Shelf life

Time to collect DVDs?


Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, $29.95


Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, $24.95

ONLY FOUR YEARS old, the DVD market is now worth some $4 billion, as compared to last year’s $7.7 billion take at the box office. (Overall home-video revenues total about $20 billion, but DVD is growing fastest in that sector.) Chances are you may already have a machine, as do some 15 million American homes. Moreover, unlike costly VHS tapes of recent flicks—priced for video stores to purchase, then rent to you—DVDs typically retail for around 30 bucks, meaning that movie lovers are quietly amassing affordable libraries of favorite titles.

So are we. But as SW launches a “DVD of the Week” feature in our next issue, let’s first look at two recent discs to s ee what we’re getting for the money. Befitting Pollock, last year’s somber artist biopic, the overall tone is markedly seriousness. There’s a fawning Charlie Rose Show interview with Ed Harris, a self-serving, making-of mini documentary, a few dropped scenes, and—most interesting, if frustrating—movie-length commentary from Harris that one can select over the regular audio track.

You’ve got to really love a picture to enjoy—or endure—such director remarks (in this case two hours’ worth). A glum Harris seems to have simply poured out his thoughts during one continuous sitting. It’s a fascinating, muttered stream-of-consciousness monologue. “You hope all these things are conveyed,” he says of one scene’s nuances. “That’s why I’m telling you.”

By contrast, Kevin Smith’s Dogma gives you the whole enchilada on two boisterous discs. Unlike Harris, Smith isn’t afraid to sell the product and mock the whole DVD phenomenon. Here, his voice is joined by those of cast members Ben Affleck, Jason Lee, and Jason Mewes. (Absent is Linda Fiorentino, “not the easiest person in the world to work with,” Smith notes.) It’s a jokey, dormitory, pot-haze kind of vibe, with periodic clickable video snippets of the gang. Among other, lesser features, the second disc provides a whopping 100 minutes of deleted scenes. How bad is Hell? Lee’s escaped demon explains: “They’ve been playing Mrs. Doubtfire continuously for the last five years!”

Granted, all the button pushing and scrolling through menus boasting “extra features” can be confusing and tedious. Still, the beauty of DVD is that once the movie’s over, there’s no rewinding!