Rwanda genocide drama debuts on DVD

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2008

First we had Gen. Romeo Dallaire's riveting 2004 autobiography, then the documentary "Shake Hands With the Devil" and now the feature film of the same name (there was also an identically-titled 1950s James Cagney movie about the Irish troubles). The 1994 Rwandan tragedy has been visited several times on film, including "Hotel Rwanda" and "Sundays in Kigali," but this one is told directly from the point of view of Dallaire, the Canadian UN officer who was understaffed, underarmed, hogtied by strict orders not to intervene in the genocide and forced to watch helplessly as atrocities took place around him. Directed by Roger Spottiswoode ("Under Fire"), it's intense and has plenty of guilt to toss around, not just at the UN but also the Americans, French, Belgians and British. The fire at the heart of the film is the strong performance of Quebec actor Roy Dupuis who, after channelling Rocket Richard, now does the same for Dallaire. The DVD includes an autographed photo of Dupuis and Dallaire but it would have been nice to see a two-disc set that included Peter Raymont's documentary version.

'The Invasion'

Even with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig headlining, this sci-fi update was unable to replicate the commercial success of earlier incarnations of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Kidman stars as a psychiatrist who teams with colleague Craig to uncover the truth about an alien menace in which humans are taken over and turned into robot-like pod people. The DVD and Blu-ray high-definition releases come with four featurettes examining how the filmmakers updated a story that has captivated Hollywood since the 1950s original. A combination disc with both standard DVD and HD DVD versions is due out Feb. 19.

'Monty Python's Life of Brian: The Immaculate Edition'

The British comedy troupe's Biblical comedy is resurrected in a new two-disc edition and Blu-ray release. The 1979 film features Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam in the tale of a nice Jewish boy whose outrageous exploits parallel those of Jesus Christ, who was born the same night in a stable just up the street. Extras include a new hour-long examination of the story, commentary with Gilliam, Idle, Jones, Cleese and Palin, five deleted scenes and a recording by the troupe of an early version of the screenplay.

TV on DVD:

"Damages: The Complete First Season" - Glenn Close, Ted Danson and Rose Byrne star in the legal drama about a ruthless attorney leading a class-action lawsuit against a corporate executive. The three-disc set has the first 13 episodes, along with commentary, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

"Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Sixth Season" - Larry David puts his foot in his mouth again (and again) as year six of his improvised comedy series arrives in a two-disc set with all 10 episodes. Extras include a background featurette and a conversation with David and co-star Susie Essman.

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