THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS
Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, $27.96
WACKY JOKEMEISTER Robert Bresson held that films are alive in the head but dead on paper. Somewhere inside of a good movie's material aspects—the camera work, the performances—magic occurs that builds a whole greater than the mere sum of parts. DVDs, however, with their mania for the analytic (production notes, commentary tracks, etc.), tend to coldly deconstruct a work into its constituent elements. A scene's aura winds up evaporating in the hot breath of chatter, kinda like having a card trick explained to you.
Case in point: Boys' beautiful and pivotal scene between protagonists Tim and Francis as they confront the cold, cruel world in the guise of a mortally wounded pooch. But as we learn in the DVD's documentary featurette, an uncooperative animal actor forced the use of a poorly designed stuffed dummy in its stead. So when watching the scene again burdened with this knowledge, emotional oomph is displaced by an ide頦ixe of UGLY FAKE DOG DUMMY. The event no longer rings true. Suspension of disbelief, suspended. All this insider info is screwing up my enjoyment of movies!
In case you'd still like to traipse around inside the flick (out Nov. 5), Boys' smorgasbord of special features is notable, especially for the glimpse of how Spawn's Todd McFarlane assembled his punchy animation sequences. And—finally!--an easy-to-navigate menu, with selections assembled in one place to avoid scrolling through multiple menu screens looking for goodies. The all-important commentary track, however, is still buried; you'll have to click, somewhat counterintuitively, on the "Set Up" selection to access it.
WHETHER YOU WANT to access extras on Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood is another matter. (The thought of all those sisters doing commentary is frightening.) Also out Nov. 5, Dog Soldiers was just a held-over smash success at the Grand Illusion; Pumpkin (no extras) will appeal to Christina Ricci fans; and distaff kids will dig The Powerpuff Girls Movie, which is better than it sounds. With his Femme Fatale in theaters, James Toback provides commentary to his 1978 breakout, Fingers (starring Harvey Keitel), which is new to DVD. Also new are Verhoeven's Spetters and Pasolini's The Decameron.