Digital Breakdown: ‘Letters’ of power and emotion 

LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA — 2-DISC SPECIAL EDITION: It’s amazing what Clint Eastwood did with "Letters From Iwo Jima," the tale of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.

Told through the eyes of the Japanese soldiers, with Japanese dialogue and even shot in Japanese-style filmmaking, "Letters" is an instant classic film about some soldiers’ unprecedented valor of humanity and the utter terror of war.

The DVD includes a second disc exclusively with special features, such as the awesome "Red Sun, Black Sand" making-of featurette (about the film’s unique style) and "The Faces of War," about casting the film. There’s also information about marketing the movie and footage from the world premiere.

Price: $34.99.

Rent or buy: Buy.

APOCALYPTO

If you were living in a cave, you might not have heard about Mel Gibson’s racist, drunken rant. But you probably did. Yet, if that’s what’s holding you back from seeing Gibson’s graphic story about the fall of the Mayans, think again.

While dark and violent, the film is surprisingly full of emotion and power. As a director, Gibson knows what he’s doing — even if he can’t keep his mouth shut the rest of the time.

Extras include audio commentary from Gibson, material about the making of the film and one deleted scene. Based on the special features, you’d best wait for a special edition that will more than likely come out in the next year or so.

Price: $29.99.

Rent or buy: Rent.

THE O.C.: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON

The fall of "The O.C." really began with the third season, when one of the most visible actors on the show, Mischa Barton, left; her character was killed in a car accident. (In her real life, she’s also been known to have an accident or two.)

After that, the show descended into kind of a "Melrose Place" thing, rather than the interesting teen drama it was when it debuted. Featuring only 16 episodes that made up the truncated season, this DVD is strictly for fans.

It has three featurettes.

Price: $59.99.

Rent or buy: Buy — fans only.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL — THE COMPLETE SERIES

It’s too bad that Fox canceled this show before it was time for it to go. While "Kitchen Confidential" is no "Wonder Falls" or "Arrested Development," it’s still better than most current comedies on network television — "King of Queens" or "According to Jim," for example.

The show is about behind-the-scenes activities at a hip restaurant in New York. Featuring Bradley Cooper from "Alias" and Nicholas Brendon from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the cast is strong and the comedy good. The show should have had a longer run. The DVD includes all 13 episodes.

Because there isn’t much value to owning it, it’s a good rental.

Price: $29.98.

Rent or buy: Rent.

THE HARD EASY

HBO not only produces really good series; it makes some really good movies, as well. "The Hard Easy" is one of them.

It’s about two shady gentlemen who have a similar problem — they owe a lot of money and have no way to pay it off. After they’re approached by thieves who ask them to take part in a bank robbery to earn some bucks, they end up getting caught up in a criminal underworld and find themselves wondering if they’ll survive.

This decent film has a nice cast: David Boreanaz, Henry Thomas, Nick Lachey (yes, that Nick Lachey) and Bruce Dern.

Price: $19.98.

Rent or buy: A good rental.

Other DVDs coming out Tuesday: "Mistress of Spices," "The Italian," "The Shadow Walkers," "Alone With Her," "The Mad," "Roots: 30th Anniversary Special Edition," "Kyle XY — The Complete First Season Declassified," "Venus," "Airwolf: Season Three."

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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