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THE EXTRAS FILE

Adriana hasn't stopped blabbing

Actress Drea De Matteo and four directors add stellar commentary on the fifth-season set of 'The Sopranos.'

June 07, 2005|Susan King | Times Staff Writer

Doing audio commentary requires a real knack, and more often than not directors, writers, producers and even actors seem at a loss for words when they are called upon to discuss the film or TV series in question.

But that certainly isn't the case with the commentaries on "The Sopranos -- The Complete Fifth Season" (HBO, $100).

The three-disc set features four superlative and diverse commentaries from the directors of the Emmy Award-winning mob series and a fifth with actress Drea De Matteo, who talks about the episode in which her character, Adriana, meets her maker.

Director Rodrigo Garcia talks about his fondness for the character of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), while British director Mike Figgis of "Leaving Las Vegas" discusses what it was like to make his first foray into episodic television.

Peter Bogdanovich, who occasionally appears on the series as a shrink, approaches his commentary in technical and visual terms; Steve Buscemi, who also appeared as Tony's sad-sack cousin, brings his personal life into his commentary; and De Matteo chats about her feelings of leaving the show and why she thinks the series lost its "heart" when Adriana was killed.

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Also new this week:

"Beyond the Sea" (Lions Gate, $28): Kevin Spacey received a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as the late, great "Mack the Knife" crooner Bobby Darin in this uneven biopic co-written and directed by Spacey. The digital edition is a bit of a snooze -- there's an average "making of" featurette and surprisingly torpid commentary with the usually animated Spacey.

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"Swimming With Sharks" (Lions Gate, $20): Spacey isn't much more compelling on his commentary track of the 10th anniversary special edition of this acclaimed dark comedy about a cutthroat Hollywood executive (Spacey) and his naive young assistant (Frank Whaley).

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"Be Cool" (MGM, $28): Rarely do film sequels measure up to the original, and that's certainly the case with this sequel to the 1995 hit "Get Shorty." John Travolta returns as the former loan shark Chili Palmer. The digital edition is equally disappointing -- the production featurettes are merely passable, and there's no audio commentary from director F. Gary Gray.

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"Imaginary Heroes" (Sony, $27): TV movie-esque family drama stars Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Daniels and Emile Hirsch. Written and directed by 25-year-old Dan Harris. Extras include an amateurishly shot "making of" documentary, decent commentary from Weaver and freewheeling commentary with Hirsch and Harris.

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"The Machinist" (Paramount, $30): Christian Bale is buffed up as the Caped Crusader in the new "Batman Begins." But for the title role in this nightmarish thriller, he starved himself down to a disturbing 110 pounds. The DVD includes deleted scenes; a decent documentary, "The Machinist: Breaking the Rules"; and cerebral commentary from director Brad Anderson.

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"Stripes -- Extended Cut" (Sony, $20): This version of the 1981 hit military comedy starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and John Candy reinstates 18 minutes that had been deleted from the theatrical release. There's also a rollicking hourlong retrospective documentary and amusing commentary from director/producer Ivan Reitman and producer/writer Dan Goldberg.

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"Dead Ringers" (Warner Home Video, $20): Jeremy Irons was a critics' darling with his daring performance as twin gynecologists who share everything -- including women -- in this 1988 David Cronenberg psychological thriller. The disc includes a vintage documentary and intimate commentary with the sonorously toned Irons.

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"Rescue Me: The Complete First Season" (Sony, $50): Denis Leary's FX drama series about a New York firefighter fighting personal demons after losing his cousin and several comrades on 9/11. The second season of the gritty show returns to the cable network on June 21. The set includes an entertaining blooper reel, deleted scenes, four decent behind-the-scenes featurettes and acerbic commentary from Leary (whose rougher language is bleeped) and co-creator, producer and writer Peter Tolan.

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"Lois & Clark: The Complete First Season" (Warner, $60): Before she became a "desperate housewife," Teri Hatcher played intrepid reporter Lois Lane, who is constantly clashing with fellow Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent (Dean Cain) in this clever 1993-97 ABC take on the "Superman" legend. Includes a worthwhile retrospective documentary, an amusing look at the special effects and commentary with Cain, director Robert Butler and executive producer Deborah Joy LeVine.

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"Quincy, M.E. -- Seasons 1 & 2" (Universal, $40): Jack Klugman played the wily medical examiner in this detective series, which had a healthy run on NBC from 1976 to 1983.

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"Dragnet 1967 -- Season 1" (Universal, $40): Just the facts: Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday and Harry Morgan as his partner, officer Bill Gannon, patrol the streets of Los Angeles in this guilty pleasure cop series.

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