``THE LIBERTINE" (2005)
In making this muddled, desperate-to-scandalize drama set in Restoration England, Johnny Depp teams with John Malkovich -- an actor who notched one of his career highs sexing up gilded period drama in ``Dangerous Liaisons." Yet Malkovich, who produced the slow-to-release film, seems to bring none of that experience to bear here. Depp plays John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester and a surly hanger-on of Malkovich's Charles II -- and a figure renowned for speaking whatever was on his mind, much of it wince-inducingly hardcore. Directly addressing viewers in director Laurence Dunmore's intriguingly stylized prologue, Depp warns us that we won't like him, and he's right. Wilmot antagonizes the king by staging a royal command pageant that's just bizarre in its raunchiness; he uncharacteristically pursues a romance with a struggling actress (Samantha Morton) that plays as passionless; and then, ugh, torturously gets his syphilitic just desserts. What's not to like? Plenty.
Extras: Commentary by Dunmore, who moved from commercials to features with ``Libertine" -- making one feel that writer Stephen Jeffreys might have offered greater insight. (
``DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIRST SERIES" (2005)
All but dormant since the late '80s, the storied British sci-fi franchise gets a makeover in this new series -- an offering that's decidedly hipper than what came before, but still slightly cheesy by American standards. (The show has been aptly slotted into the Sci-Fi Channel lineup stateside.) As the regenerated time-hopping hero, Christopher Eccleston (``28 Days Later") mixes mischievousness with, when opportunity allows, a raging intensity of the spittle-off-the-lips variety. Ultimately, that's just what's needed to at least partly legitimize showdowns with classic Who villains like the robotic Dalek, a design that still feels like a Diaper Genie tricked out at a hardware store.
Extras: The five-disc set is long on commentary, with multi-participant tracks on each of the 13 episodes. What's lacking is much from Eccleston, who weighs in primarily through a morning talk show appearance -- and who bailed from the series after the first episode aired in the UK. Interview uh-oh moment: when Eccleston admits that he wasn't much of a Doctor Who fan, but was eager to work with showrunner Russell T. Davies (``Queer as Folk"). The first season was at that point already in the can; replacement David Tennant appears in a Christmas special included in the set. (BBC, $99.98)
Though it be mad, there's method in it
Raul Ruiz is best known for his comic-absurdist-tragic adaptation of Proust 's ``Time Regained ." His latest film, ``Ce jour-là ," is as confusing as its predecessor about its genre allegiances. Is it a violent thriller? The rapidly accumulating pile of dead bodies would seem to say so. A film about corporate espionage? There are enough shady maneuverings and Fortune 500 jargon to fill three movies. Or is it a comedy? My money is on the last, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
Like a slapstick Hitchcock or Claude Chabrol in one of his jollier knockabout modes, Ruiz is interested in reaching toward an amoral, childlike pleasure in chaos and disorder. Livia (Elsa Zylberstein ), the mentally unstable daughter of wealthy Swiss financier Harald (Michel Piccoli ), is convinced that this day will be the best of her life. Her family's well-appointed villa is thrown into chaos with the arrival of escaped mental patient Pointpoirot (Bernard Giraudeau) , who obsessively checks his blood-sugar levels and fends off any and all potential attackers with a blood-smeared hammer and a sheathed knife. With all the violence being perpetuated, why does Livia insist on referring to everyone as an angel? And why does she look so happy?
Ruiz loves panning to reveal previously hidden presences, and extreme close-ups of everything from weapons to bites of food impaled on forks, and this combination of well-managed revelation and obfuscation bespeaks his love for carefully arranged puzzles. More than anything, though, this puzzle is simply absurd: The dead keep springing back to life, and Pointpoirot likes to mutter to himself `` That wasn't me" when one or another character meets his maker.
``Ce jour-là" is fond of its own lack of seriousness, preferring madness and indeterminacy to logic and reason. By the end of the film, we have received copious explanation of the circumstances but have been assiduously kept from anything that smacks of understanding. Ruiz prefers it that way. (Kino Video, $29.95)
Also this week
As Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones , who drowned under still-mysterious circumstances in 1969, Leo Gregory looks like David Spade in a fright wig. Jones had the knack of seeming simultaneously innocent and depraved, and Gregory's able only to handle the latter part of that equation.
Extras: Commentary by director Stephen Woolley ; deleted scenes; ``making of" feature; trailer. (Universal, $19.98)
``MARILYN HOTCHKISS BALLROOM DANCING AND CHARM SCHOOL" (2006)
A bunch of sad sacks, including Donnie Wahlberg , Sonia Braga , and Marisa Tomei , take dance lessons in hopes of Lindy Hopping their troubles away. The movie means no harm, but it's been simultaneously overwritten and underdirected by Randall Miller.
Extras: Commentary track; short film that led to the feature. (
``IMAGINE ME & YOU" (2006)
Piper Perabo (``Cheaper by the Dozen") stars as a bride whose blush isn't for her groom but Lena Headey (``The Brothers Grimm"), a woman she meets on her way down the aisle. More forced-cute than contempo-enlightened. With Matthew Goode (``Match Point").
Extras: Commentary by writer-director Ol Parker; deleted scenes; director and cast Q&A. (Fox, $27.98; available now)
``WE JAM ECONO: THE STORY OF THE MINUTEMEN" (2005)
The Minutemen were the most interesting, humorous, and ideologically energized band to emerge from the California punk rock scene of the early '80s. Tim Irwin's documentary chronicles the band's formation, career, and collapse with worshipful attention. Live footage, talking head, live footage, another talking head gives a rather didactic rhythm to the project. On the other hand, the filmmakers have assembled a remarkable cast of voices, including Henry Rollins, Flea, and Thurston Moore.
Extras: Deleted scenes and interviews; extensive live performance footage; liner - note booklet. (Plexifilm, $24.98; available now)
``COPS VS. THUGS" (1975)
Japanese genre favorite Kinji Fukasaku (``Battle Royale") directs this yakuza potboiler with the terrifically blunt title. Fukasaku's ``Yakuza Graveyard" also gets a reissue. (Kino, $24.95 each; available now)
``10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA" (2006)
Well, give the History Channel credit for daring to bypass the obvious with this collection of 10 hourlong documentaries. Pearl Harbor and Sept. 11 would certainly seem to meet the titular definition -- yet the series instead makes a case for such episodes as Einstein's call to launch the Manhattan Project. Compelling work by notable filmmakers.
Extras: Series production featurette; documentarian bios. (A&E, $39.95)
``CHARLIE'S ANGELS": THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON (1978-79)
Sabrina, Kelly, and Kris do Vegas, Farrah Fawcett checks in on a couple of cases, and the series delivers an episode whose title says it all: ``Disco Angels." (Sony, $49.95)
Capsules are written by Globe correspondent Tom Russo, and titles are in stores Tuesday unless otherwise specified.