"Rock Star" -- Mark Wahlberg, who used to be one, has the title role in this spirited musical drama about an obsessive rock-and-roll wannabe who, through a quirk of fate, gets to be a headliner. Not just any headliner, mind you, but with his longtime idols, no less. A sort of rock-scene "Rocky." Wahlberg's character, Chris Cole, when not fixing office copiers, engages in his fantasy life as lead singer for a "tribute" band mimicking sounds of a heavy metal group called Steel Dragon. When the Dragon's frontman is fired, Chris gets the unlikely chance to try out and, what do you know, he wows 'em. An instant success, he changes his name to Izzy and soaks up perks that go with stardom, (adulation, sex, drugs), but the toll is high. Jennifer Anniston is impressive as his understanding girl friend. 2001. 107 minutes. Warner Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, sexuality, some drug content).
"Kiss Of The Dragon" -- Martial arts star Jet Li plays a resourceful Chinese cop named Liu who's sent to Paris to assist in a top-secret mission -- or so he thinks. He quickly discovers the man he's supposed to be helping, Inspector Richard (Tcheky Karyo), is actually a vicious, twisted cop who promptly frames him for murder and sends an endless supply of henchmen after him. From time to time they catch up with him singly and in groups, but of course Liu, with his flashing feet and hands and well-placed acupunture needles, is simply too much to handle. Bridget Fonda plays a likable junkie hooker and his only ally. While the plot is simple and predictable, the action is spectacular, fast and furious and virtually non-stop, and Li, the longtime Asian star making a name in this country, is remarkable. 2001. 98 minutes. Fox Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong violence, language, some sexuality, drug content).
"An American Rhapsody" -- Writer-director Eva Gardos tells her touching, emotional story of an agonizing childhood with care, understanding and sympathy for all involved. As the movie opens, it's 1965 and 15-year-old Suzanne (Scarlett Johansson) has returned to Budapest, Hungary, to try to sort out her radically upset life. Back in the early 1950s, when she was a baby, she was left behind when her parents (Nastassja Kinski and Tony Goldwyn) fled to the United States to avoid Soviet oppression. A plan for her to soon rejoin them fell apart and for the next six years she lived with a couple she thought were her parents. Then, she's abruptly whisked to southern California to be reunited with her real family, now total strangers. It's almost too much, causing Suzanne to grow into a sullen and rebellious teenager, warring with her old-world mother, not sure who she is or where she belongs. 2001. 106 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (some violent content and thematic material).
"Pavilion of Women" -- Based on a Pearl Buck novel, this old-fashioned romantic melodrama is set in South China, 1938, at a time when the Japanese are invading Manchuria and the whole world is about to undergo drastic change. But in the village of Madame Wu (Luo Yan) and particularly on the vast estate of her oafish nobleman husband little has changed and women still live in feudal era oppression. She's had enough and, in a bold move, announces on her 40th birthday that she is presenting her husband with a rare gift -- a young concubine. By now, though, she finds herself attracted to an American priest (Willem Dafoe), a dangerous step that could be fatal. And, to make matters murkier, her son falls for daddy's teenage concubine. 2000. 119 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (sexuality and war images).
"Bubble Boy" -- A 17-year-old boy forced to live in a plastic bubble because of a serious immune deficiency is a strange subject for a comedy and some may find this film to be offensive. Others find it funny. It's a broad satire that falls somewhere in between. Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal) has been raised in a bubble-protected bedroom under the watchful eye of his overprotective mom (Swoozie Kurtz), fairly content until he falls in love with the girl next door (Marley Shelton). But when he learns she has taken off for Niagara Falls to get married, he fixes up a portable bubble and takes off after her, encountering the expected misadventures and nutty, crude characters along the way. 2001. 84 minutes. Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (language, crude, sexual humor).
Coming up next: "Atlantis: The Lost Empire," "Curse of the Jade Scorpion" and "The Princess and the Warrior"... "The Fast and the Furious" has broken out in front of the pack and is No. 1 in video rentals across the land...
New on DVD: It's a great day for fans of the Rat Pack, with sparkling new DVD versions of the Pack's most popular films, 1960's "Ocean's 11" and 1964's "Robin and the Seven Hoods." Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Angie Dickinson headline the slick crime-caper comedy "Ocean's 11" (the George Clooney-Brad Pitt remake is packing 'em in), about former Army buddies who attempt to rob five Las Vegas casinos on New Year's Eve. "Seven Hoods" is a fun-filled musical takeoff on the Robin Hood legend...
Marcel Carne's captivating 1945 masterpiece "Children of Paradise," a splendid example of storytelling on film, set amongst a rough-and-tumble theatrical troup in 19th century France, is making its DVD debut. The double-disc set includes a new digital transfer, improved subtitles and a host of extras with an introduction by Terry Gilliam...
Although DreamWorks made close to half a billion video dollars from its "Shrek," the Disney studio did better in the sell-through market in 2001, according to Variety. Disney had a big seller in "Pearl Harbor" ($300 million) and did brisk business ($200 million-plus) with two others, "Dinosaur" and "Remember The Titans," while three more made better than $150 million.