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Deeper into the sounds, stars of 'River'

June 10, 2004|Susan King

Mystic River

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins

Warners, $40

With the disappointing version of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and dud thrillers such as "Absolute Power" and "Blood Work," it seemed that Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood had lost his touch. But he made a powerful comeback last year with this adaptation of Dennis Lehane's bestseller.

Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon play former childhood friends from a working-class Boston neighborhood whose lives were disrupted when one of them was kidnapped and sexually abused by two men. Now, years later, the three are reunited when Penn's daughter is murdered. Penn won best actor and Robbins best supporting actor Oscars.

This special edition contains three discs, though one is a soundtrack CD. The two DVDs feature a pair of informative featurettes on the production (though there is too much crossover between the mini-docs), interviews with Eastwood, Robbins and Bacon from the "Charlie Rose" show and intelligent commentary from Robbins and Bacon.


Along Came Polly

Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston

Universal, $27

Since the success of "Meet the Parents," Ben Stiller seems stuck playing variations on the same theme -- neurotic young men who find themselves when they fall in love. "Along Came Polly" is a bit better than some of his recent outings, but one still wishes he'd try to stretch.

The most fun extra on the DVD is a mockumentary about Rodolfo (Polly's pet ferret) attending the Hollywood premiere. There are also some funny outtakes, deleted scenes including the lackluster original opening, a standard "making of" documentary and amusing commentary from writer-director John Hamburg.


SCTV Network/90 -- Vol. I

John Candy, Dave Thomas

Shout Factory, $90

One of the funniest sketch comedy series finally makes its DVD debut. This five-disc set features the first nine 90-minute installments of "SCTV," which premiered on NBC in 1981. The setting was a surreal TV station in the fictional town of Melonville that was run by a sleazy manager named Guy Caballero (Joe Flaherty). The cast -- John Candy, Dave Thomas, Eugene Levy, Rick Moranis, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara and Flaherty -- were young, talented and versatile. Though some sketches seem a bit long, most of the comedy is as fresh now as it was nearly 25 years ago. The discs include commentary on two episodes with Levy and Flaherty, the "SCTV" reunion at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in 1999, a fond tribute to the late Candy, a documentary on the genesis of the series and interviews with the costume, hair and makeup designers.


City of God

Alexandre Rodrigues,

Leandro Firmino de Hora

Miramax, $30

This downbeat but enthralling Brazilian film was not only a big art-house hit of 2003, it also received four Oscar nominations, including best director for Fernando Meirelles. Based on a true story, "City of God" spans 20 years in the lives of a group of poor children in Rio de Janeiro's slums who become drug lords, murderers and, in the case of the narrator, Rocket, a successful news photographer. Meirelles elicits gritty performances from his nonprofessional cast, especially Leandro Firmino de Hora, who plays L'il Z, the sadistic, self-appointed drug lord of City of God.

The digital edition is pretty skimpy, but the one extra, the Brazilian documentary "News From a Personal War," is a chilling look at the power of the drug lords in Brazilian slums.

-- Susan King

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