VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International   |   March 21, 2002 at 11:45 AM

What's new on the home video scene...


"Life as a House" -- Architect George Monroe (Kevin Kline) builds his dream home and in the process rebuilds the lives of those around him in Irwin Winkler's skillful, engaging heart-tugger. Things are not going well for George who has just lost his job, is still in love with his ex-wife Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas)who has remarried and barely speaks to him and wants to get close to his troubled teenage son Sam (Hayden Christensen) who can't stand him. Worst of all, he has just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and this will be his last summer coming up and he wants to make the most of it. For starters, he's finally going to tear down his ramshackle house, the eyesore in posh oceanfront neighborhood, and he's going to try to talk Sam into helping out over the summer and maybe straighten out the rebellious lad. The cute girl next door (Jena Malone) and her man-hungry mom (Mary Steenburgen) are added inducements. Once the building starts, Robin starts stopping by and her animosity toward George melts. Things get resolved in a predictable way but the performances are good and these are characters that you care about. 2001. 124 minutes. New Line Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, sexuality, drug content).

"K-PAX" -- Kevin Spacey plays a mental patient who claims quite effectively to be an alien in this gentle, heartwarming modern day fable that leaves you wondering. His psychiatrist, Dr. Mark Powell (Jeff Bridges), calls him "the most convincing delusional I've ever come across." Spacey's character identifies himself as Prot who, he says, came to Earth on an investigative mission from the planet K-PAX, 1,000 light years away in the Lyra galaxy. His presence is profound, whether trying to heal his fellow inmates or stunning scientists with his amazing knowledge of space or calmly showing Powell the importance of family and trying to disprove his doctor's insistence that he's human, that he couldn't be who he claims to be. Prot meanwhile is curious, superior, wondering how humans could have "made it this far," rarely without his sunglasses because "your planet is too bright." The storyline grows increasingly questionable but still has a certain credibility because Spacey and Bridges seem to take it so seriously and it's their acting that solidifies this thought-provoking film. 2001. 120 minutes. Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (sequence o9f violent images, brief language, sensuality).

"Original Sin" -- Antonio Banderas plays a wealthy 1880s Cuban coffee merchant and Angelina Jolie an American mail order bride in this steamy melodrama about love and betrayal. Banderas' Luis Vargas meets his imported bride-to-be, Julia Russell (Jolie), on their wedding day and should have listened more closely when she tells him, shortly after they meet, that "Neither of us can be trusted." She's half right, as Vargas finds out to his utter dismay. From the beginning, there's a certain air of mystery about her, a dark secret that becomes apparent as the story progresses but Vargas can see nothing amiss because he's in love for the first time. However, the honeymoon ends abruptly when she runs off with all his money, leaving behind a business in financial ruin and an enraged Vargas who sets off in hot pursuit. Based on a Cornell Woolrich novel, the film is at times a mystery, a thriller, a tale of misplaced passion and has some surprises but little suspense, is at times somewhat lurid, ponderous, contrived. The movie is rated R for strong sexual content and some violence. An unrated version also is available on DVD, featuring an exclusive extension of a graphic sex scene. From, MGM Home Entertainment, runs 115 minutes.

"Our Lady Of The Assassins" -- Fernando, an aging,world-weary man, returns home to die and finds people dying all around him with bystanders paying little attention other than to duck. Home is Medellin, Colombia, where drug lords reign supreme, where drug deals go down in cathedrals, crime runs rampant and young men on motorcycles gun down other young men with alarming regularity in gang feuds. There's even a sign proclaiming, "No dumping of corpses." Fernando, played by German Jaramillo, viewing his radically changed city with detachment, visits a male brothel and meets 16-year-old Alexis (Anderson Ballestros) who becomes his lover and protector. Always armed, Alexis will readily kill anyone who irritates Fernando but the boy's violent past catches up with him. Barbet Schroeder's film, based on an autobiographical novel by Fernando Vallejo, is a stark, intriguing study of love, redemption and casual murder in a city without morals. 2001. 101 minutes. In Spanish with English subtitles. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong violence, language, sexuality and drug content).


Coming up next: the crime comedy caper "Bandits" with Bruce Willis, Billy Bob Thornton and Cate Blanchett, "Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice," "The Iron Monkey" and "13 Ghosts"... "A.I.: Artificial Intelligence" and "Don't Say A Word" are topping the video rental charts this week...

New on DVD: If Baz Luhrmann's "Moulin Rouge" was your thing, you might want to check out his first film, 1992's "Strictly Ballroom," which arrived this week on DVD. It's a colorful, pleasing Australian romance about a championship ballroom dancer (Paul Mercurio) and an unknown (Tara Morice) who under his guidance becomes a star...

Also, "Peter Gunn," the classic 1958-61 TV series starring Craig Stevens, Lola Albright and Herschel Bernardi with cool Henry Mancini music, sets 1 and 2 containing 16 episodes on two discs...

And, "Rashomon," Akira Kurosawa's famous 1950 film starring Toshiro Mifune, new high definition transfer with restored image and sound, commentary, documentary and an introduction by Robert Altman...

DVD, the little platter that created such a clatter in the video industry, is having a birthday on Monday. The popular digital video disc is 5 years old. And growing. The first DVD platform was introduced in seven cities -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Washington -- on March 25, 1997. Prices were high and there were only a few movies to choose from. Warner Home Video, the first studio to tread into the market, released "Twister," " Erasure" and "Space Jam" in its initial outlay...

Slow but steady and positive feedback resulted in all major studios jumping on board with about 200 titles on DVD the first year. Today there are DVD players, now far less expensive than the earlier models, in more than 20 million homes and the disc is widely expected to replace eventually the VHS, which it already is eclipsing in video stores. Studios are not only releasing all new movies on DVD, with a few exceptions, but also are bringing out hundreds of older movies. Box office hits like "The Matrix," "Gladiator," "Shrek," "The Mummy Returns" and "Star Wars: Episode 1 the Phantom Menace" became DVD blockbusters. Retail revenue leaped from about $130 million in 1997 to more than $3.6 billion in 2001.

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