Francis Ford Coppola Goes Back to 'Nam

And other new releases

 Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse Paramount, $24.99 At last available on DVD, Eleanor Coppola's 1991 documentary about her husband's tumultuous trek downriver remains, easily, the best film ever about the making of a movie and unmaking of a man. Francis Ford Coppola thought he was going to spend 16 weeks in the Philippines making his film about the Vietnam War, only to wind up lost in the jungle damned near forever—during which time he replaced his leading man and lost his mind during the "journey inward." "I'm gonna shoot myself," he says during a secretly recorded conversation with the missus, and she probably believed him. But the doc comes with a 62-minute happy ending: Coda: Thirty Years Later, about the making of the forthcoming Youth Without Youth, during which Francis is all back-to-biz grins and philosophical happy talk. The horror? Long gone. ROBERT WILONSKY Live Free or Die Hard Fox, $29.99 The best thing about this collection is the unrated version of the pretty-damned-good summer blockbuster—because something didn't feel right about a Die Hard movie in which "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker" was trimmed to keep it a kid-friendly PG-13. This Live Free or Die Hard plays lighter and looser than its theatrical counterpart (which is also present here); John McClane is no longer some sanitized, homogenized version of his former shambling self. As far as big sweaty booms go, the fourth Die Hard is the only one that matters after the original. Bruce Willis says as much, over and over, in his interview with Kevin Smith that's a nifty bonus among so-so extras that include a lengthy making-of doc and—why?—a music video. ROBERT WILONSKY Manufactured Landscapes Zeitgeist, $22.99 The opening scene of this maddeningly uneven documentary is a tracking shot inside a Chinese factory that stretches on and on like the Star Destroyer in Star Wars, and then on and on like that ship in Spaceballs, and even farther until your mind drifts and you wonder about lunch, and then you come back and the camera is still making its way through that goddamn factory. Huge-scale industrial scenes are the muse of photographer Edward Burtynsky, and the film is wonderful when it serves as a cinematic exploration of his images—rivers dyed orange, stripped mountains, and landfills that are all so beautiful and frightful. They need no explanation—but you'll get one anyway, and that's where things fall apart. Landscapes strives to serve up more inconvenient truths (witness Al Gore in the special features), but Burtynsky's images deserve more complex consideration. Try it with the sound off. JORDAN HARPER My So-Called Life: The Complete Series Shout! Factory, $69.99 When I pried open this new DVD box set, containing one of my all-time favorite shows, I found an awesomely substantive package: not only all 19 episodes on five discs, but art and liner notes from creator Winnie Holzman and famous fans like Joss Whedon, plus an extra disc probably filled with interviews, making-of footage, and, for all I know, a video game that requires you to maneuver teen heroine Angela Chase through a crowded high-school hallway on a quest to "accidentally" brush up against sad-eyed hunk Jordan Catalano. My So-Called Life, which debuted in 1994 and made a star of Claire Danes, is credited with kicking off the explosion of teen-angst drama that turned the WB, for instance, into a network seemingly dedicated to grades 10–12. But watching the beautiful 48-minute pilot, I think Holzman understood better than anyone since how to make teens sound smart and funny without that air of Algonquin wittiness that eventually took over zit-geist shows from Dawson's Creek through The O.C. Life refused to wring easy drama out of the factional stereotypes that still rule youth TV—the ones in which we learn that the jock is secretly sensitive or the nerd has hidden hottieness. ROBERT ABELE Nosferatu Kino, $29.95 Kino has been stomping mudholes in the competition when it comes to rereleasing classic silent films—which, admittedly, is something of a niche. The latest is this F.W. Murnau vampire gem from 1922, which depicts Count Orlock (read: Dracula) in scary-rat-faced-monster mode, as compared to the later, more popular old smoothie portrayed by Bela Lugosi, which gave the world vampire erotica. (Thanks, Bela.) As usual, the digital restoration is stunning. But if Kino has a fault, it's that it's so historically correct as to be stodgy. You'll understand why they attached the original score, but it's still a snooze; an hour-long doc, likewise, is scholarly overkill. Better is a selection of scenes from Murnau's other films, including mind-blowing images of a giant devil standing over a medieval village in Faust. JORDAN HARPEROther Releases  Beyond Travolta in the fat suit, Hairspray has some tuneful charm. Ghosts of Cité Soleil takes a frightening look at Haitian street gangs. Worlds collide on Inside the Actors Studio: Johnny Depp as the latter endures an interrogation from buffoonish James Lipton. Also Depp-related: the incomprehensible, exhausting Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. Box-set collections from TV include Saturday Night Live, Season 2 and the complete The O.C. Unlike Live-in Maid, Mr. Bean's Holiday got no love from critics. Rescue Dawn isn't one of Werner Herzog's best, but Christian Bale could get another look this Oscar season. After some confusion about the street date, the eye-poppingly audacious I Am Cuba is finally in a box set from Milestone. For aging rockers in the family, Led Zep's The Song Remains the Same has also emerged from the vaults. And Keri Russell is fairly irresistible in Waitress. dvd@seattleweekly.com

 
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