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Commentary adds to relevance of 'Visitor'

October 05, 2008|Noel Murray

The Visitor

Anchor Bay, $29.97; Blu-Ray, $39.98

Veteran character actor Richard Jenkins could be looking at an Academy Award nomination for his performance as a recently widowed college professor helping two illegal immigrants in "The Visitor," writer-director Thomas McCarthy's follow-up to 2003's "The Station Agent." Although the film is low-key to a fault and fairly predictable, Jenkins is profoundly heartbreaking as a lonely man transformed by the unfettered joy of beating on a drum, and the depiction of immigration woes in a post-9/11 world is often as riveting as it is relevant. The DVD adds deleted scenes and a touching commentary from McCarthy and Jenkins.

Halloween: 3-Disc Unrated Collector's Edition

Weinstein, $24.95

Just in time for the scare season, Rob Zombie's gamy 2007 "Halloween" remake returns to DVD on a three-disc set that includes an extended cut of the film, a zombie commentary track, heaps of deleted scenes and -- the big selling point -- a 4 1/2 -hour behind-the-scenes documentary. The doc's a tad too exhaustive for a movie that's not exactly "The Lord of the Rings," although its excessive minutiae does effectively demystify the filmmaking process.

The Happening

20th Century Fox, $29.99; Blu-Ray, $39.99

The TV ads hyped "The Happening" as M. Night Shyamalan’s "first R-rated movie!" but the real story here is that it's Shyamalan's first truly awful one. Even the much-maligned "Lady in the Water" had some credible stylistic quirks, but "The Happening" is an exceedingly silly and self-serious environmental scare-flick about an airborne toxin that drives whole communities of humans to kill themselves. The DVD adds deleted scenes and multiple behind-the-scenes featurettes, including -- honest-to-goodness -- one about how Shyamalan handled the pressure of making an R-rated movie.

Paranoid Park

IFC, $19.95

Arguably Gus Van Sant’s most accessible film in years, "Paranoid Park" follows a high school student stumbling numbly through his daily routine while carrying a terrible secret. Even Van Sant's long, loving slow-motion shots of kids on skateboards don't seem too self-indulgent this time because the constant up and down motion captures visually that common teenage shift between euphoria and the feeling of being in deep, deep trouble. The DVD is as spare as the movie, containing no special features.

You Don't Mess

With the Zohan

Sony $28.96/$34.95; Blu-Ray, $38.96

Adam Sandler returns to freewheeling japery in this off-the-wall action-comedy about a Mossad commando who gives up fighting terrorism to become a hairdresser. It's fun to watch Sandler play such a casually awesome macho man, but "You Don't Mess With the Zohan's" script -- co-written by Sandler, Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel -- runs its one joke into the ground early, and the few surreal sight gags are barely worth the slog. The DVD's extended cut (available in single-disc, double-disc and Blu-Ray editions) is even more tedious.

And...

"Boy A" (The Miriam Collection, $24.95); "The Munsters: The Complete Series" (Universal, $69.98); "Slacker Uprising" (Brave New Films, $9.95); "Sleeping Beauty" (Walt Disney, $29.99; Blu-Ray, $34.99); "South Park: The Cult of Cartman" (Comedy Central, $26.98)

-- Noel Murray

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