April 22, 2005 Neda Ulaby reviews the DVD edition of Vera Drake, a story of an abortionist in 1950s Britain directed by Mike Leigh and featuring an Oscar-nominated performance by Imelda Staunton. The DVD comes without adornment, but Ulaby says the film is a fine example of the way Leigh encourages his actors to become immersed in their characters.
April 14, 2005 The Alexander Payne film was the darling of critics leading up to the Oscars, and Paul Giamatti's performance was duly lauded. The DVD takes fans one step further with a commentary track by Giamatti and co-star Thomas Haden-Church that's smart, ribald, sophisticated and adds a lot to a second viewing.
April 8, 2005 NPR's Mike Pesca reviews the DVD box set of the third season of the FX cop drama The Shield. Not only are the characters and action compelling, but the behind-the-scenes mini-documentaries and commentary tracks — often just tacked-on to pad other DVDs — actually add to a greater appreciation of the show.
March 25, 2005 The latest blockbuster animated film from the Pixar hothouse was a huge hit in theaters. But NPR's Art Silverman, not a huge fan of animated films in general, sums up the plot in one sentence and says only the behind-the-scenes vignettes on the DVD set's bonus disk makes the home version worthwhile.
March 11, 2005 When famed architect Louis I. Kahn died of a heart attack in 1974, details of his private life surfaced — he maintained three separate families and was deeply in debt. My Architect follows the journey of one of Kahn's sons to understand his complex father, seen through the filter of the trademark buildings Kahn left behind.
February 25, 2005 Unlike most TV cop shows, The Wire shows viewers how the system really works on the mean streets of Baltimore — sophisticated criminals who learn from their mistakes, flawed cops who look and act like real people, small victories and ambiguous endings. NPR's Bill Wyman reviews the DVD set of the full second season of the HBO series.
February 11, 2005 For a change, a sequel that's actually better than the original — NPR's Neda Ulaby reviews the DVD release of Spider-Man 2, one of the biggest movies of 2004. Ulaby lauds the glorious digital transfer to DVD, plus the bonus disk with cool behind-the-scenes goodies.
January 28, 2005 Bill Wyman reviews the DVD release of M. Night Shyamalan's latest Twilight Zone-style thriller The Village — and finds it to be bad movie with the accompanying and appropriately bad DVD.
January 21, 2005 Collateral, a good movie on its release, improves on a second viewing — now it looks like the best thriller Hollywood produced in 2004. NPR's Pat Dowell reviews the two-disk DVD release of the Jamie Foxx-Tom Cruise duet, and finds some rich behind-the-scenes surprises.
January 14, 2005 Filmmakers Albert and David Maysles, best known for the Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter, profile "environmental artists" Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who have wrapped the Pont Neuf in Paris in fabric and put colorful umbrellas across miles of rolling hills in California and Japan.
December 17, 2004 Arguably the crown jewel in the Disney video library — and certainly the chim-chim-cheree-est musical around — this lovingly enhanced DVD version of the classic film is as enchanting in its 40th anniversary edition as it was on the screen in 1964. NPR's Bob Mondello has a review.
December 10, 2004 NPR's Neda Ulaby reviews the DVD release of the independent film Raising Victor Vargas. She says the touching portrayal of Upper East Side teens was largely missed by theater-goers in 2003, but home theater viewers will apppreciate the film's slice-of-life realism and unabashed romance.
December 3, 2004 NPR's Bill Wyman dives in to the four-disk DVD set chronicling the 1983 Live Aid concert — a dual-continent music extravaganza that was musician Bob Geldof's response to famine in Ethiopia. Wyman says there are some real gems here, if you can get past the early '80s English new wave hair bands.
November 19, 2004 NPR's Neda Ulaby reviews the DVD re-release of the low-budget Stephen Frears masterpiece My Beautiful Laundrette, which made a star out of Daniel Day-Lewis. The film has lasting power, but unfortunately the DVD has few extras for serious cinemaphiles.