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The `Saw' remains the same

January 21, 2007|Susan King

* An afterlife: The bloodthirsty "Saw" horror films have become as certain as the sunrise. Since the first of the gruesome thrillers became a surprise hit in fall 2004, a new entry in the franchise has popped up every Halloween. Not surprisingly, each sequel has managed to push the nausea envelope.

Though "Saw III" wasn't even screened for critics before its opening -- according to, when they finally did view it, only 21 of 72 critics gave it thumbs up -- it managed to make more than $80 million at the domestic box office and an additional $61 million internationally. And within days of the film's release, Lionsgate announced that "Saw IV" would be in the theaters for Halloween 2007.

The unrated DVD features all the gore, severed limbs and guts that were eliminated from the original release version to get an R-rating.

So be warned: There are stomach-turning scenes of a victim crushing his foot to a pulp so he can get out of a trap, a man ripping hooks out of his hands, mouth and even his tooth, and a woman trapped in a device that rips apart her torso.

'Mountain's' back

* Star-crossed cowboys: Not long after it lost the best picture Oscar last March, Universal released a disappointing, one-disc DVD of "Brokeback Mountain" that had the barest of extras. Now, some 10 months later, Ang Lee's tragic love story between cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) returns in a special two-disc edition.

Though there still isn't commentary from Lee, who won the best director Oscar, the set features several documentaries on the film's surprising box-office success, Oscar-winning composer Gustavo Santaolalla, and how Ledger and Gyllenhaal trained to become cowboys.

Critics' choice

* The other Gyllenhaal: Jake's older sister, Maggie, appeared in six films in 2006, mainly in supporting roles. But Gyllenhaal was practically in every frame of "Sherrybaby," a tough-nosed indie drama that casts the 29-year-old actress as a recovering drug addict trying to reclaim her life after prison and reintroduce herself to her young daughter.

Though the movie grossed a pittance at the box office -- $199,176 -- Gyllenhaal received a Golden Globe nomination for best actress in a drama and won best actress at the Stockholm Film Festival and the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

Hammer time

* If I had [Jan] Hammer: Fans of the seminal 1980s TV show "Miami Vice" were upset that composer Jan Hammer's pulsating theme music from the Emmy Award-winning detective series wasn't heard on the soundtrack of Michael Mann's big-budget 2006 feature version. Mann tapped John Murphy to compose the totally unmemorable music.

But thankfully, Hammer has managed to return to his Miami beat. He supplies an energetic score to "Cocaine Cowboys," a slick, frenetic documentary arriving Tuesday on DVD that chronicles the rampant vice in Miami in the 1970s and '80s when the town became a hotbed of illegal drug trading.


-- Susan King

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