New DVDs June 12, 2000 
Home Theater News DVD Hardware-Software News
Written by Abbie Bernstein   
Monday, 12 June 2000

BACKLASH (aka JUSTICE), from Columbia/TriStar, was originally a made-for-TV movie. Directed by Joakim Ersgard, the thriller stars James Belushi, Charles Durning and Tony Plana in a tale of two lawyers on the run from drug-dealing mobsters and dishonest law officers.

BICENTENNIAL MAN, from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, is a 1999 adaptation of a short story by Isaac Asimov and a novel by Asimov and Robert Silverberg, directed by Chris Columbus. Robin Williams stars (with Oliver Platt, Sam Neill and Embeth Davidtz) as a robot who yearns to become more human, achieving his heart's desire in increments over two centuries. It's important to remember that Asimov is largely the father of modern robotic fiction - otherwise, BICENTENNIAL MAN looks a lot like a slowed-down, extra-sentimental episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION focusing on Data.


THE EEL, from New Yorker, is Shohei Imamura's 1999 drama about a man returning to the world after a stint in prison for murdering his wife. Koji Yakusho stars in the Palme d'Or (at Cannes) award-winning film, in Japanese, with English subtitles.

THE EMPEROR AND THE ASSASSIN, from Columbia/TriStar, is director Chen Kaige's visually spectacular (and three-hour-long) period drama about a love triangle between the two title characters, with the latter planning to kill the former, and the emperor's mistress, played by Chinese superstar Gong Li. The Mandarin-language film received its U.S. release in 1999.

THE GREEN MILE, from Warner Home Video, was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Director/screenwriter Frank Darabont adapted Stephen King's serialized novel, set in a rural 1930s prison, about a warm-hearted Death Row inmate with unusual abilities. Tom Hanks and Supporting Actor nominee Michael Clarke Duncan star in the 1999 release. The film merits its running time, allowing various plot threads time to build and weave together for ultimately powerful effect. For Southern California residents: filmmaker Darabont is doing an in-store DVD signing on Tues., June 13, at Dave's Place, 12441 Ventura Blvd. in North Hollywood, from 6:30-8:30 PM, with proceeds to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation for Pediatric AIDS. For more information, call 818-760-3472.

KISS THE SKY, from MGM, is a 1998 drama directed by Rogert Young, with William L. Petersen and Gary Cole as a pair of businessmen who are hit by midlife crisis during a trip to the Philippines. Sheryl Lee, Patricia Charbonneau and Terence Stamp also star.

LIGHT IT UP
, from 20th Century Fox, is a 1999 drama about a hostage situation at a high school, directed and written by Craig Bolotin. Stars include Forest Whitaker, Judd Nelson, Sara Gilbert and Vanessa L. Williams as adults caught up in the crisis with the adolescents.

PLAY IT TO THE BONE, from Buena Vista Home Entertainment, is director Ron Shelton's 1999 tale (loosely based on a real incident) of two small-time boxers, best friends, who are given a title shot in Vegas -- if they'll fight each other. Woody Harrelson and Antonio Banderas star as the contenders, with Lolita Davidovich as the woman sort of involved with both, Lucy Liu as an impatient hitchhiker, Tom Sizemore as a nasty promoter and Robert Wagner as a hotel owner. The fights are suitably grueling, but the framework is episodic and the characters are too broadly drawn for the intended emotional impact to work.

THE THIRD MIRACLE, from Columbia/TriStar, is a 1999 spiritual drama directed by Agnieszka Holland, about a skeptical priest (Ed Harris) investigating whether or not a woman should be canonized. Anne Heche plays the potential saint's estranged daughter. Armin Mueller-Stahl is also in the cast.







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