October 10, 2008

Emotions Run Strong With Jenkins in The Visitor ; Sandler’s Hit Misfires

The Visitor (Anchor Bay, $29.97) became a hit thanks to good audience buzz.

Local actor Richard Jenkins, who has lent his talents in secondary roles in a slew of films from Farrelly Brothers comedies to this summer's Step Brothers, stars as a widowed college professor who finds a pair of undocumented immigrants, a Syrian musician and his Senegalese girlfriend, living in his Manhattan apartment. Reluctantly he allows them to stay with him, thus beginning an amazing and emotional journey for all of them. For his role in the film, Jenkins was quickly mentioned as a contender for the best actor Academy Award next year. See it before then.

Although it was a box office success, with nearly $100 million in ticket sales, Adam Sandler's You Don't Mess With the Zohan (Sony, $28.96) was a critical disappointment.

Sandler again plays his goofball child-man character, this time as an unfulfilled Israeli commando who comes to New York to live out his fantasy of becoming a hairdresser while still pursuing his arch nemesis, a Palestinian terrorist known as Phantom. John Turturro is Phantom, Rob Schneider is a Palestinian taxi driver who hasn't gotten over the loss of his beloved goat. Sandler wriggles his way through the role, having erotic encounters with some of the hair salon's aging customers in the back room. Need one say more?

Three times evil

How many consecutive times can a person watch Touch of Evil? The Touch of Evil: 50th Anniversary Edition DVD (Universal, $26.98) includes three versions of the Orson Welles film: the 96-minute theatrical version released by Universal in 1958, which contains changes Welles did not approve; the 109-minute preview version, with some Welles elements added, which was discovered by the studio in 1976; and the restored version, issued in 1998 and based on explicit modifications requested by Welles in a famous 58-page memo he drafted in 1957. (A reprinted copy of that memo comes with the package.)

If all those details make this DVD sound like a nitpicky, academic enterprise, well, it is. This release marks the first time that all three of the movie's incarnations have been included in a single collection. And that means film school wannabes everywhere can easily examine the decisions the studio made in that '58 release and immediately compare them with Welles' choices -- such as his removal of Henry Mancini's music from the stunning tracking shot that opens the picture -- as reflected in the '98 restoration. For some, the joy of that exercise will provide reason enough to add this DVD to their movie collections. The plot has Charlton Heston as a Mexican narcotics agent who butts heads with a crusty, crooked police chief (Welles).

It's happening

In M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening (Fox, $29.98), Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel star as a couple facing a marital crisis when something greater overtakes them. A neurotoxin hits New York City. It's headed along the Eastern Seaboard.

Initially the "event" is pinned to terrorism and grapples with 9/ 11 anxieties. Flawed (even silly at times) but also engaging, this enviro-thriller reminds us that there is always something at stake in Shyamalan's films: humanism and connection.

Asleep once more

Back looking better than ever is Disney's Sleeping Beauty -- 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition ($29.99 DVD: $35.99 Blu-ray), with restored picture and sound quality. This widescreen release includes many bonus features, including a "walk-through" of the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland, an alternate opening as a big musical production number, a documentary about the making of the film, four deleted songs. The Blu-ray disc includes a number of games such as the Dragon Encounter and interactive capabilities.

Also this week

A teen skater from a broken home tries to cover up an accidental murder in Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park (Genius, $19.95); holographic sorcerers create mayhem in the anime Strait Jacket (Manga, $19.97); a young man tries to return to society after 14 years in prison in Boy A (Genius, $24.95); a nurse intervenes in a father's plan to send one of his children with Down syndrome away in The Memory Keeper's Daughter (Sony, $24.96); a mysterious chair at an abandoned mental hospital leads to a demonic black hole in The Devil's Chair (Sony, $24.96); a reporter sets out to find the intended recipient of a note from a dead child in The Note (Sony, $24.96); a group of people touched by a fatal car accident come together for an emotional catharsis in Normal (Porch Light, $24.98); Rob Zombie re- imagines the original Halloween (Genius, $24.95); a suburban house may hold monsters in The Devil's Mercy (Peace Arch, $29.99); Robert Hays and Charles Durning scrap aboard ship during World War II in Mister Roberts (Acorn, $24.99).

From TV

Back on your home screen, here come: Brotherhood: The Complete Second Season (Paramount, $42.99); 30 Rock: Season 2 (Universal, $39.98); Munsters: The Complete Series (Universal, $69.98); Mission: Impossible: The Fifth Season (Paramount, $54.99); How I Met Your Mother Season Three (Fox, $39.98); South Park: The Cult of Cartman (Comedy Central, $26.99); The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (Fox, $49.98); Growing Up Wilderness (Genius, $14.95); TV Sets: Holiday Treats (Paramount, $12.99); Martin: The Complete Fifth Season (HBO, $29.98); Rules of Engagement: The Complete Second Season (Sony, $29.95); Keeping Up with the Kardashians: Season One (Lionsgate, $19.98); Adventures from the Book of Virtues: A Christmas Carol for Annie (Porch Light, $14.98); The Michael Palin Collection (BBC, $249.92); Robot Chicken Season 3 (Adult Swim, $29.98); Midsomer Murders (Acorn, $49.99); The Sarah Jane Adventures: The Complete First Season (BBC, $49.98).

For children

A 12-year-old boy and a dog conquer the crooks in Dog Gone (Screen Media, $24.98); classroom critters spread holiday cheer in The Wonder Pets!: Save the Nutcracker (Nick Jr., $16.99); Dora the Explorer: Dora Celebrates Three Kings Day! (Nick Jr., $16.99); Care Bears Flurries of Fun (Fox, $29.98); Strawberry Shortcake Holiday Dreams Collection (Fox, $26.98); The Smurfs: Season 1, Volume 2 (Warner, $26.99); Sing a Song of Wiggles (Warner, $14.98); Speed Racer Complete Classic Series Collection (Lionsgate, $49.98); Speed Racer: The Next Generation: The Fast Track (Lionsgate, $19.98); Looney Tunes Golden Collection Volume Six (Warner, $64.92); Looney Tunes Spotlight Collection Volume Six (Warner, $26.99); You're Not Elected, Charlie Brown (Warner, $19.98); Seemore's Playhouse (Monarch, $12.98).


Michael Moore takes a 62-city cross-country tour during the 2004 election and finds a scary wealth of misinformation and disinterest among potential young voters in Slacker Uprising (The Disinformation Company, $9.95).

Learn more about your dog in Cesar Millan: Mastering Leadership (R2, $49.99).


Universal has special editions of the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers Psycho, Vertigo and Rear Window ($26.98 each) featuring dozens of bonus features including interviews, audio commentary and how specific scenes were designed for maximum impact.

The Alice Faye Collection Volume 2 (Fox, $49.98) has the films Hollywood Cavalcade, Rose of Washington Square, The Great American Broadcast, Four Jills in a Jeep and Hello Frisco, Hello. Each film is also available for $19.98.

Sony has The Three Stooges Collection: Volume Four: 1943 - 1945 for $24.96.

Oscar Wilde's Victorian horror The Picture of Dorian Gray is from MGM for $19.97 while the animated fantasy Watership Down, about the adventures of a community of rabbits, is $19.97 from Warner.

With Journal Wire Reports



Richard Jenkins, left, and Haaz Sleiman star in The Visitor. overture films / JoJo Whildon

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