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MultiMedia: Lots of fun -- and nice weather! -- on video this month

Friday, January 03, 2003

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

January started off with a bang and a trip to the "Barbershop." The movie became a cause celebre because of its politically incorrect jokes but its examination of a fictional Chicago landmark and its denizens is quite entertaining on many levels.

"Barbershop" stars Ice Cube as a would-be entrepreneur who impulsively decides to sell his family's barber shop to a loan shark and then regrets it. The cast also includes Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Sean Patrick Thomas and Troy Garity. "Barbershop" arrived in stores Wednesday, so you can look for it today. Still to come:

Jan. 7

"Signs" -- M. Night Shyamalan directs this suspenseful tale about an Episcopalian minister, also the father of two, who renounced God after the death of his wife. When intricate patterns appear overnight in his cornfields, he and his family realize they are part of something ominous happening throughout the world. Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix star.

"The Good Girl" -- Did Jennifer Aniston make a mistake by agreeing to another season of "Friends" instead of a full-time movie career? You can decide after watching her as an unfulfilled wife who starts an affair with a young co-worker (Jake Gyllenhaal) that comes to a dark end.

"Our Song" -- This coming-of-age tale is set in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, where three onetime best friends -- members of the Jackie Robinson Steppers, a 60-piece marching band combining precision, musicianship and a funky dance style -- see their lives start to change.

"Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat" -- Recorded during Lawrence's final two performances in Washington, D.C., in January 2002, the comedian obviously plays to his fans with stories about how whites and blacks are treated differently on TV's "Cops," but his observations about anthrax scares, aging, childbirth, weddings, marriage and alcohol cut across racial lines.

Also: "Who Is Cletis Tout?" a clunky crime comedy starring Tim Allen as a hitman with a love for old movies; "The Shield," first season of the Michael Chiklis cop drama; second season of the HBO series "Oz," set in an urban prison; "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," season three; and "Barney: Songs from the Park," a musical adventure set in a rustic community park.

Jan. 14

"About a Boy" -- Hugh Grant is a bachelor who invents an imaginary son to meet attractive single mothers and ends up befriending a geeky 12-year-old with a complicated home life of his own. One of the best movies of 2002, with music by Badly Drawn Boy.

"Blue Crush" -- Can't afford an actual trip to Hawaii? Visit vicariously with this better-than-expected story of three poor young women who work as maids at a luxury resort hotel but save their real passion and energy for surfing. Filmed entirely on the North Shore without any blue screen or tank shots.

"Undercover Brother" -- Eddie Griffin plays the title character -- a funkadelic fashion plate and secret agent -- battling The Man, who's trying to make the world safe for white people. It's all played for laughs, especially the 1972 Cadillac Coupe de Vile, vintage Afros and mile-high platform shoes.

"Feardotcom" -- At least when people watched the video in "The Ring," they had a week before they died. Here, computer users log onto "Feardotcom" and die within 48 hours, which catches the attention of a cop played by Stephen Dorff and a coroner, Natasha McElhone.

Also: In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Academy Awards, Fox has restored and remastered "All About Eve," "Gentleman's Agreement" and "How Green Was My Valley" on DVD.

Jan. 21

"The Bourne Identity" -- We'll take Matt Damon over Richard Chamberlain, who starred in a 1988 miniseries version of this spy thriller, any day. Damon is an amnesiac, fished out of the Mediterranean sea with bullets in his back, who must figure out who he is and why he's in danger.

"Simone" -- Al Pacino stars in this satire about the pitfalls of celebrity culture, including filmmakers who "make" the stars and the audiences who idolize them. When a director's temperamental actress (Winona Ryder, in cameo) walks off his movie, he uses a computer genius's software to create his own leading lady.

"Harrison's Flowers" -- Don't be misled by the title. Andie MacDowell stars in this story about a woman who plunges into war-ravaged Yugoslavia in search of her husband. Its R rating is partially due to strong war violence and gruesome images.

"Tadpole" -- Aaron Stanford plays a precocious 15-year-old who is infatuated with his stepmother (Sigourney Weaver) but finds himself with her friend (Bebe Neuwirth) in this festival favorite shot on digital video on a shoestring budget in 14 days.

"101 Dalmatians II: Patch's London Adventure" -- Jason Alexander, Barry Bostwick and Martin Short are among the voices heard in this 70-minute, direct-to-video sequel.

Also: "Mad Love," Spanish film about 15th-century marriage of Joan of Castile, later known as Joan the Mad; "The Cockettes," a documentary about a San Francisco troupe once called "hippie acid-freak drag queens"; "Dinner Rush," a behind-the-scenes drama of a family-owned Italian restaurant, starring Danny Aiello; "Python II," sequel in which the killer snake slithers back; BBC Video's "Coupling," first TV season about six London thirtysomethings; and "The Hound of the Baskervilles" with Richard Roxburgh.

Jan. 28

"The Banger Sisters" -- Back in the day, the accurately named "Banger Sisters" were legendary rock groupies. The women -- one newly fired from a Sunset Strip bar, the other a demure Phoenix matron -- are reunited in this comedy also starring Geoffrey Rush, Erika Christensen and Eva Amurri (Sarandon's real-life daughter).

"Serving Sara" -- Matthew Perry, as it turns out, is keeping his day job after this bomb of a comedy also starring Elizabeth Hurley. He's a process server, and she's his next victim, whose conniving partner is a wealthy cattle rancher.

"The Master of Disguise" -- Onetime "Saturday Night Live" star Dana Carvey dons three dozen disguises in the course of this comedy aimed at children (it's rated PG) or folks who find flatulence jokes funny.

Also: "Baadasssss Cinema," a documentary about blaxploitation; "Smothered," Bravo special about censorship struggles of "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour"; "Playing With Your Head," George Carlin concert; "UFO Set 2," collection of final 13 uncut episodes of the sci-fi series; "Avengers '68, Set 5," with seven final episodes from the Linda Thorson era; "Lupin the 3rd," with six episodes of the series; and "Kipper: Playtime," seventh title in the gentle preschool series.

Barbara Vancheri can be reached at bvancheri@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1632.

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