A DANGEROUS WOMAN (MCA/Universal Home Video, 93 minutes) Debra Winger is terrific in this film about a woman who is slightly handicapped emotionally. She is a strong believer in speaking the truth regardless of the consequences. In this moving drama, Winger's character comes alive and makes some adult decisions the people around her are shocked by. Billed as "the story of a woman no one noticed until it was too late," A Dangerous Woman says something about all sorts of people who walk around living lives of quiet desperation. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
A FAR OFF PLACE (Walt Disney Home Video, 117 minutes) Animal rights are explored in this film about poaching in Africa where elephants are killed for their ivory tusks. Two brave kids take matters into their own hands after their family members are killed for opposing the poaching. A local helps them and together they escape and ultimately destroy millions of dollars worth of ivory tusks. It's a shame the ivory was not shown being merchandised so people could be educated about what products to avoid buying. Otherwise, a fine film. (Netta Gilboa)
A PERFECT WORLD (Warner Home Video, 138 minutes) Kevin Costner and Clint Eastwood star in this action drama about an escaped con who takes an eight-year-old boy hostage. The relationship that develops between them becomes the focus of the film and A Perfect World does a commendable job of showing the strong impact that people you meet briefly can have on the rest of your life. Some very gray issues are explored such as challenging a child's religion and whether to have sex in the presence of a child. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
ACE VENTURA: PET DETECTIVE (Warner Home Video) This comedy is about a kooky detective who specializes in stolen live animals. Besides the cute storyline about a kidnapped dolphin, there are some great scenes here involving other animals. Pretty funny without crossing the line into stupid humor and without expecting the animals to carry the film. (Netta Gilboa)
ADDAMS FAMILY VALUES (Paramount Pictures, 94 minutes) The characters from the legendary TV show are reunited for the arrival of Morticia and Gomez's new baby, Pubert. The casting includes Angelica Houston, Christopher Lloyd, Raul Julia and Joan Cusack. The plot concerns a race to stop Pubert's evil nanny from stealing Uncle Fester's heart and fortune. Surprisingly well done. It's worth seeing if you liked the TV show. (Netta Gilboa)
AIRBORNE (Warner Home Video, 91 minutes) Billed as "The world's only rock 'n' rollerblade movie," this love story is about a California surf dude whose parents ship him off to Cincinnati, OH for six months. He takes up the sport of rollerblade instead and falls for his rival's sister. Awesome soundtrack by Steve Miller, Stewart Copeland and others round out a cute script and good casting. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
ALL ABOUT EVE - MARXMAN (A&M Records Inc., 4 minutes) This rock video deserves special mention as the song deals with the un-sexy topic of battered women. The song is super sympathetic to the plight of women who are beaten, yet love the men and choose to stay. It comes down hard on the abusers and even ends with a plug for the Nat'l. Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Impressive effort! (Netta Gilboa)
ALL TIED UP (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 90 minutes) Three roommates decide to tie up and hold captive the fiancé of one of the women to teach him a lesson, after they decide he slept with someone else based on circumstantial evidence. In the process, they each learn something about the art of relationships. Interesting concept last used with Dabney Coleman in 9 To 5. This film's "victim" is far more appealing. Cute. (Netta Gilboa)
BANK ROBBER (LIVE Home Video, 94 minutes) Patrick Dempsey and Lisa Bonet star in this erotic comedy about a bank robber. The bank he stole from reports way higher losses than the actual amount and the robber's photo ends up on the TV news. He holes up in a cheap hotel and all sorts of weasels hit him up for payoffs in exchange for not turning him in. Truly an unusual plot! (Netta Gilboa)
BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM (Warner Home Video, 75 minutes) Animation brings the Batman comics to life in this full-length film. This Batman has no Robin cohort, is portrayed as having an interest in ladies and is not afraid to throw a punch to stop crime. Batman battles The Joker and both characters are drawn slightly differently than in the TV series. Perhaps this was done for legal reasons or because nearly two decades have passed since the TV episodes aired. Surely different artists draw differently too. Worth a look if animation fascinates you or you're a Batman fan. (Netta Gilboa)
BEETHOVEN'S 2ND (MCA/Universal Home Video, 89 minutes) Here's a light-hearted comedy about the gray areas of pet ownership. Two dog owners fiercely protect their interests in a litter of pedigree puppies. Debi Mazur and Charles Grodin star, although the dogs steal the film. Thoroughly amusing, and believable too. (Netta Gilboa)
THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES (Fox Video, 93 minutes) This comedy updates the famous television show about a family of backwards billionaires who move to Beverly Hills, CA. Superb casting includes stars Dabney Coleman, Lily Tomlin and Cloris Leachman and cameos by Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dolly Parton and Buddy Ebsen. Lots of social climbers and scam artists try to take advantage of the Clampetts in the 90s. I never cared much for this TV show, but thought the movie was great. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
BODY PARTS (Night Vision, 60 minutes) Wow! This video is full of the most beautiful women bearing their all for your viewing pleasure. You'll see every part of their gorgeous female anatomy from top to bottom. Be careful with this one, you might go blind! (Jeff Wampler)
BODY SNATCHERS: THE INVASION CONTINUES (Warner Home Video, 84 minutes) Special effects dominate this convincing horror film about people who get transformed into human monsters while they sleep. In never saw the original, yet found this sequel self-explanatory. Meg Tilly is terrific as is Forest Whitaker. Worth seeing if you like to be spooked by films. (Netta Gilboa)
BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS (Academy Entertainment, 95 minutes) This superb drama focuses on the dark side of success. It profiles a successful screenwriter for who stardom ruined his personal life. Now, battling cancer and racing against the clock, he decides he must rebuild his life. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
CALENDAR GIRL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 91 minutes) Three friends go to Hollywood in search of Marilyn Monroe whom they have fantasized about for years. She proves to be more difficult to find than they think, leading to some comic experiences. 90210 star, Jason Priestly, finally does meet her and hooks one of his friends up with a date none of them will ever forget. Cute, especially considering the work involved in portraying Monroe. (Netta Gilboa)
CHANTILLY LACE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 102 minutes) Seven women get together for seasonal retreats at a cabin and discuss life, love, sex, death, jobs, marriage, etc. Jill Eikenberry, JoBeth Williams, Ally Sheedy, Talia Shire, Lindsay Crouse, Martha Plimpton and Helen Slater star in this film that will appeal to fans of Fried Green Tomatos, Return Of The Secaucus 7 and Steel Magnolias. Chantilly Lace is a powerful drama about the fluid nature of friendship. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
CLASS OF 1999 PART 2 (Vidmark, 91 minutes) This sci-fi sequel focuses on a high school substitute teacher who is really an android in disguise. It deals with the gray subject of violence in the schools. Lots of special effects, fires, bullets and punching with no need to have seen the original film before seeing this one. (Netta Gilboa)
CONFESSIONS OF A HITMAN (Hemdale Home Video, Inc., 93 minutes) A Mafia hitman steals four million dollars from his mobster uncle and spends the rest of the film being chased. At the end he spends the money in a most unusual manner. Worth seeing if you like thrillers or enjoy the music of Billy Talbot, whose songs are used in the soundtrack. (Netta Gilboa)
THE CUSTODIAN (Academy Entertainment) Police corruption is the theme here. There are no big plot surprises either. Still, it raises a lot of questions about deceit, corporate policies and why men go wrong. Held my interest, but just barely. (Netta Gilboa)
DANGEROUS HEART (MCA Universal Home Video, 94 minutes) A drug dealer befriends and dates the widow of an undercover cop he murdered. His motivation is to uncover the one million dollars the cop stole from him during a bust. He ends up falling for the woman and complicating both of their lives. Better than average. (Netta Gilboa)
DAZED AND CONFUSED (MCA/Universal Home Video, 103 minutes) It's the last day of high school in 1976 and a group of two dozen students are shown. Some get their kicks hazing those younger than themselves. Others get their kicks destroying property, smoking pot and getting drunk. Alas, the film has too many characters to develop any of them very deeply. I found myself caring about very few of them and thinking of the many varieties of high school issues not explored. Worth seeing if you are interested in a positive media portrayal of drug use or if you ever find yourself thinking back to your own high school days. (Netta Gilboa)
DEAD BOYZ CAN'T FLY (VCI Home Video, 102 minutes) This powerful cult movie can be compared to a 90s version of A Clockwork Orange. Three punk youths are fascinated with violence as a form of entertainment. Highly recommended as an exploration of some of the motivations behind criminal deviance and street gangs. (Netta Gilboa)
DEATHWISH 5 (Vidmark Inc., 95 minutes) Charles Bronson sure has an unlikely set of friends. In each film, one of his friends gets hurt by a bad guy and so Bronson gets revenge for them vigilante style in Deathwish 5 (which does not rely on your having seen parts 1-4). Bronson's ex-girlfriend has married a mobster who has interfered with her fashion business and what seems like the entire New York City garment district. Well done with the usual amount of blood and guts. (Netta Gilboa)
DEMOLITION MAN (Warner Brothers Home Video) Sylvester Stallone plays a cop frozen since 1996, now thawed out in 2032 to catch a deadly criminal (Wesley Snipes) who was also frozen since 1996. The world is a peaceful place in 2032. Crime is low and anything not good for you, is illegal; including smoking, drinking, salt and anything else that's enjoyable. Snipes threatens to destroy that peace. Since violent crimes have been practically non-existent since 2010, Stallone is the only man who knows how to deal with men like Snipes. The cops in 2032 don't even carry guns and the only guns around are kept in a museum. This movie is fantastic. Everything, the acting, the special effects, the explosions, the fight scenes, the sets, they're all incredible! I watched it several times and honestly wouldn't mind seeing it again. If you haven't seen it yet, go rent it! Better get to the video store early, before they're all rented. (Jeff Wampler)
DIGITAL MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS AND THE WORLD OF MIDI (Red Pohaku Productions, 1621 Dole St. #1008, Honolulu, HI 96822-4840, 52 minutes) This instructional tape helps you choose, use, set up and troubleshoot drum machines, keyboards, synthesizers, sequencers and wind controllers. It's designed to help you save money and get it all up and running quickly. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF CHRISTINA (MCA/Universal Home Video, 93 minutes) A man becomes a murder suspect after his wife disappears from a boat and he is the last person to have seen her alive. This superb thriller had me glued to my seat! It relied on a good script and acting, instead of violence and special effects, as most films in this genre do these days. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
DOUBLE EXPOSURE (Prism Entertainment) Lust, deceit and revenge are dished up in this action film. However, the acting and photography are better than the plot. I didn't really develop any sympathy for the characters before they got killed. Wait for this one to show up on cable. (Netta Gilboa)
DOUBLE OBSESSION (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 88 minutes) Margeaux Hemingway plays a mentally disturbed lesbian who develops unrequited feelings for her college roommate. Based on a true story, we see her kidnap, torture and murder. Hemingway is quite good in this disturbing film which has a particularly upsetting plot. This is one film few people will care to sit through twice. (Netta Gilboa)
DUTCH HACKER VIDEO (2600, P.O. Box 752, Middle Island, NY 11953. 25 minutes) I wondered whether I would understand what I was actually watching in this video about hackers obtaining "root" privileges on a military computer. I sure did! Emmanuel Goldstein, editor of 2600, describes for laymen what is happening at each step on the computer monitor. Technical quality of the video is excellent, and you won't be disappointed no matter what your motives are for watching it. I enjoyed the interaction between the hackers and seeing the vulnerabilities of the system. The hackers obtained "root," guessed passwords, read E-mail, downloaded files, etc. There is much to be learned here of value to system administrators and this is a good introduction to the hacking mindset. It ends abruptly and doesn't attempt to explain or justify their actions, but more than delivers on information and entertainment value for the money. (Netta Gilboa)
EUROPEAN STRIP SEARCH (Night Vision, 60 minutes) Ever wondered what strip clubs were like in Europe? Well, here's your chance to find out. This video takes you to some well known, as well as some lesser known, clubs in Europe. As far as a documentary of European strip clubs goes, this is a decent video. But after watching this video, I really believe there is something to be said for American women. Watch it and you'll see what I mean. (Jeff Wampler)
FAMILY DOG (MCA/Universal Home Video, 47 minutes) Steven Speilberg and Tim Burton are the brains behind this animated series about the gray life of being a dog. There are constant challenges to get attention and treats; avoiding being punished and getting along with human owners and their friends. Admirable. (Netta Gilboa)
FATHER HOOD (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 105 minutes) Patrick Swayze stars as a convicted criminal who wants to be reunited with his two children upon his release. The system has sent them to live elsewhere and so Swayze kidnaps them and runs with them for better or worse. It's a matter of opinion whether Swayze is a better or worse parent than the foster home the state has in mind. Swayze exposes cruelty and abuse there, but loses in the end. It's billed as an action-comedy, but Father Hood raises some very serious ethical questions. (Netta Gilboa)
FEARLESS (Warner Home Video, 118 minutes) Jeff Bridges stars as a man who survives a plane crash and develops the idea he is invicible. The film explores airplane crashes and how survivors adjust to handling the trauma. Great insight is provided into how airlines treat survivors and the type of therapy methods used. A serious tear-jerker, Fearless is a monumental effort on Hollywood's part. Definitely a movie you will not easily forget. Very highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
FOR LOVE OR MONEY (MCA/Universal Home Video, 96 minutes) Michael J. Fox stars as a hotel concierge eager to own his own hotel. He begins negotiations with someone who can bankroll him and falls in love with a girl who can make or break the deal. He ends up forced to choose between the hotel and the girl. In between, the world of hotel concierges is explored. Fox scores theatre and concert tickets, retail "deals," takes care of pets and makes people feel catered to. It's worth noting that the movie's final and most important deal is saved by trading a ride for a pair of Grateful Dead tickets <grin>. Definitely worth seeing.
FREAKED (Fox Video, 78 minutes) This thoroughly enjoyable sleeper should be sought after by anyone who enjoys cult films. Brooke Shields stars with Alex Winter, Randy Quaid, William Sadler and Mr. T. It's about three teens who stop at a freak show and get turned into freaks for public display. The special effects are truly awesome! They have to be seen to be believed. The superb portrayal of physically deformed freaks as people with feelings and talents is also worth noting. The plot and acting are good enough to earn Freaked my vote for a must see film. (Netta Gilboa)
FREEFALL (Vidmark, Inc., 96 minutes) A female photographer from Wild Earth magazine is sent on assignment to photograph the Taita Falcon, thought to be extinct, but recently sighted in Africa. While there, she falls for a stuntman who turns out to be from Interpol - or is he? Her life is in danger and she has no idea who to trust. Definitely worth seeing if you like suspense. (Netta Gilboa)
THE FUGITIVE (Warner Home Video, 120 minutes) Harrison Ford stars as a man wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. Ford escapes en-route to prison and it's up to a U.S. Marshal, played by Tommy Lee Jones, to stop him. A superbly scripted plot and great acting make The Fugitive one great movie. Highly recommended for fans of drama, action, suspense and especially chase scenes. (Netta Gilboa)
THE GETAWAY (MCA/Universal Home Video, 115 minutes) Alec Baldwin, Kim Basinger and James Woods star in this superb suspense film about career criminals who hold up banks, armored trucks, etc. It's one of those films that keeps you at the edge of your seat from beginning to end. Deals with the gray areas of trust between partners and the fine art of unusual negotiations. (Netta Gilboa)
GHOST IN THE MACHINE (Fox Video, 93 minutes) Excellent special effects lend credibility to this unusual film about two hackers who track a dead serial killer whose soul is still very much alive in a large computer network. The killer is finally stopped through the use of a computer virus. Ghost In The Machine is very entertaining despite its implausibility. You should definitely see this if you are into thrillers, computers or serial killers. Just remember it's only a movie! (Netta Gilboa)
THE GOOD SON (Fox Video, 88 minutes) Ever wonder how some adult criminals behaved as children? This film certainly raised some questions along those lines. Macaulay Culkin stars as a malicious child who has a passion for murder. He is exposed by his visiting cousin (played by Elijah Wood). Yet, no adult around them quite wants to believe the truth until it's almost too late. The Good Son is surprisingly well done. (Netta Gilboa)
GRAMMY'S GREATEST MOMENTS: Vol. 1 and 2 (A*vision, 60 minutes each) David Crosby narrates these compilation tapes of the best performances of 35 years of Grammy awards. Included are duets by Phil Collins and David Crosby, Natalie Cole and Nat "King" Cole, Michael Bolton and Kenny G., and Barbara Streisand and Neil Diamond. Also contains "Come Together" performed by Aerosmith and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" with Annie Lennox dressed like Elvis. (Netta Gilboa)
GRUMPY OLD MEN (Warner Home Video, 105 minutes) Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau star in this comedy about two neighbors who constantly challenge each others friendship for fun. Then Ann Margaret moves into the neighborhood and captures both men's hearts. (Netta Gilboa)
GYPSY (Cabin Fever Entertainment, 150 minutes) Bette Midler and Ed Asner star in this film about a stage mother whose pushiness causes one of her daughters to abandon her and the other to become the world's most famous striptease artist, Gypsy Rose Lee. It happens by accident and Gypsy provides great insight into the worlds of show business and stripping. Midler is so good it's difficult to imagine anyone else playing the part. She probably took the role for the songs, but does some of her best acting ever too. Definitely worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
HARD TARGET (MCA/Universal Home Video, 97 minutes) Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Chance Boudreau, an ex-marine turned drifter. A woman's father, also a drifter, is murdered and she enlists the help of Chance to find his killer. It turns out that some very rich men are paying large sums of money to hunt these drifters. The hunters quickly become the hunted when Van Damme becomes their target. Directed by John Woo, a world-famous action director, this film is unlike any of Van Damme's other movies. This has to be the best Van Damme film yet. If you want action, you'll definitely get it! (Jeff Wampler)
THE HARVEST (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 97 minutes) Imagine traveling abroad and waking up to discover you are missing a kidney. Miguel Ferrer is superb as a man who discovers there is a black market for human organs. This thriller keeps you at the edge of your seat as the butchers come back for the other kidney too. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
HATED: GG ALLIN & THE MURDER JUNKIES (Film Threat Video, 60 minutes) Subtitled "A Rock 'n' Roll Overdose," this documentary shows the things you may have read about in one of Gray Areas' interviews. This is not a video for the weak of stomach. Included in the documentary are pieces of video from GG Allin & the Murder Junkies performances, solo performances and interviews with band members, GG himself and one of GG's fans/friends. The video does a decent job of showing what GG Allin was about, but it could have been better. A more in-depth study of GG's life as a child and more interviews with fans would have been nice. I personally was left wanting to know more, but since this is the only documentary of his life that I have heard of, I would strongly recommend seeing it. It must be seen to be believed! (Jeff Wampler)
THE HAWK (Academy Entertainment, 84 minutes) What would you do if you suspected your spouse was a serial killer? That's the dilemma facing a suburban housewife with kids in this British thriller. Makes you ponder the gray line between trusting your instincts and the facts. (Netta Gilboa)
HEY FOLKS! IT'S INTERMISSION TIME! (Something Weird Video, P.O. Box 33664, Seattle, WA 98133, 105 minutes) Readers under 30 years of age have probably never seen these trailers which promoted the concession stands at drive-in and movie theaters during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Older readers will feel a surge of nostalgia at seeing these pristine films compiled together on one videotape. There are some public service announcements and non-food ads, but expect to see more plugs for popcorn, hot dogs, soft drinks, hamburgers and candy than you can imagine. Best viewed while eating <grin>. (Netta Gilboa)
JERSEY GIRL (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 95 minutes) The gray areas of class are explored in this romantic comedy about a family oriented girl from North Jersey and a Manhattan Mercedes dealer. Her clothes, accent and behavior are at odds with his high society lifestyle. Raises interesting questions about the choices we make to fit in. Definitely worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
THE JOY LUCK CLUB (Hollywood Pictures, 125 minutes) I was dazed by the time I sat through the Joy Luck Club. One joyless or brutal scene follows another in this film about four Chinese mothers and their four daughters trying to come to terms with one another and themselves. Joy Luck Club is filled with arranged marriages, bad marriages, dying mothers, adultery, rape and suicide. We see one of the characters drown her baby and another one leaves her two babies by the roadside. One of the mothers, as a girl in China, is kicked in the face by her mother and a daughter cuts her arm with a knife, bleeding into the soup her dying mother will drink; apparently, it's kind of healing/love ritual in Chinese culture. In one scene, a couple has sex standing up, but they don't seem to be having much fun. Maybe the producers should have cast Mickey Rourke as one of the Caucasian characters. Nobody has much fun. One of the daughters says, "I like being tragic," and you believe her. These women--mothers and daughters-- are always beating their breasts and complaining about life. Oh, if only things were different. Oh, if only my mother understood me. Oh, if only my daughter obeyed me. And there's a lot of violin music to underscore their unhappiness. If you were fiddling for this soundtrack, you'd deserve a million bucks because you'd have to walk around with your arm in a sling for a year afterward. I got the feeling the "Joy Luck" ladies would have tears in their eyes when they went to the store to buy Cracker Jacks.
This is a film about life in the Chinese-American community. It's tough there, joyless. (The film's title is ironic.) But I don't believe that. My second wife was Chinese and her mother had come from China to this country after a bad first marriage. My wife's mother and her friends were just like the woman you'd see playing canasta or buying lottery tickets at Payless. Whenever I saw them, they were laughing and dunking their cookies in tea and I don't believe they thought they were tragic. Amy Tan, who wrote the novel and co-wrote the screenplay, tries to lighten up occasionally. One of the characters tells her mother, "Nothing I do ever pleases you," and the mother answers, "No, you make me happy," but it's hard to believe. In another scene, a couple is arguing about cat fleas and which one of them should pay for flea powder. It could be a scene from The Honeymooners. Unfortunately, it's played seriously. I kept waiting for the guy to tell his wife, "One of these days, pow, right in the kisser." He didn't, but I still wanted to laugh. Do you remember the Myth of Sisyphus? The poor guy is in hell and he has to push a boulder uphill throughout eternity. When he nears the top, the boulder rolls down and he has to start all over again. It makes you tired thinking about it. After watching three Chinese women beat their breasts and bemoan their condition, rolling that boulder begins to look like a soft job. (Arthur Winfield Knight)
JUDGEMENT NIGHT (MCA/Universal Home Video, 110 minutes) The story of a few friends going out to a ball game, quickly turns to the story of a few friends running for their lives. Trying to beat traffic, they take a wrong turn and end up witnessing a drug hit. Denis Leary stars as the villain who must keep them from telling anyone what they saw as he chases them through the dark recesses of the city. Emilio Esteves and Cuba Gooding, Jr. also star. Good soundtrack, decent action. Denis Leary plays a great villian, so I say definitely worthy of your rental dollars. (Jeff Wampler)
JUST ANOTHER GIRL ON THE I.R.T. (LIVE Home Video, 96 minutes) Life in the projects is explored in this film about black high school students. Made by an independent black woman filmmaker, Leslie Hains, this film has an honesty that Hollywood might not have supported. The film is sensitive in its portrayal of everything from dreams of a better future to teenage pregnancy. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
JUST ONE OF THE GIRLS (Vidmark Entertainment, 94 minutes) Corey Haim stars in this teen comedy as Chris, a male student who poses as a female to avoid the school bully. The plan works all too well and Chris has to contend with the bully falling for him without revealing his true gender. Lots of poignant moments as differences between males and females are explored. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
LAST LIGHT (Vidmark Entertainment, 104 minutes) A death row prison guard befriends a condemned murderer awaiting execution. Kiefer Sutherland stars and directs this powerful action film. Explores prison corruption, violence by guards against inmates and friendships between people who are supposed to hate each other. According to the film there are 2676 people on death row in the U.S. Between 1983 - 1993, 191 inmates were executed. Pretty grim statistics. Great film. (Netta Gilboa)
THE LAST PARTY (LIVE Home Video, 96 minutes) Robert Downey Jr. stars in this documentary style cult film. It follows the 1992 presidential campaigns and addresses social issues such as drugs, abortion rights, racism, street kids, guns, etc. The movie's strength is its cameos which includes snippets with: Patti Davis, Jerry Brown, Oliver Stone, Richard Lewis, Sean Penn, Oliver North, B-Real of Cypress Hill, Willie D., Spike Lee and G. Gordon Liddy. This is one of those rare films that gets better with repeated viewings. Highly recommended. A must to watch if the gray areas of politics interest you even slightly. (Netta Gilboa)
LETHAL NINJA (Vidmark Entertainment, 97 minutes) Another movie about a martial artist whose girl is being held hostage and he has to save her. The action scenes are horrible. You could see that the punches and kicks weren't landing. The worst part was the roller skating ninjas with blades in their skates. Come on, that's just stupid. And where do they get these actors? I kept looking for a guy holding cue cards somewhere. It reminded me of elementary school, when the teacher had someone in the class read a story out loud. My advice, unless every other video in the store is rented, skip it! (Jeff Wampler)
LOOK WHO'S TALKING NOW (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 95 minutes) John Travolta and Kirstie Alley are back in this humorous sequel about two dogs who speak. You don't need to have seen either of the two previous films to enjoy this. Diane Keaton and Danny DeVito supply the dog's voices. The scenes with the wolves and the seductive female boss were great. Worth seeing if you are a dog lover. (Netta Gilboa)
MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 107 minutes)
Woody Allen reunites with Diane Keaton in this comedy that also stars Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston. Keaton becomes convinced one of their neighbors murdered his wife and tries to solve the mysteries her death creates. It seems the body keeps reappearing! The plot has several unexpected twists sure to keep you guessing. Worth seeing if you like mysteries or Woody Allen's comedic style. (Netta Gilboa)
ME & VERONICA (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 97 minutes) Two sisters reunite when one needs the other to care for her children. Patricia Wetting plays a welfare cheat bent on self-destruction and Elizabeth McGovern stars as the responsible sibling. This drama explores holding grudges, forgiveness and the art of learning to let go of the past. The film was quite depressing and did a good job of showing some of the many ambiguities of human behavior. (Netta Gilboa)
MIND BENDERS VOLUME 2 (Something Weird Video, 117 minutes) If you are even marginally interested in LSD and 60s drug culture, don't think of missing this video containing "scary drug education films." I was captivated by these high quality shorts which contained interviews with doctors, users and lots of attempts to simulate LSD effects for the camera. Well worth a look. (Netta Gilboa)
MODEL BY DAY (Academy Entertainment, 89 minutes) Someone is attacking New York City's top female models. Two of them decided to seek revenge vigilante style. Shannon Tweed and Sean Young star. Lots of pretty women, deaths and baffled police. (Netta Gilboa)
MONEY FOR NOTHING (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 110 minutes) What would you do if you discovered $1.2 million lying in the middle of the road? There's a gray area! John Cusack stars and he decides to keep the money, launder it and spend it. Debi Mazur co-stars as his girlfriend. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
MR. WONDERFUL (Warner Home Video) Matt Dillon tries to fix his ex-wife up with a new guy so she'll re-marry and his alimony payments will cease. He ends up falling in love with her again, or perhaps admitting he never stopped. William Hurt, Annabella Sciorra and Mary-Louise Parker co-star in this poignant comedy. Worth seeing for its examination of the perils and politics of the dating/mating game. (Netta Gilboa)
MURDER SO SWEET (Academy Entertainment, 94 minutes) People raise their eyebrows when a spouse dies of suspicious causes. But imagine the suspicion when it happens to two of your spouses. Harry Hamlin stars as the suspected murderer in this non-violent suspense film. (Netta Gilboa)
MY BOYFRIEND'S BACK (Touchstone Home Video, 95 minutes) This cult comedy is about a teenager who is murdered in a hold-up as he is asking the girl he loves to the high school prom. He comes back to life after his funeral and tries to keep the date amidst intense prejudice from the community and a need to eat human flesh to keep from decaying. Unique! (Netta Gilboa)
MY LIFE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 117 minutes) Michael Keaton gives his best performance since Clean And Sober in this drama about a man with terminal cancer who films videos in which he speaks to his yet unborn son about his life and philosophies. Brutally honest (for a movie), thoroughly engrossing and utterly convincing. Don't miss it. (Netta Gilboa)
MY NEW GUN (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 99 minutes) Gun control is such a large gray area that I am unable to decide whether I am pro or con. Along comes this romantic comedy which shows some of the problems inexperienced users can run into. Whether you have an opinion on this issue or not, the film should hold your interest. It relies on non-stop action and plot twists, not preaching or taking sides. (Netta Gilboa)
NATIONAL LAMPOON'S LAST RESORT (Vidmark Inc., 93 minutes) This slapstick comedy is about a tourist resort called Treasure Island. They lure two scuba instructors to search for lost treasure, but alas the instructors turn out to be neither certified divers nor former Navy Seals as they claimed. Lots of mishaps, mayhem and general confusion. (Netta Gilboa)
THE PELICAN BRIEF (Warner Home Video, 140 minutes) This is one of those rare films that grabs you in the first few minutes and doesn't let go. A law student (Julia Roberts) researches who might have had motive to murder two Supreme Court justices. Turns out she's right and everyone she shows the legal brief she's written to starts dying. A terrific thriller that will not disappoint. (Netta Gilboa)
PHILADELPHIA (Columbia Tristar Home Video)When Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks) tells his middle-class family he has AIDS and that he's going to sue his former employer for wrongfully firing him from the law firm he was a part of, his large family, without exception, stands behind him.
At this point you know Jonathan Demme, who directed Philadelphia, is a liar or a simpleton. I don't think anyone in the San Francisco Bay Area would get the kind of total support Beckett does, and he certainly wouldn't get it in a homophobic state like Pennsylvania.
I taught college an hour from Pittsburgh for 27 years and a number of my students told me about their high school experiences beating up homosexuals when they didn't have anything else to do on the weekends. It was as natural to them as deer hunting.
Some people might say Pittsburgh is a shot and a beer town, that it's lower class than its eastern counterpart, but Philadelphia is just Pittsburgh with a tie. Philadelphia, after all, had one of the most reactionary cop-mayors in recent history, Frank Rizzo. He almost made Mayor Daly of Chicago look like a liberal.
Friends of mine who are open about being gay out west almost invariably tell me they retreat to the "closet" when they go back east, and the faculty members I knew who were gay were very careful to keep their personal lives private. Not one of them announced his sexual preference.
Probably Demme meant well, since Philadelphia is the first big-budget film about AIDS, but Beckett is a one dimensional character and, as Tom Hanks plays him, he seems to be neuter. You never see him and his lover Miguel (Antonio Banderas) sexually involved; in fact, they barely touch.
Beckett, as you might guess, loves the law and we get a couple of speeches where he tells us how much he loves justice. He's also an opera buff. There's a long, teary scene where he wanders around a room lit by firelight. He has tears in his eyes as he listens to a Maria Callas recording so you know what a sensitive guy he is.
Possibly Demme and Ron Nyswaner, who wrote Philadelphia, had to please so many interest groups that there was no way they could have made a picture with substance, but you can't help wishing they'd tried harder, that they'd been willing to offend someone.
Philadelphia, despite its good intentions, trivializes experience. Also, even though Tom Hanks lost thirty pounds to play Beckett -- Hanks looks gaunt for the first time in his life -- he isn't right for the role. There's something hollow at the center of his performance. (Demme should have cast a gay actor in the role).
As I left the theatre, I remembered saying goodbye to a gay friend in Sonoma a couple of years ago. It was dusk and the two of us sat on the steps of the Arts Center.
I told Paul my wife and I were driving back east through South Dakota and he said, "I was married in Aberdeen."
It was difficult for me to imagine Paul with a woman but he said, "It happened. In 1960. Before I was busted."
Paul was sent to jail for having an affair with an eighth grade boy when he taught in Illinois.
His wife left when he was sent to prison. "Everyone left," he said, lighting a cigarette, coughing, in the twilight. "That's why I changed my last name to Mariah. It rhymes with pariah."
Paul had to get up at 5 to go to work washing old people at a convalescent home. His long-term lover died of AIDS and Paul washed him, too. Paul always seemed to be washing someone.
Someone always seemed to be dying.
Paul told me he passed out at an AIDS forum two weeks earlier and his friends called the paramedics. Paul was wearing black leather and the room was hot, crowded, and he'd worked all day.
He said, "My sister had polio in the forties and I remember she came home crying because no one would sit next to her at school. I told the people at the forum it's like that with AIDS," and he coughed again. "No one wants to sit next to you."
In the few moments I sat there on the steps with Paul I learned more about what it's like to live with the reality of AIDS than I did in the two hours I spent watching Philadelphia.
Demme pretends to be saying something important, but he tells us nothing. (Arthur Winfield Knight)
THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER (Walt Disney Home Video, 24 minutes) Mickey Mouse stars in a dual role as a pauper who encounters the royal prince and trades places with him out of boredom. This classic animated tale is an adaptation of the Mark Twain story. Many in the kingdom discover the switch and not everyone wants the real prince back when he returns to be crowned king. Well done for its short length. (Netta Gilboa)
THE PROGRAM (Touchstone Pictures, 114 minutes) I taught college for thirty years. By the time I took an early retirement in May, my students had begun to look the same. When I saw The Program, the students on the screen looked the same, too, so I wasn't sure if that was due to my burn-out or to a mediocre script by Aaron Latham and the director, David S. Ward. Probably, it was a little of both.
The Program is about college football. Eastern State University's head coach Sam Winters (James Caan) has had two "so- so" seasons, and he's in danger of losing his job. But don't worry. This is a Touchstone Picture, and Touchstone is a subsidiary of Disney. The only difference between the two companies is that the characters in a Touchstone film are allowed to swear. Caan's character swears constantly, and he swaggers around like an eighteen year old, possessed by his own importance.
Maybe Caan played himself. In a recent interview he talks about how he used to hang out with Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion. Caan says he once "balled an astounding number of Playboy models, bam, bam, bam in a row." Then he asks the interviewer, "Do you know how may feminists it takes to screw in a light bulb?" Caan says, "One to screw in the light bulb and the other to suck my dick," and he begins to laugh. He thinks that's "killer" humor.
Most of the characters in The Program are so stupid that you'd imagine them flunking out of junior college the first semester, but they don't have to be smart if they can throw the ball since sports are big business.
If you're a star player, The Program suggests, you can get away with anything, and it's true. When I taught college, I was asked to sign a progress report three times each semester for the students who were involved in sports. One semester, I noticed that my signature had been forged on a form for a star basketball player and I asked him about it. He looked blank and insisted I'd signed it.
I turned the form over to the Dean of Liberal Arts, then met with her, the student and the head Basketball coach. Finally, they all agreed it wasn't my signature, but the student kept insisting he didn't know what happened. Some friend must have forged my signature when he was in the shower. The Dean and the head coach agreed: there were some pretty fiendish types skulking around the gym. It was a mystery.
That happened at a small college in Northern Appalachia, where there weren't any TV tie-ins, where no real money was at stake. It happened in Joe Montana county, the Monongahela Valley, where over a third of the people couldn't read the front page of a newspaper-- but they could drink beer and throw a football. They knew what was important, and so did the people who ran the college.
The Program is supposed to take place in Tennessee, although it was filmed at Duke University in North Carolina. The star quarterback is one of the few players who seems to have normal intelligence, but Joe Kane (Craig Sheffer) is self-destructive. He's the product of a family that, he says, is comprised of "drunks and f----ups," and, despite his intelligence and his love for a good woman, he's going downhill fast.
At one point, Joe lies in the middle of a busy highway when he's drunk, and a number of his teammates follow him. Later Joe tells his girlfriend, "Guys look (up) to me because they think I'll do anything." And she says, "You scare me, Joe." Despite some stupid lines, Sheffer (who played Norman Maclean in A River Runs Through It) manages to make us care about Kane. The main thing wrong with The Program is that it's too familiar. We've seen the coach under pressure, the students who can't read or do simple math. We've seen jocks using steroids, seen them get other students to take their places during a test. They're amoral. The only thing they care about is winning. One of the things that bothered me most during the last four or five years I taught was that the students were not only stupid, they were proud of it, and that's captured in The Program. When one of the football players who's recruited is told he'll have to have a tutor to help him through his remedial work he says, "I don't need no tutor." He can run fast, catch the ball and hold onto it. What else does he need? The students in The Program are frighteningly like those in real life. They both know what's important, and it isn't intelligence. (Arthur Winfield Knight)
RED CELL: SECRET SEAL "TERRORIST" OPERATIONS (Paladin Press, 55 minutes) Here is rare footage of Navy operations with Red Cell experts interviewed as well as former participants. Red Cell was a mission designed to test security and correct weaknesses at 14 bases in order to prevent a real terrorist from being able to do so. Needless to say, the bases proved to be quite insecure. Interesting viewing for those interested in military history, national security and/or terrorism. (Netta Gilboa)
ROAD SHOW SHORTS Vol. 1 and 2 (Something Weird Video, approx. 105 minutes each) These compilations cover burlesque and nudist films from the early days of sex films. Presented in documentary style, this is the best of the black and white footage that exists from exploitation's golden era. Excellent historical reference and ideal for those who enjoy watching nudity rather than hardcore. Great quality too. (Netta Gilboa)
SAFE IN THE STREETS: How To Recognize And Avoid Violent Street Crime (Paladin Press, 50 minutes) Chock full of facts, statistics and information, this video explains the criminal mindset and discusses how criminals remove your options, forcing you to comply or be hurt. Criminals rarely attack without interviewing victims first. This video focuses on how to handle the approach and interview rather than repeating the standard self-defense techniques. It's very useful and totally original. I have never seen some of this information before in the hundreds of books I have read on rape. Highly recommended and a must if you have been mugged, spent money on self-defense courses or spend a lot of time outdoors. (Netta Gilboa)
THE SAINT OF FORT WASHINGTON (Warner Home Video, 100 minutes) Ever wonder about the people who try to wash your windshield at red lights? This film takes you inside their world. The gray areas of homelessness including shelters, violence, health care, employment, etc. are explored in detail. Matt Dillon is superb as a guy whose building is torn down leaving him on the streets to cope with no warning. Don't miss this one! (Netta Gilboa)
SAVE ME (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 93 minutes) Harry Hamlin stars in this erotic thriller about a man who falls in love with the wrong woman. Threats, bullets, speeding cars and even murder fail to deter him from trying to save her from an abusive boyfriend. But his boss turns out to be in on it, and she's corrupt too. Hamlin is headed for heartbreak. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)
SEXUAL INTENT (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 88 minutes) Based on a true story about the "sweetheart scammer," this film follows a man who gets close to women until he can rip them off financially. When the law is unable to stop him quickly enough, several of his victims band together to teach him a lesson. Very well done. (Netta Gilboa)
THE SEXY SHOCKER PSYCHO REEL (Something Weird Video, 100 minutes) This compilation tape takes the best scenes from 31 cult and exploitation films and splices them together for a non-stop orgy of deaths, monsters, nude women, gratuitous violence and idiotic moments. The films used include The Beast That Killed Women and Satan In High Heels. Quite unique entertainment and if one of them catches your eye, Something Weird Video offers each film in its entirety too. (Netta Gilboa)
SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS (MCA/Universal Home Video, 104 minutes) An 11 year-old hacker assists his father, an FBI agent, in tracking a serial killer. The computer performs some unrealistic feats, but despite that, this film gets high marks from me. Slaughter deals with how a crime is solved rather than sensationalizing the acts of the killer. It's the type of film that sucks you in and keeps you at the edge of your seat until the very end. Not to be missed! (Netta Gilboa)
SON-IN-LAW (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 106 minutes) A farmer's daughter goes to college in California and befriends a wild city boy. He dresses funny, tries new things and lives a spontaneous, bohemian lifestyle. She brings him home for Thanksgiving and he ends up influencing much of her community. Son-In-Law will make you think while it makes you laugh. Well done. (Netta Gilboa)
STRICTLY BALLROOM (Touchstone Home Video, 104 minutes) Even though ballroom dancing doesn't interest me at all, I greatly enjoyed this love story about two dancers who team up together to compete. They face many professioanl challenges and overcome them while growing closer to each other romantically at the same time. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
STRIKING DISTANCE (Columbia Tristar (Home Video, 102 minutes) Bruce Willis stars as a cop tracking a serial killer. He's convinced it's a fellow cop and that his department is in a cover-up. It's a superb action film with more than one chase scene and great acting by Willis and supporting actors Timothy Busfield and Sara Jessica Parker. You'll be glued to the edge of your seat without seeing a lot of gore. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
SUPER FORCE (MCA/Universal Home Video, 92 minutes) This one's a sci-fi cop film set in the year 2020. It's amazing how many societal problems are still around. It's full of computers, killings, and the usual special effects. Predictably the good guy wins in the end and the company being hurt is suffering from the malicious efforts of a competitor. Parts of this were fairly entertaining even though this genre usually does not interest me.
THE TOMMY KNOCKERS (Vidmark Entertainment, 120 minutes) Jimmy Smits is excellent in this Stephen King story about a strange object which holds strange powers. Its glow begins to radically affect the residents of a small town in Maine. The plot is surprisingly believable and frightening without being violent. There aren't too many special effects here but those used are well done. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
TWENTY BUCKS (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 91 minutes) Ever wonder how many times a twenty dollar bill changes hands? This film traces a bill from the minting process through the hands of people from every walk of life including a millionaire, street person, suburban teenager, professional thief, stripper, grandmother, etc. Great concept and execution combine to make a powerful statement about the importance of cash. Worth seeing. (Netta Gilboa)
WEBBER'S WORLD (LIVE Home Video, 109 minutes) A typical American family wins an essay contest and moves into a Beverly Hills mansion where their every move is photographed and broadcast on cable TV. It's the same idea as MTV's Real World series. The family tries to cope with their unexpected fame while viewers try to cope with the bizarre behavior the family engages in. Unique. (Netta Gilboa)
WE'RE BACK (MCA/Universal Home Video, 71 minutes) Steven Spielberg lends his hand to this awesome animated family film about dinosaurs who travel in time to arrive in present-day New York City. Starring the voices of Jay Leno, Walter Cronkite, John Goodman, Rhea Perlman and Julia Child, the film centers on two lonely children who befriend the dinosaurs. I loved the scene of the pterodactyl flying over the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and in between New York City's many skyscrapers. The rest of We're Back was thoroughly enjoyable too. Worth seeing if you like animated films at all. (Netta Gilboa)
WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT (Touchstone Home Video, 118 minutes) This knockout film traces the public and private life of singer Tina Turner. The portrayal of her private hell as a battered woman while performing hits (often the same day) in public was eye-opening. It's probably impossible to watch this film and not come away respecting Tina. My only criticism is that the film played down the long struggle she must have had getting over Ike Turner and the climb to get solo gigs and the public's attention a second time. Tina's taken a very gray life and added a rainbow full of color to it. Highly recommended. (Netta Gilboa)
WITCHCRAFT 6 (Academy Entertainment, 89 minutes) Satanic pentagrams are found on the bodies of a string of murdered females. Police call in a lawyer who's an expert in the occult. Lots of sexy scenes, good special effects and a plot that works even if you haven't seen any previous Witchcraft films. (Netta Gilboa)
ZEBRA HEAD (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 105 minutes) Oliver Stone presents this film which looks hard at racial tensions in America's public schools. Zack, a "white boy," becomes friends with Dee, an African-American, and later begins dating his cousin Nikki. Tension mounts as both sides show their disappointment in this relationship and finally explodes when a gang-banger named Nutt wants Nikki for himself. A very insightful film showing racism from both sides of the coin. Highly recommended. (Jeff Wampler)