Another Look at a Legend

New releases for the week of October 4, 2005

Oct 5, 2005 at 4:00 am

Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection
(Universal Studios)

Alfred Hitchcock may be the best pop filmmaker in our history, and this gorgeous fourteen-film set is certainly worthy of the master. Licensing issues kept it from being as "definitive" as the box claims -- missing, most notably, are Hitchcock's classic Cary Grant collaborations To Catch a Thief, Notorious and North by Northwest -- but it's still an embarrassment of riches, with the Jimmy Stewart thriller Rear Window, the odd horror of The Birds and Psycho surrounded by lesser known but mostly great films. The bonus features, too, are larded on with gusto: The spy thriller Topaz has multiple endings, as does The Birds; most of the films include documentaries; and the bonus disc features the American Film Institute's Hitchcock tribute, as well as full-length features on Psycho and The Birds. Set aside two weeks or more to properly absorb it all. (Jordan Harper)

Cinderella Platinum Edition

There's not enough space here to even tick off the bonus features affixed to this beloved 1950 film, which looks better than ever before. Suffice it to say this Cinderella's the belle of the ball, a double-disc package stuffed with such necessities as two deleted sequences ("The Cinderella Work Song" and "Dance to the Stars," illustrated with wondrous storyboards) and such niceties as a Perry Como Show preview of a handful of songs performed just weeks before the movie's release. There's also a dandy tribute to the so-called "Nine Old Men" who made Uncle Walt's daydreams tangible, and scenes from the thought-to-be-lost "Laugh-O-Gram" version Disney made in 1922 (part of the revelatory "The Cinderella That Almost Was" segment). Buy it, before it turns into a pumpkin. (Robert Wilonsky)

The Interpreter
(Universal Studios)

In one of the scant bonus features affixed to this ham-fisted dud, director Sydney Pollack moans about how hard it is to make a movie that's even "releasable...that isn't an embarrassment." After sitting through this, you may conclude that he came up short; it's releasable only because it stars Nicole Kidman (as a U.N. translator out to whack the African leader-turned-dictator) and Sean Penn (as the cop assigned to protect Kidman), not because it's any damned good. It's a Manchurian Candidate-Parallax View mash-up, and the extras don't merit the DVD dough: There are three minutes' worth of pointless deleted scenes, a so-called alternate ending that makes so little sense that you'll wonder why they even filmed it, and some mini-docs with Pollack explaining, among other things, why he likes widescreen better than pan-and-scan. Interpret this, pal. (RW)

The Pixies Sell Out

There's a great sociology paper to be written about last year's Pixies reunion tour. How did a band, well respected but never rising above cult status, emerge after twelve years to become one of the most popular touring acts of 2004? Oh, they certainly deserve the praise, as this straightforward concert film shows: Frank Black and Kim Deal's pretty-but-crunchy, quiet-then-loud sound has influenced countless bands, most famously Nirvana. But unrewarded talent in popular music is axiomatic. A sense of good fortune pervades the disc, from the self-teasing title to the frankly bewildered crew members interviewed in the bonus material. The filmmaking is rudimentary, but with songs like "Wave of Mutilation," "Gigantic" and "Here Comes Your Man" done up in all their glory, who cares? This package could have been more ambitious, but it'll suffice until Hüsker Dü or the Smiths get back together. (JH)