VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International  |  March 28, 2002 at 11:58 AM
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What's new on the home video scene...


"Bandits" -- Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton are the "Sleepover Bandits," the most successful bank robbers in the history of the United States, we are told up front in Barry Levinson's comedy-tinged crime caper. It's also part buddy movie with obvious parallels to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and part romantic triangle with Cate Blanchett co-starring as a bored housewife who becomes first their hostage and eventually, with first one and then the other, their lover. Willis' Joe and Thornton's Terry become friends in prison and after breaking out launch a crime spree. But, with a twist; they don't just walk into a bank and yell "Stick 'em up,' they kidnap the bank manager the night before, spend the night at his house then accompany him to work the next morning. Joe is smooth, imaginative, professional, Terry a neurotic misfit but they make a good team until Cate's Kate comes between them. The film's generally entertaining and has its clever moments but also has its flaws and at times seems uncertain just what kind of movie it wants to be. 2001. 123 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (some sexual content, language, violence).

"Thirteen Ghosts" -- A sleek, scary and gory movie set in a fantastic haunted house of glass and gadgets, a vast maze-like structure which actually, as one character puts it, "is not a house but a machine, designed by the devil, powered by the dead." When Arthur Kriticos (Tony Shalhoub), already afflicted with tragedy with the accidental death of his wife, inherits the house from his dead uncle (F. Murray Abraham) he decides, foolishly, that it might be a good place for him and his two children to live. More likely a good place to die, for what they find behind those sliding panels and shifting walls is a basement loaded with pure evil, grotesque things visible only with special goggles, determined to do them in, and it's up to Arthur to save his family. A glossy update of a low-budget 1960 William Castle spooker, the story seems at times to be wandering a bit, perhaps in its own maze, but visually, it's more treat than trick. 2001. 91 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated R (horror violence/gore, nudity,some language).

"Slap Shot 2: Breaking The Ice" -- That woeful Charlestown Chiefs hockey team is back in a direct-to-video comedy sequel, this time without Paul Newman but with a few more antics by the now legendary Hanson Brothers. The Chiefs, their glory days long behind them, unhappily are trapped in a new role, acting as battered clowns for a sort of Harlem Globetrotters team on ice in a made-for-TV hockey league. The idea is for the Chiefs, now known as the Super Chiefs, to lose every game and in as funny and humiliating manner as possible. Team captain Sean Linden (Stephen Baldwin) takes the money and skates and holds the team together until he finally gets fed up. Gary Busey is the snaky millionaire owner who gets his thrills from dollar bills. Not bad for a low-budget pic. (The raucous 1977 original is also now available on DVD.) 2001. 105 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (strong language, some sexuality).


"No Man's Land," the Academy Award winner for best foreign language film from Bosnia, debuts on video April 9... Official word is expected from Universal shortly on the release date for "A Beautiful Mind," the Oscar winner for best picture. A June date is likely... "Lord Of The Rings: Fellowship Of The Ring" is now set for Aug. 6, including the three-hour movie and two more hours of extras. An expanded version is planned for November. . . "Monster's Ball" starring best actress winner Halle Berry is expected June 11... "Training Day," for which Denzel Washington won best actor honors, was released on video earlier this month...

Among the other April releases, the Robert Redford-Brad Pitt thriller "Spy Game," Oscar nominee David Lynch's "Mulholland Drive," and the romantic comedy "Serendipity" are due on April 9 followed by "The Deep End," "The Man Who Wasn't There" and "Domestic Disturbance" on April 16, "Behind Enemy Lines" April 23 and "Ali" with Oscar-nominee Will Smith on the 30th... Top rental movies this week are "Training Day," "Don't Say a Word" and "Zoolander"...

For anyone who may not know by now who Keyser Soze is, or more accurately, who he is supposed to be, now is the time to find out. That wonderfully twisted film noir thriller, "The Usual Suspects"(1995), is back for another lineup, a special edition DVD, from MGM Home Entertainment, that includes more than an hour of new interviews with the principal cast and Director Bryan Singer and a lot more. This is that rare type of film that not only improves with age but the more you see it, the more you see. As Stephen Baldwin, one of the "suspects," put it, it's a movie "of constant discovery." Basically, it's the tale of a group of small-time crooks caught up in a suicide assault on a mysterious ship to satisfy a debt to a shadowy, merciless underworld kingpin, the mythic, aforementioned Keyser Soze, who may or may not exist, and told in such a way as to cast doubt on everything and everybody. (It's rated R for violence and a lot of strong language.)

Christopher McQuarrie, who won an Academy Award for his "Suspects" screenplay, called it "a big, well-structured magic trick." In a DVD discussion of the film. McQuarrie said, "My hope was that until the very last minute of the film, they (the audience) just are not sure what's going on." He succeeded admirably. Kevin Spacey, who won an Oscar for his performance, said that when he first saw the script he was "deeply confused -- I had to read it again." "I didn't think it would work," said Gabriel Byrne, the "suspect" with the highest profile who thought all along that he was Soze and was "shocked" to learn he wasn't...

"It plays with your head," Baldwin said. "It's a maze of lies." There are clues aplently, mostly discovered at the end and made more obvious second time around, seen then with a whole new perspective. Singer, a boyish 27-year-old at the time, led everyone in several directions and then brought all together at the end. Well, sort of...

Also new on DVD, "Bull Durham" (1988), a splendid, funny look at minor league baseball by writer-director Ron Shelton, who loads the bases with Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins and proceeds to whack the ball out of the park. Included are interviews, a documentary and a running commentary by Costner and Robbins that's almost as funny as the movie. It's the story of the struggling Durham Bulls, whose new catcher Crash Davis (Costner) gets the season off to a rocky start by punching out the team's new flaky pitcher Nuke LaLoosh (Robbins), who beans the mascot in his first outing, while resident groupie Annie (Sarandon) decides which of the new ballplayers she will "draft" for the summer. From MGM, it's rated R for some sexual content, language and violence. (Special features contain unrated material.)

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