lives.
Extras: Commentary with director Duncan Tucker, a conversation with Tucker and Hoffman, a featurette and a Dolly Parton video (naturally!).
Official Web site

Monday, May 15, 2006

DVD Releases - May 16

A generally light selection marks the releases this week, with TV shows having a lesser presence than recent weeks. But some disappointing movies and the seemingly inevitable repackaged film of the week are among the notables for May 16.

“Doogal” (G) - Evidently, this film is not intended as an instrument of torture. Rather, it’s some introduction to Americans of an old French animated creation that was quite popular on British television. So now we are being subjected to the film that was hacked to pieces by critics. Jon Stewart, who is part of the solid vocal talent for the movie, even made fun of it on “The Daily Show.” But, perhaps if your children have been misbehaving, this might be just the ticket.
Extras: A making of featurette and that’s it.
Official Web site

“Hill Street Blues: Season 2” - The groundbreaking show that inspired many of the law and order shows now on TV, such as ... well, “Law and Order,” is back for a three-disc collection of its second season. The show’s ensemble cast helped contribute to the show’s huge award haul during its run, which included four Emmys for outstanding drama.
Extras: Commentary on a pair of episodes, several featurettes, including ones titled “Confessions of Captain Freedom” and “Belker Unleashed,” if those mean anything to you.
No official Web site

“Napoleon Dynamite: Like, the Best Special Edition Ever!” (PG) - With the filmmakers of “Napoleon Dynamite” conveniently having a new movie coming out next month (“Nacho Libre”), here’s another release of the oddly likable comedy. In most cases, these quickie special editions are usually anything but special. But this one just might be bucking that trend.
Extras: Commentary with director/co-writer Jared Hess, producer Jeremy Coon and actors Jon Heder, Aaron Ruell, Efren Ramirez, Jon Gries and Tina Majorino; deleted scenes with commentary; all new outtakes and audition clips; several featurettes and an original short film with commentary from Hess, Coon and Heder.
Official Web site

“The Producers” (PG-13) - To be honest, I loved the 1968 Mel Brooks original film and didn’t think a remake was necessary. But the Broadway musical was beloved by audiences and critics, so it was hard to fault the decision to adapt it for the big screen. And with a cast that includes Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell, how could it not be great? However, audiences generally seemed to stay away from it in theaters; will the same trend play out on DVD?
Extras: Commentary with director Susan Stroman, deleted scenes, outtakes and analysis of a scene.
Official Web site

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Movie Review: "Mission: Impossible III"

Starring Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michelle Monaghan, Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Keri Russell and Laurence Fishburne
Directed by J.J. Abrams

Snagged as the third different director of the "Mission: Impossible" franchise, J.J. Abrams (a replacement for Joe Carnahan, who split over creative differences) has definitely got the credentials to put together a good spy yarn. After all, he's the creator of the spy drama "Alias," which is wrapping up its five year run on ABC this month. So it's a bit disappointing that the script, penned by Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci seems to favor brawn over brains.

That's not to say that "Mission: Impossible III" doesn't deliver just what the trailer and commercials promise: action, action and more action. It's just that the bar should be set a bit higher for a creative talent like Abrams, especially when incorporating a cast this good.

Headlining, of course, is Tom Cruise as IMF agent Ethan Hunt, who finds himself in big trouble in the film's gripping first scene. Evil arms dealer Owen Davian (a focused Philip Seymour Hoffman) has got Hunt in a compromising situation, as he seeks the Rabbit's Foot, which is a ... (well, never mind). The opener, complete with a cliffhanger, is actually flashing to a moment later in the film – a common practice in "Alias" and "Lost." Overused or not, it works here and helps introduce Hoffman to the movie much earlier than he would have been otherwise.

Since the end of the second "Mission: Impossible," Hunt has gotten out of field duty and now trains future agents. He's also engaged to Julia (Michelle Monaghan), a personable nurse, who happens to think her fiancé is a highway traffic control engineer. So, when Hunt is naturally called back into the field to save one of his former students (Keri Russell), he starts having to pile up lies on poor Julia. While there are some good scenes between Cruise and Monaghan, the movie's need to keep the pace brisk leaves their relationship a bit underdeveloped.

The rescue attempt by Hunt and his IMF team (played by Ving Rhames, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Maggie Q) manages to turn up some evidence of the whereabouts of Davian, a longtime target of the agency's superiors (Billy Crudup and an underused Laurence Fishburne). The team heads off to Vatican City, naturally, to apprehend the villain in a well choreographed and filmed sequence of events. But not to be outdone, Davian has some well armed forces come to his aid in a scene that brings to mind the James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger collaboration, "True Lies."

As the top two stars, Cruise and Hoffman have a few scenes matching up that certainly hold your attention, as both demonstrate their characters are willing to go to the brink (if not beyond) to extract information. But while Hoffman brings a definite menace to his role, it's not really a well defined character.

Cruise certainly shows an anything goes approach to the physical side of his role, and this marks the first film of the three to venture much into his personal life. Still, it doesn't quite feel like enough, as there still seems to be a lack of emotional investment in this character for audiences. And by the third act, when the film crosses paths with its opening scene, there's not a lot of surprises to reveal, and the film's credibility threatens to buckle under the weight of one action sequence too many.

But as far as summer escapism fun at the movies goes, it's mostly mission accomplished. However, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is don't think about it too much afterwards.

Grade: B
(Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of frenetic violence and menace, disturbing images and some sensuality.)

Monday, May 08, 2006

DVD Releases - May 9

Movies can’t exist on operate ends of the spectrum much more than two of the movies in this week’s releases, as a sequel about an undercover cop disguised as an overweight old woman shares shelf space with the 1970s-set dramatization of an assassin squad assembled to exact revenge on terrorists. You can be sure these films will never be brought together as a double feature. Here’s a glance at some of the many new DVD’s coming your way for May 9:

“The Andy Griffith Show: Season 6” - The sixth season in Mayberry brought on some changes, as it was the first to show episodes in color, and Deputy Barney Fife would no longer be a regular character on the show. Incidentally, I recently happened to meet Betty Lynn, who played Barney’s long time girlfriend, Thelma Lou. She’s a very nice woman who obviously loved her time on the classic show.
Extras: All 30 episodes are on five discs, but other than that, you’re not catching any fish here.
No official web site

“Big Momma’s House 2” (PG-13) - Martin Lawrence is back in the latex fat suit again for yet another undeserved and unwarranted sequel. He goes undercover again to work as a nanny so that he can investigate a computer company executive up to no good. I could explain more about the plot, but does it really matter. It’s Martin Lawrence playing dress up for a couple of hours. So it’s not quite Shakespeare.
Extras: Commentary from director John Whitesell and others, along with a featurette and 12 deleted/extended scenes.
Official Web site

“Everybody Loves Raymond: Season 6” - The Barone family, including the incessantly nosy parents played by Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle, are back for the sixth season of the popular CBS comedy.
Extras: Commentary on six of the 24 episodes from the season, bloopers and deleted scenes, and a first six years retrospective.
Official Web site

“Facts of Life: Seasons 1 & 2” - Evidently, producers of “Diff’rent Strokes” were so taken with Charlotte Rae as the Drummond family housekeeper that she got to have her own spin-off show,“The Facts of Life,” beginning in 1979. So here’s the DVD debut of those precocious boarding school girls (Blair, Jo, Natalie and Tootie) and their episodic life lessons about being good and decent people. For me, this was a tough one to watch – too many girls. I’ll stick with the very special episodes of “Diff’rent Strokes,” thank you very much.
Extras: A couple of featurettes, but not much else.
No official web site

“Munich” (R) - For my money, “Munich” was the best movie of 2005 – an intense, but well constructed historical drama that also serves as a very effective thriller. Following the murder of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, a group of five men are assembled to track down and kill the ones responsible. Steven Spielberg directs from a script by celebrated playwright Tony Kushner and Eric Roth.
Extras: The single disc only contains a brief introduction from Spielberg, while a two-disc special edition contains several featurettes covering numerous aspects of the film’s production.
Official Web site

“Nanny McPhee” (PG) - Oscar winner Emma Thompson wrote and stars as the title character in this family-oriented film about a mysterious woman who comes into the life of a recently widowed man (Colin Firth) to try and help tame his very naughty children. No, I’m not talking any corporal punishment here, just mostly magic. And no spoonfuls of sugar for these brats.
Extras: Deleted scenes, a gag reel and several behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Official Web site

“Rescue Me: Season 2” - Troubled fireman Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is back for more in the second season of the critically acclaimed FX drama. Separated from his wife and kids, Gavin struggles to get his life back together while battling alcoholism. Leary and co-creator Peter Tolan both earned Emmy nominations for their writing work on this last season. Season three begins May 30, so there’s little time to catch up for yours truly.
Extras: Several featurettes, lots of deleted scenes, a blooper reel and a look at season three.
Official Web site

“Rumor Has It” (PG-13) - A woman (Jennifer Aniston) comes home with her fiancé (Mark Ruffalo) only to be told that her family was the inspiration for “The Graduate.” Well, that’s certainly news you don’t hear everyday. Kevin Costner, Shirley McClaine and Mena Suvari co-star for director Rob Reiner in a generally poor received comedy. Maybe the concept is a bit too much of a stretch?
Extras: Can you count a trailer? No, I didn’t think so. Well, then it’s got nothing.
Official Web site

“Scrubs: Season 3” - This funny, creative sitcom frequently struggles in the ratings, but has managed to survive several seasons on NBC. Its diagnosis is still to be determined for next season, but thankfully, its getting some new life on DVD.
Extras: Numerous featurettes, a gag reel and commentaries on various episodes.
Official Web site

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Movie Review: "Where the Truth Lies"

Starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth, Alison Lohman, Rachel Blanchard, David Hayman, Maury Chaykin
Directed by Atom Egoyan

Official Web site

It's clear when stars Kevin Bacon and Colin Firth take the stage looking snazzy in their tuxes, while performing music and comedy, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis should spring to mind. Indeed, this fictional nightclub act has its suave and sophisticated straight man, Vince Collins (Firth) and excitable, wilder funny man, Lenny Morris (Bacon). In 1957, their career is red hot and luxuries are laid at their feet, be it legal or not.

"Where the Truth Lies" certainly doesn't paint the duo as angels, as each have their problems. Both seem dependent on pills to keep up their energy, not to mention their libidos, which most of the time seems particularly in high gear for Morris. Director Atom Egoyan does a good job capturing the dark, smoke-filled nightclubs, while Firth and Bacon show some talent in their limited on screen performances. Although it must be stated, Martin and Lewis, they ain't.

But when attractive college student Maureen O'Flaherty (Rachel Blanchard) is found dead in their Atlantic City hotel room, everything changes. Her death is ruled accidental and Collins and Morris avoid implication in the tragedy. However, their careers are not so lucky, as it effectively ends their partnership, not to mention general relevance in show business.

Cut to 15 years later and ambitious writer Karen O'Connor (Alison Lohman) is looking to dig into the mystery through a new book she's just negotiated a $1 million deal to pen about Collins and Morris. However, Collins is the only one willing to talk, but with no desire to discuss Maureen. A chance encounter on an airplane with Morris, who has no idea who Karen is, has the appearance of a budding romance, albeit one built on lies.

Meanwhile, Karen continues to work on Collins, desperately wanting him to talk about the one subject that she knows will get the book to fly off shelves. To say that she gets a little loose in her journalistic ethics while compiling interviews for the book would be an understatement. Taking recreational drugs and making out with a woman dressed like Alice in Wonderland (in what is a rather absurd sequence of events) are not normal professional practices.

In fact, on more than one occasion, the movie veers dangerously close towards the territory of camp. But in large part, thanks to the focused performances from Bacon and Firth, is able to veer back on track. Bacon, playing the sex and image obsessed Morris, certainly portrays him as a bit of a cad. But the character seems aware of this too, and is clearly haunted by Maureen's death. Collins is the colder and more impersonal of the two and seems to favor isolation, but Firth suggests demons just beneath his seemingly dignified exterior.

Egoyan has made a career out of unconventional movies, from the superb, elegiac "The Sweet Hereafter" to the sexually themed thriller "Exotica." With "Where the Truth Lies," he tackles film noir, adapting a Rupert Holmes novel to the big screen. If that author's name sounds familiar, think the guy who wrote "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)." Now you're getting where the unconventional part comes in. Having what would likely be deemed a somewhat unpolished source material, the movie is certainly not successful on all fronts. Some elements of the story, be it the multiple narrators, or frequent jumping between 1957 and 1972, can grow frustrating. But the film definitely can't be faulted for lack of effort.

Grade: B
(Note: The MPAA threatened the film with an NC-17 due to one sex scene they deemed inappropriate for an R. So Egoyan chose to release the film unrated, but its content is certainly no less controversial than any number of R rated films released any given week.)

Monday, May 01, 2006

DVD Releases - May 2

Some classic TV shows are mixed in with this week’s releases, which also includes a special edition of one of Hollywood’s most respected stage-to-screen efforts. Here’s a look at some releases for May 2:

“The Family Stone” (PG-13) - A really good cast, including Diane Keaton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams and Claire Danes, appear in writer-director Thomas Bezucha’s comedy-drama about a boyfriend (Dermot Mulroney) taking his fiancée (Parker) to meet his family. Naturally, the somewhat dysfunctional family has mixed reactions to the relationship; otherwise, a really dull movie would likely follow. Whether this version is any improvement is a matter of opinion.
Extras: Multiple commentary tracks, including one by Parker and Mulroney; deleted scenes, behind the scenes featurette and a Q&A with the cast.
Official Web site

“Hoodwinked” (PG) - The classic Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale gets yet another re-imagining, this time mixed together with film noir, in an computer-animated comedy. Grandma’s disappearance leads to interrogations of the key suspects, with each having varied stories to tell. Featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway, Glenn Close, Jim Belushi and Patrick Warburton.
Extras: Commentary by writers/directors Cory Edwards, Todd Edwards and Tony Leech, deleted scenes and a music video
Official Web site

“I Love Lucy: Season 6” - Amazingly, this marked the final season of the landmark sitcom, with Lucy, Ricky, Ethel and Fred wrapping up their misadventures. The final season marked a change in location, as the two couples would move out of their apartments into homes, and Little Ricky would start figuring into storylines. Guest stars included George Reeves, Orson Welles and Bob Hope.
Extras: All 27 episodes are included on four discs, which also contains commentary on some of them, lost scenes, five episodes of Lucy’s radio show (“My Favorite Husband”), original cast commercials and more.
No official Web site

“Last Holiday” (PG-13) - Queen Latifah steps into the role of Alec Guinness (!) in this remake of the 1950 comedy. Naturally, you think Alec Guinness, you get Queen Latifah. At any rate, the Queen stars as a department store employee who learns she has a terminal illness and decides to live life to the fullest in her final weeks. Those around her, including a chef (Gerard Depardieu), her former boss (Timothy Hutton) and a shy co-worker (LL Cool J) take notice in her vibrant personality transformation.
Extras: Deleted scenes, multiple featurettes and two recipes. Bon appétit!
Official Web site

“Leave It to Beaver: Season 2” - Ward, June, Wally, and of course, the Beaver are back for season two of the popular ‘50s-era sitcom. All 39 episodes of the season are featured. Ah, 39 episodes, back when shows really had to work for a living. Nowadays, most shows, including sitcoms, only muster around 22 episodes a season.
Extras: Did I mention you get to see all 39 episodes. Well, that’s about all you’ll see here. Gee whiz!
No official Web site

“A Streetcar Named Desire: Special Edition” (PG) - The classic movie based on the popular Tennessee Williams play gets a deluxe two-disc collection that also serves as director Elia Kazan’s original vision, as several minutes of footage is restored. Marlon Brando made his unforgettable movie debut here, recreating the role he originated on Broadway, and is joined by Vivian Leigh, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden. Leigh, Hunter and Malden all won Oscars, yet Brando, amazingly enough, did not. He probably wouldn’t have even sent a Native American to the stage to refuse it for him if he had won.
Extras: Commentary by Malden and film historians Rudy Behlmer and Jeff Young, documentary on Kazan, several featurettes and a Brando screen test.
No official Web site