BRETT MORGEN and Nanette Burstein got an Oscar nomination for their 1999 documentary, On the Ropes. Last year they documented Robert Evans' 1994 memoir of a life lived largely on the ropes of coke addiction. So did their film (on DVD Aug. 19) get another nom? No, which is bullshitit should've gotten all the Oscars! There is no leading man in today's movies to match the self-invented Evans, no story more lurid than his life. Starting out in the fashion business ("I was in women's pants"), Evans was impossibly recruited by Norma Shearer as an actorwe get to see his hysterically bad The Fiend Who Walked the West, and we get a sense of why Hemingway wanted him sacked after seeing what a bad bullfighter he was in The Sun Also Rises. More impossibly, Evans became the boy-wonder producer who saved Paramount with The Godfather. We see the Mike Nichols-produced short film whereby Evans persuaded the studio board to let him finish Godfather, then hear Evans' tale of how he saved Coppola by strong-arming him to make it longer: "You shot a saga, pal, and you gave me a trailer."
Evans is, one suspects, a less than wholly trustworthy film historian, but he's irresistibly entertaining, rapping uncontrollably about how he got Ali MacGraw into his pool (and himself into her pants), lost her to Steve McQueen, made an astounding concatenation of hits, then lost it all. (There's plenty more Evans lore, plus the directors' commentaries, among the disc's many extras.) Kid does a nifty job of animating and digitally manipulating the photo trove of Evans' star-studded stud's life; it's a perfectly nervy, colorful match for Evans' inimitable rap. TIM APPELO
THE BIG DVD release for Aug. 26 is LOTR 2: The Two Towers, but save your money for the expanded jumbo-size version Nov. 18. Several old horror titles are reaching disc, including The Howling, Day of the Dead, and a Stephen King set of Carrie, Misery, and The Dark Half. Among the merely horrible are From Justin to Kelly and Chasing Papi. The 25th-anniversary Animal House features many extras, while Robert Rodriguez adds commentaries to El Mariachi and Desperado (in anticipation of Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sept. 12). Billy Bob Thornton is glumly good in Levity, while the charming indie Raising Victor Vargas is our pick of the week. EDS.