DVD in Stores for 4/26/06 

NEW IN STORES: Casanova (R) Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin, Oli

NEW IN STORES: Casanova (R) Heath Ledger, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons, Lena Olin, Oliver Platt. It was said no woman could resist the amorous charms of Casanova (Brokeback Mountain star Ledger). But the legendary lover meets his match with Francesca (Miller), an alluring Venetian beauty who does the one thing he never thought possible: refuse him. Through a series of clever disguises and scheming ruses, he manages to get closer to her. But he is playing a dangerous game — one that will risk not only his life and reputation, but his only chance at true passion. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom (Chocolat, The Cider House Rules). 108 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes commentary by director Hallstrom; the featurettes “Creating an Adventure: The Making of Casanova” and “Dressing in Style,” designing costumes from the 18th century fashion capital of Europe; the extended sequence “Hidden in Plain Sight”; plus “Visions of Venice,” recreating the world’s most enchanting city in the 18th century.

Doctor Dolittle (PG) Kyla Pratt, Ryan McDonald, Chenier Hundal, Kristen Wilson. For a while, this Eddie Murphy-less sequel to the two talking animals comedies was slated for theatrical release. Then someone said, “Hey, where’s Eddie?” and they sent the movie directly to DVD. Lisa Dolittle (Wilson) sends her daughter Maya (Pratt) to Durango, a dude ranch, to find herself. While there, Maya uses her ability to converse with animals to save Durango from being taken over by a neighboring ranch. 98 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes commentary by director Rich Thorne and actress Pratt; plus the featurettes “Growing Up Dolittle” and “Making of Dr. Dolittle.”

Elevator to the Gallows: Criterion Collection (NR) Jeanne Moreau, Maurice Ronet, Georges Poujouly. Louis Malle’s 1957 psychological thriller is imbued with a Parisian atmosphere and a moody, improvisational score by legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis. A beautiful woman, Florence, and her lover, Julien, plan to murder her husband (who happens to be Julien’s boss as well) so they can be together. After carefully carrying out the crime, Julien gets stuck inside the elevator when the power is turned off. Expect numerous twists and turns. 92 minutes. DVD INFO: The new, restored high-definition digital transfer includes new and archival interviews with Malle, actors Moreau and Ronet and the original soundtrack session pianist; footage of Miles Davis improvising the film’s score; a new video discussion about the score with jazz critic Gary Giddins and musician Jon Faddis; a new and improved English subtitle translation; plus a 28-page booklet with essays by critic Terrence Rafferty and producer Vincent Malle and an interview with Louis Malle.

Everything You Want (NR) Shiri Appleby, Nick Zano, Alexandra Holden, Orlando Seale. Romantic comedy. It was at a very young age that Abby (Appleby) found herself experimenting with the gift of art while she practically grew up with her aunt while her parents would travel the world without her. Years later she’s living with her friend and co-worker Jessica (Holden) and has the perfect boyfriend, Sy (Seale), who doesn’t mind seeing romantic comedies, posing for her artwork and playing in the snow. But suddenly Abby begins tutoring Jessica’s cousin, Quinn (Zano), about the world of art, and while doing so finds herself torn between what real love is. Can she choose between the perfect boyfriend of her dreams and the fun-loving boy from her humanities class? 92 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes deleted and alternate scenes; behind the scenes featurette; plus cast interviews.

Fists in the Pocket: Criterion Collection (NR) Lou Castel, Paola Pitagora, Marino Mase, Liliana Gerace. 1965 debut feature from innovative Italian director Marco Bellocchio. Tormented by twisted desires, a young man takes drastic measures to rid his grotesquely dysfunctional family of its various afflictions. Criterion says: Charged by a coolly assured style, shocking perversity and savage gallows humor, Fists in the Pocket (I pugni in tasca) was a gleaming ice pick in the eye of bourgeois family values and Catholic morality, a truly unique work that continues to rank as one of the great achievements of Italian cinema. 108 minutes. DVD INFO: The new, restored high-definition digital transfer includes new video interviews with director Marco Bellocchio, actors Lou Castel and Paola Pitagora and editor Silvano Agosti; new and improved English subtitle translation; and a booklet with an essay by film critic Deborah Young and an interview with Bellocchio from 1967.

Match Point (R) Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox. Chris Wilton (Rhys-Meyers), a young tennis instructor, becomes involved with a wealthy family, one member of whom he’s giving tennis lessons to. This leads to his rise in the world of upper class people and his subsequent romantic involvement with two women. A clandestine affair follows, leading him into an ever-deepening quagmire until the only way out for him is to contemplate doing away with one of the women. Written and directed by Woody Allen. 124 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes no bonus material.

The Passenger (PG) Jack Nicholson, Maria Schneider, Jenny Runacre, Ian Hendry, Steven Berkoff, Charles Mulvehill. Michelangelo Antonioni’s highly celebrated, long out of circulation 1975 existential drama. Jack Nicholson, at the height of his lean and mean period, plays David Locke, a reporter researching a story in the African desert. Back at his hotel, when he discovers the body of a fellow guest — a man whose general physical type is similar to his own — he impulsively decides to swap identities with the man. His decision leads him to a beautiful woman (Schneider) and loads of intrigue as he struggles desperately to outrun himself. Great-looking, well-acted production, though the existential posturing gets a bit precious at times. 118 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes a commentary track by Jack Nicholson and a commentary track by journalist Aurora Irvine and screenwriter Mark Peploe. —EJO

Shopgirl (R) Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson, Frances Conroy. Based on Steve Martin’s best-selling novella, Shopgirl is a story of love in the modern age, offering a glimpse inside the lives of three very different people on diverse paths, but all in search of the same thing. Mirabelle (Danes) oversees the rarely frequented glove counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. An artist struggling to keep up with even the minimum payment on her credit card and student loans, she keeps to herself until a rich, handsome 50-something named Ray Porter (Martin) sweeps her off her feet. Simultaneously, Mirabelle is being pursued by Jeremy (Schwartzman), a basic bachelor who’s not quite as cultured and successful as Ray. Then fate steps in. 104 minutes. DVD INFO: Includes commentary by director Anand Tucker; “Evolution of a Novella: The Making of Shopgirl”; and deleted scenes.

Tristan and Isolde (PG-13) James Franco, Sophia Myles, Rufus Sewell, David O’Hara, Henry Cavill. In the medieval legend of Tristan and Isolde, young lovers become doomed by the forces of royal politics. English knight Tristan wins the hand of the daughter of the Irish King, but the love threatens the truce between their two countries. 125 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 a commentary track by executive producer Jim Lemley and co-producer Anne Lai; a commentary track by screenwriter Dean Georgaris; the featurette “Love Conquers All: The Making of Tristan + Isolde”; image galleries (behind-the-scenes, production design and costume design); plus a music video.

On HD-DVD APOLLO 13, CHRONOS, DOOM and MILLION DOLLAR BABY. TV on DVD AMERICAN DAD: VOLUME 1, ANIMAL CRACKERS: SEASON 1, INSPECTOR GADGET: ORIGINAL SERIES, LAW & ORDER — TRIAL BY JURY: COMPLETE SERIES, NERO WOLFE: COMPLETE SERIES, ODYSSEY 5: COMPLETE SERIES, REBA: SEASON 3, TOMMY LEE GOES TO COLLEGE and THE WALTONS: SEASON 3. 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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