Originally created 11/10/05

New home-video releases

Here's a look at recent releases in home video and DVD and a calendar of what's coming:

CHRISTMAS WITH THE KRANKS (SONY, $28.95): A passable holiday tale at best, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis' comedy had the good fortune of following Ben Affleck's abysmal Surviving Christmas in theaters last year. By comparison, Kranks looks like the second coming of Holiday Inn. Adapted from John Grisham's book Skipping Christmas, Kranks stars Mr. Allen as a hubby who convinces his wife they should pass on the holidays because their daughter is away at college, only to scramble at the last minute when the kid comes home after all. The DVD designers play Grinch themselves, the disc bearing only the movie, with no extras .

LA DOLCE VITA (KOCH LORBER, $79.98): This new three-disc edition of Federico Fellini's masterpiece might be the cinephile's stocking stuffer of the season, though you'll need a huge stocking for the oversize boxed set. The 1960 tale stars Marcello Mastroianni as a tabloid reporter simultaneously obsessed and disgusted with the "sweet life" of modern overindulgence he inhabits. The package has the same extras as a two-disc set released last year, among them interviews with Mr. Fellini, Mr. Mastroianni and co-star Anita Ekberg. A third disc has more interviews with Mr. Fellini and the two stars, plus a documentary on composer Nino Rota and a chat with close Fellini pal Rinaldo Gelend. Included is a 40-page book on Mr. Fellini.

UGETSU (CRITERION, $39.95): Kenji Mizoguchi's beautifully filmed 1953 ghost story follows the divergent paths of two peasants in 16th century Japan. The film debuts on DVD in a two-disc set with a nicely restored version, plus a 2-hour documentary from 1975 covering the career of Mr. Mizoguchi, who died three years after making the film. The set also has interviews with several of the director's collaborators, a segment honoring Mr. Mizoguchi by Japanese director Masahiro Shinoda and commentary by critic and filmmaker Tony Rayns. A 72-page book accompanying the set has an essay on the film.

A DIFFERENT WORLD: SEASON ONE (URBAN WORKS, $39.99): After the release of year one of The Cosby Show comes the spin-off, which features Lisa Bonet, Jasmine Guy, Marisa Tomei and Sinbad in a sitcom set at a black college. Along with the first 22 episodes, the four-disc set packs a retrospective look at the series, a bloopers reel and an episode that never aired in the show's network run, featuring a guest spot by Tupac Shakur.

THE WHITE SHADOW: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON (20TH CENTURY FOX, $39.98): Ken Howard is back at courtside in the sports drama that debuted in 1978 about a former pro player who takes on a tough job coaching an inner-city high school basketball team. The four-disc set has 15 episodes, with commentary on two from Mr. Howard and collaborators.

BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD: THE MIKE JUDGE COLLECTION - VOLUME 1 (PARAMOUNT, $39.99): The raunchy, sub-moronic animated couch spuds return in a three-disc set packing 40 episodes selected by creator Mike Judge, 23 of the cartoons listed as "director's cuts." The set also has 11 music videos with B&B's rude commentary and a background feature.

YES (SONY, $24.96): Joan Allen, Sam Neill and Simon Akbarian star in a romance between a married Irish-American scientist and an Arab man, whose affair plays out amid poetic dialogue crafted largely in iambic pentameter by writer-director Sally Potter. The DVD has a breakdown on the making of a pivotal scene in the movie.

JUMANJI (SONY, $19.95): With the sci-fi family tale Zathura: A Space Adventure in theaters on Friday, the studio issues a new DVD version of the similarly themed Jumanji (both films were adapted from children's books by Chris Van Allsburg). The new two-disc set for Jumanji, starring Robin Williams, has interviews and commentary from the special-effects crew.


Just out: Margaret Cho: Assassin, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Christmas with the Kranks, Cronicas, The Devil's Rejects and Happy Endings

Coming Tuesday: The Beat That My Heart Skipped, Happy Endings, Heavenly Kid, Kings and Queen, Madagascar and Stealth


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