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VIDEO SHELF

Music, murderers, moguls and more

August 21, 2003|Susan King

Chicago

Renee Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Richard Gere

Miramax, $30

The first musical since 1968's "Oliver!" to win the best picture Oscar, "Chicago" is a rollicking, superbly crafted adaptation of the 1975 Broadway hit penned by John Kander and Fred Ebb and originally directed by the late great Bob Fosse. Broadway choreographer and director Rob Marshall made his feature debut with this box-office blockbuster, winning the Directors Guild of America Award and an Oscar nomination, and brings this tale of romance, fame and murder set in Roaring '20s Chicago to life. And he gets wonderful performances from his cast.

The digital edition looks great in this wide-screen version, but one wishes there were a few more extras on the disc. There's a decent enough behind-the-scenes featurette and the deleted number "Class" performed by Zeta-Jones and Latifah. The DVD's real ace is the crackerjack audio commentary by Marshall and writer Bill Condon, who were true collaborators on this project.

*

Bowling for Columbine

Michael Moore

MGM, $27

Roger & Me

Warner Home Video, $20

In his introduction to the DVD of his Oscar-winning documentary on America's obsession with gun culture and violence, Moore states he decided not to do a commentary because he said all he wanted to in the film. So he turns over the audio commentary to the secretaries, production assistants and interns who worked on the film. The crew members, all in their early 20s, are bright and witty.

The double-sided disc also includes an enjoyable conversation with Moore about his

controversial Oscar-acceptance speech, clips from an inspiring talk Moore gave at the University of Denver and a photo gallery.

Also making its digital debut is "Roger & Me," the 1989 documentary about his elusive search for General Motors Chairman Roger B. Smith, which put the filmmaker on the map. The DVD features subdued commentary from usually smart-alecky Moore. Beware of the bunny-skinning scene.

*

The Good Thief

Nick Nolte, Ralph Fiennes

Fox, $28

Neil Jordan's flashy but vapid remake of the great Jean-Pierre Melville French classic "Bob le Flambeur" should have been called "The Mediocre Thief." Despite a good performance from Nick Nolte as a heroin-addicted thief and evocative cinematography from veteran Chris Menges, this character-driven caper film just falls flat.

*

The Kid Stays in the Picture

Robert Evans

Warner Home Video, $28

Addictive, gossipy documentary based on infamous Hollywood producer Evans' best-selling book. Actually, this is based on the popular audio version of the book, which Evans performs with great panache. Directed by Brett Morgen and Nanette Burstein, the documentary uses clips, digitally manipulated photos and Evans' narration to tell his colorful story.

The DVD includes clips of Evans at recent awards ceremonies and a wonderful gag reel filmed on the set of the Evans production of "Marathon Man" with star Dustin Hoffman doing a dead-on impression of the producer.

The directors divvy up their commentary, with Morgen chatting about the first half of the film and Burstein talking about the second part.

*

Also this week

Nicolas Cage makes his directorial debut in "Sonny" (Warner: $26.98); "All the Real Girls" is a sad and insightful love story (Columbia Tristar: $29.95); BBC documentary "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" (First Run: $24.95).

Top VHS rentals

1. Bringing Down the House

2. Daredevil

3. What a Girl Wants

4. Agent Cody Banks

5. Final Destination 2

Top DVD rentals

1. Bringing Down the House

2. Daredevil

3. What a Girl Wants

4. Final Destination 2

5. Agent Cody Banks

What's coming

Tuesday: "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers," "From Justin to Kelly," "Raising Victor Vargas," "Chasing Papi" and "Levity"

-- Susan King

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