Aug. 19, 2017

Gift Guide 2006 #1: Now That's (Home) Entertainment!

November 22, 2006, 12:00 am
 Under $35

Aye, Matey
Jack Sparrow is back with Davy Jones on his tail in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (a two-disc collectors edition is available for $19.99 to $34.99, depending on where you find it), a swashbuckling adventure starring Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Get inside the mind of Jack Sparrow with the special featurette Captain Jack: From Head to Toe and meet Jones with a behind-the-scenes look at the creative team that brought the film's intricate sea creatures to life.

Nothing Is Impossible
What could make the public forget about Tom Cruise's weird religion, weird relationship and weird antics? How about his in-your-face comeback as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible III, in which he takes on the world and a diabolical Philip Seymour Hoffman. Top-notch action and a bottomless explosives budget make this DVD a fun must for whiling away some work-free hours, and the special two-disc collectors edition ($20.78-$34.99) has lots of special extras to take you inside, behind and around the mission.

It's Getting Hot in Heeere

Many members of the now-Democratic Congress (including our own representatives) have pledged to fight global warming. So what better gift for your Republican holdout friends than Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth ($16.98-$25.99)? If the recipient of this film doesn't cry when the animated polar bear slips off the melting piece of ice, then it's official: He or she is dead inside.

Longer, Slower, Better

Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore enchanted the world (and won an Academy Award for best foreign film) with his 1990 flick about a famous filmmaker recounting the story of his small-town movie theater and the projectionist who inspired his love of cinema. This edition of Cinema Paradiso: The New Version ($16.99-$25) includes an extra 50 minutes of dreamy Italian style.

Life Is a Highway

Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) learns the perils of speeding after crashing on his way to a race and ending up in community service. Now there's a lesson every Santa Fe driver should learn! Pixar's Cars ($14.99-$29.99) is both clever and witty, with additional voices by Paul Newman, Bonnie Hunt and Cheech Marin.

 Over $35

How the West Was Done
Political dilettantes will delight in this 22-episode collection that showcases the end of one of television's smartest dramas: The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season ($38.99). Follow the life of staffers inside the White House and stay savvy on American government the way we wish it was (there's a reason critics dubbed the show "The Left Wing.") Available in wide or full screen, this six-disc set also features behind-the-scenes footage with the talented cast and crew including Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff and Stockard Channing.

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock
Got some time to kill? You're not alone. Anti-Terrorist Special Agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) spends each episode of 24 fighting domestic terrorist threats in a real-time, minute-to-minute kind of way (each episode lasts for one hour of a day; 24 episodes per season; you get the idea). Special features for the complete Season 5 ($36.97) include 23 extended and deleted scenes with optional commentary by varying members of the cast and crew. Get caught up and ready for Season 6, scheduled to begin in January.

Watch This Way
Mel Brooks believed humor is "just another defense against the universe." As an actor, writer, director and producer, he's defended it well. Keep the laughs coming with the eight-disc Mel Brooks Box Set Collection ($71.88), which includes some of his greatest works, including Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Silent Movie, To Be or Not to Be and History of the World: Part I. Special extras include interviews with Brooks and theatrical trailers, as well as Brooks' optional commentary, a 36-minute documentary and deleted scenes from Young Frankenstein.

Genre Buster
Frequently regarded as the greatest film in the history of Japanese cinema, The Seven Samurai also was Director Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece that broke wide open several Japanese film genres. The Criterion Collection edition of the film ($42.99) is a three-disc set that includes better subtitles, a restored and high-definition print, audio commentaries from numerous film scholars, a documentary that is party of the Toho Masterworks series, Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create, and many more features.

Embiggen is Better
Does anyone remember life before Matt Groening's creation of The Simpsons? If so, that person certainly deserves the Complete Seasons 1-6 Box Set ($153.99) so that he or she can become one of us, one of us! But just about anyone will appreciate nearly 3,000 minutes of the seminal yellow family who started a revolution in television and spawned an endless list of neologisms. So catch up with Lisa, Homer, Marge, Bart and little Maggie and get really psyched for next year's Simpsons' movie. Yes, we're dorkus malorkus over here.


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