Originally created 09/25/98

Video releases

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.


My Giant, Dangerous Beauty, The Players Club and Nightwatch.

TUESDAY: The Spanish Prisoner, Twilight, The Object of My Affection, Two Girls and a Guy and Paulie.

OCT. 6: Lost in Space.

OCT. 13: I Got the Hook Up and The Big One.

Video reviews

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

MY GIANT (**, PG) Starts promisingly, with funny stuff about a Hollywood agent (Billy Crystal) who finds himself down and out in Romania and is rescued, body and soul, by a gentle giant (NBA star Gheorghe Muresan). But then the movie turns soft-hearted and sentimental.

THE PLAYERS CLUB (***, R) A young college student hopes to make easy money by stripping in a "gentleman's club" and finds herself drawn into a harrowing mix of crime, sex and danger. Written and directed by the rapper Ice Cube, this is a gritty black version of Showgirls, with a convincing performance by Lisa Raye and colorful, well-written supporting characters.

HE GOT GAME (***1/2, R) Denzel Washington's son is the nation's top high school basketball player. Played by Ray Allen, a Milwaukee Bucks star who has acting talent, he's under incredible pressure to sign with a top college -or with a predatory agent. Mr. Washington, a prisoner, is given a week's leave to talk his son into signing with the state governor's favorite school; if he succeeds, his sentence will be shortened. Observant about the pressures, knowledgeable about matters of the heart; Spike Lee's best film since Malcolm X.

HUSH (**, PG) Gwyneth Paltrow falls in love with the heir (Johnathon Schaech) to a horse farm, and after she gets pregnant they move there, into the domain of his possessive, controlling mother (Jessica Lange). She's a horse-breeder who wants to breed a grandson, and Ms. Paltrow's character is treated more like an expendable brood mare than a daughter-in-law.

PRIMARY COLORS (****, R) The movie resonates with its parallels to the lives of Bill and Hillary Clinton, but it's a lot more than a disguised expose. It's a superb film -funny, insightful and very wise about the realities of political life. John Travolta and Emma Thompson, as a presidential candidate and his wife, preserve a certain distant mystery; the movie sees them through the eyes of their aides, including characters played by Adrian Lester, Billy Bob Thornton and Kathy Bates, whose dynamo "dust-buster" is an Oscar-caliber performance.

WILD THINGS (***, R) Neve Campbell solidifies her standing as the queen of slick exploitation in a film that's part soft-core sex film, part soap opera and part Florida noir. After a rich kid (Denise Richards from Starship Troopers) accuses a high school teacher (Matt Dillon) of raping her, Ms. Campbell's character says she was raped, too. But is there more to the story? Kevin Bacon is the local cop, and Bill Murray is hilarious as a storefront lawyer, in a film that combines a lurid trash plot with sneaky satire.

BARNEY'S BIG ADVENTURE (***, G) Barney the purple dinosaur stars in his own movie, which is frankly aimed at preschoolers and will be pretty slow going for anyone older than about 7.

TITANIC (****, PG-13) James Cameron's 194-minute, $200 million film of the tragic voyage is in the tradition of the great Hollywood epics. It is flawlessly crafted, intelligently constructed, strongly acted and spellbinding. Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet make a touching couple, he from steerage, she fleeing marriage to a rich snob, who find love in the days before the great ship sinks. The special effects are flawless, seamless, and do their job without upstaging the story. The last hour, as the unsinkable ship sinks, is awesome.

THE LEADING MAN (****, R) Lambert Wilson plays "Britain's greatest playwright," a man bedeviled by an angry wife and a demanding mistress. His new play stars a Hollywood sex symbol (Jon Bon Jovi), who offers to solve his problems by seducing his wife (Anna Galiena). But will he make a clean sweep and also seduce the mistress (Thandie Newton)? Set in a convincing backstage world peopled with British theatrical veterans (David Warner, Barry Humphries, Patricia Hodge), it's a romantic intrigue with a touch of Hitchcock.

MEN WITH GUNS (****, R) John Sayles' new film follows a doctor (Federico Luppi) who journeys into a Central American rain forest hoping to visit medical students he trained, who may have been killed. He encounters a countryside where villagers are killed by the military for helping the guerrillas and by the guerrillas for helping the military. Joined by four outcasts (an army deserter, an ex-priest, an orphan and a rape victim), the doctor pursues reports of a village so hidden that neither the army nor the guerrillas have been able to find it.

THE APOSTLE (****, PG-13) One of America's finest actors at the very top of his form: Robert Duvall writes, directs and stars as a Pentecostal preacher who commits a crime and seeks redemption. Fleeing to a Louisiana hamlet, he begins a new church with a mostly black congregation and tries to atone for his sin. Not a conventional story but a series of revelations, the film makes his character real and unforgettable. With Farrah Fawcett, Billy Bob Thornton and Miranda Richardson.

KUNDUN (***, R) Martin Scorsese's film about the 14th Dalai Lama plays more like devotion than drama: Sumptuously beautiful, filled with rich colors and a moving score by Philip Glass, it nevertheless sees its subject as more icon than man. It follows the Dalai Lama from his childhood, when monks determine that he contains the soul of his predecessor, to the difficult days of the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Always beautiful to look at, always serene and confident, and yet, like a life of a saint, sure of its outcome and based on parable, not experience.

THE BORROWERS (PG) A charming, whimsical family adventure about little people who live in the walls of big people's houses and support themselves by "borrowing" the necessities of life. John Goodman is the evil lawyer who wants to evict the borrowers and their host family of "beings," and Jim Broadbent is the tiny dad.

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (***, PG-13) Leonardo DiCaprio plays a dual role: The arrogant young Louis XIV, and his twin brother, kept in an iron mask to disguise his identity. The Three Musketeers (Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich and Gerard Depardieu) come out of retirement to right the wrong, but the fourth (Gabriel Byrne) still serves the king. With Anne Parillaud (from La Femme Nikita) as the Queen Mother, who has more secrets than the twins. Slow-starting, confusing to begin with, eventually a good swashbuckling yarn.

THE BIG LEWBOWSKI (**1/2, R) Jeff Bridges plays "the laziest man in Los Angeles County," who lives only to go bowling, until he is mistaken for a millionaire with the same name. Enlisted in the millionaire's ransom scheme, he uses his bowling buddies (John Goodman and Steve Buscemi) in a revenge scheme that introduces many weird characters.

BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (**, PG-13) A lot of good music, adrift in a bum plot with too much dialogue explaining what happened to characters from the 1980 movie. Dan Aykroyd stars with John Goodman as his new singing partner, and Joe Morton is a state cop who pursues them in an inane chase. Lots of fine musicians: Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Blues Traveler, Junior Wells. But the better the music, the worse the plot feels and the lamer the dialogue sounds.

JACKIE BROWN (****, R) Quentin Tarantino's film stars Pam Grier as an airline attendant who knows she has to outsmart gun dealer Samuel L. Jackson or die. Robert Forster is their bail bondsman, who falls quietly in love with her; Robert De Niro is a dim-witted ex-con; Bridget Fonda is a spaced-out girlfriend; Michael Keaton is a slick federal agent; and the plot unspools in a way impossible to anticipate while Mr. Tarantino gives them dialogue that combines the sinister and the humorous with the minutiae of their lives.

THE WEDDING SINGER (*, PG-13) Adam Sandler plays a wedding singer who falls in love with a waitress (Drew Barrymore), although they're both involved with other people who are wrong for them. Through a tortuous series of contrived misunderstandings, they avoid happiness for most of the movie, although not as successfully as we do.

MEET THE DEEDLES (*1/2, PG) Two Hawaiian surf bums (Steve Van Wormer and Paul Walker) are sent to camp in Yellowstone to learn discipline, are mistaken for park ranger recruits and stumble over a plot by defrocked ranger Dennis Hopper to use tunneling prairie dogs to reroute Old Faithful and turn it into a private ticket-seller.

DARK CITY (****, R) A great visionary achievement, a film so original and exciting it stirred my imagination like 2001 or Blade Runner. Combining science fiction and film noir, it builds to an apocalyptic showdown between the Strangers, an alien race, and Murdoch (Rufus Sewell), a human who shares their power. The plot contains fundamental surprises, and the other characters (played by William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer Connelly) are more and less than they seem.


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