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VIDEO SHELF

Underbelly of a black market

March 25, 2004|Susan King

Dirty Pretty Things

Audrey Tautou, Chiwetel Ejiofor

Miramax, $30

British scribe Steven Knight received Writers Guild of America and Academy Award nominations for his first screenplay, a riveting, dark thriller set in the underbelly of contemporary London. Before "Dirty Pretty Things," Knight was known as a novelist and as creator of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

Stephen Frears directed this art-house hit about the burgeoning trade of black-market body organs. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays an illegal African immigrant in London. A doctor in his homeland, he now works days as a cab driver and nights as a hotel desk clerk. One night he's asked to clean up a mess in a room and finds a human heart in the toilet. Audrey Tautou plays a Turkish hotel maid who dreams of moving to New York.

The DVD includes a decent behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and commentary from a very gruff Frears.

*

The Rundown

The Rock, Seann William Scott

Universal, $27

The digital edition of this unexceptional but painless buddy action comedy suffers from a bad case of the cutes. The "making of" featurette includes too many moments where the Rock and Seann William Scott make fun of each other -- and then they do it again in a short on the stunt and fight sequences. Equally cloying is a bit in which the film's baboon trainer carries on a mock interview with the lead baboon about her scene with the two stars. And the inane banter continues in the commentary track between the Rock and director Peter Berg.

*

Shattered Glass

Hayden Christensen,

Peter Sarsgaard

Lions Gate, $27

After a glum, one-note performance as the young man who will be Darth Vader in "Star Wars Episode II: The Attack of the Clones," Hayden Christensen more than redeems himself in this thought-provoking drama. Christensen plays the infamous young New Republic journalist Stephen Glass, who falsified facts, figures and whole stories he wrote for that magazine and others. Peter Sarsgaard stands out in the strong supporting cast as Charles Lane, the New Republic editor who uncovers Glass' tangled web of lies and deceits.

Special features on the disc include a chilling "60 Minutes" profile of the real Glass and intelligent, thought-provoking commentary from writer/director Billy Ray and the real Chuck Lane, now a newspaper reporter in Washington, D.C.

*

Gothika

Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr.

Warner, $28

French director/actor Mathieu Kassovitz, who starred in "Amelie" opposite Audrey Tautou, imbues this ghost thriller with a lot of atmosphere, but it's more goofily silly than scary. Halle Berry tries her best to overcome the lackluster script as a psychologist who treats patients in a prison ward of a hospital. One day she wakes up an inmate in the ward, having been accused of the brutal murder of her husband (Charles S. Dutton), who was also her boss. To make matters worse, she begins seeing visions of a girl who had died four years earlier.

It's pretty much slim pickings on the DVD -- there's a Limp Bizkit music video and passable commentary by Kassovitz and director of cinematography Matthew Libatique.

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