“Touch of Evil Special Edition”
Having debuted in 1958 as the bottom half of a double bill, this Orson Welles original creation has been recut to the specifications laid down in a 58-page memo to Universal Pictures. A pure noir, featuring most of Welles’ cinematic touches – deep focus, odd camera angles, that amazingly complicated tracking shot that takes up the film’s first three minutes-plus – “Touch of Evil” is a critical darling, often described as a “masterpiece.” And, true enough, it’s enjoyable for its visual complexities, for Welles’ own portrayal of a corrupt cop and for its many anachronistic references (watch for Janet Leigh at the “reefer” party) and casting anomalies (Charlton Heston plays a Mexican cop). But a masterpiece? Maybe it is, but only of a kind. After all, even well-made pulp is just pulp in the end. DVD includes documentaries on various versions of the film, making-of featurettes, commentaries. (1:52; rated PG-13)
– By Dan Webster
Richard Jenkins has a face that keeps cropping up. He’s the dead-narrator father on “Six Feet Under.” He’s the love-lorn business manager in “Burn Without Reading.” And in this little independent film, he plays a widower university professor still grieving the loss of his wife. Things begin to change for the better when he encounters by chance an illegal-immigrant couple, whose plight (plus the attractive mother of one, played by Israeli-Arab actress Hiam Abbass) helps him find a new zest for life. DVD includes commentary by writer-director Tom McCarthy and actor Jenkins, making-of featurettes, deleted scenes. (1:43; rated PG-13 for brief, strong language)
– By Dan Webster
“Universal Legacy Series: “Rear Window”/Vertigo”
Of all the periods in his career, which ranged from silent film to those of the early 1970s, Alfred Hitchcock’s work of the 1950s is arguably his best. Two films that Universal Studios is releasing in special Legacy Series editions, 1954’s “Rear Window” and 1958’s “Vertigo,” date from that period. The first stars James Stewart as a photographer, hobbled by a broken leg, who suspects that one of his apartment-complex neighbors (Raymond Burr) is a murderer. The second features Stewart as a former cop, hobbled this time by severe vertigo, who loses the love of his life (Kim Novak) – only to find someone else who ends up being a dead ringer for her. Both two-disc DVDs include making-of featurettes, Hitchcock interviews, etc. (two discs; rated PG)
– By Dan Webster
“You Don’t Mess with the Zohan”
Adam Sandler portrays an Israeli operative who quits his job to become a New York-based hairdresser. “The direction by Dennis Dugan is flabby and dull – like most of the hacks-for-hire who end up bringing a Sandler opus to the screen, and whose chief qualification seems to be the ability to shout ‘Great, Adam! Great!’ ” DVD includes commentary by actor Sandler and director Dugan, making-of featurettes, deleted scenes. (1:57; rated PG-13 for crude and sexual content, language, nudity)
– By Stephen Whitty, Newhouse News
Also available: “Boy A,” “The Devil’s Mercy,” “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter,” “Normal,” “Paranoid Park,” “Slacker Uprising,” “Spirit of the Marathon,” “Strait Jacket.”
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