Story of a 3-Day Pass
In his sly introduction on the DVD of his 1968 feature directorial debut, Melvin Van Peebles explains that he moved to Europe in the 1960s after being denied a chance to direct in Hollywood. He ended up in France, where writers could get a temporary permit to direct, and he was able to make this ambitious racial drama about an African-American soldier (Harry Baird) up for promotion who is given a three-day pass to Paris, where he falls in love with a white woman (Nicole Berger). After it was completed in 1967, Berger died in a car crash.
The Tomorrow Show: Punk & New Wave
[Shout Factory] $30
This two-disc set features late '70s and early '80s episodes from Tom Snyder's late-night NBC series -- it aired after The Tonight Show -- that showed punk and new wave singers such as Elvis Costello, the Ramones, Iggy Pop and Joan Jett. On the first episode from 1977 is a conversation with rock producer Bill Graham, Los Angeles Times pop critic Robert Hilburn and Kim Fowley on the state of punk rock.
Lou Pucci plays a 17-year-old who still sucks his thumb, much to the dismay of his parents (Tilda Swinton and Vincent D'Onofrio). Keanu Reeves also stars as his hippie orthodontist, and Vince Vaughn plays the high school debate instructor. Extras include an above-average "making of" featurette, an enjoyable discussion between writer-director Mike Mills and Walter Kirn, who wrote the semiautobiographical novel, and superb commentary with Mills.
After she eluded a group of thugs in Panic Room, Jodie Foster finds herself and a daughter in jeopardy again -- this time on a trans-Atlantic flight. Extras include average "making of" clips, a look at the design and construction of the plane and passable commentary with director Robert Schwentke.
About 100 comics, writers, producers and cultural critics tell versions of what has been described as the world's filthiest joke, which allegedly has been around since vaudeville. Extras include more scatological and gross versions, why the film is dedicated to Johnny Carson (it was supposedly his favorite joke), other blue jokes told by the likes of George Carlin and Bob Saget, and smarty-pants commentary from filmmakers Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette.
Kris Kristofferson was "introduced" in this underrated 1972 drama, written and directed by Bill L. Norton, as a once-famous rock star released from imprisonment on drug charges whose comeback plans are thwarted when he is blackmailed by a crooked cop (Gene Hackman). Karen Black also stars.
The N Word -- Divided We Stand
[Urban Works] $20
A thought-provoking, often-funny documentary on the origins and use over the centuries of the infamous "N" word. Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Bryant Gumbel, George Carlin and Quincy Jones are among those who weigh in. The DVD includes astute commentary from writer-director Todd Larkins and producer Helena Echegoyen.
[LOS ANGELES TIMES ]