"Swordfish" -- Wealthy self-appointed counter-terrorist Gabriel Shear (John Travolta), a shadowy figure with murky intentions, has been hired to set up some kind of quasi-patriotic operation to be financed by billions of dollars in secret government funds. To get to the loot, Gabriel and his pretty sidekick Ginger (Halle Berry) recruit a brilliant computer hacker (Hugh Jackman) to crack the government system. With a storyline that bobs and weaves so consistently, it's hard to tell who are the bad guys and who are the good guys and, at times, what's actually going down. As the film surges along at a rapid, violent pace with a high body count, there is a bank robbery, a hostage situation that goes bad, a massive explosion and some nifty stunts, including a loaded bus flying across town hooked to a helicopter. A fun movie for the action fan but definitely logically challenged. 2001. 99 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated R (violence, language, sexuality/nudity).
"The Animal" -- Marvin (Rob Schneider) is a nowhere man, a woebegone, mistreated clerk with a small-town police department, dreaming fruitlessly of following in his father's footsteps as a cop. All he gets for his ambition is ridicule and worse. But he suddenly goes from blunder to wonder when he's banged up badly in a car crash and doctors, to save his life, replace some organs with animal parts. Before long, Marvin starts noticing a big change in his life; the animal in him is taking over. Besides the more crude aspects, he suddenly has much more physical endurance than before, has a greatly increased sense of smell, so much so he can sniff out a stash of hidden drugs, and discovers, best of all, a whale of a sex drive. It's a silly, gross, one-joke movie that also can be quite funny. 2001. 84 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Video. Rated PG-13 (crude and sexual humor).
"With A Friend Like Harry" -- Dominick Moll's well-crafted suspenseful psychological French thriller about obsession and murder is one Hitchcock probably would have liked. It all begins when Michel (Laurent Lucas), on a vacation with his wife and three young daughters, bumps into Harry (Sergi Lopez), a former classmate whom he hasn't seen in 20 years and does not recognize. But Harry remembers him all right and the poem he wrote in high school, a piece Michel hardly recalls but one Harry has memorized, convinced Michel is a great writer-in-waiting. Harry is overly friendly and generous, but after he and his girlfriend join Michel and his family at their summer home, strange and deadly things start happening. 2000. 117 minutes. In French with English subtitles. Miramax Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, violence, brief nudity).
"Songcatcher" -- This is the story of an early 20th century musicologist determined to capture the pure, beguiling magic of songs she discovers in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. Written and directed by Maggie Greenwald, "Songcatcher" stars the accomplished Janet McTeer as the outsider, a disenchanted college professor visiting her sister in the Southern mountains when she hears songs of the region for the first time. It takes only a New York minute for her to recognize the power of these hidden melodies and to make plans to spread the unique sound. Resembling a mountain melodrama at times, the movie takes wings when somebody sings. 2000. 112 minutes. Trimark. Rated PG-13 (Sexual content, childbirth scene).
Coming up: "Shrek," the year's biggest hit, and the romantic comedy "Legally Blonde," leading off a busy November run that also includes Julia Roberts' "America's Sweethearts" (Nov. 13) and "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas" and "Planet Of The Apes" (Nov. 20)... "The Mummy Returns" tops the video rental charts this week...
"Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace" has broken the 2-week-old record of "The Mummy Returns" for most DVD copies sold the first week of release. "Phantom" sold an estimated 2.2 million copies, worth about $45 million, according to Variety. "Mummy" sold 2 million its first week out of the tomb. The record may not stand long, however. The year's No. 1 moneymaker, "Shrek," hits the shelves Nov. 2, followed by the Nov. 20 release of last year's biggest movie, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas"...
"Pearl Harbor" is due Dec. 4, three days before the 60th anniversary of the Japanese attack that thrust the United States into World War II, on VHS and DVD. However, the elaborate three-disc DVD set will not be available until May 14...
Sure to tickle the fancy of any silent film buff, Kino has repackaged "The Art Of Buster Keaton" for DVD release Nov. 20 as a massive 11-volume collection featuring 11 features and 19 short subjects. Among the films are "The General," "Sherlock Jr.," "The Navigator" and "Steamboat Bill Jr." The package also has a bonus disc, "Keaton Plus."