THE MAN WHO WASN'T THERE
USA Home Entertainment, $26.98
BILLY BOB Thornton reckons, "There are certain people that just don't suck." Namely, Joel and Ethan Coen. So when the fraternal filmmakers asked Thornton to star in a late-'40s-era, black-and-white movie "about a barber who wants to be a dry cleaner," he agreed on the spot. Now that last year's Man Who has reached disc (released April 16), film fans should likewise trust the Coen name.
The big news about this DVD is the commentary track. For the first time, the creators of Blood Simple, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and other quirky classics discuss one of their flicks on disc. Thornton joins the Coen commentary, and the trio proves a chatty bunch. You won't hear much of the movie in this mode—which can be suppressed with the click of a button—but will enjoy the banter and background tidbits.
Unfortunately, the DVD's other treats aren't quite as entertaining or informative. Both the making-of featurette and interview with director of photography Roger Deakins are sloppily assembled, in contrast to the movie's meticulous construction. Though Deakins' arty insight into black-and-white cinematography—"It's more to the point somehow"— is interesting, 46 minutes is overkill.
Which is not to say Man Who isn't beautiful from first to final frame, thanks to the Oscar-nominated cinematography's superb transfer to disc. The DVD menus are suitably smoky, and the extras—three deleted haircut scenes, trailer, etc.—enhance the overall feel of the film. One quibble: It's nearly impossible to identify who's Joel and who's Ethan.
EASIER TO identify are the intended viewers for the pro-pot documentary Grass, out April 23— a date also greeting My First Mister, with Albert Brooks. With the Seattle Jewish Film Festival continuing right now, some may want to seek out Elie Wiesel Goes Home, which documents the Nobel Prize winner's journey to his boyhood Romanian home. For those pining for the next Star Wars installment, the hour-long Hardware Wars parody film is already on disc. Ali arrives April 30 (no extras), as do Not Another Teen Movie and Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire, with Tom Cruise on the commentary track (reviewed here next week).