Video round-up

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The Independent Culture
Video will always find you out in the end. It's the friend you entrust with a guilty secret, only to have them renege on their promise of confidentiality. Just ask Madonna (A Certain Sacrifice), or Sylvester Stallone (Party at Kitty and Stud's), or Kevin Costner (Sizzle Beach USA): the road to fame is littered with dubious career choices, each of them poised at any moment for a tacky rush-release should the relevant star hit paydirt. And while The Babysitter doesn't rank as anything like as bad as the aforementioned sleaze-a-thons, its release will doubtless be something of an embarrassment to Alicia Silverstone, who has since starred in Clueless (presuming that actresses who consent to appear in Aerosmith videos have any concept of embarrassment).

Silverstone is the eponymous guardian, and the object of the sexual fantasies of three men, including Jeremy London as her nerdy would-be boyfriend, and JT Walsh as the slobbering father of her wards. The picture is cheaply lit and blandly photographed, but its collage of fantasy and reality is absorbing, and will surprise (or possibly frustrate) anyone buying into its soft-porn scenario. Walsh is as sleazy as ever, grotesquely red and puffy, and there's a beautifully judged cameo from George Segal as a gregarious party host. And Silverstone? She has the steely determination of someone who knew she would soon be earning a fee of 20 times the entire budget of The Babysitter for each film.

Also making its premiere on video this month is Search and Destroy, written by Michael Almereyda and executive-produced by Martin Scorsese, who has a neat, prickly cameo as a tax official who listens, unmoved, to Griffin Dunne's pleas for clemency. Dunne owes $147,956 in tax, and in an effort to clear his debt, he has the idea of turning a self-help manual (written by Dennis Hopper) into a movie. Cue an assortment of slimeballs and oddballs, from drug-dealer Christopher Walken to budding horror writer Illeana Douglas and tempestuous hood John Turturro. As with most movie satires, it's unbalanced by overbearing smugness, and any curiosity value whipped up by the eccentric cast is soon banished by some leaden humour and Almereyda's meandering script.

Also out this month, but unmissable: Seven, David Fincher's terrifying and impossibly grim thriller, so dark and clever you wonder how it ever got made; and Nixon, Oliver Stone's most lucid and intelligent work since Salvador - no, make that his only lucid and intelligent work since Salvador.

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