TODAY’S NEW RELEASES ON DVD AND VIDEO
By MICHAEL GLITZ
“M*A*S*H: Season Three”
This is the one – the best season from one of the best sitcoms of all time ($39.98; Fox). It’s almost unthinkable that the show could continue without Trapper (Wayne Rogers) and Henry (McLean Stevenson), but that’s exactly what they would have to do in Season Four. It was still funny for a while, but nothing can match this moment when the show was brutal and funny and sometimes brutally funny – from the first episode where a general decides the 4077th should be closer to the front (a lot closer) to the devastating, unprecedented finale when Henry was killed off by having the chopper taking him home crash into the sea.”The Killers”
“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”
This two-disc set ($39.95; Criterion) collecting adaptations of Ernest Hemingway’s short story “The Killers” is almost comically complete: You get the classic ’46 movie starring Burt Lancaster, the pretty good ’64 remake with Lee Marvin, a radio play adaptation with Lancaster and Shelley Winters, numerous stills and essays by Paul Schrader and others, and even Andrei Tarkovsky’s ’56 student film version! Film buff heaven. Though “Fear and Loathing” hasn’t gelled into a classic yet (at least, not without taking more drugs than the characters), it too gets the deluxe treatment ($39.95; Criterion). Is there any question that director Terry Gilliam is having the craziest, loopiest, path-breaking career in memory? This venture apparently broke new ground in screenplay credits, an escapade well-documented, naturally, by Criterion.
“The Four Feathers”
“The Rules of Attraction”
“City by the Sea”You can learn a lot from a bad movie. In the deadly dull anti-colonial adventure “The Four Feathers,” you finally realize Wes Bentley has only one trick, Kate Hudson has no tricks, and Heath Ledger can maintain his dignity in the worst of circumstances ($19.95; Paramount). In the banally cynical “Rules” ($24.99; Lions Gate), you realize actors can advance their careers even in bad movies, as James Van der Beek does nicely by playing mean. (But what we really wanted were extras showing more home movies with Kip Pardue.) And “City by the Sea” shows that a bad movie with talented actors like Robert De Niro is a lot more painful to watch than a bad movie with a bunch of nobodies ($27.95; Warner Bros.).”The Color Purple”
A fresh coat of paint brightens up “The Color Purple” but can’t hide the fact that this earnestly serious drama hasn’t stood the test of time as well as Steven Spielberg’s other early stab at drama, the brilliant “Empire of the Sun.” The difference? “Empire” avoids sentimentality while “Purple” is dripping in it, from the wrenching scene where Celie is separated from her sister to that “Wizard of Oz” finale ($27.95; Warner Bros.). And if Miramax’s truckload of Oscar nominations wasn’t proof enough, this director’s cut of “Cinema Paradiso” (with 50 extra minutes) shows yet again that Harvey Weinstein is usually right ($29.99; Miramax). Sometimes, less is more. Happily, this DVD contains both versions, and you can jump right to the stirring finale.
“Biggie & Tupac”
“Benjamin Smoke”Nick Broomfield is a good, old-fashioned muckraker as demonstrated in his follow-up to “Kurt & Courtney” that investigates the murders of Biggie and Tupac ($19.99; Razor & Tie). If Martin Bashir unmasks his subjects by disarming them with smiles, Broomfield unmasks them by confrontation and abrasiveness. Far more gentle and sad is “Benjamin Smoke” ($24.95; Plexifilm), a look at Benjamin, a Georgia native who takes speed, plays in a band (of sorts) called Smoke and occasionally wears women’s clothing. Shot over 10 years, it is – simply – indescribable. How often can you say that about a movie?
Here’s the complete list.
TODAY’S NEW RELEASES ON DVD AND VIDEO