VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United Press International  |  Nov. 14, 2002 at 11:20 AM
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What's new in the world of home entertainment.


"Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" -- A visually spectacular animated adventure tale of the Old West and a feisty young mustang who refuses to be broken. Aimed primarily at children, it's a soaring action film adults can enjoy as well, a rare frontier odyssey told, as narrator Matt Damon puts it, not from the saddle but "from the heart" of a horse. It helps that the animals don't talk and there are no cute sidekicks. As Spirit grows into a mighty stallion, his world is threatened by the arrival of the white man and he's captured by a cavalry troop whose colonel (voice of James Cromwell) is obsessed with breaking him. Escaping, Spirit's caught again, this time by Indians but now his treatment is better, he eventually bonds with a little boy (voice of Daniel Studi) and meets the mare of his dreams. The storyline is simple but engaging, its artwork flawless. 2002. 82 minutes. Animated. DreamWorks Home Entertainment. Rated G.

"13 Conversations About a Single Thing" -- That one thing in this compelling film is "happiness" and how the search for it affects us differently, how, as one character puts it, "One man's happiness is another man's curse" and points up vividly how little control we have over our lives. Director Jill Sprecher, who co-wrote the screenplay with her sister Karen, tells the story in four loosely connected vignettes involving everyday New Yorkers. There's the cocky deputy district attorney (Matthew McConaughey)who thinks he has it all, a laconic physics professor (John Turturro) who cheats on his wife "to be happy," the glum, irritable corporate manager (Alan Arkin) who gave all to his job and got little back and a pretty young cleaning woman (Clea DuVall) who has little but is cheerfully optimistic. All are in line for wholly unexpected, unsettling experiences. 2001. 94 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (language, brief drug use).

"Reign of Fire" -- They have enormous wingspans and nasty, lizard-like bodies, breathe fire and gobble up humans in their relentless drive to wipe out life on this planet. They are a brood of scary flying dragons, awakened accidentally from a centuries-old sleep beneath London and soon are spreading mass destruction to the rest of the world. Move ahead nearly two decades to 2020 and most of civilization has been destroyed with survivors banding together in scattered settlements. The leader of one such group (Christian Bale) joins with the American dragon slayer Van Zan (a beefed up Matthew McConaughey) in one final effort to save mankind, the taking on of the lone male dragon which happens to be the most fearsome creature on earth. As a monster movie, not bad. 2002. 102 minutes. Touchstone Home Entertainment. Rated PG-13 (intense action violence).

"The King is Dead" -- Eleven passengers on a cross-country bus are stranded in the heart of the African desert when their driver, using a busted compass, takes them, by one estimate, "500 miles in the wrong direction" and runs out of gas. While one hearty soul embarks on a 150-mile trek to get help, the others settle into an abandoned mining village and, to pass the time, at the behest of a former Shakespearean actor who writes it all down from memory, stage their version of "King Lear." Survival, however, is more than a five-act play. Interesting, with a cast including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Janet McTeer and Bruce Davison. 2001. 107 minutes. MGM Home Entertainment. Rated R (sexuality and language).

"Spider's Web" -- An erotic thriller in which an investment exec (Kari Wuhrer) is seduced by a younger man (Stephen Baldwin) into stealing $40 million from his politically ambitious father. Things don't stay rosy long and soon the two lovers are beginning to wonder who's doing what to whom as the bodies pile up and the double crosses multiply. 2001. 87 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment. Rated R (strong sexual content, language and some violence).


Coming up: "Men in Black II" and "Ice Age"... The hot-selling "Spider-Man" is also the No. 1 video rental across the land this week...

Another blockbuster, another avalanche of cash: Variety says "Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones" sold an estimated 4 million copies during the first 24 hours of its video release, worth about $75 million...

New on DVD: The unrated director's cut of Paul Verhoeven's "Spetters," the sexually graphic 1980 Dutch film about young people searching for a way of life. It's a brutal coming-of-age movie, harsh and shocking but also striking and poignant with a bit of satire thrown in. The four main characters, three bikers and a pretty gold digger, are all vain and thinking only of themselves, dreaming of fame and fortune, most of them unable or unwilling to accept things as they are. Runs 115 minutes, in Dutch with English subtitles, from MGM Home Entertainment...

Also new on DVD: "Complete Monterey Pop Festival," a comprehensive three-disc account of the musical magic of a beautiful June weekend in 1967 that ushered in a new era of rock and roll and launched the careers of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. They joined a diverse cast that included Simon and Garfunkel, The Mamas and the Papas, The Who and Ravi Shankar. From the Criterion Collection...

And, the 2001 Farm Aid concert featuring Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp, Dave Matthews, The Doobie Brothers and Martina McBride, from Pioneer Entertainment.

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