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Singular Sensation 

Wednesday, Dec 19 2007
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Once

(Fox)

Easily the year's most perfect pop album — damned good movie too, the finest "musical" of the past 20 years. The disc's making-of refers to it as a "modern musical," but Once is as old-fashioned as it gets: Guy (Glen Hansard) meets Girl (Markéta Irglová), they fall in love, but never consummate their relationship — and instead record an album's worth of songs, even the titles of which are too heartbreaking for words ("Falling Slowly," "All the Way Down"). The collection's awfully restrained for one of 2007's most adored offerings: There are two commentaries, one on the filmmaking and another about the music, along with other web-related odds and sods. But in the end, all you need is the movie — this timeless, priceless, utterly astonishing piece of work that'll outlast anything else made this year.— Robert Wilonsky

The Simpsons Movie

(Fox)

After what feels like 50-odd years on the air and a deluge of summer marketing, the question isn't whether the first Simpsons movie works; it's a question of How sick of the Simpsons are you? About equal to four solid episodes, the movie manages to inject new life into the characters, but can we wrap it up now? The DVD offers a mixed bag: There are fewer deleted scenes than you'd expect, though a commentary track from the creators and stars is one of the best in recent times. Pausing the movie for minutes on end to elaborate on a point, they touch on everything from the pleasures of collaborative filmmaking to the emotional impact of a 20-year show. Rare is the commentary that actually illuminates the film it talks about. This one would make a great requiem.— Jordan Harper

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

(Warner Bros.)

By most estimations, this is the seventh version of Ridley Scott's inspirational and influential sci-fi-noir, and that doesn't even take into account the 46-minute mini-film included here that's fashioned from outtakes featuring the Harrison Ford narration grafted to the theatrical version and shorn from most subsequent versions. Dunno if this "final cut" is better than any of its predecessors, as they're all blending together — four other versions of the film are included in the four-disc box set, some of which are available in a spiffy briefcase containing knickknacks and doodads. Speaking of: There's an essential three-and-a-half-hour doc here, on which director Frank Darabont points out that, in its rush to reveal the oft-discussed, never-confirmed detail that Ford's skin-job-hunting Rick Deckard is a replicant, the filmmakers now strip from Blade Runner the only bit of humanity it had.— Wilonsky

Halloween: Unrated Director's Cut

(Weinstein)

Sleazy — the best possible kind of sleazy — auteur Rob Zombie set himself up for failure by remaking the most critically lauded film of his genre; even if he could pull it off, he wouldn't pull it off. And he didn't really pull it off. This version, featuring an interminable backstory for slasher Michael Myers, isn't even Zombie's best work, lacking the bloody humor of The Devil's Rejects. The guy's a master of design and mood, the purest auteur working in horror today. But Halloween devolves into just another teen-kill slashfest, made all the more squishy in this unrated edition. (Be warned: Also added is a very nasty rape scene.) The boyish enthusiasm that spills from Zombie on the commentary and making-of doc is hard not to admire. His movie? Not quite so hard.— Harper

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