Archive for Sunday, July 30, 2000

Apes to dominate videos in August

July 30, 2000


The shark ruled last month on DVD; now it's time for the apes to put the bite on "Jaws." Twentieth Century Fox certainly isn't monkeying around with its much-anticipated six-disc set of the "Planet of the Apes" series. It's including all five films in the series as well as the 1998 documentary "Behind the Planet of the Apes," hosted by the late Roddy McDowall. It arrives Aug. 15 on DVD and VHS.

Any self-avowed sci-fi buff should be salivating right now. But there's also big news on the made-for-video horizon, including the guaranteed hit "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins," featuring the beloved character from the "Toy Story" series. Universal's also touting the sequel "Dragonheart: A New Beginning."

The War ZoneStarring Ray Winstone, Lara Belmont, Freddie Cunliffe and Tilda Swinton. Actor Tim Roths directorial debut is a wrenching study of family incest set on Britains remote and beautiful Devon coast. Adapted from Alexander Stuarts novel, the film casts light on a dark corner of the human condition, with incredible (and incredibly brave) performances. A heart-stoppingly painful experience but one that resonates deeply. No MPAA rating.Angelas AshesStarring Emily Watson, Robert Carlyle, Joe Breen and Ronnie Masterson. Director Alan Parker has solved the seemingly impossible problems presented in filming the book and turned Frank McCourts beloved memoir of a grief-laden Irish childhood into a truly memorable movie. R.Ride with the DevilStarring Skeet Ulrich, Tobey Maguire, Jeffrey Wright, Simon Baker Denny and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. As you would expect from director Ang Lee, a different take on the Civil War from the perspective of Southern bushwhackers in Missouri. Vivid, violent and visceral, its marred only by moments of flatness in the script. R.The Whole Nine YardsStarring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet and Kevin Pollack. Willis and Perrys lively performances and the script blend together surprisingly well to form an entertaining, even charming, action-comedy. This isnt your run-of-the-mill caper flick. R.DiamondsStarring Kirk Douglas, Dan Aykroyd, Corbin Allred, Lauren Bacall, Jenny McCarthy and Mariah OBrien. A courageous Douglas, whos now 83, melds art and life as a retired boxer and stroke victim. Its a compelling and touching performance trapped in an otherwise feeble road picture. PG-13.The Big TeaseStarring Craig Ferguson, Frances Fisher, Mary McCormack and David Rasche. A fake documentary about a Scottish hairdresser competing in an international hairstyling championship in Beverly Hills. Can you say fish out of water? Can you say Glaswegian out of hair gel? Starring Scottish comedian Ferguson, of The Drew Carey Show fame. R.

There's much more, so here's a rundown of what to expect in the month ahead on video and DVD. Unless otherwise noted, the films will be released in both formats.

  • "Clint Eastwood Collection": It would take the entire column to list the 27 titles Warner Home Video is releasing to celebrate everything Clint. Let's just hit the DVD titles that haven't been released, "Bronco Billy" and "Kelly's Heroes." Never too early to shop for the holidays, eh?
  • "Dragon Tales": This acclaimed PBS animated series about a brother and sister who are transported to Dragon Land is aimed for children ages 2 to 5. Moral lessons abound.
  • "The Long Way Home": Morgan Freeman narrates this documentary on the quest made by European Jews to reach Palestine at the end of World War II.
  • "Romeo Must Die": The human Gumby known as Jet Li kicks this laughable but fun variation on "Romeo and Juliet" about feuding gangs in Oakland into overdrive. Martial arts fans shouldn't miss it.
  • "Whatever It Takes": Conventional teen comedy/drama about two guys trying to woo two girls. Wants to be irreverent, but just comes across as stupid.
  • "Buzz Lightyear of Star Command: The Adventure Begins": Buzz Lightyear (voice of Tim Allen) comes to the rescue of a group of Little Green Men held hostage by his arch-rival Evil Emperor Zurg. Should be a hit, and I just loved hearing William Shatner croon "To Infinity and Beyond" during the end credits.
  • "Dragonheart: A New Beginning": Robby Benson, no novice when it comes to lending his voice to beastly creations (Disney's "Beauty and the Beast"), stretches his vocal cords for the role of a dragon in this sequel to the 1996 fantasy flick that starred Dennis Quaid. Expect more sequels.
  • "The Grandfather": A down-and-out count visits his grandkids and discovers that his son's wife has been a cheatin' soul in this epic-length (nearly three hours) import from Spain.
  • "Holy Smoke!": Harvey Keitel searches for an elusive and sensuous woman (Kate Winslet) who takes up with a religious cult in India. Jane Campion ("The Piano") directs this dark comedy.
  • "Jerry and Tom": Not bad, but not that great, black comedy in the vein of "Pulp Fiction," with a first-rate cast (Joe Mantegna, Sam Rockwell and William Macy). It's a little clunky at times, but there are a few well-formulated surprises in the tale about car salesmen's connection with the mob.
  • "Reindeer Games": Convoluted crime drama with Ben Affleck and Charlize Thereon. Affleck assumes the identity of his prison cellmate and gets trapped in a rip-off of a casino. Gary Sinise makes a terrific bad guy, but the movie's only ordinary.
  • "Tycus": Geez, comets are getting a bad rap. A miner burrows deep into a mountain and finds not only an underground city but proof that a massive rock is hell-bent on destroying Earth. Dennis Hopper co-stars.
  • "The Cider House Rules": Director Lasse Hallstrom turns John Irving's rich novel into an absorbing old-fashioned epic. Tobey Maguire stars as an orphan who is mentored about life and death by an abortionist (Oscar-winner Michael Caine). A touching, lovely film, well-deserving of the best-picture nomination.
  • "The Defender": If "Romeo Must Die" doesn't whet your Jet Li appetite, try this better Hong Kong title, originally called "The Bodyguard." Li shadows a rich guy's girlfriend, who has witnessed a murder. A visual feast that's both sexy and action-packed.
  • "Erin Brockovich": The box-office hit with Julia Roberts as a street-smart and snappy woman who takes on PG&E.; One of Roberts' best performances, and one of this year's most entertaining films.
  • "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai": Forest Whitaker plays an assassin with Zen-like sensibilities who is marked for death when he leaves a witness to one of his hits.
  • "It's the Rage": Seven-character drama a la "Magnolia" and "Go," where the lives of a disparate group of folks intersect with some tragic and surprising results. Even if the movie's a dud, the cast, including Joan Allen, Andre Braugher, Robert Forster, Gary Sinise and Bokeem Woodbine, deserve a look.
  • "Titus": Warning: Don't watch this time-shifting version of Shakespeare while eating. You're likely to lose your main course in this gory adaptation of the Bard's "Titus Andronicus." Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange star in this visually beautiful but uneven film.
  • "Agnes Browne": Anjelica Houston directs herself in this drama about a strong Irish mother of seven who faces many challenges when her husband dies.
  • "Beyond the Mat": The bizarre world of pro wrestling comes vividly to life in this wild documentary featuring the likes of Mick "Mankind" Foley and the Rock.
  • "Mifune": A city boy is summoned back to the country on his wedding night when his father dies, leading to all sorts of touchy situations.
  • "Not One Less": In China, a young woman is sent to a village to serve as a substitute teacher to pay off a family debt. Zhang Yimou, director of "Raise the Red Lantern," received glowing reviews for this low-key but effective drama.
  • "Supernova": Many thought this sci-fi flick made no sense when it was released last summer. There's a reason for that; 20 minutes were cut, making this "Alien" clone indecipherable. The video and DVD versions restore those minutes, as well as receiving an R rating. Angela Bassett, James Spader and Lou Diamond Phillips star.
  • "The Tigger Movie": The hyperactive Tigger gets his first starring role. Don't worry, Pooh's around as well.
  • "The Big Kahuna": A trio of industrial lubricant salesmen make their pitch to land "the big account" in this comedy, a Sundance hit, starring Kevin Spacey, Danny DeVito and Peter Facinelli.
  • "Girl": What's a poor girl to do? There's that cute but seemingly tortured rock singer Todd Sparrow (Sean Patrick Flanery) who's hard to resist, and then there's that super-cute wannabe rock critic (Channon Roe). To find out who star Dominique Swain falls for, you'll have to rent it.
  • "Held Up": Jamie Foxx encounters cowpokes when he's taken hostage in a stick-up in this comedy, co-starring Nia Long.
  • "I Dreamed of Africa": No one saw it in theaters, and it's likely the same fate will befall this Kim Basinger flick that earnestly, way too earnestly, follows a woman's growing love for Africa. Bottom line: Looks pretty, but face it, folks, this is a bore.

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