RELEASED BACK in November, this two-disc DVD set commemorates the 40th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's Cold War classic, but the satire has plenty of current import. Among the five featurettes included, there's an interview with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, whose presence reminds us very much of The Fog of War—itself about Vietnam, but both films have something to say about Iraq.
Among other commentators including Bob Woodward and Roger Ebert, Spike Lee observes of our current political leadership, "We haven't evolved." Indeed, it's hard not to read the insane characters of George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and Peter Sellers into today's White House. Scott's jingoistic general rationalizing the loss of millions of lives is like Donald Rumsfeld telling the troops they've got to fight (and die) with the army they've got. The facts on the ground haven't crept upward into the hermetic echo chamber of leadership. Even a man of decency, like Sellers' meek president, can't prevail against the overwhelming rush to war— perhaps not unlike Colin Powell. And Hayden's berserk "bodily fluids" faith is like that of the neocons, Wolfowitz and company, irrationally convinced of their rightness and unable to consider how well-armed others view the world in polar-opposite terms. In Kubrick's canon, including 2001 and A Clockwork Orange, there's also often the same warning about a system gone amok that destroys its human creators.
The film's print looks great (there are no commentary tracks), though the package does raise some quibbles: Why not include the famous pie fight in the war room as an alternate ending? And there must be deleted scenes of Sellers in his fourth role—the bomber pilot played by Slim Pickens. They say his Texas accent was pretty good.
Anime fans who had been waiting impatiently for the Dec. 28 release of Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell: Innocence (DreamWorks, $29.99) had better keep their wallets in their pockets unless they (1) are fluent in contemporary spoken Japanese or (2) don't mind seeing the word "gunshot" appear on top of the image every time there's a gunshot on the soundtrack. (And there are a lot of gunshots.) Apparently DreamWorks decided to save the expense of dubbing and subtitling by using a close-caption track instead. The result is a constant deluge of intrusive text ("bottle opening," "egg cracking," "running footsteps," "squeal of tires," etc.) that sometimes masks the entire picture. Warning: unwatchable.