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Directors Attracted to Life’s Dark Side

British director Adrian Lyne has never shied away from controversy. In fact, he seems to court it with such erotic, controversial films as “9 1/2 Weeks,” “Fatal Attraction” and “Indecent Proposal.” Not only did these films become box office hits, their subject matter also made them cultural phenomena.

This week, Paramount has released special editions of 1987’s “Fatal Attraction” and 1992’s “Indecent Proposal” ($25 each).

“Fatal Attraction,” which was nominated for six Oscars, including best picture, caused a media storm when it was released. Glenn Close stars as a beautiful but definitely psychotic associate editor for a publishing house who has an affair with a married attorney (Michael Douglas). When he tries to extricate himself from the relationship, she refuses to let him go. Anne Archer also stars as Douglas’ unsuspecting wife.

The splendid DVD features new interviews with Lyne, Douglas, Close, Archer, producers Stanley Jaffe and Sherry Lansing, and writer Nicholas Meyer, who worked on James Dearden’s original script. Lansing and Jaffe discuss the genesis of the project--a short film by Dearden--and Lyne, Douglas and Close discuss the fact that Close was not the first choice for the role. She had previously played more wholesome heroines and wasn’t considered a “sexy” actress. But after reading Dearden’s script, Close pursued the role and won everyone over when she and Douglas performed a pivotal scene together in her audition.

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Also included in the new documentary is a look at the controversy surrounding the original ending of the movie. When the film was tested, audiences weren’t satisfied and wanted more of a revenge scenario. Close admits she fought against reshooting for two weeks before giving in and agreeing to do the more violent and cathartic ending.

Rounding out the disc are informative featurettes on the cultural impact of the film and its visual design, rehearsal footage involving Close and Douglas, and a perceptive commentary track with the director.

Lyne also supplies the commentary for “Indecent Proposal,” an often unintentionally funny drama about a couple (Demi Moore and Woody Harrelson) with money problems who go to Las Vegas in hopes of improving their financial luck. When they lose most of their money, a handsome, single billionaire (Robert Redford) offers them a cool $1 million if he can spend the night with Moore.

Among the interesting tidbits Lyne serves up: The sexy black dress Moore wears in the film was altered 17 times because the actress didn’t like the way it fit. In the case of Redford, Lyne says that no one on film walks quite like he does, describing his gait as “ramrod straight.”

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He also points out that he always knew when Redford had arrived on the set because the cast and crew would fall into a hush.

Be on the lookout for a quite pudgy Billy Bob Thornton in a small part as a gambler who engages Harrelson in a brief but funny conversation.

On the digital edition of Joel and Ethan Coen’s quirky dark comedy “The Man Who Wasn’t There” (USA, $27), they jokingly describe the now gaunt Thornton as resembling Abraham Lincoln. Thornton plays a laconic barber named Ed Crane who lives in a small Northern California town, circa 1949. When a shyster (Jon Polito) convinces Ed to invest in his new dry-cleaning business, Ed decides to blackmail his wife’s (Frances McDormand) married lover (James Gandolfini). But Ed’s best-laid plans go murderously awry.

The DVD includes a “making of” documentary and an interview with Roger Deakins, who supplied the gorgeous, Oscar-nominated, black-and-white cinematography. There are some very bizarre deleted scenes that consist mainly of hairstyles and a plate of salad.

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“The Man Who Wasn’t There” also marks the first time the Coen brothers do an audio commentary. The siblings, with their off-kilter view of the world, are a hoot.

Named the best American movie of 2001 by the New Yorker, the thriller “The Deep End” arrives this week on DVD (Fox, $30). Tilda Swinton and Goran Visnjic star in this scintillating tale of blackmail, murder and redemption. The serviceable DVD includes a minor featurette, a still gallery, trailers, an informative “Anatomy of a Scene” special that aired on the Sundance Channel, and decent commentary from David Siegel and Scott McGehee, who wrote, produced and directed the indie hit.

Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Robert Sean Leonard star in “Tape” (Lions Gate, $25), Richard Linklater’s fascinating character study about three former high school friends who come together in a shabby hotel room 10 years after graduation and end up playing out unresolved problems. The film reunites Hawke and Leonard, who appeared together in 1989’s “Dead Poets Society.”

Linklater and Hawke supply the perceptive commentary on the digital edition of the low-budget film, which was shot on high-definition video in just six days.

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In his audio commentary for the strained Martin Lawrence comedy “Black Knight” (Fox, $27), director Gil Junger actually thanks the studio and the producers for giving him the job.

Best known as a sitcom director, Junger had previously directed only one feature, the low-budget 1999 teen comedy “Ten Things I Hate About You.”

The DVD also includes Lawrence talking about two of his scenes in the film, deleted scenes with commentary from Junger--one excised sequence features tennis champ Serena Williams--unfunny outtakes, storyboards, a short interview with Paula Abdul, who choreographed the film, and a look at the film’s production design.

The thriller “Domestic Disturbance” is just the latest in a series of unsatisfactory vehicles for star John Travolta. In this uninspired chiller, he plays a father who must protect his son from his evil stepfather. Teri Polo, Vince Vaughn and a scene-stealing Steve Buscemi star.

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The digital edition (Paramount, $30) includes six deleted scenes with an introduction from veteran director Harold Becker, as well as his passable audio commentary.

If you love films that feature brutal fight sequences, you’ll want to check out “Ultimate Fights” (Universal, $15 for VHS, $20 for DVD), a collection of 16 fight scenes from such films as “Gladiator,” “Scarface,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “They Live!” and “Legend of the Drunken Master.”

The digital version includes a featurette with fight choreographer James Lew on how to stage your own movie fight; audio commentary with Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, an interactive game and fun facts about each scene.


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