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DVD Releases for September 21, 2004

September 20th, 2004

Every week films get a second chance at success from the home market; or, in some cases, a first chance at success. Here is a list of wide releases, limited releases and a few from the growing TV on DVD section, including the co-winners of the DVD Pick of the Week. Star Wars, Star Wars, Star Wars and of course Star Wars - Original Trilogy - Buy from Amazon.

The Battle of Algiers - Criterion Collection - Buy from Amazon
This classic film was re-released in theatres earlier in the year. If you missed a chance at seeing it then, which is understandable since its peak theatre count was only 8, you now have a chance to own it on DVD. And it's not being dumped on DVD; it's getting the Criterion touch. 3 disc special edition that includes half a dozen documentaries / featurettes on subjects ranging from the usual making of the movie to the historical context of the battles. Anyone who owns any Criterion Collection DVDs will be able to tell you about their high quality.

Coffee and Cigarettes - Buy from Amazon
This film is an uneven series of vignettes involving a couple of people talking over coffee and cigarettes. Unfortunately, some of these interactions are just not compelling. But you can treat the DVD like a CD with 11 songs on it. You wouldn't not buy a CD just cause there's one or two songs you don't like on it. However, how many 'songs' it would take to pick up this DVD and which 'songs' are worth it are up to individual tastes. So if you're interested in the movie, rent it first.

La Dolce Vita - 2-Disc Collector's Edition - Buy from Amazon
Famed Italian director, Frederico Fellini's greatest work. That should be enough to get people buying this DVD, even before you take the special features into account. And this set has plenty of special features from the ubiquitous audio commentary to never before scene shorts by Fellini and more.

Felicity - Junior Year Collection - The Complete Third Season - Buy from Amazon
One of many teenage Dramas that have been the cornerstone to the WB's programming. This show follows the life of Felicity Porter, played by Keri Russell, who gave up her plans to follow a boy she had a crush on to university. If you've purchased previous seasons from this franchise, then you know what to expect in terms of quality and extra features.

John Cassavetes - Five Films - Buy from Amazon
He changed the American independent film industry; some would argue he created it. This 8 disc set contains five of his films, including an additional version of The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, a documentary, interviews are more. The collection is pricey and is not for the casual fan.

Mean Girls - Widescreen or Pan & Scan
One of the biggest surprise hits this year. Amazing reviews helped the film reach an audience outside the teen girl set it was intended for. One problem with the DVD release, the extras are only average for a new release with commentary track, outtakes and deleted scenes. I was hoping with the film's success that the studio would be willing to splurge and give fans more. Oh well, even with merely average special features, the DVD is still worth picking up.

Mr. Show - The Complete Fourth Season - Buy from Amazon
For fans of Monty Python, Kids in the Hall, and other wild sketch-com type shows should love Mr. Show. Not only is the show overall very funny, season 3 was arguably the funniest. And the DVD set is packed with special features making it worth picking up.

Popular - The Complete First Season - Buy from Amazon
Another WB teen drama coming out on DVD. In many ways this show was superior to Felicity or Dawson's Creek and other such series, but it had a really poor timeslot. First on Thursdays, which put it against the other stations' heavy hitters, then on Friday, which is the graveyard of TV shows. For a show that lasted only two seasons, the special features on the disc are strong and include audio commentaries, outtakes, a making of featurette and more.

Star Wars - Original Trilogy - Buy from Amazon: Widescreen or Pan & Scan
What can I say about these movies that you don't already know? Not much, but there are a couple of points. First of all, they are the special editions, but not the same as the ones we saw in the theatres. For instance, Greedo doesn't shoot first, (it's a simultaneous shot now) and some special effects were improved while others were changed to make the original trilogy fit better with the new movies. For those of you that are waiting for the original, non-special edition version to come out, don't hold your breath. I suspect they won't come out until after George Lucas loses control of LucasFilm. And that probably won't happen till after he dies. This set also contains a disc of bonus features, including the 2 and a half hour long documentary, Empire of Dreams. On a side note, it was a relatively slow week for DVDs, and I think its because other studios were scared off by this box set being release today.

What Alice Found - Buy from Amazon
Made on a tiny budget, this film played in several film festivals but even with strong reviews but wasn't able to find an audience never playing in more than 3 theatres. Hopefully that will change now that it's out on DVD.

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Filed under: Video Releases, Mean Girls, Coffee and Cigarettes, La Battaglia di Algeri, What Alice Found