Now in Stores: Scarface (Anniversary Edition), Bend It Like Beckham, Nowhere in Africa and Warner Classics
Scarface (Anniversary Edition) When Al Pacino whipped out a gun and shouted "Say hello to my little friend," who knew he'd be influencing bad boys of tomorrow?
"I've watched this movie 63 times," says Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, who joins Snoop Dog, Jay-Z and other notorious bad boys in Def Jam Presents: Origins of a Hip-Hop Classic, one of five featurettes offered in this 20th anniversary edition of Scarface.
In its day, the tale of Cuban immigrant Tony Montana's reign as Florida's cocaine king pushed the limits on R-rated blood and gore, with the f-word being uttered a then-record 206 times.
While Scarface might have been a mixed success in its initial release, the gangster flick has gone on to become one of the top 10 all-time cult movie hits, according to Entertainment Weekly, and the new edition seeks to offer some perspective.
"Montana is an antihero with whom contemporary kids can identify," says director Brian De Palma, explaining Scarface's lasting influence.
"He's about greed, power and self-destruction in the land of opportunity," says De Palma. "The movie has become the On the Waterfront of this generation — and Pacino is their Brando."
Scarface was an update of a 1932 film based on Al Capone. Screenwriter Oliver Stone says that he found himself so entrenched in the Miami drug scene while researching the script that he had to flee to Paris for safety.
Reflecting on the cultural significance of Scarface, it also bears mentioning what it meant to the career of Michelle Pfeiffer, who had only been known for her performance in the legendary stinker Grease 2. After a turn as Montana's cocaine-addled trophy bride, she went on to earn three Oscar nominations.
The best laugh in this package might be a montage contrasting the cinematic release with the sanitized TV version, wherein an immigration officer asks Montana, "Where'd you get the beauty scar, tough guy? Eating pineapple?"
Bend It Like Beckham If you're craving an extra dose of motherly criticism, you'll find it in the DVD release of Bend It Like Beckham, this year's answer to My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
This feel-good movie is the story of Jess Bharma, who is being raised by her conservative Indian parents to cook well, find a husband and become a homemaker. But this British teenager dreams of becoming a pro soccer player, just like her inspiration, football star David Beckham.
"If he's so special, why doesn't that spicy girl of his do something about his hair?" Jess's mother says, in a tirade over the celebrity athlete and his wife, Victoria, formerly Posh Spice.
It's worth noting that Bend It Like Beckham comes out on DVD following the collapse of professional women's soccer in America. Nevertheless, the film hasn't lost its humor, nor does British-born writer-director Gurinder Chadha at all sacrifice her Indian heritage, calling the movie "semi-autobiographical."
In a 14-minute featurette, "Who Wants to Cook Aloo Gobi?," Chadha laughs through her attempt to cook a traditional Indian meal, as her mother and aunt chide her to peel potatoes.
The film's big wedding sequence is largely filled out by her family, who have clearly accepted that she's not a stay-at-home mom.
Bend It Like Beckham also marks the first big role for Parminder K. Nagra, 25, and Kiera Knightley, 18. Knightly has since gone on to Pirates of the Caribbean, while Nagra has landed a role on E.R.. Soccer certainly paid off for these ladies, and you can see how hard they trained in an accompanying documentary.
Now they're both Hollywood players, and they're proving they've got game.
Nowhere In Africa An upper-class Jewish family escapes Nazi Germany by hiding in Kenya, where they toil on desolate farms, only to find, a decade later, that they're more African than they are German or Jewish. Where is their home? They don't know.
Nowhere in Africa, based on Stephanie Zweig's autobiographical novel, won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The DVD adds the texture of Zweig's commentary, as she recounts her family's wartime saga showing photos of herself as a 5-year-old among Kenyan children.
Director Caroline Link shot the movie on location, with dialogue in German and Swahili, to capture the raw beauty of the land and frightening alienation of a story told largely through the eyes of Zweig as a child, giving it a perspective reminiscent to The Diary of Anne Frank.
Warner Legends Collection: Flynn, Cagney, & Bogart
Were the good old days really that good? Well, if Errol Flynn's swashbuckling wasn't worth grandma and grandpa's nickel ticket in 1938, at least they got to watch a newsreel and a Bugs Bunny cartoon at no extra cost.
Warner Legends is now recreating old time Hollywood with classic releases packaged just as they were when they were shown in the theaters.
Before you settle in for The Adventures of Robin Hood on Warner's "Night at the Movies" edition, you've already seen a performance by Freddie Rich and his Orchestra, as well as a black-and-white report on the latest in tank technology and the vintage cartoon "Katnip Kollege." By the time Flynn arrives in technicolor green tights, you might start wondering whether F.D.R. is going to run for a third term.
Warner has given similar treatment to James Cagney's Yankee Doodle Dandy and Humphrey Bogart's Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Put in an original context, Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian has extra oomph. Yankee Doodle Dandy, from 1942, includes a propaganda film starring Ronald Reagan narrating the derring-do of American servicemen.
Each film is available in two-disc sets, and you'll be happy to know, even as far back as 1938, there were blooper reels, outtakes and early screen tests, almost as if Cagney, Bogart and Flynn anticipated the future importance of home theater and the virtues of packing DVDs with extra goodies.