PICK OF THE WEEK: Preston Sturges: The Filmmaker Collection (Universal) Includes: Christmas in July, The Great McGinty, The Great Moment, Hail the Conquering Hero, The Lady Eve, The Palm Beach Story, Sullivan’s Travels. I’m pretty sure that no other box set this year has a masterpiece-to-dollar ratio as high as this one, which celebrates one of the greatest — and funniest! — writer-director auteurs of the studio period. A man, in fact, who helped make that mold. A few of his films are still AWOL, but this gets the bulk of them out on disc, where one trusts they’ll be rediscovered by a young generation of cinephiles who just can’t believe such gleeful cynicism made its way to movie screens in the 1940s.
An Inconvenient Truth (Paramount): You haven’t seen this yet? Happily, it’s just as effective on the small screen as on the big one. And watching it with no election looming in the immediate future might even help soak up some of what this loaded doc has to say.
A Fish Called Wanda (MGM): This ‘80s classic has never been particularly well served on DVD. A special edition like this is long overdue.
Giuliani Time (Cinema Libre): Lefty doc seeks to strip some of those 9/11 garlands off of Rudy and remind us, before we elect the guy President, why a city full of lefties did so much protesting of his administration before 2001.
Scoop (Universal): For a film by a world-class writer/director, Scoop is shockingly awkward at times. Flat dialogue, awkward line readings, and devices that just don’t work; that’s not to mention the weird attempt at comedy by Scarlett Johansson. Nevertheless, it has its moments — many of which come from Deadwood’s Ian McShane, as a journalist dedicated enough to pursue a story from beyond the grave.
The Boxer’s Omen (Image): Possibly the weirdest Asian import I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something. Witchcraft, reincarnation, armies of little crocodile skeletons — this flick has it all, and spins its yarn using adorably hokey special effects. (You’d think Shaw Studios, the venerable outfit that produced the movie, could have afforded better.)
Classic Comedy Teams Collection (Warner Bros.): Three discs, each a double feature starring the Three Stooges, Abbott & Costello, and Laurel & Hardy.
Da Ali G Show: Da Compleet Seereez (HBO): Just in time to ride the Borat bandwagon comes the complete American run of Sacha Baron Cohen’s sidesplitting TV series. Call me a heretic, but Borat’s segments on the HBO series were even funnier than most of what wound up in the movie.
RAVISHING ACTRESSES, BRILLIANT FILMS: The Double Life of Veronique (Criterion); Pandora’s Box (Criterion); Glamour Girls Box Set (Including: The Blue Angel, Love Me Tonight, The Good Fairy, Lured, Pandora & the Flying Dutchman) (Kino)
TV CORNER: Alias Season Five (Buena Vista); Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist Season Two (Paramount); Seinfeld Season Seven (Sony)
GETTING A JUMP ON THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Warner Bros.); Miracle on 34th Street (Fox); O. Henry’s Full House, an anthology film featuring the holiday classic Gift of the Magi (Fox); Olive, the Other Reindeer (Fox); It’s a Wonderful Life (Paramount); Holiday Inn (Universal), the birthplace of the Yuletime standard “White Christmas”; Original Television Christmas Classics (Sony Wonder), a collection of Rankin/Bass gems like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town