Picks and Pans Review: New on DVD

UPDATED 02/14/2005 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 02/14/2005 at 01:00 AM EST

Ray ($29.98)
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With a transcendent performance as Ray Charles, Jamie Foxx nails the role of a lifetime in this finely tuned biopic, released on DVD in the wake of its six Oscar nominations (including Best Picture, Director and Actor).

Extras: Educational commentary from director Taylor Hackford, who points out where the film takes liberties with Charles's real life; affecting deleted scenes (best viewed individually, as they lose potency when included in the DVD's alternate "extended" version of the film); must-see preproduction footage of Charles, who died last year, exuberantly proclaiming "I think the boy got it!" as he teaches Foxx to play "Mess Around." (PG-13)

Shall We Dance? ($29.99)
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Richard Gere takes up dance lessons after becoming transfixed by instructor Jennifer Lopez. The 1996 Japanese original (also newly available on DVD) glided along gracefully, but this overly broad, chemistry-deficient remake has two left feet.

Extras: Fun glimpses of the actors learning their choreography and bemoaning post-rehearsal soreness; lively excised dance numbers featuring the supporting cast, which prove far more energetic than any sequences in the final cut. (PG-13)

The Notebook ($27.95)

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James Garner reads a tale of star-crossed 1940s South Carolina lovebirds to an Alzheimer's-afflicted Gena Rowlands in this slow-as-molasses weepie. Only Garner's understated turn rises above the sugary surroundings.

Extras: Mildly diverting making-of featurettes; genial commentary from director Nick Cassavetes, who makes a valiant (though unsuccessful) attempt to rebut criticism that his film is "schmaltzy." (PG-13)

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