Friday, October 20, 2006

Thank You For Smoking (and other DVD releases, Oct. 3)

Aaron Eckhart, a regular in the film of Neil LaBute, is pitch-perfect as Nick Naylor, a lobbyist for Big Tobacco in Thank You For Smoking (Fox, $29.99), a dark, comic satire of corporate greed. No spin here: It’s one of the funniest movies of the year, an edgy alternative to the standard-issue formulaic comedies that rule the megaplexes.

Naylor, a lobbyist with the Academy of Tobacco Studies works for the likes of the Colonel (Robert Duvall), pals around with a gun lobbyist (David Koechner) and a spin queen for alcohol (Maria Bello), and squares off against a Vermont senator (William H. Macy) determined to wipe out cigarette smoking in his lifetime. Naylor’s life is complicated by his desire to be a role model for his 12-year-old son (Cameron Bright), and the arrival of an attractive reporter (Katie Holmes).

Jason Reitman, son of veteran filmmaker Ivan, gets practically everything right for his directorial debut, adapted from Christopher Buckley’s 2005 novel of the same name. The well-chosen cast also includes Rob Lowe, Sam Elliott, J.K. Simmons and Adam Brody.

Reitman and cast members are heard on the audio commentary. Deleted scenes, a “Charlie Rose Show” segment with Reitman, Eckhart, Buckley and producer David O. Sacks, and a short feature on the making of the movie are among the extras.

Cigarettes are never too far out of reach in the films of Humphrey Bogart (a cancer victim), whose career is explored in two new multi-disc box sets, each priced at $59.98 from Warner Bros.

Humphrey Bogart, The Signature Collection, Vol. 1 is anchored with a two-DVD special edition of Casablanca, the durable 1942 thriller co-starring Ingrid Bergman, Claude Rains, Paul Henreid and Conrad Veidt. The set also includes a two-disc edition of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre plus High Sierra and They Drive By Night.

The three-disc special edition of 1941 noir classic The Maltese Falcon, of course, is part of the other Bogie collection, Vol. 2. The other films: Across the Pacific, Action in the North Atlantic, All Through the Night and Passage to Marseille.

Several of the movies in each collection are also available individually.


Brian De Palma’s bloody 1983 blockbuster Scarface, vastly influential on subsequent crime thrillers and a regular reference point for gangsta rappers, is now available in a souped-up Platinum Edition (Universal, $29.98).

The remastered DVD, complete with remixed and/or replaced sound effects (machine guns, chainsaws, etc.), is jammed with extras, including interviews with De Palma, star Al Pacino, screenwriter Oliver Stone and producer Martin Bregman; more than 20 minutes’ worth of deleted scenes; and documentaries on the acting performances, the making of the movie and the making of the video game.

Also included are the “Scarface Scoreboard,” tracking the number of times bullets are fired and the probably historic number of times a certain four-letter word is uttered; a funny and revealing comparison of the theatrical release with the chopped-up version shown on network television; and the all-new documentary “The World of Tony Montana.”


The Neville Brothers, the Dirty Dozen Band, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Henry Butler, the Funky Meters, Walter Wolfman Washington, Big Sam’s Funky Nation, the Dixie Cups and other New Orleans music luminaries are joined by Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt and Joss Stone for New Orleans Concert – The Music of America’s Soul.

The DVD, featuring performances of such Big Easy staples as “Tipitina,” “Southern Nights” and “Fire on the Bayou,” is available in two high-definition formats – HD-DVD and Blu-Ray – from Concert Hot Spot, each priced at about $35.

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