OnVideo Guide to Home Video Releases: May Calendar of Releases

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Guide to Home Video Releases:
May Release Calendar

DVD Releases

Movies are rated on a scale of one to five, with five denoting a classic. For more information on how we rate, check out our
Rentability Index.

calendar page Back to Calendar Index.

May 7
  • Ocean's Eleven Glamorous Hollywood remake of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack's 1960 film about a team of thieves who plot and then pull off a heist of several Las Vegas casinos. Danny Ocean (George Clooney) is the mastermind behind the scheme, putting together a group of gentlemen crooks (including Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck and Scott Caan) to rip off a sleazy casino owner (Andy Garcia) who also happens to be sleeping with Ocean's ex-wife (Julia Roberts). There's plenty of suspense, witty dialogue and just plain fun -- it's a heist film you don't have to take seriously to enjoy. And it's directed with a smooth, deft hand by Steven Soderbergh. The VHS is priced for sell-through and includes a "The Look of the Con" behind-the-scenes featurette; the DVD includes commentaries by Soderbergh and Pitt, Damon and Garcia; the "Con" featurette; and an HBO documentary. Director: Steven Soderbergh. Stars: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Andy Garcia, Eddie Jemison, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Shaobo Qin, Elliott Gould. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 116 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $183 million, Warner, $22.98 SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Waking Life A true visionary film by Richard Linklater, the director of "Slacker" and "Dazed and Confused." The story line -- akin to "Slacker's" plot of interconnected vignettes that stream one off the other (with a true debt to Luis Bunuel's "Phantom of Liberty") -- follows the travels of a young man as he drifts from one encounter to another in a dreamscape world in which he is constantly awakening from one reality (or dream) to confront another from which he also awakens. Within each segment he encounters characters who discuss the meaning of existence and the nature of reality; it's a nonlinear philosophical and ontological treatise. What makes the film even more fantastic is the way in which Linklater produced it: Originally shot and edited in live action on video, the footage was "graphically" painted with special computer software by a team of 30 animator/artists. The result is a breakthrough in live action/animation that allows viewers to experience an almost-watery, floating world in which one must constantly ask: "Are we sleep-walking through our waking state or wake-walking through our dreams?" Director: Richard Linklater. Stars: Wiley Wiggins, Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, and an ensemble cast of 70 other actors. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 99 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $2.777 million, Fox, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Earth Vs. the Spider Second of five Creature Feature telefilms making its way to home video. A nerdy comic book fanatic spends his days working as a security guard at a biotech research lab and his nights at home dreaming of superheroes. When thugs ambush the lab and kill his partner, he injects himself with a top-secret drug made from the blood of a laboratory spider. Growing more and more like a spider, the man starts to prowl the city for snacks -- human snacks. Now only one detective (Dan Aykroyd) stands in the way of the half-spider/half-man's appetite. Director: Scott Ziehl. Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Theresa Russell, Devon Gummersall, Amelia Heinle. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, min., Science Fiction, Columbia TriStar, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The 25th Anniversary Digitally remastered and restored, with additional VHS and DVD features. Comprises four animated short films: "Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree," "Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore," "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too" and "Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day." VHS bonus features include never-before-seen music video of The Winnie the Pooh Theme Song performed by Carly Simon, "A Day for Eeyore" featurette, "making-of" footage. 1977, CC, MPAA rating: G, min., Animated, Disney, $24.99 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

  • In the Time of the Butterflies An ordinary woman of uncommon courage, Minerva Mirabal (Salma Hayek) dares to oppose -- no matter what the cost -- General Rafael Trujillo, the longtime ruler of the Dominican Republic. Inspired by her love for a rebel leader (Marc Anthony), Minerva and her sisters, who soon become known as "Las Mariposas" -- "The Butterflies" -- endure unimaginable hardships in a battle for the very soul of a nation. But as their acts of bravery gain notoriety and spur others to fight, Trujillo's forces close in, determined to squash them. Director: Mariano Barroso. Stars: Salma Hayek, Edward James Olmos, Marc Anthony. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 92 min., Drama, MGM, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

May 14
  • Others, The Chilling horror drama has a tour-de-force performance by Nicole Kidman as a young mother with two small children living in an isolated house on one of the Channel Islands between Britain and France just at the end of WWII. The house -- which has no phone or electricity -- is eerily alive with unwanted visitors and events -- a young boy named Victor who cries all the time, a piano that plays by itself, chandeliers that shake when no one's walking in the room above. To make matters worse, the two youngsters are allergic to sunlight, and the windows are constantly covered, making the house perpetually dark. Into this terrifying place come three new servants, who seem to know something that the young woman won't come to terms with. What is really the true terror of the house? What do the others know that we don't? Sans a heavy reliance on special effects, this film chills and thrills the soul with its emphasis on unseen, unknown terrors. It's a welcome addition to the literary horror film that is epitomized by "The Innocents," that frightening 1961 adaptation of Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw." What a pleasure to be scared from the inside out. Director: Alejandro Amenabar. Stars: Nicole Kidman, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 104 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $96.471 million, Dimension, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 4 stars

  • From Hell Dark, dreary and thoroughly frightening take on the Jack the Ripper legend by the Hughes brothers ("Menace II Society" and "Dead Presidents"). Based on a gigantic graphic (comic book) novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell, the directors see fit to show each and every murder by Jack in all their grisly and horrific detail. Jack the Ripper, who murdered five prostitutes in 1888 in the Whitechapel district of London, was never caught, though some historians made a connection between the Royal family and the murders. In this take, young police detective Fred Abberline (Johnny Depp) -- who spends his spare time smoking opium and drinking absinthe to have visions that enhance his detective work -- gets involved in the case and uncovers evidence pointing to the fact that the murderer is not only well-versed in human anatomy and human dissection but may in fact be well-educated and upper class. With the aid of a sympathetic inspector (Robbie Coltrane), Abberline starts to make connections that worry the powers-that-be and that point all the way up to the Royals. Throw in a love interest with one of the targeted prostitutes (Heather Graham), a Free Mason conspiracy, and the Royals' family physician (Ian Holm) and this Ripper tale becomes an interesting mystery tale -- though one in which the bloodshed and mayhem gets considerably more graphic as Jack gets bolder. Definitely not for the squeamish. Director: Albert and Allen Hughes. Stars: Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Robbie Coltrane. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 121 min., Horror thriller, Box office gross: $31.958 million, Fox, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Snow Dogs Crowd-pleasing family comedy has Cuba Gooding Jr. starring as a sun-loving Miami dentist named Ted, with a thriving practice and plenty of young females to keep him company. That all changes one day when he discovers that he was adopted and that his recently deceased biological mother has left him a small inheritance -- in a small town in Alaska. So to uncover his past -- and get his inheritance -- Ted trudges off to Alaska, where, along with his mother's meager possessions and cabin he has become the owner of a rascally dog sled team. The dogs -- Diesel, Scooper, Nana, Yodel, Sniff, Mack, Duchess and Demon -- have their way with the city slicker. To make matters worse, Ted has a run-in with a scheming mountain man (James Coburn) and gets forced into a dog sled competition and has to learn how to mush as best as he can. There's a few little twists here and there, but in the end, Ted learns to never give up, even when his luck is "going to the dogs." Director: Brian Levant. Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr., James Coburn, Sisqo, Nichelle Nichols, Joanna Bacalso, M. Emmet Walsh, Graham Greene. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 99 min., Family, Box office gross: $80 million, Buena Vista, $22.99 SRP. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Corky Romano Comedy vehicle for "Saturday Night Live's" Chris Kattan. Kattan plays Corky Romano, the black sheep of a mob family. His father is the infamous Pops Romano (Peter Falk) and brothers Peter (Chris Penn) and Paulie (Peter Berg) are macho hoods. But Corky shies away from sicko gangsters -- he prefers sick animals at Poodles and Pussies, where he's a top vet. But dad is facing a tough trial, and comes up with the idea of getting a fake FBI identity for his son so he can infiltrate FBI headquarters and steal trial evidence. To show family solidarity, Corky goes along with the plan. But Corky is a bungler (hint: this movie has a lot of slapstick and pratfalls) and every time he tries to nab the evidence he gets into outlandish situations. Fortunately he's able to maneuver his way out of every bad spot, and his FBI career skyrockets (think Martin Lawrence in "Blue Streak") to the dismay of his family. Throw in a nasty rival agent and a beautiful female FBI love interest and the plot comes to a mild boil. Director: Rob Pritts. Stars: Chris Kattan, Chris Penn, Peter Berg, Peter Falk, Fred Ward, Vinessa Shaw, Richard Roundtree, Matthew Glave. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 86 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $23.978 million, Buena Vista, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Stan Lee's Mutants, Monsters & Marvels The legendary comic book creator of Spider-Man shares the secrets of his incredible career and stories about how he created indelible characters. Stan Lee, who defined comic books as a popular art form for millions of readers, offers an exclusive glimpse into his career when he joins director Kevin Smith on a journey through Lee's history in this exclusive home-entertainment release. It's a one-of-a-kind oral history -- a lively conversation between two mutual admirers. The docu explores the history of comic books during what is now called the "Silver Age," a time when Stan Lee -- as a writer, editorial director and, later, publisher of Marvel Comics -- co-created an astonishing number of the most legendary characters in comics. Smith acts as a wise and witty surrogate for the legion of fans who have followed Lee's career since his beginnings as a 17-year-old writer at Timely Comics, the predecessor to Marvel. With remarkable detail and good humor, Lee divulges his storied past in two separate features on the DVD: "Creating Spider-Man" and "Here Come the Heroes." In "Creating Spider-Man," Lee gives a definitive set of answers to Smith's questions about Spider-Man, who may be Lee's most famous creation. With complete candor, Lee discusses the creator-credit controversy between him and artist Steve Ditko; Peter Parker's role as a new kind of hero -- a kid with real problems to whom readers could relate; Spidey's arch-villains and true loves; and Columbia Pictures' hotly anticipated Spider-Man movie. In the program's second feature, "Here Come the Heroes," Lee traces his own personal history and the beginnings of his 60-plus years in the business. Timed to coincide with the release of "Spider-Man." Director: Scott Zakarin. Stars: Stan Lee, Kevin Smith. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 95 min., Documentary, Columbia TriStar, $19.96 VHS SRP. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Keep Your Right Up! Episodic comedy by Jean-Luc Godard, the enfant terrible of the French New Wave, revolves around "The Idiot" (Godard) -- who has been guaranteed financing for a film if he can deliver it in 24 hours -- and a pop group working on a new album. All sorts of hilarious problems get in the way of the filmmaker and the musicians. Called an homage to Jerry Lewis with plenty of sight gags. Director: Jean-Luc Godard. Stars: Jean-Luc Godard, Jane Birkin, Fred Chichin, Michel Galabru, Pauline Lafont. 1987, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 82 min., Comedy, Facets Video, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

May 21
  • Legend The long-awaited DVD treatment of this cult film arrives as a two-disc set: The "Legend Ultimate Edition" DVD includes both the never-before-released, 113-minute Director's Cut with its extraordinary original soundtrack by Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith and the version that was released theatrically in the United States, for $24.98. A VHS version of the theatrical release is available at $9.99. Once, long ago, before there was such a thing as time, the world was shrouded in darkness. Then came the splendor of light, bringing life and love into the Universe, and the Lord of Darkness retreated deep into the shadows of the earth, plotting his return to power ... by banishing light forever. In this classic fantasy/adventure, pure good and foulest evil will soon battle to the death. Set amid a timeless mythical forest inhabited by fairies, goblins and other magical folk is the story of Jack, a forest dweller who lives in solitude and harmony with the animals of the wood ... including Unicorns, who are key to keeping light alive and evil at bay. Chosen by fate to undertake a heroic quest, Jack must brave a host of terrors to not only save his true love -- a beautiful princess named Lili -- from the clutches of the demonic Lord of Darkness, but also rescue a captive unicorn ... or the world will be plunged into a never-ending ice age where the dawn never comes and evil reigns supreme. Director: Ridley Scott. Stars: Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Robert Picardo. 1985, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 114 min., Fantasy, Universal. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Vanilla Sky It's hard to believe that this mishmash of a production came from the pen and camera of Cameron ("Say Anything " "Jerry Maguire " "Almost Famous") Crowe. Although based on Alejandro ("The Others") Amenabar's 1997 adept thriller "Abre Los Ojos " which also starred Cruz, this Americanized version just doesn't click, and one wonders how much of the fault can be laid at the feet of Crowe or Cruise's C/W Prods., which produced the film. The film opens with Cruise's character, smug and spoiled rich playboy David Aames, being awakened in the morning by the voice of Sofia (Cruz) ("Open Your Eyes. Wake Up"). David gets dressed and heads to work in a suspiciously empty Manhattan -- devoid of cars and people. Aha, its a dream, and David wakes up. The scene repeats itself, but this time David awakes with Julie (Diaz) next to him, and he goes off to work (as the head of a publishing empire) in a Manhattan filled with people. Dream vs reality. But as things develop, the line between the two becomes seriously blurred. It's not too long before David meets Sofia in real life, and he falls for her. But Julie is the jealous type, and, on the morning after David spends the night with Sofia, Julie entices David into her car, hits the gas and proceeds to drive off a bridge, killing herself and putting David into a coma. When David awakes he's seriously disfigured, and the film spends the rest of its time following him around as he tries to figure out the difference between reality and fiction. But by this point, the viewer is hard-pressed to care for any of the characters here, from the totally obnoxious and self-absorbed David to the flighty Sofia. No help is the ponderous dialogue and slowly developing scenes that just go nowhere. It's a major disappointment all around. The only saving grace in the outing is Diaz, who surprisingly puts in a delightfully real turn as the spurned (and nasty) lover. Director: Cameron Crowe. Stars: Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, Timothy Spall, Tilda Swinton. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 133 min., Drama, Box office gross: $101 million, Paramount, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date 2 stars

  • How High Notch-up on the normal urban comedy has Method Man playing a Staten Island slacker who sells herbal brews and spends his time with hookers. When his buddy Ivory dies, he honors him by planting some seeds in Ivory's cremated remains, creating a wild smokeable plant. He also decides to try to get into medical school. At the entrance exam he meets Jamal (Redman), and the two decide to share a smoke. Out of the haze comes Ivory, who promises to give the pair the answers they need to ace the exam. And, sure enough, the pair get accepted to Harvard. There they chase girls and have fun, relying on the smoke-haze induced Ivory to provide them with great test scores. Soon they run afoul of the dean whose greatest desire is send the duo back to the "ghetto." Things get more complicated as the young men find women they want to woo, careers they want to head in to -- and a shortage of the special smoke. Features a great hip-hop soundtrack. Director: Jesse Dylan. Stars: Method Man, Redman, Obba Babatunde, Fred Willard, Mike Epps, Anna Maria Horsford, Spalding Gray, Jeffrey Jones, Hector Elizondo, Lark Voorhies, Essence Atkins. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 94 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $31.155 million, Universal, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Lantana Seething, dark drama that revolves around a police detective investigating a missing persons case and the intertwining lives that cross back and forth over his path, some related to the case, some not. Detective Leon (Anthony LaPaglia) is having an affair with a free-wheeling woman (Rachael Blake) while his sultry wife (Kerry Armstrong) unloads her demons on her psychiatrist's couch, who in turn has doubts about her marriage. The wife, also gets caught up with the lives of some of her neighbors, while the shrink has trouble with one of her patients, who turns out to be potentially dangerous. Slick, stylish, passionate drama of personal crises, paranoia and betrayal from Down Under. Director: Ray Lawrence. Stars: Anthony LaPaglia, Geoffrey Rush, Barbara Hershey, Kerry Armstrong, Rachael Blake, Leah Purcell, Vince Colosimo, Daniela Farinacci, Peter Phelps. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 120 min., Drama, Box office gross: $3.600 million, Lions Gate, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • L.I.E. L.I.E. stands for the Long Island Expressway, which has claimed the life of 15-year-old Howie's mother and which now stands to claim Howie's life as he stands on an overpass guardrail contemplating his bleak future. Howie's dad, more preoccupied with having sex with his secretary, doesn't provide Howie with the support he needs, so he turns to a sleazy classmate and gets involved in a housebreaking ring. But what turns Howie's life around is his involvement with Big John, a 60-ish silver haired ex-Marine (Brian Cox) who takes the boy under his wing for ulterior motives -- he is a highly predatory pedophile. But as the pair get to know each other, Howie brings out in Big John loving paternal feelings. A risk-taking film. Director: Michael Cuesta. Stars: Brian Cox, Paul Franklin Dano, Billy Kay, Bruce Altman, James Costa. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 97 min., Drama, New Yorker, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • On the Edge Comedy about a young man (Cillian Murphy) who, like many teenagers, is used to concealing the pain of growing up behind a witty sense of humor. When he joins a therapy group of teens attempting to cope with their angst, he first comes under the spell of a doctor (Stephen Rea) who sees right through his facade and then meets a young woman (Tricia Vessey) who helps him discover that life doesn't have to be crazy after all. Director: John Carney. Stars: Stephen Rea, Cillian Murphy, Tricia Vessey, Jonathan Jackson, Paul Hickey. 2000, CC, MPAA rating: R, 86 min., Comedy, Universal, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Sidewalks of New York Another fine romantic comedy from director Edward Burns that takes a close-up look at the ups and downs of dating and marriage -- here with three men and three women who unknowingly form a tangled web of relationships. Burns intersperses man-on-the-street interviews with scenes from the six characters' lives to weave a biting commentary on the game of love. Tommy (Burns) is an outer-borough guy who is pursuing Maria (Rosario Dawson), a young teacher who has been out of the dating game since her divorce. What he doesn't know is that her boyish ex-husband Benjamin (David Krumholtz) is constantly trying to win her back, although he has his eye on a pretty waitress, Ashley (Brittany Murphy). Meanwhile Ashley is involved with a married man (Stanley Tucci), whose neglected trophy-wife Annie (Heather Graham) meets Tommy and starts to consider what might happen next. The circle of human involvements and how people react to each other -- and their own emotions -- is what gives this gentle film its strength -- it's all about the people. Director: Edward Burns. Stars: Edward Burns, Heather Graham, Stanley Tucci, Brittany Murphy, Rosario Dawson, David Krumholtz, Dennis Farina. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 107 min., Comedy, Box office gross: $2.400 million, Paramount, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 3 stars

  • Born Romantic Three seemingly mismatched couples are drawn to hot Latin rhythms in a London salsa club: a certified lounge lothario wishes to heat things up with an art historian who's cooled on the idea of love; a failed musician wants to strum the right chord with the bride he left years ago; and a dyslexic mugger develops a yearning for an attractive grave attendant. Director: David Kane. Stars: Craig Ferguson, Ian Hart, Jane Horrocks, Adrian Lester, Catherine McCormack, Jimi Mistry, David Morriseey, Olivia Williams. 2000, CC, MPAA rating: R, 96 min., Romantic Comedy, Box office gross: $0.015 million, MGM, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • La Buche Featuring music by Academy Award winning composer Michel Legrand, "La Buche" is a smart comedy about a dysfunctional family thrown together at Christmas time. It is days before the holiday and Yvette's (Francoise Fabian) second husband dies suddenly. She turns to her three daughters from her first marriage, Louba (Sabine Azema), Sonia (Emmanuelle Beart) and Milla (Charlotte Gainsbourg), to console her. Not wanting their father to be alone, Louba invites him to Christmas dinner, forcing their parents to speak for the first time in 25 years. As their complicated lives converge, secrets are revealed that will test their loves and loyalties. Director: Daniele Thompson. Stars: Emmanuelle Beart, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sabine Azema, Francoise Fabian. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 106 min., Comedy, Wellspring Media, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Fidel TV bio of Fidel Castro as seen through the eyes of his wife, mistress and female cohort. Director: David Atwood. Stars: Victor Hugo Martin, Gael Garcia Bernal, Patricia Velazquez. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 180 min., Biodrama, Artisan, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Good Advice A down-on-his-luck stockbroker -- thinking he knows a thing or two about women -- secretly writes his ex-girlfriend's advice column with disastrous results. Stars: Charlie Sheen, Denise Richards, Angie Harmon, Jon Lovitz, Rosanna Arquette, Esthelle Harris. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 93 min., Romantic Comedy, Artisan, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Rapid Fire A college student (Brandon Lee) is pursued by smugglers, mobsters and crooked federal agents after he witnesses a murder by a Mafia kingpin. When the witness protection program fails him, the young man has to protect himself with his only weapons -- his hands. Stars: Brandon Lee, Powers Boothe, Nick Mancuso, Kate Hodge. 1992, CC, MPAA rating: R, 95 min., Martial Arts, Fox, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • In the Shadows Two million dollars in FBI drugs and Mafia money are missing and Jimmy, a young wiseguy -- moonlighting as a stuntman -- is dead. Hit man Eric O'Byrne is called in to kill the Hollywood director blamed for Jimmy's deadly last performance. But as he gains his target's trust while learning the tricks of the stuntman's trade, he finds himself drawn to the no-fear lifestyle -- and the director's daughter. Now he must make the hardest choice of his life: How far will he go to protect the new family he loves from the one he can't escape? Director: Ric Roman Waugh. Stars: James Caan, Cuba Gooding Jr., Matthew Modine, Joey Lauren Adams. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: R, 105 min., Thriller, Lions Gate, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

May 28
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone J.K Rowlings' first book of wizards and witchcraft made it to the big screen as the family film of the year. As transcribed here by screenwriter Steve Kloves and director Chris Columbus, this "Harry" is a wonder to behold: for its acting, continuity of story line, and special effects. Warners spent upwards of $126 million on "Harry " and it bought them box office supremacy ("Harry" is now the second-highest grossing film of all time, behind "Titanic") and a wonderful franchise (there will be Harrys for many Christmas seasons to come). The story of Harry, alerted on his 11th birthday that he's the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and who's whisked away to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry to learn the tricks of the trade (and fight off the evil wizard who killed his parents), runs two and a half hours but is so full of nuanced acting, screenwriting and direction that the time just flies (so to speak). And kudos to the great talents who support the Hogwarts School: Maggie Smith, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Alan Rickman. The VHS will sell for $24.99 while the DVD -- loaded with extras -- has a suggested retail price of $26.99. Director: Chris Columbus. Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grant, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Ian Hart. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: PG, 153 min., Fantasy, Box office gross: $318 million, Warner, $24.99 SRP. DVD: Day & Date. four stars

  • Dark Blue World Sweeping Czech World War II epic. The film begins in 1950 at the height of the Cold War in Communist Czechoslovakia. Franta, a man in his early 40s, is confined to a labor camp as an "enemy of the people." Franta is an ex-RAF (Royal Air Force) Czech pilot who flew against Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia during WWII. The new totalitarian regime has deemed him contaminated by Western ideals of democracy and freedom and as such he has become a potential threat to the State. While recuperating in the camp's infirmary, Franta thinks back to his days just prior to and during the war. In March, 1939, Franta and his young pilot protege Karel escape to Britain, where they join the RAF. When Karel's plane is shot down near their air base, he is given shelter by Susan, a beautiful young woman, and loses his virginity to her. For Karel, Susan is his first, all-consuming love, but when he introduces her to Franta, she begins to fall for the older man -- and he in turn falls for her. Now the conflicts of love -- and war -- ultimately test to the limit the men's friendship. In Czech with English subtitles. Director: Jan Sverak. Stars: Ondrej Vetchy, Krystof Hadek, Tara Fitzgerald, Charles Dance. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 105 min., Drama, Box office gross: $0.172 million, Columbia TriStar, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Slackers Another silly teen comedy. Crafty roommates Dave, Sam and Jeff are happily scheming their way through college. But when the super-nerdy Ethan spots Dave stealing answers to a test, he threatens to turn him in -- unless the pals come up with a plan to hook him up with beautiful Angela (James King from "Pearl Harbor"), the object of Ethan's unhealthy obsessions. The guys take on the challenge, but when Dave and Angela start to fall in love instead, all bets are off. That's when Ethan's antics turn psychotic. Director: Dewey Nicks. Stars: Devon Sawa, Jason Schwartzman, Jason Segel, Michael C. Maronna, James King. 2002, CC, MPAA rating: R, Comedy, Box office gross: $4.814 million, Columbia TriStar, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date. 2 stars

  • Home Team By-the-book family comedy about a former soccer star (Steve Guttenberg) whose gambling landed him in jail and who must now do community service at a home for abandoned boys. Naturally the kids form a soccer team but are terrible -- until the fallen hero steps in with expert coaching and fine tunes the kids into a competitive machine. But, by the third act, the home burns down and, on the verge of being dispersed by social services, the boys find that not only do they have to play to win the championship, they have to save what's left of the home and stay together -- and redeem their coach. Director: Allan A. Goldstein. Stars: Steve Gutenberg, Larry Day, Tyler Hynes, Derek Lebrero, Sophie Lorain, Johnny Morina, Michael Perron, Ryan Slater. 1998, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 94 min., Family, Monarch, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

  • Rare Birds Quirky comedy about a restaurateur who wakes up one day to find his marriage is dead and his restaurant is belly up. Things look pretty bad for him until his eccentric neighbor comes up with a mad yet ingenious scheme -- they stage sightings of an extremely rare bird in the neighborhood, attracting bird watchers -- and hungry patrons -- from the world over. But with success comes trouble -- the neighbor is working on a few other secret plans that will soon have the restaurant swimming in controversy -- and the authorities swarming. Director: Sturla Gunnarsson. Stars: William Hurt, Molly Parker, Andy Jones. 2001, CC, MPAA rating: NR, 101 min., Comedy, Lions Gate, No SRP, Priced for rental. DVD: Day & Date.

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    All DVDs are screened on a reference system consisting of a Rotel RDV-1080 DVD Audio/Video Player, a Rotel RSX-972 Surround Sound Receiver, and Phase Technology 1.1 (front), 33.1 (center), and 50 (rear) speakers and Power 10 subwoofer.

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