A wide range of late 2006 movies have come to DVD this week, along with a variety of older films.
"Flags of Our Fathers" (Dreamworks, 2006; R for violence, language; $29.99). Clint Eastwood's World War II melodrama is built around three Marines who receive credit for raising the flag at Iwo Jima in that iconic photo — and then suffer various pangs of guilt. This one isn't quite as sterling as his "Letters From Iwo Jima," but it's still a worthwhile effort, with fine performances from Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford, and Adam Beach as a troubled American Indian, whose story is the most interesting.
Extras: Separate widescreen and full-frame editions
"Hollywoodland" (Focus/Universal, 2006; R for violence, language, sex, nudity; $29.98). Ben Affleck deserves all the praise he's received for his portrayal of George Reeves, the ill-fated actor who played Superman on TV in the 1950s. Unfortunately, the film concentrates more on a fictional detective (Adrian Brody) who is investigating the actor's "suicide."
Extras: Separate widescreen and full-frame editions, deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes
"Running With Scissors" (TriStar, 2006; R for language, drugs, sex, violence; $26.96). This comedy-drama is one of those films that tries too hard to be quirky and instead just becomes irritating. Still, it is blessed with a sterling central performance by Annette Bening as a deluded aspiring writer. Alec Baldwin, Brian Cox, Jill Clayburgh, Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow all try, but they seem like caricatures.
Extras: Widescreen, featurettes, trailers
"Flicka" (Fox, 2006, PG, $29.98). This remake stars Alison Lohman as a young girl who comes home for the summer from private school — but she really just wants to stay and work on the family's Wyoming ranch. Tim McGraw, Maria Bello and a wild black mustang co-star in this so-so family picture.
Extras: Widescreen and full-frame options, deleted scenes, audio commentary (director Michael Mayer), music video (Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl"), bloopers
"The Boynton Beach Club" (Sony, 2006; R for sex, language, nudity, drugs; $26.96). This film is unusual in that it focuses on the geriatric set — a comedy-drama about members of a bereavement club in a Florida retirement community. It quickly sinks into easy sex gags, but it's nice to see Brenda Vaccaro, Dyan Cannon, Joseph Bologna, Sally Kellerman and Len Cariou in substantial roles.
Extras: Widescreen, audio commentary (by co-writer/director Susan Siedelman)
"Trust the Man" (Fox, 2006; R for language, sex; $27.98). David Duchovny, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup and Maggie Gyllenhaal star in this domestic yarn about a stay-at-home dad (Duchovny) and his movie-star wife (Moore), who is doing a Broadway play. The performers give their all, but the characters never engage.
Extras: Widescreen/full-frame options, deleted scenes, commentary, featurette
"The Grudge 2" (Columbia, 2006, PG-13, $28.95). This sequel to "The Grudge," a remake of a Japanese horror film that starred Sarah Michelle Gellar encountering creepy goings-on in a Japanese haunted house, is more of the same. Amber Tamblyn takes over, and eventually it shifts to Chicago. To little effect.
Extras: Widescreen, deleted scenes, featurettes (Also in an "Unrated Director's Cut.")
"Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles" (Sony Classics, 2006, PG, $29.95). This is a lovely picture from Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou ("Curse of the Golden Flower") about a Japanese fisherman who tries to reconcile with his estranged son, ultimately taking it upon himself to finish his son's research project in China. Charming.
Extras: Widescreen, Chinese with English subtitles, featurette
"The Science of Sleep" (Warner, 2006; R for language, violence, sex, nudity, drugs; $27.95). This bizarre comedy-drama is fascinating for its leaps of unreality, as a failed inventor (Gael Garcia Bernal) confuses real life with the fantasy world into which he perpetually escapes — which jeopardizes his pursuit of the girl next door (Charlotte Gainsbourg).
Extras: Widescreen, in French and Spanish with English subtitles; audio commentary, featurettes, music video
"Here Comes Mr. Jordan" (Columbia, 1941, not rated, b/w, $19.94). This grand fantasy-comedy classic (remade as Warren Beatty's "Heaven Can Wait" and Chris Rock's "Down to Earth") has a nice-guy boxer (Robert Montgomery) dying prematurely, so he's allowed to return to life in the body of a murdered millionaire. Great supporting cast includes Claude Rains as the title character (a heavenly emissary), James Gleason, Edward Everett Horton, etc.
Extras: Full frame
"Neither the Sea nor the Sand" (Salvation, 1974; R for sex, language; $19.99). This offbeat ghostly melodrama set in Scotland stars Susan Hampshire as a troubled woman who meets and falls in love but whose lover dies mysteriously. Then he comes back, which is fine until his body starts to deteriorate. A bit slow, but strangely entrancing, and Hampshire is great.
Extras: Widescreen, photo/poster gallery
"Cousin Bette" (Acorn, 1971, two discs, $39.99). This early '70s BBC miniseries, adapted from the Balzac novel, is a bit stagey and broken into several one-hour segments. But it's extremely well made and perfectly cast, with Margaret Tyzack as the Parisian spinster who vows vengeance on her wealthy family and gets it by exploiting the alluring woman next door — played vivaciously by young Helen Mirren!
Extras: Full frame, text biography of Balzac, text filmographies