Originally created 01/23/04

Video watch

JUST OUT: Cabin Fever, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Open Range and Spellbound

TUESDAY: Con Man, Radio, Thirteen and Water's Edge

FEB. 3: The Fighting Temptations, Secondhand Lions, Lost in Translation and My Boss's Daughter

FEB. 10: A Woman Hunted


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

CABIN FEVER (R, 94 MINUTES, H 1/2 ) Unsure of whether it wants to be a horror film, a comedy, an homage, a satire or a parable, Cabin Fever tries to cover every base. Five recent grads rent a cabin in the woods and are confronted by a blood-covered man who has a disease they may all eventually get. Lots of blood, gore, violence and disgust, alternating with ill-advised attempts at humor, most unsuccessfully in the character of a local deputy who seems to have wandered in from a lame-brained comedy.

ONCE UPON A TIME IN MEXICO (R, 102 MINUTES, HHH) After the $7,000 El Mariachi and the $3 million Desperado, Robert Rodriguez completes his trilogy with this $30 million epic. Antonio Banderas is back as the deadly mariachi. Salma Hayek is his dead wife who logs a lot of screen time nevertheless. Johnny Depp is the CIA agent who wants to hire him. Willem Dafoe and Mickey Rourke are bad guys. Not so much a story as a collection of great shots and sensational confrontations, but exuberant and entertaining - and the digital photography looks better than I've ever seen it before.

OPEN RANGE (R, 135 MINUTES, HHH 1/2 ) A deeply involving and beautifully made Western, expressing the personal values of a cowboy named Boss (Robert Duvall) and his employee of 10 years, Charley (Kevin Costner). Charley was an expert killer in the Civil War; Boss does not believe in unnecessary violence. They graze their cattle on the open range, and when a rancher named Baxter forces a showdown, they stand up to him. A subplot involves a tentative romance between Charley and Sue (Annette Bening), the local doctor's sister. Sweet as it is, it doesn't seem to fit comfortably into the essential story. The gunfight scene, depending on Charley's knowledge of how men are likely to react under fire, is masterful.

FREDDY VS. JASON (R, 97 MINUTES, HH) No one wins in this showdown between horror icons Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees - except maybe the manufacturers of their trademark red-and-green striped sweater and hockey mask, which prove indestructible. More marketing gimmick than film with an actual plot, Freddy vs. Jason combines elements of both the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th movies. The two villains kill everyone in sight before turning their talons - er, talents - on each other.

JOHNNY ENGLISH (PG, 87 MINUTES, H 1/2 ) More than 40 years after James Bond, yet another British spy spoof, this one tired and listless. Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) stars as an incompetent secret agent, a character popularized in a series of British credit card commercials. John Malkovich is the villain, with an accent almost as bad as his hairpiece.


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