Titanic: Special Collector's Edition (Paramount Home Video)
Loved and loathed in equal measure, Titanic nonetheless is among the few modern-day movies deserving of lavish treatment; this boxed set, three discs with three hours of new stuff, feels almost as big a production as the feature itself. Writer-director James Cameron, never one to let well enough alone, includes some 45 minutes' worth of deleted scenes, over which he says plenty without revealing much. (He need not say the obvious, which is that they were deleted for a reason: They stall the story, which needs no help dawdling.) The alternative ending is a revelation -- "Brock's Epiphany," to be precise, a summation of Bill Paxton's character that ties up all the loose ends in far too tidy a fashion and drags out the movie for an extra 10 minutes in the modern day. The DVD, like your heart, will go on. And on. And on. -- Robert Wilonsky
Rize (Lions Gate)
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Dave LaChappelle (the music-video director and photographer, not the "La"-less comedian) has taken the invigorating L.A. dances of krumping and clowning (two related, hyperkinetic styles), and burdened them with stereotypes and 30 minutes of padding in this flabby, overpraised documentary. LaChappelle wants to see these dancing teens as "spiritual" so badly, he intercuts the dancing with every "black mystic" cliché outside of an overweight woman singing "Amazing Grace" and the dances of tribal Africa. Oh, wait; he puts both into the film. The dancing? It's great (especially during the contest that should have been the focus of the film). Watch the extended dance sequences in the extras section -- or even try to master the moves with the slow-motion "dance steps" section. Just don't sing "Amazing Grace" while you do it. -- Jordan Harper Ken Burns American Lives (PBS Home Video)
Ken Burns is the master of middlebrow, able to educate Americans by mixing just the right ratio of knowledge and entertainment into his documentaries. This seven-disc, 20-plus-hour set of Burns' look at the lives of such stalwarts as Thomas Jefferson, Mark Twain, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Susan B. Anthony is wholesome and satisfying as oatmeal. The extras are blah (the same two documentaries on Burns are included on each disc, along with a "making of" each film), and watching too many in a row is like being locked in civics class. But stretched out over the winter, this set makes a good substitute for channel surfing. And it's good for you! -- Harper
The Wizard of Oz: Three-Disc Collector's Edition (Warner Home Video)
By my count, this is the third Oz release on DVD, the most recent being a double-disc collection from which many of this offering's offerings come, including a doc on its impressive restoration. (Oz still is, and may always be, the most beautiful movie ever made.) Some of the new additions are disposable trinkets: a folder of shiny pics from the movie, another envelope filled with reproduced invites and tickets to the premiere (uh . . . wow?), and other detritus for fetishists only. But the third disc, which should have been available as a stand-alone for those who have the two-DVD set, is essential viewing: Aside from a doc on L. Frank Baum, there are five earlier incarnations of Oz, including the restored (and vaguely disturbing) 1925 version, starring Oliver Hardy as the Tin Woodman and Ted Eshbaugh's hardly seen 1933 Technicolor cartoon, the first production to depict Kansas in black-and-white and Oz in color. -- Wilonsky