"Moulin Rouge!" -- This spectacular, over-the-top tribute to the movie musical achieves a bright and gaudy visual effect with an energetic cast prancing about, bursting into song and swirling through the world of the can-can, everything by design chaotic and excessive. Director Baz Luhrmann's flashy style is fascinating and wildly imaginative, everybody and everything larger than life. However, it's not for everyone. While some viewers will be taken by it all, others will just want it all taken away. It's basically a love story, an impossible romance between a penniless writer (Ewan McGregor) and a beautiful but troubled courtesan at the club (Nicole Kidman). The slender narrative is pushed along by well-known pop songs of the past, from "The Sound of Music" to "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." Nothing's real but not meant to be; this Moulin Rouge is, as Luhrmann puts it, "the nightclub of your dreams." 2001. 127 minutes. Fox Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (sexual content). (The DVD release comes in a two-disc set loaded with extras.)
"The Princess Diaries" -- This is a modern-day fairy tale about Princess Charming and while obviously aimed primarily at young girls it's an OK family flick. Mia (Anne Hathaway) is a bright but klutzy 15-year-old living with her divorced mother in San Francisco and feels she's such a misfit at her posh private school that she spends her time "trying to be invisible." Then, out of the blue comes the stunning news that she's really a princess, sole heir to the kingdom of the small European country of Genovia and her grandmother (an elegant Julie Andrews) is the queen who has come for her. One thing's sure: if she goes, Mia will need a major, Pygmalion-like makeover to go from dorky shyness to royal highness. 2001. 115 minutes. Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Rated G.
"Scary Movie 2" -- Another wild and gross comedic takeoff on horror movies in which the survivors of the original get together in a haunted house for more mayhem. Directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans and starring his brothers Marlon and Shawn, the spooker spoof also features James Woods, Tim Curry and Chris Elliott. Along the way, they poke fun at "The Exocist," "A Nightmare on Elm Street," "The House On Haunted Hill," "Hannibal" and others. 2001. 82 minutes. Dimension Home Video. Rated R (strong sexual and gross humor, graphic language and some drug content).
"Bravo Two Zero" -- A brutal combat story of bravery and endurance, based on a true story from the Gulf War. Sean Bean portrays Sgt. Andy McNab, leader of an eight-man British special forces team dropped behind enemy lines in Iraq. Their mission is to take out Saddam Hussein's Scud missile systems but the men find themselves surrounded by Iraqi soldiers, no way to call for help and must run for it. McNab and three others don't get far. 1999. 121 minutes. Dimension Home Video. Rated R (violence, language, brief sexuality).
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch" -- A wildly innovative film taken from a huge off-Broadway hit about an "internationally ignored" rock singer dealing with life after a botched sex change operation. John Cameron Mitchell directed and stars in the title role. 2001. 91 minutes. New Line Cinema. Rated R (sexual content and language).
Coming up next: "Evolution," "Two Can Play That Game" and "Following"... "Planet Of The Apes" continues as the No. 1 video rental across the land...
"Sahara," a fine but largely overlooked 1943 Humphrey Bogart melodrama about a tank battalion stranded in the African desert during World War II, has been released on DVD by Columbia TriStar... Attention "MASH" fans: Fox is bringing to DVD in January not only Robert Altman's wild and wooly 1970 film but the first season of the TV series as well...
Video dealers will be remembering "Pearl Harbor" for a while. Buena Vista Home Entertainment says the epic film sold more than 7 million copies its first week in video release, including a record 3.7 million DVD copies... Judging from reports from major merchants, the DVD player is the "in" thing this holiday buying season...