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DVDs Based (Sorta) on a True Story

Caligula DVD The Hoax DVD cover art Troy DVD cover art

First up, let’s talk about Caligula. There’s the running line about “It’s as if Merchant Ivory did (insert genre here).” Well, this is as close to seeing “It’s as if Merchany Ivory did porn” as you’re going to get. Where else could you see full-on hardcore sex scenes and Malcolm McDowell, John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren all on the same disc? Nowhere. And while this was a hellaciously controversial film upon its release, you can decide for yourself whether or not the critics who savaged it were right. It’s being released in an unrated version, an R-rated version, and so forth, but we always try to go for the mongo version: which is this three-disc imperial edition. It’s a huge set here from General Media, including: the uncensored version remastered; a new pre-release version of the film that hasn’t been seen before; commentaries with Mirren, McDowell and an on-set writer, Ernest Volkman; interviews (including Tinto Brass, the director); scads of deleted scenes, alternate scenes, photos, behind the scenes footage; a making-of docu in two versions; and a slew of DVD-ROM extas. So if you’d like a little sex with your sword and sandals, then feel free. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Okay, next up is a story that will be familiar to anyone who has seen Orson WellesF for Fake (and if you haven’t, you really should). It’s Clifford Irving, who convinced pretty much everybody that he had gotten the task of writing a Howard Hughes biography…from Howard Hughes. There’s only one hitch–he hadn’t gotten any authorization of the sort. And yet somehow he managed to score a book deal, loads of publicity, and so forth and so on. Richard Gere is Irving (the film is based on Irving’s book–a real book–well, allegedly real) and also among the cast are Alfred Molina, Stanley Tucci, Marcia Gay Harden, Julie Delpy and Hope Davis. The disc, out from Miramax, comes with two commentaries (one with director Lasse Hallstrom and scribe William Wheeler and the other is a producers’ commentary), a making-of, deleted scenes with commentary, an extended scene and more. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Finally, we have Troy. In its Directors Cut incarnation. Now this time around you’ve got all the swords, all the sandals (none of the aformentioned porn), along with Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Sean Bean and thundering acting giants Peter O’Toole, Brian Cox and Brendan Gleeson. It’s the Trojan War, now with an extra half hour of footage and now unrated. Scads of featurettes come on this Warner Brothers release, covering cast and crew, the action sequences, production design, effects and more. You also get an intro from director Wolfgang Petersen but no commentary, which is odd. Perhaps they’re saving that for the uber-mongo edition, to hit at some point in the future. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)