Going blank again - Page 2

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There are problems, mainly with the pacing of Andrew's healing process, which for a while is enjoyably fractional and then starts to snowball toward film's end – why are endings so perilous in moviemaking? The last few minutes also bear the inorganic stench of the test screening, whether because there was one, or because of some other external or internal pressure. Nothing much clears the air on that point in the DVD version's deleted scenes, or the commentary by Braff and Portman. However, the latter offering is charming and droll like the film itself, and pleasantly informative – alongside the usual statements of the obvious and uncomfortable attempts to get through the credits, Braff offers blow-by-blow allusions to autobiographical detail, visual quoting, and anecdotes borrowed from the lives of f riends. O ther treats include your standard making-of doc, a restrained collection of bloopers, and more charming commentary by Braff, D.P. Lawrence Sher, editor Myron Kerstein, and production designer Judy Becker, who gets the lion's share of Braff's elated praise. In the end, the latter is one of the nicest elements of the extras: Braff's pleased excitement about the film he and the others have made proves a sweet antidote to any wash of cross-marketing considered necessary to keep the cult's membership numbers up. (Lynn Rapoport)

 
Chop shop

Frankly, I've always been partial to Freddy. But the five-disc DVD collection Friday the 13th: From Crystal Lake to Manhattan (Paramount Home Video, $79.99) – dubbed the "ultimate edition," though you'll have to shell out separately for Jason Goes to Hell and Jason X – has given me a new appreciation for the man behind the hockey mask. A string of unlucky Fridays are charted in the series' first eight entries (1980 to 1989), with future stars like Kevin Bacon and Tony Goldwyn, plu s countless unknowns, battling the cranky ex-camper. Parts one and two are fairly similar, though nothing in any future Friday would ever best Betsy Palmer's turn as Jason's maniacal mama.  Friday the 13th: Part Three is notable for its plunge into 3-D (coming atcha: snakes, sproi ng-ing eyebal ls, assorted weaponry), while the fourth film (ahem, The Final Chapter) boasts a herky-jerky dancing Crispin Glover and a monster mask-obsessed Corey Feldman. Parts five (A New Beginning), six (Jason Lives), and seven (The New Blood) are less distinguished, though the films bust out grave robbings, troubled youths, in-jokes (especially part seven), and inevitably at least one scene where Jason crashes through a wall like the Kool-Aid Man. Part eight (Jason Takes Manhattan) flaunts the best title, though most of the flick takes place at sea – the "money shot" of Mr. Voorhees stalking through Times Square notwithstanding.

Half of the films come with individual commentaries; the set also packs a bonus DVD with extras. Each film gets a featurette with directors, makeup experts like the great Tom Savini, and where-are-they-now cast members (lots of Feldman) enthusiastically reflecting on their Friday experiences. Fun trivia that emerges: the origins of Friday's signature sound motif; the fake shooting titles that were often employed to keep rabid Friday fans at bay; and the director of Jason Lives still keeps Jason's prop tombstone in his backyard, to the horror of at least one meter reader. (Cheryl Eddy)

 
Heartbreak motel