House of Sand and Fog
Ben Kingsley, Jennifer Connelly
Commercial director Vadim Perelman makes an auspicious feature film debut with this bleak but moving adaptation of Andre Dubus III's novel. Connelly plays a young woman evicted from the house she grew up in who is bound and determined to get the house back from its new owner, a proud former Iranian military officer (Ben Kingsley) and his troubled wife (Shohreh Aghdashloo). The downbeat tale is a hard watch, but you can't take your eyes off of Kingsley and Aghdashloo, who both received Oscar nominations.
The digital edition offers a better-than-average production featurette, audition tapes, deleted scenes, a photo gallery and intelligent, provocative commentary from Perelman, Kingsley and Dubus.
This moderately entertaining animated family film centers on a young hunter (voice of Joaquin Phoenix) who is turned into a bear after he kills one of the majestic animals. There are some nice life lessons imparted, and the animation is quite lovely.
The film's best characters aren't the bears but the dimwitted moose brothers, Rutt & Tuke. And if they sound a lot like the equally spacey Canadian McKenzie brothers from the old "SCTV" series, there's good reason. The McKenzie brothers themselves, Dave Thomas and Rick Moranis, supply the voices. Thomas and Moranis are also the two-disc DVD set's major asset -- as Rutt & Tuke they supply riotously funny commentary that's really more geared for adults than the small fry.
Besides featuring both the full- and wide-screen versions of the film, other extras include a comprehensive "making of" documentary, clever animated outtakes, two interactive games, a new song by composer Phil Collins and deleted scenes.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Jessie Biel, Jonathan Tucker
New Line, $40
Tobe Hooper's 1974 shoestring-budget slasher classic got a gory, disappointing remake. The story's the same: A group of hippie teenagers traveling in their old VW bus through Texas meet their demise when they encounter the chain-saw-wielding serial killer named Leatherface.
The two-disc special edition DVD is top heavy with extras, including three commentary tracks. There are screen tests, photo galleries, a music video, trailers and TV spots, deleted scenes, a lengthy "making of" documentary and even a script-to-screen examination of the film on DVD-ROM.
Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker
Columbia Tristar, $40
A lot of time, effort and thought have been put into this three-disc special edition of the 2002 thriller directed by David Fincher ("Seven," "Fight Club"). The animated menus are clever; every aspect of the production has been covered in great detail. But the result is boring. Do we really need 21 documentaries and featurettes on the visual effects, six mini-documentaries on the pre-production phase and an hourlong documentary on the principal photography? "Panic Room" suffers from a bad case of DVD overkill.
Fincher supplies an audio commentary track, as does writer David Koepp, and stars Jodie Foster, Forest Whitaker and Dwight Yoakam offer up the third one.
Also this week
"L.A. Confidential" (Warner Bros.: $19.97); "Mister Roberts" (1955) (Warner: $19.97).
Top video rentals
1. "Mona Lisa Smile"
2. "Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat"
3. "School of Rock"
4. "The Missing"
5. "Cold Creek Manor"
Tuesday: "Matrix Revolutions," "Cheaper by the Dozen" and "Passionada"