FILM / Coming to a video store near you: John Lyttle's monthly guide to the latest sell-through and rental videos
Friday 25 June 1993
SINGLES (Warner 15 95 mins) Cameron Crowe's interwoven love stories are twentysomething for the emotionally stunted. The flatness of the four Seattle- set swingers - Matt Dillon, Bridget Fonda, Kyra Sedgwick, Campbell Scott - isn't a drawback. In fact, it's a commercially shrewd form of cool: relationships as sitcom, where no one, certainly no one who's hip, really gets hurt. Best sequence: Sheila Kelly's avant-garde dating video, an accurately edited swirl of pretension and sub-Playboy images. Available 28 July.
THIS IS MY LIFE (FoxVideo 15 90 mins) Writer Nora Ephron's tentative directorial debut isn't so different from the work of Elaine May (A New Leaf, Ishtar). Both feel their way into their own material, apparently curious as to what it might contain. This is My Life tells of how single mother Dottie Ingels (under-appreciated Julie Kavner) realises her dreams of comedy stardom while raising two daughters increasingly resentful of parental success. Formally, the film courts disaster; photography and editing are ugly and the Carly Simon soundtrack drones, oh, so sensitively. Still, there's a strong, if psychobabbly, theme and the picture finally manages to be affecting. On release.
STAY TUNED (Warner PG 84 mins) Couch potato John Ritter is tempted by Satan and all his works - namely, a multi-buttoned TV remote control. Ritter soon finds himself channel-hopping with disgruntled wife Pam Dawber down in the Lower Depths, hoping to survive the 24 hours required to release them from their contract. The pastiche programmes carry a faint, welcome whiff of brimstone (Driving Over Miss Daisy might even make a series) and the special effects are occasionally amusing. On release.
SNEAKERS (CIC Video 15 120 mins) Star-laden comedy-thriller from Phil Alden Robinson, the director of Field of Dreams, and War Games writers Lawrence Lasker and Walter F Parkes. Professional computer hacking and World Domination are on the menu, with Robert Redford and his team of hi-tech surveillance experts - Sidney Poitier, David Strathairn, Dan Aykroyd and River Phoenix - blackmailed into supplying a small but perfectly formed box to the CIA. The box can decode any computer programme on earth - defence systems, the national grid, the Republican Party's bank account number . . . Despite the inclusion of something like a message - is your privacy under invasion? - Sneakers is too slick and entertaining to be taken seriously. Guaranteed fun. On release.
UNLAWFUL ENTRY (FoxVideo 18 107 mins) The fag end of the 'From Hell' trend, with every genre stereotype nailed into place. Ray Liotta is the de rigueur obsessive and cop Kurt Russell and Madeleine Stowe are the white, middle- class couple with money problems who inadvertently invite horror into their suburban nest. The picture grinds along to the expected climax and never once departs from predictability. Small wonder Stowe threatened to walk when promised rewrites didn't appear; all she does is shiver, shudder and scream. On release.
HOME ALONE 2: LOST IN NEW YORK (FoxVideo PG 115 mins) Coarse and mechanical retread of Home Alone, which won't put off boys and girls of a slightly violent persuasion. Adults may wince at the set-piece bashings, hammerings and electrocutions meted out by Macaulay Culkin to Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern as they pursue him through a partially renovated house. On release.
A FEW GOOD MEN (Columbia-Tristar 15 135 mins) Deliberately old-fashioned, enjoyable military courtroom drama with precisely measured doses of humour, tension, trauma and character flaws. Cocksure lawyer Tom Cruise is called upon to defend two marines who may or may not have been ordered to punish a troublesome cadet (their late night visit kills the boy). Cruise's sloppy ways and father-fixation needle committed officer Demi Moore, though Red-baiting macho monster Colonel Jack Nicholson is counting on exactly those qualities to derail the case before it nears a judge. Nicholson eats Cruise alive as a character and an actor. On release.
DEATH BECOMES HER (CIC PG 99 mins) Special-effects binge cum toothless black comedy. The computer-generated effects (morphing) that made the man-to-machine transformations of Terminator 2 memorable are subtly employed to rejuvenate bitchy ageing beauties Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn, locked in a battle of half-wits over drunken plastic surgeon (wait for it) Bruce Willis. There's not much to admire apart from a spectacularly effective fat suit, the shotgun blast that makes a lovely O through Hawn's stomach and the way Streep wears her head back-to-front. Robert Zemeckis keeps the flow going as satire gives way to slapstick. On release.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS (CIC 18 102 mins) Intelligent, thoughtful and not terribly engaging version of Emily Bronte's warhorse ably compresses the generational conflicts of the Lintons and Earnshaws without ever getting within spitting distance of the novel's rich, dark passions. Ralph Fiennes as Heathcliff can brood with the best of them, an observation unrelated to Juliette Binoche's Cathy, a rather too slight variation on the actress's usual I-am-a-young-French- engima-with-pouty-lips mode. On release.
WIND (EV PG 120 mins) Dead in the water sea-faring drama of such technical perfection that one simultaneously gasps at the images and stifles a yawn as Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey build a better boat, determined to win the America's Cup for Mom, country and apple pie. Not the pinnacle of director Carroll Ballard's career however, nor of producer Francis Ford Coppola's, who does have a thing about these winning-against- the-odds stories. On release.
THE BODYGUARD (Warner 15 124 mins) Whitney Houston talks dirty, acts nasty, wears more wigs than a drag queen, sings 'I Will Always Love You' and is stalked by a deranged hairdresser . . . or is it a killer? That's about it for this long-gestating, ineptly scripted (Lawrence Kasdan]) romantic thriller, first announced as a vehicle for Ryan O'Neal and Diana Ross. Collectors of camp will surely want to add the moment when Kevin Costner allows Whitney to cut her silk scarf on his samurai sword to their low-down libraries. Ditto Kev's haircut and the Oscar assassination sequence. On release.
MO' MONEY (20/20 15 105 mins) Good soundtrack, lousy comedy. Written, produced and starring Damon Wayans and featuring kid brother Marlon, this is a vanity project from the first adoring close-up to the flickcard dash through Damon's gallery of 'wacky' impersonations. Couldn't he pretend to be an actor? The plot may not call for it - scam artist joins credit card company for love of a hot babe and has fun with an illegal spending spree. On release.
DEEP COVER (First Independent 18 104 mins) Rough, compelling vision of a black undercover cop's seduction by the drugs trade and his betrayal by the system. Working from a script by Michael Tolkin (The Player) and Henry Bean (Internal Affairs), Bill Dukes' film is an invigorating oddity: uncompromisingly bleak wish-fulfilment. Larry Fishburne's non-drinking, non-snorting policeman is smarter, wiser and more honourable than such white horrors as boss Charles Martin Smith, corrupt lawyer Jeff Goldblum and Mafia chief Gregory Sierra - and it's exactly that which nearly proves his undoing. The picture dribbles away, although its images (there's a car chase which redeems the cliche of the car chase) stay with you. On release.
We have three sets of the complete Roger Moore / James Bond canon (MGM/UA), both Wide Screen and digitally remastered, to give away. Every 007 hit from Live and Let Die to A View to a Kill in new prints - a boon given ITV's recent editing of the ratings blockbusters for early evening viewing. Simply answer the following questions: 1) Who first played Bond on American television? 2) Name the actress who played Miss Moneypenny in Never Say Never Again. 3) Who was the real-life inspiration for Casino Royale's villainous Le Chiffre? 4) And what was odd about the card table confrontation between Bond (Peter Sellers) and Le Chiffre (Orson Welles) in the film of Casino Royale? One entry per household. Answers, on a postcard please, to 007, 40 City Road, London, EC1 2DB. Closing date: Friday, 9 July.
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