VIDEO RELEASES Never trust a video by its cover

Two new titles this month come packaged in dual covers, a practice that crops up in the video industry whenever it's thought that a touch more raunch might boost a title's chances. In some cases, the alternative covers are employed to target a specific audience. For example, Tartan Video's simultaneous rental / retail release of the excellent Mexican vampire film Cronos (£15.99) has one cover for the buyers - a moody black- and-white shot - and one for the renters - a brightly coloured design depicting a naked woman leaning heavenwards. The fact that there are no naked women in the movie doesn't seem to have deterred Tartan from going for the loins.

Their reasoning is honourable, even if the execution isn't: they have a potentially huge horror title on their hands which has been praised by big guns like James Cameron, only there's a snag - it's subtitled. So how do they convince a mass audience that it's still compulsive viewing? Slap a bit of flesh on the cover, of course.

Sometimes, the initiative is passed over to the retailer. When Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It was released a few years back, its reversible cover gave the stockist a choice between a crisp portrait of Tracy Camilla Jones and a near-pornographic top-shelf collage of naked bodies. It must have been a difficult choice. Tartan applied the same treatment to the rental release of The Cement Garden, which again gave stockists the art / sex conundrum, though shots of its pubescent, near-anorexic teenage stars nude can't have got anyone twitterpated.

It is less surprising to find Guild approaching the release of the Bruce Willis thriller Color of Night with kit off. The movie is surprisingly sex-less (its one burst of eroticism is as incongruous and contrived as its steamy cover), but why should that get in the way of a decent marketing campaign? Its cinema release was preceded by tabloid titbits about Willis revealing all (in case you're wondering, he doesn't, at least not to the naked eye). And the sexed-up alternative video cover features Willis and co-star Jane March in flagrante under porn-style gaudy lighting. It could all be a ploy to divert attention away from the movie (it almost worked with Body of Evidence) but it just goes to prove that the chasm between packaging and product is as wide as ever.

The coming months will yield video releases for a number of simple-minded blockbusters (The Flintstones in April, Forrest Gump in May) but the best, Speed, is available through Fox this month. When a Man Loves a Woman (Buena Vista) is a drama about alcoholism which veers between the touching and the mawkish. Andy Garcia looks tightly coiled as he endures marriage to inebriated Meg Ryan, but the film should have been tougher, uglier. Ryan puts her heart, soul and major organs into this textbook Oscar-baiting part. She must feel like draining the Teachers herself after being stood up by the Academy.

It's a dry month for rental, though, with only the Coen Brothers' buoyant comedy The Hudsucker Proxy (Columbia) worth your time. John Frankenheimer's Puttnam-produced eco-drama, The Burning Season (Warner), is another HBO production for American TV. It has an astute cast, including Sonia Braga and a doe-eyed Raul Julia in one of his last parts, and the story (the Brazilian struggle to keep Western developers out of the rainforests) has potential but its meandering makes you yearn for a great big dumb action picture with bombs and guns and tanks, and that can't have been the intention. It's heartening, meanwhile, to hear that two movies previously pencilled-in for straight-to-video release - Spike Lee's Crooklyn and Nobody's Fool, for which Paul Newman landed an Oscar nomination - will now hit the big screen at the end of this month.

Out to buy this month: Brian De Palma's Carlito's Way is the best £13.99 you could spend. It's like a mini-Godfather: a tiny canvas daubed with achingly resonant strokes. Also worth buying: Henri-Georges Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (£15.99), a nerve-jangling 1954 thriller about the murder of a brutal headmaster, saturated in menace and tension; Lasse Hallstrom's likeable wedge of small-town melancholia, What's Eating Gilbert Grape? (£12.99); a couple of vintage Jarmans in Jubilee and Sebastiane (both £15.99), the latter a contender for his most fully realised film; and The Wings of Honneamise (£13.99), an unusually contemplative Manga adventure which should entertain even those unimpressed by the genre.

Another postcard from the edge - well, the BBFVC anyway - and for once it's news of a title saved from video hell rather than consigned to it. A month ago, it looked as if James Cameron's True Lies, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, was to be elbowed out of the release schedules while our moral guardians mused upon its "15" certificate. The cause for concern was the film's tasteless mid-section where Jamie Lee Curtis is blackmailed into performing a striptease for a stranger who is revealed as her husband.

It had been thought that this might earn the movie an "18" rating, but the release has now gone ahead. As usual, the deliberations that led to this decision remain hidden from mere mortals. Meanwhile, Pulp Fiction is up for parole, I mean video release, in April, which is surprising given the ongoing Reservoir Dogs saga. Perhaps if Dogs had attracted seven Oscar nominations and a Palme d'Or, you'd be allowed to see that in your own home too.

Ryan Gilbey

Arts and Entertainment

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
V&A museum in London

Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'

Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Wu-Tang Clan will sell only one copy of their album Once Upon A Time In Shaolin
musicWu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own only copies of their latest albums
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper, Alessandro Nivola and Patricia Clarkson on stage

film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Kitchen plays Christopher Foyle in ITV's 'Foyle's War'

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt will be starring in Dominic Savage's new BBC drama The Secrets

Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
art

‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine