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On Video: Eyes wide open

Kubrick, Denzel and 'dead people' liven up the March releases

Friday, March 03, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Let's face it. February was a pretty dismal month for videos. March offers a more appealing and diverse collection of titles, from indie winners "Guinevere" and "The Limey" to the surefire "The Bone Collector" and "Pokemon: The First Movie."

As always, space doesn't permit listing every video, and some dates may shift, but here are notable titles.

March 7

"Eyes Wide Shut" -- Stanley Kubrick's final film was shut out of Oscar nominations, but it should catch fire again on video. Tom Cruise is a New York physician who plunges into an erotic odyssey one winter night after his wife's admission of sexual longings. Nicole Kidman co-stars, and a haunting piano theme underscores that everything's off-kilter.

"The King of Masks" -- Desperate for his art to survive, a street performer who is the King of Masks finds an apprentice in a destitute child purchased on the black market. Tradition, after all, dictates that the trade be passed only to a male heir. And there's the rub in this critics' favorite.

"Killing Mr. Griffin" -- Not to be confused with "Teaching Mrs. Tingle," although the distributors probably wouldn't mind a mix-up. High school students decide to kidnap an ultra-strict teacher (Jay Thomas) to teach him a lesson about humiliation but a prank turns into murder in this movie with Scott Bairstow and Amy Jo Johnson.

"A Dog of Flanders" -- This family film, based on the 1872 children's classic, follows an orphaned boy's efforts to rise above his humble beginnings and become a great artist. Jeremy James Kissner and Jesse James share the role of the boy (who does have a trusty dog), while Jon Voight is a noted artist. Shot in and around Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium.

"William's Wish Wellingtons" -- This series from the Cartoon Network, about a 6-year-old boy with a magical pair of new red boots, is making its debut, courtesy of BBC Video. In five-minute stories (this is a collection of 13), William can become a spaceman or cowboy, or meet a dinosaur or Santa Claus.

Also this date: "Blue's Clues: Magenta Comes Over" and "Little Bear: Little Bear's Band."

March 14

"The Bone Collector" -- Talk about demonstrating a range of acting talent. In a single year, Denzel Washington appeared on screen as a quadriplegic forensics expert and as boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter. In this dark, sometimes grisly thriller, he must solve a series of crimes through a rookie cop played by Angelina Jolie. Queen Latifah does a nice, small turn as his nurse, the sort of role once owned by Thelma Ritter.

"Drive Me Crazy" -- Despite two appealing leads in Melissa Joan Hart and Adrian Grenier, this teen film doesn't rise to the top of the comedy class. She's a focused, popular girl, and he's a slovenly rebel who lives next door, so you just know they're going to get together. It has an ending telegraphed in the first scene and yet another big dance but, on the plus side, a PG-13 rating.

"Outside Providence" -- Peter and Bobby Farrelly, best known for "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary," helped to write and produce this romantic comedy about coming of age in Rhode Island. Alec Baldwin is a rough-edged father, and Shawn Hatosy his rebellious son who improbably ends up at a prep school.

"Guinevere" -- Sarah Polley is an affluent college-age girl who hooks up with a silver-tongued, bohemian photographer (Stephen Rea), who regularly takes young women under his wing and into his bed. As Polley's mother, Jean Smart delivers a devastating assessment on why the lothario gravitates toward women half his age.

March 21

"Pokemon: The First Movie" -- Talk about a video that needs no introduction. Warner Home Video promises that each video and DVD will include a new Mewtwo game card, plus bonus footage and (of course) a preview for the second movie.

"Jakob the Liar" -- Robin Williams plays the lead in this remake of a 1974 German film about a man who lives in a Jewish ghetto in Poland during World War II. By chance, he overhears a radio report of Russian advances against the Nazis and he finds himself making up additional news to boost the spirits of his comrades. A grim film, this is no "Life Is Beautiful."

"The Limey" -- A British ex-convict travels to Los Angeles to investigate his daughter's "accidental" death in this film starring Terence Stamp and Peter Fonda. Watch for sequences in which Stamp remembers his youth. Director Steven Soderbergh uses clips from one of the actor's old movies.

"Plunkett & Macleane" -- Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller, stars of "Trainspotting," are reunited in this hip, energetic take on 18th-century English highwaymen. It's cheeky, bloody good fun (although physically very dark at the beginning), especially once the robberies get rolling. Liv Tyler provides the love interest.

"The Adventures of Sebastian Cole" -- Adrian Grenier's life in "Drive Me Crazy" is a cakewalk compared to this. He has a stepfather who wants to undergo sex-change surgery, a mother who seeks solace in alcohol and her native England, an absent father and a sister last seen headed for California on the back of a motorcycle. Notable for its originality, smart writing, deft touch and character development.

"White Boyz" -- Two white boys strive to become black gangsta rappers, despite the fact they live in the middle of Iowa cornfields. Danny Hoch stars, and real life performers such as Snoop Dog, Dead Prez and Doug E. Fresh pop up.

March 28

"The Sixth Sense" -- By this date, young Haley Joel Osment may be seeing Oscar, along with dead people. This audience teaser and pleaser garnered a surprising six Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture. It may not take home the top prize, but it may be rewarded in other categories.

"Crazy in Alabama" -- Antonio Banderas directs his wife, actress Melanie Griffith, in this 1965 story about an eccentric who escapes from her abusive husband and heads for Hollywood where she hopes to appear on TV. Back home, meanwhile, her nephew (Lucas Black, remarkable in "Sling Blade") confronts the concepts of freedom and equality.

"Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" -- Donny Osmond stars in this filmed version of this evergreen musical about Joseph, the youngest of a dozen brothers, and a coat of many colors. Director David Mallet used up to seven cameras simultaneously to shoot this $8 million production on three sound stages.

"The Omega Code" -- This hokey doomsday thriller has all the usual ingredients and suspects: Prophecies heretofore secret, a megalomaniac leader based in Rome who talks about world peace but may be the anti-Christ and, of course, all hell breaking loose. Michael York and Casper Van Dien star.

"Larry-Boy and the Rumor Weed" -- In this latest installment of "VeggieTales," the character with super-suction ears returns to teach a lesson about how quickly a rumor can grow.



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