The Last Samurai
DETAILS: Now you can judge for yourself if this was Tom Cruise’s best performance yet, or if he was grossly miscast as an American soldier hired by the emperor of Japan to train the country’s first army in modern warfare — thus wiping out the last vestiges of honorable Samurai warriors. Our decision? Oscar-nominated Ken Watanabe’s performance was superior, and the Academy snubbed Cruise when they neglected to nominate him.
EXTRAS: Mixed with the usual director feedback and actor commentary is the always-interesting History Channel documentary series, “History vs. Hollywood: The Last Samurai,” as well as a neat look at the film’s weapons in “From Soldier to Samurai: The Weapons.”
The Triplets of Belleville
DETAILS:You know the phrase, “A picture is worth 1,000 words”? Well, writer/director Sylvain Chomet took it to new levels with this animated film. Practically without dialogue, Triplets (geared toward the adult set) received two Oscar nods and is a visually brilliant, satirical, humorous tale of a grandmother and her dog, Bruno, attempting to find her grandson, Champion, who has been kidnapped by the French mafia while racing in the Tour de France. Need we say more?
EXTRAS: Getting into the head of Chomet in “The Cartoon According to Writer/Director Sylvain Chomet” should be plenty, but if you want more, the making-of, behind-the-scenes, and scene-commentary bonuses are excellent, too.
DETAILS:This is a poignant film about an Irish family who has immigrated to New York in hopes of finding a better life. For the parents (Paddy Considine and Oscar-nominated Samantha Morton), it’s a chance to start over and put a past tragedy to rest; for their two daughters, it’s a chance to build a magical home. Hailed as one of the best films of 2003, In America is loosely based on the real-life experiences of director Jim Sheridan (In the Name of the Father), who co-wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay with his two daughters.
EXTRAS: Among the standouts are a commentary by Sheridan, an alternate ending, and nine deleted scenes.