Friday, August 11, 2006

Spike Lee Makes a Heist Movie? (DVD Watch -- Aug. 8)

Spike Lee makes a heist movie?

The acclaimed filmmaker in recent years has suffered artistically and commercially with sub-par material like She Hate Me and Bamboozled. But he notched a commercial hit last spring, his biggest box-office success yet, with Inside Man (Universal, $29.98), a taut, cleverly told thriller centered on an unusual bank robbery.

Clive Owen is well cast as a smart, crafty thief whose gang infiltrates a Wall Street bank with designs on capturing valuables that have nothing to do with cash. Denzel Washington is the crafty New York Police detective determined to defuse what appears to be a hostage situation, and Jodie Foster is the mysterious professional called in to fix the crisis.

Lee, working with a story that alludes to the ‘70s Al Pacino vehicle Dog Day Afternoon, elicits terrific work from his cast, including Willem Dafoe as a S.W.A.T. team leader, Chiwetel Ejiofor as Denzel’s police partner and Christopher Plummer as a bank executive with a sordid secret history.

The filmmaker is heard on the commentary, and DVD extras also include 25 minutes of deleted scenes; a conversation between Lee and Washington; and a making-of-the-movie feature.


Director Wim Wenders and playwright Sam Shepard, collaborators on Paris, Texas, reunite for Don’t Come Knocking (Sony, $24.96), a moody drama that explores some of the same emotional terrain and physical spaces – the wide-open West – as its 1984 predecessor.

Shepard takes the lead role this time, as Howard Spence, a star of movie Westerns who has a late-life crisis on a film set, suddenly abandoning the production in favor of a journey through his own past (the character is also somewhat reminiscent of Bill Murray’s weary entrepreneur in Broken Flowers).

Spence’s quest takes him to Nevada to see his mother (Eva Marie Saint) and then to Butte, Montana, where he runs into an old lover (Jessica Lange) and, rather unbelievably, two children he has never met. He’s also faced with a bondsman (Tim Roth) determined to return the actor to the film set.

Extras: Wenders offers insights into the filmmaking process on the audio commentary, and in an interview (Saint is also interviewed). Deleted scenes with commentary, a Sundance feature and a New York movie premiere feature are also included.


A slave plantation in Alabama persists into the 1930s in Manderlay, the second film in controversial Danish director Lars von Trier’s “American” trilogy. Bryce Dallas Howard stars as a young woman determined to free the slaves, only to force them into worse conditions. John Hurt offers voiceover narration, and David Bowie’s “Young Americans” is heard on the soundtrack.


Also released this week:

Frat Boy Collection
Jayne Mansfield Collection
Larry the Cable Guy
The Lost City
Toshiro Mifune: The Ultimate Collection

No comments: