DVD in Stores for 3/15/06 

NEW IN STORES Chasing Ghosts (R) Michael Madsen, Meat Loaf, Shannyn Sossamon, Lochlyn


Chasing Ghosts (R) Michael Madsen, Meat Loaf, Shannyn Sossamon, Lochlyn Munro, Tom Wright, Danny Trejo, Michael Rooker. Noirish murder mystery. A weathered cop on his way out, Detective Kevin Harrison (Madsen) is training his replacement when a string of brutal murders takes over his attention. At first, the crimes seem random, but Polaroids found at the crime scenes link them together and also connect somehow to the skeletons in Harrison’s closet. Shannyn Sossamon (The Order) co-stars as the daughter of a cop whose death is also tied to the current spate of murders. 119 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes a making-of featurette; a visual effects featurette; and outtakes.

Debbie Does Dallas: Uncovered (NR) Bambi Woods, Bob Burge, Robin Byrd, Pat Livingstone. One of the most popular titles from the ’70s porno-chic days gets the documentary treatment. Featuring interviews with the original cast, as well as producers, directors and other leading lights of the porn world, the film promises revelations about the dark secrets of the adult entertainment industry — including the drugs, the exploitation and the prurient thrill of having sex in front of a camera. The film also takes a fresh look at the intense scrutiny and outrage that Debbie Does Dallas provoked, from a lawsuit filed by the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders to the FBI’s investigation of the film’s Mafia funders. And with help from the few people who knew her in the porn world, filmmaker Francis Hanly probes the 25-year-old mystery of star Bambi Woods, the small-town girl who played “Debbie” and then mysteriously disappeared. 96 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes the film “Diary of a Porn Virgin.”

Good Night and Good Luck (PG) David Strathairn, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., Patricia Clarkson. Good Night and Good Luck, the second film directed by George Clooney, is about facing up to a bully. The bully in this instance is Joe McCarthy, a political thug on a power trip. The person standing up to the bully is Edward R. Murrow, a highly-respected television reporter for CBS. Don’t come to the theater expected a sprawling, richly textured film like All the President’s Men. The cast is outstanding, particularly David Strathairn as Murrow. Joe McCarthy appears as himself in perfectly integrated film clips. 90 minutes. DVD INFO: Two separately packaged DVDs are available: One preserves the film in the anamorphic widescreen format, while the other hacks off nearly a third of the picture for the fullscreen (aka pan & scan) version. Shop carefully. Both versions include audio commentary by director/screenwriter/actor Clooney and producer/screenwriter Grant Heslov; plus a companion piece. Not many extras, eh? I think I smell a deluxe special edition coming out in a few months. —EJO

Happy Hour (NR) Anthony LaPaglia, Eric Stoltz, Caroleen Feeney, Robert Vaughn. Once, it appeared that Tulley (LaPaglia) had a glittering future. The son of a successful writer, his early literary efforts suggested he would easily follow in his father’s prestigious footsteps. Then the booze got him. Tulley spends his daylight hours counting down the clock in an interminable office job. His coworker and best friend Levine (Stoltz) is a keen companion in the pursuit of alcohol, frequently propping up the bar next to Tulley. But Tulley’s life is irretrievably altered one fateful night, when schoolteacher Natalie (Feeney) settles down snuggly at the bar, and comfortably matches him drink-for-drink. A love affair begins, and Natalie attempts to coerce Tulley back into writing. But accomplishments like that do not come easy. 93 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes audio commentary by director Mike Bencivenga; deleted and extended scenes; a featurette; plus filmographies.

A History of Violence (R) Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello, William Hurt, Ed Harris. Thriller from director David Cronenberg. Tom Stall (Mortensen) is a pillar of a small town community who runs a diner and lives a happy and quiet life with his wife (Bello) and two children. But their lives are forever changed when Tom thwarts an attempted robbery and is lauded as a hero by the media, attracting the attention of some mobsters (Hurt and Harris) who believe he is someone else. 97 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes audio commentary by director David Cronenberg; a deleted scene with optional commentary; an hour-long documentary; plus three featurettes.

Marebito (R) Shinya Tsukamoto, Tomomi Miyashita, Kazuhiro Nakahara. Masuoka is a cameraman possessed by the craving to understand fear — what it is and where it ultimately leads. He wanders the Tokyo streets, obsessing over the haunted expressions of the faces he has captured in his daily filming, in particular a man who committed a grisly suicide on the metro. He returns to the scene to better comprehend the dead man’s reasoning. Following his final gaze leads Masuoka to a door, an entry into a bizarre, cavernous underworld where he finds a beautiful young girl chained to a rock. Saving her from her imprisonment he takes her home. And then … 92 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes an interview with director Takashi Shimizu; an interview with Shinya Tsukamoto; plus a director’s discussion of Ju-On, The Grudge and Marebito.

The Prize Winner of Defiance Ohio (PG-13) Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Laura Dern, Simon Reynolds. Moore plays 1950s housewife Evelyn Ryan, who struggles to raise 10 kids while dealing with an alcoholic husband. Evelyn’s husband, Kelly (Harrelson), works at the local factory but has sunk the family into financial trouble with his dangerously boozy habits. Struggling with her husband’s drinking and the stress of raising so many children, Evelyn tries her luck in some jingle-writing contests. Writing rhyming couplets for companies like Dr. Pepper and Maidenform bras, the beleaguered housewife is surprisingly successful, and manages to tip the family’s finances back into good health. But can Kelly accept his wife’s position as the major breadwinner of the family? 99 minutes. DVD INFO: No information on any bonus features.

Through the Fire: Director’s Cut (NR) Sebastian Telfair, Jay-Z, Derek Jeter, Spike Lee, Dwayne Tiny Morton, Rick Pitino. Documentary. Since the age of 9, Sebastian Telfair has been one of the best-known basketball players on the streets of New York. At the start of his senior year at Lincoln High School, while his friend LeBron James is making history with a $90 million sneaker deal and NBA contract straight out of high school, Sebastian calls a press conference to announce his decision to attend college at the end of the year. But 18 years of poverty in the public housing projects have created a hunger in Sebastian. When two young men are gunned down in the hallway right outside his apartment, Sebastian begins to feel that he wants to get his family out as soon as possible and that — if he can — he might try to make the jump right from high school to the pros. 102 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes audio commentary by director Jonathan Hock; deleted scenes; extended interviews; exclusive Telfair NYC playground and game highlights; Q&A footage from the Tribeca Film Festival.

TV on DVD COLUMBO: SEASON 4, I DREAM OF JEANNIE: SEASON 1, MACGYVER: SEASON 5, MURDER SHE WROTE: SEASON 3, SHE SPIES: SEASON 1, SLEEPER CELL: SEASON 1, THE SIMPLE LIFE: SEASON 3, THE INTERNS, SPEED RACER: VOLUME 4, VIP: SEASON 1. NOTE: Some studios have the nerve to market box sets of TV series containing episodes that were trimmed down by several minutes each for airing in syndication. Before laying down your money, make sure the box set includes the words “original and uncut.”

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