VideoView -- UPI Arts & Entertainment

By JACK E. WILKINSON, United press International  |  March 20, 2003 at 10:22 AM
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What's new in the world of home video...


"8 Mile" -- Rap star Eminem makes an impressive feature film debut as Jimmy "Rabbit" Smith Jr., a lonely, angry young man trying to make a life for himself amidst harsh surroundings. Things are not going well for Rabbit whose pregnant girlfriend has dumped him, forcing him to move back in with his mother (Kim Basinger) in her trailer home on the wrong side of 8 Mile Road, a street that separates the inner city from the suburbs in 1995 Detroit. He has a boring job as a punch press operator, only coming alive at raucous rap sessions where his longtime ambition is to become a top-line performer. He gets along well with his predominately African-American neighbors and thinks nothing about being the only white face among the rappers, some of whom have nicknamed him "Elvis." Rabbit's pitfall-filled drive to realize his dream makes for an engrossing story, handled skillfully by director Curtis Hanson with broad appeal for fans and non-fans of rap music alike. 2002. 131 minutes. Universal Studios Home Video. Rated R (strong language, sexuality, some violence and drug use).

"Femme Fatale" -- Brian De Palma's sleek, sexy thriller follows the exploits of a beautiful, conniving jewel thief and the Paris photographer she cons into helping pull off a multimillion-dollar scam. Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos), a tall, cool, dangerously seductive blonde and master manipulator, leaves her partners in crime behind and flees with the loot from a daring diamond heist at the Cannes Film Festival. She drops out of sight after assuming another woman's identity and marrying a rich American but upon returning to Paris her "cover" is blown when former paparazzo Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas) snaps her picture for a magazine and now she's a hunted woman again. However, resourcefulness was never Laure's short suit and soon she has Bardo unwittingly tangled up in a bizarre scheme to bilk her husband of $10 million. De Palma, a master in the Hitchcockian method of storytelling, offers a sly, slippery, often teasingly misleading tale of deceit and desire. 2002. 110 minutes. Warner Home Video. Rated R (strong sexuality, violence and language).

"Ghost Ship" -- The Italian luxury liner Antonia Graza disappeared without a trace during a 1962 cruise to America. Now, some 40 years later, her darkened, seemingly deserted hulk finally has been found, drifting ominously in the fog-draped Bering Strait, hundreds of miles from her last location. A salvage crew, led by Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies, sets out to capture this trophy, believed to be worth a fortune. And, it is -- but it's not exactly deserted. "Ghost Ship" takes much of the standard haunted house material and moves it out to sea for a different look, where the unexpected is still expected, things still bump and jump in the dark and the body count is high. There is eventually an explanation but with surprises and a plot twist at the end that causes one to reinterpret everything. Not bad. 2002. 288 minutes. Warner HomeVideo. Rated R (strong violence/gore, language and sexuality).

"Auto Focus" -- A fascinating look at the rise and fall of actor Bob Crane who gained fame as the star of TV's "Hogan's Heroes" but whose life was undone by an obsession for sex that led him down a spiraling, sleazy path to murder. As well-played by Greg Kinnear, Crane finds fame to be a heady tonic but manages to keep things under control, and his family intact, until he meets John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe), an audio-video salesman who introduces him to late-night sex parties, the swinging crowd and how to videotape his own sexual exploits. 2002. 107 minutes. Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment, Rated R (sex, nudity, violence, profanity).

"Jackass: the Movie" -- Slapstick always has been a movie staple, from the Keystone Kops to the Three Stooges, but the mayhem was make-believe. Obviously, that's not the case here. This movie has no plot, just one sight gag after another, a parade of crude, often dangerous stunts pulled off by Johnny Knoxville and his giggling, anything-goes gang from their outlandish MTV cable TV series where getting banged up is so much fun. For fans only. 2002. 85 minutes. Paramount Home Entertainment. Rated R (dangerous, sometimes extremely crude stunts, language and nudity).


Coming up next: Oscar nominee Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid star in "Far From Heaven" and Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter in "Red Dragon"... "The Ring" and "Road to Perdition" are the top video rental movies this week... The lure of Eminem was obvious as his "8 Mile" raked in $40 million in its first day of video release...

Touchstone's landmark movie "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," the first full-length film to so successfully wed cartoon characters with human actors, makes a splashy return Tuesday on VHS and in a twin-disc DVD version with acres of extras, all spruced up for its 15th anniversary release...

Bob Hope will be 100 years old on May 29. As part of the salute to the show business legend, Universal will re-release 17 of his films on DVD April 15, including four of the famous "road" pictures with Bing Crosby and Dorothy Lamour... Four Charlie Chaplin classics -- "The Gold Rush," "The Great Dictator," "Limelight" and "Modern Times" -- arrive on DVD July 1, from Warner Home Video...

From TV come the full first season on DVD of two top cop dramas, "NYPD Blue" and "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"... For kids: Paramount's "Charlotte's Web 2: Wilbur's Great Adventure," a new animated sequel to the classic tale... "Pokemon 4Ever" from Buena Vista... and "Bob the Builder: The Knights of Fix-a-Lot," latest in HIT Entertainment's pre-school line...

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