What's new in the world of home video...
"Road to Perdition" -- Tom Hanks plays Michael Sullivan, 1930s hit man and family man, two ways of life that can't help but collide with tragic results, in this engaging drama that grows grim when an inquisitive boy finds out what father knows best. Sullivan wields a smoking gun for John Rooney (Paul Newman), who runs a portion of the Capone gang and treats his No. 1 enforcer almost like a son. Things change radically when Sullivan's own son, 12-year-old Michael Jr. (Tyler Hoechlin), eager to find out what dad really does for a living, stows away in the car one night and is present when a man Rooney deems undesirable is wiped out. Rooney's hot-headed son Connor (Daniel Craig), afraid young Michael will talk, takes out after the hit man's family and kills Sullivan's wife and another son. Savagely bent on revenge, Sullivan must first run for it, with Michael Jr. in tow, in search for a safe haven but now there's a contract out on him and a vicious assassin (Jude Law) is hot on their heels. A powerful, affecting film from Director Sam Mendes that's violent yet touching, about the emotional bond tragedy molds between the surviving Sullivans and a professional killer with a soul, determined his son will not be like him. Hanks is splendid in a career about-face role in which he gracefully portrays his character as a man flawed but not bad. Newman, who seems to improve with age, is right on target as the loyalty-torn crime kingpin, a role that earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor. Much of the movie's success also is due to the somber-toned, richly atmospheric conditions provided by Conrad L. Hall, the renowned cinematographer and two-time Oscar winner who died in January. Fittingly the video version is dedicated to Hall who also was nominated for another Oscar. 2002. 119 minutes. DreamWorks Home Entertainment. Rated R (violence, language).
"The Tuxedo" -- In the latest installment of the Americanization of Jackie Chan, our hero plays Jimmy Tong, a mild-mannered chauffeur who reluctantly subs for his employer, who's really a super-spy but sidelined by a skateboard bomb, and sets out to, what else, save the world from a madman. That means wearing the boss' magic, million-dollar tuxedo, which gives the wearer amazing powers, something that takes Tong a time to get used to, wrecking the place in the process, but eventually is turned into an unstoppable fighting machine who also can do such diverse other things as walk up and down walls and dance and sing at the drop of a note. With his secret agent partner (Jennifer Love Hewitt) he grapples with the bad guy who wants to poison the world's water supply in order to promote his own brand of pure water. Some funny moments but often quite silly and low on logic. Chan goes light on his famous, fast-paced martial arts routines and that's too bad. But the guy's so likable he deserves a look. 2002. 99 minutes. DreamWorks Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13, (action violence, sexual content and language.)
"Knockaround Guys" -- Four young quasi-hoodlums move in on a small Montana town where a bag full of mob money has been lost, determined to find the loot or take the town apart -- or maybe both -- in this OK action flick. Leader of the pack is Matty (Barry Pepper), eager to please his crime boss father (Dennis Hopper), with help from his three buddies, among them the imposing muscleman Taylor (Vin Diesel), who has a way of getting his way. The guys are purposely courting trouble and find plenty of it in the conniving sheriff (Tom Noonan) who runs the town and has an abiding interest in the money, too. John Malkovich co-stars as Matty's uncle and his father's enforcer who also gets in on the action in the blazing finale. There's plenty of violence but ample time left over for character development. The movie, made before Diesel and Pepper became stars, shows both off to good advantage. 2001. 93 minutes. New Line Home Entertainment. Rated R (violence, language and some drug use).
"Tuck Everlasting" -- In this appealing Disney family fantasy about young love and immortality, a wealthy teenager named Winnie (Alexis Bledel), feeling stifled by a strict home life, takes a forbidden walk alone into some nearby woods where she meets another teenager, Jesse (Jonathan Jackson), who warns her not to drink from the spring beside a big old tree. This is her introduction to the Tuck family and soon she's with the rest -- Jesse's parents Mae and Angus (Sissy Spacek and William Hurt) and older brother Miles (Scott Bairstow) -- in their rustic forest cottage where she learns their secret. Seems that many years ago they drank from the spring and have not aged a bit since and probably never will. Jesse, for example, is 17 but really is 104. They are afraid now someone is going to expose them (Ben Kingsley plays a mysterious figure lurking about) and ponder whether to let Winnie go or not. But she and Jesse fall in love, as expected, and now she must decide whether she wants to remain a teen forever. Based on the Natalie Babbitt novel, the film's aimed primarily at pre-teen and teenage girls but thought-provoking enough for their elders. 2002. 90 minutes. Walt Disney Home Entertainment. Rated PG (some violence).
"Mostly Martha" -- This is the rewarding tale of a prominent chef in a chic restaurant who discovers there's a great deal more to life than cooking. Thirty-something Martha Klein (Marina Gedeck) has few equals at her craft, a font of knowledge who prepares great meals but in a business-like manner, more with determination and precision than with passion. Outside the kitchen, her life is empty. Even her amusing visits to a shrink usually have her giving cooking tips. All that begins to change, however, when her sister dies in a car crash and she's left with a sullen 8-year-old niece to care for. Then, things get tense at work with the hiring of a talented new sous-chef, a carefree Italian named Mario (Sergio Castellitto), who eventually manages to win over the niece and then, after considerable sparring (and simmering feelings), the aunt as well. Some great food and the acting's plenty tasty, too. 2002. 106 minutes. In German with English subtitles. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated PG (thematic material and mild language).
Coming up: Steven Segal's "Half Past Dead"... "Sweet Home Alabama" is the new No. 1 national VHS and DVD rental leader...
One of France's most influential films, Jean Cocteau's haunting, visually dazzling 1946 masterwork "Beauty and the Beast" ("Belle et Le Bete") is now on DVD... "X-Men 1.5" is aimed at whetting fans' appetite for the upcoming "X-Men" sequel and should do the job with a two-disc set loaded with hours of special features as well as the 2000 original film...
Still another treat for Beatles fans is on the horizon. EMI is releasing a five-disc "Beatles Anthology" DVD box set on March 31. Four discs contain the related 10-hour TV series which included recording and jam sessions and history of the Fab Four and their classic tunes as well as lesser-known songs. The fourth disc has 81 minutes of special features.