VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International  |  April 4, 2002 at 11:53 AM
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What's new on the home video scene...


"Spy Game" -- Robert Redford is a jaded, about-to-retire CIA spymaster and Brad Pitt his protégé in urgent need of rescue from a Chinese prison in this fast-paced espionage thriller. Redford's character, Nathan Muir, is basically an unprincipled, world-weary user of people in playing out his spy game but since he feels responsible for Pitt's Tom Bishop being in China in the first place he goes against the agency to cook up an elaborate rescue scheme. The CIA meanwhile is distancing itself from Bishop, leaving him to his impending execution rather than step in and maybe upset high-level trade talks between the U.S. and China. The film is set in post Cold War 1991, but through flashbacks it covers four time periods, beginning with the 1970s Vietnam War where Muir and Bishop, a young idealist, first meet. Catherine McCormack plays a small but crucial role as a nurse with a shadowy background. Tony Scott's movie covers a lot of ground, much of it at a frantic pace, leaving viewers little time to absorb details or get to know the characters very well. (But even Muir's own superiors know little about him.) An engaging film, reminiscent at times of Redford's 1975 spyfest "Three Days of the Condor." (The DVD version includes a 10-hour layout that has an alternate ending, behind-the-scenes material, commentary, interviews, expanded DVD-ROM capability and a featurette "How to Become a Secret Agent.") 2001. 125 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (violence, profanity).

"No Man's Land" -- Rookie Director Danis Tanovic's powerful anti-war drama, winner of the Academy Award for best foreign language picture, tells of two soldiers from opposing sides trapped in a trench between enemy lines and forced to trust each other despite fiercely ingrained animosity. The scene is Bosnia, 1993, one is a Serbian, the other a Croatian, both bitterly blaming the other for the civil war that has devastated their part of the world. Chiki (Branco Djunc), a wounded Croatian soldier whose patrol is wiped out after wandering onto enemy soil, is hiding in the trench when the Serbs send two men to check for survivors. He kills one and wounds the other, Nino (Rene Bitorajac), with whom he's forced into an uneasy, bickering alliance for survival. But there's another man in the trench who becomes the main focal point without moving a muscle. One of Chiki's comrades is lying on a powerful land mine, booby trapped by the Serbs who thought he was dead but has regained consciousness and any movement can set off a blast that probably would kill them all. The U.N. force sent to investigate is a picture of ineptitude, its blustering, self-serving leader appropriately named Soft. Tanovic has succeeding in showing not only the futility of war but injecting a sense of comic absurdity. It's a picture not easily forgotten. 2001. 98 minutes. In Serbo-Croatian with English subtitles. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated R (violence and language).

"Mulholland Dr." -- This being a David Lynch movie, it's hard to describe other than to say it's an atmospheric, well-acted but weird, dreamlike film noirish tale about bizarre Hollywood goings on. It doesn't always make sense but it isn't expected to. Lynch is not your usual storyteller, he lives up to his tag of master of misdirection, stocking his pond with red herrings and parading a series of strange characters through strange behavior, which may or may not mean something. Initially, we have an engrossing mystery involving two women -- Betty (Naomi Watts), a perky, blond, aspiring actress, and Rita (Laura Elena Harring), a voluptuous brunette with amnesia after a spectacular car wreck, who grow quite close while investigating Rita's past. Then, there's the cocky director (Justin Theroux) who's ordered by the mob to cast a certain actress in his upcoming picture -- or else. When he refuses, things get nasty. Their stories and several other subplots coincide, more or less, but we're still wondering what's happening. Mulholland Dr. is indeed a twisty road. 2001. 145 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (violence, language, some strong sexuality).

"Serendipity" -- Love is a many splintered thing for Jonathan (John Cusack) and Sara (Kate Beckinsale). They meet one magical night while Christmas shopping and instantly fall in love in this romantic fairy tale from British director Peter Chelson. But as is the case in such movies, a lot of obstacles must be cleared if they are ever to get together. Before they part, sensing they belong together, they decide to test fate with a series of rather silly tests to make sure. One such test has Jonathan writing his name and phone number on a $5 bill and she does the same in a book, the money is then spent, the book sold and if either turns up again they will know theirs is true love. Years pass, he's still in New York, she's on the West Coast and as both are about to be married, they find they are still thinking about each other and with time running out they launch a frantic, last-ditch coast to coast search. Likeable, predictable fluff. 2001. 90 minutes. Miramax Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (a scene of sexuality, brief language).


Coming up: "The Man Who Wasn't There," "The Deep End," "Domestic Disturbance" and "Texas Rangers"... "Training Day" with Denzel Washington in his Oscar-winning role as a rogue cop is the No. 1 video rental in the land this week...

Oscar-winner "A Beautiful Mind" is expected to make its video debut on June 25, according to Variety, though Universal won't confirm the report... "Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius," the Oscar-nominated animated flick, is expected July 2... The hit war movie "Black Hawk Down" has a June 11 video date... "Monster's Ball" with Oscar-winner Halle Berry is now scheduled for June 11...

New Line has set two dates for different versions of "The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring." The theatrical version will be released Aug. 6 on a single videocassette and double-disc DVD and an expanded version is slated for Nov. 12 for the holiday season... Two of Blake Edwards' comic gems, "Victor/Victoria" and "The Great Race," will be showcased on DVD for the first time June 4, along with Edwards' "S.O.B." and "Skin Deep"...

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