FIRST HE WAS a Facts of Life beefcake. Then ER stud pony. Then the firstand, God willing, lastBatman with nipples. Then he became the paradigm of Hollywood cool, conscience, and creativity? Whoa. Somewhere along the line, George Clooney obtained the best kind of cred: We trust his blockbusters (Oceans 11) and forgive his commercial flops (Solaris). It was a major riskand ultimately an unprofitable oneto adapt game-show guru Chuck Barris’ demented I-was-a-CIA-assassin memoir/confabulation, but rookie director Clooney had a blast turning it into black comedy, which shows on this nonintrusive DVD transfer (on disc Sept. 9).
No inane, uninformative, back-patting making-of featurettes herejust a lighthearted update on Barris 2003, with many of his Gong Show cronies chirping that he couldn’t kick their aging asses, much less kill 33 people in his prime. Deleted scenes are plentiful and for the most part wouldn’t have disrupted the film’s half-century-spanning head trip. They’re augmented by a director’s commentary track in which Clooney bemoans all the split screens that coulda been with the perspicacity of his mentor, Steven Soderbergh.
Other amusing distractions include Sam Rockwell’s screen tests, which rather spookily demonstrate how in-the-Barris-zone the man was from the outset; a rogues’ gallery of Gong freaks; and the requisite full-length Clooney commentary. The latter not only treats us to exuberant exposition about unbroken pans, infrared black-and-white treatments, and the like, but also reveals that the day Drew Barrymore filmed Confession‘s harrowing, introductory tilt with Rockwell, she had announced her divorce from Tom Green. Yup, if there was ever a time for an awful “dangerous mind” gag . . . this wouldn’t be it.
ALSO OUT SEPT. 9, there’s a nicely spiffed-up two-disc transfer of Disney’s animated 1959 classic Sleeping Beauty. The fine documentary Stevie (by Hoop Dreams director Steve James) is kinda depressing, but it deserves a long DVD afterlife. The amazing one-take time-travel movie Russian Ark will lose some of its grandeur on the small screenbut you could always buy a bigger TV. On the crap side, there’s The Core, Gwyneth in View From the Top, The Debut, and the very subpar Chow Yun-Fat vehicle Bulletproof Monk (made even worse by the presence of American Wedding‘s Seann William Scott). Eds.