ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY VIDEO of the YEAR
1 Brother’s Keeper
(1992, Fox Lorber, unrated, $89.95) Murder mystery, humantragedy, small-town farce, courtroom nail-biter: Thisdocumentary by Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky covers so muchground, you could file it in nearly any section of the videostore. The filmmakers headed to Munnsville, N.Y., to find out ifbackwoods farmer Delbert Ward murdered the brother with whom hehad shared a bed since childhood — or if Bill just up and died.What they got (besides an acquittal) were more questions: Wasthe prosecutor serious about that incestuous rough-sex theory?Would the townsfolk who rallied around oddball Delbert and hissurviving brothers have ever said boo to them if they hadn’tbeen in trouble? What purpose was served by putting childlikeLyman Ward — who gets nervous in crowds of two — -on the witnessstand? And would the Wards ever clean up their living room? Thenotoriously myopic Academy Awards documentary committee didn’tnominate Keeper for a 1992 Oscar, but maybe the committeemembers just thought it belonged in the Best Picture category.We’ll call it Best Video, since that’s the surest place to findit.
2 Blade Runner: The Director’s Out
(1992, Warner, R, $39.99) Directors from Oliver Stone to DannyDeVito have leapt at the chance to add footage to their babiesin special ”director’s cuts.” But Ridley Scott actually removedscenes from his 1982 futuristic film noir — and the result iscloser to the dank vision he had in mind all along. Gone is theunconvincing wrap-up and Harrison Ford’s drab voice-overnarration: Sleeker, shorter, and sharper, Blade looks moreprophetic than ever.
3 Map of the Human Heart
(1993, HBO, R, $92.99) Dragon may have been the bigger hit, butthis sweeping, old-fashioned romantic adventure showed thatJason Scott Lee has the stuff that movie stars are made of.Playing a tubercular Eskimo boy who grows up to become a WWIIbombardier, Lee travels from one end of the world (the Arcticwastes) to another (the massive firebombing that leveledDresden), with time out to seduce Anne Parillaud on top of ablimp. In director Vincent Ward’s gifted hands, it’s eccentric,cinematically rich, and unforgettable.
4 Alive: 20 Years Later
(1993, Touchstone; unrated, $39:99) Filmed in tandem with thefeature film Alive, this documentary is easily superior to themovie on which it piggybacked into video stores. The reason’ssimple: All the Hollywood high-tech in the world can’t equal theimpact of hearing survivors of the Andean plane crash — nowmiddle-aged, still haunted — tell the story as it reboundsthrough their memories.
5 Groundhog Day
(1993, Columbia TriStar, PG, $95.95) It takes deja vu to itsillogical conclusion, so why would you want to watch this nimbleBill Murray comedy more than once? Because it admits to a deeperdespair than we’re used to from Hollywood, and because itseventual optimism feels like a tonic. It takes deja vu to itsillogical conclusion, so why would you want to watch this nimbleBill Murray comedy more than once? Because it admits to a deeperdespair than we’re used to from Hollywood, and because itseventual optimism feels like a tonic.
6 Gas Food Lodging
(1992, Columbia TriStar, R, $92.95) Nothing special, plot-wise:just a trailer-park mom (Brooke Adams) holding it together asshe tries to raise an older teen sexpot (Ione Skye) and ayounger teen dreamer (Fairuza Balk). But writer-director AllisonAnders has a touch for no-nonsense poetry, and the scenes inwhich Balk indulges her passion for Mexican movie romances aregoofily affectionate.
7 The Kids Are Alright
(1979, BMG, unrated, $19.98) Tommy is playing on Broadway andPete Townshend’s now the grand gray man of rock — thank God thisloud ‘n! shabby music documentary has been fete-leased to remindus what a glorious bunch of screwups The Who were in theirprime. It’s essential if only for the group’s dismantling of oneSmothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1967 — down to Townshendsmashing both his and Tommy Smothers’ guitars.
(1992, Columbia TriStar, R, $92.95) James Spader couldn’t pick anormal star vehicle if he wanted to, and that’s why we love him.Here he’s a jaded rich kid who gets a moral wake-up call in theform of a blackmail video. David Lynch’s Twin Peaks partner,Mark Frost, cowrote and directed this devious slice ofSouthern-fried melodrama; like Lynch, Frost isn’t interested inhaving us believe the convoluted plot twists (don’t worry; youwon’t), but he spins his weirdness with a lighter touch.
9 George Carlin: Jammin’ in New York
(1993, Columbia TriStar, unrated, $39.95) Over the years, GeorgeCarlin has broken so much ground in stand-up — dealinghilariously with profanity, philosophy, politics, anddrugs — that he doesn’t have to resort to standard ”D’ja evernotice…?” comedy. When he chooses to, though, he’s a stonemaster. About 15 minutes into this scalding live concert, Carlinunreels a string of observations that brilliantly riff onsimple; daily dislocations — and he does it without breaking asweat. As for the rest of the concert, it’s so angry and astuteit makes you realize how craven most comedians really are.
(1992, MGM/UA, R, $19.98) They’ve been cranking out knockoffs ofThe Sting for so long, no one bothers to see them anymore. Toobad: Michael Ritchie’s scruffy action comedy has the juice thatbetter known belly flops don’t (can you say Last Action Hero?).James Woods and Louis Gossett Jr. are at the top of their gameas a con-artist fight promoter and his weary partner inpugilism — and is that Bruce Dern chewing up the fringes as atank-town Mr. Big?
1 Man Trouble(1992, FoxVideo, PG-13, $94.98). Star Follies I: Jack Nicholsoncan do no wrong, right? This feeble comedy is a brutally unfunnycorrective.
2 Johnny Suede(1992, Miramax, R, $89.95) Star Follies II: An oh-so-hip cast(from Brad Pitt to Tina Louise) can’t save a midnight-moviewannabe from terminal pointlessness.
3 A Stranger Among Us(1992, Hollywood, PG-13, $94.95) Director Follies I: SidneyLumet has covered undercover cops with gritty honesty in Serpicoand Prince of the City. This time he sends shiksa MelanieGriffith into New York’s Hasidic community, and it plays betterwith laughing gas.
4 JFK: The Director’s Cut(1992, Warner, R, $24.98) Director Follies II: Like all truebelievers, Oliver Stone can’t leave well enough alone.Unfortunately, the 17 minutes of footage he puts back into JFKtorpedo its believability. Hit yourself over the head with anine iron — you’ll get the same effect.
5 Body of Evidence(1992, MGM/UA, R/unrated, $19.98) Plain-Old-Folly Follies: See awarmed-over Basic Instinct clone in the R-rated version! SeeMadonna and Willem Dafoe have genuine simulated sex in theunrated version! See Madonna’s film career crash and burn ineither version!
BEST OLDIES FINALLY OUT ON TAPE
Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express (1932), and Scarlet Empress(1934, all MCA/Universal), three of Marlene Dietrich’s finestcollaborations with director Joseph von Sternberg. Too bad shedied before they were released.
Shame (1968, MGM/UA) A terrifying day-after-tomorrow drama fromIngmar Bergman, of all people. Liv Ullmann and Max von Sydow area complacent couple caught up in an unnamed war.
Laura (1944, FoxVideo) One of the kinkiest romantic mysteries tocome out of Hollywood, this is still one of the swankest.
Island of Lost Souls (1932, MCA/Universal) Charles Laughton is amad doctor turning animals into people, back when they knew howto make ’em really scary. Are we not men?
Terminator 2 — Special Edition (1993,Pioneer) With crystallinepicture and sound, alternate audio-track commentary, and anencyclopedic making-of section, this year’s model blows awayearlier video versions.
An American in Paris (1951, MGM/UA) Gene Kelly rhapsodizes inrestored color.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975, Voyager) Very differentfrom the tape, with wry commentary and divine picture quality.
The Ultimate Oz (1993, MGM/UA) The kids’ classic, with musicalouttakes worth their weight in ruby slippers.
— Steve Daly
BEST BAD TITLES
BEST BAD TITLES
Ed and His Dead MotherBound and Gagged: A Love StoryReturn to FrogtownTeenage Bonnie & Klepto ClydeThe Gun in Betty Lou’s HandbagShooting ElizabethBuford’s Beach BunniesInquiring NunsDennis the Menace: Dinosaur Hunter
BEST MOVIE FEATURING A SUMATRAN RAT MONKEY
MOST SANGUINE TITLES
Tainted BloodBlood WarriorsBloodstone: Subspecies IIBloodfist V: Human TargetBlood In, Blood Out: Bound By HonorBlood RingBlood TiesOut for Blood
MOST EAGERLY AWAITED SEQUELS
The Bikini Carwash Company IIWitchcraft V: Dance With the DevilAmityville: A New GenerationFlesh Gordon 2: Flesh Gordon Meets the Cosmic CheerleadersMC3: Maniac Cop
RELATIVE FAME: THE STRAIGHT-TO-VIDEO ALL-STAR TEAM
Joey Travolta (DaVinci’s War, Beach Babes From Beyond)Frank Stallone (Rollerblade 7)Dedee Pfeiffer (Running Cool)Don Swayze (Beach Babes From Beyond, Death Ring, Eye of theStranger, Broken Trust)Mike Norris (Death Ring)Chad McQueen (Death Ring, Firepower)