After Alice [1999]

Almost by accident, these five Warner Brothers films represent key moments in Martin Scorsese's career. Three of the films debut on DVD; all have excellent presentations plus new commentaries from Scorsese. The black-and-white Who's That Knocking at My Door? (1968) was Scorsese's first film, an episodic tale of growing up in Little Italy. Mean Streets (1973) put him on the map. After taking a bit of Hollywood bait (Boxcar Bertha), mentor John Cassavetes put Scorsese straight to find his true vision, and this nervy look at New York friends who border the gangster life is the result. This new special edition has the commentary track and a big improvement in its home video presentation. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) put Scorsese in the mainstream. This tale of a single mom (Ellen Burstyn in an Oscar-winning performance) finding second chances in the arid Southwest proved the New York City kid could tell other types of stories. After Hours (1985) saved Scorsese. The drain of big movies and his unsuccessful first attempt to make The Last Temptation of Christ left the auteur doubting his talent. The nightmarish comedy starting Griffin Dunne is a love-it-or-leave-it for many Scorsese fans, but the fast shoot schedule and claustrophobic story rejuvenated Scorsese and won him Best Director kudos at Cannes. The highlight of the collection is a two-disc edition of his masterpiece, GoodFellas (1990), complete with a remastered print and a dynamite commentary by several key talents (recorded separately) including Ray Liotta, author Nicholas Pileggi, and even Robert De Niro. Even with an extra disc of three featurettes, it's the film on which we hear the least from the man himself, but perhaps all we need to know is on the screen. --Doug Thomas

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