What's new on the home video scene...
"Vanilla Sky" -- David Aames (Tom Cruise) likes what he sees in the mirror. He's young, handsome, confident and rich -- he inherited an international publishing firm -- and spoiled. He has it all -- then suddenly he loses it all. Or does he? In Cameron Crowe's remake of Alejandro Amenabar's adept thriller "Abre Los Ojos" ("Open Your Eyes"), it's hard to tell what's real and what's not. Certainly David doesn't know much of the time where his dreams leave off and reality sets in. David is a carefree sprinter through life with his latest girlfriend Julia (Cameron Diaz) when he meets Sofia (Penelope Cruz, repeating her role in the Spanish original) and it's love at first sight. Bitterly jealous Julia coaxes David into her car, speeds off and crashes, killing herself and leaving him badly disfigured, in body and mind. The movie, told mostly in flashbacks, grows increasingly complicated, surreal and confusing. Handsomely mounted, even dazzling at times, but overall it often misses its mark. 2002. 135 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (sexuality, strong language).
"Lantana" -- The disappearance of a prominent psychiatrist touches off a homicide investigation, bringing together several troubled strangers in this intriguing Australian mystery that's less about murder than it is about human interaction under stress. When Detective Leon Zat (Anthony LaPaglia), who's battling his own emotional demons that led him to cheat on his wife and become violent at times, is assigned to find out what happened to the doctor (Barbara Hershey), he discovers a link between her and his suspicious wife. Meanwhile, the victim's husband (Geoffrey Rush), severely affected by the death of their young child, is a prime suspect in his wife's death. So is a neighbor of Leon's mistress who saw him throw a woman's shoe into the underbrush. The coincidences add to development of the story rather than detract from it as the damaged characters try to put their lives back on track. Well done. 2001. 121 minutes. Lions Gate Entertainment. Rated R (language, sexuality).
"Sidewalks of New York" -- You almost need a scorecard to keep up with the six New Yorkers whose erratic love lives make up Edward Burns' likable romantic merry-go-round comedy. Burns, who wrote, directed and produced the movie, plays Tommy, a 32-year-old TV show producer who has just been thrown out of his apartment by an irate girlfriend. He's attracted right away to two women, schoolteacher Maria (Rosario Dawson) and realtor Annie (Heather Graham). Maria, however, is being stalked by her ex-husband Ben (David Krumholtz) who wants a second chance but also is attracted to a waitress named Ashley (Brittany Murphy) who's having an affair with Griffin (Stanley Tucci) who's married to Annie. Let's see, is that everybody? Quite clever at times, a strong resemblance to the Woody Allen brand of comedy. 2001. 107 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (sexuality, language).
"How High" -- Plenty of high-grade weed and low-grade laughs spice up this raunchy but good-natured satire about two urban stoners who raise havoc at Harvard. Rappers Method Man and Redman play Silas, a Staten Island pusher, and Jamal, a Jersey slacker with an ambitious mother. They surprisingly ace their college entrance tests (with the help of a ghost and some supernatural grass) and are eagerly accepted at minority-poor Harvard. They of course turn the staid Ivy League school upside down with their hazy 'high'-jinks and all-out quest for a good time, their brash style clashing with academic pomposity from the start but when it appears they will be booted out they do an about face to show they're a lot smarter than anyone thought. 2001. 94 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (pervasive drug use and language and sexual dialogue).
For all the Hogwarts-hungry hordes who are just wild about "Harry," the big day is coming up. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" hits video shelves in both VHS and DVD formats on May 28 and it's sure to be a huge success all over again. The famous fantasy about the British boy wizard bowed into video stores in England last Saturday and set a sales record of more than 1.25 million copies the first day. Warner expects to sell 18 to 20 million copies in North America...
"Behind Enemy Lines," the spirited war movie starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman, is the top video rental this week... With Memorial Day approaching, some of the best World War II flicks of the past are being reintroduced on DVD. From MGM comes a four-pack collection with "A Bridge Too Far," "The Great Escape," "Run Silent, Run Deep" and that provocative anti-war film with a World War I setting, "Paths Of Glory." Among the Fox entries are "Patton," "Guadalcanal Diary," "The Desert Rats," "The Longest Day" and "Twelve O'Clock High"...
Continuing in a nostalgic mode, new DVD releases featuring Marilyn Monroe and the early days of John Wayne have hit the market. Best of the lot in the five-disc set "Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection, Volume II" (from Fox) is 1952's "Niagara" in which Marilyn shines as the adulterous wife of a troubled Joseph Cotten. Others are "Don't Bother To Knock," "River Of No Return," "Monkey Business" and "Let's Make Love"... Columbia TriStar has hit the trail with six early John Wayne flicks, fast-paced hoss operas from the '30s, featuring such titles as "Desert Trail," "The Trail Beyond," "Two-Fisted Law" and "Riders of Destiny."