Time Encapsulating: The Best DVDs of 2006

When the history of home theater is written, what will DVD’s lasting legacy be? Will it be as a significant upgrade in technological specifications, the solid stepping stone between VHS’s analog averageness and a realistic recreation of the true theatrical experience? Perhaps it will be in the expansion of laserdiscs desire to incorporate added features — commentaries, deleted scenes — to the overall film presentation package. It could be the retrieval of old and forgotten titles from the annals of the artform, efforts either allowed to lapse by disinterested distributors or stowed away in vast vaults by careless studios. Or maybe it’s in the preservation of cinema’s past and present, a seemingly permanent archiving of our legacy behind the lens. Whatever the case, 2006 stood out as a year when digital dominated the entertainment dialogue, where each week brought new definitive releases to the growing creative catalog.

Even as HD-DVD and Blu-Ray began their battle for next generation supremacy, the old school format was making significant contributions to the overall artform. A perfect example of this is the release from Janus Films of The Essential Art House boxset. An amazing motherload of classics, this epic coffee table tome celebrated a half-century of contributions from one of the business’ most significant preservationists. Covering groundbreaking masterpieces by such influential artists as Jean Renoir (The Rules of the Game, Grand Illusion) Federico Fellini (La Strada, The White Shiek), Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai) and François Truffaut (The 400 Blows, Jules et Jim) among many, many others, it today stands as the benchmark for how DVD has redefined filmography. Along with the 20 titles listed below, it is clear that many companies feel a mandate to preserve our finest films for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.

From solid single issues to amazingly complete film and television compilations, the works highlighted here argue for DVD’s continued importance. Not just as a marketable motion picture product, but as a lasting testament to an entertainment’s effect on those lucky enough to experience it. In the mind of PopMatters‘ staff, these are the offerings destined to stand the test of time:

Director: Shane Black
DVD: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Studio: Warner Brothers
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, Michelle Monaghan, Corbin Bernsen
Website: http://kisskiss-bangbang.warnerbros.com/indexb.html
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2005
Distributor: Warner Home Video
US Release Date: 2006-06-13
UK Release Date: 2006-06-13
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/k/kiss-kiss-bang-bang.jpg

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List number: 20

At one point in Hollywood history, Shane Black was a screenwriting god. He commanded huge paychecks for his efforts (including such noted over the top actioners as the Lethal Weapon films and The Last Boy Scout) and saw his name associated with the genre in general — for good and for bad. After a self-imposed exile, he returned with this, his first stint as both writer and director. And the results are a true return to form. Instead of focusing on explosions and exposition, Black uses his stellar cast — Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer — to create a fresh and inventive character driven post-modern noir. Funny, quirky, and just a bit unbridled, Black proves that there is much more to his motion picture modus than gunplay and gratuity. Bill Gibron

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

Director: Tim Irwin
DVD: We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen
Studio: Rocket Fuel Films
Cast: Richard Bonney, D. Boon, Mike Watt, Flea, Greg Ginn
Website: http://www.theminutemen.com/
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2005
Distributor: Plexifilm
US Release Date: 2006-06-27
UK Release Date: 2006-06-27
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/w/we-jam-econo.jpg

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List number: 19

It is perhaps the most difficult thing to do in all of documentary filmmaking — contextualizing a cult entity, be it cinematic or musical — to establish an element of mainstream meaning or universality. Anyone tackling this type of fact film runs the risk of reducing their subject to an inconsequential afterthought, or worse, alienating the audience they hoped to attract. Well, it’s time to add Tim Irwin’s name to the relatively short list of motion picture puzzle solvers. His stunning We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen takes the LA punk fusion trio and flawlessly illustrates their impact on the ’70s/’80s rock scene. The result is one of the best rock docs ever, on par with DiG! and Some Kind of Monster in importance and insight. Bill Gibron

We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutemen

Director: James Gunn
Film: Slither
Studio: Universal Pictures
Cast: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker, Tania Saulnier, Gregg Henry
MPAA rating: R
First date: 2006
US Release Date: 2006-03-31
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/s/slither-dvd.jpg

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List number: 18

Writer (and now director) James Gunn holds a very odd place within current fright filmography. Responsible for the terrific Tromeo and Juliet and the quite decent remake of Dawn of the Dead, he has also foisted the forgettable pair of Scooby-Doo features on film fans’ fragile heads. This makes his first solo effort all the more creatively complicated. In some ways, Gunn is giving us the best of both worlds — a true splatter filled farce, as well as a taste of the contemporary scares that have been his box office bread and butter. Overloaded with homages to zombie films, alien invasion flicks and mindless mutant monster b-movies, Gunn delivers the kind of sensational, satiric schlock that many post-modern genre films sorely lack. Bill GibronSlither

Director: Jeff Feuerzeig
Film: The Devil and Daniel Johnston
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Cast: Louis Black, Bill Johnston, Daniel Johnston, Mabel Johnston, Jeff Tartakov
Website: http://www.sonyclassics.com/devilanddaniel/
MPAA rating: PG-13
Trailer: http://www.sonyclassics.com/devilanddaniel/trailer.html
First date: 2005
Distributor: Sony Picture Classics
US Release Date: 2006-03-31 (Limited release)
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/d/devil-and-daniel-johnston.jpg

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List number: 17

This is the kind of documentary that invents all the eventual critical clichés. It’s masterful proof that fact is far more intriguing than fiction. It uses the thread of celebrity as a means of binding together the eccentricity of musicians, the pain of dreams deferred, and the social/interpersonal unacceptability of mental illness. Yes, Johnston comes off like an underground Brian Wilson, a naïve creator of magical pop music whose bubbling inner demons eventually damaged and destroyed his soul. But perhaps the greatest lesson we ultimately learn is that some minds are never meant to heal. In Johnston’s case, they are to be tolerated and celebrated. Thanks to gifted director Jeff Feuerzeig, we can do just that. This is definitely one of the year’s best films. Bill Gibron

The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Director: Peter Jackson
DVD: King Kong: Three Disc Deluxe Extended Edition
Director website: http://www.kongisking.net/kong2005/proddiary/
Studio: Universal Pictures
Cast: Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks
Website: http://www.kingkongmovie.com/
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2005
Distributor: Universal Studios
US Release Date: 2006-11-14
UK Release Date: 2006-11-14
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/k/king-kong-three-disc.jpg

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List number: 16

Peter Jackson’s drop dead brilliant reimagining of the Giant Ape epic finally gets the full blown Lord of the Rings treatment the filmmaker is famous for. This new version has so many captivating bells and whistles that fans will be hard pressed to pass it by. Containing 13 minutes of new footage, including an intriguingly realized “Skull Island underwater creature attack” (!), another 38 minutes of deleted scenes, and an always compelling commentary from the director himself, some may still feel that Jackson let his love of the movie overwhelm his ambitions, providing this relatively simply story with way too much cinematic pomp and circumstance. Yet no one makes mega-blockbusters like this confirmed Kiwi genius. Our main man did this massive monkey proud. Bill Gibron

King Kong: Three Disc Deluxe Extended Edition

Director: Greg Whiteley
DVD: New York Doll
Director website: http://www.onepotatoproductions.com/NewYorkDoll/home.html
Studio: One Potato Productions
Cast: Arthur “Killer” Kane, David Johansen, Barbara Kane, Morrissey, Sylvain Sylvain
Website: http://www.newyorkdollmovie.com/
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2005
Distributor: First Independent Pictures
US Release Date: 2006-04-04
UK Release Date: 2006-04-04
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/n/new-york-doll-dvd.jpg

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List number: 15

One of the best experiences a viewer can have is going into a movie cold, not knowing anything substantive about a story, and coming away mesmerized and moved. This is the experience most film and music fans will have when visiting this heroic and heartbreaking documentary. After moving to LA, director Greg Whiteley discovered that Arthur “Killer” Kane, bassist for the infamous New York Dolls, had survived decades of drugs and self-indulgence to become a fellow Mormon. Determined to tell the story of his rise and fall from star to street person, Whiteley learned that the Dolls were planning a reunion — and wanted Kane onboard. It resulted in a journey back to his rock roots, and for the director, a devastating portrait of a fragile human being rebuilt. Bill Gibron

New York Doll

Director: Orson Welles
DVD: The Complete Mr. Arkadin: The Criterion Collection
Studio: Criterion
Cast: Akim Tamiroff, Grégoire Aslan, Patricia Medina, Jack Watling, Orson Welles
Website: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=322
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1955
Distributor: Criterion
US Release Date: 2006-04-18
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/c/complete-mr-arkadin.jpg

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List number: 14

A film whose history is as convoluted as its narrative, Arkadin represents Orson Welles at his most insular and inspired. Writing, directing and playing the lead role of a mysterious tycoon with no memory of his past, the infamous filmmaker once again saw his vision butchered, altered and rearranged by distributors desperate for financial returns. Achingly beautiful, with many of the touches that make Welles oeuvre both visually vibrant and dramatically disorienting, Arkadin argues for an artist still vital and important, no matter the rumors and reputation. Criterion does it’s best to preserve the artist’s original vision, bringing together several divergent cuts of the film in order to offer the clearest example of Welles’ vision as possible. And the results are indeed masterful. Bill GibronThe Complete Mr. Arkadin: The Criterion Collection

Director: Richard Donner
DVD: Superman II – The Richard Donner Cut
Studio: Warner Brothers
Cast: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Ned Beatty, Margot Kidder
Website: http://www.warnervideo.com/yearofsupermanreturns/
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2006
Distributor: Warner Home Video
US Release Date: 2006-11-28
UK Release Date: 2006-11-28
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/s/superman-2-donner.jpg

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List number: 13

Decades from now, when DVD is remembered fondly as the medium which introduced the notion of “alternate versions”, a disc like this one will be the historical precedent. Many fans of the series were unaware that Donner, the original director of Superman, was hired to helm TWO films. Created concurrently, the filmmaker was later dropped by producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind who, apparently, objected to his fiscal freewheeling. Salkind friend Richard Lester was brought in to complete the project, even though Donner had shot over 75% of the sequel. For ages, the “Donner Version” was more or less an urban legend. Now, with Warners Brothers’ full permission, the fired filmmaker gets a chance to have his original vision seen by the viewing public. Talk about your digital redemptions. Bill GibronSuperman II – The Richard Donner Cut

Director: Eric Rohmer
DVD: Eric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales: The Criterion Collection
Studio: Criterion
Cast: Bernard Verley, Zouzou, Françoise Verley, Daniel Ceccaldi, Malvina Penne
Website: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/boxed_set.asp?id=342
MPAA rating: N/A
Distributor: Criterion
US Release Date: 2006-08-15
UK Release Date: 2006-08-15
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/e/eric-rohmers-six-morale.jpg

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List number: 12

Though he’s considered an important part of the French New Wave of the ‘50s and ‘60s, director Eric Rohmer was not out to change the face of cinema. Unlike his convention-busting colleagues, many of whom hoped to reconfigure and reinvent film though their aesthetic experimentation, he was more concerned with bringing the dark truths and harsh realities of human interaction into the typically staid world of Hollywood hokum. Collecting all six efforts in this self-styled series — The Girl at the Monçeau Bakery, Suzanne’s Career (both 1963), The Collector (1967), My Night at Maud’s (1969) Claire’s Knee (1970) and Chloe in the Afternoon (1972) — Criterion delivers another stunning box set celebrating an important motion picture artist who forged his own unique path to greatness. Bill GibronEric Rohmer’s Six Moral Tales: The Criterion Collection

DVD: The West Wing: The Complete Series Collection
TV Show: The West Wing
Network: NBC
Cast: Alan Alda, Stockard Channing, Allison Janney, Martin Sheen, Jimmy Smits, Bradley Whitford
Website: http://www2.warnerbros.com/web/westwingtv/index.jsp
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1999-09-22
Last date: 2006-05-14
Distributor: Warner Home Video
US Release Date: 2006-11-07
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/w/west-wing-complete.jpg

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List number: 11

Talk about perfectly timed… we’re in a vital election year and Warner Home Video has served up the best TV series DVD set of the season. The award-winning Aaron Sorkin drama left the airwaves just this past May and already we’ve got the deluxe treatment on offer. All seven seasons come in a handsome blue box with requisite presidential seal, organized like a nifty set of government files inside — a rare occasion where the bureaucratic aesthetic is pleasing. The bonus documentaries offer a fascinating look behind the scenes, especially the 30-minute short on the live debate between Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) and Arnold Vinick (Alan Alda). Yeah, the price tag is high, but this is some of the best writing and acting on a US TV drama ever, so it’s worth every penny. This is an essential addition to the DVD collection of anyone who believes in TV as a true art form. Sarah ZupkoThe West Wing: The Complete Series Collection

Time Encapsulating: The Best DVDs of 2006 Part 2

Director: Richard Linklater
Film: Dazed and Confused: Criterion Collection
Studio: Universal
Cast: Jason London, Rory Cochrane, Matthew McConaughey, Wiley Wiggins, Michelle Burke, Parker Posey, Cole Hauser, Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams
Website: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=336
MPAA rating: R
Trailer: http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2349055
First date: 1993
Distributor: Criterion Collection
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/dvd_art/d/dazed-and-confused-criterion-collection-1993.jpg

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List number: 10

Dazed and Confused is a perfect movie. It flawlessly captures the spirit of the ‘70s while arguing for the universality in the high school experience. It is a film that expertly illustrates that clichéd concept called ‘coming of age’ while wrapping the usual elements in the era’s cultural make-up within the typical teen dynamic of sex, drugs and rock and roll. Perhaps writer/director Richard Linklater said it best when he commented about wanting the movie to feel “like a camera had just dropped down in the middle” of this specific day at a typical Texas high school. Thanks to the inclusion of a true profusion of added content (commentaries, documentaries) what we end up with is a true motion picture masterwork. Bill Gibron

Dazed and Confused: Criterion Collection

Display Artist: David and Albert Maysles
Director: David
Director: Albert Maysles
DVD: Grey Gardens / The Beales of Grey Gardens: The Criterion Collection
Director website: http://www.mayslesfilms.com/
Studio: Maysles Films
Cast: Edith Bouvier Beale, Edith ‘Little Edie’ Bouvier Beale, Jack Helmuth, Brooks Hires
Website: http://www.mayslesfilms.com/company_pages/maysles_distribution/Films/Grey%20Gardens.html
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1976
Distributor: Criterion
US Release Date: 2006-12-05
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/g/grey-gardens-beales-dvd.jpg

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List number: 9

Documentaries don’t get more spellbinding than this look at wealth in decay and the lives of two women, both lost within their own insular universe of privilege and pain. Brothers Albert and David Maysles struck subject matter gold when they discovered Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale (cousins of famed First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) living in reclusive squalor in the title estate on the Hamptons. Eager for the attention they once held as members of high society, the pair was happy to “perform” for the directors, letting down their guard just enough to see the substantial sadness inside. The 1975 masterpiece is now supplemented with an amazing contemporary companion piece, arguing for the timelessness of both the Maysles moviemaking prowess and the Beale’s quiet desperation. Bill GibronGrey Gardens / The Beales of Grey Gardens: The Criterion Collection

Director: Billy Wilder
DVD: Double Indemnity: Universal Legacy Series
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Fred MacMurray, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Porter Hall
Website: http://homevideo.universalstudios.com/details.php?childId=36327
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1944
Distributor: Universal Studios
US Release Date: 2006-08-22
UK Release Date: 2006-08-22
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/d/double-indemity-legacy.jpg

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List number: 8

For many, it’s one of the last DVD Holy Grails, a classic Billy Wilder film noir unconscionably left off the digital domain for far too long. In fact, devotees feel they have waited for what seems like eons to get this multifaceted mystery featuring spectacular turns by Barbara Stanwyck and Fred McMurray on their favorite home theater medium. But the fact of the matter is, Image Entertainment released a version of the seminal crime thriller back in 1998. This time around though, Universal does the title right, tossing in a pair of commentaries, a documentary, and even a TV movie version from 1973. Whatever the presentation parameters, this is one timeless example of Hollywood’s heyday that deserves to be on every film fans shelf. Bill Gibron

Double Indemnity: Universal Legacy Series

Director: Akira Kurosawa
DVD: Seven Samurai: The Criterion Collection
Studio: Criterion
Cast: Takashi Shimura, Toshirô Mifune, Yoshio Inaba, Seiji Miyaguchi, Minoru Chiaki
Website: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=2
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1954
Distributor: Criterion
US Release Date: 2006-09-05
UK Release Date: 2006-09-05
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/s/seven-samurai-3-disc.jpg

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List number: 7

Akira Kurosawa elevated Japanese cinema into an internationally recognized art form, and this is, arguably, his greatest achievement. A masterpiece of tone, detail and performance, this influential fusion of modern moralizing and typical Eastern traditions makes for a classic examination of duty and honor. Setting up layers of interaction — the samurai vs. the farmers, the collective vs. the oncoming attackers — and then heightening the cinematic possibilities via the inherent drama supplied within his mesmerizing monochrome cinematography, Kurosawa creates a tragedy of epic proportions, an incredibly human saga expanded out across the entire Asian cultural horizon. And thanks to a new transfer from the classic film conservators, this director’s dynamic vision has never looked better.

Seven Samurai: The Criterion Collection

DVD: Homicide Life on the Street – Complete Series Megaset
TV Show: Homicide Life on the Street – Complete Series Megaset
Network: NBC
Network: A&E
Cast: Yaphet Kotto, Andre Braugher, Kyle Secor, Ned Beatty, Richard Belzer
Website: http://store.aetv.com/html/product/index.jhtml?id=76122
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1993-01-31
Last date: 1999-05-21
Distributor: A&E
US Release Date: 2006-11-14
UK Release Date: 2006-11-14
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/h/homicide-box-set.jpg

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List number: 6

Suitably grim, designed with a dark current of humor, all seven seasons of this highly acclaimed, addictive drama, winner of two Emmy Awards, three Television Critic’s Awards, and three Peabody Awards, comes packaged in a grey “file drawer”. Pull the drawer open, and each season has a file tab identifier, with a summary of the contents in plain, courier font: episode title, a snapshot of some critical facts, and a very brief description per episode. Sums it up perfectly for someone in a hurry to find the right file. The Complete Series is packaged as no-nonsense as the lives of the detectives in inner-city Baltimore and the murdered whose cases they try to solve, and it’s packed with enough extras to stuff a file cabinet, including three Law & Order crossover episodes and Homicide: The Movie. “Homicide: our day begins when yours ends”, says Detective John Much. You would just die for this. Karen ZarkerHomicide Life on the Street – Complete Series Megaset

Director: Chan-wook Park
DVD: OldBoy: Three-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Studio: Egg Films
Cast: Min-sik Choi, Ji-tae Yu, Hye-jeong Kang, Dae-han Ji, Dal-su Oh
Website: http://films.tartanfilmsusa.com/oldboy/
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2003
Distributor: Tartan Video
US Release Date: 2006-11-14
UK Release Date: 2006-11-14
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/o/oldboy-collectors-dvd.jpg

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List number: 5

As complicated a game of cat and mouse as the cinema has ever seen, Chan-wook Park’s Oldboy stands as a testament to the Nu-Asia genre of film, and South Korea’s domination of same. As part of his brilliant Vengeance Trilogy (including Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Lady Vengeance) Park’s middle act marries Western ideas of violence as vindicator with Eastern elements of honor, status and cruelty. In a stunning new three-disc tin box collector’s set from Tartan Video, the process behind this provocative motion picture is laid bare, with the director divulging as many behind the scenes processes as possible to amplify the theme — the purposelessness of payback — of his movie. Bill Gibron

OldBoy: Three-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition

TV Show: When the Levees Broke
Subtitle: A Requiem in Four Acts
US release date: 2006-08-21
Network: HBO
Cast: Harry Belafonte, Terence Blanchard, Gov. Kathleen Blanco, Douglas Brinkley, Eddie Compass, Michael Eric Dyson, Paris Ervin, Herbert Freeman Jr., Glenn Hall III, Phyllis Montana LeBlanc, Wynton Marsalis, Mayor Ray Nagin, Soledad O’Brien, Wendell Pierce, Sean Penn, Garland Robinette, Al Sharpton, Kanye West
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/w/when-the-levees-broke-dvd.jpg
Website: http://www.hbo.com/docs/programs/whentheleveesbroke/index.html
MPAA rating: N/A
Airtime: Premiere 8pm 21 and 22 August 2006; all four hours re-air 7pm 29 August 2006. Also airing on HBO and HBO2 throughout September.

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List number: 4

The year’s best fact-based film. Spike Lee, who worked his moviemaking magic on the story of 4 Little Girls (about the bombing of an Alabama church during the Civil Rights movement) and Jim Brown: All American, takes on the Federal Government, George W. Bush and the lack of effective emergency relief for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, and provides a ballsy blueprint for EVERYTHING that’s wrong with America circa 2006. Moving, infuriating and loaded with unconscionable criminality, the most shocking thing about this visual essay is how unfinished and open-ended it feels. Indeed, Lee has publicly stated that he will continually follow-up on the New Orleans story, similar to how Stephen Spielberg used Schindler’s List for the Shoah Project. This masterful movie is a sensational start. Bill Gibron

When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
DVD: Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier
Director website: http://www.zoetrope.com/
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Cast: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1979
Distributor: Paramount Home Video
US Release Date: 2006-08-15
UK Release Date: 2006-08-15
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/a/apocalypse-now-complete.jpg

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List number: 3

Or, actually, the “incomplete” dossier. Still MIA in this otherwise stellar presentation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam via Joseph Conrad masterwork is the equally sublime and definitive documentary companion piece Hearts of Darkness. Said warts and all look at the production, featuring amazing behind the scenes footage and audio recordings of the filmmaker’s frequent meltdowns, has long been rumored to be part of a comprehensive Apocalypse package. Its absence here continues to fuel speculation that Coppola no longer appreciates the film’s portrait of him as director/demagogue. Or maybe the memories are still too fresh and painful to revisit, even 20 plus years later. Thankfully, we have both versions of the finished epic (original and expanded cut) and a wealth of extras to keep us occupied. Bill Gibron

Apocalypse Now — Opening Scene

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Director: Various
DVD: Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector’s Edition
Studio: Warner Brothers
Cast: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Helen Westley, Irene Dunne
Website: http://whv.warnerbros.com/WHVPORTAL/Portal/product.jsp?OID=15934
MPAA rating: N/A
Distributor: Warner Brothers
US Release Date: 2006-10-24
UK Release Date: 2006-10-24
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/a/astaire-and-rogers-ultimate.jpg

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List number: 2

It’s enough to make fans of the famous dance team swoon with song and dance possibilities — 10 films, a bonus CD, another disc featuring a comprehensive documentary and a startling array of complementary features. Just having the ability to own every film this dynamic duo made (Flying Down to Rio / The Gay Divorcee / Roberta / Top Hat / Follow the Fleet / Swing Time / Shall We Dance / Carefree / The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle / The Barkleys of Broadway) should be motivation enough for an instantaneous purchase. But Warner Brothers hedges it bets by providing the best possible print of each film possible, and then larding each entry with enough extra goodies to seal the cinematic deal. Bill Gibron

Astaire & Rogers Ultimate Collector’s Edition

Director: Georg Wilhelm Pabst
DVD: Pandora’s Box: The Criterion Collection
Studio: Criterion
Cast: Louise Brooks, Fritz Kortner, Francis Lederer, Carl Goetz, Krafft-Raschig
Website: http://www.criterionco.com/asp/release.asp?id=358
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 1929
Distributor: Criterion
US Release Date: 2006-11-28
UK Release Date: 2006-11-28
Image: http://images.popmatters.com/film_art/p/pandoras-box-dvd.jpg

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List number: 1

Criterion uncovers yet another gem with the release of this legendary Louis Brooks vehicle. The tragic story of a prostitute/performer named Lulu, this is the film that made her a star, and the toast of the jumping jive jazz age. Director Georg Wilhelm Pabst combined his acclaimed insight into actors with the artistry of German Expressionism to forge an epic dissection of the human spirit. With many of Hollywood’s silent stars forgotten or forced into post-modern pigeonholes, it’s important to keep their true memory alive. And nothing guarantees immortality better than a perfect DVD package providing the proper balance between entertainment and context. As they do with all their products, Criterion proves the possibilities — and the pleasures — that can be achieved within the digital medium. Bill GibronPandora’s Box: The Criterion Collection