VideoView - UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International  |  Aug. 8, 2002 at 10:03 AM
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What's new in the world of home video:


"The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" -- This sweeping, grandly staged epic brings to life, with imagination and style, J.R.R. Tolkien's image-rich fantasy world of Hobbits and heroes, magic and monsters and a tense, perilous quest pitting good vs. evil. Set in the make-believe world of Middle-earth, Director Peter Jackson's first film of the "Rings" trilogy involves a hazardous journey by the Hobbit Frodo (Ethan Wood) and his friends who are trying to return a powerful, supernatural ring to its origin deep within the forbidding land of Mordor where it can be destroyed -- and there's danger around every bend. The ring has the power to enslave or corrupt every living thing and shadowy minons for its ruthless former owner are pulling out all stops to get it back. Among those accompanying Frodo are the crafty wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and the fearless warrior Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), instrumental in different ways in the many battles ahead. Others in the well-honed cast include Ian Holm, Cate Blanchett, Liv Tyler, Sean Bean, Sean Astin and Christopher Lee. What we have here is an outstanding sci-fi adventure yarn, much more than just sorcery and swordplay, nominated for 13 Academy Awards, including best picture, and winner of four, and faithful to Tolkien's masterwork, one that, after three hours of out-sized heroism in another world, tantalizingly sets up the next installment, "The Two Towers," due in theaters this December. A 10-minute preview is featured in the extras-loaded, two-disc DVD package. 2001. 178 minutes. New Line Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (battle sequences, scary images).

"In The Bedroom" -- An exceptional, unflinchIng film about fierce passions and two people dealing with the unthinkable in an unthinkable way. Matt and Ruth Fowler (Tom Wilkinson and Sissy Spacek) are a contented middle-aged New England couple -- he's a doctor, she teaches music at the high school -- and would be enjoying life a lot more if they weren't worried about their only son, Frank (Nick Stahl) who's home from college. Calling it nothing more than a "summer fling," Frank has become involved with Natalie (Marisa Tomei), an older woman with two children and an estranged, abusive husband. Frank sees no problem -- he must be the only one -- and as his relationship grows, so grows the danger. When tragedy inevitably strikes, Matt and Ruth are devastated but handle their grief in different ways, separately, their marriage beginning to unravel until eventually, there's the obvious solution. An impressive directorial debut by Todd Field (Oscar-nominated for best picture) who's blessed with an outstanding cast. 2001. 130 minutes. Miramax Home Entertainment. Rated R (some violence and language).

"Showtime" -- Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy play two very different cops thrown together in a reality-TV show in this entertaining comic crime caper that's part parody, part thriller. DeNiro is LAPD Detective Mitch Preston, a tough, no-nonsense loner who gets results his way -- even if it means ripping up the joint. When a TV producer (Rene Russo) spots him in action, she sees her own private "Dirty Harry" and a potential hit show. His bosses gladly oblige, over his strenuous objections, and soon he finds a camera peeking over his shoulder everywhere he goes. Mitch is even more upset at having to partner with flaky patrolman Trey Sellars (Murphy), who moonlights as an actor -- he would rather play a cop on TV than be one -- and sees this as his big chance. About the time they finally get their act together they become embroiled in a deadly, for-real fight with the inventor of a gun so powerful it can knock down a house. In one of the more humorous asides, William Shatner, spoofing himself, is brought in to teach the boys how to act. 2002. 95 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated PG-13 (action violence, language, some drug content).

"Last Orders" is a film that offers thanks for the memory of an old friend who has died, like a death in the family, a time to mourn but also a time of celebration because he was a fun guy to have around. Still, the old gang will never be the same. This engaging British film is about four aging, longtime buddies who for years have been meeting regularly in a London pub to drink and digress and mull over the woes and wherefores of life. When one of them dies, the others must follow his final wishes, his last orders, about what to do with his ashes and in so doing, each entwines his own memories with those of the departed with some unexpected results. The remarkable ensemble cast includes Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, Bob Hoskins, Tom Courtenay and David Hemmings. 2002. 109 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (sexuality, some language).


Coming up next: "Iris" with the wonderful Judi Dench and Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent, Mel Gibson's "We Were Soldiers," "Birthday Girl" starring Nicole Kidman and "Joe Somebody" with Tim Allen... Denzel Washington's "John Q" is the nation's favorite home video rental movie this week ...

"Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones" has a Nov. 12 video date. The two-disc DVD version has six hours of additional material, including a feature-length commentary by Director George Lucas...

New for kids: "The Adventures of Tom Thumb & Thumbelina" is a pleasing children's animated film from the Disney folks all about two very small individuals and how they find their destiny -- and each other. (75 minutes, rated G)... New on DVD: Warner's "Time After Time," the entertaining, fanciful 1979 romantic comedy starring Malcolm McDowell as British novelist H.G. Wells using his time machine to track down Jack the Ripper and in the process finds love (Mary Steenburgen)...

Variety says a high-definition version of DVD could be ready for marketing by late next year... When the Paramount version of Tom Clancy's "The Sum Of All Fears" debuts on DVD Oct. 29, it will feature the author's first commentary... In connection with Richard Rodgers' 100th birthday, Fox is releasing six-movie DVD and VHS gift sets featuring "Oklahoma," "Carousel," "The King And I," "The Sound of Music," "South Pacific" and "State Fair"...

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