VICTOR/VICTORIA (1982, WB), dir. Blake Edwards w/ Julie Andrews, James Garner. Rating: NNNN
The jewel of a new quartet of Edwards's films from Warner -- along with S.O.B., The Great Race and Skin Deep -- Victor/Victoria is perhaps the last of the classical Hollywood musicals. If you can stop squirming during those earnest discussions about gender roles, it's a film with glitter and style, here given a pristine digital transfer with a superb Dolby mix. Edwards, now 80, and Andrews provide a chatty commentary track, and it's plain from the way they talk about it that it's their favourite of the seven films they made together.
EXTRAS: Director/star commentary track, filmographies, theatrical trailer, English and French versions, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese subtitles. Don't laugh -- S.O.B. has all those, plus tracks in Thai and Korean.
BLACK HAWK DOWN (2001, Columbia Tri-Star), dir. Ridley Scott w/ Josh Hartnett, Eric Bana. Rating: NNN
Based on Mark Bowden's best-selling recounting of the 1993 encounter between a handful of American soldiers and the exceedingly pissed-off citizenry of Mogadishu, Somalia, Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down remounts every great combat sequence from every war movie of the last 20 years and jams it into a single two-and-a-half-hour movie. Once the fighting starts, it just never stops.
Black Hawk Down offers extraordinary battle recreations but has no idea why the Americans are in Somalia, and never thinks to ask. A must for fans of the war movie, but it comes with a caveat. For renters, this is a good, solid transfer of Scott's exhausting combat film. Buyers, however, should hold off -- Columbia has announced that this bare-bones DVD presentation is a stopgap until the special edition in late 2002 or early 2003. Maybe they'll make a deal to include A&E's excellent The True Story Of Black Hawk Down documentary.
EXTRAS: Theatrical trailer, making-of featurette, English, French subtitles.
MONSTER'S BALL (2001, Lions Gate), dir. Marc Forster w/ Billy Bob Thornton, Halle Berry.
Monster's Ball is a "stark" racial drama set in the not-so-new South, where Berry's widow meets and begins a relationship with Thornton, the racist prison guard who helped execute her husband. The cast labours mightily, but the film itself stinks of 50s "problem drama," and the pacing makes snails look speedy. Why do people think slow equals important? As for the extras, after 40 minutes of listening to Thornton, Oscar-winner Berry and director Forster tell each other how great they are, I shut off the commentary track. It may be the least interesting track this side of Swordfish.
EXTRAS: Director/cinematographer commentary track, director/stars commentary track, deleted scenes, outtakes, musical score featurette and, oddly, the DVD trailer, not the theatrical trailer. English and French dubbed versions, English, French and Spanish subtitles.
ALSO THIS WEEKALSO THIS WEEK
I Am Sam Sean Penn pretends to be developmentally challenged.
Orange County Teen comedy with extra hijinks.
The Shipping News Kevin Spacey and other famous movie stars pretend to be Newfies.
= Critics' Pick
NNNNN = excellent, maintains big screen impact
NNNN = very good
NNN = worth a peek
NN = Mediocre
N = Bomb
No rating indicates no screening copy