Originally created 09/05/97

Video watch

Here is a list of what's new in video stores this weekend and a partial schedule of what's coming on video. Release dates are subject to change.

JUST OUT: Phenomenon, Keys to Tulsa.

TUESDAY: Kolya, Anna Karenina, McHale's Navy, The Assassination File, Casper: A Spirited Beginning, Asteroid, Hidden in America.

SEPT. 16: Father's Day, The Saint, The Garden of Finzi-Continis, Grind, The Daytrippers, Mandela.

SEPT. 23: The English Patient, Commandments, Warriors of Virtue, Some Mother's Son, Selena.

SEPT. 30: Liar Liar, B.A.P.S, The Quiet Room, Volcano, Sprung.

Video reviews

Here are reviews from Roger Ebert and other critics of some recent video releases:

PHENOMENON (**, PG) - John Travolta is transformed into a genius on his 37th birthday, becoming an inspiration to some, prey to others and a pariah to his townsfolk. With Kyra Sedgwick, Robert Duvall and Forest Whitaker.

KEYS TO TULSA (**, R) - Eric Stoltz stars as a newspaper movie critic in a noirish, post-Tarantino number. The movie drifts aimlessly, suspenselessly, and uses the vernacular of the genre - blackmail, guns, seedy motels, femme fatales and a millionaire's nasty secret - to no purpose whatsoever.

INVENTING THE ABBOTTS (***, R) - Two intensely competitive working-class brothers vie for the attentions of three rich sisters in a small Illinois town during the 1950s. Involving melodrama made urgent by the performances of Joaquin Phoenix and Liv Tyler.

LOVE JONES (***, R) - The Picasso of pick-up artists meets his match in a monosyllabic Maya Angelou. Larenz Tate and Nia Long star as Chicago buppies - he's a novelist, she's a photographer - who meet, date and pretend they're not serious in this engaging romance written and directed by Theodore Witcher.

ROSEWOOD (**1/2 , R) - John Singleton's feverish chronicle of the 1923 tragedy in central Florida where rampaging shantytown whites burned down a neighboring black village and arbitrarily lynched some of its residents. The ambition of this epic vastly exceeds its flat-footed execution, but the film is fortunate in the performances by Jon Voight and Esther Rolle.

DANTE'S PEAK (**1/2 , PG-13) - A pretty mountain town is threatened by a volcanic eruption. A scientist (Pierce Brosnan) wants to raise a warning but is silenced by his boss, who doesn't want to cause unnecessary alarm. Mr. Brosnan and the mayor (Linda Hamilton) become friends and end up sharing a grueling ordeal as the mountain explodes. Skillful special effects, good acting, but the formula is so familiar that the movie loses impact.

SUBURBIA (***1/2 , R) - Leaning against the wall of a minimart in the suburban desolation of a strip mall, a group of slacker friends wait for the arrival of their high school classmate, who is now a rock star. Their own lives are on hold; aimlessness is their lifestyle. Working from a stage play by Eric Bogosian, director Richard Linklater creates a certain poetry from alienation and despair.

CATS DON'T DANCE (***, G) - An animated feature with a plot right out of the golden age of Hollywood musicals: A song and dance cat from Kokomo catches the bus to Hollywood, finds out jobs for animals are hard to get and decides to put on a show. With voices by Scott Bakula, Jasmine Guy, George Kennedy and John Rhys-Davies, and songs by Randy Newman (some sung by Natalie Cole). The late Gene Kelly is credited with the choreography. Kids may find the Hollywood period details unfamiliar, but it's bright, cute and fun.

THE DEVIL'S OWN (***1/2 , R) - A smart, taut thriller about an IRA terrorist unwittingly befriended by an upright New York City cop, with Brad Pitt as the terrorist, Harrison Ford as the cop and some smart, effective direction from veteran filmmaker Alan J. Pakula.

EVERYONE SAYS I LOVE YOU (****, R) - There's not a wrong note in Woody Allen's enchanted musical comedy, which is featherweight and then sometimes profound. Mr. Allen romances Julia Roberts in Venice and Goldie Hawn (as an ex-wife) in Paris, while Edward Norton woos Drew Barrymore in New York. The large and luminous cast also includes Alan Alda, Tim Roth, Lucas Haas and Natalie Portman, who all (except Ms. Barrymore) sing great pop standards in their own voices. Gentle, audacious, smart, sentimental: a glowing experience.

THAT DARN CAT (PG) Augusta, Edgefield and environs serve as a backdrop for this remake of the 1965 Disney hit, with Christina Ricci and Doug E. Doug in the starring roles. And, of course, there's Elvis the cat, as the title character.

JUNGLE 2 JUNGLE (*, PG) Tim Allen stars as a broker who discovers he has a 13-year-old son, raised by his estranged wife (JoBeth Williams) in the Amazon. He brings the kid back to New York, where the "fish out of water" plot wheezes along without inspiration, interest or comedy.

SLING BLADE (***1/2 , R) An extraordinary performance of an extraordinary character: Billy Bob Thornton plays Karl, a retarded man who killed his mother when he was a child because he misinterpreted a situation. Now middleaged, he has been released from a state institution and is taken in by a woman (Natalie Canerday) and her young son. She has an abusive boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam) and an understanding gay boss (John Ritter). And then there is Karl, who watches and tries to understand. Mr. Thornton also wrote and directed; the result is a movie of great power and originality.

HAMLET (****, PG-13) Kenneth Branagh's rich, ambitious full-length version of Shakespeare's masterpiece glows with energy and passion. And by including many scenes that are usually cut, he creates more revealing portraits of the king-murderer Claudius (Derek Jacobi) and the process of court intrigue. Mr. Branagh plays Hamlet not as a mope but as a capable prince paralyzed by indecision; Kate Winslet is touching as Ophelia and Julie Christie lustful and loving as Gertrude. Charlton Heston makes a magnificent Player King, in a sequence that restores the "play within a play" to its role as the dramatic turning-point.


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