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Movie Renter's Guide
Current Movies - Part 7 - March, 1996


By John E. Johnson, Jr.

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Ratings:    
  ***** Extraordinary
  **** Good
  *** Acceptable
  ** Mediocre
  * Poor

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"The Indian in the Cupboard", Columbia Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 1.68:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 38 min, Rated PG; Hal Scardino, Litefoot; A young boy named Omri is given an old cupboard for his birthday, and his mom gives him a key that happens to fit its antique lock. When he places one of his toy Indians inside, it turns into a real person, in this case an Iriquois named Little Bear (Litefoot). The Indian is frightened out of his wits because he has apparently been snatched away from his real world of the 1700s and is now only a few inches high. Little Bear decides to stay for awhile, because if he didn't, that would be the end of the movie. Omri places a cowboy miniature in the cabinet, and a whiskey swilling Texan emerges. This particular cowboy cries a lot. That's why his name is Boo Hoo Boone. Do you remember, in Jaws I, where Brody is chumming, and the shark suddenly appears at the surface of the water? Remember how your popcorn flew in the air? Well, there is a scene in 'Cupboard where you will experience the same startled response. I won't spoil the fun by telling you where it is, but I'll give you a hint. What type of animal did Dr. Jones, Sr. hate so much in part III of the Indiana Jones series? This is a movie that your children will enjoy while you try and figure out the photographic effects.

Entertainment: starstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstarstar
Audio: starstarstar
Photography: starstarstarstarstar Sets new standards in special effects of this type.
Violence: Cowboys and Indians
Sex: no
Language: no

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"Nine Months", Twentieth Century Fox, 1995, Color, Filmed in Panavision, Measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.23:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 43 min, Rated PG-13; Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore, Tom Arnold, Joan Cusack, Jeff Goldblum, Robin Williams; Sam Faulkner (Grant) is a child psychotherapist who does not really like children, and does not care for the idea of his girlfriend Rebecca (Moore) being pregnant, for fear of losing his independence. Amidst constant barging in from Marty (Arnold) and Gail (Cusack) with their obnoxious kids, he is very hard to convince that settling down is a law of nature. A starving artist (Goldblum) doesn't provide the best of sounding boards for Sam's problems. The movie might be entertaining for some, but those of us who have children will be angered by the theme. Even though it ends happily, and Robin Williams is his usual brilliantly funny self, this one is barely worth the $3.50 rental fee (get 4 - 5 people to chip in).

Entertainment: starstar
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstar
Photography: starstarstar
Violence: fisticuffs
Sex: no
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Virtuosity", Paramount Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.15:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 45 min, Rated R; Denzel Washington, Kelly Lynch, Louise Fletcher; Futureset . . . again. The police are using virtual reality to train the police force. The VR computer, named SID 6.7, goes amok, and its inner self becomes real . . . a real person that is. Parker Barnes (Washington) is a policeman who was in prison, but is now returned to active duty in order to track down SID (Demolition Man, anyone?), with computer generated special effects, heavy metal music, and pointless carnage all along the way. In spite of having a wonderful star (Denzel Washington . . . this fellow is going to rack up a lot of Oscars in his career), "Virtuosity" goes nowhere, and the laserdisc is only useful to carry your pizza downstairs to watch some other movie.

Entertainment: star
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstar
Photography: starstarstar
Violence: too much for even the most seasoned veterans of slash and crash
Sex: sensuality
Language: The "F" and "S" words

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"Hackers", United Artists, 1995, Color, Filmed in Panavision at measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.32:1, Surround Sound, 1 Hr 44 min, Rated PG-13; Jonny Lee Miller, Angelina Jolie, Lorraine Bracco; High school students hack into a giant computer system of a corporation that ships oil in tankers. They steal info that implicates one of the corporation employees in a scheme to embezzle millions of dollars. The employee creates a virus that will spill the oil from the tankers and blames the hackers in order to hide his embezzlement plan. This movie could have been made so much better with a good script, but, alas, it is swallowed in a miasma of computer generated graphics that may have been impressive on the wide screen at the cineplex, but only make you glance at the clock in your home theater. Enough of these Internet theme movies that rely on arcade games to carry the film. Time to get back to good scripting and acting.

Entertainment: starstar
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstar
Photography: starstarstar
Violence: no
Sex: pushes the PG-13 rating if you ask me
Language: the "F" and "S" words

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"Jade", Paramount Pictures, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and presented unmatted at aspect ratio (laserdisc) 4:3, Surround Sound, AC-3, 1 Hr 34 min, Rated R; David Caruso, Chazz Palminteri, Linda Fiorentino; A wealthy San Francisco art patron is brutally murdered in a ritualistic manner. Corelli (Caruso), a local D.A. is assigned to the case, and discovers that a former girlfriend, who is now married to a prominent attorney, may be involved. Photographs found in the safe of the art patron implicate political scandal at the state's highest office, and Corelli finds himself up to his neck in dark secrets. He waits at a restaurant to speak with the prostitute in the photos, and he witnesses her being run down by a car with darkened windows. Director William Friedkin again shows his skill in car chases (The French Connection) as Corelli follows the hit and run driver through the city. The surprise ending comes rather abruptly, and while putting the laserdisc away, one realizes that several questions remain unanswered.

Entertainment: starstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar
Photography: starstarstarstar
Violence: sadistic and grisly
Sex: explicit
Language: The "F" and "S" words, with some other choice vulgarities

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"Showgirls", United Artists, 1995, Color, Filmed spherically and matted to measured aspect ratio (laserdisc) 2.04:1, Surround Sound, AC-3, 2 Hr 11 min, Rated NC-17; Elizabeth Berkley, Kyle MacLachlan, Gina Gershon; This is basically a no holds barred film about young women who will do anything to get the approval they never had as children, and the men who exploit them. So much for psychoanalysis. Nomi Malone (Berkley) hitches a ride into Las Vegas, takes a job in a lowlife night club, and then makes her way into a big time show at a major hotel. Show star Cristal Connors (Gershon) takes Nomi under her wing, but wants something in return, and so do some of the other members of the team. Unlike other movies that use the slimy side of human nature sporadically as part of the stories, "Showgirls" revels in abuse as its anchor. It is supposed to be dirty. And it is. I have a feeling that this is the first volley from Hollywood to make every type of motion picture available at the Cineplex. It is entertaining only because I have never seen this type of film at a multi-million dollar budget level before. Hopefully, "Showgirls II" is not under consideration.

Entertainment: starstarstar
Video Quality: starstarstar
Audio: starstarstarstar
Photography: starstarstarstar
Violence: savage rape scene
Sex: that's what the movie is about, with frontal nudity and explicit sex encounters
Language: The "F" and "S" words, along with other gutter vocabulary terms

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Other laserdiscs viewed by not reviewed formally:

"Bad Company": starstarstarstar (Be forewarned though; it contains explicit sex.)
"Straight Talk": starstarstar
"Priest": starstarstarstar (Powerful and moving, but not for the squeamish.)


Copyright 1995, 1996, 1997 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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