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Armchair Cinephile: The Cine-Mini 


PICK OF THE WEEK: Motion Picture Masterpieces (Warner Bros.): Includes David Copperfield (1935), Marie Antoinette (1939), A Tale of Two Cities (1935), Pride and Prejudice (1940), Treasure Island (1934). W.C. Fields in a Dickens yarn? Ohio-bred Tyrone Power as a French count? That's Hollywood, babe. Warner's latest box of prestige titles packs more literary clout than some of my friends' bookshelves, and the name-dropping value only increases when you see the Cukors and Barrymores in the screen credits. The studio skipped the commentaries and docs this time out, but doubled up on fun stuff like short subjects and 'toons.

Hollywood's Legends of Horror Collection (Warner Bros.): While Universal is trudging out, what, their 15th reissue of the same classic “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” stuff, Warner goes to the vaults for six more obscure fright flicks bundled up with a reasonable price tag. And don't think it's all dregs: Bela, Boris, and Bogie figure in among the casts, while horror auteurs Tod Browning and Karl Freund fill the director's chair.

A Prairie Home Companion (New Line): Full of folksy charm and low-key but witty backstage banter, this adaptation of the long-running radio show relocates it firmly to Altmanville while staying true to Garrison Keillor's voice.

Brideshead Revisited (Acorn Media): A high point in English telly arrives in a 25th Anniversary edition, presenting all eleven hours of Evelyn Waugh's tale with outtakes and commentary from stars like Jeremy Irons.

Art School Confidential (Sony) and Bad Santa (Director's Cut) (Buena Vista): Two this week from Terry Zwigoff, neither quite the match of his Ghost World or Crumb, but worth a look. Santa has already been released twice, but this version purports to be the authentic one, and has the director's commentary to back that claim up.

Land of Plenty (IFC Films): Though often extremely awkward, Wim Wenders’ almost unseen 2004 film earnestly tries to make sense of the illnesses — xenophobia, terrorism and obsession with it, economic disparity — afflicting America.

Feast of Death: The Dark Places of James Ellroy (Tartan): Documentary portrait that aims to be as intensely feverish as the man himself, author of L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia.

Holiday Inn (Universal): Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire are paired in this vintage musical best known as the first appearance of "White Christmas."

Black Rain (Paramount): Ridley Scott's 1989 cops vs. yakuza flick starring Michael Douglas is mainly noteworthy for its slick, grimy vision of Osaka

CULT CORNER: Roadside Prophets (Image); The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (MGM); Ju-On 2 (Lions Gate)

TV ON DVD: Marie Antoinette, Napoleon (PBS/Paramount), The Andy Milonakis Show: Season Two (Paramount); I'm Alan Partridge: Series 1 (BBC)

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