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The Station Agent

Miramax
Movie A
Special Features B
DVD Geek Factor 7 (out of 10)

One of last year's greatest surprises. Peter Dinklage is terrific as Finbar, a dwarf who inherits a deserted train station in New Jersey and finds friendship despite his desire to pursue a life of eternal loneliness. Written and directed by Tom McCarthy, it's a fantastic testament to the temptations of isolationism and the importance of friendships. When Finbar moves into his new train depot home, a nosy neighbor running a coffee stand (a funny Bobby Cannavale) forces his companionship upon him. Finbar's cold exterior melts a bit, allowing him to allow others into his life and permitting himself to care for people. This, of course, brings moments of true pain and misery, but Finbar overcomes the difficulties to find happiness and the ability to trust others.

The humor is rich and plentiful, with all of the performers generating genuine warmth. The magical Patricia Clarkson nails every moment as Olivia, a confused woman dealing with trauma and fighting to remain grounded. There should've been some acting Oscar nominations thrown at this one but, alas, it was ignored. When you see this one sitting on the store shelf or rental rack next to Predator 2 or BASEketball, go ahead and pick it up.

Special Features: McCarthy, Dinklage, Cannavale and Clarkson provide a commentary as winning as the film. They provide that rare group commentary that treats the film with respect and doesn't go off on tangents that ignore the work. Some deleted scenes complete with director and actor commentary are short but worthy of viewing.


Reno 911! The Complete First Season

Paramount
Show A-
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

While it isn't really shot in Reno, there's something very Reno about this hilarious series dealing with a hapless police department in the Biggest Little City in the World. Featuring former members of comedy troupe The State, this show combines with the likes of The Chappelle Show, South Park, and Aqua Teen Hunger Force to make Comedy Central the current king of television comedy. The show spoofs the likes of reality shows like Cops! and the police are as dirty as they are funny. Whether they are betting a kid that he can't jump his bicycle from one building's roof to another or setting recently apprehended citizens free to fight because cameras missed them the first time, this is the funniest police force since Police Squad!

Special Features: All 14 episodes from the first season are on the discs. Some alternate scenes and cast commentary are entertaining, but the true joy comes from simply watching the shows.


Field of Dreams: Two Disc Anniversary Edition

Universal
Movie A-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 5 (out of 10)

Because I love both baseball and my daddy, I'm a big sucker for this movie. When a small-time Iowa farmer hears voices in his corn field, he builds a baseball diamond on his property--the rest is movie history. Perhaps a bit overly sentimental and silly at times, that's no bother for those who fall under its spell. Kevin Costner does some of his most charming work in this movie, as does James Earl Jones, whom the author Costner kidnaps and takes to a baseball game. Ray Liotta makes you feel pissed off that Shoeless Joe Jackson can't get into the Hall of Fame, and Burt Lancaster makes his final movie appearance. A sports movie classic.

Special Features: The two disc set is a major upgrade over the prior DVD version. Costner sits down with George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Johnny Bench for a rewarding discussion about the film. Deleted scenes plus documentaries on the still-existing baseball field, baseball-stadium trivia and director commentary make this a must-have for baseball aficionados.


Saving Private Ryan: D-Day 60th Anniversary Edition

Dreamworks
Movie A
Special Features B+
DVD GEEK FACTOR 7 (out of 10)

After nearly killing yourself watching Spielberg's latest misfire, The Terminal, run out and get this movie as a reminder of what a terrific director he is. This is perhaps the greatest World War II film ever made, complete with a Tom Hanks performance that is beyond the greatness of the ones he actually won Oscars for. The D-Day invasion stands as one of the better sequences Spielberg has put to film. Actually, the same can be said for most of this movie, a tremendous achievement on all fronts. It still amazes me that Shakespeare in Love beat this one out for Best Picture.

Special Features: The two disc set contains excellent production footage, with everything from the staging of D-Day to the rigorous boot camp the actors had to attend. Also available in The WWII Collection, which includes two additional documentary discs, Price for Peace and Shooting War.

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