"The Bourne Identity"
Matt Damon, Franka Potente
When directors do commentary tracks for the DVD edition of their movies, they should take the time to provide commentary on deleted scenes and alternate openings and endings. Doug Liman, the savvy, hip director of this acclaimed adaptation of Robert Ludlum's spy thriller, doesn't offer any explanations about why he cut certain scenes in the movie starring Damon as a super spy with amnesia, or why he reshot the ending. In fact, the alternate ending that appears on the disc is more poignant and romantic than the finale of the finished product.
The serviceable digital edition also includes an average "making of" documentary, production notes, a music video, talent files, the trailer, several interactive games on the DVD-ROM and insight from Liman, who explains that he jettisoned most of the plot from Ludlum's novel and fashioned a new one to reflect his liberal political leanings.
Aaron Stanford, Sigourney Weaver
Director Gary Winick shot this coming-of-age comedy on high-definition video in just 14 days. He really shouldn't have bothered. It's a comedy without many laughs. Stanford plays a bright 15-year-old boy who is madly in love with his beautiful, brainy stepmother (Weaver). And when he comes home for Thanksgiving, he's determined to let her know his feelings. Meanwhile, his stepmother's best friend (Bebe Neuwirth) has a crush on him. John Ritter does provide a few chuckles as the perplexed father.
Winick's commentary is more entertaining than the film. He has no qualms about describing all of the technical mistakes or pointing out every scene he reshot after "Tadpole" premiered last January at the Sundance Film Festival.
"Ordinary Decent Criminal"
Kevin Spacey, Linda Fiorentino
Talk about truth in advertising. The video and DVD box of this 1998 Irish crime drama, which was never released theatrically in America, advertises that the film stars Oscar winner Spacey, Fiorentino and red-hot Irish actor Colin Farrell. Farrell, though, doesn't have much of a part at all; his name isn't even listed in the opening credits. But Miramax wanted to cash in on his rising star.
This pedestrian movie casts Spacey as an Irish Robin Hood. Farrell plays one of Spacey's gang and only has a few lines of dialogue. And his performance is as forgettable as this film.
"The American Friend"
Dennis Hopper, Bruno Ganz
Anchor Bay, $25
Wim Wenders ("The Buena Vista Social Club") directed this sterling 1977 adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's thriller "Ripley's Game." Thomas Ripley is the charming but sociopathic character the novelist introduced in "The Talented Mr. Ripley" and he was personified on screen by Alain Delon in "Purple Noon" and Matt Damon in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." In this thriller, Dennis Hopper is perfectly cast as the mysterious Ripley who ensnares an innocent picture framer (Ganz) in his tangled web of intrigue. The digital edition features several deleted scenes and marvelous commentary from the soft-spoken director.
Anchor Bay also has released the DVDs of two of Wenders' documentaries ($25 each), replete with commentary from the director: 1980's "Lightning Over Water" and 1989's "A Notebook on Clothes and Cities."
-- Susan King